L ... Looking along the Lanes toward Lapford ... and Away

Women Writing on the Devon Land

A-Z of Devon Women Writers & Places

Around Lapford, possible places
of the site of Dowriche's home in the C16.
Lane and Vie of Parsonage Farm
& Court Barton across the road from the church.
Photo Julie Sampson

      It’s not easy to adjust your field of vision and cut out all the paraphernalia of modern life, even in a small village, or hamlet. The traffic and take-aways, the maze-like housing estates, all the accoutrements of contemporary rural life screen out what is inevitably there somewhere, just below and behind the surface. A wall; a ruin; a high hedge; an eave jutting out from a building; a mound in a field; an old house over there, with turrets.

      See there, the other side of the valley; there's a monument inside the village church (if, that is, you're lucky and the door is not locked). But here I am, late autumn, atop the village, walking up toward Lapford church; the village landmark. I am lucky. Unusually for nowadays, the door is not locked. I go inside, to look at the angels. Lapford is an ancient village set above the river Yeo and the interior of its C12 church has a flourish of ancient carved woodwork: bench-ends, roofs, and the icing on the cake, an especially fine vaulted rood-screen. Most of these were added to the church from the C15 to early C16.

       As I stare up to the nave-roof, the carved angels set in between the vine leaves look down. It’s a mutual gaze and I’m thinking that those six centuries ago Anne Dowriche, newly married wife of the local clergyman, may have similarly stared up at the angels, in reciprocal admiration...

Scenes around Lapford church
Photo Julie Sampson

       In the late 1960’s my journey to school at Crediton from the much smaller parish of Cheldon, a little to the north, following the road’s slope winding around and down past thatched houses and shops to the river Yeo, in the valley below, went through Lapford, passing the high church tower on the right, half-way down. Later, there were nights out at the Malt Scoop Inn. It took several more decades, a renewed interest in local history and Devon’s women writers to tempt me back to the village on the hill...

      I have already written about writer/poet Anne Dowriche, both in the manuscript of Women Writing on the Devon Land, whilst a couple of papers about her and her long epic poem, The French Histoire, have appeared in Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 2009 (see Abstracts). Anne Dowriche also appears several times in my other blog, Scrapblog a writer from the South-west, where, in Anne Dowriche/Edgcumbe's French Historie I noted: 

It had always seemed puzzling that an unknown wife of a clergyman (of Lapford and Honiton) and daughter of a prominent Elizabethan Devonian family should be the author of a 2,400 line poem, a long and inherently gory narrative epic about the long-winded French Wars of Religion during the C16. see Anne Dowriche's French Historie& its Westcounty Connections.

      My research on Anne Dowriche has been noticed and picked up by  Dr. DebapriyaBasu who has written about the C16 poet in her own research. See, for example, Writing History; Anne Dowriche

       This post's focus is to muse a little on this forgotten important C16 writer's links with the parish of Lapford, in the hope of unpacking some of the complex interweavings re the writer's family and social circles, so it is not the place to examine Dowriche's poem in detail; but it's important to stress the strangeness of this unusual text's connections with Devon and if nothing else I hope this blog-post may lead to a few more clues about the background of the whole text and its writer, which may be of use to future researchers and also of interest to more casual readers. If you're one of the latter and you're interested to read about the poem itself, wikipedia is a good place to start and the previous blog-posts, plus the papers in DA Transactions may also be useful. 

      I will admit that before it finishes this post may take you,at least in spirit, into the intrigue and mire of the C16. As I write this piece, BBC is broadcasting its series about Elizabeth's Secret Agents, which if you happen to watch it, will provide an excellent background to the Zeitgeist of the times of Anne Dowriche. 

      Every time I take a break from Ms Dowriche and her life and texts I breathe a sigh of relief. Each time I return to take another look, to consider the contextual background of the author's life and poem, I am quickly engulfed in its literary repercussions and am swept, yet again, into the complicated throes of Dowriche's milieus. So many of the people who surrounded the writer had their own fascinating lives, including tantalising links with others; each of them seems to provide yet another clue within the convoluted C16 jigsaw of this important woman writer's life; an endless labyrinth of mirrors within mirrors. All to soon though, exhausted with trying to make sense of them all I have to take-a-break and get away from her and those who surround her. 

       When I first chanced upon Anne Dowriche some years ago now (and I write about this first encounter in Writing Women on the Devon Landscape), it soon became clear that the known facts about the writer's life were apparently sparse. Yet, as I also soon discovered, more and more academics from both sides of the Atlantic were, and are, taking an interest in her life and poem. I kept asking myself the same question; there seemed no sense as to why an apparently unknown gentlewoman living in Honiton in the heart of Devon in the mid C16 would decide to write a macabre epic poem about the complex religious controversies of the period. And, given that it is such a long poem, why had I not heard of it before? Why was The French Histoire not on the agenda of the county’s literary canon and why is Anne Dowriche not included in the lists of its famous – or even infamous, writers?

