Farmers
Above: 'The hardy ploughman cheers his team.' Postcard sent from Ashburton to R Underhill at Chagford, 1906.
From my own collection

1798 A plan of Chuleigh Farm, Ashburton, with particulars, by Alexander Law, is held at Exeter Cathedral library and archives. Item ref M9

http://e90015uk.eos-intl.eu/E90015UK/OPAC/Index.aspx - Accessed 26-12-2015


1808 'Some years ago a cow of the Somersetshire breed, belonging to Mr Tozier, in the parish of Ashburton, produced soon after calving 3lb 1 ounce of butter daily...the cow was fed upon grass, with about a quarter of a peck of barley, mixed with a peck of grains, morning and evening.'

General View of the Agriculture of Devon, Charles Vancouver, London, 1808, p335

February 23rd 1810. Buried - Mr John Earle of Pitley
Parish records

The freehold of Higher and Lower Bowdley, which Mr Richard Hellier occupied as one farm, was for sale in 1815. The premises included a farmhouse, pound-house*, ash-house**, barns, linhays, cow-houses etc., and about 153 acres of land. The farm was 'in the best sporting part' of Devon, and had extensive views. There was a lime kiln with lime rocks nearby, and there was the possibility of copper and tin on the estate.
Exeter Flying Post 22 June 1815 p1 col3
* A building in which anything was crushed, but particularly apples
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/pound_house

** A building for depositing the ash from fires, (1) for safety, and (2) to store it until it was used on the land.
See http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/ash_house.htm


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In June 1828 the freehold of Lower Whiddon Farm was being sold by the executors of Solomon Earl. The property consisted of a farmhouse, stable, barn, beast-house and cart-shed amongst other buildings; there was over 92 acres of mixed use land. John Smerdon leased the property.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 21 June 1828 p1 col1

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1831 Daniel West of Ashburton, farmer, was discharged from the Insolvent Debtors' Court.

North Devon Journal 31 March 1831 p3 col3


In 1839 the 'Dolbeer Estate' was to be let by tender, after the death of the proprietor, William Hooper. The estate consisted of an 'excellent' farmhouse and outbuildings, set in about 35 acres of orchard, meadow, pasture land and arable land. The position of the property was contiguous with the Ashburton-Exeter turnpike road. 
Interested persons were to contact Mr Solomon Tozer or Mr Stephen Upton Yolland.

William Hooper had died on December 28th the previous year. Aged 70 at the time of his death, he had farmed several estates in Ashburton over a period of nearly 50 years.
Western Times 16 March 1839 p2 col3

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By March, 1842, Stephen Yolland of Mead had died. Anyone with a claim on the estate had to contact Mrs Yolland of Mead, Mr Rolstone Whiteway, or Mr Roger Hannaford, the executors in trust.
According to Stephen Woods, Samuel Hannaford (Roger's brother) had inherited Mead on the death of his father in 1833.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 19 March 1842, p1 col1
Dartmoor Farm, Stephen Woods, Halsgrove, 2003, p173

A year later the wife of Roger Hannaford, yeoman, gave birth to a son at Higher Mead.
Western Times 15 July 1843, p3 col1

In the following year, 1844, a large sale of animals and equipment was about to be held at Higher Mead Farm. Sheep, bullocks, horses and pigs were for sale, together with hay and straw. Also for sale were carts, a winnowing machine, harness, a stone roller and various other items.
Stephen Woods says that Roger Hannaford emigrated to America - the sale was without reserve, and this may have been the reason.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 24 August 1844, p1 col2
Op cit p172

The Western Times reported in 1852 that Mary Hannaford had recently died in Cincinnati, Ohio, America. She was the wife of Roger Hannaford, late of Higher Mead Farm, Ashburton. She was 42.
Western Times 16 October 1852, p5 col3

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Anna, the wife of Mr. W Smerdon of Druid Farm, gave birth to a daughter on January 10th 1841
Western Times 23 January 1841 p2 col2
Above: Druid Farm
My own photograph 2015
In 1843 a compromise was reached with farmers who objected to lighting the town lamps with gas. Additional lamps were now to be put up.
Western Times 23 September 1843 p3 col4

In 1845 there was an excellent harvest of wheat, barley and oats after a run of 'brilliant' weather. The Western Times suggested that those farmers complaining of inadequate crops were about to form a Grumblers' Society.
Western Times 6 September 1845 p3 co
l4

1847 A barn at Summerhill Farm, owned by Mr. J. Sawdye, caught on fire during a severe thunderstorm. The powerful 'electric fluid' had struck the end door of the barn about midnight.

