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The parish of Selworthy in the county of Somerset, some notes on its history online

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exceeding dear, not a good one to be gotten under £\o, a. very
poor one for 4, 5 or 6 pounds : but for your belt you may have
a substantial one reasonable." 1

Charles Steynings' wife died in 1646, leaving a large
family of young children behind her, the care of which
must have added much to Charles Steynings'difficulties,
during the troubled times in which his lot was cast.
The two elder sons, Philip and Antony died young, but
Charles, Lewis (the young man who sent his uncle John
Willoughby the chestnuts, the spoil of the French boat
that went ashore at Minehead), Ames, Robert, and six
daughters must have been living at the time of their
mother's death. The inscriptions on the brasses in Sel-
worthy Church to this lady and her two young sons are
given in Chap. IV. Another member of the Steynings
family much in evidence during the Civil War, was John
Steynings, a grandson of Philip Steynings of Holnicote.
He joined the parliamentarian forces, and thus we
have the curious spectacle of the elder brother a de-
voted royalist, while the younger brother is in arms
against the king ; and the uncle is evidently sore
troubled as to which side to take. At first Mr.
Willoughby evidently hesitated, and was rebuked by
Sir Samuel Rolle and the Devonshire committee for

1. Trtvelyan Papers, iii, p. 194.

Personal History. 157

his backwardness in serving the parliament. The
success of Sir R. Hopton and the king's forces in
Cornwall seems to some extent to have influenced him,
and he lent £100 for support of His Majesty's officers
to " withstand the present invasion and rebellion." John
Steynings, however, does not hesitate to send him
some colours taken by him from the royalists at the
battle of Marlborough, and in 1645 John Willoughby
pleads his readiness to take the National Covenant
and oath of the 5th April, and his having lent the
parliament " £140 besides horses and arms."

John Steynings had early chosen the army for his
profession, and he took part in the expedition to the
Netherlands in 1639, but the issue of the expedition,
as far as he was concerned, was an unfortunate one.
He writes to John Willoughby. 1

" Noble and ever much respected Uncle .... Divers
letters have I written unto you since my departure from you,
two out of Duncarke, but I never had answer to them. For
as I was going over from the Netherlands in a Flushing ship I
was taken and divers passengers besides ; and they stripped
us out of all that we had (therefore sweet Sir let me desire you
to commiserate my case) and therefore I were in prison eleven
days and then we were sent for England again. And so being
very sick when I came at Gravesend I took means under
Captain Sidham (Sydenham) for his serjeant was there taking
up of men : and if it be that you send me any relief, I would
desire you that you could be pleased to send it unto Mr. John
Turberville (his cousin and a lawyer in London) at the Inner
Temple "

This is a dismal picture enough of the young soldier
brought up amidst comfort and plenty, " stripped out

1. Trevelyan Papers, iii, p. 191.

1 5 8 History of Selworthy.

of all he possessed," by French privateers, and rinding
his way back to Gravesend sick and penniless, to
enlist, for the sake of a livelihood, as a private, to sail
again for the war.

The letter is dated from Broedawe (Breda), August,
1639, and it is endorsed by Mr. Willoughby, August,
J 639- " John Staynings letter whereupon I sent him
in money 40/-" We do not know how John Steynings
fared in the campaign in the Netherlands, but we find
him in 1642 attached to the parliamentarian army
which in the March of that year was besieging

The glimpse we have of this young man, born of an
ancient family and wealthy parents, and yet very
imperfectly educated and glad to enlist as a private
soldier, is a striking commentary upon the advance
that has been made in the wellbeing of the common-
wealth in the last two hundred years.

