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I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)






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RICHARD TAVERNER. The Avery alias Taverner line can probably be traced back to Bovey Tracey in the late 16th century.

Bovey Tracey is fortunate in having registers dating back to 1538, the year when Henry VIII ordered every parish in the kingdom to keep a record of the baptisms, marriages and burials carried out at the parish church. The name Avery enters the register in the 1560s and Taverner in the 1590s. These names were often used interchangeably for the same person. The Edward Taverner who married Elizabeth Haile in 1592 appears as Edward Avery when his son Stephen was baptised in 1595, but again as Edward Taverner when Stephen was buried next day. Similarly, Francis Avery, father of William in 1596, is almost certainly the same as Francis Taverner, father of a number of children from 1598 onwards.

We can be confident that the 17th century Richard Taverner is also the Richard Avery baptised in the last year of the 16th century.

Baptism. Bovey Tracey. (DCRS transcript)

1599 (1600) Averie, Richardus filius Edwardi 25 Jan

His mother was Elizabeth Haile.


Richard was born in the last years of the reign of Elizabeth I. In 1603, James I, son of Mary Queen of Scots, inaugurated the troubled Stuart dynasty in England.


Richard’s older brother Stephen had died at birth. There was also Agnes, daughter of Edward Taverner , baptised in 1611. The gap makes it difficult to determine whether she was Richard’s sister, but the absence of other Edward Taverners makes this likely. There are no other siblings in the Bovey Tracey baptism registers, but the burial of Hugh, son of Elizabeth Taverner , widow, in 1618, may refer to a brother. Perhaps the family moved away from Bovey for a time and more children were born there.


Richard’s father died in 1617, when Richard was 18. No doubt it fell to him to support his mother, and possibly younger siblings.


AMY. As so often at this period, we learn Amy’s name only from the burial register. We do not have a record her marriage in the Bovey Tracey register. We may assume that she came from a village outside Bovey. The wedding has not been found in the adjacent parishes, but it could have been in one whose registers begin later, such as Teigngrace, Manaton or Lustleigh.


Richard and Amy married in the 1620s, at the end of James I’s reign or the beginning of the ill-fated Charles I’s.

Six children are recorded for them.

Baptisms. Bovey Tracey. (DCRS transcripts)

1626 Tavernor, ffrancis filius Richardi 24 Oct

1627 Tavernor, Bartholomeus filius Richardi 16 Dec

In 1629 we find a burial.

Burial. Bovey Tracey. (DCRS transcripts)

1629 Tavernor, Richorda filia Richardi 19 Maii

This appears to be a daughter whose baptism has not been found.

1630 Tavernor, Joanna filia Richardi 5 Dec .

This Joanna died the following year.

Burial. Bovey Tracey. (DCRS transcripts)

1631 Tavernor, Joanna filia Richi 5 Aug

Another three daughters were born.

Baptisms. Bovey Tracey. (DCRS transcripts)

1633(34) Tavernor, Joanna filia Richardi 31 Jan

1635(36) Tavernor, Anna filia Richardi 20 Mar

1640(41) Tavernor, Maria filia Ricardis 12 Mar

That year, the second Joanna also died.

Burial. Bovey Tracey. (DCRS transcripts)

1641 Taverner, Joanna filius Ricardus 27 May

By now, it was perilously close to the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1641-2, Richard was one of the men of Bovey over 18 who were obliged to sign an oath of loyalty to the Protestant religion. Two other Taverners signed, Hugh and Peter. No one in Bovey refused to swear.


War between Parliament and the King broke out in 1642. We do not know where the Taverners stood. Lance Tregoning writes: “In the name of civil war, Devon was more inclined to the parliamentary cause, rather than the Royalist, as was Bovey.” The wool towns of Devon were particularly for Parliament, and the market town of Bovey would have been one of these. Its vicar, Jame Forbes, was, however, fervently Royalist, being a former chaplain in Charles I’s army.

Armies marched to and fro across the county. By the end of the war, the depradations and violent behaviour of the Royalist cavalry had turned almost everyone in Devon against them.

We do not know Richard’s occupation. The only Taverner in Bovey whose occupation is given this century is Stephen Taverner, ‘sealer’, who married in 1656. We may assume he was not hunting seals in Bovey Tracey. It has been suggested he may have sealed casks.

If Richard was a farmer, as some of his descendants in the next century were, then he and Amy would have viewed the approach of the troops, of whichever side, with dread. Their livestock and the harvest in their barns would likely be requisitioned to feed the hungry soldiers. Some officers were scrupulous about payment; many were not.

Other householders, too, might find soldiers billeted upon them, or money and food demanded from them.