Western Times 10 July 1847 p6 col3

When Eliza Pearse died at Pitt Farm in 1848 aged 30, she left behind a husband, Robert, and six young children.
Western Times 8 April 1848 p5 col3



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The hay harvest in 1856 was set to be the finest ever known, in both quality and quantity. The corn fields were 'luxuriant', and the potatoes 'promising'. The apple crop was the only exception to a highly promising outcome.

Western Times 12 July  1856 p7 col3

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                                                           Farmers in the 1861 census
William Aldry - Water
John Bickford - Barton
John Bickford - Wrigwell
John W. F. Bickford - Coombe
Benj G. Butler - Chipley
Roger Chaffe - Higherbarn Farm
Richard Cooker - No address given, but Lemonford Mill the next property on the schedule.
William Cooker - Son of Richard, above
Thomas Easterbrook - No address, but 1 Violet Cottages next on schedule.
Samuel Easterbrook - Belford Mill. Brother-in-law to head of house, and may not be permanent resident.
George Gidley - Higher Headborough
William Gill - Pitt Farm
John Harris - Burn
John Hern - Chuley
Richard Hext - Yolland Hill Farm
Thomas Hext - Pubsham
William Hooper - Dolbear Farm
Bartholomew Irish - Westbrook Farm
Henry Jonas - Horsehill
William Kentshole - No address given, but properties either side on schedule in Heavyhead Lane. Lodger.
Richard Kingswill - Welstor Farm
Thomas A. Lambshead - Alston. Brother-in-law to head of house, and may not be permanent resident.
John Langler - Rew Farm
John Langler - Rew Farm, son of John above.
George Leaman -Ivy House
John Maddick - Under Auswell
Joseph Mann - Summerhill
Thomas Mann - Gale Farm
William Mann - Goodstone East Farm
Henry Maunder - Lower Whiddon
Thomas Maunder - Wood Place Farm

Thomas Mogridge - Blackmoor
James Norrish - Stone Farm
Robert Northcott - East Street
William Northcott - East Street. 'Farmer's son.' Son of Robert above.
John Nosworthy - Higher Farliacombe
Richard Palk - Alston
Richard Pethybridge - Bura
William Rowlands - Auswell
William Henry Savidge - Fursleigh
Henry H. Scagell - West Street
Edward Skinner - 1 Lemonford Farm
Joseph Skinner - Caton Farm
Joseph Skinner - North Street
Elias Smerdon - Queen of Dart
Elijah Smerdon - Higher Mead Farm
Elisha Smerdon - No address, but census taken between Riddicleave and Elliotshill
James Smerdon - Elliotshill
John Smerdon - Lower Mead Farm
Richard Smerdon - Lower Lodge
Thomas Smerdon - Lower Brownhill
Thomas Smerdon - Higher Whiddon
Thomas Smerdon - Tower Bowdly
Thomas P Smerdon - North Street

William Smerdon - No address given, but follows on from Rew Farm on the schedule
William Smerdon - Higher Bowdley
Thomas Tripe - Higher Henbeer
William Tuckett - Higher Rushlade
William Widger - Goodstone West Farm
Charles Wills - Lurcombe
Richard Wills - 3 Lemonford Farm
James Woodley - Halsehanger
John Yolland - Pitley Farm
http://www.freecen.org.uk

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'Devonshire. The change of tenancy takes place either at Lady-day or at Michaelmas. In some instances it is at Christmas, but these are rare. There are very few agricultural customs in this county. Nearly all the farms are held under lease or agreement, and any question that may arise is regulated thereby. If there is no lease or agreement the outgoing tenant may in most instances sell everything off. When there are tenancies at will, from year to year, they are determinable by a notice, which may be given by either party six months previous to the termination of any year of the tenancy. An auction is usually held, and everything is sold off, including the manure. A tenant who goes out at Lady-day does not sow the wheatcrop, except by agreement. The landlord repairs the walls and slated roofs, in some instances also the doors and floors; the tenant has to do all other repairs.

We are indebted to Mr W Rolstone Whiteway of Orley House, Ashburton, for an account and revision of the customs of this county.'

Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, vol 4, London 1868, p151

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1869 Elizabeth Shillabear and her son William were charged with stealing 200 turnip-tops from Mr. George Gidley of Headborough Farm. In court PC Oxenham produced turnips from the field, and it was shown that a top fitted one of them. Mr. Gidley was unwell, and unable to attend to identify the turnip-tops. The defendants were discharged.