Another of the Steynings family was the comfort-
ably settled rector of Broadclyst, who married John
Willoughby's sister. One of his sons, Amias, entered
the army, and served like his cousin, John Steynings,
as a private soldier. He went on the expedition to
the Netherlands under the command of the Marquis
of Hamilton, an expedition which was secretly sup-
ported by Charles I, but for fear of the emperor, was
declared to be independent of his authority. On the
26th April, 163 1, we find him writing to Mr. John
Willoughby from " Gerckcum under Serjeant Major

" I give God praise that I am safely landed : It pleased God
that we did lie 16 days upon the water, but I give God praise

Personal History. I tq

that we have overcome it. We were 4 hours chased by a
Dunkeark (privateer) but it pleased God we lost him in the

evening I hope your worship will be pleased to

send me over some cloth or a suit of apparell yearly .

It is hard living upon the States means— it is but four shillings

in eight days." 1

A passage, evidently of danger, of sixteen days to
Holland, sounds odd enough to our nineteenth cen-
tury ears ; and sixpence a day does not seem high
pay for a young man " gently born and bred." In
the July of the same year, Amias writes, " From our
leaguer at Masestreet in Lukeland " (Maestricht in
Luychland, the Bishopric of Liege or Luck), at great
length to his uncle, reciting some of the miseries they
had suffered on the campaign.

" We have passed through a great many miseries both by
sea and land, since we left England and are now in great want
of victuals all things are at such a dearth in our leaguer (the
lives of the besiegers) that the States means is not able to find
us half the week. Had I not brought with me some money
for the which I was glad to pawne my trunk with my apparel
I had not written unto you at this time ; it was never known to
the oldest that now lives in our army, such lamentable dearth
for all things ; many a gentleman which never took spade in
their hands are now constrained to work in the trenches, and
venture their lives in the mouth of the cannon, only for means
to keep them from starving, and besides have spent all that
ever they could make and many of them have lost their lives.
We do undermine day and night to work under the walls, and
we are come within a stones cast of them. We lie day and
night in our arms and can hardly have two hours rest in four
and twenty. If the King of Spain do lose this town— then
may the King of Sweden easily come into Flanders with his

1. Trevelyan Papers, iii, 181.

160 History of Selworthy.

army. Good Uncle it is a great deal of misery that a soldier
doth endure besides dangers every minute of his life."

Amias had his son with him who was also called
Amias ; and both of them appear to have pawned
their clothes so as to have a little money in their
pockets when they started on their expedition. The
elder Amias begs Mr. Willoughby to send them four
or five pounds to redeem their clothes " which we shall
lose if you send not unto us, and then we are quite

" It hath been a hard journey and a most miserable leaguer.
It would but greve you to express our miseries — the hard
ground must content us for lodging before we return to
garrison, and our diet will be but miserable ; for all which we
thank God and for my part I do endure it with patience, and
poor Ames (his son) too with my persuasions. — We shall lose
our trunks and clothes which are better worth than ten pounds
and our credits too if you send not unto us, for our clothes
which we now weare will be all worn before we come to
garrison, for we lie day and night in them and many times in
dirt and mire."

Ames Steynings also enquires about the portion of
the tithes of the parish of Broadclyst, which were due
to his father's estate. His father must therefore have
been dead at this period. We do not know what part
Ames Steynings' father and son took in the Civil War
or whether indeed they left their bones in the " leaguer"
at Maestricht.

The last act of Mr. John Willoughby's life was to
obtain a " pass " to visit his relations at Gaulden, in
the parish of Tolland, and at Selworthy. A marriage
certificate attested by his son-in-law, John Turberville
of Gaulden, still exists among the Luccombe church

Personal History, 1 6 \

papers. He died in 1658 leaving an only son, John,
whose only child, Mary, as before stated (p. 132),
married in 1655 George Trevelyan of Nettlecombe,
the son of the George Trevelyan who had suffered so
terribly on account of his loyalty to the Stuart family.

