Geoff Ledden writes:
I have read two theories. Cousin Donald Bulleid claims that the family fled to England following the Huguenot rising and settled in Winkleigh, North Devon. He must have good reason to believe this but it seems unlikely. The Huguenots were French Protestants who were denied the freedom to worship until the Edict of Nantes in 1598. This was revoked in 1685, following which many Huguenots fled to Protestant countries, especially England and America, to escape persecution. If the family originated in France, they left well before the Huguenot uprising. We hold a copy of a grant dated 25 November 1525 "by John Bolehead to Richard Bean, William Bound and William Rachebrook of all his messuages, lands etc. in Northcott in Wynkleigh to the intent that they shall pay to his wife Thomasine during her life an annuity of 13s 4d by way of dower and jointure."
The Devon Subsidy Rolls of 1524 -7 record:
John Bulhedde, tanner, Mariansleigh
John Bulhedde, tanner, Winkleigh
John Bulled, helyer*, Bylstone
William Bulhed, brewer, Okehampton Manor
Thomas Bulhedde, brewer, East Stonehouse
(*Slater or roofer)
The Devon Muster Roll of 1569 includes:
Walter Bulhead, billman, Hatherleigh
Henry Bulhead, archer, Winckley
John Bulhead, harquebusier**, Mariansleigh
(**an early firearm)
In his Will dated 24 April 1574, Henry Bulhead (son of Nicholas) left Northcott, as well as Overdensham, Wadland and Rudland (all in Ashreigney) to his son Arkenwall. Northcott was located in Hollocombe, a few miles north of Winkleigh. Carry on northwards a few more miles and you will come to Ashreigney.
The second theory is from John Field "Jack" Bulleid, the former family historian of Taunton, Somerset, who thought that the family was almost certainly Saxon, but may well have occupied a farm that had much older occupants from the Bronze Age. He claimed that the family world-wide derives from one source, Bullhead farm, Iddesleigh, North Devon, about 4 miles west of Winkleigh, which still appears on the latest Ordnance Survey map (1997). In the Devon Family History Society Journal, he wrote: "I am fortunate in being able to establish Bullhead from Iddesleigh as the name source and to confirm its occupation by one William de Boleshead in 1332".
A glance at the IGI shows that in the late 17th and 18th centuries the main branch of the family was at Winkleigh, Romansleigh and Mariansleigh, 10 and 12 miles northeast of Winkleigh. The spelling was usually "Bullied" in Winkleigh, but "Bulled" in the other locations. With the exception of the Canadian and US branches of the family, the spelling seems to have changed from "Bullied" to "Bulleid" at the end of the 19th century and the latter is in common use in the 1901 census.
From Devon Villages
by S. H. Burton
"Wineca cleared the woodland from the hilltop and Winkleigh was a Saxon plantation, part agricultural settlement and part fortified centre. Later the Normans built a very small castle here. Study of the map shows that this was a commanding situation. For centuries it was an important local centre for goods and services and had both a market and a fair. Decline was rapid after the mid-nineteenth century and its population halved in 90 years. It's the same old story: flight from the land accompanied necessarily by the impoverishment and finally the extinction of butchers and bakers, candlemakers and brewers, tailors and cobblers, coopers and smiths, ropemakers and saddlers, wheelwrights ....."
From TheTopographical Dictionary of England
by Samuel Lewis
"a parish in the union of Torrington, hundred of Winkley, South Molton Division . . . 6½ miles from Chulmleigh; containing 1650 inhabitants. the parish forms a distinct hundred, to which it gives its name; the new road from Torrington to Exeter passes through it and the scenery is agreeably enlivened with the grounds of Winkley Court. A fair for cattle is held on the Monday after July 7th and courts leet and baron annually. The living is a vicarage valued at £21. 8s. 9d; net income £215; patrons and appropriators, the Dean and Chapter of Exeter. There is an endowed alms house, called Gidley's, for widows."