The Perry family
John Dunning, later Lord Ashburton, was born in 1731. See Famous Ashburtonians

'It is believed that during the earlier years of his married life Mr Dunning* actually resided and his children were born at Gulwell, a farmhouse in the parish of Staverton, but within a stone's-throw of the boundary of Ashburton. Gulwell, which is close by the railway, and about a quarter of a mile below the Ashburton station, has been held for many generations by the Perry family, who retain a distinct tradition of Lord Ashburton's birth there, and of his occasional visits to the spot in afterlife.'
* John Dunning Snr., father of Lord Ashburton
Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol VIII, Plymouth, 1876, p83

Charles Worthy states that John Dunning was believed to have been born at the Perrys' house in Gulwell, which was actually in Staverton parish. 'Still in existence' in 1887, it was behind the modern (at that date) house of the Perry family. Built partly of cob, it had oak interior woodwork, some of which was carved. There were also six figures, apparently painted on leather and fixed to one of the panels. The house featured a Tudor window and late perpendicular doorways, but by the time of the article was being used as a store room.

The same writer says that by 1736 John Dunning senior was the owner of a house in West Street.
Charles Worthy, Devonshire Parishes,
Exeter and London 1887, vol 1, pp 73,74


Richard Perry and Julian Scoble were married at Staverton 26th July 1730
They had several children: most of them (perhaps all if the records are missing) were baptised both in Staverton and Ashburton, and on the same day.

Joane, the daughter of Richard Perry was born on the 8th May 1731 and baptised on the 25th.
Staverton parish records
Joan the daughter of Richard Perry of Staverton was baptised at Ashburton 25th May 1731.
Ashburton parish records

Francis, the daughter of Richard Perry was born 21st February 1732 and baptised 13th March.
Staverton parish records
Frances the daughter of Richard Perry of Staverton was baptised at Ashburton 13th March 1732.
Ashburton parish records

Ann the daughter of Richard Perry of Staverton was baptised at Ashburton 15th November 1734
Ashburton parish records

Richard the son of Richard Perry was baptised 6th September 1737
Staverton parish records
Richard the son of Richard Perry of Staverton was baptised at Ashburton 6th September 1737
Ashburton parish records

Rebecca the daughter of Richard Perry of Staverton was baptised at Ashburton 5th June 1739
Ashburton parish records

John the son of Richard Perry was born 9th June and baptised 3rd July 1741
Staverton parish records
John the son of Richard Perry of Staverton was baptised at Ashburton 3rd July 1741
Ashburton parish records

George the son of Richard Perrey was born 29th September....rd Oct? 1743
Staverton parish records
George the son of Richard Perry of Staverton was baptised at Ashburton 16th October 1743
Ashburton parish records

Jeffery the son of Mr Richard Perry was baptised 24th December 1745
Staverton parish records
Jeffery the son of Richard Perry was baptised at Ashburton 24th December 1745
Transciption Ashburton parish records
Many thanks to Peter Fletcher for pointing out the above entries

Richard Perry Snr. was buried at Ashburton in June 1784. He was 'of Staverton'. This may have been husband of Julian.
Julian Perry of Gulwell in Staverton was buried in Ashburton in July 1789
Parish records

71 year old Jeffery Perry was buried in March of 1816; his abode was Gulwel. This would be the Jeffery who was baptised in 1745, the son of Richard and Julian.
Parish records

John born 1741
John married Ann Michelmore in March 1768 at Staverton, with both being of the parish. John signed the register and Ann made her mark. John was probably the John who was born in 1741, the son of Richard and Julian.
Staverton parish records

'Another instance of his [ie John Dunning, later Lord Ashburton] aversion to engage in legal contention may be related on the authority of Mr Perry, of Gulwell. Mr Perry's grandfather* had taken the law into his own hands by hanging some dogs that had worried his sheep. The owner, who lived in the parish of Holne, threatened an action, but was finally induced to leave a settlement in the hands of Counsellor Dunning, who decided that Perry should forfeit a rump of beef and a dozen of wine when called on. The penalty was no doubt exacted.'
Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol VIII, Plymouth,1876, p95
* Assuming Mr Perry is John Perry, baptised 1810, (see below) I think his father would have been Richard baptised 1773, and his grandfather would have been John who married Ann Michelmore in 1768.
Children of John and Ann Perry, baptised at Ashburton, are:
Ann, baptised October 1769
Ann was possibly buried at Ashburton 21st September 1775, 'the daughter of John Perry of Staverton'
John, baptised October 1770
Richard, baptised January 1773
Jeffery, baptised April 1799
Parish records

John Perry, 'of Prestiford', was buried at Ashburton in May 1815, aged 75. His memorial also records his wife Ann who died in 1810 aged 70, and their son John. John died aged 30 in 1799.
Parish records
Richard baptised 1773
Richard Perry, of Ashburton, married Mary Hunniwell of Buckfastleigh by licence in 1806. It seems almost certain that this is the couple who at some stage live at Prestiford, and that Richard is the son of John and Ann, baptised in 1773.
Buckfastleigh parish records