        From the preliminary information I could find, Anne, one of the earliest of all the Devon women writers I’d ever traced, seemed to have been a decorous gentlewoman. Married in 1580, to a clergyman who during the mid to late C16 was responsible for two of Devonshire’s mid C16 parishes (at Lapford and Honiton), she was from the Edgcumbes, a large and extended family of important Devonian landed gentry; her father, Sir Richard Edgcumbe, from Cotehele in Cornwall, was builder of Mount Edgcumbe. But, superficial study suggested there was little else to find out about his daughter. That changed gradually as I explored various archives and sites that connected with her or others of her family. 

       I had to find out more. That's when I first set off, back along the tracks, here, to the mid Devon village, where the author must have actually spent live (quality) physical time. For, it was at Lapford, where, in or about 1567, Hugh Dowriche, was inducted as rector. Anne Edgcumbe's marriage to Hugh took place in 1580. In 1587, Dowriche became rector of Honiton, so presumably the family moved from Lapford to Honiton at about this time; it was from Honiton that Anne completed and sent her poem out into the world. She addresses her readers directly:

From the Preface of
The French Historie

      Several of  the Dowriche couple's children’s births were registered in Lapford, which suggests that before the move to Honiton the family home may have been in or near Lapford village, rather than the Dowriche family estate, at Dowrich/e manor, in the parish of Sandford (which is not many miles from Lapford). 

      According to other researchers the couple had  five, possibly six, children: William (?); Elizabeth (c 1583); Aleana (1585); Marie (30 Nov 1787); Anne (18 Jan 1589); and Walter. I have not been able to find documentation about all of them, but have located records that show  Marie's christening registered at Lapford in November 1587; and her sister Anne's, registered at Lapford, in January 1590.

     Interestingly, George, another Dowriche child, was registered at Lapford in 1613. His father was William, who may have been one of Anne and Hugh's children; perhaps he remained in the parish.
Records of  Dowriche children
registered at Lapford parish.

        It looks as if poor Walter, the youngest child at an early age; there is a record of a Wa(l)ter Dowreshe's death in February 1591, which is two years after Anne's poem was published. The record of his death is at Honiton where I assume the family made their home following Hugh's take-up of the post there.

Record of Wa(l)ter Dowreshe's death
in Honiton

       But let's return to Lapford. Where, I kept asking myself, would the C16 clergyman and his family have made their home here in this little village? It is not easy to be certain, for the records, such as they are, suggest different places. I think we can narrow the possibilities down to two however. One of them is Court Barton, (see photo at top of this post) which, sited just across the road from the church, is still prominent in Lapford. One record which I had found suggested that Hugh Dowriche's predecessor as rector in the village,Rev Christopher Saunders had himself lived at Court Manor. I can't place the document at present, but must have located it via Discovery or local archives. This would suggest that the Dowriches took over Court Barton as their home.

        (It is interesting to digress for a moment from the main thread at this point just to look in a little more detail at the dates of these clergy's residencies in the parish. I hope the following list of Lapford clergy is sufficiently clear to read; it shows the changeover from Rev. Saunders to Rev. Dowriche taking place in August 1567, a date which, given the assumed birth year of Hugh Dowriche, is itself intriguing. For, according to G.E. Trease, in an article in in Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries, vol. 33, (1974-1977), Hugh Dowriche (sometimes spelt Hugh Dowrishe) matriculated at Hart Hall, Oxford, in 1572 at the age of 19. (See also The Clergy Database). If I'm correct with my calculations, that makes Hugh Dowriche's birth year about 1553, which fixes his age at the changeover at Lapford as only 14. Even for Elizabethan England, that seems remarkably young. I don't have enough expertise apropos the normal practises of clergy appointments in the C16 to be able to explain the apparent contradiction here but can only think that perhaps the initial appointment, by the owner of the advowson in those years (stated as Thomas Arundel), was in name only and that Hugh took up his official duties in the parish following his matriculation when he was almost 20. Alternatively, there are confusions re the facts of the dates (of birth/of matriculation). Hopefully someone else will be able to clarify this one day). 

