There is an index of surnames, and family trees for some branches of the Heard family, with a Gedcom file to download. There is a gallery with over 900 photos and on the links page there are about 170 hyperlinks to pages of interest to the family historian, whether old hand or novice, particularly those with an interest in families with Devon roots.
There are pages about famous or celebrated members of the family tree - May Willing, Arthur Junaluska , Abraham Cann and Samuel Dunn, - whose deeds deserve wider recognition. Our Boydell relations can be traced back to pre-Conquest ancestors, the Sadleirs to Henry VII's court.
There is an exploration of the migrations of our family. And a page maps where those families went to or came from. See the page on our creative talents, or the page of facts, family secrets and odd items and the page on crime in the family . There is plenty of romance, scandal, tragedy, achievement, murder, violence and theft and a few laughs! The Whites 1850 Directory page lists the names of gentry, farmers and tradesmen from Devonshire villages and towns.
There is a page honouring the members of the family who have served their country. And a page celebrating family sporting achievements.
All the families who feature in the stories on this site are in some way connected by blood or marriage to one of the families listed above.
This will always be a work in progress; the photo album and other pages are updated weekly, so family members may benefit from calling back periodically to see what has been added or updated.
Where we are from...
|In 1795 John Heard, of Hartland, N. Devon, a private in the Royal Cornwall Militia, married Susanna Crossman in Sandford, and they raised a family there. Thus the beginnings of this branch of the Heards. Three of your host's four ancestral lines spring from that Mid-Devon area. It is centred on the parishes of Sandford, Crediton, Colebrooke, Shobrooke, Upton Hellions, Stockleigh English, Cheriton Fitzpaine, Morchard Bishop, Down St Mary, Zeal Monachorum, Cheriton Bishop, Newton St Cyres, Tedburn St Mary and some 20 parishes clustered around these. The Heard family became well established in this group of parishes through a network of marriages to Feys, Fursdons, Drews, Hattins, Frosts, Linscotts, Saffins, Turners, Wensleys and Wrights, amongst others. With the third and fourth generations, the coming of the railways, then the agriculture depression, the families begin to spread out from their Mid-Devon heartland. Our geography is explored in more detail elsewhere.|| |Sandford
"SANDFORD, a straggling village, in three detached portions, called East and West Sandford and New Buildings, in the vale of the small river Creedy, from 2 to 4 miles north of Crediton; has in its parish 1998 souls, and 7770 acres of fertile land, including many scattered farmhouses.."
[From White's Directory (1850)] Genuki Sandford Page
For a miscellany of Sandford's history, look out for Daphne Munday's A Parish Patchwork.
| || ||Crediton |
"Kirton was a market town
when Exeter was a fuzzy [fursey] down."
- the rhyme that generation after generation of Crediton schoolchildren learned.
| ||Great-grandfather William Heard married Crediton girl Ellen Fey, and moved the 2 miles from Sandford to Crediton (known locally as Kirton) probably after his marriage in 1872, to work in the shoe trade. |
Kelly's Directory 1897 "Crediton is a market town on the west bank of the river Creedy on the high road from Exeter to Barnstaple. ...A place of considerable trade so early as the thirteenth century... once a leading town in the woollen manufacture, gaining great fame for the fineness of its work. [so renowned was the town for the quality of its woollens that it gave rise to the proverb "as fine as Kyrton spinning"] The town has considerably increased since 1883 owing to the development of the boot and shoe industry. There are now over 800 persons so employed and a large colonial export trade is carried on. " The cattle market was held monthly, and once a year the April Great Market "the largest fair for cattle in the West of England". The last April Great Market was in 1951; the market closed in 1962. I recall being taken as a child to a great herding of cattle in the High Street, but these may have been en route to the pens in Market Street, rather than being auctioned in the High Street as here.
See John Heal's The Book of Crediton for an accessible history of the town.
| || ||Stokenham |
Heard: derived from the Old English word herde, which in turn comes from the Old English heird, meaning herd. An occupational name indicating that an early ancestor tended domestic animals, a herdsman. Variations - Herd, Hurd, Hird, Hirde, Hearde; also Herdman and Heardman.
The map shows the 1881 Heard distribution in Great Britain. The Essex Heards seem to be a quite different family. The spellings Herd and Hurd are differently distributed.
In 1880 the Heards in the USA were concentrated in Texas, Illinois, Missouri, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. Today ranked 1,140th most common surname in the USA. Most of the US Heards seem to have traced their origins back to Ireland.
