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

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brompton, gent, dated 10 Feb., 1665, was proved
30 Nov., 1667, in the Probate Court of Canterbury, by
his widow Amy Dyke and his son William Dyke.
He mentions " my son William Dyke, my aunt Mary
Bean, my wife Amy Dyke, my brother John Dyke,
my brother-in-law Gregory Gardner, my sisters Jone
Pearse, Jane Gardner, and Margaret Dyke ; my
cousin Mrs. Elizabeth Dyke, my sisters Mrs. Wood,
Mary Davidge and Joane Everard ; my godson
William, son of John Dyke ; my cousin Edward
Dyke, my brother-in-law Tristram Wood, and Dr.
Dyke guardian of my son.

The family appears also to have been settled at
Pixton in the parish of Dulverton, for some genera-
tions before John Dyke of Pixton, esq., who died in-
testate in 1699, and to whose effects administration
was granted 7 Feb., 1700. His wife Margaret survived
him and died in 1703. Her will was proved in the
Archidiaconal Court at Taunton by Edward Dyke of
Pixton, her eldest and only surviving son, 1 March,
1704. She bequeaths her farm of Heale in Kings-
brompton parish to her son Edward Dyke, on con-
dition of his paying £300 to " my other son Thomas
Dyke." "£200 to my daughter Elizabeth, wife of
William Blackford, gent. ; to Elizabeth Dyke the wife
of my son Edward Dyke, and Sidwell, wife of my son



172 History of Selworthy.

Thomas Dyke, £\o; to John Dyke and Margaret
Dyke, children of my said son Edward, ^200 ; to
Thomas Dyke, Elizabeth Dyke, Mary Dyke, and
Ursula Dyke, children of my said son Thomas, £10
apiece ; to William, Elizabeth and Mary, children of
the said William Blackford, £10 apiece." Codicil
mentions death of her son Thomas.

The will of the above mentioned Edward Dyke (1)
is dated 1728. By it he appoints his wife Eliza-
beth his sole executrix and residuary legatee. She
however died without proving the will ; and on
26 June, 1740, administration with will annexed was
granted to Edward Dyke her son, by the Probate
Court of Canterbury (Brown 167). " Estates in
Bampton to son John, with remainder to son Edward ;
daughter-in-law Mary Dyke, £20 ; granddaughter-in-
law Elizabeth Dyke £20 ; my daughter Grace £5000 ;
my son Edward, manor and barton of Pixton and all
other estates, subject to his mother's life interest in
them."

This Elizabeth Dyke was a daughter of Mr. Richard
Blackford of Dunster, a Master in Chancery. She
survived her husband and died in Feb., 1736. Her
will was proved by the above named son, Edward
Dyke (2) of Pixton, Jan. 27, 1736. In this will she
bequeaths her estate of Hunscombe to her son Edward,
subject to the following payment : " to my daughter
Grace .£1000 ; .£20 to John Dyke." Grace Dyke
(afterwards Grace Smyth) residuary legatee. Codicil
25 Jan., 1735. Edward Smyth £20, Francis Smyth
£1000, Elizabeth Smyth and Lavinia Smyth £100,
Grace Smyth £50 in lieu of plate, Elizabeth Deane
wife of George Deane £$ for a ring.



Personal History. ij-i

Edward Dyke (2) of Pixton and of Tetton married
Margaret, daughter of Sir John Trevelyan of Nettle-
combe, bart., and widow of Alex. Luttrell of Dunster
Castle. This lady died at Mrs. Vanderwall's at Green-
wich, 20 June, 1764, and was buried at Dunster on the
following 4th July. Edward Dyke died s.p. at Tetton
in the parish of Kingston, on the 14th Aug., 1746, and
was buried at Dulverton the 21st of that month. By
his will dated 29 Sept., 1744, he bequeaths estates
in Bampton and elsewhere to his nephew Edward
Smyth, directing him to take the name and arms of
Dyke ; and the rest of his property he bequeaths to
his niece, Elizabeth Dyke of Tetton, the daughter of
Thomas Dyke of Tetton who had died in the previous
year, whom he appoints his sole executor. He directs
that Elizabeth's husband shall take the name of Dyke.
£100 to his daughter-in-law Margaret Luttrell. Tres. :
Sir John Trevelyan of Nettlecombe, Geo. Trevelyan of
Lea Hill, Cannon Southey of Fitzhead, Richard Crid-
land of Coombe Florey.

