JOHN NORDEN’S SURVEY OF THE CROWN LANDS 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. 5 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.9 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 :-
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
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.
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 note – Leases 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 note– Mills 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
- Frederick Lewis 2102. John Norden . Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford)
- Heather Lawrence, 1985. John Norden and his Colleagues, Surveyors of Crown Lands in The Cartographic Journal 22, vol.I, pp.54-5.
- 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.
- Calendar of State Papers Domestic Series James I, 1611-1618, p. 158. 26 November 1612, ed. Mary Anne Everrett Green, HMSO, 1967.
- John Norden, 1548-1625?, A Surveyor’s Dialogue, 4th edition, London, R. Montagu, 1738.
- John Norden, 1610 published 1720. Speculi Britanniae Pars Altera: or A Delineation of Northamptonshire, (London).
- London Metropolitan Archives.John Norden ; 1615-16 Survey of Devon manors CLA / 044/05/04.
- 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.
- 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, www.boveytraceyhistory.org
Updated 17 October 2017