Friday, 5 May 2017

Family History of Meavy in Devon


12th to the 14th Century

The second chapter of my research into my 12th century Devon ancestors is complete. On national level it deals with the early reign of William Rufus, William the Conquerors son, and the transference of baronial lands. On a local level it deals with royal charters and grants of land from my ancestors to the family's local priory. 

"By the beginning of the 12th century the Normans began to introduce a system of reclamation with the aim of clearing and cultivating waste land. They achieved this by granting small estates on the edges of moorland to those who would make good the land by farming and the raising of stock. These new ‘landowners’ would become free-tenants. Once again, the remoteness of the Meavy settlement was an advantage, it enabled the family to prosper. In return for their ‘good fortune’ they would make gifts of food, money and eventually land to their local church, it is in this, the gifting of land to the Priory of Plympton, that we get our first mention of this ancient family going under the surname of Mewi.

In a Charter dated 904, Edward the Elder granted land at Plympton to Asser, Bishop of Sherbourne in exchange for a monastery to be built at Plympton, this Anglo-Saxon collage housed a community of secular canons. According to the Domesday Book the college consisted of a Dean and four prebendaries. By 1121, the college's days were numbered, William Warelwast, Bishop of Exeter dissolved the collage in order to establish a house for Augustinian monks. This new build was Plympton Priory. Dedicated to St Peter and St Paul the priory is situated just seven miles south of Meavy."

The image below is an example of a 13th century Charter dealing with land in Bere Ferrers in Devon that lies on the Rivers Tavy and Tamar, north of Plymouth, around the same time and in the same area as my Meavy family.




You can read the whole chapter on my website at


http://meanderingthroughtime.weebly.com/meavy-12th-to-14th-century.html

Monday, 24 April 2017

1066 and Onwards


Life for my Meavy ancestors in the centuries between their beginnings as an isolated Dumnonii tribe, and the invasion of the Normans would not have changed at all, it was still a hard and meager existence. They would still have hunted and farmed and defended what was theirs, the only difference during those years was who they defended their property from. The Meavy’s may not have heard of the kings who sat on the throne of England, but by the time the Domesday commissioners came knocking at their doors, they might not have known who William the Conqueror was, but they would certainly know exactly what he wanted. 


Many villages that had been ravaged by marauding Norman soldier in the days and weeks after Hastings saw the taxable value of their land fall to half its value in 1086, a direct result of the devastation of twenty years previous.

These great changes can be viewed in the Conqueror’s great Domesday Book of 1086, where the effect of the invasion on England’s population can be calculated, as can the change of ownership of land. Written in Latin and Roman numerals - the language of the church, the Domesday Book was an evaluation of land for the purpose of tax, it stated who held it and what was on it. When this book was compiled it had no name, but was soon referred to as the Book of Winchester because it was kept in the royal treasury there. By 1170 this great work was popularly called the Domesday Book. Not only did it gather information about the land it was also an attempt to sort out disagreements over what land belonged to whom, and it is here for the first time that we see exactly what land the family of Meavy owned and it is the first time we see Meavy, as a village, written down.
The latest chapter, dealing with my Devon ancestors at the time of the Norman Conquest is now complete. You can read more of their story on my blog at:


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Its 1086 The Time of the Domesday Book

It's 1086 and Judheal of Totnes, a Breton knight, lords it over four of the five manors of my ancestors.  

Life for my Meavy ancestors in the centuries between their  beginnings as an isolated Dumnonii tribe and the invasion of the Normans would not have changed at all, it was still a hard and meager existence. They would still have hunted and farmed and defended what was theirs, the only difference during those years was who they defended their property from. The Meavy’s may not have heard of the kings who sat on the throne of England, but by the time the Domesday commissioners arrived at the doors they might not have known who William the Conqueror was but they would certainly know exactly what he wanted. 

Soon after Hastings the new Norman king was quick to realise the importance of securing the West Country, the first step in achieving this was to take Exeter, the fourth largest city in the country.  This town was still controlled by the Godwin family. Harold’s son had fled to Ireland but his mother, Gytha, who still lived within the city walls held out against the Norman forces during William’s return to Normandy, however on his return to England he made Exeter his first port of call. Exeter’s city walls withstood an eighteen month winter siege, many of the Norman soldiers succumbed to the cold, eventually though Exeter fell and Gytha escaped with her granddaughters to island of Flatholme in the Bristol Channel. There is no mention of Harold's son’s at the Siege of Exeter and it may well be that they were already in Ireland. Gytha’s stand at Exeter in 1068 wasn’t the last effort by the Godwins to take back some control of their father's country. Inevitably though, Devon would submit to Norman control, but before that Harold’s sons would give the invaders a run for their money. 

The story of my Devon ancestors, the Meavys continues on my website
http://meanderingthroughtime.weebly.com/1066-and-onward.html

Annulment of the Marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine

​On the 25th July 1137 Eleanor of Aquitaine married the son of Louis VI of France, and on Christmas Day 1137 she was queen of France.  An intelligent and feisty woman, Eleanor is said to have to have arrived at the cathedral town of Vezelay dressed like an Amazon galloping through the crowds on a white horse, urging men to join the crusades. She also had every intention to go herself, accompanied by three hundred of her ladies dressed in armor and carrying lances. 



My blog continues on my website

http://meanderingthroughtime.weebly.com/history-bites-historical-facts-on-a-daily-basis/annulment-of-the-marriage-of-eleanor-of-aquitaine

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Anne Neville

​I am always a little sad when it comes round to the 16th March, and the anniversary of the death of Anne Neville. This is because it is so difficult to find facts about her other than she was the wife of Richard III, daughter of the King Maker, an heiress to a vast estate and dead at twenty-eight under a solar eclipse.


​If I cannot find the real Anne Neville in words, then I can find her in art, and Edwin Austin Abbey's 1896 painting Richard Duke of Gloucester and Lady Anne does just that.

My blog on Anne Neville continues on my website at

http://meanderingthroughtime.weebly.com/wars-of-the-roses-blog/anne-neville

John Beaufort

John Beaufort was highly regarded and gave good service to the crown. He was a diplomat and performed a number of official roles. He escorted his niece Blanche to Cologne for her marriage, and Joan of Navarre from Brittany into England for her marriage to the king. Regardless of his royal position he had little to show for it, there were no estates or money to inherit, andwhat land he held was granted by Richard II and Henry IV. His only real claim to fame was that he was the first of the Beaufort's, a family base born. 



My blog continues on my website at http://meanderingthroughtime.weebly.com/history-blog/death-of-john-beaufort


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Battle of Empringham or Losecoat Field



The Battle of Losecoat Field, which took place on the 12th March 1470, occurred ten years after Edward IV had brought the Lancastrian's to their knees at Towton, even so, Edward was still concerned with Lancastrian plots, he was, it seems, blind to the fact that Richard Earl of Warwick was cunning and we can be sure that Warwick was clever enough not to be seen to be involved in plotting the downfall of the House of York.


This battle, also known as the Battle of Empringham, was not simply a matter of York verses Lancaster. The situation was complex and confusing and involved minor rebellions, local land disputes and Warwick's machinations. My blog on this battle continues on my website at

http://meanderingthroughtime.weebly.com/wars-of-the-roses-blog/battle-of-losecoat-field