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This is the resource page for the supporting material for the publication "Welfare in Widecombe 1700-1900".

You can find more details about this book, including how to obtain a copy, by visiting


These pages will be used for any additional information that comes to light after publication, including that provided by readers. We welcome any information you can provide.


We have put together a series of talks entitled 'Poor on the Moor' based on aspects of 'Welfare in Widecombe'.


Main Items:




Other Items:


Ann Claxton's Report on Early Victorian Schools in Widecombe

Dunstone Poor House and Cottages

Hannah Cribbett

Thomas Greep

Newton Abbot Union 1881

The Meaning of 'Lt' in the Accounts

Notes on Local Apprenticeships in the 1841 Census

Some General Information on Apprenticeships

Sextons in Widecombe

The Leaman Family

Joseph Leaman

Iris Woods on Memoranda in the Parish Officers' Accounts

Iris Woods on the Parish Apprenticeships


Church House Photograph

(From Tom Greeves) The photograph on page 52 (Author's Note: Figure 7-10) is the same as that on page 71 of Dartmoor's Earliest Photographs - Landscape & Place 1860-1880 (see bibliography below). The archive may be interested to know that it was taken by Francis Bedford who was one of the finest photographers of the British landscape in the mid-Victorian period. It dates to about 1865-1870.

Mr Sanders

(From Tom Greeves) I suspect that Mr Sanders whose debt was repaid was Mr Joseph Sanders of Exeter and Brimpts - he restarted the tin mine there at the end of the 18th century - see my book Gentlemen & Rogues - A History of Brimpts Tin Mine, Dartmeet, Devon pp15-16 (see Bibliography below). He was certainly a man of means.(Author's Note: see page 44 and Figure 7-3. This is very interesting additional information. We still do not know what the original loan was for. However, if Mr Sanders was connected with Brimpts, which was in the Forest Quarter, then could it be related to the 'return' of the eastern Forest quarter to Lydford that occurred at around the same time?)

Composition Money

(From Tom Greeves) Re 'composition money' - might that not be for the composing of the account?

Maid of all Work

Pat Watson has pointed out an entry in the Buckland-in-the-Moor census for 1851: Elizabeth Waldron (?hard to read), aged fifteen, is 'Maid of all work' in the household of Stone Farm, where James Norrish is the farmer and Nancy Stockman Norrish is his wife along with nine children aged variously between one and sixteen.

Bringing Apprenticeships to Life

Liz Shakespeare has written a book, The Song of the Skylark, about a brother and sister who are apprenticed in North Devon in the 1840s. It is based on local research and provides a fascinating insight into what lies behind the bare facts presented in the official documents such as those in the 'Welfare in Widecombe' book. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the social history of the time and/or local Devon history. It is a well-written story, occasionally heart-wrenching but also with hope for a better future. You can get a copy by following this link: www.lizshakespeare.co.uk/the-song-of-the-skylark

Comparative Studies

I keep hoping that one or two parishes will come up with their own history of welfare in their parish. It would be interesting to see in which ways the experience of other parishes matches that of Widecombe and in which ways they differ.

One source of comparative information is provided by Susannah Wheeleker and Sarah Eyles who produced a booklet (published by The Devonshire Association) of two studies of Poor Relief in Devon back in 1991 that resulted from their A-Level studies. The study of Abbotskerswell is especially relevant.

Census Returns

Dr Roger Ottewill, who has reviewed Welfare in Widecombe for The Local Historian (July 2021) has pointed out that census returns in the UK started in 1801, not 1841 as is stated in the book. Returns prior to 1841 were aggregated so that details of individual people were not published. So 1841 is the first census that provides us with details of individuals and where they lived etc.

Genuki has an interesting article on these early censuses as they relate to Devon with the full datasets for each parish accessible towards the end. This article can be viewed here. The datasets show that Widecombe had a population of 1043 in 1801, 1151 in 1811 and 934 in 1821. Quite a large population reflecting the predominantly labour-intensive farming activities of the community (745 people were engaged in agriculture in 1801).


Some additional references/bibliography

Genuki Devon Devon - Poor Houses, Poor Law, etc.

SWHT Information Leaflet - Poor Relief. In particular, The Settlement Act section: SWHT Poor Relief Leaflet

Tom Greeves, Dartmoor's Earliest Photographs - Landscape & Place 1860-1880, Twelveheads 2015

Tom Greeves, Gentlemen & Rogues - A History of Brimpts Tin Mine, Dartmeet, Devon, DTRG 2017

Shakespeare, Liz, The Song of the Skylark, Letterbox Books, 2020 - Story of two apprentices in North Devon in the 1840s, based on researched events.

Susannah Wheeleker and Sarah Eyles, Two Studies of Poor Relief in Devon, The Devonshire Association, 1991.

Woods, Iris, Memoranda from the Parish Officers' Accounts Widecombe-in-the-Moor 1711-1840, in The Devon Historian Vol 14 (Spring 1977), the Journal of the Devon History Society, pp 17-20.

Woods, Iris, Parish Apprentices in Widecombe-in-the-Moor in the 18th and 19th centuries, in The Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries Vol XXXV Part IV (Autumn 1983), pages 143 - 150.