Elizabeth Dyke who had married Sir Thomas
Acland the seventh bart. of Killerton in the previous
year, proved her uncle's will in the Probate Court of
Canterbury, 4 Oct., 1746.

Lady Acland thus became a great heiress. Her
uncle, John, who is described as of Holnicote Court,
esq., died s.p. in the spring, 1732, and the Holnicote
estate passed to her brother Edward, who proved his
brother John's will 24th May, 1732. And so, on the
death of Edward Dyke (2), the estates both of Holni-
cote and Pixton passed to her. Already she had come
into possession of the Pyrland estates by the bequest



174 History of Selworthy.

of her first cousin, Elizabeth Deane, and of Tetton on
the death of her father.

In a deed poll existing at Killerton, Lady Acland
conveys to certain Trustees her " manors and heredita-
ments situate in the several parishes of Selworthy,
Luckham, Minehead, Porlock, Dulverton, Brompton
Regis, Exford, Dunster, Carhampton, Timberscombe,
otherwise Emberscombe, St. Decumans, Old Cleeve,
Crowcombe, Bicknoller, Cutcombe, Bossington, Stock
Pero, Brushford, Winsford, Hawkridge, Withy-combe,
East Anstey, Oakeford, and Bampton in Somerset
and Devon, part of which manors and heredits. were
late the lands and inhance of William Blackford,
Esq., deed, since that of Henrietta Blackford his only
child and heir at law, also deceased, and other por-
tions of such manors and lands were the lands of
Byam Wood, Esq. and Mary Wood, spinster." 1

Seldom have two successive heads of houses mar-
ried so well as the sixth Acland, bart. and his son, the
elder obtaining by his marriage the great estates of
the Wroth family, the younger the above princely in-
heritance of Elizabeth Dyke.

Pyrland House was bought in 1756 by Sir William
Yea, the first bart. of the name who had married Julia,
eldest daughter of Sir George Trevelyan, bart., of
Nettlecombe. The property was copyhold, but was
enfranchised by Sir William, who rebuilt the house
there in 1758.

1. B. and M. Wood's property was bought by Edw. Dyke.



Personal History. [75

Acland Family.

" Akeland," says Sir William Pole, " has given
name unto a race that have many descents dwelled
there. The first that I find was called Baldwyn de
Accelana, (2) Baldwyn, (3) William, which, by Sarah,
daughter of John de la Pille, of Pille had issue, who
had issue Baldwyn anno. 14 king Edward II."

Hugh de Accalen was living at Accalen or Akeland
co. Devon, in 1 1 5 5. He died about the year 1191, and
was succeeded by his son the first Baldwin de Accellana
of Sir William Pole, whose son Baldwyn de Accalen,
temp. Henry III, was the father of William de
Accalen, who temp. Edward I married Sarah, the
daughter and heiress of John de la Pille. Baldwyn
de Accalen who was living in the ninth year of
Edward II had two sons, John and Richard. Richard
died without issue in 1347; but John, who married
Agnes, daughter and heiress of Richard de Leigh, of
Leigh Barton, in Loxbeare, in Devon, had one son, by
whom he was succeeded in 1365, John de Accalen,
of Accalen. This John, Sir W. Pole tells us, was a
famous soldier, and acquired a great reputation in the
stormy reigns of Edward III and Richard II. We
find Sir John (9 Richard II) conveying all his estates
in Aclane, Gratton, Barnstaple, Little Bray and South
Molton, to Thomas Affeton, John Stafford, and John
Collin, to raise money for his redemption in case he
should be taken prisoner, without sale of his lands.
This fact is interesting as showing how gentlemen in
those days provided for these contingencies. 1 This

1. Acland family papers, quoted by Polwhele. Ed. 1797.



1 76 History of Selworthy

John de Accalen married Alice, the daughter and
heiress of William Hawkridge, of Hawkridge, in the
parish of Chittlehampton. They had issue, John, who
died without issue, 4 Henry IV, and Baldwyn, who
married Joan, the daughter and heiress of William
Riverton.

