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

In 1838 a memoir appeared on the late Rev John Honywill, of Melkham in Wiltshire. He had been born at Bowdley Farm in Ashburton in 1757, the son of a farmer 'strictly attached to the parish church'. One of his father's servants attended the Dissenting chapel, and although initially mocking the servant, John then went to hear the preacher. The preacher, possibly (the writer says) the Rev Mr Walters, or the Rev Mr Fabyan who assisted him, left John 'smitten with the arrow of conviction'
The Evangelical Magazine and Missionary Chronicle, vol 16, London, May 1838

                                               Chuleigh Farm

1798 A plan of Chuleigh Farm, Ashburton, with particulars, by Alexander Law, is held at Exeter Cathedral library and archives. Item ref M9 - Accessed 26-12-2015

In 1830 Thomas Symons of Halsworthy, Staverton, published an apology to Thomas Hext, a yeoman of Ashburton. He had 'maliciously, unjustly and without foundation' said that Mr Hext had detained a steer bullock belonging to him; he now wished to show his 'sorrow and contrition', and thanked Thomas Hext for agreeing to cease legal proceedings.
This is presumably the Thomas Hext below, who may or may not have been at Chuleigh at the time.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 6 June 1830, p1 col5

In April 1833 Thomas Hext, a bachelor, married widow Charlotte Hern by licence.
Charlotte had previously married to William Hern, a widower, in 1824
Parish records

T Hext, Chuleigh, was letting 'a convenient house' in Ashburton in 1836. It had two parlours and two kitchens, five bedrooms, use of a wash-house and an attic. A coach-house, stable and garden 'well-supplied' with fruit trees was available if required.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 5 March 1836, p1 col2

Mrs C Hext, was offering board and lodgings at Chuley in March 1841. The advertisement stated that the house was newly erected.
Western Times 20 March 1841, p6 col2

In the 1841 census Thomas Hext, aged about 50, is a farmer at Chuleigh. Charlotte Hext aged about 40, and Charlotte Hext aged 4 are in the same household
1841 census HO107, piece no. 253, folio 9, p13

1843 Mrs C Hext was letting a sitting room plus one or two bedrooms at Chuleigh Farm. 'Terms moderate'.

Western Times 13 May 1843, p2 col3
Similar advertisements continue until 1852

In the 1851 census 53 year old Charlotte Hern, farmer's wife, is head of Chuley House. John Hern, 23, a farmer of 50 acres employing 7 men, is her son, and 13 year old Charlotte Mary is her daughter.
1851 census HO107, piece no. 1871, folio 358, p1

Thomas Hext, a farmer aged 59, is with his brother Richard at Lower Hele in 1851. Both brothers were born in Ashburton.
1851 census HO107, piece no. 1871, folio 363, p11

A Thomas Hext aged 60 was buried at Ashburton in January 1852
Parish records

Mr John Hern, of Chuley Farm, was letting a tanyard in 1854.

Western Times 20 May 1854, p4 col2
For more on the Hern family see under Individual Families


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

Horsey Hill and Tozer's Ground were for sale in June 1814. A good farmhouse was set in 140 acres of mixed pasture, meadow and arable ground, plus 20 acres of coppice. A fenced off area contained 'young and thriving timber'. The River Dart was on a western boundary, and the whole was a short distance from Holne Chace and Spitchwick.
Mr Penny at Horsey Hill could be contacted for viewing.
Exeter Flying Post 30 June 1814, p2 col3

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

** A building for depositing the ash from fires, (1) for safety, and (2) to store it until it was used on the land.

1831 Daniel West of Ashburton, farmer, was discharged from the Insolvent Debtors' Court.
North Devon Journal 31 March 1831 p3 col3

Mr J Goodridge, aged 35, died at Rea Farm in January 1838.
In March Mrs Goodridge was about to quit the farm. Live stock, cider, potatoes, household goods and furniture etc. were all to be sold at auction
Western Times 27 January 1838, p3 col1
Western Times 17 March 1838, p1 col1

