Remarkable and interesting people
                                               Richard Bunclark

Richard Bunclark died at Ashburton in December 1854, at 100 years old. He was 'The oldest inhabitant in the borough'.
Western Times 23 December 1854 p5 col2



                                                   John Cooke

'I remembered Mr John Cooke, a saddler and harness maker; he resided in Exeter, and was born in Ashburton, in the County of Devon.'
Reminiscences of John Hele, of Alphington, Devon, John Hele, Exeter, 1870, p9

John Cooke was born at the Rose and Crown, 'on the old bridge' in 1765. In a pamphlet quoted by S Baring-Gould, he says that his father was a plasterer and hellier, but later became a publican and maltster. At the age of 15 John was apprenticed to an Exeter saddler. A strong loyalist (as opposed to republican) he later became a well-known character in the city, posting bulletins of the news outside his shop with his own comments on events. On one occasion he got his apprentices to help him with ladders to post notices to the wall of the Castle.
Devonshire Characters and Strange Events, S Baring-Gould, London 1908 p478ff

These placards, noted for their unusual spelling, were known as 'Cooke's Bullenteens'.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 28 November 1846 p4 col3

His views were diametrically opposed to those of Richard Carlile, who was also Ashburton born. (See Famous Ashburtonians). Carlile wrote of him: 'His apparent purpose seems to be, to instruct the good people of Exeter in matters of politics!....had he more intellect, his intense mental excitement would bring on that species of insanity which requires restraint.'

The Republican, Vol 12, 1825 p739
Amongst the records of The London Metropolitan Archives is an insurance document for John Cooke of Exeter, saddler - it includes property in West Street, Ashburton
London Metropolitan Archives October 1792, ref MS 11936/391/605728

In 1834 The Western Times published an agreement between John Cooke and Elizabeth Metherell of Ashburton - Elizabeth's husband was going to America. 'I agree to let her my bake house in the West Street for one year from this Lady day at six pounds a year half of its price. She to heat the oven with coal, not with furze or wood, and if she cannot get on in six months and can afford advance of two pounds a year and so on the original rent of ten pound a year and no more In the main time I shall take no advantage and get her a proper share of the Parish Bread and recommend all my tenants to deal with her and I to do her all the good in my power There is a pig's sty and part of garden with the house.'
The witness to the agreement was Wm. Jordan Taperell (See Inns and hotels for William Jordan Taperell - various spellings - as landlord of the London Inn). 
Western Times 27 September 1834 p3 col3
Above: John Cooke
When he died in September 1840 the North Devon Journal described him as a 'very old and respectable inhabitant of Exeter.' Although a saddler and harness maker, he was, said the paper, better known as 'Captain Cooke', from his role of being in charge of the javelin men. The javelin men escorted judges when they went to open the Assize Commission, and John Cooke had been fulfilling this role for fifty years.
North Devon Journal 24 September 1840 p3 col2
Illustration from Devonshire Characters and Strange Events, S Baring-Gould, London 1908 facing p482


                             Thomas Taylor and Thomas Glanville Taylor                                                       

On 14th June 1773 Susan(n)a Glanville was baptized at Ashburton, the daughter of Roger and Mary Glanvill.
(see Researching Ashburton for two websites on the Glanvill/e family, also under Individual families).

There is a marriage licence at the South West Heritage Centre for Thomas Taylor, late schoolmaster of the Minotaur* and Susanna Glanville of St Andrew in Plymouth, for March 1802.
Ref DEX/7/b/1/1802/114, Devon Heritage Centre
*Believed to be a training ship

Their son Thomas Glanville Taylor was allegedly born in Ashburton on 22nd November 1804*. According to the Royal Observatory website, Thomas Taylor Snr. was Assistant to Nevil Maskelyne, and later to John Pond, and Thomas Jnr. lived at the Observatory. - Accessed 22-1-2015
*However, his age at his death in 1848 was given as 41, giving a birth year of circa 1807. See below

Cambridge University Digital Library has copies of various letters connected with the Observatory and Thomas Taylor. According to the inventory, Thomas Taylor Snr. was Thomas J. Taylor, who was born in 1772.
When John Pond became ill, Taylor 'lapsed into drunkeness' - Accessed 23-1-2015

