Ashburton vicars
                         Notes on some of the Ashburton vicars

                                                  The 1300s
The Black Death 1346-1353. - accessed 03-09-2020

'At Ashburton...John de Undele was instituted to the Vicarage in November 1335, and it appears that he held it till the fatal year [1348], when he was succeeded by David Penylis, who died just before Christmas. His Institution is not recorded, owing, no doubt, to the confusion which prevailed; but on the first of January Richard Yuri was instituted, who seems to have fallen immediately, for his successor, Thomas de Botercombe, was instituted only ten days later.'

Preface to The Register of John de Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter, the Rev F C Hingeston-Randolph, London 1899, p lxxxvii - Accessed 03-09-2020

                                                      The 1400s

William Hayford 1405
William Hayford, vicar of the church of Ashburton, is one of those named in a document held by the National Archives, granting land in the parish of St Sidwell to the Dean and Chapter of Exeter. The date was 9 Henry
IV, ie the ninth year of the reign of Henry IV. Henry became king in 1399.
Ref C 143/439/10, National Archives - accessed 13-09-2020

1411-12 Exeter Cathedral accounts show that William Hayford and 'Richard his servant' refurbished some books at this date. He undertook some of the work in Exeter, but also some in Ashburton, 'perhaps his home.'
The Production of Books in England, 1350-1500, edited by Alexandra Gillespie and Daniel Wakelin, Cambridge 2001, p160
For more on this, see Booksellers, Bookbinders, Printers and Stationers, under Banks and Businesses

1489-90 3s 4d 'gift of Master William Holcomb, vicar there'.
Alison Hanham, Churchwardens' accounts of Ashburton, Devon and Cornwall Record Society, printed Torquay, 1970, p13

                                       The 1500s and 1600s
Thomas Furneaux 1500 - 1517
A.D. 1501-2. Expenses: to Mr Thomas Furneaux vicar (as before) to the glazier for a bargayn that ys made betwene the paryshe and hym to repay re the glass yerely that needs it, iii & iiiid.
A.D. 1517-18. Receipts - iii & iiiid from the gift of John Biche, so ordered through the office of the Dean of Exeter for penance, for a certain crime loosed (relax) to him; 1 x 8, one piece of silver, containing five ounces and a half at the value of xvii 8 v d, from the gift of Thomas Furneaux, clerk, late vicar of the same place...
Expenses - iis viiid for one herse (sc. cloth) of buckram bought for the burial of the vicar of the same place.
The Parish of Ashburton [in] the 15th and 16th Centuries : as it appears from extracts from the churchwardens' accounts, 1479-1580, London, 1879, pp12, 17
Available at - accessed 14-09-2020

Richard Norton
Westcote v Valans. A document in the National Archives, dated 1518 - 1529, deals with a bond taken out by Peter Westcote and Thomas Mathew with Richard Norton, Vicar of Ashburton, now deceased. The bond had been partly discharged, and the complainants had tendered the residue to Thomas Valans and John Drewe, the executors of Richard Norton.
C1/593/47 National Archives - accessed 01-10-2023

Thomas Southerne 1525 - 1556
Thomas Southerne, vicar of Ashburton, was involved in a legal dispute with Thomas Pridiaxe during 1533 to 1538. Thomas Pridiaxe was the executor of John Pridiaxe, and the case involved the lease of the vicarage, together with a barn and land.
Ref 1/872/68 National Archives

1566-67 20s 'gift of Sir Edmund Clerke, vicar of Ayssheberton'
Alison Hanham, Churchwardens' accounts of Ashburton, Devon and Cornwall Record Society, printed Torquay, 1970, p156
Robert Lawe 1589 - 1629
Robertus Lawe MA, appointed Vicar Aishperton 4/2/1589. Source Devon RO Chanter 21, (Register).
Clergy database, - accessed 24-08-2020

In 1877 Alexander Balloch Grosart printed the Executors' accounts of Robert Nowell, from original manuscripts belonging to the Towneley family of Towneley Hall in Lancashire.
Tracing the Towneleys, PDF produced by, p45