       But, to return to the likely location of the Dowriches Lapford home, at least one document suggests that the family were connected not with Court Barton but, instead, with the rectory or parsonage, the site of which, I understand was where Parsonage farm is nowadays, which is a mile or so north east of the village. A path just up the road from the church leads directly to the site. (See the photos at the top of this post). Dowrich versus Kelland available at Discovery, tells us that there was a dispute in 1597 between Hugh Dowriche (of Honiton) and Richard Kelland of Lapford regarding bonds for goods apropos 'the rectory and parsonage of Lapford'. I have not as yet had a chance to study this document; but the more it seems to help us provide new clarity about the everyday life of the Dowriche family, the more it seems, as well, to hinder! The Clergy Database has Hugh Dowriche's year of death as 1599, but my assumption has always been that the couple moved their family over the hills eastward to Honiton and therefore they would have not had any association with Lapford after 1587. The existence of this document suggests that the Dowriches still had some links with Lapford parsonage. Could they have split their time between the two parishes, or was the connection with the Lapford rectory an unfinished legal matter from the past when the Dowriches did live in the village?  But beyond that, there are other possibilities. The Kelland Dowriche document may help to provide an answer about this, so when/if I'm able to find about it I'll return and update this post accordingly.


      Well, here I am yet again engulfed in the C16, mesmerised by Anne Dowriche and her kin. I did not intend to take the narrative of this post beyond the boundaries of Lapford, the central linch-pin of the whole piece in this A-Z. As I've written the piece up so far I've mulled over the circumstances of the poet and poem and before taking my leave am going to take the opportunity to reflect a little more about how the geographical situation of the mid Devon village may have affected the author as she went about developing her long poem. (Incidentally, this is exactly why I began this blog, as it provides a place to site more extensive and supplementary information and reflection about various writers than there is space for in the manuscript Writing Women on the Devon Lands).
      Slotting together and mapping various genealogical charts which centred on either Anne, or her and her husband Hugh's family, it dawned on me that in the C16 the location of Lapford, more or less in the centre of Devon, must have been an excellent site for the Dowriche family as they went about their daily lives, which would inevitably have included various and probably many social encounters with their immediate family and more extensive kinship circles. Supposing we could return to the years of the mid to late C16. As we extend out the radius from Lapford, say within a 15-20 mile radius, we reach various parishes, places where individuals from the couple's family lived or had estates. As I read around various archives for this blog-post I concentrated on Hugh Dowriche's immediate kin (rather than Anne's Edgcumbe, or Tregian family (who incidentally I have already looked at and written about in my other blog, Anne Dowriche/Edgcumbe and The French Historie ) and soon realised - something I'd missed before - that the backgrounds and literary connections of the Dowriches were probably as significant as the author's own birth families of the Edgcumbes and their ilk. Many of the C16 Dowriches married into other important Devon families, whose manors or estates were in parishes within travelling distance of Lapford. 

     Every which way we look there's someone else from the family who hooks up with another, and another, all from the top rung of the then prominent Devon families, and most interestingly, frequently, the men were involved in some kind of literary pursuit or, if not authorship some kind of lived contact with another man who did write.I admit that initial browsing on such archival sources as A2A will bring up a plethora of documents related to these prominent family's leading men and their various disputes concerning grabs for land and disagreements about ownership etc., but as well as the legal and land-related material available through online archives it doesn't take too long to find one or other document via Discovery, Google or other online archive, which with a few clicks links to a manuscript, a book, say of a journal or memoir, or play, or poem, which when located and read allows its reader insight into the life of that man; sometimes, through the text, it is possible to hear his voice.

       The implication of this for me, as researcher seeking more valuable information about Anne Dowriche, as well as looking for other forgotten C16 women who may have had significant literary interests and impact during this period, is that somewhere, lurking in the spaces, on the margins, or round the edges, of the extant archival documentation, there were (or are) missing, (or as yet undiscovered) fragments, which could tell us something about their lives or writings. And, as well, they might lead us to other sources which might help in our understanding of the lost connections between the already identified cluster of C16 women from south-west England who wrote. If nothing else we can locate their once homes and search for their forgotten memorials. In her brilliant paper 'Women Writers and Literary-Religious Circles in the Elizabethan West Country'Micheline White concludes that a research methodology that 'prioritises geographical locality kinship and religious affiliation provides valuable insight into connections between women and into the historical matrices in which they read, thought and wrote'. (See Women Writers) It is in the spirit of her work that I'm jotting down some of the links and associations that pop up out of the virtual ether.  