Later the same year George Rowland, son of George Rowland of Headborough Farm, was seriously injured when his loaded gun came apart, exploded, and shattered his right foot. Dr. Gervis was in attendance.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 25 March 1869 p7 col3

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 24 September 1869 p7 col7 

Above: Higher Headborough Farm

My own photograph 2015 

In 1876 four girls living at Buckfast were charged with stealing firewood from James Stancombe's field at Furzeleigh Farm. Susan Lewis, Emma Facey, Clara Howe and Augusta Howe were fined 6d each.
Western Times 21 March 1876 p8 col5

In 1877 William Kingwill of Westabrook Farm committed suicide by hanging. He was discovered by W. Irish, a neighbouring farmer. At the inquest his wife testified that he had been depressed for some time, and drank a lot of cider, which she believed had an effect on him. The jury returned a verdict of temporary insanity.
Western Times 2 June 1877 p4 col2

In his memories of Ashburton in late Victorian days, Professor John Satterly recalled that milk could be bought from the dairies, but it was cheaper to collect it from the farms themselves. The children took cans either to Westerbrook or Hele farms, for scald-milk or tea-milk. Tea-milk was richer than scald-milk, often containing clotted cream.
John Satterly, Memories of Ashburton in Late Victorian Days, Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol84, Torquay 1952, p24

1894 A series of demonstrations connected to dairy production were about to start in the Market Hall, with the aim of applying more scientific systems to the process. Boys from the agricultural side of the Grammar School were to be involved, and it was hoped to also have a course for dairymaids.
Western Times 30 January 1894 p3 col2

By 1897 a Practical School of Agriculture was attached to the Grammar School in Ashburton. J. Smerdon of Lower Mead Farm was the instructor.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 12 February 1897 p2 col4

1899 Samuel D. Mann, a farmer of Brownshill Farm, sued Alfred Kingwell, late of the Culloden Inn, and George Thorning, 'small farmer' for the cost of a field of barley that he had sold to them. Judgment was given against Kingwell, but it was decided that Thorning had no case to answer.

Western Times 6 May 1899 p3 col4

1902 The two and a half year old son of Mr. Wakeham, of Lower Mead Farm, was killed when a farm boy pointed a gun at him and it went off accidentally. Mr. Wakeham had been using the gun for bird-scaring, and had left it in a cart, covered with hay.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 18 April 1902 p14 col5

1906 An inquest was resumed into the death of Uriah Cottle of Blackmoor, who had died from a gunshot wound. It appeared to be suicide, but the jury returned an open verdict, accepting the cause of death but unable to say how it had been inflicted.
The inquest had had to be adjourned because two sons of the deceased had been intoxicated, and at the Ashburton Police Court both pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly. Having been 'severely reprimanded' and fined, they were later certified as wandering lunatics, and taken to the Devon County Asylum.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 22 June 1906 p3 col5

1906 Summerhill Farm, a farmhouse and 93 acres was sold together with the borough lordship and manor of Ashburton for £550, with the Hon R Dawson was the purchaser. It was one of thirteen lots of houses, farm buildings and land which had been the property of Sir R B W Jardine.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 22 September 1906 p3 col7

1907 Mr S Winsor, the tenant of Higher Barn Farm, bought it for £1560.
Western Times 5 July 1907 p12 col1

In 1921 Mrs. Smerdon was retiring from business at Summerhill. Rendell and Sawdye were selling various farm crops, animals and implements, including cows, hens and chickens and the apples from 5 acres of orchard.
Western Times 23 September 1921 p2 col4

In 1924 Caton Farm sold to Mr J Cock for £2050
Coombe Farm sold to Mr F Thorn, the tenant for £875
Western Times 28 November 1924 p8 col2

1926 William Henry Shilston, of Baddaford, pleaded not guilty to driving a motor vehicle to the public danger. He admitted that he was driving a motor milk van at 12 to 14 miles per hour when he emerged from a side road and was hit by another vehicle going at 15 miles per hour. The other driver had sounded his horn 'from the 'danger posts' to the corner at Shinner's Bridge, Dartington.
Western Times 18 June 1926 p11 col5

In 1931 Westabrook Farm sold to Mr Tapper for £3000.
Western Times 2 April 1931 p7 col3
 

1944 (during World War 2) Frederick James Marshall of Lower Meade was fined £5 for refusing to provide accommodation for two children at his farm. He said that three men including himself farmed 153 acres, whilst his wife coped with the poultry, pigs and dairy.