Robert Nowell made various payments to one Robte Lawe whilst at Brasenose College, Oxford, and Grosart added some biographical notes:
'Robert Lawe was a younger son of Robert Lawe of Wiswall, near Whalley, yeoman, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of John Wolton, yeoman; thus he was nephew of John Wolton, Bishop of Exeter (whom I notice hereafter) and sister's grandson (great nephew) of Dean Nowell.
Robert Lawe appears to have been at home in 1569, but in that year or early in 1570 was sent to Oxford and entered at Brasenose. Our MS shows the frequent pecuniary assistance afforded to this youth by Dean Nowell during eleven years he was the university; and supplies the fact that he proceeded BA in 1579-80. Afterwards he took the MA degree. On leaving the University, about 1582, he became beneficed at Ashwater. Being taken under the patronage of his uncle John Wolton, who had been created Bishop of Exeter in 1579, Robert Lawe, MA., was collated to the archdeaconry of Barnstaple in that diocese the 7th January 1582-3. On the 3rd December 1584, Robert Lawe, Archdeacon of Barum, was collated Treasurer of the see of Exeter (Le Neve, vol.i, pp407, 416). He held the office of Treasurer until his death....
Robert Lawe died before June 1629, when Robert Hall was appointed Treasurer of Exeter, vacant "per mort Lawe" '
Rev. Alexander B Grosart, ed., The Spending of the Money of Robert Nowell, printed for private circulation 1877, p251

In addition to the appointments detailed by the Rev Grosart there are the following:
Vicar at St Newlin (Newlyn East, Cornwall) 6/1/1582 (Devon RO Chanter 20)
Rector at Sancte Columbe Maioris (St Columb Major, Cornwall) 19/6/1584 (Devon RO Chanter 21)
Clergy database, - accessed 24-08-2020

Robert was buried at Ashburton on 29th June 1629.
Parish records

Probate for his will was granted in July 1629. In it he said, 'I give and bequeath unto my Cosen* Markus Lawe the next Advowson and presentation of and to the church and vicaradge of Ashberton in the countie of Devon and all my estate right and title to the same.'
PCC -TNA PROB 11/156, transalation by Simon Carter, to whom many thanks
*Cosen (cousin) is used here in the sense of relative.

See the separate page for Simon Carter's research on Robert Lawe

Mark Lawe 1629 - 1644
Mark Lawe BA was appointed Deacon at Ashburton on the 8th July 1629 (Devon RO Chanter 43)
Clergy database, - accessed 24-08-2020

He married Maria Tidball at Ashburton in December 1536
Maria had been baptised at Ashburton in November 1616, the daughter of Samuelis (the surname looks like Tudball)
Parish records

Mark was buried at Ashburton in October 1644
Parish records

'1644 Probate of the will of Mark Law, Clerk, Vicar of Ashburton. Granted to Marie, his relict 23rd Jany. 1644. 
Sum £98 18s 4d
(Epis Regs., Exon)'
Charles Worthy, Devonshire Wills, London 1896, p161

Samuel Tidball 1644 - 1647
Samuel Tedbole was appointed as curate at Ashburton 4/4/1616 (Devon RO Chanter 42) - accessed 29-08-2020

Samuel Tidball, clerk, was instituted as vicar To Aishberton the 11th August 1644 (PRO E331 Exeter/10 Returns to First Fruits Office) -
accessed 29-08-2020

'Mark Law, who married Maria Tidball, December 22nd, 1536, and upon his death, in 1644, was instituted Samuel Tidball, his father-in-law, who came to Ashburton as curate to Robert Law in 1613 and remained there all through the incumbency of his son Mark*; he was also master of the Grammar School, and it was in his time that (in consequence of a law suit, relative to some money, which had been bequeathed to his school), the chancery decree was obtained, under which it has been ever since governed, and which provides, that if after him " Any Master shall take any Ecclesiastical living, Curateship, or constant Lectureship, or neglect his school, or become insufficient from any cause whatever, in the opinion of the Trustees, he shall vacate his place, and the Electors may displace him." He died about two years after his institution to the Vicarage, 23rd September 1647.'
Charles Worthy, Ashburton and Its Neighbourhood, publ. L B Varder, Ashburton 1875, p22
*Worthy may mean son-in-law here (ie Mark was son-in-law to Samuel Tidball. If he means that Mark was the son of Robert Lawe he is incorrect, although they were related - see Robert Lawe, above.