      If nothing else we can locate the women's once homes and search for their forgotten memorials. I won't pretend it is easy; it is most definitely not! The genealogical interweavings of Devon's C16 gentry and noble families are mind-bogglingly confusing and it doesn't always help that present day family history researchers contributing to the charts and facts about various families on a range of online sites, don't always agree. Likewise, we will probably never know which of the many people on the extended family trees of the Dowriches/ Edgcumbes and their circuit of associated Devon families Anne the author actually knew well, or was even acquainted with; but even if she did not meet or know a person personally, one can imagine her exchanging ideas with her husband about the lives, exploits and literary accomplishments of individuals in their dual genealogical trees.
     So, next, given the genealogical and historical complexities, where to start on this quest? Well, one of the simplest and (for any one with interest in local history) most pleasant steps on the trail is to start a tour of several of the many monuments or memorials located in Devon churches out and about in the mid county region, starting from here, in Lapford. Doing this, we can begin to follow the trail of a web of women related to prominent C16 men. (Incidentally it is may be useful to point out that in the C16 the Coach Road or Highway, the then 'main' road between Exeter and Barnstaple went north of Crediton through to New Buildings and on to Morchard Bishop; so travel from Lapford to venture out to meet up with relatives on their estates in various outlying villages probably meant journeying north of Lapford to Morchard and so onwards. According to one source, the roads or tracks round the Sandford area - where Dowriche House is situated, were so 'foundrous and unsafe'  that the inhabitants were allowed to have their own chapel). (See A Parish Patchbook, Daphne Munday), 

View from road between Sandford and New Buildings
Photo Julie Sampson

      Let's first consider some of Hugh Dowriche's siblings and their offspring. Hugh's sister Elizabeth Dowriche married John Northcote, of Uton, Crediton - which is less than ten miles south eastwards from Lapford. I understand that both John and Elizabeth's deaths were in 1587 and it probable that they were both buried in Crediton. It is likely that the Dowriche couple in Lapford would have maintained frequent social connections with their sister in law and her family. The Dowriche couple in Lapford would have maintained frequent social connections with their sister in law and her family - a round of weddings, funerals, baptisms at local churches such as Crediton and Newton St Cyres, where, during the years of the mid to late C16 the Northcote family held the estate at Hayne.

Track to Hayne Newton St Cyres
Track to Hayne Farm
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © David Smith - geograph.org.uk/p/2298900

It is John Northcote and Elizabeth's second son John Northcote2 (1570-1632), Sheriff of Devon, whose splendid family effigy stands in Newton St Cyres church, just along the road between Crediton and Exeter.

The Northcote Memorial 
at Newton St Cyres Church
Photos Julie Sampson

      On top of the monument, to the right, is a medallion portrait of Northcote's father, John Northcote, who was a serge merchant of Credition. The inscription round it reads: Ecce Tibi Christi Crux Certa erit mihi lux. I'm not sure if Elizabeth Dowriche, Northcote's wife is also referenced on the memorial, but certainly as many others in his family circle, Elizabeth Rous, Northcote's first wife, is immortalised in the Newton St Cyres church effigy: (I'll return to her in a moment).

Elizabeth Rous Northcote
daughter of Anthony and Elizabeth Rous
of Halton in Cornwall
Photo Julie Sampson

Vous qui aymez amitie nuptialeVous qui prisez charitie cordiale
Et qui louez en un corps feminin
Un cueur entier gracieux et benin
Arestez vous; c'est est la demoiselle
Qui tout cela & mieux avoit en elle.

     The couple only had one son and Elizabeth evidently died young, as in 1596, Northcote remarried Susanna Pollard daughter of Sir Hugh Pollard. Anne Dowriche, poet/writer was probably still alive and may have attended her husband's nephew's second wedding, which may have been held at King's Nympton (the Pollard family's then main estate) - though by this year Anne and her family may have been living in Honiton, not Lapford.

Susanna Pollard, second wife of John Northcote
of Hayne Newton St Cyres
Photo Julie Sampson

      Just like her predecessor, Susanna became immortalised on the resplendent family effigy in Newton St Cyres church, where she is remembered on a black stone tablet with a cryptic chronogram:

"My Jacob[9] had by meeAs many sonnes as hee,
Daughters twice three"Above her portrait is a chronogram in verse:"See heer In ChrIst sLeeps shee,
FroM paInefVLL Labors free,
Her VVorks henCe foLLoVV on,
To resVrreCtIon"
 Wikipedia (John Northcote provides more information):
If the capital letters in red are added together as Roman numerals ("VV" being treated as V + V, and the first letters of each line excluded) the sum of 1634 results, Susanna's date of death.[10] The remaining unused letters are SFHT, the initial letters of each line, of uncertain cryptic meaning. Below the chronogram is a heraldic escutcheon showing the arms of Northcote impaling Pollard: Argent, a chevron sable between three escallops gules. Below her portrait inscribed on a black stone tablet is the following verse:
"Jehovah first compos'd us two in one,Then made one two, till strong affection Did reunite us one; Death tried his skill To part's us againe, but could not worke his will One was our hope, faith, comfort,one's o(u)r tombe One place our soule hath, till the day of Dome Regia pacifisae commisit chartula libram Justitiae lustris aetatis quinque peractis Libravit rectum pura cum mente probatus Stellata camera spectatur ut ignibus aurum"

      (Who, I wonder, composed these memorial inscriptions?)

