http://rmhh.co.uk/occup/index.html - Accessed 3-2-2016
No person, which shall use tanning leather, shall suffer any hide or skin to lie in the limes till the same be over-limed, nor shall put any hides or skins into tan-fats, before the lime be well sokened and wrought out; nor shall any use any stuff in the workmanship or tanning of leather, but only ash-bark, oak-bark, tapwort, malt, meal, lime, culver-dung or hen-dung, nor shall willingly suffer his leather to be laid or to hang or to lie wet in any frost, until the same be frozen, nor shall dry or parch leather with fire or summer sun... '
An abridgment of the Publick statutes in forcde and use since Magna Charta in the nineth year of King Edward III to the eleventh year of his present Majesty King George II, John Cat, vol I, London, 1739, pp x, xi
In 1525 John Prideaux, tanner, was in debt to Thomas Seymour; presumably the same John Predeax who was in debt to John Elyot of Charleton the following year.
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk refs C 131/108/3 and C 241/278/1
In 1598 Ellis Coake of Ashburton, a tanner, claimed that Leonard Miller of Ashburton and Christina Kellye, widow had withheld bequests made to him in the wills of his parents.
National Archives C 2/Eliz/C16/13
*Quoted by J S Amery in his Presidential Address to the Devonshire Association.
Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol 56, Plymouth 1925, p72
Occupations in Ashburton PCC wills
John Dolbeare, tanner, February 1611
In 1615 Thomas Dolbere, tanner, was one of the
defendants in proceedings in Star Chamber. The case, brought by Thomas
Adiscott, involved the alleged suppression of a will, assault, theft and
falsification of documents.
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk ref STAC 8/35/20
years later a 'Declaration of the Uses of a Recovery'* was made
concerning lands and meadows called Chewly Parke. Peter Gawde of
Aishberton, tanner, John Ogier of Aishberton, blacksmith and Nicholas
Harris of Aishberton, tanner, were involved.
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk South West Heritage Trust refs 48/14/68/1
As I understand it, this was where those involved in a land transaction
colluded in a fake lawsuit to ensure that the land was free from
restrictions imposed by wills, settlements etc.
- Accessed 5-2-2106
1637 Epitaph within the church for Thomas Harris, died September 30th:
'Fear not to die;
Learn this of me,
No ills in death,
If good thou be.'
'H.H.' writing in Notes and Queries, A Medium of Communication between Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists etc. vol 6, July-December 1852, London, p468
The epitaph is in fact on a granite slab outside the church, on the ground in front of the West door. Thomas Harris died on September 30th 1637, and his son, Nicholas, who is also commemorated, died on 10th October 1669.
My own photographs 2017
Robert Prowse and John Dolbear were ordered to keep the peace in 1639. Both were tanners of Ashburton
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk South West Heritage Trust ref 133Z-0/Q/20
The will of Nicholas Harris, tanner of Aishberton, was proved in the court of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter in 1670. He left messuages in North Streete and East Streete and 3 closes of land called Longabrendon.
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk South West Heritage Trust ref 48/14/68/7
'One of the leading supporters of Nonconformity in Ashburton, in its early days, was Mr John Fabyan, of Ashburton, tanner.'
He left a will dated 24th July 1690, in which Peter Fabyan the younger is mentioned.
Article on Nonconformity, Western Daily Mercury, 8 January 1912, p8 col7
1717 'A petition of the tanners, leather-dressers and cutters of leather, in the town and borough of Tot_ness as also of the town and borough of Ashburton, both in Devon, on behalf of themselves and others was presented to the House and read; setting forth that vast quantities of oak-bark had been exported from this part of the kingdom into Ireland, where there is no duty on hides, to the great discouragement of the petitioners; and for the better preventing the gathing of hides and skins in the flaying, a law was made against the same; but the forfeitures therein are so inconsiderable that it is in a manner ineffectual; and by another statute, the engrossing of oaken bark to fell again is forbid; but by the art of some people those laws are made of no effect: and praying the the exportation of bark may be prohibited.
Ordered, that the said petition do lie upon the table.'
Journals of the House of Commons, August 1714- September 1718, reprinted 1803, p702,703
1748. At the Court Leet and Baron the searchers and Sealers of Leather in 1748 presented William Hern for 'Selling of leather unsearched and unsealed', an offence which he was to repeat in 1751 and 1762.
Court Entries of Ashburton 1747-1803, Hamlyn Parsons, Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol 87, Crediton 1955, p245
In 1750 Jno Teddey, his son Thomas Teddey and Philip Bennett were also presented at court for 'Washing skins above the town' - they may have been tanners.
1760 Amongst the bastardly bonds held in the accounts of the overseers of the St Thomas Union is one concerning Ann Coles and William Herne, tanner. Both were from Ashburton.
