Norden’s Survey of the Manor of Bovey Tracey 1614



Frances Billinge and Penny Martin October  2017

John Norden’s work is fully described by Frederick Lewis in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, who explained why Norden conducted surveys of Crown lands in the early 1600s.1 Further information on Norden’s work was also given in Heather Lawrence’s article of 1985.2
The Crown needed to raise money and sovereigns had started to sell Crown lands in Devon from the middle of the 1500s.3 This was to be continued by James I who in 1612 granted John Norden surveyorship of the king’s lands in several counties including Devon in preparation for the sale of these lands.4
Norden was an experienced cartographer and surveyor and his surveys used a list of particular questions which needed to be answered. This list is fully described in his Surveyor’s Dialogue and we can see that the survey of Bovey Tracey follows this method.  Sometimes Norden would produce a map, but in some surveys his work was a  manuscript description such as that of Northamptonshire where he described the parish with mileages between places and lists of the landholders.6 He undertook his survey of Bovey Tracey in 1614 and this was written-up in manuscript form in 1615.7 Unfortunately his survey of Bovey Tracey did not include a map. Frank Kitchen explained the methods which Norden used in his surveys as these varied depending on what was required.8 Norden called courts, examined records, physically inspected the ground, produced a register of holdings, tenants, values, obligations and other details.
Norden’s survey of the manor of Bovey Tracey covered all of the parish except Yarner and Ullacombe which had already been sold.The survey was a description of the holdings, their ownership, the value of each field by name , the boundaries of the parish and the customs of the manor and the charter of the borough. It is an important resource for understanding the development of Bovey Tracey. Part of it was written in Latin and part in English.

The following is a translation of the Latin parts of the document (in italics) and a transcription of the English sections :-


THE SURVEY-Translation/Transcription  

Page 1

County of Devon

Manor of Bovey Tracey

Names Of Men Having Been Sworn In

Peter Parr                       William Soper

Peter Perin                      John Breton

John Skirdon                  Thomas Staer

Thomas Pinsent             John Wallener

John Pinsent                   Hugh Wallis

John Harris                     Richard Thorne

Thomas Sweete               Nicholas Voysey

Robert Wootton

Walter Hart

William Spry

Firstly. They cannott express everie freeholders names landes rents and
Tenures within ye said Manor and Borough, their severalll deeds with the
Rentals will manifest the same, togeather with their reliefs rents and services unto which they
Referrd themselves. These freeholders pay on their deaths and Alienation ought to pay A
Relief and also doe suit at Twoe law days.

Page 2


Margin note Difference between the Barton copiholde which is Demesnes and the anncient custom- ayre

Concerning ye coppiholder Tennantes, they have shewed their severall copies savinge

some few and have also exhibited to this court the perticulers of their tenements and cont[ents]

of the same as neare as they can well estimate them; the Barten Land demised by copie

is not heriotable, The Tennants thereof doe suit at Two Lawe daies onely, and those which

have no widowes of late; the other customarie lande is all heriotable, hath widows

of late, and owe suit unto all ye courts of ye said Mannors, and owe suit unto ye anncient

Mills within this Mannor with their Griste.

Margin noteLeases of the Parkes markets and fayres

There is but one Tenant within this mannor which holdes by lease namelie Nicholas

Eveleigh esq, to whose deed wee referrd our selves Neither did wee knowe any other Tenmts

or tenures within or belonging to this Mannor of any other nature then suche as are above

mentioned, saving a Lease of ye Markett and faires which is is extant.

Margin noteMills in fee farme  

The demeasne or Barton land of this Mannor is all demised by Copie, saving the

Parke  which Mr Everleigh holds by Lease which (as they are informed) hath also purcha

Margin note- The orchards  fee fa 7s    

sed in Fee farme of ye Anncient griest Mills, a Tynne mill or Blowing mills


and two peeces of land called ye thorchards conteyning about 6 Acres.

Wee know not anywhere erections upon ye Lords wast, nor any incrochmnts within

this lordship.