     As far as I am aware, as yet no contemporary researcher has noticed the kinship links between the Northcotes of Newton St Cyres (who, through Elizabeth's marriage, were also hooked up with the Dowriche family) and Elizabeth Rous, wife of Anthony Rous of Halton, in south-east Cornwall, one of the woman who Micheline White remarked on in her article already referred to in this post, about women from south-west England and literary authorship. That couple's daughter, also Elizabeth, became first wife of John Northcote2 and thereby daughter-in-law of Hugh Dowriche's sister. It is this Elizabeth, Northcote's first wife, just as many others in his family circle, who is immortalised in the Newton St Cyres church effigy. 

      In 1887 there was published the 'Note Book of Sir John Northcote, containing Memoranda of Proceedings in the House of Commons during the first Session of the Long Parliament, 1640.' It was edited by Mr. A. H. A. Hamilton, from the original manuscript in the possession of Sir Stafford H. Northcote, first Lord Iddesleigh [q. v.]; a memoir of the diarist was prefixed, and it contained some memoranda on the session of 1661. There seems to be a query as to which of the John Northcotes the diary was associated with but I assume it to be that of Northcote of Hayne, son of Susanna Pollard Northcote, second wife of John Northcote2. Perhaps it was him who instigated the family memorial in Newton St Cyres church.

At Newton St Cyres Church
Photos Julie Sampson

      Another of Hugh Dowriche's sisters married into one of the most famous families apropos Devon's C16 literary historiography - the Bodleys. Some sources say she was Jane Dowriche, others name Anne.(Some sources also note a first marriage to  William Weekes but I have not pursued that link yet). She defiinitely married William Bodley, of Dunscombe, near Crediton. Dunscombe, or Higher Dunscombe, once the Bodley family mansion, is I believe, on the A377, just past Downes between Crediton and Newton St Cyres. As far as I can fathom from various geneaological charts William was first cousin once removed of his more famous Bodley contemporary, Thomas Bodley, Elizabethan Diplomat, Antiquarian and founder of The Bodleian Library. 

Lower Dunscombe
near Crediton  
© Copyright Derek Harper and licensed for reuse under creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0

      Following the extended trails and tracks of the Bodley family's marriages and children through the C16 takes us along yet another endless labryinth of kinship relations. The Bodley - Dowriche family feedback loop circuits down through the generations and, as it does, hooking into yet another two of Devon's prominent families, draws in the next generation of Hugh Dowriche's siblings. Anne or Jane Dowriche-Bodley's niece Elizabeth (daughter of Hugh's eldest brother Walter Dowriche and his wife Mary Carew, married George Trowbridge, who (I think - but may need verification again) was the son of William Bodley's aunt's husband

     If you're keen on the church monument trail, there's another to find out there in Sandford church, which is just north of Crediton and not far from Dowriche House itself. Walter's wife, the main subject of Sandford memorial, was Mary Carew, daughter of George Carew, of Mohun's Ottery, Dean of Exeter and his wife, (whose father was Sir Nicholas Harvey). 

Mary Carew Memorial Brass
Sandford Church
Photo Julie Sampson

        I've already written a little about Mary Carew Dowriche in Anne Edgcumbe Dowriche and Westcountry connections, but the familial repercussions of the Carew family as they intersect with other families in the network of Devon's C16 social and literary connection are so prolific that I must mention her here. She died on September 10, 1604, by which time her sister in law, the writer Anne Dowriche, may already have passed away. Mary was probably a little older than her sister in law, but perhaps was lucky enough to enjoy a longer life.
Divided into three arches, the central shows Mary Carew Dowriche and the other sides display kneeling effigies of her three daughters and son. 