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk South West Heritage Trust ref 1481A/PO 692/8
William White, tanner
Trades and Professions from the Universal British Directory of Trade, Commerce and Manufacture, Vol 2, late 1700s
November 5th 1795 'A method of tanning leather without oak-bark, discovered and proved by William White, tanner, of Ashburton, Devon.
I have tanned several hides and calves skins (these three years past) with oak leaves only, and have found that the leather is tanned quicker, weighs as well, and answers for wear in all respects as well as if tanned with oak-bark...Bark being now so very dear, the above discovery must be of some benefit to tanners. The expense of drying the bark by fire, and pounding and sifting it, is considerable; whereas the expense is saved by using the leaves. The felling of coppices so young as fourteen years growth hath for several years past reduced the quality and quantity of oak-bark very much; therefore I suppose the above discovery will be of public utility...'
8 tanners and dressers of leather added their support - many are local names, but they may not have been from Ashburton: William Herr; John Windeatt; George Ley; Tho. Bickford; Edward Langman; Richard Maye; William Bickford; William Batten
Letters and papers on agriculture, planting etc. selected from the correspondence of the Bath and West of England Society, vol 8, Bath, 1796, p84
http://www.oldmapsonline.org - Accessed 4-2-2016
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk, ref IR 26/333/266, Sept 11th 1807
1810 Amongst the bankrupts listed in the Bristol Mirror was John Ellis of Ashburton, tanner.
Bristol Mirror 3 November 1810, p4 col5
In 1811 John Higgins of Ashburton, tanner, was involved in the lease of two fields called Hemphy and Splatt (in Ashburton?)
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk South West Heritage Trust, part of the Torquay Natural History collection ref 48/14/68/23
Bristol Record Office holds an 1813 marriage settlement concerning Lavington Evans, tanner of Ashburton, who is betrothed to Mary Sparke, also of Ashburton.
http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk, Bristol Record Office ref 14152/73, Jan 4th 1813
1816 'At Totnes, Ashburton and Moretonhampstead there are several tawers*, who prepare large quantities of goods.'
Review of the mercantile, trading and manufacturing state, interests and capabilities of the Port of Plymouth, William Burt, Plymouth, 1816 p249
* Made white leather. http://rmhh.co.uk/occup/t.html - Accessed 3-2-2016
Pigot's Directory 1822-23 lists 4 tanners in Ashburton: Lavington Evans in North Street, John Higgins in St Lawrence Street, John Vere Mann in East Street and John Rendle at Old Mill.
Pigot's Directory of Cornwall and Devon 1822-23
Exeter Alfred, reported in Palmer's Index to The Times, 5 July 1827, p2 col6
Mr J Mann, tanner, died as the result of an unfortunate accident in March 1834. He was walking along the banks of the Exeter Basin when he fell backwards into the water. The alarm was raised and he was soon retrieved from the water and taken to the House of Reception near the lime kilns. Despite efforts to save him, 'the vital spark had fled.'
Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser 19 March 1834, p4 col 3
James Parker Evans, a tanner of Ashburton, gave evidence in the trial of William Barnes, accused of stealing wool.
Western Times 27 February 1841, p3 col5
Indenture between John Rendell, tanner, of the first part, assigning all his freehold, leasehold and personal property to various people of the second and third parts in trust for all his creditors. London Gazette Issue 20924 8 December 1848, p4489
Western Times 16 December 1848, p1 col3
1851 census HO 107, piece no. 1871, folio 359, p2
In November 1852 John Hern, yeoman, married Caroline Susanna Restalic at Ashburton parish church. John's father was William Hern, tanner.
Western Times 8 July 1854 p4 col5
1856 Mr Pinsent Ware of Kingsteignton was letting a tan-yard in Ashburton. Called Old Mill, it had a dwelling house, drying loft, bark barn and water pit. It had 5 lime and 83 tan pits under cover. 800 hides could be dried in the drying loft, and the lifting pumps had a constant supply of water.
Exeter Flying Post 5 June 1856
In 1864 Mr Aggett, of Ashburton, was selling his currier and leather cutter's business. He advertised commodious premises at a reasonable rent. He had been in business for 23 years.
Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, vol 24, p217
*However tanning was still going on after this date - see items below.
'When quite young my mother had a serious illness and I well remember that she had to be kept very quiet, and what we then called tan was spread over the road for some distance outside the shop to deaden the sound of horses and horse vehicles. This tan was actually the bark after the tanners had finished with it.'
The memories of Reg Andrews, born 1893. See Growing up in the 1890s.
A note in Indigo in the Arab World says that the author had a conversation with Wilf Joint of Ashburton in the 1990s, where Wilf remembered dog turds being used by leather tanners.
Indigo in the Arab World, Jenny Balfour-Paul, Routledge, London and New York, 1997, reprinted 2004, p 215, Note 59