Baldwyn Akelane died in 1410, and was succeeded
by his son, Robert Akelane, who married Cicely,
daughter and co-heiress of Roger Hakeworth. Robert
died in 1445, and was succeeded by his son, Baldwyn
Akelane, who married Joan, daughter and co-heiress
of Sir John Prideaux, of Addiston, and widow of
William Drewe. Baldwyn was succeeded in 1490 by
his son John Akelane, who married Elizabeth, daughter
and heiress of John Fortescue, of Sprideston. Their
son John married ( 1 ) Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas
Hexte, of Kingston, in Devon, and (2) Mary, daugh-
ter of John Francis, and widow of John Cruwys,
of Cruwys Morchard, in the same county. By his
second wife he had no issue, but by the first he had
(with other offspring) a son, John Akeland, who
married Elizabeth, daughter of the before-mentioned
John Cruwys, the first husband of his father's second
wife, by his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas
Whitle. This last named John Akeland left issue by
Elizabeth his wife, John (heir to his great grandfather)
as hereafter mentioned ; Antony (of Hawkridge), and
Ellen or Helena, who married Robert Chichester, of
Hall, co. Devon.

John Akeland, who, as before mentioned, married
Elizabeth Fortescue, outlived both his son and his
grandson, and on his death the representation of the



Personal History. i nn

family devolved upon his eldest great grandson John ;
whilst the estate of Hawkridge, in Chittlehampton
fell to the portion of his second great grandson,
Antony, who married Agnes, daughter of John
Courtenay, of Molland, co. Devon, a branch of the
Courtenays of Powderham. From Chittlehampton
his descendant, Richard A eland, is said to have re-
moved to Fremington, having purchased in 1672 that
manor and barton. His son Richard Acland left two
co-heiresses, (1) Frances, who married, in 1765, Hugh
Fortescue, rector of Filleigh, and Susanna, who married
Dr. Barbor, of Barnstaple, in May, 1748. 1

John Acklande, as mentioned above, succeeded his
great grandfather. He married Margaret, daughter
and co-heiress of Hugh Radcliff, of Stepney, by whom
he had issue: (1) Hugh his successor; (2) John
Ackland, of Culm John, who succeeded to the estates
in Middlesex. This John was knighted at the Tower,
on March 15th, 1603, on the accession of James I, and
was a man of much prominence at this time. He was
for a considerable period M.P. for Devonshire, and
was sheriff of Devon in 1608. Sir John purchased
the estate of Columb or Culm John, an estate which
as early as 1233, had been held for at least three
generations by the Culme family, a branch of which
ancient family was seated temp. Elizabeth, at Molland.
One of this family was Dean of St. Patrick's, in 1647 >
and his letters to his cousin, John Willoughby, at that
time from Ireland are interesting. 2 From the Culme
family the estate passed to Courtenay, earl of Devon.

1. Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries, vol. iv., p. 378.

2. Trevelyan Papers, v, iii, pp. 265, 266.

Aa



178 History of Selworthy.

After the attainder of the marquis of Exeter it was
transferred to the Bassett family. From them it
passed to the Rousewell family, from whom it was
purchased by the above-mentioned Sir John Acland,
who built a house there on the foundation begun by
the earl of Devon, and a chapel for the use of his
family and tenants. Sir John was a great benefac-
tor to the charities of Exeter, and to the University
of Oxford. He married (1) Elizabeth, daughter of
George Rolle, of Stevenston, and (2) Margaret,
daughter of William Portman, of Orchard Portman.
Sir John died at Culm John in 1613, without child-
ren, leaving a considerable estate to his brother, Sir
Hugh Ackland. The elaborate monument to his
memory described below is to be seen at the end of
the north aisle in Broadclyst Church :