Awards made by the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures etc.
15 guineas to Mr. T. Taylor of the Royal Observatory, for a repeating alarum
Westmorland Gazette 5 June 1819 p1 col4

Thomas Taylor left a will which was proved in London on 24th July 1843. His address at the time of writing his will was Melbury Terrace, Dorset Square, Middlesex.
Transcript of will at the Royal Observatory Greenwich website, - accessed 04-12-2020

The address of T G Taylor esq. was given as 17, Melbury Terrace, Dorset Square in the Royal Court Guide of 1842.
The Royal Court Guide and Fashionable Directory, London, 1842, p57
Above: This is probably the repeating alarum invented by Thomas Taylor, 'designed to wake up the astronomer when particular stars are due to pass overhead.'
Information and image from the Royal Museums Greenwich. - Accessed 23-1-2015
Image shared under the

Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA) licence
When the number of assistants was increased, Thomas Glanville Taylor joined the staff, on a salary of £100 a year.
In 1830 the Observatory in Madras, run by the East India Company, needed a new Director. Thomas G Taylor was the second candidate approached, and he resigned his position at Greenwich to take up the post. Whilst in India he published a large number of catalogues and volumes of his observations. He married Eliza Baratty Eley on 4th July 1832, and they had four children (three according to other sources). He became a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society 10th February 1842. - Accessed 22-1-2015

'In 1840, Mr Taylor visited England, and returned to Madras in the following year. Two or three years afterwards he met with a severe accident whilst on a visit to the observatory of Trevandrum - a fall, occasioned by his extreme shortness of sight - from which he never perfectly recovered. His own failing health, and the anxiety he felt with respect to his daughter's illness, who was then in England, brought him back to his native country. He arrived on the 4th April last, in time to receive the last breath of his child, who expired next day. He still entertained hopes of his own sanguine recovery, and spoke with cheerfulness and interest of the publication of his last volume of Observations, but his weakness and extreme emaciation continued to increase, and ended his life on May 4th 1848. He has left a widow and three sons.'
Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society, vol XVIII, London 1850, p168

On the 29th April 1848 Thomas returned from India (on the Hindostan) after spending 18 years in India. On the 30th his daughter, Fanny Ashton, died, aged 9, at Hanover Buildings, Southampton. Thomas, aged 41 according to a newspaper report, died on May 4th.
Hampshire Advertiser 6 May 1848 p8 col5

Thomas Glanville Taylor's death was registered in the June quarter of 1848 in the Southampton registration district. His age was given as 41. - Accessed 27-11-2020


                                                William Bickford

William Beckford was baptised at Ashburton 23rd January 1774, the son of William and Mary.
Parish records

According to Cornwall Calling he was a currier (someone who dressed and finished leather) who moved to Cornwall, first to Truro and then to Tuckingmill. This was near the Camborne mining district, and he would have been aware of accidents in the industry caused by faulty fuses. The story goes that he had the idea of making a more reliable fuse whilst watching rope maker James Bray spinning threads in his factory. As a result he invented a machine that wound rope around a gunpowder core; another strand of rope was then wound in the opposite direction, and the fuse was then varnished to make it waterproof. The fuse burned at a steady rate, and could be cut to size to regulate how long it would burn. - Accessed 02-05-2019

A patent was granted on 6th September 1831, to W. Bickford of Tuckingmill, Cornwal for 'An instrument for igniting gunpowder when used for blasting rocks, which he denominates "Miners' safety fuse". This fuse was therein described to be a cylinder of gunpowder or other explosive compound, inclosed within a hempen cord, which is first twisted and afterwards overlaid with another cord to strengthen the casing thus formed, then varnished to preserve the contents from injury by moisture, and finally covered with whitening, or other suitable matter, to prevent the varnish from adhering.'
Maj-Gen Sir John Burgoyne KCB, Rudimentary Treatise on the Blasting and Quarrying of Stone for Building and Other Purposes, London, 1849, p30

In a list printed in the Morning Advertiser in October 1831 of new patents granted was one to Mr William Bickford of Tuckingmill, leather-seller. It was for his invention of 'an instrument for igniting gunpowder, when used in the operation of blasting rocks, and in mining.'
Morning Advertiser 3 October 1831, p3 col4

