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LITTLE HEMPSTON - 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.

Little Hempston belonged to the Hundred of Haytor

(The original spelling has  been retained)

Hept Abell Thomas Dashper John Lights
Laurence Abell Stephen Dawrie Richard Lights
Anthony Abbott Peter Diggon Edward Mann sen.
Roger Abrahame Edward Dollinge Edward Mann jun.
Roger Algar Diggory Doubtinge John Mann
Richard Allarde John Drew Thomas Martine
Alexander Austine John Duninge sen James May
John Austine John Duninge jun Robert Metherell
William Austine John Duninge Abel Miller
Geoffrey Bartlett William Duninge John Miller
Francis Bickforde Thomas Duninge Walter Norris
Robert Bickforde William Duninge sen. Arthur Palke
Edward Blackaller jun William Duninge jun Edward Palke
Nicholas Blackhall William Eastone John Palke, Clerk
Thomas Blackhall William Eastone jun. John Palk sen.
Edward Blackler William Elforde Joseph Palke
Peter Blackler Arthur Even Walter Palke
William Bogen Gent John Even Peter Parker
William Bogen jun. William Even Thomas Parker
Michael Bowden Richard Farlie Gabriel Pridham
Christopher Brande Laurence Foster Edward Salter
John Brane John Froste sen Charles Smyth
George Brendone John Froste jun Samuel Soedie
Humphrey Brookinge Edmund How Jacob Sumpter
Edward Buncker William How Jonas Sweete
John Buncker William Howe John Tappe
Thomas Buncker Henry Irish George Tayler
James Cole Nicholas Irish Christopher Veninge
John Cole Christopher Jurden John Veninge
Richard Cole Richard Jurden Richard Veninge
John Collings Henry Legasicke sen. Humphrey Vole
Edward Dashper Henry Legasick jun. John Welch
Hept Dashper Richard Leighte sen. John Winsore
John Dashper Richard Lere Walter Wottern

The above are all in the same hand. The following seven are signatures:

William Venner - Curate

John Palke - Constable

Nicholas Blackhall - Constable

Robert Sodey - Churchwarden

Edward Blackaller - Churchwarden 

Hept Dashper - Overseer

(All the above names in the same hand)

 

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

 

 

 
 
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