" On a tomb about 5 feet high from the ground lies his por-
traiture in full proportion cut out of stone, all in armour
except head and hand. In his hand he holds a book. His
two wives are represented kneeling each before a desk, the
one at the head the other at the foot with their faces towards
him, all within two pillars near 20 feet in height, large and
finely wrought, on the top of which are placed several figures
that greatly adorn the whole. On the 1st pillar is the motto
' Mors janua vitae,' on the second pillar ' Mors mihi lucrum.'
In the middle of the monument above the effigies is a blank
table of marble, left, as it is supposed for an epitaph, which
hath not hitherto been supplied ; before the arch that covers
the figure of St. John, are in one place ' Caro mea requiescat
in spe ' ; in another, ' Post tenebras spero lucem.' Over the
monument is a large achievement with many quarterings." 1

Sir John's brother, Hugh Akeland of Akeland, was
sheriff of Devon, 8 and 9 James I. He married
1. Polwhele's History of Devon, vol. ii, p. 136.



Personal History. 1 79

Margaret, daughter of Thomas Monke of Powderidge,
co. Devon, and great aunt of Monke, earl of Albe-
marle. He survived his brother and succeeded to his
large estates, and no doubt erected the costly monu-
ment to Sir John's memory mentioned above. He
was succeeded by his son, Sir Arthur Akelande,
who married Eleanor, daughter and heiress of Robert
Mallett of Wooley, a manor situated in the parish of
Beaford. This manor passed by successive heiresses
to the families of Hacche, Mallet, and Acland. Sir
Arthur was knighted in 1603 an< ^ died in 16 10. His
son and heir, John Acklande, was nineteen years of
age at the death of his father in 1610, and in 16 17 he
married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Vincent,
bart. This John Acklande was a noted royalist, and
and at the beginning of the civil war he garrisoned
the house at Culm John which his great uncle had
built, and held it for the king. At one time, Clarendon
tells us, Culm John was the only stronghold that the
king could reckon on in Devonshire, to check the
movements of lord Stamford, who was lying with his
army at Exeter, or of any further parliamentary forces
that might arrive either by land or by sea. But col.
Acland had to fly from Culm John, and we find
Fairfax taking possession of the house as his head-
quarters, while the main body of his forces lay "at
Silverton. It is recorded that Fairfax, with his usual
moderation and liberality, treated lady Acland and
her household with the greatest consideration and
kindness. Perhaps the family connection with general
Monke helped to insure her safety ; but nevertheless
the house at Culm John was afterwards plundered,



1 80 History of Selworthy.

and Sir John himself had a fine of £1800 imposed on
him, which amount was afterwards increased to £4,000.
This fine was subsequently reduced to the original
sum by the intervention of some of his friends. Sir
John was sheriff of Devonshire in 164.1. By his wife, the
above named Elizabeth Vincent, of Stoke d'Abernon,
he had issue, Sir Francis, his successor; (2) John;
(3) Hugh ; and two daughters — Eleanor, who married
Sir John Davie of Creedy, and Susannah, who married

(1) Edward Helsall, equerry to queen Catherine ;

(2) John Carleton, esq., equerry to Charles I and II.
Sir John died August 24th, 1647, ar >d was buried in
the church of Stoke d'Abernon. Sir John was created
a baronet for his services to the crown in 1644, but
the letters patent were destroyed in the civil war,
when no doubt little at Culm John, of any value,
escaped the clutches of the parliamentarian garrison.
They were renewed to his son, Sir Hugh, in 1677,
with precedence from the former date.

Sir Francis Acland, the second baronet, died un-
married in 1649, and was succeeded by his brother,
Sir John Acland.

Sir John, third baronet, married Margaret, daughter
of Dennis Rolle, of Stevenstone, by whom he had a
son, Arthur, his successor, and a daughter, who married
John, Lord Arundel of Trerice. Through this marriage
and the settlements connected with it, the Arundel
estates in Devon and Somersetshire ultimately de-
volved upon the Acland family. Sir John died before
he came of age in 1645. Sir Arthur also died before
he came of age, and the title and the estates reverted
to his uncle, Sir Hugh. Sir Hugh Acland, fifth



Personal History.