The same year William established the company Bickford, Smith and Davey. It changed its name to Bickford, Smith and Co. in 1864.
Bickford, Smith and Co., Grace's Guide,_Smith_and_Co - Accessed 2-05-2019

The Smith in the company name was William's son-in-law, George Smith. Davey was, according to the Western Morning News, a 'clever friend'. The paper also described William as a 'prominent Wesleyan worker'.
Elizabeth Bickford married George Smith in October 1826, in Camborne. Cornwall Family History Society transcription.
Western Morning News 10 October 1931, p9 col4

William Bickford, of Tuckingmill, was buried in October 1834, at Illogan. He was 60 years old.
Cornwall Family History Society transcription.

In 1923 a tablet was erected at the site of the original factory: 'This tablet commemorates William Bickford who invented & first made safety fuse at this factory in 1831
Western Morning News 22 December 1923, p10 cols 6,7

                                                     John Rich

John Rich, a dealer in rags, died in 1848. For 23 years he had lived in a kitchen in an alley near the market place. He was discovered lying dead on his bed of rags, and at his inquest a jury found that he died of apoplexy. Although he lived in a hovel, he was not a poor man: he had £60 in the Exeter Savings Bank, £200 in the late Totnes Bank and £63 in the Western District Bank. His head was resting on an old pair of breeches with about 40 sovereigns sewed into them. 15 years before he had been robbed of £20 by a woman whom he had invited into his hovel - he had been wary of 'the fair sex' ever since.
Sherborne Mercury 12 February 1848 p4 col4

A John Rich aged 71 died in the March quarter of 1848; probably the same John Rich who is living in North Street in the 1841 census, aged about 65. His occupation on the census is 'Independent'.
1841 census HO107, piece no. 253, folio 11, p17


                                          Claude Delaval Cobham

A 'scholar and a gentleman'
Sir Harry Luke, Simpson, D. (ed.) (1957), 'The Cobham Cyprus Collection', The Royal Empire Society Library Notes with List of Accessions, New Series no. 12, p. 1-2.

Claude Delaval Cobham, the son of Thomas and Mary Anne, was baptized in Withycombe Rawleigh in August 1843*. A note in the register says he was born on June 30th.
Withycombe Rawleigh Bishop's transcripts
*Records on a previous page suggest it was actually 1842.

In the 1851 census 8 year Claude D Cobham is living at Withycombe Rawleigh with his parents and 5 siblings. A governess and 10 servants are also in the household. Claude was born in Marley, Devon.
1851 census HO107, piece no. 1865, folio 371, p25

In 1861 Claude D Cobham was about to receive an open scholarship, worth £60 a year for five years, for University College, Oxford. Most of his education had been at Chudleigh Grammar School.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 29 March 1861, p6 col4

1868. Claude Delaval Cobham, BA and SCL, was admitted to Holy Orders as a Deacon, in an ordination held by the Lord Bishop of Oxford at Newport Pagnel.
Oxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette, 14 March 1868, p5 col5

By 1871 he is living with his mother in Buckerell parish in Honition registration district.
1871 census RG10, piece no. 2037, folio 77, p10

Claude appeared in the Companion to the Rugby School Register, 1871, (p107), which says that he was the son of Thomas Cobham esq. of Marley Lodge, Exmouth; that he was a Second Rugby Exhibitioner and scholar of Univeristy College Oxford, 1861.
School and University Registers via

According to the British Museum website the Rev. Cobham was District Commissioner of Larnaca from 1879. He became a leading antiquarian in the country, with a command of a number of local languages. Various antiquities that he acquired are now in the British Museum. He oversaw excavations conducted on behalf of Charles Newton, Keeper of Greek and Roman Antiquities, and sometimes wrote on behalf of Demetrius Pierides, a Cypriot antiquarian.
He retired in 1908. - Accessed 07-04-2018

He possessed private means, and this enabled him to indulge interest in the history of Cyprus and his love of foreign languages. This was his recreation during his working life, and how he devoted his time during retirement. Failing health eventually forced him to return to England.
Sir Harry Luke, Simpson, D. (ed.) (1957), 'The Cobham Cyprus Collection', The Royal Empire Society Library Notes with List of Accessions, New Series no. 12, p. 1-2. Available through - Accessed 09-04-2018