Margin note– Comons and  Wastes

The Commons and common of pasture belonging to certaine of ye tennants of

this mannor and usuallie called Higher Downe about 400. Acres, Reedhill Reeda-

ford, Woodhill circa 300. acres, and Boviheathfield, about 250 Acres, wherein ye borough

hath also Common of pasture; as appeareth by their charter, Little Bovieheathfield

or Eastheathfield about. 100. acres; Wee have not knowne any Man within our

memories inclosed  any part of ye said commons.

Margin note- I find intollerable spoyle of timber in this manor  

There are not any Woods underwoods Coppics belonging to this Mannor savinge

s some smaller Groves or Polles of Trees and hedgerowes in severall mens tenmts’tenures

The oaks being Timber Trees which have beene Cutt downe since the beginning of his

Ma[jest]ys   Raigne ( to goe no further) wee cannott justllie number nor estimate theire value

onelie suche as have beene felled have ( as farre as we knowe) been delivered by the

Reeves of ye said Mannor for ye time being unto ye tennants of ye said mannor

for theire necessarie uses about their tenements according to ye Custome, and by them

imploid or to bee imploied accordinglie, the parke onelie  excepted.

Margin note- this custom of 3. lives in revercon is crepte in latelie by one Mr Sowthcote fermer of the manor who began it by graunting the like unto his children and allies when he left the manor, as the tenntes them selves confessed at the beginning of the survey, but now maine of them standinge in daunger in that poynte they strayne themselves to avow it a custome, though apparently it began in R. Eliz time; before Mr Sowthcote had the manor, it was nevere known as I will prove by about 300 anncient rolls.

The custome of ye mannor will beare. 3. lyves in possession and three in Revercon, both for Barton

& customarie land, besides widowes estates of ye customarie land which is heriotable.


Page 3


Margin note- No custom works.    

There is no Quarrie within this Mannor of Stone or other matter

We knowe no Workes due by the Customarie Tennants, saving ye repairinge of ye Mill

Leat and Headweare, which is still performed or Composition made for ye same with ye Owner of

the Mills.

Margin note- Customs dowbtful

The Perticuler Customs of this Mannor cannott convenientlie bee expressed by us in

Short time, that work requires more Consideration and better delib[er]aton.

There is no Tenement of this Mannor ruined or decayed to our Knowledge saving some

defects in Covering of Howses for wch the Court hath or will take order.

Margin note- Demises wtout  lisence

Richard Stouckey Gent: and Maude Gilbert Widowe have lett their Tenements and

Thomas Potter part of his Tenement without Lycence, but in what manner Wee cannot

informe our selves.

We knowe no Tennant that hath plowed up any Meeres, Land Markes, or Baulkes, or

rooted up any hedge betweene his Free and Coppiholde or leased Lande, nor plowed any Aun-

cient Meadowe to the hurt of ye same, but some for ye bettering thereof.

Touching the sale made by the Contracts; Wee referre you to the viith Article, where wee

have expressed our Knowledge in that point.

Margin note- mills    

The Auncient Custumarie Mills of this Mannor are purchased by Mr Eveleigh

in Fee ferme as above and are nowe in his occupaton; But wee understand there was A

Coppie thereof formerlie graunted to James Eveleigh and Thomas Eveleigh gent; and Wee

thinke them worth lxd per Annum.

Wee Knowe noe Rent or land concealed or deteyned from ye King within this Mannor

onelie John Wolcote helde certaine landes and Howses in the Boroughe with George


Beares Howse, and one Close with an Orcharde conteyning about Three Acres, One

Tenement in the tenure of Florence Pooke widowe conteyning about half an Acre, one Howse

One Tenement in the tenure of Henry Dayman conteyning about one Acre, one house

and one Garden in the tenure of Richard Wetherden, and one Howse and a Barne, with

Margin note- Rent denyed  

a Garden and about half an Acre of land with in the tenure of Margarett Ellett Widowe

and one Meade called Sopers Meade conteyning about x Acres. For which Severall

Parcells of land and Howses, the Rents (which amounts to viiis per Annum) he denieth to pay.

Margin note- Leete

The King hath a Leete and Lawe day within this Mannor, viz- a viewe of Franckpledge

one for ye Mannor and another for ye Burrough.