Samuel was buried at Ashburton in September 1647
Parish records

Alexander Grosse 1647 - 1654
'9 December 1647 - Petition of Alexander Grosse, minister. He was appointed, by order of the Standing Committee for the county of Devon, to officiate in the parish church of Ashburton. He prays to be settled in the place by the annexed ordinance.'
Ref HL/PO/JO/10/1/246 National Archives - accessed 27-08-2020

'Grose, Alexander, of Christow, Devon: son of William Grose, husbandman. School, Exeter, under Mr Periman, five years. Age 22. Admitted, July 26th 1618, sizar of his surety, Mr Kidman.
B A (Trin. H) 1621-22. Incorporated as M A at Oxford, 1632. B D (Oxf) 1633. For a time preacher at Plympton. Rector of Bridford, Dev., 1639: and vicar of Ashburton, 1652-4. Buried at Ashburton 1654. " A zealous and mighty man in the Presbyterian way" (Wood). For some account of his numerous works see Trans of Dev. Ass xxi 525'
John Venn, compiler, Biographical History of Gonville and Caius College 1349-1897, vol 1 Cambridge, 1897, p240

'Walker tells us, on somewhat doubtful testimony, that Samuel Tidball, vicar of Ashburton, was sequestrated, and died before the Restoration. Whether sequestrated or not, he died in 1647; and was succeeded by Alexander Grosse, an undoubted Puritan. It is not unlikely that the germs of Nonconformity in Ashburton were implanted during his seven years' ministry.'
Rev T G Crippen plus additional writers, Congregationalism in Ashburton, Congregational Historical Society, 1933, pdf, - accessed 27-08-2020

1654 'Alexander Grosse Bachelor in Divinity, on the stone over his grave is expressed [?] that he departed this life the 13th day of April, which is mistaken, he being buried ye 10'
Parish records

Joshua Bowdon / Bowden

A handwritten sheet of paper is inserted into a rebound copy of Worthy's Ashburton and Its Neighbourhood, that once belonged to Fabyan Amery, Druid. The following information is said to be from the Lambeth Palace Library:
'Ashberton with the Chappells Bucklond & Bickington
Joshua Bowden
Know all men by these presents that the 25 April 1654 there was exhibited to us the Commissioners for approbation of public preachers
A presentation of Joshua Bowden Master of Arts to the vicarage of Ashberton with the Chappells  of Bucklond & Bickington made to him by his Highness Oliver Ld Protector etc [?] under his seal manual Together with a testimony in the behalf of the sd Joshua Bowden of his holy and good conversation. Upon perusal & good consideration of the premises [?] & finding him to be a person qualified as in & by the Ordinance for such approbation is required. The Commissioners have approved and adjudged him to be a fit person to preach the gospell and have granted him admission and do admit him to the sd vicarage & chappell to be full & perfect possessor & incumbent thereof and do hereby signify to all whom it may concern that he is hereby instituted to the profits and perequisites [?] and all rights and dues etc. 28 April 1654
Certified as aforesaid by
Dr fFrench of Ch Ch
Dr Rogers   Dr Conant [could be Couant]
Mr Cornish   Mr Howell
& Dr Stanton
Certified further by
Dr Wilkin of Wadham
Mr Lee
Mr Rathband
Mr Moreland
Mr Roope
Mr Estcott'

In May 1656 Sarah the daughter of Joshua Bowdon vicar of Aishberton, born 6
Jan 1659 Elizabeth ye daughter of Joshua Bowdon, vicar of A. born 20
1661 Joshua sonne of Mr Joshua Bowdon vicar bapt 2 March
Parish records