Anne Perry was baptised at Ashburton in September 1807, the daughter of Richard and Mary. There is a note that she was born 24th May.
Other children of the couple were:
Mary, baptised November 1808
John, baptised March 1810
Rebecka, baptised May 1812
Eliza, baptised July 1814. The abode is shown as Ashburton, and Richard is a yeoman.
Richard, baptised June 1816. The abode is Prestiford.
Elizabeth Fanny, baptised November 1821. The abode is Pristeford.
Parish records

'In the year 1809, it was resolved by the parishioners assembled in vestry, to make an application to the court of Chancery, for setting aside several leases of the property of the charity, which it was supposed had been impropery granted.
The premises held under this trust had been immemorially let for years....'

Richard Perry, who rented Brent Park and Dock Park was one of the many holders of these leases.

'It should be observed, that Brent Park and Dock Park were purchased with 200l given by the will of Edward Gould, for the augmentation of the maintenance of the school-master of the grammar-school...'
The Charities in the County of Devon, vol 1, London, 1839, p158

'The lands at Staverton contain 13a & 3p; they had been formerly let at 8l 8s per annum, and afterwards at 15l 15s and as appears in our account of the church-lands, were included in the information exhibited to the court of Chancery in 1813, as being at that time let for less than their value. Richard Perry, the tenant, took a new lease by auction, from Michaelmas 1816, for seven years at the rent of 23l 10s per annum, which is stated to be the full value of the land. Mr White, the schoolmaster, receives the rent annually.'
ibid p166
Richard Perry, of Gages, was elected as portreeve in 1841 at the annual Court of the Right Honourable Lord Clinton and L V Palk, Bart. R Abraham was elected bailiff. Once the court business was concluded 'the Jury retired to the Golden Lion, where an excellent and substantial dinner was provided in Mr Barons' usual good style'.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 30 October 1841, p3 col4

When 1 year old Elizabeth Perry was buried in February 1816, she was of Prestiford. She was the daughter of Richard.
A memorial in Ashburton churchyard records Eliza and her parents Richard and Mary: Mary died in 1834 aged 49 and Richard in 1845, aged 72.
Parish records

In 1841 four members of the Perry family were at Gulwell: John and Ann, both approximately aged 30, Richard, approximately 20, and Elizabeth, 15.
1841 census HO107, piece no.229, folio 6, p6

Fanny Perry, of Gulwell House, married J Smerdon, of Ashburton, at Staverton in May 1843. The Western Times described Mr Smerdon as a coal and seed merchant.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 27 May 1843, p3 col2
Western Times 27 May 1843, p2 col6

On the wedding certificate Fanny is Elizabeth Fanny, and her residence is Gulwell in Staverton. Richard Perry, farmer, is her father.
Staverton parish records

Richard Perry, of Gages nigh* Ashburton, was buried in August 1845, aged 72
Parish records
*Presumably 'near'.
There was an announcement of Richard's death in the Western Times. A yeoman, he died on August 23rd, at Gage's Farm.
Western Times 30 August 1845, p2 col5

He left a will, proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in 1848. The will was dated October 1839, with a codicil dated November 1843. His sons Richard and John were named executors.
Richard Jnr. and John, together with their three sisters Ann, Mary and Elizabeth Fanny, were all beneficiaries.
Properties and land left to the children included Gulwell; a slaughter-house in Ashburton; the Valiant Soldier Inn in Buckfastleigh and copyhold land called Weal in Staverton. Two fields called Broompark in Staverton, and the messuages, tenements and lands of Gages were given to William Rolestone Whiteway, miller, but (as I understand it) with the Perry children to benefit from the rents and profits produced. In particular, Ann, Mary and Elizabeth Fanny were to receive annuities from the land at Gages.
All the childen received sums of money: in the case of the daughters Ann and Mary received £300 each, and Elizabeth Fanny £500.
The codicil ensured that Elizabeth Fanny, by then married to John Smerdon, had a separate amount of money for her own use, not subject to the control of her husband.
Ref PROB 11/205/27
Many thanks to Peter Fletcher for the details from the above will

In 1848, Mary, second daughter of the late Mr R Perry, Gulwell Farm, Staverton, married J Wish.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 15 January 1848, p5 col5
On the wedding certificate the name of the groom looks more like John Irish, a fishmonger. Mary Perry's father is given as Richard Perry, yeoman.
Staverton parish records                                                                    
The Perrys endured several thefts:
In 1849 'some villains', believed to have just been released from the county jail, cut the hair from the manes and tails from some horses in a field adjoining the turnpike road. The horses belonged to Messrs Perry, of Gulwell Farm.
Western Times 30 June 1849, p6 col5

A 'notorious gang' killed and carried off a 'fine sheep' from Messrs J and R Perry, Gulwell Farm, in 1851. The Western Times noted that the gang were still going on with 'their desperate system of plunder'.
Western Times 22 February 1851 p7 col4

