Friends of East Devon and their Meetings (1654 – 1928) By William J. Thomasson

Sticklepath was mentioned in David Butler’s The Quaker Meeting Houses of Britain (Friends Historical Society, 1999), referencing an unpublished typescript in the “Library of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain” collections, written by William J. Thomasson called Friends of East Devon and their Meetings (1654-1928).

The Library researcher kindly gave the following information regards further research:

“From our finding aids it looks as though Sticklepath would have come under Exeter Monthly Meeting until 1785 and then East Devon Monthly Meeting from then on. I believe any surviving records would be at Devon Archives.”

I also mention here a suggestion that Sticklepath Friends travelled with William Penn to Pennsylvania, but as yet I have no evidence of this. Helen Shields December 2021.

Friends of East Devon and their Meetings (1654 – 1928) By William J. Thomasson

Images of page 18 and a small hand drawn map were kindly supplied for a small fee by the library.  This is my transcript December 2021:

Teign Valley, Crediton (contd).   (18)

Monthly Meeting of Exeter.

SHOBROOKE, near Crediton, had a meeting in those days, which also joined in the Exeter Monthly Meeting.  There is still one Friend living at Crediton besides two others interested in our work. 

NORTH TAWTON and CRISTOW – a distant combination – claimed a Monthly Meeting of their own in 1676.  Later it is mentioned alone, as Christow had joined with Exeter. 

From North Tawton we come to Sampford Courtenay a tiny village with a small group of Friends who were however not without influence on Cornish Quaker history.

STICKLEPATH, near S. Tawton on the main road just under Dartmoor, comes naturally within the same group.  It has been said that there were at one time some 200 Friends in the village, a number almost equal to its present population.  They were however not much visited by the Quaker preachers, and when John Wesley came that way in 1743 both he and they found unity with each other, and the Quaker Community was to a great extent merged with that of Wesleyans.

In the Friends Burial ground at Sticklepath a memorial stone records the visits of the Wesleys and others.  I have not yet visited the ground, which lies behind the Foundry and against a bend of the River Taw, but am informed that is is nicely kept and is full, there being about 30 headstones. 

It is believed that the land never actually belonged to the Society of Friends but was sold by the last of the local Quakers named Cross to a member of the Wesleyans named Pearse, and it has since remained in the Pearse family, one of whom, a Mrs Thompson, left money for its upkeep.  This is administered by Trustees who are now Mrs Pearse of Pixies Garden, Sticklepath, Ralph Finch of Sticklepath and Edward Northey, Junr.

The ground adjoins, but is distinct from an enclosure of waste land known as the Bowling Green, now used as a cemetery for the village, the boundary being a wide path with the memorial stone at the end next to the river.

In a small arbour are three painted metal tablets, not stones, with a prayer, a quotation of poetry, and a text and the Doxology inscribed on them.

This account was given to me by T.H.Ormston Pease, from his visit on 3.X.1928, and is much more complete and detailed than the quotations given by F.W.Dymond, who like myself does not appear to have visited the ground.

Through OKEHAMPTON must all pass who would travel west-wards along these roads not he Northern edge of Dartmoor.  Here in 1656 were stopped James Naylor and many others who went to visit the prisoners at Launceston.  Here on his release George Fox came and spake with the Mayor who’s convinced in his judgement.

We know little of the Meeting of Okehampton apart from the life of Hilary Macy.  Of him we hear first through his attendances at Q.M. Topsham 1at January 1691 and subsequent constant attendances at the Q.Ms in the County, even so far off as Membury.  In 1696 the Q.M. was held for the one and only time in”our meeting house at Okehampton.”  This Meeting House was a ground floor room which he provided, converted and made fit for that purpose, in the house occupied by Prudence Maynard, upon part of which he held a right “during certain lives”.  The graveyard near by was reserved by his brother and sole executor, Peter Macy, out of any grant or 

disposal of the property so that it might be secured to Friends.


***Note Mrs Ellen Thompson, daughter of Thomas Pearse, did indeed leave money to be invested for the upkeep of the Burying ground as seen in her Will***