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In Issue 6 we told the story of Ann Stentiford and what a story! To say the least, she lived a full life - perhaps not a surprising one to an inner city social worker of the 21st century but for her day, absolutely outrageous. Yet, more than 250 years after the Stentifords first arrived in Sampford Courtenay, there were still Stentifords living there as the 20th century began. The 17th century John Stentiford, who brought his branch of the family across from southern Dartmoor and was described in the Sampford parish register as a "worthy" - that  most complimentary of Devonshire terms, might have been rather surprised to find his name perpetuated by descendents of our very own "Miss Naughty" but in a twist of fate,  that was what happened and curiously enough, Ann's grandson, the last Stentiford to live in the village, was also named John.


Ann Stentiford's name turns up in several parish registers, vestry minutes, parish papers, bastardy orders and a number of Stentiford family trees. It would seem that in total she gave birth to five illegitimate children, the first being William who was baptised 11 September 1811 at Sampford Courtenay when Ann herself was barely 18. He was named after Ann's father who died young, leaving a widow and four small children to the tender mercy of Sampford parish who got them off their hands by  negotiating a contract with the parish of North Tawton for their "care".


Ann had her first baby in Sampford Courtenay; at his baptism he was named William and the register was marked with the letters BB standing for "Base Born". She left to go to South Zeal  to make a new life for herself - which she seems to have done quite successfully. Baby William was left behind in Sampford Courtenay in the care of others.


The steps in Sampford Courtenay

The steps in Sampford Courtenay from where the 

Prayer Book Rebellion began in 1549 (See Issue 27)


Richard J. Brine


William grew up in Sampford Courtenay under parish care which meant serving the usual apprenticeship until he was 21. In 1843, on 15 June, when he was in his early 30s, he married Sarah Fewings, daughter of James and Ann Fewings of Sampford Courtenay. She was still a minor at the time of her wedding and her father's consent is noted in the parish register.


By 1851, their family consisted of John (7), Wilmot Ann (4) and another William (2). The census of that year may tell us something else - the identity of the person to whom Ann may have entrusted the upbringing of the baby Ann left behind when she moved to South Zeal -   Mary Kerslake, described in the Return as William's aunt, has a home with William and Sarah and their children.


By 1861, two more children had arrived - Emily and James - and William and Sarah's family was complete though no longer all at  home under the same roof. Wilmot Ann worked as a servant at Bow Mead Farm while John and William were both working on other farms as carters - a hard job, working out of doors in all weathers and all hours.


Carters bringing up harvested hay to build hayricks

Carters bringing up harvested hay to build hayricks

Horses were used for every type of farm work 


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Last modiied: 29/12/2007