Western Morning News 26 August 1944 p6 col3

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Men qualified to serve as jurors in 1901, whose profession is given as Farmer:
Jonathan Cock Jnr, Lower Waye
Samuel Cox, Alston
Samuel Edgecombe Jnr., Higher Mead
William Edgecombe, Higher Mead
James Thomas Ford, Lergecombe
James French, Caton
William Gill, Pitt
Francis Gooding, Goodstone
Thomas Hamlyn, Pitley
Edwin Hannaford, Higher Whiddon
Richard Hext, Yolland Hill
Samuel Dudor Mann Jnr., Lower Brownswell
Charles Rowland, Lower Headborough
John Stanbury, Rushlade
Elijah Smerdon, Summerhill
John Smerdon, Gages
John Tancock, Balland
George Thorning, North Street
John Tuckett, Lower Bowdley
John Wakeham, Lower Mead
William Whiteway, Westabrook
William Wrayford, Priestaford
William Henry Yolland, Dolbear
Charles George Wills Yolland, East Street
See People and Properties 1900

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                                                                   Rushlade Farm

37 year old William Tuckett is at Higher Rushlade in the 1861 census.
Widower William Bridgeman, an agricultural labourer, is at Lower Rushlade with his daughter and two sons, of whom 14 year old Jonothon is a farm servant.
http://www.freecen.org.uk

Higher Rushlade was to have been auctioned on the 30th June 1868, but the property was sold beforehand by private contract.                                                                
Western Times 19 June 1868 p1 col3

At the time of the 1871 census George Rowe, his wife and daughter were living at Higher Rushlade. He was an agricultural labourer.
Henry Irish was at Lower Rushlade, a farmer of 138 acres employing two labourers and three boys. As well as his wife Sophia* and two children, four servants are listed on the census. The youngest, John Layman, is 11.
1871 census RG10, piece no. 2080, folio 18, p14
*Henry Irish of Bagtor Barton, Ilsington, had married Sophia Brock of Holloway, Kenn in May 1867
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 7 June 1867 p5 col6


At Ashburton Petty Sessions in 1872, William Snell of Bovey was fined for allowing his pigs to stray onto the highway. Henry Irish of Rushlade was fined 8s plus costs 'for a similar offence'.
In December 1881 Henry Irish of Rushlade was summoned for allowing his cattle to stray.
In 1883 Henry Irish, farmer, was fined £1 for working a horse in an unfit state.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 24 April 1872 p3 col4
Western Times 20 December 1881 p6 col2

Western Times 20 October 1883 p4 col1

53 year old Henry Irish of Rushlade was buried on July 9th 1886.
Parish records

John Stanbury, born in Chagford, is farming Rushlade in 1901.
A clearance sale was held at Rushlade in March 1905 for Mr J Stanbury.
1901 census RG13, piece no.2053, folio 19, p4
Totnes Weekly Times 4 March 1905 p4 col2


1908 William Henry Irish, eldest son of the late Henry Irish, formerly of Rushlade, married Miss Florence Paul at All Saints' Church, Kenton.
Western Times 8 May 1908 p5 col6
                                                                   

In the 1911 census 57 year old Robert Codd, who was born at South Brent, is a farmer at Rushlade. With him are two grown-up children: Elizabeth, 32, who is a dairy worker ('working on farm' crossed out) and James, 25, who is also working on the farm.
1911 census RG14, piece no 12726

When John Codd, butcher and cattle dealer of South Brent, died in 1916, his cousin R Codd of Rushlade was one of the bearers.
Western Times 28 January 1916 p14 col2

Robert Cuming Codd died in September 1925 and
left estate of £4214 7s 5d gross, £4178 9s 5d net. Probate was granted to his sons James Francis Codd of Rushlade and Victor Cuming Codd of Stoodley, Holne, and to his brother Frederick William Smerdon Codd of Broomborough, Totnes. All were farmers.
Western Times 12 November 1926 p10 col2

James F Codd married Sarah A Hamlyn in the December quarter of 1936, in the Newton Abbot registration district.
https://www.freebmd.org.uk

In the 1939 Register James F Codd, born 1886, is a farmer at Rushlade. With him is his wife Sarah H Codd born in 1908 plus two people on whom the records are still officially closed.


