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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

Directory Listings





Parish Records




War Memorials



For centuries our forebears were nearly all farmers, husbandmen, agricultural labourers, butchers or smiths, living and working within a twenty-mile radius of Winkleigh, Mid Devon.

By the end of the 19th century, it seems there were few Bulleids left in this rural area, or following these occupations. A combination of factors had led to the agricultural revolution and by 1850 only 22 per cent of the British workforce was in agriculture; the smallest proportion for any country in the world. In "Earth to Earth" John Cornwell writes that the revolution "wiped out tens of thousands of farms in Britain and drove hundreds of thousands of farmers and their labourers overseas."   He maintains the background to the agricultural depression was the influx of cheap food from the United States, Russia, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. The development of railways and steam navigation provided faster and cheaper transport, while the Americans had pioneered the mechanisation of crop farming to open up the vast and fertile prairies. "Throughout the 1870s, North American grain pushed prices down to levels unknown since before the year 1700. The populations of the manufacturing towns were being fed on Argentine beef, Australian mutton and bread made with American wheat."

The precise reasons why the various Bulleid families left their roots are not known but we do know that some of them moved to towns and cities and others emigrated to Canada, the USA and New Zealand. The family of Richard Bulleid (1763 - 1840) is a good example. He married Thomasine Mitchell in Dolton, Devon in 1784 and died in the Union Workhouse, Great Torrington in 1840. They had six sons between 1785 and 1796, two of whom had to be apprenticed under the Poor Law at the age of eight: James on 21 January 1799 and Richard on 21 December 1801. Their brother, John, was apprenticed when he was ten.

James was apprenticed to Thomas Davey to learn husbandry until the age of twenty one. He married in 1815 when he was 24, and was described as a husbandman in 1851, when his son John got married in Plymouth. John had been born in Winkleigh, but moved to the city and became a carpenter and builder. James became a general labourer and went to live with his daughter and son-in-law in Torquay, where he died.


Richard married Elizabeth Ware in 1814, a few months before his apprenticeship was due to end. They had several children, the eldest of whom, Thomasine ("Tammy") emigrated to Canada in 1843/4 with her husband, Mathew Palmer. Richard and Elizabeth followed in 1847 with four or five of their offspring. Their eldest son, Thomas, followed with his family about 1858. Mathew's body was found in the woods at Port Hope, Ontario, in May 1879. He had frozen to death, weeks or possibly months earlier, when apparently on a hunting expedition.

Two other members of the family met a tragic end in Canada. John Bullied was reputedly 98 when his wife cut his throat and set fire to the house in 1883. She was committed to an insane asylum in Toronto for murder. Ann Parkin (née Bullied), died in jail in Lindsay, Ontario in 1889, just short of  her 60th birthday.


James' son Samuel also moved away from the land during the 1850s. He was an agricultural servant in Bondleigh in 1851, but a labourer in Torquay in 1861. He later acquired a horse and cart and delivered coal in the area. His son Samuel emigrated to the USA in 1897, leading to the establishment of one of the US branches of the family. Other Bullieds moved from Canada to the USA.


William Bulleid (1846 - 1889) came from a long line of farmers and was born in North Tawton, Devon, where his grandfather had Staddon and Haynes farms and was an Overseer of the Poor, William and his brother John emigrated to New Zealand, the former in 1875. John established a large department store and importing business in Oamaru on the South Island and also prospered, because in 1889 he was able to build reputedly the largest house on South Island. William died young; his mother took the family back to the UK and their son, Oliver Vaughan Snell Bulleid, became one of the most famous designers of steam locomotives and rolling stock in the history of British railways. As far as I know, he was the first engineer in the family. The Bulleids in New Zealand are descended from John.

William Henry Drew Bulled was baptised at Thelbridge, Devon, on 3 July 1831, the son of Thomas Bulled. a soldier and his wife Mary. By 1858, William was on Jersey in the Channel Islands where he married Caroline Mary Le Riche. They had 8 children (6 surviving) by July 1874 when they arrived in Napier, New Zealand, at a cost to the NZ government of £74 - 5s - 0p. Apparently, all Bulleds in New Zealand are related and descended from William. There are several sets of twins in every generation. The Council's cemetery records show the name as Bullhead, the original name of the family in Devon.


There are several Johns in the family and it is impossible to identify them all accurately, but we do know that one of them became a draper in Bristol. He followed his uncle James from Bristol to Glastonbury, in Somerset, became a shopkeeper and prospered. His son, John George Lawrence Bulleid, qualified as a solicitor and was Mayor of Glastonbury seven times between 1854 and 1894.

Curiously, Samuel Thomas Bulleid was also a draper, but in Torquay. His father had moved from Hatherleigh and was a farmer and hotel proprietor in Torquay in 1891. Two of his sisters were music teachers and a third was a professional singer at the age of seventeen. The two previous generations had been butchers in Dolton, Devon. Samuel Thomas also prospered and ended up as the owner of Rockheys, a large department store in Torquay.

The Torquay area clearly held an attraction for the Bulleids as another member of the family, James, had moved from Winkleigh to Combeinteignhead some time around the end of the 18th century. He was a labourer: his son and grandson became smiths, the latter (Robert) in Torquay. Robert's son, Robert John, was elected Mayor of Torquay in 1941.

This is not a comprehensive list of the families that left the land but when White's Directory of Winkleigh was published in 1850, there were only two Bulleids listed: John, who was farming Stabdon and Thomas, a cooper, making and repairing barrels. None are listed in Kelly's 1893 Directory. A different John was farming Great Stewardstone at Inwardleigh in 1881 when his cousin John was farming the nearby Stewardstone, but they seem to have been amongst the last of the Bulleids to till the soil in Mid Devon.

The Bulleds, however, ploughed on well into the 20th century:

From the 1923 Kelly's Directory of Devon:

Mark Bulled, Pitt Farm, Mariansleigh

Edmond Bulled, Cole Park, West Worlington

Frederick H. Bulled, Berry Barton ,Dunsford

Edwin Bulled, Old Park & Lower Poole, North Molton

From the 1939 Kelly's Directory of Devon

Albert E. Bulled, Broad Hill, South Molton

Edwin George Bulled, Upcott Barton, Cheriton Fitzpaine

Harold Bulled, Upcott Barton, Cheriton Fitzpaine

Frederick H. Bulled, Berry Barton, Dunsford

Henry Bulled, Low, Old Park & Lower Poole, North Molton



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