In 1645, Bovey was in Royalist hands, but the Parliamentary commander, Lord Fairfax, was leading an army through winter weather towards it.

Armitage Hargreaves writes:

“At Christmas 1645, three regiments of King Charles Horse lay encamped at Heathfield. The Parliamentary forces were at Moretonhampstead, Crediton and Canonteign. General Sir Thomas Fairfax, who was in command of the New Model Army, and Lieutenant General Oliver Cromwell, having left Exeter blockaded, were moving on to recapture Plymouth. While Fairfax was securing Chudleigh bridge, Cromwell marched his troops from Crediton through Canonteign and across the Hennock hills to Bovey Tracey…

“There are various stories connected with Oliver Cromwell’s arrival in Bovey Tracey; one suggests that he spent the night before the battle in a house in Hind Street, which was part of the old monastery William Ellis saw demolished, and then a secret meeting place of the Independents, but the only story which seems at all probable is related by William Ellis, though the possibility that he may have combined and elaborated extracts of all the stories must not be ignored.

“ ‘On the evening of the 8th of January, 1646, a travel-stained man arrived at Bovey Tracey about seven o’clock, from the direction of Moreton. He walked down the hill at Hind Street till he came opposite the old chapel that stood at the bottom – just where the present Baptist Chapel stands. In olden time it was a monastery. The stranger heard psalm-singing, and knew it was a meeting-house as he had been informed as to its location by his friends at Moreton. It was prayer-meeting night. He entered the chapel, and was accommodated with a seat. At the close of the service, he enquired if either of two persons were present – mentioning the names of two elders of the church; being answered in the affirmative he presented a letter of introduction from the Church at Moreton, and they found they had as it were ‘entertained an angel unaware’, - Cromwell himself.

“ ‘None knew this but the elders, and after the congregation was dismissed he got all the information necessary concerning the state of Lord Wentworth’s command.’ After some deviation about the Royalists’ behaviour, and where the officers usually met, the story continues: ‘On seeing how matters stood, he sent a letter, which he wrote in the Old Chapel, to a resident at Lower Atway, about a mile from there on the Moreton road, who was a great friend of the cause, and where he (Cromwell) had left several of his troopers and a Moreton friend who had acted as guide to the party. The occupant of the dwelling was called Coniam.

“ ‘On receipt of this note from the Lieutenant-General, the soldiers rode hastily back, and Sir Thomas Fairfax was made acquainted with the situation. Cromwell, to be safe from discovery, slept in the Old Chapel. He had desired in his message that a part of Fairfax’s command might enter Bovey about dusk the next evening, so that Lord Wentworth might be taken by surprise.’



Medieval arch to Old Chapel


“In this account we come up against two difficulties; why was the Lieutenant General alone as seems implied in the story, and why was he on foot? It could be that he did have a companion with him who carried the letter back to Atway; also it may be that neither this companion nor the small body of troopers left at Coniam’s home were trained spies, and so none of them could be entrusted to contact the elders of the meeting house on their own, without making some sort of blunder. Again the letter is said to have been a personal introduction. Another point to consider is that apparently the Roundheads were unaware of Lord Wentworth’s proximity.

“The reason for being on foot could have been that an unmounted man was less obvious, for on a night like that no one would have taken their horse out unless it were urgent. Joshua Sprigge mentions it was ‘very cold and much snow upon the ground’. Cromwell, who was a great lover of horses, would be reluctant to take his horse out in those conditions at night, especially as it had already been exposed during the day to the bad weather and slippery ground. He would wish his horse to be fresh in the morning, and would think nothing of the short walk from Atway for himself….

“At about six o’clock in the bitter cold and darkness of the evening of January 9th, Cromwell led his soldiers down Fursleigh lane and Hind Street, making for the recently built bridge, apparently unaware of Lord Wentworth’s Royalist brigade camped on the Bovey Heath.

“But in comparison with Cornwall, Devon was more inclined to be Parliamentarian than Royalist, consequently Cromwell had spies everywhere, as well as sympathisers ready to give useful information. Cromwell thus learned that a party of Lord Wentworth’s officers were enjoying themselves drinking and playing cards in a nearby house, and it seems had little idea of Cromwell’s approach, until they were surprised by his soldiers, who would have captured them had not an officer gathered up the stakes and thrown them out of the window. While the soldiers were fighting for the money, the Royalists escaped…

“The incident was the prelude to the Battle on Bovey Heath where Cromwell took four hundred horses at least, and seven colours, including the Royal Standard bearing a crown and the initials C.R.”