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

Maria, the daughter of Mr T Maunder, married Mr H Trist, of Edgeware Road, London, in January 1840. Mr Maunder was of Place Farm.
In 1843 Miss Ann Maunder of Place married Elisha Smerdon, a yeoman of Buckland.
Western Times 25 January 1840, p3 col1
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 14 October 1843, p3 col2

Wm Abbott died suddenly at Headborough Farm in September 1841. He was 77
Western Times 25 September 1841, p3 col2

A desirable farm called Mead, consisting of a farmhouse, outhouses, and 80 acres, was to be sold in 1804. Currently occupied by Bartholomew Irish, the farm was within a mile of the town, and bordering lime kilns and quarries.
Exeter Flying Post 26 January 1804, p3 col2

Stephen Upton Yolland, died at Mead Farm on March 4th, 1842, aged 62. He left a family of 9 sons and 3 daughters.
Western Times 12 March 1842, p2 col6

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

Lower Mead was for sale by June, with the premises consisting of a farmhouse, outbuildings and 56 acres. A lime kiln and lime rock, on the road from Ashburton to Mead, was also for sale. According to the advertisement Mr Stephen Yolland had occupied the farm for many years.
Western Times 18 June 1842, p2 col3

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

For more on the Hannafords in the USA, see Beyond Ashburton

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

Elizabeth, wife of Mr J S Bovey, died at Horseyhill Farm in April 1842. Aged 34, she had 5 young children.
Western Times 23 April 1842, p3 col1

Miss Smerdon, of Brownshill Farm, married James Darke, painter, in July 1845.
Western Times 5 July 1845, p3 col3

Mr Thomas Oldrey, yeoman, died at Water Farm, Ashburton, in August 1845. He was at an 'advanced age'.
Western Times 16 August 1845, p2 col5

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 col4

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

1849. Landowners and ratepayers met in March to discuss a resolution that a police force be established at a cost of £80 a year.  R Hext, of Hele Farm, said that police were unnecessary, and proposed that a motion, carried at a vestry meeting, be rescinded. Mr W Mann, of Goodstone Farm, seconded, and had virtually unanimous support. The Western Times commented, 'Taxes already fall heavily on the tradesmen, and the industrious classes.'
The Western Times 10 March 1849, p7 col3         

Alston Farm was to be let from Lady-day 1851. Currently in the occupation of Mr Wm Northcott, it comprised 235 acres of orchard, pasture, meadow and arable land. A 'genteel residence', and a farm house, formed part of the estate. Abundant lime was within a quarter of a mile of the property.
Western Times 1 February 1851, p1 col1

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


In 1858 Letters Patent were granted to John Horton of Ashburton, smith, for the invention of "An improved construction of Horse Hoe".
John described his invention as relating 'to an improved construction of implement, by the use of which a row of turnips may be simultaneously thinned and hoed on both sides. For this purpose I combine rotating knives with fixed knives, in such a manner that they will both be completely under the command of the attendant when the hoe is in use, and may be thrown out of action with the greatest facility.'
AD 1858 24th April 910, English Patents of Inventions, Specifications, 1858 841-910, available through Google Books - accessed 13-01-2021
                                                           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


'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


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 

Mary Ann Ward, of Priestaford Farm, was up before the petty sessions in 1871 charged with theft. The landlady of the Union Hotel, Newton Abbot, left her nursery open for the wives and daughters of 'respectable people' who were attending the market. 'Prisoner was considered one of this class'. The previous autumn a child's French merino dress and flannel jacket went missing from a drawer in the nursery, and recently one of Mrs Ward's children was seen wearing the dress at a school in St Lawrence Lane; the jacket was found in Mrs Ward's house. Mary Ann's defence was that she had bought the dress at a stall in Newton Market, and several witnesses swore that she had the items before the time of the alleged theft. Nevertheless Mrs Ward was committed to the quarter sessions.
Western Morning News 22 May 1871, p2 col7

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

The British Farmer's Magazine reported on the Bath and West of England Show in 1879.
Mr James Pugsley, of Ashburton, showed for the first time 'a very strong and simple roller drill, which he had made for some time for local sale.'
British Farmer's Magazine, issue 79, 1879, p41