'The Handbook of Cyprus' was about to go into a sixth edition in 1909. Compiled by Sir J T Hutchinson and Claude Delaval Cobham, the newspaper The Scotsman described it as 'a small and compact volume, in which multitudinous facts are set forth in a simple and orderly way.'
The Scotsman, 31 May 1909, p3 col3

The book is available to read at - Accessed 06-04-2018

His library was donated to the Royal Empire Society - the library is now at the University of Cambridge. After his death his nephew donated his collection of antiquities to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. - Accessed 07-04-2018
Claude Delaval Cobham died at Waverley, Ashburton, in April 1915.
He was buried at Ashburton on May 3rd, 1915, aged 71*.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 3 May 1915, p5 col6
Parish records
*His gravestone states that he was born 30 June 1842, and died 29 April 1915 - making him 72. Additional details on the memorial are that he was CMG, MA, BCL Oxon, and was for many years HM Commissioner of Larnaca, Cyprus.

Left and below: The gravestone of Claude Delaval Cobham.
My own photographs 2018

In 1911 Horace Walter Cobham, a retired Indian Army major, was living at Hele, Ashburton. 44 years old, he had been born in Kensington, London.
With him at Hele was his wife Edith Annie, daughters Margaret Patricia and Edith Pamela, and son Andrew Walter John.
A nephew of Claude*, he may well have been the nephew who donated the antiquities to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.
1911 census RG14, piece no 12726
*Horace was the son of Francis Algernon Cobham; Francis Algernon was baptized in April 1837 in Westbury on Trym, Gloucestershire, the son of Thomas and Mary Anne.
Parish record transcript.
Many thanks to Nicholas Stanley-Price for pointing this out to me

Putting in a search for 'Claude Delaval Cobham' on the Cambridge University iDiscover website brings up 209 results. - Accessed 07-04-2018

Putting in a search for 'Cobham' on the RAMM website brings up over 70 objects collected by Claude. - Accessed 07-04-2018

For more on Cobham, see Nicholas Stanley-Price, Claude Delaval Cobham before Cyprus. The making of a scholar, Centre D'études Chypriotes, cahier 48, 2018, p133


                                               Henry Baskerville

There were several obituaries written in local papers when Henry 'Harry' Mathews Baskerville died in 1962. The Western Morning News headed its tribute, 'The original Baskerville dies, aged 91', and went on to say that as the coachman to Mr B Fletcher Robinson he had driven Sir Arthur Conan Doyle over Dartmoor to gather atmosphere for his story, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Henry's family had a first edition of the book, signed by Robinson (who collaborated on the work) and with an inscription apologising for using Mr Baskerville's name.
Western Morning News 30 March 1962

Over time, Henry's accounts of the writing of 'The Hound', both what he had witnessed and his own participation, perhaps became a little embellished, but he had had a part to play whilst working for the Robinson family in Ipplepen. Later he and his family moved to Ashburton, where he lived for the rest of his life. For the following information (including the newspaper item above) I am heavily indebted to Paul Spiring, who has generously made his research notes on Bertram Fletcher Robinson available to me. He has written (sometimes jointly) several books on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Bertram Fletcher Robinson and the character Sherlock Holmes.

Henry Mathews Baskerville's birth was registered in the Newton Abbot district in the March quarter of 1871. He first appears in the censuses at two months old, with his father John (the surname looks like Baskervill), mother Mary Grace and two siblings: 11 year old John and 8 year old Mary Catherine.
Ten years later Henry is a scholar on the census, and the family are living at Smerdons Lane, Ipplepen.

1871 census RG10, Piece 2083, Folio 13 P 17 

1881 census RG11, Piece 2164, Folio 20, P 6

During 1886 Joseph Robinson employed Henry Mathews Baskerville at Park Hill House, Ipplepen. As a domestic servant he was expected to pump water from a well for the house, polish silverware and clean out fireplaces.

