Sticklepath’s “Quaker Burying Ground”

This page includes: links to named burials; a photographic guide to the cemetery; and background to the Quaker Burying Ground. Do scroll down.

If you are investigating a person please also look for their name elsewhere on the blog and website, especially under ‘people’ from the top bar or best using the search function in right hand column. Please contact me if you would like to add information on this website or on Findagrave .


Burials A-B Burials C,D and E Burials F Burials G-K Burials L,M and N

Burials O, P and Q Burials R,S and T Burials U – Z


The Quaker Burying Ground is located in the middle of this historic village, tucked away in a peaceful setting behind the Finch Foundry, a National Trust property, and close to the banks of the tumbling Taw River.

You need to walk through the archway or park in the carpark a little further on through this entrance.

Walking down the path there are two gates, the gate on the left takes you the Pearse’s memorials, one of the oldest parts.

Small shelter in the corner next to the Pearse memorials.

There is also a gate behind Thomas Pearse’s summer house, restored more recently as a memorial to a later Pearse, standing on Finch Foundry land. Entry this way takes you to the latest piece of land to be added to the cemetery, which is at a higher level than the older graves.

Approach to the very peaceful graveyard behind Finch Foundry

Turning the corner we reach the Quaker memorial stone on the left

The tumbling Taw River can be heard very close behind this edge of the graveyard. In the corner in front is a chained area with small cremation plots. The granite pillar memorial seen here in front of the ivy is to Douglas and Ruth St Leger Gordon. Both were local authors and journalists of some renown, writing extensively about Dartmoor and living in Steddaford’s in the village.

Turning at right angles once more we look across the full width of our tiny village cemetery to the third gate leading out onto Billy Green, turn left for the river or right for the car park for Finch Foundry. The more recent land added to the graveyard can be seen in the top righthand corner with a slightly higher ground level.


It is believed that at one time up to 200 Quakers lived in Sticklepath.  The land was likely purchased in the early 1700’s, as the first person to be interred was Benjamin Bellamy in 1713.  No headstones or memorials were erected, but the burials were recorded in their Quarterly Meeting Register. 

The Quaker influence in Sticklepath lasted for about 100 years until the impact of John Wesley and Methodism.  Wesley passed through the village on his way to preaching missions in Cornwall and on one occasion in 1743 was stopped by one of the local Quakers and invited to stay for a while.  On several occasions, whilst travelling to the west, Wesley’s journals record that he stopped in Sticklepath to speak to the villagers. White rock on the Mount overlooking Sticklepath, said to be where he preached, close to the steep path or road that gave Sticklepath its name, is still visible today.

Mr Cross, a Quaker from Exeter, purchased the cemetery site when adjoining property was sold, to prevent it from being used for other purposes.  Around 1826-28 negotiations were opened with Mr Cross to purchase the ground for the villagers, but before completion Mr Cross unfortunately died. Since his young sons inherited the ground, the villagers had to wait until they came of age to complete the purchase.  

In 1836 a proposal was made that the villagers join together to purchase the site.  No one came forward until Mr Thomas Pearse, a sergemaker of Skaigh Mill paid £14 for the ground and since no villagers would join him, he appointed 8 of his relations as trustees, with himself as treasurer.  The burying ground therefore became non-denominational and was for the use of the villagers.  

In the 1830s or 1840s, Thomas Pearse erected a stone in the burying ground with the inscription celebrating the Quaker heritage and the friendship with the Wesleys.  It cost £2 and 10 shillings. 

Sticklepath Quaker Burying Ground stone

Mr Pearse performed many of the burial ceremonies himself. John Langmead the last Sticklepath Quaker was buried in 1818.  Thomas Pearse was himself buried in the graveyard in 1875 aged 81 years alongside many of his family members.  His nephew Thomas Trethewy, Wesleyan minister, took the ceremony and is the next gravestone along.  This tells us Trethewy’s grandfather was one of the preachers commissioned by Wesley himself. 

By 1890 more space was needed for graves and a piece of the adjacent old bowling green was added.  At the end of the last century a further plot of land was donated by the Finch Foundry. 

In 1937 the trustees handed over the administration of the ground to a new trust with members of the Pearse family continuing to serve.  A new committee was formed in 1946 to administer the trust and register it with The Charity Commission.  A small committee of villagers continues to manage the graveyard and whilst most of the maintenance is through voluntary work, bequests and donations are always welcome.  

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The original burial register was copied many years ago. In the 1970s the Women’s Institute created a copy of the two registers available then, in two exercise books, covering 1818-1886 and 1946-1965. They also made a list of memorials found which represent the intervening years.  Their records are in Exeter’s archive at the South West Heritage Trust. Sticklepath also has an active Heritage Group and Devon Family History Society has local Parish Groups with expertise in local Parishes if further information is required.  Sticklepath is also covered by the knowledgeable South Tawton Family History FB group. 

Sticklepath modern civil Parish was created in the 1980s. Prior to this whilst most of the village was in Sampford Courtenay Parish with it’s Parish Church some 5 miles distant, other houses were in South Tawton Parish and a few were actually in Belstone Parish. Old Sticklepath residents may therefore be found in any of these Parish graveyards, and non-conformists may have aligned with Okehampton. 


Sources include the two burial registers as transcribed by the Women’s Institute in 1970s (now at Exeter’s South West Heritage Trust archive), my own transcription of the earlier register, plus the WI list of known burials not in either register during the gap years, and information supplied by the Burying Ground committee. (Registers cover 1818-1886 and 1946-1965). Where death certificate, obituary, will or other information is known, links will be added to the alphabetical listed names above. Still a work in progress.

Please see Findagrave which has some 400 Sticklepath burials (July 2022). I welcome further information or correction of inaccuracies. Contact me with any information or questions.