This may have been the James Pugsley who was living in North Street with his wife and 5 young sons in the 1881 census. Aged 35, he was a 'millwright and C' employing 3 men and 3 boys. The entry is difficult to read, but the premises were possibly an ironmongers' shop.
1881 census RG11, piece no. 2161, folio 48 p11

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

New Zealand meat arrived in Ashburton in 1887, when Mr Langler, a saddler in North Street, received a frozen lamb from his son-in-law Mr H B Tucker. Weighing 28½ lb., the carcase was in excellent condition, and 
had 'been inspected by many'.
Totnes Weekly Times 8 January 1887, p2 col2
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

In 1895 the Royal Agricultural Society of England reported that an examination for 10 junior scholarships had taken place. 26 candidates passed in all four subjects: Agriculture, Chemistry, Mechanics and Land Surveying. Arthur Pedlar Endacott and Fred Partridge, both of Ashburton Grammar School, were two of those awarded a scholarship.
Kenneth Horsefall Evans, William John Paddon and Frank Victor Heywood, also of Ashburton Grammar School, all received certificates.
Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, London 1895, vol 6 p699

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

See the Virtual Museum for the 1890s for a prize book awarded at the Practical School of Agriculture

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


                                                                Lower Whiddon Farm
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
It was for sale again in 1830. One of the attractions was a mine, 'which for want of Capital has been but little worked'
Western Times 13 February 1830, p1 col2                                                                    

Right: Lower Whiddon was to be let by tender from Michaelmas 1886. Mrs Northcott was currently in occupation.
Many thanks to Gerald Vallance for this advertisement.

30 year old John Stanbury was a farmer at Lower Whiddon in 1891. With him was his wife Sarah and two year old daughter, also called Sarah.
1891 census RG12, piece no. 1698, folio 14, p8

68 year old James Smerdon was a farmer at Lower Whiddon in the 1901 census. A widower, he had his two sons John and George with him. All three had been born in Woodland.
1901 census RG13, piece no. 2053, folio 46, p24

Lower Whiddon, a freehold farm, was being sold by Rendell and Sawdye in August 1907. 'Desirable and productive', it had 89 acres of downland, orchard, pasture and arable land, and minerals such as tin, copper and manganese had been worked on the property. There was a farmhouse and buildings, with J Smerdon  the current occupier.
Western Times 26 July 1907, p1 col1

The Western Morning News gave a report of the sale the day after the auction, which was held at the London Hotel. Bidding started at £1000, and the farm eventually sold to Mr W Tucker of Dartington, for £1410.
Western Morning News 9 August 1907, p5 col3

Michaelmas 1912. J Smerdon was about to quit Lower Whiddon. Rendell and Sawdye were auctioning 33 acres of oats and wheat, two ricks of hay, four fat pigs, a threshing machine and horse wheel, and dung.
Western Times 9 August 1912 p1 col5
Left: An advertisement for the freehold of Lower Whiddon. At this time it was let on a lease to Mr R P Tucker for the residue of a term of 14 years that began on September 29th, 1919. The yearly rent was £90

Below: Roy Tucker, at Owlacombe Cross.
Many thanks to Gerald Vallance, for the advertisement, photograph and information

William Tucker was deceased by 1927, and the trustees were selling, amongst other property, Lower Whiddon Farm. Mr R P Tucker was in occupation.
Western Morning News 27 October 1927, p3 col7

The birth of Roy Percy Tucker was registered in the Kingsbridge registration district in the March quarter of 1896. The mother's maiden surname was White.
Roy was baptised in the parish of Slapton in June 1898 - his parents were John Crispin Tucker, a farmer, and Alice Maud.
Slapton parish records

Roy P Tucker and his wife Lily P were at Lower Whiddon at the time of the 1939 register. Roy had been born in November 1895.
Roy P Tucker had married Lily P Lethbridge in Kingsbridge registration district in 1924
1939 Register, available through


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

William Alfred French Webber, of Horse-hill, was fined 10s in 1940 for moving a pig without a licence. He complained, 'There is nothing but orders...we are busy men and cannot be always reading the newspapers and listening to the wireless - we have something else to do.'
Western Morning News 18 December 1940, p5 col5