Page 4                                                                                                            


Margin note -Market

There is a Markett on ye Tewsdaie Weekely and Two faires yearelie within ye

Burrough of Bovietracie graunted to one Leonell Battie deceased for xxi yeares which

Tearme is expired; The Revertion thereof as Wee are informed is graunted one Sameuele

Clerke for himself. But for ye more Certainetie Wee referre ourselves to the deede thereof.

Margin note-fayre 

There is also one Auncient Faire yearelie kept within ye said Borough no where there

is not a Charter of Incorporaton to our Knowledge.

Margin note-free warren graunted by copie

The Lord of this Mannor hath a free Warren within ye same; The Conyes partridge

Margin note- manicule 

Pheasants and Fishing are graunted to Thomas Southcot Esqr; by copie  of p[er]p[etuity]

Margin note-The Parke  

the persnall Pearche within this Mannor is 17 foote.

Margin note- Recordes

The Records concerning this Mannor is (crossed out) for ye most parte are in ye Custodie

of the Steward Nicholas Eveleigh Esqr.

There is no Village belonging to this Mannor

Margin note-fees

The Reprises are Fees to the Steward and Bayliff of ye Mannor by Patent and

bi yearelie to ye Reeve of ye Mannor by Custome.

Margin note-Rectory  impropriat vicaredge this parish ll per annum   

The Rectorie is impropriate to ye Kings Majestie and ye Fee ferme thereof solde to

Robert Davies Esqr as Wee are informed; The Viccaredge is in ye Kings Majesties

guift as Wee thinke and is worth about L X Annum.

Margin note- Situacon      

This Mannor lyeth within ye parishes of Bouytracie and Hennick in the

Hundred of Teyngbridge and in ye Deaconarie of Tottnes.

Margin note-Offices of the Manor and Burrowe      

His Highnes Officers Within this Manor are ye Steward Bayliff  Reeve,

and for ye Burrough a Portreeve and a Bayliff  For the Borough are Chosen at

the Lawe daies yearelie after Michaelmas the Portreeve and Bayliff by ye Burgers.

The Reeve for the Mannor doth his office by the turne yearelie.

Margin note- Nearest market townes

The next Markett Townes are Chudleigh distant about 3 Myles, Newton

Busshell about iiii Myles, Moorton Hampsteed about iiii Myles and Ashburton

about 6 Myles.

Margin note- sea

This Mannor is about x ii Myles distant from ye Sea.

Margin note -boundes of the mannor

The moates and boundes of ye Mannor of Bouytracie.

From Jewes Bridge Northwards to A Stone called Shorta Crosse lyinge in

Knighton Heathfield, thence to Woodland corner about half a Myle, thence Northwards to

Page 5  


to Hewishe cross and thence to Blackaler Yeate; about a Mille; Thence Northwards

to Holsford about iii quarters of A Myle; From thence Westward to Shorte Crosse

neare Bottor Yeate about iii Quarters of A Myle; Thence Westward to Furzley

Cross and thence to Bearea brooke about iii quarters of A Myle; Thence North-

wards to a tenement called Aller in the tenure of Thomas Potter, Thence to the

Bowdens Yeate about iii quarters of A Myle; Thence Northwards to Poole

Mill Cross and so to Poole Mill Bridge about half a Myle; Thence Westwards

to Aylisford gate, and thence to Middleton Park and so to Bullaton Howse aboute

3 quarters of a Myle; Thence Southward to Warme pitt Yeate and thence to Wol-

forde Bridge about A myle; From Wolford bridge Westwards to Drakeford bridge

and thence to Venymore about a Myle; Thence Southwards to Yearner Castle, thence

Westwards to / yearner well about a myle and so to / a Stone called ye Horseshooe thence to a place called ye pound about half

a Myle; Thence Southeast Lyneallie by a Home of Stones, and thence to ye Wester

Corner of Osmound Hoores Close called Three Corner Close parcell of ye Tenemente

called Owlacombe about a Myle; Thence Eastward to Whossell Well Crosse about

a Myle; Thence to Charla brooke about half a Myle; Thence Southwards by the

bounds of ye Burrough to Donacote Stone about 3 quarters of A Myle; Thence

Southwards lyneallie from Thrombridges about 3 Quarters of a Myle; From

Thromebridges Eastwards Lyneallie about x vii von foote, On the South East pt of

the Way [ crossed out] Kings highway leading from Plymouth to Exeter to Jewes bridge where wee

begann about three quarters of A myle.