Henry, or Harry as he was known, co-founded the Cottage Garden Society and Ipplepen Cricket Club  in 1890, where a year later he was photographed with Bertram Flectcher Robinson.
Information from Paul Spiring
By 1891 he was a coachman and domestic, and was paid 12/6d a week, living in a cottage in the Credefords area of Ipplepen. This corresponds to the modern day junction between East Street and Dornafield Road, close to the Methodist Chapel built by the then owner of Park Hill House i 1866. Also in the cottage were Henry's parents, John and Mary G Baskerville, and his great uncle, Henry Mathews. Henry Snr was living on his own means.
1891 census RG12, piece no. 1699, folio 93, p11
Additional information from Paul Spiring
Above: Henry Baskerville when coachman to the Robinson family.
With many thanks to Paul Spiring for this photograph

At the end of 1894 Henry Baskerville married Alice Pering in Torquay. They made their home in Ipplepen, near Credefords. By 1901 they had a young daughter Myrtle (Alberta), born in 1895, and were living in 'Chapel Street or
Wesley Cottages'. He was still a coachman and domestic (for Joseph Fletcher Robinson). Henry's parents and great uncle still lived at Credefords, and Henry Snr. now describes himself as a retired coachman and domestic.
Later still Henry Jnr. became head coachman with an assistant to help him - the household had three coaches and two horses.
1901 census RG13, Piece 2055, Folio 27, P4
Additional information from Paul Spiring

On May 25th of that year Henry collected Arthur Conan Doyle from Newton Abbot Railway Station. Where Arthur Conan Doyle stayed is a matter of debate, (Henry later claimed that he stayed at Park Hill) but Henry did drive the author and Bertram Fletcher Robinson across the moors to research the developing story, The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Henry referred to this visit in a letter to the Western Morning News in 1949.
Article by H J W Dam, Sunday Magazine, New York Tribune, 1905.
Western Morning News 16 February 1949 p2 cols 6,7

Henry received a first edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles from Bertram Fletcher Robinson in 1902. It was inscribed 'To Harry Baskerville from B Fletcher Robinson with apologies for using the name!'
I have spoken to an Ashburton resident who nursed Henry Baskerville in his old age. His daughters showed her this book and its inscription.

In 1906, shortly after the death of Bertram Fletcher Robinson - whose parents had predeceased him - Henry left the Robinson family after working for them for nearly 20 years.
In 1907 he was elected to Ipplepen Parish Council.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 28 March 1907 p7 col4

Above: Penrae? The Baskervilles were at Penrae in the 1911 census, which seemed to be one door down from No. 39 East St.
My own photograph 2015

At some stage after this he moved to Penrae, Ashburton, and was employed by Mr Sawdye, then an auctioneer, estate agent and publican. Tradition links him with the Golden Lion Hotel, and Edward John Sawdye was indeed an auctioneer, surveyor and hotel keeper at the Golden Lion in 1901. However, Edward Sawdye died in 1909, and by the time of the 1911 census James Clymo was in residence at the hotel.
1901 census RG13, piece no 2053, folio 56, p12
Parish records
1911 census RG14, piece 12728
Henry may well have then worked for Edward J's son, also called Edward, and also an auctioneer, surveyor and valuer (see below). Edward was with his father on the 1901 census, and is living at Brooklands by 1911.
At the time of the 1911 census Henry is a groom gardener, and he and his wife now have a second daughter, Eunice (Freda), born in 1902. 15 year old Myrtle is now a servant for the Fitzpatrick family at Hiram Lodge, East Street.
!911 census RG14, Piece 12727
1911 census RG14, Piece 12727, Schedule Number 20
1911 census RG14, Piece 12727, Schedule Number 63

1920 Dorncliffe was sold at auction to Mr H Baskerville for £440.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 6 November 1920 p1 col6

In 1924 Properties belonging to the late John Hannibal Foaden came up for sale.
13 St Lawrence Lane sold to Mr Baskerville for £370 - presumably Henry.
Western Times 28 November 1924 p8 col2

Above: Dorncliffe, West Street.
My own photograph, 2015
Electoral registers show that the family moved to Laburnhams from 1918 to 1932, and at Dorncliffe, 18 West Street, from 1932 to 1962.
Information from Paul Spiring

H M Baskerville was one of the coffin bearers at Edward Sawdye's funeral in 1933. Mr Sawdye was said to be of Laburnhams. So many people attended the funeral that some had to stand in the aisles.
Western Times 30 June 1933 p10 col1

1933 Edward Sawdye left various bequests,* dependent on the beneficiaries being in his employ at the time of his death. The newspaper report does not mention Henry Baskerville as one of them.