... only son and heir Thomas VIII Dowrish (1568-1628), with above him the arms of Dowrish impaling Stucley (Azure, three pears pendant or), and kneeling behind him his eldest surviving sister Dorothy Dowrish, the wife of Thomas II Peyton, Customer of Plymouth, the second son of Thomas I Peyton of St Edmundsbury in Suffolk (a junior member of the ancient Peyton family of Peyton Hall, Boxford, Suffolk, descended from Thomas de Peyton (1418-1484), twice Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire (1443 & 1453)who rebuilt the church of St Andrew's in Isleham,[31] in the chancel of which survives his monumental brass[32])[33] by his wife Lady Cecilia Bourchier, a daughter of John Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Bath (1499-1560/61) of Tawstock in Devon. Thomas II Peyton's elder brother was Sir Henry Peyton who married Lady Mary Seymour, a daughter of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, KG, (c.1500–1552) Lord Protector of England from 1547 until 1549 during the minority of his nephew, King Edward VI (1547-1553) and the eldest brother of Queen Jane Seymour (d.1537), the third wife of King Henry VIII.[34] ... On the right of Mary Carew are shown her two younger daughters, both kneeling, with above each an impaled escutcheon, representing the marriage of each, as follows: closest to Mary Carew is shown her 3rd daughter Elizabeth Dowrich (d.post 1631), wife of George Trobridge (1564-1631) of Trobridge,(Vivian, pp.290,738) near Crediton (Pole, pp.227-8), with an escutcheon above showing Or, over water proper a bridge triple-towered gules(Vivian, p.738) (Argent, a bridge gules arched with a flag on the top (Pole, Sir William (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, Sir John-William de la Pole (ed.), London, 1791, p.505)) (Trobridge) impaling Dowrich; kneeling behind Elizabeth is Margaret Dowrich, 4th daughter, the wife of William Linesey of Ifield in Kent, later of Calby in Norfolk,(Vivian, p.290) with an escutcheon above showing An eagle displayed(Linesey(?)) impaling Dowrich.
The inscription on the memorial reads:

Here lyeth ye body of Mary Dowrich wife & widdowe of Walter Dowrich of Dowrich Esqr onely sister to George Lord Carew, Earle of Totnes. Shee had issue one so(n)ne & three daughters viz: Thomas who married Katherine daughter to John Stukely of Afton, Esqr; Dorothy married to Thomas Peyton of Islam in Camb. Esqr; Elizabeth married to George Trobrydge of Trobridge Esqr and Mary married to William Limsey of Colbye in Norff. Esq.r She departed this life in the true fayth of Jesus Christ the tenth of September An. DNI 1604

     Other than the inscriptions on this memorial, there is little detail known about Mary, but the fact that she and her children are recognised in Sandford church indicates that she was a strong minded woman who held much influence on those about her. And there is at least one archival document in which we can hear her voice. It is a charge against her own son Thomas the heir of Dowriche, who to all accounts must have been an unstable character. There were various litigious disputes re Thomas' inheritance of Dowriche house, (see for example Thomas Dowryshe at A2A or Dowrishe versus Carew) and with Mary's statement quoted above suggest their relationship was anything but loving.  

     Perhaps Mary Carew Dowriche had literary interests, as did many of the men in the family networks. It must be likely that her author sister in law travelled the lanes eastwards from Lapford to visit her at Dowriche manor. Perhaps it is ironic that Anne Dowriche, who was apparently recognised by those about her as esteemed Devon writer/poet, has seemingly left no memorial, (and neither are there any apparent memorials to her children) whereas her sister in law is for ever immortalised in one of the county's best parish churches, one of whose features are the array of wonderful C16 bench ends (see Genuki) - which incidentally, must have been set in the church during the period of the Dowriche and their extended family's presence in the locality. One wonders if some of the represented individuals on the C16 bench ends may be of people in their respective families.  

Inside Sandford Church
Photos Julie Sampson

      And Mary Carew, sister in law of Anne and Hugh Dowriche, wasn't the only one of her family who left her mark in a Devon church, so to speak. Her uncle Gawain Carew, one of Mary's two brothers is similarly enshrined, in his case, in Exeter Cathedral, with one of his wives and the couple's nephew Peter Carew.The Carew monument was placed in 1589, the same year as Anne Dowriche's long poem about the french wars was published.

     George Carew, President of Munster and 1st Earl of Totnes, (1555-1629) Mary's other brother, who was prominent in the courts of Elizabeth I James I and Charles I, friend of Sir Walter Raleigh, and known for his distinguised military career, was also a renowned antiquarian, historian, genealogist and author whose literary works included forty-two volumes concerning Irish affairs. See, for example The Carew Papers and The Carew Manuscripts What is fascinating about George Carew in light of his family connection with Anne Dowriche the poet through her sister in law Mary Carew, is his proximity to Stratford on Avon and William Shakespeare. Carew's wife Joyce Clopton's family home Clopton House was/is in the town and thirty years after the Clopton family sold the place in 1563, about 1593, it was bought by Shakespeare himself. Given that George Carew was appointed High Steward of Stratford and lived in the place the same time as Shakespeare returned to buy New Place there, the two men must surely have known one another. Perhaps also it is not absurd to suggest that given their common literary passions, the unusual literary work of Carew's sister's sister-in-law, the woman poet back down in his homeland territory in Devon might have been included amongst the topics of their social conversation. (If you're still reading through this to follow the paper-trail account of the church monument tour, you'll find the Clopton Chapel in Stratford on Avon church of great interest. The Clopton Chapel is said to present the finest Renaissance tomb in the whole of England. No, it is not in Devon, certainly many miles from Lapford, where this blog-post began, but the tomb's existence demonstrates clearly how these memorials can be the useful clues to help us find out more about possible connections between C16 individuals, family-links and their kin or social associations with literary figures of the time).A google search will bring up a variety of Carew-Shakespeare 'literary conspiracies', all intriguing and worth a glance with regard to the revisioning of our C16 Devon woman poet. Re local parishes and homes of members of the Dowriche family clan, Upton Hellions Barton is of interest. 


