Rackenford Oath-Takers, 1723

By Sarah Child


As Table 2 shows, only ten of the Rackenford jurors, including one woman, are recorded as having signed their names. At less than a third of the total this would seem an unexpectedly low proportion for what appears to be the top quarter, economically and socially, of this rural community. However the records are clearly inaccurate. Other documents survive signed by Arthur Ayre, William Handford senior and Humphrey Parkhouse despite their having been entered as marking.5 It also seems unlikely that three apparent markers - John Gunn and Philip and William Courtenay - who all served as Overseer of the Poor, a post which involved considerable record keeping, were not minimally literate. The first reference to a school in Rackenford is in 1744, but this was for the children of the poor. The more prosperous among the oath takers might have been educated at Blundells in Tiverton or Hugh Squier's school in South Molton.

Continue to next section Return to previous

  1. For example, DHC, Moger PR517/176. [back]