Here we provide some examples of some of the items in our collections and how to find them.
- A Hidden Gem: A Foxy Dispute
- Another Hidden Gem: Dead Bodies
- Grace French
- Early 1800s Poorhouse Menu
More examples will be added in due course.
Example 1: A Foxy Dispute
In 1761 there was an incident in which some farmers went out to kill some foxes in the forest of Dartmoor and accidentally killed a hare. Someone reported them and they were fined £5 - a lot of money. The person who reported them was someone the parish employed to catch foxes and he was paid well for each one he brought in. This page in the archive records the meeting at which the signatories unanimously agreed to make him catch sufficient foxes to make up for the fine before they would resume paying him.
You can get to this page to have a look for yourself. From the search screen, choose the Main Parish Archive and then search for A004 and p225 in the search boxes. you should get two items back. Then click on 'More Details' for entry A004.p058 and have a look at the final image to see the report of the meeting and the signatories to it.
Example 2: Dead Bodies
Dead bodies were sometimes found on the Moor. If that happened it appears the parish had to deal with them and could take any money found on the body. We know this from an entry in the Overseers' Accounts for 1800-1801.
From the search screen, choose the Main Parish Archive and then search for A006.002.p028 in the search boxes. You should get one item back. Click on 'More Details' and the image mentioning the dead body is the last but one.
Sometimes the coroner had to be called to deal with a fatality. This was a major undertaking in those days. In the Overseers' Accounts for 1734-5 there are entries for the costs of bringing the coroner to attend to Thomas Greep, including entertaining him(!), together with the costs of paying men to stay with the body.
From the search screen, choose the Main Parish Archive and then search for A003.p008 in the search boxes. You should get one item back. Click on 'More Details' and the image mentioning the dead body is the one marked 'left & right page 8'.
Example 3: Grace French
Grace French was apprenticed out to John Hext as a poor child in 1786 to learn husbandry (farming) until she reached age 21 or she got married. You can view her apprenticeship by choosing the Indentures Collection from the search screen and then searching for French and Grace. Choose A052.584 from the results that are returned. You can view the images to see the apprenticeship document.
If you look at the other entry returned by that search, a removal order for Grace French to Mannaton in 1800, this may or may not be the same person (logically it would appear not to be). Without further evidence we cannot be certain either way, but Removal Orders are of interest in themselves in that someone who might be a burden on the parish was removed elsewhere if they did not belong to that parish. If you further search from the search screen, choose the Main Parish Archive and then searching for item A025.005, which is an agreement relating to the setting up of the Workhouse in Widdicombe in 1814, you will again find Grace French, this time in a working role at the Workhouse. If it is the same person, she has done well.
Example 4: Menu in the Poorhouse
You may expect the menu in the local poorhouse from the early 1800s to be less than appetising and you would not be disappointed, although it does at least appear to be fairly wholesome (even if monotonous). You can view the document detailing this menu by choosing the Indentures Collection from the search screen and then entering poorhouse in the search box. This should return item A052A.611. Once this item is returned choose 'More Details' to bring up further details of the item which includes a thumbnail image of the document. Click on that thumbnail to see the document and read the delights of the menu.
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