Mr. Charles Steynings was succeeded by his third
son, Charles, who married Susanna, daughter of Sir
Nicholas Martyn and of Elizabeth his wife. By her
will dated December, 1663, dame Elizabeth " late
wife and relict of Sir Nicholas Martyn of the same
knight " leaves " to my couzin Thomas Gorges of
Heavytree in ye countye aforesaid, Esqre., one hun-
dred pounds of currant money of England, under the
trust and use followinge, that is to say to buy with
the said one hundred pounds two Jewells with what
convenience may be and then to deliver or cause to be
delivered unto my daughter Susanna Steynings for
her use during life, and after her death to her eldest
son or daughter, and in case she dyes without any
issue they the sayd Jewells to be delivered unto my
grandchild Nicholas Martyn of Heavytree, afores d -

Mrs. Steynings died at Holnicote on the 8th May,
1685, and Charles Steynings himself on the 4th of
December, 1700, aged seventy-eight. He lies buried
in the Steynings aisle in Selworthy Church.

A copy of Mr. Steynings' will is to be found in the
Appendix By it he bequeathed the Holnicote estate
to his wife's nephew, William Martyn of Oxton, co.
Devon. Mr. Martyn, after living at Holnicote for
some years, sold the estate to William Blackford, son
of Richard Blackford of Dunster.

1 62 History of Selworthy.

One of the old gateways remains of the earliest
house at Holnicote. The house, which must have
borne a great resemblance to Bratton Court near
Minehead, evidently formed with its outbuildings a
square round a court yard ; the outer walls of the
buildings, on three sides at all events, forming a
strong defence. Many old farm houses on the hill
country are still to be seen built in this fashion, no
doubt for safety in the insecure times of two or three
hundred years ago. The grand old jambs of the great
gateway at Holnicote still remain, and portions of the
oak doors ; over the gateway, as at Bratton, is the
porter's room. This earlier house, which was of late
fifteenth century date, was pulled down to make room
for a large square house of the Queen Anne or Early
Georgian type, which adjoined the present stables.
This second house was burnt down in 1794, and in
course of time a long low house, in the cottage style,
was built on the site of the present house. This house,
says the author of A Tour in Search of Gejiealogy,
writing in 181 1, "is perfectly the cottage without,
having a thatched roof ; woodbines, jasmines, and
roses clothe the walls, producing the most pleasing
effect : but within we meet with every fashionable
accommodation that high life can require, or that
taste can suggest ; nor is there good collection of
books wanting. The drawing room is elegantly fur-
nished by the most charming specimens of Mrs.
Fortescue's pencil." At dinner on the evening of his
arrival, he tells us there were present, " a gentleman and
lady and their daughter, relations of the family : the
gentleman all mildness, good humour and benevolence :

Personal History. r 6^,

and his lady with a mind in perfect unison with his
and an angelic face, the fit show glass of the precious
gem the casket contained. The daughter, without
possessing a very extraordinary show of beauty, had
such a countenance and manner as rather excited
respect than love at first sight ; but a longer acquaint-
ance took full possession of the heart." There was
also present a "young man of fashion who was

hurrying to town with the fall of the leaf

Of my host and his lady I have not said much ; but
if dignity without pride, the greatest affability and
good temper, a desire to oblige, and a considerable
knowledge of the world be ingredients to form a
pleasing character, Mr. Fortescue has the claim for
admiration, and his lady was formed to make such a
man happy. . . . She is likewise the physician of
the poor of the neighbourhood."

The third house was burnt down almost entirely in
185 1, and large additions were made to what remained
of it by the present baronet in 1873.

Blackford Family.

