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Last Updated 20th October 2002
Articles (Publications List at End)
Meavy1 Marchants's Cross & Croffland-Wills
Meavy2 Meavy Village
Meavy3 1754-1799 Burial Statistics
Meavy4 St Peter's Church
Meavy5 Notes on Parish Registers
Meavy6 Notes on Parochial Records
Meavy7 Notes on Manorial Records
Meavy8 Principal Owners in the 1840 Tithe Survey
Meavy9 Lists of Meavy Manor Court Jurors 1811-1820
Meavy10 Gallipoli Campaign Memorials at Meavy
Meavy11 Full Transcript of Village War Memorial (War Memorials Web Page)
Publications Meavy CD-ROMs/Floppy Discs Available from Dartmoor Press
Dartmoor Press Homepage Booklets Catalogue CD-ROMs/Floppy Discs Catalogue
Guide to Dartmoor CD-ROM Forest Publishing Books Order Details How To Order
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Publications Reviews Dartmoor Picture Gallery Links to Other Websites
To leave the Dartmoor Press website and go to the Devon GENUKI Website Meavy Information Page(s) click here. Remember to put this page in your Bookmarks/Favourites before you go!

Marchant's Cross & Croffland-Wills
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

Standing a little over 8ft in height, Marchant's Cross (grid reference SX54596680) is Dartmoor's tallest wayside cross, marking an ancient route from Buckfast to Buckland and Tavistock, a route which is still called the Abbot's Way despite there being no historical precedent for this title and the fact that the section across the southern Moor is particularly unsuitable for monastic travel. But that this was an ancient way there is no doubt, one used as a packhorse route by traders and wool jobbers, a fact highlighted by the name of the cross, a corruption of the word 'merchant'. It did, however, also mark what could quite correctly be described as having once been an abbots' way, for it also stood alongside the ancient route between Plympton Priory and Tavistock Abbey, one which followed a reasonably good track and also crossed relatively easy terrain.

Until quite recently there were good grounds for believing that this, or an earlier cross on the same site, was the Smalacumbacrosse of the thirteenth century deed of Isabella de Fortibus, confirming a grant of lands for the founding of Buckfast Abbey, for other crosses in the district could be positively identified as bond marks which were mentioned in the deed, and the little valley of Smallacombe is nearby. However, this long-held hypothesis has now been disproved by the recent discovery of a 1613 report of the bounds of Meavy parish, which began at a place described therein as "at or nere aboute a certen place called Gyes Crosse als [alias] Smallacombe Crosse abutting with the parishe of Shipstorr [Sheepstor]". The alternative name for the cross places it firmly at what was later known as Gees Cross, at the head of Portland Lane, a site which in fact stands overlooking the head of the Smallacombe Valley.

The foundation grant, by the way, also disproves the contention that all of the crosses in the district were erected to mark various routes which led to Buckland Abbey, by the very fact that some of them were named in the original grant, even before the place had actually been built! And, as an aside, even the very spelling of the so-called Abbot's Way is incorrect, and O.S. should really call it the Abbots' Way, as being "the way of the abbots" (in the plural and not the singular) - it being not unreasonably supposed that more than one abbot would have made use of it, had it been fit for such a purpose!

Lynch Hill is the steep hill rising above the cross. The small quarry near the sharp bend must be that referred to in the following presentment made at the Meavy Manor court in 1814 - "We Present Mr Edward Wills of Plymouth for Ann Incrochment of the said Mannour for raising A
stone quary at a place cold [called] Croffland-wills at the foot of Lunch hill". The placename assigned to the spot is certainly a very curious one, which I have not met with in any other local records - given the strange orthography of some of the other words in the court entry, perhaps Croft Land Wells was intended, descriptive of a piece of ground at or near the place where there were wells, ie. springs, on land near the crofts. But the described location, as being at the foot of what was misspelt as "Lunch" Hill, at least points to the place having been at or very near to the little overgrown quarry which may be presently seen at the roadside.