There is one Tenement called Alisford parcell of ye Barton land of this Mannor

and nowe in the occupation of Jon. Burde which is not included within theis boundes.

The bounds of the Burrough of Bouytracie are also comprehended within ye Circuit.

Pages 6, 7, 8 blank.

Page 9

County of Devon

                                                                                                Manor of Bovey Tracey

Rent  12 shillings     John Burd holds by                              [Acres  Rods Perches]

Copy hold certain lands called

Ayliceford [Elsford] of the Barton viz one Small

meadow containing by estimation                                                   0        1        0                                                                 

Broome Parke by estimation                                                             6        0        0

Middle Fursey Parke by estimation                                                  4        0        0

Yonder Furse Parke by estimation                                                    6        0        0

Four closes called Land Score by estimation                                 12      0        0

Leze down als[o] P/K?orkparke by estimation                                6        0        0

(Margin note)        =  36 acres  1 rod

Mabilla Burde Josias and Thomas Bird in reversion

Rent   11 shillings 10 pence  Margaret Battie widow

and Richard Battie son

hold by copy one tenement

Customary called Lower Crowndell

orchard garden and curtilage by estimation                                 0        3        0

Meadow called (blank) by estimation                                              2        2        0

Close called Lower Close by

estimation                                                                                               1        2        0

Middle Close below part Venelles

by estimation                                                                                         3        0         0


Page 10

Bovie Tracie

Outer Close part venelle

by estimation                                                                                         1           2          0

Close called The Corner Close by

estimation                                                                                              1          2          0

Close called The Dry Hill by

estimation                                                                                               5          1           0

Close called The Clawe by estimation                                              6          0          0

one Close called The Millparke by

estimation                                                                                              4          2          0

one Close called The West parke

by estimation                                                                                         6         0          0

one Close called The West hill

by estimation                                                                                        4          0          0

one Close called Little Parkes by

estimation                                                                                               1          0          0

Copy which he holds under pretext of a Copy by

estimation                                                                                              13         0          0

Two Lives.                                                             Margin note  = 50 acres 2 roods

Rent 10s 11d                        Robert Bennet

Margin note              heriot 

Holds by Copy one Tenement 

Customary Three orchards Garden and 

Curtelage in Hethercombe by estimation                                        0         3         0

One meadow called Bakehowse

meadowe by estimation                                                                        1          0        0

One Close called The Okey by

estimation                                                                                                1           3         0

Newe Parke by estimation                                                                    1           2         0

Little Brockhall by estimation                                                              1           2         0

Page 11

Bovie Tracie

Ley Close by estimation                                                                         1        2        0

Higher Mill Parke by estimation                                                         2        0        0

The Close by estimation                                                                        3        0        0

Great Brockall by estimation                                                               2        3        0

The Wood by estimation                                                                       2        0        0

The Rowle by estimation                                                                       1        0        0

Little Meade by estimation                                                                   1        0        0

The Cleyne by estimation                                                                     3        0        0

Great Meadowe by estimation                                                             2        1        0

Lower Broome Close by estimation                                                   2        0        0

Bakehowse Parke by estimation                                                         1        1        0

The Downe by estimation                                                                   30      0        0

Margin note =58 acres 1 rood

Three Lyves

Rent 14s   8½d          Joanna Cove holds by copy

one Tenement called Whitstone

Garden orchard curtilage by 

estimation                                                                                              1         0       0

One close called  Sheepen  p[ar]ke

by estimation                                                                                        2        0        0

One close called Rownda

p[ar]ke  by estimation                                                                        1        2        0

One close called Ffurse P[ar]ke

by estimation                                                                                        5        0        0

Two closes called Ashwell Parke by

estimation                                                                                             3        1        0

Four closes called Furlonged by

estimation                                                                                            11       0         0

Two meadows below the tenement                                                 2        2        0

margin note = 68 acres 1 rood

Page 12

Bovie Tracie

Grattens by estimation                                                                        6       0        0

The Closes blackthorn [sloe] lands by 

estimation                                                                                              10      0        0

Held in Common called Fursley by

estimation                                                                                             20      0          0

One Close called White-

more by estimation                                                                               6       0          0

