To him, the repressed repair to learn by what means the oppressor is to be resisted; to him, the orphan and the friendless look, as to one who knows how to direct them to recover their property or their rights. The attorney it is to whom, as a conveyancer in preparing deeds, bonds, mortgages, marriage settlements etc., we confide the transfer and security of our monies, our goods and our estates. It is the attorney before whom we lay these documents, upon his opinion of which we buy and sell land, houses and a variety of other property depending more especially upon what is usually called the Title to their possession. By these means it is the attorney who has an opportunity of knowing the most intimate affairs of individuals in every relative situation in life,; and it is the attorney, thus invested with so much power, who has the opportunity of becoming either a blessing or a curse to the neighbourhood in which he resides.'
The book of English trades and library of useful arts, London 1818, pp6,7
John Dunning Snr.
John, the father of famous Ashburtonian John Dunning, was an attorney.
Born in 1701* he 'had settled at Ashburton....where he practised as an attorney. He had married the daughter of a Mr Henry Judsham, of Old Port, in the parish of Modbury**'
John junior 'was born on the 18th October 1731 in the house where his father resided and carried on his business, which house is still standing, and is pointed out at this day to the stranger by the townspeople of Ashburton, with no little pride and complacency.'
Lives of eminent English judges of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, William Newland Welsby, T & J W Johnson, Philadelphia 1846, p535
* Charles Worthy says he was born 1701. Charles Worthy, Devonshire Parishes, op cit. p 73
** Henry Jutsham according to Charles Worthy, Devonshire Parishes, op cit. p 73. Marriage licence said to be 17th May 1726.
Leaving school at about age 13, Dunning became an articled clerk in his father's firm.
'Several monuments of his industry as a clerk are still to be met with in the neighbourhood of Ashburton, such, for instance, as family deeds and settlements, written throughout by his own hand, and bearing his signature as an attesting witness. Many pages also of the proceedings in the parish books are of his writing, and are signed J Dunning, junior.'
Lives of eminent English judges p536
For more on John Dunning see Famous Ashburtonians
ADM 106/1077/118, is a letter to or from John Hicks, attorney, Ashburton, detailing Amos Mallett and Prudence Webb's trial for embezzling naval stores.
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ - Accessed 21-11-2014
In 1756 John Smerdon was an apprentice to Richard Harris of Ashburton, attorney.
In 1767 Robert Brent was an apprentice to Richard Harris, gent.
1769 John Seale and in 1777 Robert Abraham were apprenticed to Richard Harris attorney.
Register of duties paid for Apprentices' Indentures 1710-1811
Richard may have been the same Richard Harris who left a charitable bequest in his will of 1778 (see the Rich and poor section of People and properties).
Above: Letter addressed to Mr Richard Harris, May 1770
From my own collection
The death of John Smerdon, attorney, at Ashburton, was reported in 1817. He may be the same John Smerdon who was apprenticed to Richard Harris, above.
The New Monthly Magazine, vol 7, London, January - June 1817, p461
In 1783 Vincent Langworthy was an apprentice to Thomas Tucker of Ashburton, attorney.
Register of duties paid for Apprentices' Indentures 1710-1811
'Doctor Andrew G C Tucker* was born in 1778 at Ashburton. After qualifying as a solicitor and obtaining the degree of LL.D. of St Andrews, he practised in that town and evidently from his writings was a keen naturalist and philosopher.'
Report and transactions of the Devonshire Association, Plymouth 1900, Vol XXXII p271
Available to read freely on http://archive.org/ Accessed 22/9/2013
* Believed to be Andrew Griffin Coard Tucker
For more on the Tucker family, many of whom became solicitors, see The Tucker family under People and properties
The Tozer family
1761 The banns were read in March for the marriage of Solomon Tozer of Ashburton and Catherine Wreford of Bow.
1765 Solomon Tozer, the son of Solomon and Catherine, was baptized on July 4th
1767 Moses Tozer, the son of Solomon Tozer and his wife Rebecca, was baptized in May.
1783 John Tozer, sergemaker, was buried on April 27th.
1817 A 'substantial' property in West Street occupied by Solomon Tozer is up for sale. The house had two parlours, a drawing room, a kitchen, 7 bedrooms, a wash-house, scullery, pantries, drying lofts and a pump.