Meavy Village
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

"Meavy is a very retired spot without any society and the people a rude race, but the country is romantic and grand" - so wrote Henry Woollcombe of Hemerdon in his diary on 14th October 1821. It is doubtful that he alighted from his carriage on the occasion of his visit, in order to spend some time in the Royal Oak on Meavy Green, for that would have meant too close an encounter with some of the commoners, and mingling amongst the "rude" peasantry of the village! The inn holds a position shared by only two other Dartmoor inns and pubs, in that it is owned by the parish church just next door - the only others are, as far as I am aware, the inns at Whitchurch and at Holne, although other inns were also formerly owned by nearby churches - the church house at Walkhampton, for example, which has long been a private residence, was once an inn. In the early years of the nineteenth century the Meavy Manor courts were annually held here, when it was tenanted by John Blatchford. Nobody was above being presented at a Manor court for misdemeanours, from the poorest members of the community to large corporations, and even the Lord of the Manor himself, as witnessed by the following extracts from the court rolls of 1828 -

"We [ie. the court jurors] present William Honey fore not Atending this Cort...We present Pearse Jefery for making of Ricks on Meavy Green. We Present the Poor fore making of turfe Stakes [stacks] on Meavy Green and fine them One Shilling. We present the Mayor and Corporation of the Burrow of Plymouth for not Building of A Bridge across plymouth Leat on Meavy yannaton [Yennadon]. We present Sir Mashe Lopes Brt [Sir Manaseh Masseh Lopes, Baronet, Lord of the Manor] for not finding Weights and Mesures [for the bread weighers and ale conners]".

The court of that year also presented that William Rowe continue as Manor reeve, John Atwill continue as tithingman, John Daw and John Blatchford be sworn as constables for the following year, that John Atwill and Walter Willcocks be sworn as constables at the next court, and that Edward Brown and Walter Daw be sworn as bread weighers (spelt "weighters" in the entry) and ale conners (spelt "coiners") for the ensuing year. It was the duty of these latter officers to check that the local bakers sold loaves of bread at the standard weights and prices, and also assess the quality of the local brews, hence the requirements for weights and measures for such purposes.

On the green outside the inn stands the Meavy Oak, which Baring-Gould says is "referred to in deeds almost to the Conquest", and was formerly known as the Gospel Oak after the preaching cross which stands infront of it. The venerable old tree has seen better days, and only the
assistance of man - or interference, depending upon one's point of view - is preventing the ravages of the centuries from taking their natural course. The cross which now stands below the tree is assumed to be the original, although it disappeared sometime in the early nineteenth century, but was later found and re-erected at the spot in 1895.

1754-1799 Burial Statistics
compiled by
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

1760 - 2 1770 - 4 1780 - 1 1790 - 3
1761 - 4 1771 - 3 1781 - 2 1791 - 3
1762 - 3 1772 - 3 1782 - 2 1792 - 4
1763 - 14 1773 - 5 1783 - 0 1793 - 5
1754 - 1 1764 - 4 1774 - 3 1784 - 3 1794 - 4
1755 - 4 1765 - 3 1775 - 3 1785 - 6 1795 - 3
1756 - 5 1766 - 5 1776 - 6 1786 - 8 1796 - 0
1757 - 2 1767 - 1 1777 - 4 1787 - 4 1797 - 3
1758 - 7 1768 - 0 1778 - 4 1788 - 3 1798 - 1
1759 - 3 1769 - 2 1779 - 5 1789 - 4 1799 - 4

St Peter's Church
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

The interior of the church might come as something of a surprise to first-time visitors. For, unlike many of the little moorland churches which, although usually containing some interesting features within, are sometimes rather gloomy within, the interior of Meavy is awash with colour, and well-lit. The memorials, however, are somewhat disappointing, and there are no monuments or large mural tablets which immediately attract the attention.

