This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.

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






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There is a strong likelihood that our branch of the Taverner family can be traced back to the parish of Bridford in the 16th century. The village stands on a hill above the River Teign, 4 miles east of Moretonhampstead and 8 miles south west of Exeter. It includes the high ground around Blackingstone Rock and reaches south to the valley which now contains Trenchford Reservoir. W.G. Hoskins writes:

“BRIDFORD is a wild, hilly parish, rising to over 1,100 ft in places, and containing much beautiful scenery. The village is larger than usual in these upland parishes, mainly because of the granite quarries and the barytes mine. There are disused lead mines also. The older houses of the village are built of moorstone (i.e. surface granite) of which there is much in the higher parts of the parish. The church (St Thomas Becket) is an early 14th-cent building, reconstructed c. 1500. It contains many of its ancient fittings: some late medieval glass, carved stalls and bench-ends of the same period (early 16th-cent), good wagon roofs, and a N. parclose screen. The chief glory of the church is, however, the rood-screen. This retains its soft ancient colouring and is of high artistic merit. The carving is remarkably rich and lavish. Above the rood-loft door are the initials of Walter Southcote, rector 1508-50, who gave the screen. The double rose of Henry VIII and the pomegranate of Aragon (for Catherine of Aragon) appear on the screen, which can be dated at about 1530. The pulpit is said to have been made from pieces of the screen.”

Walter Southcote’s incumbency covered the long reign of Henry VIII (1509-47). It was in this period of the beautifying of Bridford church, and later the Reformation, and that we first find records of the Taverner family in the parish. Elsewhere in the Teign valley, the surnames Avery and Tavener were used interchangeably, or as “Avery alias Taverner”. When Edward Taverner left Bridford for Bovey Tracey in the 1590s he appears occasionally in the Bovey registers as Edward Avery . But in Bridford, the name is recorded only as Taverner.

The church of St Thomas à Becket in Bridford is fortunate in having baptism and burial registers going back to 1538, the year when Henry VIII decreed that every church should keep a record of its baptisms, marriages and burials. The marriage register begins in 1589.

It is clear that the Taverner family was well established in the parish before the introduction of the registers. The 1524 Devon Subsidy Rolls give the names of every man over 16 and his liability for taxation based on his income from land, goods or wages. Out of 51 men in the parish of Brydford, three were Taverners. John Taverner was assessed at the next to the lowest category for goods, G2; another John Taverner at the lowest, G1; and Peter at the lowest for wages, W1. Men were only entered under one category, so the two Johns could be husbandmen, farming small holdings, or craftsmen. Peter was probably a labourer. The subcollector compiling the list did not usually include his own name, which would be entered on a separate certificate, so there could have been a more prestigious Taverner.

The first Taverner to appear in the Bridford registers is Allus Taverner, widow, who was buried on 27 Nov 1540. Her husband may have been one of the men listed in the 1524 Subsidy Roll.

This is followed by the baptism on 14 Feb 1540/1 of the twins William and Tamsin, children of John Taverner. They may be the children of one of the Johns of 1524. Baby William could be the father of Edward Taverner, who moved to Bovey Tracey before the end of the century, but the presence of more than one William makes this uncertain.

The Subsidy Rolls of 1544 list heads of households. We again find three Taverners. Out of 62 householders in Brydford, Simon Taverner is rated as one the highest, at £15. There are only two parishioners higher rated, at £20, and one other at £15. Clearly Simon was of some standing in the village. The others are Joan Taverner, at £2, the most common amount, and Richard Taverner at the £1, the lowest. Since she was paying tax as a householder, Joan would have been a widow. The twins’ father, John Taverner, does not appear. He might be dead, or living in another household. Perhaps he was Joan’s son.

The affluent Simon died in 1547. So did Tamsin, daughter of Thomas Taverner, neither of whom have previously appeared in the records. The widow Joan died in 1548, and so did Christian, daughter of Simon. In 1548 we also have the first baptism for a child of William , who may or may not be the William who was father of Edward .

The following year, 1549, the parish register records:

In this present yere 1549 was an insurrection in Devon and Cornwall.

There is a later note in the margin:

Temp: Edwd VI. The Malcontents assemble in Devon to the number of 10.000, under Arundel – Besiege Exon – Defeated by John Lord Russell.

This is a reference to the bloody Prayer Book Rebellion. Under Henry VIII’s successor, the boy king Edward VI, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer introduced the English Prayer Book and other anti-Catholic ordinances, such as forbidding the use of vestments in church services. Traditionalist communities, particularly in the south-west, rebelled. The rector of Sampford Courtenay was killed on the steps of his church, and a makeshift army marched east in the Prayer Book Rebellion. After the unsuccessful siege of Exeter, the rebels were defeated in the battle of Sampford Courtenay. The leaders either fell on the battlefield or were hung, drawn and quartered. Clearly Bridford felt shaken by this fighting, even though it was not directly involved. The tone shows that the parish, or at least its rector, did not sympathise with the rebels.

We are now in the period 1548 – 1572, when seventeen children are recorded in Bridford for men called William Taverner , with nothing distinguish one William from another.

There is very little information about women. The baptismal register does not name the mother, the marriage registers do not begin until 1589, and the burial register gives less information than usual about the relation of a woman to a man. There is a burial in 1557 for Brydgett Taverner. She may be the wife of one of the men in the 1544 Subsidy Roll, or of a younger man, or she may be a single woman.

Somewhere among these early names are probably the ancestors of Edward Taverner . We know only that his father was one of the Williams . There is nothing to show whether he was descended from the highly-rated Simon Taverner, the widow Joan, or the lowly Richard. The date of his birth suggests that his father could be William, twin of Tamsin, baptised in 1540 and the son of John . It is possible, though again by no means certain, that William’s mother, or perhaps his grandmother, was the taxpayer Joan.

W.G. Hoskins, Devon, (David and Charles, 1972), p.348-9.




Next Generation: 13. TAVERNER

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Novan's country has been occupied by the neighbouring Yadu. What lengths will he go to win its freedom