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DOWN ST. MARY - THE PROTESTATION RETURN OF 1641/2

By the end of 1640, King Charles I had become very unpopular.  Parliament forced him to make changes in the Constitution which gave them a bigger say in how the country was governed. From then on, Parliament was split into two factions - Royalists (Cavaliers) who supported the King and Parliamentarians (Roundheads) who wanted political and religious reform.

 

On 3 May 1641, every Member of the House of Commons was ordered to make a declaration of loyalty to the crown. This was ratified next day by the House of Lords. They called it their Protestation against " an arbitrarie and tyrannical government" and another order was made that every Rector, Churchwarden and Overseer of the Poor had to appear in person before the JPs in their Hundred to make this Protestation Oath in person. It was to  be a declaration of their belief in the" Protestant religion, allegiance to the King and support for the rights and privileges of Parliament".

 

They then had to go back home to their own parish where any two of them were to require the same oath of allegiance from all males over the age of 18. The names of all who refused to make the oath were to be noted and assumed to be Catholics.

 

We have, in the Devon Protestation Returns, a set of amazing documents - something akin to a census even though no women or children are named.  A transcription is available in the West Country Studies Library in Exeter.

 

The Protestation Returns are arranged by parish.

Down St. Mary belonged to the Hundred of North Tawton

The original spelling has been preserved

Robert Adomes Peter Gollitore Francis Shapton
John Amare Richard Gregory Richard Snell
William Avery Roger Heale Christopher Stone
Henry Baker William Heale Francis Stone
William Baker John Heare Humphrey Stone
Peter Barnehover Laurence Heawood James Stone
Barnard Blakemore Robert Hunte John Stone
John Bisham John Hoxton John Stone
John Blakemore Christopher Jonas Richard Stone
Joseph Borroe Philip Lee Richard Stone
William Borroe Robert Lendon Thomas Stone
Thomas Bortfild Henry Marwood William Stone
Thomas Bortfild William Marwoode Humphrey Sworte
John Clarke John Milford Humphrey Tobly
Ralph Clarke John More Thomas Torre
John Cooch John More Joseph Trasy
Christopher Estabroke James Nosworthy George White
Richard Evenes John Nucombe John Wiet
Thomas Gibones Joseph Pee Thomas Willsone
John Glanfild Philip Pee John Woolfe
John Golliton Walter Pee Roger Woolfe
Roger Golliton John Poope John Woton
Thomas Golliton George Reede ----

(All the names are written in the same  hand)

Francis Shapton - Clerk

James Stone - Churchwarden

John Reed - Overseer

Thomas Kelland - Constable

William Bortfild

 

* For many centuries, Devon was divided into 32 administrative districts or Hundreds for land tax purpose.

 

 
 
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