Meanwhile Elizabeth S Codd, born in 1889*, is living at 2 Avenue Terrace. She is a retired farm housekeeper.
1939 Register
* This is presumably Elizabeth Smerdon Codd, the daughter of Robert. Her birthdate varies in records, but her birth was registered in the March quarter of 1875, in the Plympton registration district.

Left:
Miss E Codd in the doorway of the original farmhouse, later demolished .

A new one farmhouse was built/rebuilt sometime between 1938 and 1967, and the old farmhouse, which possibly had a thatched roof*, left to fall down. The garden in front of the present farmhouse was once an orchard, and the original farmhouse was somewhere on the other side of that orchard.
Many thanks to Robert Green for the above photograph and information.
*John Satterly talks of the fire brigade attending a thatched barn at Rushlade at the end of the 19th century.
Memories of Ashburton in Late Victorian Days, John Satterly, Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol 84, 1952,Torquay, p24

James and Sarah had four children, including Elizaberth Ann Irene Codd, born in 1938
https://www.freebmd.org.uk

Left:
Elizabeth Codd and her sister Kathleen.
Above: Elizabeth's brother Stuart is standing on the left.

Shire horses Ruby and Damson lived at Rushlade Farm - Elizabeth Codd often talked of them, 'mainly because Damson stood on her foot and broke her toes'.
Many thanks to Robert Green for the above photographs and information.

    

                                                                          Cider 

Above: Remains of old apple orchard, Druid area. 

My own photograph 2015

'Throughout a great part of this county, particularly the southern districts, cider constitutes a very material article of rural economy. Every farmer has his orchard, which supplies him, in the first place, with an agreeable and wholesome beverage for himself and family, and the surplus he disposes of to the cider merchant. The operations of the farmer in preparing his cider are simple and easy. The juice of the fruit being extracted by means of the pounding mills and the press, the liquor is put into large vats, where it is left to ferment; and when the fermentation is arrived at full perfection, of which they judge by the head beginning to break, the cider is then drawn off into hogsheads or barrels, and kept for family use, or sold to the cider merchant, who racks and prepares it for the London and other markets.'

General view of the county of Devon, with observations on the means of its improvement, Robert Fraser, London, 1794, p67


'The apple crop varies very much in different parts of this district; between the River Dart and Torbay they have scarcely a twelfth part of the ordinary produce; in the neighbourhood of Ashburton and through the parishes of Dean-prior and Buckfastleigh the orchards all appeared to be remarkably well loaded. An eastern aspect is universally preferred.'

General view of the Agriculture of Devon, Charles Vancouver, London 1808, p241

Wanted immediately, two good workmen - one to work horses on farm, good ploughman, one to work on farm and assist master in care of cattle, steady and industrious. Liberal wages and cider. Apply to Mr Stancombe, Turtleigh Barton, Ashburton.
Western Times 20 February 1874, p4 col1

There was a devastating blizzard in the South West in March 1891.
The apple orchards in Ashburton were particularly affected, with some younger trees losing every branch, leaving only stumps.

The Blizzard in the West, no author named, London and Devonport, undated, p83.
Available to read for free at https://archive.org

At Ashburton petty sessions John Hayman, 'a lad', was fined 10s for stealing 5 apples and one pear from Mr Hern's ground at Chuley.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 23 September 1892 p8 col3

'The firing at apple trees on Old Christmas Day, 5th January, was very usual in the neighbourhood of Ashburton during the fifties [ie the 1850s] when I remember the salvoes of firearms from the various orchards on that night...The last occasion in which I took part was on 5th January 1887, when a party of young men proceeded to our orchard and vigorously saluted the  trees with volleys from shotted guns, accompanied by cider drinking, shouting the old charm "Here's to thee old apple tree" etc. and the libation of cider at the roots of the best bearing trees.
It has been suggested that the shock and the smoke of the gun-firing tends to detach insects, the evil spirits of orchards, from their hiding places in the moss and bark, which either fall to the ground or become a more easy prey to small birds...'
P F S Amery, Devon Notes and Queries, vol 2, 1911, p206 ff

In 1921 Rendell and Sawdye were instructed by the Misses Hern to auction about 60 hogsheads* of cider at Chuley. The cider could be sampled on the morning of the sale.

Western Times 17 June 1921, p1 col3
A hogshead has varied as a measure over time; it also varies with the liquid it is measuring. Roughly it was about 52.5 imperial gallons, or 238.7 litres. https://sizes.com/units/hogshead.htm - Accessed 31-1-2016