Ernest Pym

It is always pleasing to find a free site for genealogy and when you can search by place and there is an entry for your #OnePlaceStudy, even more so. The site in question is and this is the sad article I found, 24th December 1898, regarding a young headmaster of Sticklepath board school.

To understand the article’s title, it may help to know more about the symbolism of acacia in freemasonry. Essentially the Jews have long considered acacia to be a most holy tree as God chose it with which to build the ark of the covenant to house the stones of the ten Commandments. As a sweet smelling evergreen which grows in the most inhospitable environments it is a symbol of the immortality of the soul, and used during ceremonies of the Freemasons.

(V.B.D.R. is not a familiar abbreviation but may be Volunteer Battalion of the Devon Regiment.)

“A Sprig of Acacia”

On Monday the funeral took place of Bro. E Pym, who was only 27 years of age, and commenced his career as pupil teacher under St. Thomas School Board, Exeter. In 1892 he proceeded to Exeter Diocesan Training College, and after being assistant master at Cullompton National School returned to his former school in the same capacity.

He was a few years since appointed to the head mastership of the Sticklepath Board School, and endeared himself both to the parents and children, and took an active interest in local matters.

He was a member of the cyclist section of the 4th V.B.D.R., who were represented at the funeral by Sergeant-Instructor Perry.

Deceased was also a member of Lodge Obedience, 1753, Okehampton, and filled the office of assistant organist.

In 1897 his health gave way, and he took a 6 months rest. At the expiration of the term he resumed duties at Challacombe as head master, but was shortly obliged to relinquish the post, and returned to his native village, where, on 14th inst., he peacefully passed away.

From my family collection. Mr Pym, Schoolmaster. Dating clues- Taken by G Denney&Co Exeter and Teignmouth. Denney, G & Co – Exeter, Devon -1893-1902 George Denney was born in London around 1835 and in 1891 was living in Teignmouth, Devon, with his wife and two daughters. His occupation is given as artist & photographer. Dark green mount: Stronger shades such as bottle green, black, chocolate brown and maroon mounts were fashionable 1884-1905. Perhaps taken to celebrate his appointment as head c.1894?

According to “A Village School Chronicle 1879-1979” by Victor W. Hutchison, the headmaster of Sticklepath school from 1894-1897 was Ernest William Pym. A summary and timeline of the school can be found here .

Ernest William was baptised 5 Feb 1871 in Drewsteignton, Devon, and the baptism record helpfully names his father William Grimsher Pym and his mother Lucy Holman Pym. He appears in the 2 April 1871 census aged 3 months, living with his father, his mother and his grandmother Jane Bevens. All three were or are school teachers at that time. His mother’s imputed maiden name is compatible with the birth index:

FindMyPast have Drewsteignton school admission registers in which he appears as a pupil. By 1871 his parents have employed a 14 year old servant and Ernest is a ‘scholar’. By 1891, as we may expect from the obituary, he is lodging at 113 Regent Street, St Thomas, Exeter along with a fellow elementary school teacher Thomas P Langley with a family named Lacon.

The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette announce “Mr. Pym, of St. Thomas, has been elected Headmaster at Sticklepath Board School” on 15th and 16th February 1894 and by that August he is already on the committee helping to organise the village flower show.

The Gazette again mentions him in April 1895 as he plays the death march from Saul on the organ for the funeral of Rev Chichester in Drewsteignton. The latter gentleman was very involved with schools both in Drewsteignton and Whiddon Down.

Following Mr Pym’s own demise, probate was awarded 10 January 1899 in Exeter. This confirms the date of death, mentions he was a school master, and intriguingly names Miss Kate Bowden, Spinster as executor. He left £366 13s 6d. Another name to investigate….

I do not (yet) know where he was living when working as headmaster of Sticklepath School.


Sampford Courtenay was the Parish Church of most Sticklepath villagers

Michael Garlick / Sampford Courtenay: St. Andrew’s Church (Original Page)

Auntie Kate has often told of the rebellious nature of them folk at Sampford Courtenay. Twas not only the Prayerbook rebellion… but Musical Mutineers too! One can not imagine the genteel choir of today breaking down the door!!! But in August 99 years ago…

Extract from PATRIOT Wednesday 23 October 1833 a accessed via Britishnewspaperarchive

“The Church of Sampford Courtenay was the scene of a curious occurrence on Sunday, the 29th ult. :—

The Rev. clergyman entered his desk and commenced the service as usual, when shortly afterwards some members of the choir came into the church, bringing their musical instruments with them. The Rev. Gent., as if suddenly paralyzed, made a dead stop, and the pause continued for nearly three quarters of an hour.

This dread and solemn silence was broken at times by a few whispers, and an occasional titter from the thoughtless; at length the serious people fancying they had had enough of nothing, arose from their seats, and a general disposition for a clearance was manifested.

The parson, to arrest this defection, now stepped into the vestry-room, and sending for the leader of the choir, informed him that the service would not be proceeded with till the musical instruments were removed. The leader expostulated, but the parson was inexorable, and so returning into the church, the leader in a loud voice, proclaimed the mandate of the Rev. Gent.

The choir determined to take themselves and their instruments out together, and proceeded to the school-room, in order that they should not be deprived of the customary exercise of music, in which they indulged themselves on the Sabbath. Their friends followed them, and the church was nearly empty; but here they were frustrated, for the parson anticipating their movement, had deprived them of the key; they became desperate, and broke open the door.

We leave the reader to draw his own picture of the state of excitement into which such strange conduct must have thrown such an excellent parish as that of Sampford Courtenay.”


The Scandalous Price of Apples

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette-Monday 22 August 1921

Notes of the Day by Onlooker

Red apples

The retail price apples is causing considerable surprise in many parts of Devonshire, which prides itself upon being an apple county. There is a very decent crop this year, but no wonder the general public are looking forward with pleasure to the advent of imported fruit in the hope that it will be obtainable at a less charge than the home-produced article. In some cases, the difference between the rate received by the producer and the amount charged in the shops calls for some explanation. A grower on the outskirts of Exeter declared to me a day or two since that he received 2d a lb. for apples which were subsequently offered to the public by the retailer at l0d! Apples can bought cheaper in London than in Devonshire, where the fruit is grown at our doors.

Apples on a tree

British Columbia is expecting to ship 5,000 carloads of apples containing 3,750.000 boxes in 1921. This quantity will be double the amount of the shipments last year and constitutes the largest export the province has ever effected. A partial realisation of the development of the British Columbia apple industry may be reached when one considers the fact that 20 years ago the province was importing this fruit.