Upton Hellions Barton
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Derek Harper - geograph.org.uk/p/2140894

     Before leaving George Carew here, I want briefly to return to the Bodleys, whose kinship links with the Dowriche siblings I've discussed above. George Carew and Thomas Bodley (cousin of William Hugh's sister's husband) are the leading male figures in a circle of learned and literary Devon men within reach of Anne Dowriche's close and extended family.
George Carew and Thomas Bodley were in any case were said to be close friends, which is not surprising given their similar Devon roots and that they were (albeit distantly) related. I'm sure there is yet more study relevant to Anne Dowriche's family's links with the Bodleys than I can do here; this piece is already much longer than anticipated. I'd just like to note that this the Bodleys, like the Carews, are an important family to reflect on when considering the possible influences on the woman poet Anne Dowriche (and perhaps on her contemporary Ann Lock Prowse). 

     In terms of literature, Thomas Bodley's fame as founder of the famous Bodleian Library was remarkable and his otherwise distinguished career as diplomat and scholar (like George Carew's) must have made him an exemplary individual for many intellectuals of his time. Others men from his extended family, who were known for their Protestant sympathies, also became renowned during their lives for one or other literary-linked achievement. Another of Thomas' Brothers, Lawrence Bodley, a canon of Exeter before 1588 (who like Thomas was a cousin of the William Bodley who married Anne/Jane Dowriche), became rector at Shobrooke (near Crediton) and it is said that it was probably mainly through him that the dean and chapter of Exeter gave, in 1602, eighty-one early and valuable manuscripts from the library of their cathedral to the new [Bodleian] library at Oxford, including (amongst other gifts of Bishop Leofric, the founder of the church) the well-known ‘Leofric Missal.' 

     Another important Devon family link that I must mention before leaving the Dowriche tribe and Anne Edgcumbe Dowriche for the time being is that with the Stucleys, from Affeton near West Worlington, a parish that is less than five miles northwards from Lapford. (Also of interest here, is the literary link with a descendant of the Stucleys of Affeton, C20 author Elizabeth Stucley Northmore; see Her-Story at Hartland).The Stucleys weave their way down the C16/17 generations, as individuals from the family interlock with the Dowriche web. Hugh Dowriche, Anne's husband's maternal grandmother was Margery Stucley (died 1533), whose brother Hugh Stucley (died 1559) was Sheriff of Devon. The name Hugh is one of the male names passed down the lineage of Stucley men, so perhaps Hugh Dowriche was named after his great uncle. Given the close family relationship, it is likely that he took his wife to visit kin at Affeton. Now, if we jump a few generations, we find that Hugh Stucley's great granddaughter Katherine Stucley became wife of Thomas Dowriche, (Hugh Dowriche's nephew), eldest son of Walter and Mary (neĆ© Carew) and heir to the Dowriche estate. Katherine was eldest daughter of John Stukely (1551–1611), lord of the manor of Affeton, Devon, by his first wife Frances St Leger (she was daughter of Sir John St Leger, of Annery in Monkleigh. Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is not much information to tell us any more about Katherine Stucley Dowriche. Presumably she must have been of a similar age to her husband, who was born in 1568. The apparently turbulent events of the couple's marriage (the story is that in 1609, Thomas gambled away the whole Dowriche estate over a game of piquet at nearby Kennerleigh) (see also Devon Notes And Queries), suggests that Katherine Dowriche may not have been involved in (or had time or energy for) literary pursuits. She may have been a fiery individual whose temperament matched that of her husband or/and uncle, Thomas Stucley, - the 'notorious English courtier, pirate, adventurer and soldier, [who] died at the Battle of Alcazar in Morocco in 1578, while serving in the army of King Sebastian of Portugal' - whose infamous life inspired several writers, including one of the poets/dramatists of the period, to write texts about his life. George Peele'sThe Stukeley plays : The Battle of Alcazar by George Peele ; The famous history of the life and death of Captain Thomas Stukeley was probably written in the early 1590's. Anne Dowriche the poet must have known of this work and of other works also inspired by her husband's ill-famed kinsman.


