On Thursday 14th February the Hemyock History Group met at the Church Rooms. Two members of the group, Brian Clist and Chris Dracott, gave a talk on 'List of Inhabitants' over the centuries concentrating on records relating to the Parish of Hemyock. In opening, Chris Dracott explained that over the centuries inhabitants in this county had been well listed and documented from the Domesday Book of 1086 through to the Census Returns that commenced in 1841, all of great use to historians, local historians and those interested in family history. He stated that it was only possible to scratch the surface in one evening so he and Brian would concentrate mainly on some returns from the 16th to early 19th centuries. It was hoped members would be tempted to do their own research into the subject in the future.
Brian Clist opened the talk by dealing with the Devon Subsidy Rolls of 1543, Devon Taxes of 1581-1660 and the Devon Hearth Taxes of 1674 explaining the historical background of each record. He read some of the names of individuals from Hemyock mentioned in various returns and pointed out that some surnames would to be found in such lists over the centuries down to modern times.
Chris Dracott then spoke about the Protestation Returns on 1641. In the troubled days of 1641/2 Parliament decided that adult men in the Kingdom should take an oath of 'Protestation'. Those who refused would be deemed unfit to hold office in the Church or Commonwealth. This was done early on 1642. In each County the Oath was organised on a Hundred basis. Those for Hemyock Hundred had survived and were in the House of Lords Library. Men were expected to swear loyalty to the King, to the 'true Reformed Protestation Religion' and to protect it against 'Popery and Popish Innovations'' and of course 'the Power and Privileges of Parliament'. One of the purposes of the Protestation was to discover how many Catholics there were in the country. Chris pointed out that some 240 men took the Protestation in the Parish of Hemyock alone. The Protestation became somewhat irrelevant with the outbreak of Civil War in August 1642.
He then went on to outline 'Defence Returns' of 1798 and 1803. The Returns were deemed necessary because of the threat of invasion by Napoleon and possible insurrection at home. Only a few of such returns have survived across the country but fortunately quite a lot of the records had survived in Hemyock. The returns were extensive listing men prepared to bear arms or to act as superintendents and overseers. Live and dead stock were listed together with details of carts etc to carry stock and people away from the village in the event of invasion and much more. Later returns included lists of women, children, the infirm, Quakers and Aliens. Chris described these returns as a comprehensive portrait of the village and it's inhabitants and wonderful historical records.
Brian Clist then referred to a list of the monks who signed the Deed of Surrender to Henry V111th at the dissolution of nearby Dunkeswell Abbey on, coincidentally, the 14th February 1547. He went on to discuss an examination of the 'forced sale' of goods' belonging to 'Non-Conformists' (Methodists and Baptists) in Hemyock in the nineteenth century for the non payment of their tithes and described how they then bought back the goods themselves following this with a protest meeting and band music! Brian finished by speaking briefly about the Electoral Roll for Hemyock from 1924.
The meeting was well attended and very appreciative of the preparation and presentation of the interesting information by Brian and Chris. The meeting gave both speakers warm applause and the evening finished with welcome refreshments.
Next Meetings are Thursday 10th April and 8th May when we will have presentations on the Devon Historical information and the history of maths.