Rackenford Oath-Takers, 1723

By Sarah Child

Rackenford is a North Devon parish covering nearly 4000 acres of high and often moory ground on the slopes to the south of Exmoor. Before the building of the toll roads it was exceptionally isolated; the nearest towns are Tiverton, eight miles to the east, and South Molton, ten miles to the west. Its population in the first quarter of the eighteenth century was a little over 300. About half of all households lived in Rackenford village. The other half consisted of farms scattered over the surrounding countryside, varying considerably in size but adding up to a probable total of 28 including the glebe and a mill. The bordering parish of Witheridge, the centre of the Hundred, was closely linked through kinship ties and overlapping land ownership. The two villages are over five miles apart but several Witheridge farms are much nearer to Rackenford than to Witheridge church. The small parish of Creacombe borders the north west boundary and in the absence of resident clergymen its parishioners also often used Rackenford church.

Rackenford supplied 33 oath takers, of which nine were women.1

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  1. 34 names appear but of these Robert Tanner has been deleted. He was probably resident in West Anstey at the time. Three others were not apparently residents of Rackenford (Katherine Mogford was of Oakford, and probably Mary Greenslade of Creacombe and Deborah Farr of Sampford Peverell), but these have been counted among the 33. [back]