The most important of them from a local history point of view is a small brass to Sir Francis Drake, d 1718, and his wife Elizabeth, d 1717. This also has a very finely sculpted coat of arms, displaying Drake impaling Pollexfen. Elizabeth was the daughter of Sir Henry Pollexfen, who won fame by being one of the leading barristers for the defence  in the famous Trial of the Seven Bishops in 1688. The Bishops were accused of �publishing a seditious libel against His Majesty�, and had been thrown into the Tower of London after petitioning King James II to revoke an Order in Council suspending the Penal Laws against Catholics. Following the defence by Pollexfen, and other attorneys, the Bishops were acquitted, an event which was greeted by great rejoicing throughout the nation - except by Catholics, presumably! Thus it was that James II�s opening moves to restore England to Catholicism were thwarted, and the outcome opf the trial had a part to play in his ultimate downfall and abdication, and the installation of William and Mary on the throne. It was King William who later bestowed the title of Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Common Please upon Sir Henry Pollexfen. He owned Nutwell Court, near Exeter, and it was through the marriage of Sir Francis Drake to his daughter, Elizabeth, that the Drakes later came to inherit the property. It later became the principal seat of the Buckland Drakes.

Other small tablets within are some to the Scobells and Hills of Goodameavy House, one to Admiral Robert C Barton, d 1831, and another to Major Windham Disney- Roebuck, d 1959, the latter also displaying the family coat of arms. It will come as no surprise to family and local historians who are reasonably familiar with the district to learn that the surname Northmore is very prominent on the headstones in the graveyard, with those of Atwill and Moses in almost equal abundance. Bowden, Brown and Williams are the other common names amongst the 403 pre-1950 monumental inscriptions.

The heraldry displayed on the monuments within the church is covered in depth on my "Heraldic & Genealogical Notes from Devon Churches" CD-ROM,  which includes photos and sketches of the coats of arms.

Meavy Parish Registers
data provided by
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

The Registers begin in 1653. The pages from the first 150 years or so are in a  fairly grim condition! The Bishops� Transcripts supposedly begin in 1612, but if anyone can actually read the earliest pages then they deserve a prize! - the only pre-1654 page which I could decipher was that from 1618. Meavy is not recognised by the IGI.

There are 1,083 Meavy entries on the Dartmoor & West Devon Genealogy Index (DGI) a surname search service from which is available from Dartmoor Press.

Meavy Parochial Records
data provided by
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

The Meavy Parish records are still stored in a chest in the church itself  - this is a small iron chest of the type ordered to be kept in all churches by an Act of 1813, chests which replaced the earlier wooden chests which churches had used since Medieval times. They include Churchwardens� & Overseers� Accounts, but what dates they cover, and the nature of any other records housed there, is not known. Whether supervised access to them is allowed has not been checked. Although I do know from experience that the present incumbent of the United Benefice of Meavy, Sheepstor, Walkhampton & Yelverton does not bother to answer enquiries (sent with an SAE) - and also does not respond to offers of free heraldry leaflets to help raise funds for one of his churches! - so the chances of anyone else getting anywhere with enquiries is probably limited!

Meavy Manorial Records
data provided by
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

Part of Meavy was owned by the Maristow Estate after the Dissolution, passing successively through the families of Slanning, Modyford, Heywood, then Lopes. The Maristow Estate archives are a valuable resource for family and local historians, and comprise one of the most important collections held at the Plymouth & West Devon RO, Plymouth. The main classes of materials are - Manor Court Rolls 1659-1666 + 1767-1868, Leases 1476-1910 (very few are earlier than the C19th), Manor Surveys 1640 + 1673 + 1740 + 1778 + 1783 + 1795, Estate Accounts 1799-1892, Manor Stewards� Accounts 1788-1859, Manor Rentals 1788-1885, Estate Letter Books 1825-1917. These classes of records, from broadly similar covering dates, also survive for the other Maristow-owned Manors (all of the Surveys and Rentals, for example, were Estate ledgers, and were not made up as individual books for each of the Manors). There are also a collection of Medieval Manor Court Rolls from various dates.