One Close called Rode peece

by estimation                                                                                          2        0         0

Two lives and a widowes estate

Rent   17s 6d            The Same Joanna holds by  

Copy one Tenement customarily 

called  Beere [with]  an Orchard  a Garden

a Curtelage and a meadow called  Wheatrishe

Meade by estimation                                                                            1        3          0

Clay Parke by estimation                                                                     2        0         0

a Meadow called Langaparke by

estimation                                                                                                1        2         0

Two meadows called  Beere Meade

by estimation                                                                                          2        2         0

Calves Parke by estimation                                                                  1        0         0

Broad a Parke by  estimation                                                               6        0        0

The Cleynes by estimation                                                                  10        0        0

Hill Parke by  estimation                                                                      1         2        0

One piece called The Coddes

by estimation                                                                                          1          0         0

Four Closes called Way Parkes

by estimation                                                                                        12           0         0

 56   acres   1  rood

Page 13

Bovie Tracie

One Close called Otterishes by

estimation                                                                                                 5         0          0

pasture [held] in common called Fursley

by estimation                                                                                           10        0           0

Close Called The More by 

estimation                                                                                                   2        0           0

Three Lives and Widow’s estate

Rent   20s 6d   WILLIAM  CHRISTOPHER  holds

by Copy one Tenement

customary called Northcombe, two

orchards a Garden and Curtilage by estimation                               2        2          0

Meadow called Greatmeade and a meadow

called Deare Parke by estimation                                                          3         0         0

One Close called Moare Hay

by estimation                                                                                               1         0         0

One Close called Cunney Parke

by estimation                                                                                              5          0        0

One close called The Wyne

by estimation                                                                                              4          0         0

One Close called The  Moare

with The Rolle by estimation                                                                  1          0         0

One Close called behinde the

Barne by estimation                                                                                  2         0       0

The Little Rolle by estimation                                                                 0         2       0

The Lower Parke by estimation                                                              4         0       0

One Meadow called Tarland meade

by estimation                                                                                              0          2        0

71  acres  d







This is an ongoing project and further pages will be added as soon as they are completed.

Penny Martin lives locally. She is a retired librarian and runs a beginners’ Latin group for the Ashburton U3A. Penny taught a short course on learning Latin at the U3A 2017 Summer School in Cirencester.


Grateful thanks to John Booker, and David Stone for their help with some difficult parts of the palaeography/Latin translation.


  1. Frederick Lewis 2102. John Norden . Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford)
  2. Heather Lawrence, 1985. John Norden and his Colleagues, Surveyors of Crown Lands in The Cartographic Journal 22, vol.I, pp.54-5.
  3. John Kew, 1967. The land Market in Devon 1536-1558. Unpublished Ph.D.thesis University of Exeter.; John E. Kew, 1967. Mortagages in Mid-Tudor Devonshire in Trans.Devon. Assoc.,Advmt Sci.vol.99, pp.165-179; John Kew, 1970. The Disposal of Crown Lands and the Devon Land Market, 1536-58 in Agricultural History Review xviii,  18, pt 1, pp.93-105.
  4. Calendar of State Papers Domestic Series James I, 1611-1618, p. 158. 26 November 1612, ed. Mary Anne Everrett Green, HMSO, 1967.
  5. John Norden, 1548-1625?,  A Surveyor’s Dialogue, 4th edition, London, R. Montagu, 1738.
  6. John Norden, 1610 published 1720. Speculi Britanniae Pars Altera: or A Delineation of Northamptonshire, (London).
  7. London Metropolitan Archives.John Norden ; 1615-16 Survey of Devon manors CLA / 044/05/04.
  8. Frank Kitchen,1997. John Norden c. 1547-1625, Estate Surveyor, Topographer, County Mapmaker and Devotional Writer in Imago Mundi 49, pp. 43-61. Page 50 describes the background of Norden’s work and page 54 describes Norden’s methods.
  9. DHC 103M-0/T/21: Title Deed Gregory and Christyen Sprente [Sprint] of Collaton (Raleigh) to William Gorge and William Clerke 1578; explained in Frances Billinge 2017. The History of Yarner Bovey Tracey, reference 57,

Updated 17 October 2017