181



baronet (third son of Sir John, the first baronet) was
M.P. for Barnstaple in 1678, and for Tiverton in 1655.
He married Ann, daughter of Sir Thomas Daniel of
Berwick Hall, co. York, and widow of Sir Thomas
Chamberlain of Oxfordshire, by whom he had issue a
family of six sons and two daughters. Of these
children, John the eldest son settled at Wooley and
died on October 28th, 1702, before his father, being then
M.P. for Callington, in Cornwall. He left issue by
Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Richard Acland of
Fremington, four sons. One of their sons, John, was
rector of Broadclyst, and we find the following curious
note in connection with that parish during his incum-
bency ; " Some years since (c. 1750) Clyst Gerard
Chapel was converted into a barn by one James Baker,
who is said to have been in good circumstances before
this act of profaneness, but never thrived afterwards.
He had his leg shot off; he quitted his native country ;
and he died abroad in poverty." 1

Sir Hugh Acland, the eldest son and sixth baronet
was M.P. for Barnstaple in 1713. He married Cecily,
the daughter and co-heiress of Sir Thomas Wroth of
Petherton Park, co. Somerset, by whom he had issue :
(1) Sir Thomas his successor ; (2) John, who died an
infant ; (3) Arthur, who settled at Fairfield, and mar-
ried Elizabeth, daughter of William Oxenham, of
Devon, by whom he had three sons, Hugh, John,
Peregrine, and several daughters.

Note on the family of Wroth.
Sir Thomas Wroth was the lineal descendant of Sir

1. Old MSS., quoted by Polwhele.



1 82 History of Selworthy.

Hugh de Placet, brother of John, earl of Warwick
temp. Henry III, who married the heiress of John de
Wroth, of Wrotten, co. Kent. Sir Hugh was sheriff
of that county, and also of Devon, warden also of the
Stannaries and lord of the manor of Newton Forester,
which he held in right of his wife, by grand serjeanty,
together with the office of keeping the park of North
Petherton and other royal forests within the county of
Somerset. His descendants took the name of Wroth.
Their representative, Sir Thomas Wroth, was twice
M.P. for Wells, during the reign of William III, and
through the whole reign of queen Anne. On Sir
Thomas' death in 1720, his estates came to his eldest
daughter, Cecily, Lady Acland.

Sir Thomas Acland, the seventh baronet, married
Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Thomas Dyke of
Tetton, co. Somerset, and also heiress of her uncle,
Edward Dyke of Pixton. By this marriage the Pixton
and Holnicote estates came into the Acland family.
Sir Thomas had issue : John, who died in his father's
lifetime, 1778, having married lady Christian Harriet
Caroline Fox-Strangways, daughter of Stephen, first
earl of Uchester, by whom he left issue : Sir John Dyke
Acland, who succeeded his grandfather as eighth
baronet, and died s.p. 1785, and one daughter, Eliza-
beth Kitty, who married Henry George, second earl of
Carnarvon in 1796, taking with her the Pixton estate
as her dower. According to the Selworthy registers
the seventh baronet's eldest son "John Dyke Acland
Esqr., was born Jan. 21, 1747," and his second son,
Thomas, on the tenth of April, 1752, at Holnicote. 1

1. See Chapter VI.



Personal History. 183

Lady Acland died at Holnicote on the 30th June,
1753. Her husband survived her and died February
24, 1785. He was succeeded by his grandson, Sir
John, the eighth baronet, who died s.p. April 15th
of the same year, and was succeeded by his uncle,
Sir Thomas Dyke, the ninth baronet, who married
July 4, 1785, Harriet, only daughter of Sir Richard
Hoare, bart. He left behind him four children, and
his widow married in the May of the next year, cap-
tain M. Fortescue, a retired officer in the navy, and a
brother of the first earl Fortescue. Sir Thomas appears
to have been a great sportsman, as the very remarkable
lines to his memory transcribed above 1 appear to show.
He and his father were masters of the staghounds and
did much in their time to keep that noble sport alive.
The heads of the Acland family had held the lease of
the royal forest of Exmoor for some time, and con-
tinued to hold it until the sale of the forest.

Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, the tenth baronet, was
born March 29, 1787, and was high sheriff of Devon in
1809. He married, April 7, 1808, Lydia Elizabeth,
the only daughter of Henry Hoare, esq., of Mitcham,
co. Surrey, by whom he had issue : right hon. Sir
Thomas Dyke, eleventh baronet, his successor, born
May 25, 1809, succeeded his father in 1871 ; Arthur
Henry Dyke, born 181 1, died 1857, who took the
name of Troyte on succeeding to the Huntsham Court
estate ; Charles Baldwyn Dyke, born Nov. I, died
May 10, 1837, vide Chapter IV, p. 57 5 Sir Henry
Wentworth Dyke, bart., F.R.S., etc., born 181 3 ; Rev.
Peter Leopold Dyke, born 1819, prebendary and sub-

1. Selworthy Registers, Chap. VI, p. 98.



1 84 History of Selworthy.

dean of Exeter Cathedral ; John Barton Arundel,
born 1823, who settled in New Zealand, and is a
member of the Legislative Council ; Dudley Reginald
Dyke, died 17th July, 1837, set. 10; two daughters,
Agnes Lucy, who married in 1848 Arthur Mills, esq.,
of Bude ; Lydia Dorothea Harriet.

A monument was erected by public subscription to
Sir Thomas Acland, during his lifetime, at Exeter.
The inscription on it runs as follows :

"As a tribute of private worth and public integrity and a
testimony of admiration of a generous heart and open hand,
which has been ever ready to protect the weak, to relieve the
needy, and to succour the oppressed of whatsoever party,
race, or creed."

We must not conclude this short sketch of a family
whose connection with the parish has been so singular
a benefit to it, without returning for a moment to that
illustrious Selworthy man and brave soldier, John
Dyke Acland, eldest son of the seventh baronet, and
his heroic wife. He was born, as we have seen, at
Selworthy, in 1747, and married in 1770, lady Christian
Harriet Caroline Fox-Strangways, sister of Stephen,
first earl of Ilchester. Mr. Acland entered the army, and
became major of the 20th Foot. He was colonel of the
Devonshire Militia, and served at one time as M.P. for
Callington, but on the outbreak of the American War
his regiment was ordered on active service. Lady
Harriet accompanied her husband, and shared with
him all the terrible hardships and privations, which
attended that disastrous expedition. Major Acland
was soon struck down by the terrible sickness which
attacked the English army, and which was more to




THE LADY HARRIET ACLAND
From a contemporary engraving in the possession of Mrs. S. Wuodhouse.



Personal History. 185

be feared than their French foes No better accom-
modation could be obtained for the sick man than
a miserable log hut destitute of every comfort. To
this wretched shelter lady Harriet had her husband
conveyed ; and here they abode, suffering terrible
privations, until she had nursed him back to health.

Again in 1777, lady Harriet probably saved her
husband's life. Colonel Acland in that year was
engaged in the disastrous battle of Ticonderoga, and
dangerously wounded. Lady Harriet had not been
allowed to accompany him in this hazardous enter-
prise ; but on hearing the disastrous news, she hurried
across the lake of Champlain in an open boat, at the
risk of her life from wind and wave, and of capture by
the enemy, once more to devote herself to nursing
him. Her good care of her husband was once more
successful, and he rejoined his regiment and returned
to the front, still accompanied by his wife.

The position of major Acland's regiment at this
time, was a peculiarly trying and dangerous one. He
was in command of the Grenadiers, who formed the
advanced guard of general Fraser's battalion, and so
energetic were the enemy, and so great was the danger
of a surprise, that for a long period a hurried sleep in
their clothes, was all the rest either officers or soldiers
could dare to take. To the constant danger of attack
and the bitter cold, was added the want of the com-
monest necessaries. And soon another trial befell
colonel Acland and his wife ; for one night the tent
in which they were sleeping caught fire, and they
barely escaped with their lives and the loss of nearly
all their clothing.



1 86 History of Selworthy.

Greater sufferings, however, were still in store for
poor lady Harriet. As the army advanced the
Grenadiers were liable to attack at every moment, and
major Acland directed his wife to stay behind with the
baggage, with three other ladies who were with the


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