Josua Bowden was instituted as perpetual vicar at Ashberton 23/1/1661 (Devon RO Chanter 24 Register) - accessed 29-08-2020

He was deprived of the post 24/9/1662 (Devon RO Chanter 24 Register) - accessed 29-08-2020

In 1775 Samuel Palmer wrote The Nonconformist's Memorial, which was 'an Account of the Ministers who were rejected or silenced after the Restoration, Particularly by the Act of Uniformity which took place on Bartholomew-day Aug 24th 1662.'
'The following persons afterwards conformed....Mr Joshua Bowden of Ashburton.'
Samuel Palmer, The Nonconformist's Memorial, vol 1 London, 1775, p441

On 26/9/1664 Joshua Bowden was appointed vicar of Frampton in Dorset (BRO ep/A/10/1/4 Subscription book) - accessed 29-08-2020

George Prowse
In 1665 George Prowse, vicar of Ashburton, made a gift of land called Hoppphaie to Ashburton Church. The gift was ratified by Seth, Bishop of Exeter.
2141A/PB/1/a/1 Devon Heritage Centre - accessed 01-10-2023

                                                 The 1700s

John Gilbert 1721 - 1753
'In December 1726 he was preferred to the Deanery of Exeter, and in 1743 was promoted to the Bishopric of Llandaff, and afterwards translated to Sarum. Bishop Gilbert continued Vicar of Ashburton until his elevaton to the Archiepiscopal See of York, in 1753
Charles Worthy, Ashburton and its Neighbourhood, Ashburton 1875, p23

Right: John Gilbert by Thomas Hudson.
In the public domain, available through - accessed 03-09-2020
                                                     The 1800s
John Lane Kitson

'J L Kitson, owner of Westleigh, Vicar of Staverton and of Ashburton, was the son of Alderman Henry Kitson, grocer of Exeter, and mayor in 1773'
Arthur Charles Ellis, An Historical Survey of Torquay from the Earliest Times, 'Torquay Directory' 1930, p447

John Lane Kitson was born in 1778, and baptised at Exeter in January 1779, the son of Henry and Elizabeth.
Familysearch transcription of Births and Baptisms in England, 1538-1973

'John Lane Kitson Vicar of Westleigh in this county [ie Devon] and Georgiana Buller, spinster, daughter of the late Lord Bishop of this Diocese, residing in the Close were married in this Church* by Licence this 27th day of July 1802'
* Exeter Cathedral
Exeter Cathedral parish records

They had at least 8 children:
Henry John, baptised at Ashburton, May 1803. He died in 1808.
William Bullar, baptised at Ashburton, September 1805.
Anne, baptised at Ashburton, March 1807.
Eliza, baptised at Ashburton, May 1810.
Georgiana, baptised at Ashburton, May 1810.
James Buller, baptised at Crediton, October 1811.
Henry John, baptised at Crediton, July 1813.
Susanna Catherine, baptised at Crediton, June 1816.
Transcriptions England Births and Christenings, 1538 - 1975 Familysearch - accessed 10-10-2020

John Lane Kitson was perpetual vicar at Ashburton from 30/10/1802 until 23/4/1825. He had a BA and MA from St Mary Hall Oxford.
The Clergy database - accessed 09-10-2020

According to a catalogue of graduates of Oxford University John Lane Kitson of St Mary Hall obtained his BA in March 1800 and his MA in December 1802.
A Catalogue of All Graduates in Divinity, Law, Medicine, Arts and Music [of] the University of Oxford between October 10 1659 and December 31 1850, Oxford 1851, p388

In 1807 the Great and Small Tythes of Staverton were for let. Consisting of 5000 acres of orchard, meadow and arable land, it was 'on average', said the advertisement, 'the most valuable of any parish of equal extent in the county'. Anyone interested should apply to the Rev. John Lane Kitson or Mar Abraham at Ashburotn.
Salisbury and Winchester Journal 23 February 1807, p4 col3

