Blackmore Family

(The search goes on)

Our visit 22-28 October 2004


This holiday and family research trip was to concentrate on two particular lines as well as to clear up a few anomalies.


The major aim was to search for the earlier generation(s) of the Blackmore and Thorne families. A secondary aim was to visit the place in Burrington where the Blackmore family were living


We stayed in Bideford at a lovely B&B that I can highly recommend (Lavington House). During our stay the intention was to have some days for research and others to just relax. As usual it didn’t quite work out like that and most days had an element of both.


The overall events of our time in Devon were :


Saturday : sightseeing and visit Wear Gifford

Sunday : sightseeing an cemeteries around North Molton. Visit Burrington

Monday : all day at the Record Office in Barnstaple

Tuesday : visit Ilfracombe and find grave of William Blackmore

Wednesday : all morning at the Record Office and shopping!

Thursday : visit Ashreigney on the way home




After a drive around North Molton and other northern parishes we went to Burrington to have a look, in the dry, for any evidence of the Blackmore name. There was none at all. The only recognised name was Anthony Garnish.


We met Margaret Bolt at Red Post Cross, just outside Burrington as she had agreed to take us to Kingsland. The name first comes up in the parish registers for the Blackmore family in 1821 with the baptism of William, son of Mary. It says she was living at Little Kingsland. Blackmore family members were living there right through until after 1871.


First of all, Red Post Cross is exactly what it says – a cross roads with an old wooden road sign that is painted red. However, the name was given to it as it was the site of the old gallows and apparently there are other locations with the same name and the same grisly past.


We parked outside Kingsland Cottages (presumably what was originally referred to as Little Kingsland) and walked across the fields, down into the valley and up the other side to Kingsland. Kingsland was originally a small farmstead of some 15 acres, but most of the land is now incorporated into a larger farm. The stream has been dammed which makes crossing it a little easier. The old track to Hacknell Lane still exists for most of its length, and the line can be seen for the small bits that no longer exist. A very wet area with springs depositing gallons of water every minute onto the track. The track being quite steep in places makes the walk quite interesting – and we were covered in mud (moral – take a pair of boots to walk across farms!). When we reached Kingsland it was clear it had been a nice sized farm house, but sadly had been neglected for some 40 years and only used for storage (planning permission for a new house required that this one be abandoned – a criminal waste of an ancient, probably 17th century farm house). It is a “cob” house (the walls are made of clay, sand and straw and then rendered), but the elements are taking their toll and some of the cob is starting to come away. There is a corrugated iron roof acting as a form of weather proofing, replacing the original thatch. All in all, the house is in a sad state – but probably repairable. There is also a right of way into another lane, so it might even be possible to get a vehicle to the house.


But the views across Devon to Exmoor were spectacular, not that the early inhabitants would have been that interested as they had such a hard life scratching a living from the soil. Apparently if you climb to the top of the hill you can see Dartmoor in the south as well as Exmoor to the north – in other words a view over much of north Devon.


After Kingsland we then went to the cemetery adjacent to the old Brethren Chapel and School. The chapel is now a private house. There is a grave to a Thomas Blackmore and his wife Elizabeth, who both died in 1872. I believe that he was one of the original trustees of the chapel land. His parents were George and Elizabeth Blackmore – subsequently proved that George was the brother of James, my gggg grandfather. Many of the names of the original trustees could well be related to us (although the names are not uncommon in the area). This will be the subject of a separate study.




Monday was spent at the North Devon Archives in Barnstaple. The aims were to sort out a few specific issues and also to search for the Blackmore and Thorne families before the earliest names I had. This is the list of tasks, with results. Needless to say, we didn’t have time to do all of this! But a huge dent was made in the list.


The greatest successes were clarifying that James Blackmore’s wife was Grace RENDLE and finding the Blackmore family in Ashreigney prior to 1760.





I had previously been sent a transcription of the Memorial Inscription for William Blackmore’s grave at Holy Trinity and this stated that it was obtained from the Ilfracombe museum. Our first port of call was therefore to the museum. They were so helpful in helping me to locate the graves, newspaper articles and inscriptions of the graves of both William Blackmore and his son in law Frederick Garnish – as well as other Garnish graves.


After looking around Ilfracombe and having lunch we went first to Holy Trinity church. We easily found the grave of Fred Garnish’s first wife (Emily Saunders), and one of his sons. But the churchyard was so badly overgrown that it was physically impossible to reach William Blackmore’s grave – it couldn’t even be seen beneath all the brambles, nettles, bushes etc. Another campaign to be started!


We then went to the non-conformist Score Cemetery on the edge of Ilfracombe where I was hoping to find the grave of Fred Garnish and his second wife (Lucy Grace Blackmore). There were three graves with the name Garnish on the plan we got from the museum. Again the cemetery was so overgrown that it was not possible to reach two of the graves. The one I did reach was that of the parents of Fred Garnish (George Garnish and Eliza Kidwell. I think that Fred and Lucy were buried in a near adjacent grave, but with the steepness of the hillside and the amount of undergrowth it was not safe to try to get any closer.




I made another trip to the Record Office in Barnstaple and transcribed the entries for Blackmore, Jorey (and Jury) from the Ashreigney parish register 1653 – 1754. This is the earliest register that exists, although there clearly was an earlier one at some time (some entries from 1659-1664 were stated as “in the old register”). The BT’s also go back to 1607 – another visit needed!


Found some further information on Thorne in South Molton.




Visited Ashreigney but there were no graves with the names Blackmore or Jorey – in fact no graves earlier than about 1811. I enquired about a grave register that might give more clues, but none known about. We also went out to the Ringsash Bible Christian church and cemetery, but again no trace of the names.


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