See Wills, under People and Properties

Western Times 17 November 1933 p10, col4

Henry and Alice Baskerville celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1944. A newspaper report stated that the couple had been involved with the Methodist Church all their lives*, and Henry had served on two occasions as Circuit or Mission Steward for the Ashburton section of the South Devon Mission. He had served on the Urban District Council for 6 years, and for 12 years as president of the local Co-operative Society.
A report five years later noted that Henry had been a judge at the Cottage Garden Show.
Evening Herald, 21 November 1944
* When Ipplepen Methodists held a fete to raise money for renovations, Mr H Baskerville of Ashburton, 'an old member of the church' performed the opening ceremony. Torbay Express and South Devon Echo 4 August 1939 p5 col5

Henry had also been chairman of the Ashburton and District Fanciers' Assocation.
Western Times 2 May 1930 p10 col6

1951. 85 year old Alice Baskerville died, having been ill for some time. The mourners at the Methodist Church included her husband Harry, her daughters Hilda Mann and Eunice Wellington, and Mr and Mrs J Sawdye.

Harry died in 1962, and was buried with his wife in St Andew's churchyard. One of the newspaper obituaries said that he had worked for the Sawdye family for 52 years. The same paper said that photographer Stuart Black had taken his portrait in 1951, and it had been exhibited in London.
Above: The memorial to Henry and Alice Baskerville, St Andrew's Churchyard.
My own photograph 2020
Henry's estate was proved at £1495 4s net in 1964. Dorncliffe was left to his two daughters.
Information from Paul Spiring
With very many thanks to Paul Spiring
See Paul's website at and his author page on


                                                           Hannah Parkhouse

Mrs Hannah Parkhouse of Ashburton died in January 1928, aged 104. She was born on May 29th 1823. Her husband predeceased her 60 years before, at which time she took up nursing. During her nursing career she made her first trip out of Devon, when she went to Cornwall to attend a patient.

Hannah may be living in the Alms Houses, 3, The Grove, Totnes, in the 1911 census. Born in Newton Abbot, she is a former monthly nurse.

By 1927 she was in East Street, when Henry Naylor, the headmaster of the Grammar School, wrote to the Western Morning News, wondering if she was the oldest person in the county.

Western Morning News 28 October 1927 p2 col5
Western Times 20 January 1928 p6 col4

1911 census RG14, Piece 12831, Schedule Number 194

                                               Professor T B Abell

Thomas Bertrand Abell was baptised at Littleham-cum-Exmouth in May 1880, the son of Thomas and Mary Ann. His father was a painter, and he already had an elder brother, Westcott Stile Abell, who was baptised in 1877.
Littleham-cum-Exmouth parish records

According to his obituary in The Engineer he was educated at West Buckland School before going to the Royal Naval College, Keyham, and then to the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. He then became a member of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors.
The Engineer, 1956/08/03

He was in Greenwich at the time of the 1901 census, a 21 year old student, 'Prob Asst Constructor' [Probationary Assistant Constructor?]
1901 census RG13, piece no. 543, folio 106, p9

By 1912 he was a senior instructor in naval architecture at the Royal Naval College, and in 1914 became Professor of Naval Architecture at Liverpool University.
The Engineer, 1956/08/03

He held the Alexander Elder Chair of Naval Architecture in 1914, following on from his brother Westcott Stile Abell, who held it from its inauguration in 1909.
The University of Liverpool Calendar, 1928-29, p430

In 1939 Thomas B Abell, Professor of Naval Architecture, was living in Birkenhead, Cheshire, with his wife Gertrude S and Marjorie, presumably their daughter. Prof. Abell had been born in March 1880.
The register shows Sir Westcott S Abell, KBE, as a Professor of Naval Architecture at King's College, Newcastle on Tyne. He is living in Wigton, Cumberland.
1939 register, available through

Thomas Abel became Pro-Vice-Chancellor  in 1935, and Professor Emeritus when he retired in 1940.
A member of the Institution of Naval Architects, he wrote a number of technical papers, one of which gained a Premium Award from the institution, and the other a Gold Medal.
The Engineer, 1956/08/03