Exeter Flying Post 16 Oct 1817 p1 col5
This is probably the same Solomon Tozer who died aged 48 in 1819, and was buried in Ashburton on 19th May. The burial record states that he was an attorney.
In 1819 the Exeter Flying Post printed a notice regarding the estate of the late Solomon Tozer, attorney-at-law at Ashburton. Anyone with a claim on the estate was to contact Mr R M Tozer of Newton-Abbott or Mr J C Tozer of Teignmouth.
Exeter Flying Post 3 Jun 1819 p1 col5
5th March 1821. Solomon Tozer married Mary Rendell by licence at the bride's parish, Stokeinteignhead. Solomon was of the parish of Ashburton.
1823 Solomon Tozer, the son of Solomon Tozer and Mary, was baptized on April 30th. Solomon was a sergemaker.
The 1861 census of Ashburton shows Henry Tozer, solicitor, living in East Street. With him is his wife Harriet A, his daughter Harriet M E, and his son Solomon.
Henry was probably the son of Solomon and Mary Tozer, born 9th August 1829 and baptised in Ashburton on 6th January 1830. The Devon Family History Society index shows Solomon as a sergemaker.
Ashburton Baptisms 1830-1840 Devon FHS 2006
In 1894 the following obituary was written about Henry Tozer:
'Henry Tozer was the youngest son of Solomon Tozer, a member of an old Ashburton family, long connected with the woollen manufacture. He was educated at the Ashburton Grammar School, and entered the legal profession about forty years since, having served his articles with the late Mr Edgar, of Weston-super-mare. He took an active part in local matters, and his genial and generous nature made him a popular man. For many years he had the management of Spitchwick and Widecombe Manors, then in Chancery. For some time Mr Tozer had withdrawn from public business, and his son and survivor Mr Solomon Tozer, having entered into partnership with him, he devoted himself to his garden and other kindred pursuits.
Mr Tozer joined the Association in 1872, and the success of the meeting at Ashburton in 1876, was largely due to the active interest he took in the arrangements, and to his liberal hospitality on the occasion. He was also one of the early members of the Teign Naturalists' Field Club, having been elected in 1865.
Early in life he married Harriet Goodhall*, who died in 1884 leaving a son and daughter. Early in 1893, Mr Tozer moved into his country house at Priestaford, near Ashburton, where he died suddenly on the 27th August, at the age of 64.
Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol 26 (1894) p50
Freely available from https://archive.org - accessed 19-9-2014
*According to FreeBMD Henry Tozer married Harriet Agnes Goodall in the Axbridge registration district in the September quarter of 1853
1815 Documents connected with the French prisoners of war show that Joseph Gribble was agent for the prisoners
For more on this see the Conflict section of Ashburton in peril.
Coroners–Joseph Gribble, Ashburton, 1816
Exeter Itinerary and general directory, T & H Besley, Exeter 1828, p76
Mr Joseph Gribble mentioned as Ashburton solicitor
London Gazette Issue 18247 13 May 1826, p1143
When parts of a phaeton belonging to Mr Thomas Cousins were stolen from a coach house in East Street, five guineas reward was offered for the conviction of the culprits. Application could be made to Mr Joseph Gribble, secretary and treasurer of the Ashburton Association for the prevention of robbery and theft.
Exeter Flying Post 1 November 1821, p1 col4
On 30th October 1835 a fiat in bankruptcy was issued against Joseph Gribble of Ashburton, scrivener.
Western Times 15 October 1842, p1 col5
He lived somewhere in West Street. Later that year (1835) the property, 'late and for many years in the occupation of Mr Joseph Gribble' was up for auction at the London Inn.
Western Times 19 December 1835, p2 col3
The Abraham family.
In 1777 Robert Abraham were apprenticed to Richard Harris attorney.