'We have no evidence of the date of the erection of the present comfortable vicarage, some of the trees surrounding it must be at least 150 years old, and it has been considerably altered and added to from time to time. The Rev. John Lane Kitson greatly improved it about 1810, and also laid out the grounds afresh, and built a good wall all round the lawn and garden.'
Charles Worthy, Ashburton and Its Neighbourhood, publ. L B Varder, Ashburton, 1875, p47

In 1811 a Notice to Creditors stated that anyone having demands on the Rev John Lane Kitson, vicar of Ashburton, should send particulars to Mr Kendall or Mr Pidsley, solicitors at Exeter.
Exeter Flying Post 24 October 1811, p1 col4

He was buried at Ashburton on the 23rd April 1825, aged 46. A note in the register says that his abode was Staverton, and that he was vicar of Ashburton and Staverton.
Parish records

John Lane Kitson's will was proved on  25th June 1825. He made his wife, Georgiana, sole executrix and sole beneficiary. The only other person named in the will was his cousin William Kitson of Shippay, who with Georgiana was given joint 'guardianship and management of the persons and property of all my children'
PROB11/1700/402, National Archives - accessed 09/10/2020

Georgiana, the widow of the late Rev John Lane Kitson, died at Antony Vicarage in Cornwall in February 1858. She was 80.
Royal Cornwall Gazette 5 February 1858, p5 col6

William Marsh

William Marsh, aged 53, was Vicar of Ashburton on the 1851 census. With him at the Vicarage was his wife Jane A and their children William S, 22, Lucy M, 21, Margaret E, 19, Edward Marsh, 17, and Amy, aged 4
1851 census HO107, piece no. 1871, folio 271, pp21,22

Herbert Fisher Marsh, the eldest son of the Rev. W Marsh, died in December 1845.
He was 19. 
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 20 December 1845, p3 col1

Amy, the youngest daughter of the Rev W Marsh, died in January 1854. She was 7 years old.
Western Times 28 January 1854, p5 col2

Edward Wulff, youngest son of the Rev W Marsh and late of Pembroke College, died in February 1855. He was 22.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 10 February 1855, p5 col6

Lucy Napleton, second daughter of the Rev William Marsh, died in September 1855
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 29 September 1855, p5 col4

At a Police Meeting in 1856 the Rev Marsh suggested that alterations be made to the practice of many shops staying open late on Saturday night, sometimes into the Sabbath. Grocers, tea dealers and druggists were those he cited.
Western Times 3 May 1856, p7 col4

The Reverence W Marsh died in May 1861, after a few weeks' illness. Aged 63, he had been vicar of Ashburton for twenty six years.
The announcement in The Western Morning News said that he died of typhoid fever.
Western Times 11 May 1861, p6 col1
Western Morning News 4 May 1861, p2 col2

In June 1861 Mr Chappell, stationer, was selling photographic likenesses of the late Rev W Marsh. Large size were 3s 6d, small 1s 6d. 
Western Morning News 4 June 1861, p1 col5

John Widdicombe was selling various lots at auction at the Vicarage in August 1861. They included a semi-grand pianoforte by Collard and Collard, a library of about 1,500 volumes and an Albert Phaeton.
Western Morning News 10 August 1861, p1 col2

                                                  The 1900s
                                            Richard James Bond

Richard James Bond, his wife Caroline and their family were living in St. Lawrence Lane, Ashburton at the time of the 1901 census. Richard was a Church of England clergyman.
1901 census RG13, piece no. 2053, folio 5, p1

From Kelly's Directory of Devonshire 1902:

Places of worship.
St. Andrew's Church, vicar - Rev Richard James Bond

 In 1902 there was a 'Painful incident' at the funeral of a young woman*, conducted by the Rev R J Bond. A coroner's jury had brought in a verdict of 'Suicide whilst of unsound mind', and because of this the vicar refused to allow the body inside the church. Shops and houses were closed - as were the church doors -  as the funeral procession passed through the crowded streets, and large numbers of inhabitants accompanied the mourners. The vicar read a special service at the graveside, but the whole funeral took only fourteen minutes.