Hartland, North Devon: "The name of Hartland..., is often misinterpreted. Its original name was Hertiland-- The land or home of one called Hert. This name later became Heard. That is why the Heard family is known as the oldest family within Hartland." Rev. Fred Pennington, Hartland Society 1997
The fourth branch of your host's family is rooted in Stokenham,(right) in the South Hams of Devon, home to the Pitts family and the Prettyjohns, Loyes, Coles, Randalls . And there too connections with the Crockers and the Blacklers. The parish covers the whole of the southern half of Start Bay from Slapton Sands to Start Point and on to Lannacombe Beach. It includes Torcross, Beesands, Hallsands, Kellaton, Kernborough, Dunstone, Beeson, Chillington and the village of Stokenham itself. White tells us that "several of them are fishing villages, noted for fine crabs, which are in high repute in London." The Pitts family, as with the Mid-Devon ancestors, are found in many of the nearby parishes - Modbury, South Pool, Chivelstone, Ugborough, Sherford, Aveton Gifford, Loddiswell, Kingsbridge and Thurlestone. Fishing and farming form the economic foundation for this part of the South Hams. But unlike the Blacklers, with whom I share South Devon ancestors, and who spawned several generations of sailors, the Pitts turned their back on the sea, and were mostly farmers, though there is a family tradition they were involved in smuggling spirits during the Napoleonic wars.
|Our Ancestors || || |
|The Heards and their relatives were predominantly humble folk. Most of them worked on the land. A few generations were cordwainers - boot and shoemakers who jealously guarded this designation, that implied working with new leather, unlike cobblers, who worked with old. Their wives were sometimes dressmakers, or weavers. (The woollen industry had been a source of wealth and prestige for Crediton in the Middle Ages but the nineteenth century saw its decline.) The Feys were carpenters. The Wrights were blacksmiths and ironworkers. The Berrys were thatchers and builders. The Picketts were tailors and shopkeepers, the Greenslades millers. But not all the families appearing on these pages are from a rural background. Several of our in-laws worked in the industrial centres of the North and Scotland, and Donalds, Boydells and Wilkinsons all worked in cotton mills, servants of the power looms.|
The 1870s and 80s were particularly tough for families working on the land. The import of cheap food from the New World and Europe was followed by several seasons of disastrous weather. Thousands of farmers were wiped out. Between 1870 and the turn of the century, 700,000 farmers and farm-workers emigrated. Some of the Heards migrated to London, and at least two branches to the Midlands. But they mostly remained in England. In the main it was the Feys, the Drews and other in-laws that journeyed to new worlds. On this site you can read some of their stories and follow their migrations.
19th century agricultural labourers.
This photograph seems to represent a cross-section of labourer's wear throughout the century. The old boy in the centre in the breeches is dressed in the typical style of the early 19th century. The smocks worn by three of the men were common in the middle of the century, and the corduroy trousers and jacket worn by the man on the left are more typical of the latter part of the century. The different styles may reflect the different ages of the men.
Working the Land in the War Years
Listen to Peter Isaac, Sandford farm worker, recounting life on the farm in Sandford during the war years. From "Sounds Around Sandford". (May take a minute or two to load.)
I will be pleased to hear from any Heards, Pitts, Wrights, Turners, Saffins, Feys, Berrys, Drews, Fursdons, Picketts or anybody else who has links to the Devon families found on this site.
Please leave a message in the Guestbook or email me at .
Use the Guestbook to leave messages for fellow FHS researchers with common interests.
The great thing about knowledge is that we can share it freely without diminishing our own store of it. This site exists to share knowledge about the families that appear on its pages, about local history and about researching family history. I am happy for anybody to use the information here. Please credit the site with hyperlinks where appropriate so others can share it.
However if you want to copy any of the photos, please contact me at the above address, as many are reproduced here with the permission of others and are not freely available.
I am researching an alleged link between Richard Hooker - lawyer and theologian, and Susan Boddy, wife of William Berry 1807-1874.
Hooker was born in March 1554 in Exeter. He was assistant professor of Hebrew at Oxford University, became a clergyman in the Church of England in 1581, and was made Master of the Temple (i.e. Dean of the Law School) in 1585. His masterpiece is a long work in eight books called Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. It represents one of the most distinguished examples of Elizabethan literature.
The trail from Susan has so far led to Seraphin Hooker, brushmaker of Exeter, born about 1760. I have constructed speculative links between that Seraphin, and Richard Hooker's family, also to the Hookers of Kew Gardens. But the links are just that - speculative. I would appreciate any help with Seraphin's antecedents, to confirm or disprove my speculations.
| || || |
Help needed with identification. If anybody knows who the photograph on the left features I would love to hear from you.