John Gillett was an apprentice with Robert Abraham jnr., attorney, as
was Henry M. Lyde in 1789, Joseph Gribble in 1790, Jonas Ridout and John
Henry Pinker in 1795 and Charles Kendall and Jas N. P. Cosserat in
Register of duties paid for Apprentices' Indentures 1710-1811
October 1827. Robert and Frances Abraham baptize their daughter, Sarah Mary. Robert is described as a solicitor.
Ashburton baptisms 1822-1829 Devon FHS 2006
In 1830 Robert Abraham jnr., solicitor, of Ashburton, was killed in a riding accident.
Bristol Mercury 6 July 1830 p1 col4
Articled clerks who passed their examination at the Hall of the Law Society, Hilary Term 1841: Robert George Abraham, articled or assigned to Robert Abraham, Ashburton.
The Legal Guide, Vol 5, London 1841, p237
In 1844 The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette noted that in the Register of Attornies and Solicitors several men had been practising between 59 and 64 years. The solicitor in third place for length of service was Robert Abraham of Ashburton, who was admitted in 1782.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 5 October 1844 p3 col2
He died aged 86 in 1847. The North Devon Journal reported that he was then the oldest solicitor in the county.
North Devon Journal 11 February 1847 p3 col1
1908. The death of Robert George Abraham, solicitor, was announced. He was in his 90th year.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 28 August 1908 p16 col6
In 1845 'the lady of George Caunter Esq., solicitor', gave birth to a daughter.
Western Times 18 January 1845 p2 col6
For more on George Caunter see the Caunter family under People and properties.
1850. The following are listed as Attorneys in White's Directory:
Abraham and Kitson, East Street
George Caunter, East Street
William Aldridge Cockey, East Street, dep. coroner
Joseph Gribble, West Street, coroner
Robert Tucker, East Street
History, gazetteer and directory of Devonshire, William White, 1850 p466. Freely available on http://books.google.co.uk - Accessed 25-9-2014
The 1851 census shows 76 year old Joseph Gribble as a solicitor and coroner, living in West Street.
1851 census HO107, Piece 253, Folio 21, p34
Mr W A Cockey
When Joseph Gribble died in 1852, a vacancy occurred for the post of coroner. W A Cockey, solicitor, had been deputy coroner for some time, and was a candidate for the position.
Western Times 2 October 1852, p7 col5
Solicitors in the 1861 census: Robert Tucker, Robert C Tucker, Robert G Abraham and Henry Tozer.
1874. H. Tozer, solicitor, Ashburton, advertised that he would advance sums of money – £1500 and £700 is given as an example – on freehold and approved leasehold properties.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 10 July 1874 p8 col5
See also The Firth family under Individual Families
Born in Cheshire, Henry Mallaby Firth was baptised in Wittan in 1852, the son of Frederic Hand and Mary Firth.
He was an articled attorney clerk in Lewisham in 1871. In 1875 Mr Firth, son of F A Firth of Cator Court, went into partnership with Mr G Caunter, of Ashburton.
He married Frances Caunter in Widecombe parish church in 1877. At the time of his marriage his residence was Cator Court, Widecombe. Frances was the daughter of solicitor George Caunter.
Wittan parish records
1871 census RG10, piece no 768, folio 44, p14
Western Times 5 March 1875 p8 col3
Widecombe parish records
Ledgers and account books for Caunter and Firth, solicitors, are held at the Devon Archives and Local Studies Service (South West Heritage Trust)
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk, ref 1164B
In the 1891 census Henry Mallaby Firth, solicitor, is shown at The Knoll, Ashburton. Forty years old, he is living with his wife Frances, three children and three servants.
In the same census Frederic H Firth, 66 and a JP living on his own means, is living at Place House. He was also born in Cheshire.
Western Morning News 11 March 1926, p3 col5
Other Ashburton solicitors in the 1891 census are: 3 members of the Tucker family (Robert, Robert C and Robert E), Robert G Abraham and Solomon Toyer*
* Should be Tozer
Exeter Flying Post 15 February 1896 p3 col4