Of this family, which owned Holnicote for two
generations, little more is known than is stated above
in the history of that manor. The name is a not un-
common one still in North Devon, and there was a
family of this name living at Holt, in the parish of
Luccombe, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
A branch of the family also lived at one time at Holt,
in the parish of Selworthy, and intermarried with the
Siderfin family of Knoll. They appear to have been
yeomen. The connection of the name with the district

164 History of Selworthy.

appears to make the suggestion possible, that Richard
Blackford, a master in chancery, having made his for-
tune in London, retired into his own district before his
death. There are tombstones in Luccombe church-
yard to the Blackford family, and one of the oldest
tombstones in Selworthy churchyard is to a member
of that family, Joan Blackford. The date is obliter-
ated, but the stone belongs apparently to about the
beginning or middle of the seventeenth century.
Alex. Blackford, gent., was one of the two trustees
who presented the Rev. John Wood to the benefice of
Selworthy in 1669, and there are several entries con-
cerning this family in the Selworthy Registers during
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A certain
Richard Blackford who witnessed two leases of the
property then held by feoffees for the church, in 1661
and 1663, may well have been the father of the Richard
Blackford mentioned above.

William Blackford married Elizabeth Dyke of
Pixton, and died in 1728, leaving a son called William,
also of Holnicote. This second William died on
March 20th, 1730, leaving an only daughter, Henrietta,
on whose death in her seventh year the Holnicote
estate reverted to her great aunt Elizabeth Blackford,
daughter of Richard Blackford of Dunster, her heir at
law, and the wife of Edward Dyke of Pixton in the
parish of Dulverton. Thomas Dyke of Tetton,
nephew and heir to Edward Dyke, had one only
daughter and heiress, Elizabeth, who married Sir
Thomas Acland, seventh baronet, of Killerton.

The will of Richard Blackford, of Dunster, Somerset,
one of the king's Masters Extraordinary in Chancery,

Personal History. 165

is dated Jan. 8, 1688, and was proved by his widow
Elizabeth, 4 April, 1689, in the Probate Court of
Canterbury, entry 48. He bequeaths " To my daugh-
ter Dyke, wife of Edw. Dyke, the fee simple of the
messuage called Foxcombe, in Hawkridge. To my
daughter Sidwell the interest and fee of the messuage
called Culverwell in the parish of Bicknoller, but
William Blackford to have power to pay his sisters
£100 each, and take the land." Mentions besides
his sister, Mary Coffin, cousin Robert Siderfin, his
sister Hawkins and her son. Gives 10s. towards re-
pairs to each of the parish churches of Dunster, Sel-
worthy, and Luccombe.

The will of Elizabeth Blackford, dated 23 October,
1693, was proved in the Probate Court of Canterbury,
23 May, 1699, by her two daughters Elizabeth Dyke
and Sidwell Dyke, the residuary legatees. She men-
tions her late husband's two sisters, her kinsfolk Mr.
John Quirke and his wife, Mr. Walter Coffin (then
residing at Allerford) and his wife, my cousin Mr.
Robert Siderfin and his wife, and Joan Atkins, Mr.
Edward Haberfield.

Mr. Charles Blackford of Selworthy, who was buried
21 April, 1682, must have been a near relation, and
Mrs. Christian Blackford of Selworthy, who was buried
5 Sept., 1695, was a sister of Richard Blackford.

To the latter Richard Blackford bequeaths in his
will " a broad piece of gold of two and twenty shillings

The will of William Blackford, of Holnicote Court,
Somerset, grandson of the above, dated March 11,
1730, was proved March 3, 1731. by the executors.

1 66 History of Selworthy.

To the poor of Selworthy, Dunster, Bossington, and
West Luckham he bequeaths £20. He mentions also
" my brother-in-law Edward Leeds of the Inner
Temple, London." " George Sawbridge Little of
Bridge Row, London, Merchant, James Sampson
Counsellor at law, Gregory Gardner of Kings Bromp-
ton, Somerset, Esq., and Richard Cridland of Comb
Flory, Gent., attorney at law," are left as Tres : of " all
my lands, Manors, etc., for the use of my daughter, Hen-
rietta Blackford. Her guardianship to my sister Leeds."

For the rest of the history of this family see Black-
ford pedigree.

Part of the estates of the Blackford family was the
manor of Mallingden in the parish of Cliff near
Rochester. It is stated in Hasted's Kent that the
court baron is held under a tree, there being no manor
house remaining. 1

Dyke of Kingston.