Letters about this battle were sent by Lord Fairfax, the Parliamentary army’s chief commander, to the House of Commons. The first was written from Moretonhampstead on the morning of Jan. 10, 1645, immediately after the “Battle” of Bovey, and the second written from Ashburton on Jan. 11. The date was 1646 according to our reckoning – in those days the new year started at the end of March.


A true relation of the Fight at Bovy-Tracy

between the Parliaments Forces under the command of Sir Tho: Fairfax, and three regiments of the Kings Horse.

Wherein were taken Four hundred Horse, and seven Horse-colours, with divers Offices and Souldiers

As it was sent in two LETTERS, The one, to the Honorable William Lenthal Esq., Speaker to the Honorable House of Commons.

The other, to the Honored Edw. Prideaux Esq; a Member of the said House.

Ordered by the Commons assembled in Parliament, That this Relation be forthwith Printed and Published

Hen. Elsynge, Cler. Parl. D. Com.

London, Printed for Edw. Husband, Printer to the Honorable House of Commons, and are to be sold at his Shop at the Sign of the Golden Dragon in Fleetstreet, neer the Inner-Temple, January 15. 1645.


To the Honorable William Lenthall Esq ., Speaker of the Honorable House of Commons.

Sir, whilest Sir Hardres Waller yesterday amused the Enemy with a party of horse and foot near Okehampton, two Regiments of foot, and one of horse marched from Crediton to Bovy-Tracy about fourteen miles, and about six at night fell on three Regiments of the Enemies horse at Bovy-Tracy, took near four hundred horse and five colours, some prisoners, many espaping in the dark. The Rendezvouz for the rest of the army is this morning near Bovy-Tracy, from whence they march on a further Design, of which shortly you will hear more. Hasten two thousand Musqnets to Lyme, it will be of great concernment they be speeded.

I am, Sir, your most humble servant.

Jan. 10 1645. 9 in the morning.



To the honoured Edmund Prideaux Esq; a Member of the House of Commons.

Sir, I thought fit to send this expresse unto you, for the betteer confirmation of that I writ unto you yesterday. We took at Bovy four hundred horse at least, and seven horse Colours, whereof one is the Kings, having the crown and C.R. upon it, a Major and some officers and Souldiers were taken prisoners; We lost but one man, divers of the Enemy sore wounded, some slain; some of their chief officers being in a house, shut the door, and threw out at the window about ten pounds in silver, which the foot Souldiers were so busie about the getting their shares, that the officers escaped in the meantime over the River, through the darknesse of the night; about six score of those that escaped a foot got into Ellington church that night, and sent to the Lo: Wentworth for relief; we drew out a party of horse and foot next morning to surprise them but they footed it away to their other quarters, and so escaped. The Army advanced the next day being Saturday to Ashburton, but the enemy having received a hot alarm by those that escaped, quit that place being their head-quarter, in great confusion sending their foot one way and their horse another way, and our Forlorn hope pursued them so fast through Ashburton, that we took twenty horse and nine prisoners: This day the Generall advances to Totnes, where the Enemy hath a Foot-quarter, and we thought would have disputed the pass, but just now Intellignce is come, they have quit the Town: I hope in my next I shall inform you they have quit their works before Plymouth, and left their ordnance, for certainly this weather they cannot draw them off. Truly our Souldiers march with that cheerfulnes, as I never see them before on this service; the great inconvenience happens to the horse, by reason of the sliperinesse of the way, and (as yet) little besides straw to be gotten for them, the Enemies horse are ill shod, and not frosted, neither can they tell how to get them shod or frosted, which is an undoubted Argument they dare not attempt to break through Eastward at this season: for stay they must not, either for shoe or nail; we frost every day, such is the slipperinesse of the way, and if we did not so, we could not move with horse; the prisoners say they did not expect our motion this weather, and that Orders are given to flye into Cornwall, very suddenly you shall year from further from

Your most humble Servant,


Ashburton, Jan. 11. 1645 12 at noon.


Since the writing hereof, Intelligence is come &c. Sir Hardres Waller hath beaten up their quarters at Okehampton, and taken many prisoners, so they are alarmd on all hands.




Hargreaves tells two contrasting stories of the aftermath of this battle.

“There is an interesting story recorded by Baring-Gould in his Cliff Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe which runs as follows: ‘In the crevices of Bottor Rock in Hennock, Devon, John Cann, a Royalist, found refuge. He had made himself particularly obnoxious to the Roundheads at Bovey Tracey, and here he lay concealed, and provisions were secretly conveyed to him. Here also he hid his treasure. A path is pointed out, trodden by him at night as he passed to and fro. He was at last tracked [by sleuth-hounds] to his hiding-place, seized, carried to Exeter and hanged. His treasure has never been recovered, and his spirit walks the rocks.’