This is the work of a Bristol photographer - possibly a group of friends, or maybe sisters and cousins. They are connected with the Pitts family on this site.
| || || |
This history could not have been assembled without the help of the following, who gave generously of their time and knowledge:
| || |
Norina Dixon, Sue Davey, Rexie Akwei, Martyn Yeo, Angela Perkins, Ann Hughes, Beverley Edmonds, Bruce Bellringer, Deb Chapman, Della Pearson, Deborah O'Brien, Derek Fey, Jan Brian Kingshott, Bill Gallin, John Pitts, John Treleven, Judith Williams, Lorraine Frost, Neville Enderson, Nigel Blackler, Anthony Blackler, Ray Osborn, Paul Greener, Stan Smith, Albert Labbett, David Heard, William Cooke, Derek Heard, Michael Rice, John Pickett, Doreen Piggott, Neil Blackwood, Pauline Fear, Christopher Culmer, Nigel Haywood, Neil Lewis, Doreen Norton, Susan Pickett, Michael Elston, Betty Kales, Tony Shopland, Wendy Penfold, Roger Moore, Gertie Heard, Laura Heard, Myra Heard, Stephanie Keates, Arthur French, Bill Limebeer, Ingrid Hughes, Geoffrey Key, Rob Oatway, Doreen Norton, Emma Pitts, Edmond Smith, Bob Greenslade, Peter Wright, Beverly Cheriton, Eudora Crook, Peter Day, Barbara Lewis, Brian Randell, Jennifer Holmes, Joan Bagnall, Carolyn Buckley, David Jenkins, Gareth Arscott, Eddie Smith, Sandra Morgan, Marlene Wright, Anthony Sadleir, Michael Coles, Nigel Haywood, Richard Inglis, Graham Andrews, Tony Pickett, Ann Phillips, Shelagh Stones, Barbara-Ann Townson, Jean Rinaldi, Barbara Searles, Faye Edwards, Angela Tunkin, Brian Randell, Roy Drew, Terry Leaman, Barbara Stapleton, Norman Spurr, Helen Bevan, Rita Tyrrell, Vivien Boyd, Lorna Henderson, Agnes Davis, Ian Hillman, Bob Davey, Sarah Hughes, Angela Blaen, Andrew Crabtree, Nancy Spafford, June Willing, Anne Wilson, Michelle Smith, Mick Boydell, Julia Nicholls, William Doscher, Shirley Wilfong-Pritchard, Linda Curry, Emily Davis Rocha, Neal Doublet, Lyndon Casey, Valerie Golightly, Sarah Flower, Alison Milford, Janet Curwen, Ralph Miller, John Taylor, Jan Dickinson, Caroline Bullock, Richard de Neufville, Raymond Blight, June Farrelly, Sheila Jubb, Ronnie Land, Linda Wright, Eileen Thompson, David Andrew, Jane Sweet, Myra Briard, David Warren, John Williams, Victoria White, Richard Sharland, Marbe McNeill, Valerie Akers, Robin McGiveron, Patricia Coombe, Charles Cole, Barbara Searles, Diana Reynolds, Heather Harris, Sue Hatten, Margaret Andrew, Stephanie Lewis, Mary Long, Muriel Prior, Reece Jones, Vivienne Fitch, Mark Willing, Angela Ward, Beverley Farthing, David Watson, Karina Jonasson, Brian & Honor Heard, Norman Taylor, Paul Harris, Ray Burridge, Rob Graefe, Debbie Tiley, Michael Smith, Michael Mitchelmore, Janice Walker, Stuart & Pat Pickett, Ian Mitchell, Peter Harris, Elsie Person, Felicity Brimblecombe, Catriona Aldridge, Adam Lambert-Gorwyn, Barry Fleming, Richard Andrews, Fiona Daw, Caryl Hicks-Reeves, Cath Skeet, Jeremy West, Nigel & Bridget Ashplant, Jim Snell, Dave Sims, Geoff Ledden, Andrew Densham, Julie Oliver, David Oakley, June Frost. Paul Savje, Judith McCullouch, Ben Clapp, Daniel Spencer, Leah Murphy. I must also thank the Online Parish Clerks, who provide a terrific service.
And I apologise here to any of the kind people who have helped me in this research whose names I have unwittingly omitted from these acknowledgments.
Every effort has been made to display accurate information, but I am human, and apologise for any mistakes. Please advise me if you find any. I have also tried to exclude details about living persons, but the systems are not foolproof. If you find any please advise me