At the west end of the south aisle of Kingston
Church, co. Somerset, there is a brass to a certain
Thomas Dyke and Anna his wife. The inscription
engraved on it runs as follows :

" Here lye buried the bodyes of Thomas Dyke and Anna
his wife. She died 15th day of May, 1630. /Etatis suae 32.
He died 26th day of May, anno dni 1672. ^Etatis suae 81.

" Farewell fond world I found thee vaine at best
In Abraham's bosome I find sweetest rest.
Here lyes just, pious, prudence, which is more :
Here lyes the father of the orphan poore.
King, country, church, the poore, all these have lost :
Good subject, servant, son those father most.

" Abi viator et vale donee resurgamus."
1. Hasted's Kent, vol. i, p. 533

Personal History. ^7

On the brass is a shield charged with three cinque-
foils. Crest : an arm with hand gloved and holding a

This Thomas Dyke represented a branch of the
Dyke family of Dulverton, for some time settled
at Kingston. He was born about the year 1 591,
and died on the 26th May, 1672. We do not know
from what family his wife Anna sprung. She was
born in 1598, and died in 1630, forty-two years
before her husband, and was buried in Kingston
Church. One son, born in 16 13, was left to carry on
the many virtues of Thomas Dyke as borne witness
to by his monument, who was also called Thomas.
Thomas proved his father's will, dated March 10,
1 67 1, in the Archdeaconry Court of Taunton on
24 June, 1672. By it the elder Thomas leaves to
his son and Elizabeth his wife £10 apiece for a
ring; lands in Broomfield parish to his son ; to his
niece Jane Pearse and her husband, and to " my
cousin" Margaret Dyke of Dulverton, and "my
cousin " William Dyke and his mother-in-law 20s. ;
to Thomas Dyke, son of John Dyke, late of Dulverton,
£"1000; to W T m. Dyke, Edward Dyke, Grace Dyke,
Eliz. Dyke, children of the said John Dyke, deceased,
£500 apiece ; to all the children of my uncles Wm.
Dyke and Richard Dyke, 20s. ; to Richard Dyke of
Kingston £5. His daughter-in-law to undertake care
of his funeral ; to be buried in Kingston Church. His
son Thomas to be executor and residuary legatee.

Thomas, although well to do, did not settle down
idly as a country gentleman, but studied for the medi-
cal profession, and took the degree of M.D. He

1 68 History of Selwortky.

married (i) Elizabeth, the sister and eventually the
co-heiress of Edward Pepys, esq. After her death he
married (2) a certain Joanna Deane, who may have
been living as a servant in his house, and by whom he
had had a son, who in 1689 had already arrived at
man's estate. Joan, and her son Thomas Deane, who
took the name of Dyke on his father's marriage with
his mother, proved the second Thomas Dyke's will on
7 Feb., 1689. By this will Thomas Dyke conveys the
manor of Ashway in the parish of Dulverton to
Thomas Deane ats Dyke, of the Inner Temple, gent.
Should the said Thomas Deane ats Dyke die without
issue, the estate to go to Thomas Dyke, son of John
Dyke of Pixton, on his paying to Thomas Dyke,
Lawrence Dyke, William Dyke, Elizabeth Dyke and
John, children of William Dyke, late of Ashill in
Somerset, gent., deceased, to each of them £100.
Lands in Broomfield to pass with manor of Ashway.
Thomas Deane to take name of Dyke. Moieties of
rectories of Kingsbrompton and Winsford to go for
maintenance of poor scholars at St. Mary's Hall, Ox-
ford. Joanna and Thomas Deane residuary legatees.
A brass to Thomas Deane's (2) memory is to be seen
under the one that commemorates his father and
mother in Kingston Church. It bears the following
inscription :

" Hie deposits sunt mortales exuviae qubdam Thorns Dyke
in Medicinis Doctoris, exuviae quidem merae, et non magis
illius partes quam vestes, aliaque corporalia tegumenta. Ille
enim integer (id est spiritus ejus) nihil in Terris relinquens
fugit hinc 22nd die Decembris 1689, totusque excessit rediens
ad Deuin qui dedit ilium nasciturum 5th die Aprilis, 1613.