“William Ellis gives the account of another Royalist, a story he first heard when he was a boy. The young officer, whose name was Langstone, was killed at the battle of Bovey Heath, and because of his friendliness and kindness to the townsfolk a rough memorial was erected at his burial place in the heather, where he fell, on what then was known as Challabrook Moors. It was either the shaft of an ancient cross, or an oblong uncut granite stone; it has been suggested that the name Langstone belongs rather to the stone than to the Royalist officer.”


Since 1628, the Vicar of Bovey Tracey had been James Forbes, appointed by Charles I. Hargreaves writes: ‘He was a Scot from Aberdeen… who had been an Army Chaplain under the Duke of Buckingham when he unsuccessfully attacked the Isle of Re on his way to relieve the besieged town of La Rochelle. The Duke had recommended Forbes to the King and he proved an ardent Royalist.”

Under the Puritan Commonwealth, Forbes was removed from the living, and his vicarage plundered and vandalised. “Fortunately, the Revd. Forbes was able to secrete the beautiful brass lectern by burying it on the heath and he also hid the church register and the Elizabethan Communion Cup, until his re-instatement.” This resulted in gaps in the parish registers during the Commonwealth period.

A succession of Puritan ministers was put in his place. John Walker’s highly-coloured account of this period describes one as ‘a most bitter, furious, turbulent fellow’, who preached with a sword at this side. He despoiled the church and ‘governed the parishioners with a very high hand’. He was followed by ‘Cracket-brained Christopher Lee’. The parishioners ‘endeavoured to make him as uneasie as they could’. After a year he resigned, to be replaced by Joseph Edgecombe, who let part of the vicarage as an ale house and was ‘never without a brandy bottle in his pocket’. Edgecombe was, however, a friendlier man. He treated James Forbes kindly and got on well with the town’s woolcombers.

What the Taverners made of these various ministers, we can only guess.

Tregoning says of the ejected vicar James Forbes: “In 1655 at the height of the troubles, Forbes’ wife Marion died and was buried, not within the church, as expected in normal times, but outside the south wall of the church.

“Her tomb is a large pinnacled rock bearing the Forbes arms and the Rose of England and Thistle of Scotland. It also has a carving of what resembles a mermaid, but is thought probably to represent the Resurrection, in the symbol of Jonah escaping from a large fish.”


Both Richard and Amy lived to see the end of the Commonwealth and the Restoration of the monarch in 1660. James Forbes was also restored to the vicarage.

Burials. Bovey Tracey. (DCRS transcripts)

1663 Tavernor, Amy w. Richard Sept 12

1663 was a dreadful year for Bovey Tracey and the Taverners. One grandson was buried in May and another in Aug. The latter was one of five burials on the same day. 25 people were buried in the month of August. It looks like the spread of a virulent disease, perhaps one of the periodic outbreaks of plague, like that which swept London two years later. If so, Amy’s death may have been part of the same epidemic.

Richard outlived her by five years. He was 68 when he died.

1668 Tavernor, Richard Sept 2


Bovey Tracey Registers, DCRS transcript.

Lance Tregoning, Bovey Tracey: An Ancient Town , (Cottage Publishing, 1993)

Armitage Hargreaves, Bovey Tracey History and Legend , (Mid-Devon Newspaper Co, Ltd, 1968)

William Ellis was born in Bovey Tracey in 1804. He was apprenticed to a carpenter but emigrated to the USA soon after 1836. His writing were published in the Saturday American in 1883 and reprinted in the South Devon Weekly Express.

“An article, “The Surprise of Bovey Tracey” in Macmillan’ Magazine (1896), suggests that Cromwell went towards Moretonhampstead in search of the best place to cross the river, there being few possibilities especially taking the extreme cold into consideration. The article points out that Bovey Tracey, where there was a good bridge, was the most judicious choice.”


Fairfax’s chaplain, who wrote an account of the Battle of Bovey. www.moretonhampstead.org.uk , Virtual Archive.

. Source: West Country Studies Library, Pamphlet: A true relation of the Fight at Bovy-Tracy between the Parliaments Forces under the command of Sir Tho: Faifax, and three regiments of the Kings Horse, addressed to the Honorable William Lenthall Esq., Speaker of the Honorable House of Commons .



John Walker, ed. F.C. Hingeston Randolph, Dr Walker’s “Sufferings of the Clergy in the Diocese of Exeter (Devon and Cornwall) during the Rebellion”, (1908). Walker’s book was first published in 1713.





Next Generation: 10. TAVERNER

Previous Generations: 12. TAVERNER or AVERY-HAILE

                12. CASELY-COMYN



Suzie's discovery of a violent ancestor takes on frightening new meaning when her son's girl-friend is found dead