It appears that little documentary evidence has survived resecpting the history of the properties owned by the small independent Barton of Goodameavy formerly owned by the Drakes. There are a few documents re the tiny manor of Callisham in the Strode of Newnham collection held at the Plymouth & West Devon RO, Plymouth.

Principal Owners in the 1840 Tithe Survey
data provided by
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

The principal properties in the Parish were divided as follows. Sir Ralph Lopes of Maristow owned Gratton, Cadworthy, Brisworthy (part), Hearnspit, and most of the Commons, including Lynch Down, Yennadon, and Wigford Down (total  extent owned approx 1,300 acres). Sir Thomas T F E Drake of Buckland Abbey owned Meavy Barton, Holderwood, Callisham, Brisworthy (part), Lovaton, Greenwell and Durance (total approx 740 acres). Edwin Scobell owned the Goodameavy Estate (approx 350 acres).

Lists of Meavy Manor Court Jurors 1811-1820
transcribed by
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

Note that there were invariably thirteen - not twelve - jurors on all manor courts.

1811 James Blatchford, John Northmore, Thomas Willcocks, Mark Moses, George Moses, William Andrew, Bartholomew Maddicot, Walter Willcocks, William Dawe, John Chapple, William Rowe, John Andrew, John Blatchford

1812 James Blatchford, Walter Willcocks, Mark Moses, William Dawe, Thomas Willcocks, Walter Willcocks, Bartholomew Madicott, Henry Creber, John Jury, William Rowe, John Chapple, John Blatchford, William Andrew

1813 James Blatchford, Walter Willcocks, Walter Willcocks, John Northmore, Thomas Willcocks, Henry Creber, William Dawe, Mark Moses, John Moses, John Atwill, Bartholomew Matticott, William Rowe, John Chapple

1814 James Blatchford, Walter Willcocks, Mark Moses, John Atwill, William Daw, William Rowe, Bartholomew Matticott, Walter Willcocks, John Northmore, John Moses, Thomas Willcocks, William Andrew, John Andrew

1815 James Blatchford, Walter Willcocks, Thomas Willcocks,  William Rowe, Mark Moses, Walter Willcocks, John Atwill, John Northmore, William Dawe, Richard Moses, John Chapple, John Andrew, Bartholomew Mattacott

1816 James Blatchford, Walter Willcocks, John Northmore, John Atwill, John Moses, Mark Moses, Bartholomew Mattacott,  Walter Willcocks, Henry Creber, William Rowe, John Atwill, William Dawe, John Blatchford

1817 James Blatchford, Walter Willcocks, John Moses, Thomas Willcocks, John Atwill, William Rowe, Bartholomew Matticott, William Dawe, Mark Moses, John Northmore, William Andrew, Henry Creber, Joseph Northmore

1818 James Blatchford, Mark Moses, Walter Willcocks, John Northmore, John Moses, William Rowe, William Dawe, William Andrew, Bartholomew Matticott, John Atwill, Walter  Willcocks, Samuel Mudge, John Atwill

1819 Walter Willcocks, Walter Willcocks, John Northmore, William Rowe, John Moses, Mark Moses, William Andrew, John Atwill, Bartholomew Matticott, Samuel Mudge, Henry Creber, William Dawe, James Blatchford

1820 Walter Willcocks, John Northmore, Mark Moses, John Atwill, John Moses, William Mudge, Walter Willcocks, John Atwill, John Blatchford, William Webster, Bartholomew  Maddicott, Henry Creber, Richard Dawe

Gallipoli Campaign Memorials at Meavy
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