Personal History. !(5g

" Who ere thou art that here dost passe
Learne this thou mayst of me
As thou art now soe once I was
As I am soe shalt thou be.

" Vade, vale, resi pisce.

" Portus mortis, porta vitas."

On the brass is the same shield as on his father's.

Thomas Deane, now Thomas Dyke the third, died
s.p. in 1730. His will which bears date 4 June, 1717,
was proved by his cousin yeoman Geo. Deane on the
24th Oct., 1730. Thomas Dyke is now described as
of Tetton, co. Somerset, esq. His plate to his wife,
afterwards to Thomas Dyke of Jews (in Wiveliscombe
parish), and if dead to Edward Dyke of Pixton. His
lands in Taunton Deane to his wife for life, then to
said Thomas Dyke of Jews and his heirs male ; remain-
der to Edward Dyke of Pixton. To Thomas Dyke
of Lydeard Punchardon his house ; my servant Eliza-
beth Dyke, £100 and £10 for money ; Mary Dyke,
formerly of Jews, £1000 and £20 for money ; George
Deane £4000 ; Edward Dyke, his wife and children,
George Deane, Mary Dyke, his said brother Thomas.
Mr. Blackford and his son, Sir Thomas Wroth, a ring
of £1 is. ; Edward Dyke of London, George Deane
and Thomas Dyke of Lydeard Punchardon £500 to
buy an advowson for John Dyke of Lydeard Pun-
chardon if qualified to hold a living ; advowson to go
to Thomas Dyke of Jews and his heirs. Remainder
to Elizabeth Dyke of Pixton in fee. No executor
appointed. Administration granted to George Deane,
next of kin, 24 Oct., 1730.

George Deane, who is described as of Pyrland


170 History of Selworthy.

House in the parish of St. James, Taunton, was the
nephew of Thomas Dyke's (3) mother. He married
a daughter of old John Dyke of Pixton, who died
before her husband. George Deane died in the winter
of 1741, and his will was proved by his only child and
residuary legatee Elizabeth Deane, in the Probate
Court of Canterbury on 1st Feb., 1742.

To my brother-in-law and niece Dyke, to my nephew
Hole, and to each of my trustees £10; to my house-
keeper Mary Bartlett an amount of £100 per year ;
to my godchild Henrietta Johnson £5000 ; lands in
Lydeard St. Lawrence, Aish Priors, lands and here-
ditaments in South Molton, North Molton, Maryans-
leigh, Rose Ash, Nymet Episcopi, in Uffculme and
Dunkeswell, and elsewhere in Devon, and elsewhere,
to my daughter Elizabeth Deane and her heirs ; if she
die without issue, to the said Mary Bartlett, with re-
mainder to heirs of the body of my late sister Nott, and
for want of such heirs, to my own rightful heirs.
George Speke of Dillington and Francis Robinson of
Willby, Tres. The executors renounced administra-
tion, and the will proved by daughter 1 Feb., 1742.

Elizabeth Deane did not live long to enjoy the large
large fortune she had inherited from her father. Her
will is dated 13 Nov., 1742, and was proved by her
executor and residuary legatee, Elizabeth Dyke, at
that time " living with my said uncle Edward Dyke,"
at Pixton, on 11 Aug., 1744. Elizabeth Dyke was
the daughter of Thomas Dyke of Tetton in the parish
of Kingston.

Dyke of Dulverton.

According to a tradition held by their descendants

Personal History. r 7 r

the Browne family of New Zealand, the Dyke family
were originally land agents settled at Dulverton and
Kingsbrompton. But however this may be, we find
them already in the seventeenth century people of
considerable importance.

The will of a William Dyke of Kents, in Kings-

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