A 'fine black cart mare' was taken in 1856.
Western Times 25 October 1856 p7 col3

Two yeomen neighbours - W H Sawdye and George Leaman, had a long running feud during the 1850s. In 1858 Sawdye was charged with assault, and he later charged Leaman with perjury. Leaman was also charged with letting water into a meadow belonging to Sawdye, causing damage.
John Perry, of Gulwell Farm, was one of many witnesses. The case was dismissed.
Western Times 26 June 1858 p6 col5

1860. Messrs Perrys' annual lime audit was held at the Globe Inn in January. 'A capital dinner was provided.'
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 21 January 1860 p5 col5

1875. 'A well of the last kind [ie bearing a saint's name] has existed from time immemorial in the Parish of Ashburton, and is still famed for the cure of weak eyes, it is situated upon the glebe field known as Stone Park, and was probably dedicated to St Gudula, the patron Saint of Blind people; who is always represented upon screens and on windows as holding a lantern, the name is now corrupted to Gulwell, there was an ancient cross (long since removed) near this spot, fragments of it however are in the possession of Mr Perry, the owner of the Gulwell estate, which although situated in the Parish of Staverton, is called after the ancient holy well in the Parish of Ashburton.'
Charles Worthy, Ashburton and its Neighbourhood, Ashburton, 1875, p48

In 1878 Brothers J and R Perry, farmers near Ashburton, took out an action to recover damages for the seduction of their niece; the defendant, Luke Pearse, claimed that the plaintiffs had suffered no loss.
The Perrys' case was that their niece, Mary Jane Smerdon, had assisted in the household for some years, and in recent years had received an annual sum as remuneration. Mr Pearse, a man of 'considerable property' in Torquay, was a frequent visitor to the farm, and in 1874 persuaded Miss Smerdon 'to surrender her virtue to him.' In 1876 she became pregnant, and gave birth to a girl; Mr Pearse denied that he was the father.
His Lordship said that reasonable damages were due - Miss Smerdon was a young woman old enough to take care of herself, and had not been promised marriage. The jury awarded £40 to the plaintiffs.
Western Times 21 March 1878 p3 col5ff

71 year old John Perry was at Gulwell farmhouse in the 1881 census. He was a farmer of 150 acres, employing 3 men and 1 boy. He had been born in Ashburton. With him was his 73 year old sister Ann, his brother Richard, 65, and his nephew Henry, 40. John and all his relatives at the farm were unmarried.
1881 census RG11, piece no. 2177, folio 23, p13

1883 Richard Perry was in a semi conscious state after being thrown from his horse whilst riding towards Pridhamsleigh. He had suffered a 'slight'  brain concussion.
Western Daily Mercury 21 June 1883 p5 col4

He died from his injuries. An inquest heard that he had set off from home on a pony that he was used to riding, but whilst coming down a hill near Pridhamsleigh the animal had for some reason bolted. It then fell on its haunches, and Mr Perry was thrown off, resulting in him hitting the back part of his head on the road. Dr Adams said that death resulted from 'a contusion of blood on the brain', and a verdict of accidental death was recorded
East and South Devon Advertiser, 30 June 1883. Information from Peter Fletcher, to whom many thanks

67 year old Richard Perry was buried on June 26th 1883. He was of Gulwell, Landscove (?)
Parish records

4 youths, all aged about 14, were charged with stealing apples from Messrs Perry at Gulwell in October 1883 - 'great quantities' had been stolen of late. Three were fined, but one, John Eales, was birched.
Western Times 13 October 1883 p4 col2

The funeral of Henry Perry, of Gulwell, took place in September 1886. He had been a member of the Loyal Ashburton Lodge of Oddfellows for 21 years, and many present and past members joined the funeral cortege. Their mourning dress included a sash and sprig of thyme.
Western Times 28 September 1886 p8 col6

In October 1886 Woodend, 23 acres of arable land in Ashburton parish, was to be let. Mr Perry of Gulwell had been the recent occupier.
Western Times 15 October 1886, p8 col4

There was a fire at the Gulwell premises of Messrs Perry in June 1891. A tramp was blamed for setting fire to stables, cowsheds and a barn. A gate slamming and dogs barking woke Miss Smerdon, who was on the premises; soon afterwards what she thought was a thunderstorm turned out to be buildings on fire. A messenger was sent to Ashburton, and Capt. Tucker arrived with the fire brigade, who prevented the fire reaching the house and stable block. Threshing and winnowing machines were lost in the blaze, together with corn ready for  market - the damage was covered by insurance.
Western Times 16 June 1891, p5 col4

Ann (Nancy) Perry died at Gulwell in January 1892
Western Times 7 January 1892, p2 col6

John Perry of Gulwell died on the 6th December 1899; his will was proved in the Exeter registry in February 1900. Anyone having any claims on the estate were to contact H S Steele, solicitor to the executor of the will, the executor being John Smerdon, of Lower Mead.
Western Times 2 March 1900, p4 col5