Issue 27

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Dartmoor Life

The Prayer Book Rebellion


We get many e-mails asking about the early days of the Stentifords so this Issue focuses on two areas of general interest to the whole clan whichever version of the name they are now called by.

First, there were those early days on Dartmoor which, in turn, were preceded by even earlier days in Buckland Monachorum and Calstock which we wrote about in Issue 4. In our very first Issue we told of the lease negotiated for land, now called Stentiford Land on Dartmoor itself. As the family grew, it fragmented further and also in Issue 4, we wrote about the move to Ugborough on the southern slopes of the Moor in the middle of the 16th century. Now we begin to tell the story of the move to the northern slopes of Dartmoor early in the 17th century. A century lies between the date of that 1464 Stentiford lease and the date of the move to Ugborough - around 70 more years were to go by before the second exodus to the north.

At this point in their history, the Stentifords were not peasants, nor were they "gentry" but we do find them, in ancient documents, being referred to as "worthies" - a curious Devon term reserved for men of substance who farmed their own land, were loyal to the crown through loyalty to the principal local landowners and who could be relied upon to keep their employees and their property in good order. This term was later replaced by the description "Yeoman". 

Our first article, in which we look at the hard lives led by those who lived and worked on Dartmoor, pinpoints the 1609 Court of Survey set up by King James to improve the royal estates to the north. The removal to Ugborough took place after an outbreak of plague had devastated the population in that area, making land cheaply available . The quelling of the Prayer Book Rebellion, which we describe in our second article, took out virtually all of the adult male population in the vicinity of Okehampton. This, combined with the outcome of the Court of Survey, led to the creation of  another set of opportunities and challenges for our family.

Our thanks to Steve Johnson for allowing us to use his brilliant aerial photographs of Dartmoor.


Keep in touch,

Muriel and Richard


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Dartmoor Life

The Prayer Book Rebellion


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