We get many e-mails asking about the early days of
the Stentifords so this Issue focuses on two areas of general interest
to the whole clan whichever version of the name they are now called by.
First, there were those early days on Dartmoor
which, in turn, were preceded by even earlier days in Buckland
Monachorum and Calstock which we wrote about in Issue 4. In our very
first Issue we told of the lease negotiated for land, now called Stentiford
Land on Dartmoor itself. As the family grew, it fragmented further
and also in Issue 4, we wrote about the move to Ugborough on the
southern slopes of the Moor in the middle of the 16th century. Now we
begin to tell the story of the move to the northern slopes of Dartmoor
early in the 17th century. A century lies between the date of that 1464
Stentiford lease and the date of the move to Ugborough - around 70 more
years were to go by before the second exodus to the north.
At this point in their history, the Stentifords
were not peasants, nor were they "gentry" but we
do find them, in ancient documents, being referred to as
"worthies" - a curious Devon term reserved for men of
substance who farmed their own land, were loyal to the crown through
loyalty to the principal local landowners and who could be relied upon
to keep their employees and their property in good order. This term was later replaced by the description
Our first article, in which we look at the hard
lives led by those who lived and worked on Dartmoor, pinpoints the 1609 Court of
Survey set up by King James to improve the royal estates to the north.
The removal to Ugborough took place after an outbreak of plague had
devastated the population in that area, making land cheaply available . The quelling of the Prayer Book Rebellion,
which we describe in our second article, took out virtually all of the
adult male population in the vicinity of Okehampton. This, combined with
the outcome of the Court of Survey, led to the creation of another
set of opportunities and challenges for our family.
Our thanks to Steve Johnson for allowing us to use
his brilliant aerial photographs of Dartmoor.