In 1936, when Prof. T B Abell presented a paper to the Institution of Naval Architects, he was described as a prominent Exmothian. He was the son of Mr Thomas Abell, JP, of Exmouth.
Western Morning News 3 April 1936, p8 col5

The University of Liverpool archive holds eight handwritten letters from Professor T B Abell, Alexander Elder Professor of Naval Architecture, 1914-40 to Mr Okill. The letters refer to his new home (Priestaford House) in Ashburton, horticultural interests, wartime conditions and the general political situation. There is also a handwritten letter from Mrs Gertrude Abell, Professor Abell's wife.
University of Liverpool, Ref D1016/16 - Accessed 2-2-2019

Prof T B Abell was Portreeve of Ashburton in November 1943.
Western Times 26 November 1943, p6 col3

In February 1945 the Buckfast Players, at the request of Prof T B Abell, put on a variety concert in aid of the proposed Recreation Centre for schoolchildren in Ashburton. The programme was arranged by Moyra Babington.
Western Morning News 3 March 1945, p3 col4

1946 Prof T B Abell OBE chaired a meeting convened to discuss both the Victory celebrations and how to encourage saving. It was decided to give National Savings Certificates to all children born between June 8th and December 31st, whose parents lived in Ashburton, Widecombe-in-the-Moor and Buckland-in-the-Moor.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 31 May 1946, p6 col2

Thomas B Abell's death was registered in the Newton Abbot district in 1956.
There is a tablet on the wall of Ashburton churchyard commemorating him.


                                                Jack Lamason

In 1950 Ashburton Parish Magazine paid tribute to Jack Lamason, the blind newspaper vendor who had recently left the town following an accident. Jack, whose birth surname was Rogers, had moved to be with his mother near London. Well known by visitors to Ashburton, Jack was able to recognize people by their voices when they returned to the town; he also had a remarkable memory for dates. He delivered newspapers, and was able to distinguish them by touch.
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 9 June 1950, p7 col4

In October 1899 Mary Lamason married Richard Enoch Cox Rogers at St Mary Arches in Exeter.
St Mary Arches parish register

John Richard Rogers was baptised in December 1899, the son of Richard Enoch Cox Rogers and his wife Mary. Richard snr. was a draper.
Parish records

In 1911 John I Lamason and his wife Lavinia are at 1 West Street, and John is a brushmaker. With them on the census is John's 11 year old grandson, John Richard Rogers.
1911 census RG14, piece no. 12725

'[Jack] was the local paper “boy”. He could identify the paper by the feel, and seldom made a mistake. He had a remarkable memory and as children we would wait expectantly on my mother’s birthday for Jack to arrive. The annual ritual never varied. “Good morning Florence, a very happy birthday to you” he said, rubbing his fingers together and thinking carefully, “let me see - March 25th - you will be forty eight today”. This procedure was repeated for most of the householders who had their papers delivered, and then he was given a shilling for his trouble. Sometimes a bicycle would be left standing at the kerb and Jack would collide with it. The air would be blue and his loud voice would bring everyone out to see what was happening.'

Many thanks to Hazel Bray for the above account

In the 1939 register John R Rogers, born in November 1899, was living at 6 North St., with Stanley G Langler and Maria Langler. The register notes that John was blind.
1939 register, available through
Stanley G Langler had married Maria Lamason in 1920.
See also the Lamason family, under Individual families

                                      Leslie Philip Le Quesne 

Leslie Philip Le Quesne was born at Moorside, Ashburton, in August 1919, the son of Charles Thomas Le Quesne, a barrister from Jersey, and Florence Elizabeth Eileen Pearce Gould. He was educated at Rugby, and by the time of the 1939 register was a preclinical medical student at Exeter College, Oxford. He obtained his FRCS in 1947, and became an assistant surgeon at the Middlesex Hospital, Southend. He was appointed to the chair of surgery in 1964.
He is particularly remembered for his contributions to the standard of post-operative surgical care. He joined the board of the British Journal of Surgery, later becoming chairman; under his leadership the publication became highly respected and the most widely read research journal outside the United States.
He also became chairman of the Court of Examiners at the Royal College of Surgeons. He had honorary fellowships in America and Australia, and was appointed dean of the faculty of medicine at London University and deputy vice-chancellor. He was awarded a CBE in 1984.
He died in August 2011, aged 91.
The Royal College of Surgeons of England, 7 Oct 2011$002f$002fSD_ASSET$002f0$002fSD_ASSET:373645/one - accessed 06-02-2021
Birth registered in the September Quarter of 1919 in the Newton Abbot registration district.
Exact place of birth from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
1939 register, available through
Information on his contribution to the British Journal of Surgery from the Guardian obituary - accessed 06-02-2021


                                                   Mary Wesley

Mary Wesley's first adult novel, Jumping the Queue, was published in 1983, when she was 71. She wrote a further nine novels, the best known of which is probably The Camomile Lawn, which was turned into a television series.