The general mood of the town was of 'detestation' for the vicar's behaviour.
Western Times 24 January 1902 p6 col2

*The young woman's name was Rosa Beavis
Western Times 15 February 1902 p7 col3

In 1902 the Medical Officer reported 28 mild cases of scarlatina* in the town. The vicar, the Rev Bond, wrote a letter to the Urban District Council stating that several people from affected houses had come to the Vicarage, and his servants, 'in ignorance', had let them in. Worried for his own children, he asked that a notice be distributed to the households in question, telling them not to go around 'begging and spreading infection.'

No action was taken.
Western Times 8 September 1902 p4 col6
*Scarlatina - another name for scarlet fever, although usually in a milder form Accessed 30-9-2013

Above: A letter from the Rev Bond to Mr Jones, dated October 1903. It reads: "Dear Mr Jones, I was surprised to find a note dropped in the box late last night, stating you could not come, and addressed to Edith. 

In future, please be good enough to see Mrs Bond, and arrange with her any alterations in the hours of your lesson.

We both think you ought to keep to the hour fixed, during the term, and do not like any departures from it. You do not say why you are obliged to be away today.

Yours sincerely, R J Bond".

From other documents, Mr Jones is probably Harold O Jones, who appears on the 1901 census as a 29 year old professional musician.

Edith is the Rev Bond's daughter - she is 8 years old on the same census, so would be about 10 at the time of the letter.

Harold O Jones later married Amy F J Mitchelmore, in the September quarter of 1913
Thanks to Linda Phillips for the document

Harold O Jones was the organist when Edith Mary Ethel Bond married the Rev H S T Richardson in 1921. The ceremony, which 'created a considerable amount of local interest' was performed by the father of the bride, and Edith's brother, Mr Arthur J F Bond*, gave the bride away. Mr Jones played Mendelssohn's Wedding March at the close of the proceedings, and the church bells were rung throughout the afternoon and evening.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 11 January 1921, p3 col4*For more on Arthur Bond, see Musicians, Poets and Artists, under Famous Ashburtonians

In August 1923 notice was given that anyone having any claims against the estate of Richard James Bond, late of the Vicarage, Ashburton, was to send these claims to Shelly, Johns and Burridge, solicitors in Plymouth. Mr Bond had died in October 1922, and probate had been granted to his son, Arthur James Fitzgerald Bond.
London Gazette 1923, issue date 4th September
Edward Foley Ball

In November 1930 it was reported that the Dean and Chapter of Exeter had invited the Rev E F Ball to become Vicar of Ashburton and Buckland in the Moor, succeeding Archdeacon Thompson.
Mr Ball had graduated at Jesus College, Cambridge, was ordained deacon in 1906 and priest in 1907.
He had been curate at Stoke Damarel and then at St Mary, Newington. More recently he had been at South Tawton, and was Rural Dean of Okehampton. He was editor of the Deanery Magazine.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 28 November 1930, p12 col3

The Rev E F Ball, chairman of the Ashburton Cricket Club committee, presided over a dinner for about fifty at Barnes Café in early 1938.
Western Times 4 February 1938, p8 col3

When the Rev Ball left for Sidmouth in May 1938 he said that he had had seven wonderful years at Ashburton, and did not know of a happier parish. Mr F Edgecombe paid tribute to the vicar, noting that he had been Portreeve, and had presided over many improvements to the church. Gifts were presented to the family, including a silver serviette ring to each of the vicar's four children, engraved with their name and bearing the seal of the borough.
Western Times 27 May 1938, p3 cols 5,6

The Rev E F Ball, Vicar of Sidmouth, distributed the prizes at the last prize-giving of Ashburton Grammar School in July 1938. Formerly Vicar of Ashburton, he had been Chair of the Governors.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 29 July 1938, p8 col5