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Barnstaple, North Devon
Our son has recently relocated to Barnstaple in North Devon and so I decided to see how close I could come to finding forbears who lived near there. I knew I had ancestors from North Devon and so I made a start by looking into my 5 x great-grandparents, James Alford (abt. 1772-1847) and his wife, Catherine Bellew (abt 1785-).
When the couple married, James was resident in Bideford and Catherine in nearby Westleigh, the latter being situated some 6.5 miles south-west of Barnstaple town centre.
James initially worked on the land as a husbandman in Great Torrington but by 1841, at the age of almost 70, he was described as a toll collector located at Chapelton Gate, Tawstock, about 6 miles south of Barnstaple.
After James' death in 1847, Catherine continued as a toll collector at the Turnpike Gate at Ashreigney, a few miles south of Chapelton. She was still described as a turnpike gate keeper ten years later in 1861, although she was visiting one of her daughters in Bridgetown, Tawstock, on the day the census was taken. Catherine was approximately 76 years old and still working.
Map of North Devon
The Alfords came from High Bickington and before this, in the early 18th century, from Roborough by Torrington. I am familiar with a Roborough in the north of Plymouth and, at the back of my mind I seemed to recall there was another Roborough in Devon. What I didn't know was that there is a third Roborough, an area very near to Barnstaple itself.
My 8 x great-grandparents, Lewis Alford and Mary Beale, married in Roborough by Torrington (14 miles due south of Barnstaple) in 1704 and their son, also called Lewis, married a Mary Alford and so Mary didn't need to change her name after she'd wed. This couple had ten children, one of whom was called George, a yeoman born in 1747, who married Margaret Hern/Hearn. These were my 6 x great-grandparents and they are buried at High Bickington, about 4 miles north-east of Roborough.
Margaret's parents were John Hearn and Frances Newcombe who were both from High Bickington. Four years after John's death, Frances remarried, this time to a John Richards. John Hearn's parents were Robert Hearn and Margaret Edworthy who married in High Bickington in 1714 and Frances was the daughter of William Newcombe and Joan Crocker.
Catherine Bellew's forbears all came from Yarnscombe which lies approximately 8 miles south of Barnstaple. Her parents, William Bellew and Catherine Paddon, were born in about 1750 and 1752 respectively. Catherine Paddon's parents were Peter Paddon and Sara Isaac who married in Yarnscombe in 1748.
Back to my 6 x great-grandfather, William Bellew, his parents were Henry Bellew and Mary Fursman. Henry was born in Yarnscombe in about 1719, the first of seven children belonging to William Bellew and Elizabeth Milton. This William Bellew was born in the 17th century, the son of my 9 x great-grandparents, Laurence Bellew and Mary Mogridg who married in 1682. Laurence was a yeoman when he died in 1713, having left a will, an abstract of which has apparently survived. I have yet to discover the contents of this document.
Finally, I have the name of my 10 x great-grandfather, William Mogridg, but nothing more is known about him.
None of these ancestors made it all the way to Barnstaple but James Alford and Catherine Bellew did in fact come very close.
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