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


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

The story goes...
'Bill Yolland's father*, known as Gaiters because of the protective leather gaiters that he wore, worked as a gardener for Mr Kennard, at Torns. Mr Kennard bought him a lawnmower to cut the grass, but he refused to use it because he remembered farm labourers put out of work by the advent of petroleum fuelled tractors. He continued to use shears.'
Ashburton resident
*Believed to be Charles Yolland, whose birth was registered in 1900 in the Newton Abbot district

                                                                   Rushlade Farm

Ruslade, near Ashburton, was to be sold in May 1813. A farmhouse, barn, linhay, stables and outhouses were included in the sale; the whole set in approximately 70 acres of mixed arable ground, pasture and meadows. The current occupier was Mr John Irish.
Exeter Flying Post 27 May 1813, p2 col3
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.

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.

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.

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

A new 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

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.

                                                                 Waverley, Bowdley

William Thomas Soudon Smerdon of Waverly, Bowdley, died on 28th June 1905, leaving £8730 4s 2d net. Probate was granted to his nephews, William Henry Abbot of Higher Bowdley, Mr. Thomas Smerdon Abbot of Dinnacombe, Cornworthy, Totnes and Mr. John Smerdon of Gages. Bequests included sums to John and Walter Thomas Shapley, nephews of his late wife, and an annuity to his sister Eliza Ann Smerdon.
Western Times 1 November 1905 p2 col3

By the time of the 1911 census 33 year old Thomas Smerdon Abbott was living at Waverley, Bowdley, with his wife, two children and his father, William Henry Abbott. Thomas described himself as a yeoman, and his father as a retired farmer.
1911 census, piece no. 12726

Above: Waverley, Bowdley, date unknown.
From my own collection

Thomas S and Florence G Abbott were still at Waverley in 1939, when Thomas described himself as a farmer.
1939 register, available from

In 1957 Waycotts were about to auction the freehold detached residence known as Waverley, Bowdley. It had two reception rooms and four bedrooms, together with a modern kitchen and bathroom. The gorunds, of about 2 acres, had a garage, paddock and outbuildings.
Torquay Express and South Devon Echo, 31 May 1957, p3 col4




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 duties upon cyder accrue differently, viz there being several duties amounting to 6s and 8d per hogshead and so proportionably laid upon cyder made and sold, these duties do not accrue until the cyder is sold; but there being by the Malt-Act another duty upon cyder of 4s per hogshead, and so proportionably laid upon all cyder made for sale, this duty of 4s per hogshead, accrues at the respective times when cyder for sale is made.'
Anthony Simpson, of Ashburton, was assessed for 10 hogsheads, owing £5 6s 8d for single duties, £10 13s 4d for double duty, which appears to be due if the single duties are not paid within a certain time.
Instructions for Collectors of Excise, London, 1716, p6, pp245-246

'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

In the tithe apportionment of circa 1840 William French has a pound house* and orchard at Dolbeare; John Huxham has a pound house and orchard at Alston (William Hellyer is the occupier); and Richard Savery has a pound house and orchard at Goodstone (William Mann is the occupier).
A number of other properties have orchards.

*Pound house - a building with apparatus for pounding or crushing (usually) apples.

Mrs Mary Mann, widow of the late William Mann, died in July 1841. Aged 80, she was of Goodstone Farm, formerly of Mead.
Sherborne Mercury, 9 August 1841, p3 col7

In June 1858 a lightning storm burst over Ashburton, one of the most severe for many years. Woodmen returning from Chase Woods took refuge with Mr Wills, a cider dealer at the head of North Street.
Western Times 19 June 1858, p3 col2

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

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. - Accessed 31-1-2016

In 1948 Rendells was selling 'A valuable warehouse property known as the Cyder Stores'. It was stone built and slated, with a 12 foot double door frontage on West End Road, and a 150 foot frontage, also containing a double door, on Stone Park Road. There was turning room for lorries. Mr C H Churchward had formerly occupied the building.
Western Morning News 20th March 1948, p4 col2