Notes on Broadwoodwidger Oath Takers, 1723

By Pat Williams

Historical Notes on Broadwoodwidger

Broadwoodwidger is reported to be the 2nd largest parish in Devon. It is made up of many Hamlets developed originally from the need to house the workers on the larger farms of the area. According to Risdon's Survey of Devon (1714), 'Sir. John Widger, Knight, Lord of the Manor gave his name to the area'. Risdon's 1810 edition states 'The principal estate in this parish belongs to Charles Luxmore of Okehampton, who is the impropriator of the living under the Dean and Chapter of Bristol.'

According to the Church Notes by the Rev. Fulford Williams, the church dedicated to St. Nicholas dates from 1288 when it paid £13 parochial quota, the highest of any church in the Deanery of Tavistock. In the chancel are the tombstones of the Rev. Henry Newborough, 6 July 1725, and John Harmsworth, Supervisor of Excise, Winchester, 1 Jan. 1725 age 37. The church owns a beautiful silver flagon the gift of R. Secombe, 9 June 1794. He appears to have been Churchwarden in 1766.

The 1744 visitation replies note that the parish is still in the Deanery of Tavistock, the minister is Rev. John Tindal Cur[ate] of Brentor, residing 'upon the cure', in receipt of '£33 per annum for serving this parish and Germans week which is one Cure'. There were 46 families which included between 30 and 40 communicants; no school, almshouse or any notable endowments.

The 1779 Visitation replies by 'Thos. White, perpetual Curate of Broad wood widger and Jarmans Weike' who lived in South Tawton in the Deanery of Exeter, which he served as minister. His salary had gone up to £35 per annum, and the number of families had risen to 'about 100', the communicants 'may be about 30'. There was no school or almshouse and 'I have no Terrier of the Glebe Lands and House this lies in the Chaple of Bristol.'

The 1674 Hearth Tax lists 97 names paying tax on 224 hearths, and 20 paupers with one hearth each, some were possible relatives of the oath-takers.

Endowed Charities mentions the will of Roger Harvey. The will bears the date 16 May 1763 and gave 'certain fields in St. Giles in the Heath and other places the fees and rents to provide education for children of Broadwood and St. Giles. The Charity to be administered by the churchwardens'. This applied for a time, but the property was claimed and returned to the heir-in-law on the grounds of the gift being void under the Mortmain Act, 24 June 1824. At an enquiry 12 July 1911 William Harvey, a representative of the donor of the gift, and owner of the property gave £2 a year to poor funds as a voluntary gift. In 1877 the parish was transferred to Truro Diocese, in 1905 it was transferred to Exeter.

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