Analysis of North Tawton Oath-takers, 1723

By Jean Shields


The population of North Tawton was said by Dean Milles circa 1750 to have been about 950, in answer to questionnaires he sent to all the ministers of the C of E in Devon. The Rector, William Hole, was incumbent from 1747 -1753, and a cousin of his predecessor. He was a member of a prosperous Devonshire landowning family many of whom were clergymen. The Holes owned the advowson of North Tawton as well as providing an incumbent from their family, from 1716 until 1916. William's answers to the Dean's enquiries suggest he was well informed about the parish, so was probably reasonably reliable in his estimate. Some 50 years later, the population as documented in the 1801 census had risen substantially from the approximate 950 to 1436, of whom just over 46% were men. This figure of 46% males approximates to the proportions for nearby small market towns. Presumably at the time of the Oath Rolls, the population would have been rather less than 950, perhaps about 800. It has been estimated that about 63% of the population at the time were over 18 years, which if true for North Tawton, would make 504 people eligible to take the oath. With regard to gender, if we assume the proportions of men and women were the same as in the 1801 census, this gives a figure of just over one in three men who took the oath, one in approximately 15 of the women and about one in five overall. The comparable figure for Devon is one in four males and one in ten females.

Of the 93 people who swore, the age was ascertainable exactly or could be guessed within a few years (usually by the date of marriage or subsequent births), in all but ten cases, using the Parish Registers. Ages ranged from 21 years the youngest to 77 years the oldest.

Figure 1: Age range of North Tawton oath-takers
Figure 1: Age range of North Tawton oath-takers

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