She and her second husband, Eric Siepmann, lived briefly in Ashburton, before she began writing the novels which made her famous. According to Patrick Marnham, they had rented Priory Cottage, Ashburton, by the autumn of 1962. Mary came into conflict with the town constable*, who gave her, in Mary's opinion, too many parking tickets. She rang up the Chief Constable, warning him that he might have a murder on his hands if something wasn't done about the situation. The Chief Constable came around and had a talk - the parking tickets then stopped.
Patrick Marnham, Wild Mary - A Life of Mary Wesley, London, 2006, p197
*Constable Head?

This was not the only problem that Mary had with cars. She was known for her aggressive driving, and one diary entry reads 'Small accident on the way to Ashburton'.
ibid p238

                                              Deryck Bazalgette
Obituary, November 2010.
'Our father, Deryck Bazalgette, who has died aged 97, was a great-grandson of the Victorian engineer Sir Jospeh Bazalgette. Deryck's parents, Ian and Marian, were farming in Alberta, Canada, when he was born, but his father returned to Europe to fight in the first world war, in which he was injured. The family endured years of poverty, waiting for Ian's disability pension. This experience, together with the shock of being pitched into Englsh public school life after the pension finally arrived, helped to form Deryck's instinctive and lifelong resistance to the traditional values of King and Empire.
In the ferment of the 1930s he was drawn to the Peace Pledge Union, along with his first wife, the writer Margaret Bonham, and in 1939 he became a conscientious objector. Through the Society of Friends he established a pacifist commune in Ashburton, Devon, and subsisted on a basic landworker's wage. After the second world war Deryck and Margaret divorced, and he was awarded custody of their children, Cary and Charles.
By 1945 Deryck had no interest in returning to a conventional career. Instead he studied holticulture while cultivating a market garden near Newton Abbot. In the 1950s, with his second wife Ruth Andrews, with whom he had two children, Edward and Sarah, he worked in Englefield Green, Surrey, as head gardener at Parkside, the Earl of Drogheda's estate. One of his more unusual tasks there was in 1956, whe he was responsible for fending off the press during a visit from the newlyweds Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller. This he did with some bemusement, since he had never heard of either Monroe or Miller. 
Another move took Deryck to Jackman's plant nursery in Woking, where his expertise helped the firm become widely respected, and he contributed to the production of an authoritative and lovingly prepared catalogue. In the 1960s Deryck turned away from horticulture and found employment with Cable and Wireless before retiring and moving back to Devon, where with Ruth he managed to create a beautiful and unusual garden on a particularly unpromising hillside.
In 1996 they took over the care of their grandson after Sarah's early death.'
With many thanks to Cary Bazalgette
For more on the commune at Ashburton, see Growing Up in the 1940s


                                         Norman Frederick Harpur

Norman Frederick Harpur MA(Cantab), DIC, FRAeS, CEng, was an aeronautical engineer born in Birmingham in 1926. He joined the Aircraft Division of the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1946, and spent his working life in structural engineering.
 He was involved in all aspects of the design of Concorde, and later was actively involved in Airbus.
For most of his working life he was at Filton - by the time of his retirement in 1985 was Executive Director, Technical (Filton) and Chief Engineer Airbus.
Above right: Concorde.
Image by Eduard Marmet, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

Norman retired to Ashburton: amongst his many activities he was treasurer to St Andrew's Church and a trustee of the Museum. He raised funds and oversaw the building of a new church hall.
He died in March 2007

The information above comes from the Imperial College London website - Accessed 29-11-2020

In 2002/03 Norman Frederick Harpur was living at Brocton Cottage, Pear Tree, Ashburton
Electoral register