       Well .... as you'll be aware if you've taken the trouble to wade all through this post so far, the more I try to find about Anne Dowriche's association with Lapford during the mid to late C16 the more I slowly get out of my depths as I come up against brick walls and enter even more convoluted genealogical labyrinths! It may be that instead of unpacking the journeys of her life-story, I have confused the maze even more. But I hope that anyone out there who has read this and is, am I fascinated by this still unknown Devon writer may take a  

     The day I last visited, before I left Lapford church, hoping for a soupcon of insight and clarity, I took time to try to picture the then young writer sitting on one of the pews set within the intricately designed seat-ends; she'd probably have taken pride in the webbed spans of the screen. Anne may well have been working on the manuscript of her epic poem whilst living in the village, before their apparent next move to her husband's next incumbency, at Honiton, circa 1587. In the preface to The French Historie Anne told her brother Piers Edgcumbe that ‘This hath beene my ordinarie exercise for recreation at times of leasure for a long space togeather’, which suggests a long period of gestation.
C15 Bench Ends at Lapford
which must have been put in the church
not too many years before the Dowriche's time there.
Photos Julie Sampson
         As I look round the church interior, I’m mulling over the complexities of Dowriche’s puzzling poem. Surely, I'm thinking, the text's focus on the complexities of religious wars in a foreign country is a far cry from the environment of Lapford, either now in the high-speed C21 world, or even five centuries ago, when life was conducted at a more leisurely pace. At that time, surrounded by equally peaceful rural landscapes, this village would have been quiet and tranquil. And yet, I realise, when you stop and take time to consider what it might have been like to live in mid Devon during the Elizabethan era, especially in light of the decades of religious turmoil that had preceded the period, there may be more in common than first may be apparent between the everyday life of someone living there and the brutal society described in the poem. After all, no one in that tumultuous culture could be sure when their death would come, or by what means. As a result of the dictates of the governmental allegiance of the day not only disease, but the vagaries of fate and chance apropos a person’s religious affinity could strike at any time. During the long years of Tudor rule many harrowing persecutions took place in the Westcountry. It's not a time of peace and stability, to make a bee-line to in the idylls of one's dreams.


       But, before taking our own leave of Lapford in this Devon A-Z, we must take a big leap up from the mid C16 and briefly peep into the early C20, a time when Lapford and indeed its church and rectory, once again held close links with a renowned woman poet of the time.  The Parson, the Poet and a Broadway Play tells the story behind Elizabeth Barrett Browning's connections with Lapford; her letters written to her sister Henrietta languished for years in the rectory of this mid Devon village. Anne Edgcumbe Dowriche may have been the first, but was not the last female poet whose life-journey left its vanished imprint - its eidolon - within the boundaries of the mid Devon parish. 
      As I leave Lapford's church through its lych gate and retreat to our car to travel home, I'm still musing over the literary treasures and labyrinthine secrets once held within the walls of several old buildings in this Devon parish, which if we could unravel them and see into the darkness of the past could reveal so much about the mystery of the C16 poet, who, during the years of later Elizabethan times probably regularly sat at worship on a bench in the nave of the beautiful church and returned home to the rectory to work diligently at developing the lines of her harrowing poem ... If only (Lapford) walls could talk so that we could peer into the past with new eyes.

Incidentally, throughout this piece, I have used Dowriche as spelling for the author's married name. You will find various spellings of the name, Dowrich, Dowreshe, Dowrick, Dowrish, etc


  1. I am adding a comment received from David Garton about this blog post.
    Loved your article about Anne Dowriche's Lapford connections. I am researching Lapford history but can't provide much additional help yet on where Anne may have lived.

    I have been curious for sometime as to when the Parsonage (now The Grange) was first used as a residence for the Rector of Lapford. Some answers, as you suggest, may lie in the Kelland vs Dowriche
    papers which I hope at some time to get to see myself.

    In the Courte Leete there is mention of an Old Halle property. I don't believe this to be Courte Barton or the original Lapford Manor (see
    http://lapfordhistory.co.uk/2018/01/09/where-was-lapford-manor/) but this unidentified property could be another option as a suitable residence for Anne. Another possibility is Nymet Parsonage. In
    the 1744 visitation return Rev Radford wrote: "I reside on my Parsonage of Nimet Rowland, which is but one Mile distant from the Church of Lapford, and nearer to a great Part of Lapford than their
    own Parsonage House; As was certified to the last Bishop, who order’d me to reside There for the more convenient Serving of both Parishes"

    I will get back if I come across anything that may be of use.
    David Garton

    I replied
    'Thank-you so much for contacting me about my piece on Lapford and Anne Dowriche. It was so good to find someone else who is also interested in the writer and her connections with the parish. Thanks also for the link to your piece about possible site for Lapfod Manor, which I have noted with great interest and will read later today.'


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