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EAST ANSTEY - 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.

East Anstey belonged to the Hundred of South Molton*

The original spelling has been preserved

John Austy William Hill John Skinner
William Austy Alexander Hindham William Skinner jun.
John Blackmore Edward Hindham William Skinner
William Blackmore John Hindham John Smith
George Blake Richard Hindham James Stockham
Christopher Burnard Richard Hosgood John Venn
Henry Burnard Robert King John Western
Alexander Chilston John Mogford John Westron sen.
William Cockerham Merida Morgin Richard Westron
Richard Croocke Humphrey Pulsford William Westron
William Croocke jun. John Pulsford -
Luke Falvie William Rendell -

(The above names in the same hand, the following five are signatures)

Elias Blake - Rector

Alexander Hindham - Constable

Richard Hosgood - Churchwarden

George Blake - Overseer

Richard Westron - Overseer

 

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

 

Taken from the transcription by A. J. Howard published in 1973 which is available in the West Country Studies Library, Exeter.                                                                                                              Courtesy: Devon County Council

 

 
 
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