Some notes about Drewsteignton during the Eighteenth Century

By Paul Greener


The first list of Wonford Hundred freeholders in 1711 only includes one Drewsteignton name, 'William Ponsford'. He would have qualified as a copyhold, (manorial), tenant worth over £10. In 1713 he was joined by 'William Battishill, Esq.' and two years later 'John Brock' and 'Samuell Gostwicke', two other farm owners are listed. Depending on the attitude of the clerk, the same men were classed either as 'gent' or 'yeoman'.

After 1730, when the qualification was relaxed to include leaseholders worth over £20, numbers increased and as many as 18 names of 'yeomen' are recorded in 1734. Some names disappear for a few years, which may be on account of their doing jury service, but others just vanish. As the century progressed it is noticeable that farmers were flourishing, since more of them became freeholders. Rising prices at the outset of war and improvements in farming practice were to their advantage but the labouring class, with increasing numbers and finite resources, must have suffered badly.

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  1. DHC, QS7/1-64, Freeholders Books, 1711-c.1816. [back]