In Ever Loving Memory of
Frederick Thomas Cecil Hill
Major 6th Battn York & Lancaster Regt
the third surviving son of Mr & Mrs Arthur Hill
of Good-a-Meavy House
who was killed in action leading attack
on enemy's position at Suvla Bay, Dardanelles
on 8th August 1915
Greater love hath no man than this that a man
lay down his life for his friends. St Johns XV V.13

These words are inscribed on a brass plaque at Meavy, and it is regrettable that the epitaph is slightly spoilt by a most unfortunate error over its choice of words - for a deceased person cannot be a "surviving son". The sheltered Suvla Bay on the north end of the Gallipoli Peninsula which protected the entrance to the Dardanelles was one of the objectives in the overall campaign that
year, about ten miles north of the main landing zones. It was also a case of the British forces there somehow contriving to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory or, as Churchill later cruelly observed of the commander, Stopford, "he came, he saw, he capitulated".

The idea was to land a large force on the undefended beaches of Suvla Bay, turn southwards towards Maidos, and push the Turks back on the Dardanelles Strait, which would then have given the attacking force total control over The Narrows, and bottled up the entire Turkish Army in the foot of the Peninsula. The person appointed by Kitchener to command the invasion force of 100,000 raw recruits landing on a foreign shore under cover of darkness was the "decaying general" (to borrow a description from another author) Stopford, who had never commanded any
troops in battle. It was largely due to his incompetence, and the mental deficiencies of his senile command staff, that the mission failed.

Stopford had apparently lost confidence in the whole strategem even before it started and although, as history has recorded, the defenders stubbornly stood their ground against the Anzacs elsewhere on the Gallipoli Front, success at Suvla would have turned their right flank back in upon itself, and victory for the Allies would have been assured. It has been suggested that such an overwhelming defeat (all of the enemy forces would have been killed or captured, for there would have been no retreat or means of relief) might even have forced Turkey out of the war. As it was, lethargy and incompetence ruled the day amongst the elderly subordinates under Stopford, who
himself remained asleep on board a vessel for the first two days of the assault!

The attackers actually outnumbered the defenders by more than 10 to 1 at Suvla, and although the latter were obviously well dug-in, and there would have been no "easy" victory, all of the accounts which I have read have recorded that the defences would not have proved a major obstacle to resolute soldiers under a strong command. But the expedition was doomed within only a matter of days, and everything became bogged down in disorganised chaos. The troops, wearied by chronic dysentry and the icy blizzards which came later in the campaign, became totally demoralised and realised that they had been sacrificed piecemeal by inept commanders who, for their part, evaded responsibility for the whole sorry affair (as they did at Gallipoli itself), and bickered and argued amongst themselves.

Thus the entire Gallipoli campaign was a disaster, although quite remarkably the survivors, around 120,000 men, were all evacuated without any further losses, and back home this news was acclaimed as something of a victory in itself. Perhaps it was a "victory" in a sense, that for the first time in the war the two services, the Navy and the Army, had successfully combined their energies in what was in fact a skillfully planned operation, and had actually managed to achieve something constructive. Common sense did not prevail for very long, however, and was singularly lacking in the minds of the commanders and military strategists of the day: within six months the lessons of
Gallipoli had been forgotten, and young men were once again being slaughtered in their thousands on the Somme.

Major Hill of Good-a-Meavy was not amongst those who returned from Gallipoli. And neither did two brothers, also from Meavy, make it to the European trenches. They are commemorated on a headstone which stands in the graveyard -

In Memory of
Thomas Alfred Atwill
Killed in Action
Gallipoli May 19th 1915
Aged 40 Years
Percy Gerrard Atwill
Killed in Action
Gallipoli August 27th 1915
Aged 27 Years

Meavy Publications
Available from Dartmoor Press
The Main Dartmoor Press CD-ROMs/Floppy Discs Catalogue Page (see link below) has fuller details on the contents of titles, and also lots more CD-ROMs. To order see How to Order Section (see link below). 
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CDA Mike Brown's Guide to Dartmoor CD-ROM £10.50 £12.50
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