The Deverells

Memorial to John Deverell in Swanbourne Church

Memorial to John Deverell in Swanbourne Church

The Deverell Family

BELOW:- Reproduced from ‘Swanbourne – History of an Anglo-Saxon town’ by the late Ken Reading (reproduced by permission of his relatives).

The Deverells (alt. spelling Deveral, Deverill)

Of  leading importance in Swanbourne,  from the time that records began  in the 16th Century,  until the Fremantles finally  bought them  out in the 19th Century,  the Deverals were numerous in the district.   Some  rich,  some poor,  some pillars of the  Church, others pioneers of non-conformism.

The name Deveral has a pure Norman sound,  my own feeling is that it may have been derived from `De la Veel`.

The  V. C. H.  tells us of the `Veel` family  who  held  lands  at Swanbourne  as  early as the 13th Century.   The field  known  as `Vealles Close` near to the furlong known as `Vealles` was in the hands of the Deverals as early as the 16th Century.  This paddock was  described  in the enclosure documents as Ian Gresham`s  old enclosure and can be traced about 100 yards behind Ivy Farmhouse (No. 17 Smithfield End).

The oldest comprehensive lists of inhabitants to come down to  us occurs  in the Certificate of Musters 1522 and The Subsidy  Rolls of 1524,  a list of taxpayers.   The assessment for tax was based mainly on goods and wages paid.   It is significant that John Deveral stands out as the greatest taxpayer in the Parish, being  assessed  at  thirty  pounds.   No  other  resident  being  assessed at more than twenty-five pounds.

This  John Deveral by his will of 5 July 1559 left a windmill  to his son Augustine as well as the aforementioned `Vealles Close` to his son Matthew.    This fragmentation of  the Deveral estates seems to have been resolved by 1597  when John  Deveral  of Swanbourne left `the old windmill’  standing  on Church  Hill` to his son John and the `new windmill` to  his  son William. These two mills are shown on Sir John Fortesque`s estate map of  1600. Early in that century one Thomas Deveral had a son, Thomas, who  was  to become `Major Thomas Deveral` of some prominence and obviously an  officer in the parliamentary army.   This Thomas had `a seate of  five  foote square` erected in the church `next to  the  wall before  the pulpit`  in 1658,  no doubt following the example  of churchwarden  John  Deveral who had a `seate of  five  foote  and three  fingers  in  length and four foote in breadth in  a  waste place under the pulpit`.

But all could not have been well for these obvious pillars of the  church,  as  according  to Archbishop Sheldon`s report  of  1669, nonconformists  met `At the house of George Deveral  Yeoman;  not above twenty mean people; taught by William Giles shopkeeper and Hartnal,  a Thatcher.   William Giles probably came from  Winslow and `Hartnal` was a well known Baptist from North Marston.

Left  by  the will of 1559 to Augustine Deveral was `Pray`  House and ‘Pray Close’.  Probably Brises Farmhouse and considerable rights.

Also  in the occupation of the family was No.11 Smithfield  End with   the  Home  Close  behind  known  as  `Sheepcote  Leys`  or `Varneys`  and  the old house standing on the  site  of  No.  29a Nearton End, with lands to the south.

`Maudlins  Farm`  later  known as `Ivy  House`  passed  from  the Deverals to the Gresham family in the 17th Century.

The Manor House of Major Thomas Deveral was without doubt `Grange Hill  Farm`  now  known as `The Home  Farm`.   Major  Thomas  was blessed with six daughters and one son Thomas who died at the age of  thirty two in 1699 followed by his wife Ann,  aged twenty four, both  of the Small Pox.   Upon Major Thomas`s death,  five  years later, the estate was divided between the six daughters and their  husbands.   As one of the daughters had married a John Deveral of Swanbourne  the house stayed in the family,  but at the  time  of enclosure, in 1763, the amount of ground left with the estate was  little  in  proportion  to the size of the  house.   Field  names surviving today as `Majors Piece`,  `Carters Ground` and `Nichols Ploughing` immortalise the Major and two of his sons in law. Home Farmhouse, formerly Grange Hill farmhouse. Once the home of Major Thomas Deveral.

On 9 January 1750; the Lord of the Manor, Josias Askew was buried.  By the terms of his will John Deveral, Ironmonger of Winslow, the son of John Deveral late of Biggin  Farm,  Granborough,  grazier, received  the Manor of Swanbourne,  being the house known as `The Stone  House` and the land belonging.   Three years earlier a John  Deveral  had  purchased `David Stowes House` a  very  fine timber framed Tudor building standing by the site of the present  day war memorial.  This was a  Manor House of the Godwins. Viz. This  reference  to ‘John  Deveral of  Biggin’  is  of  particular interest,  as  Browne Willis the historian refers to the  ancient chapel   of  Biggin  being  pulled  down  by  ‘John  Deveral   of Swanbourne’ about the time of the restoration of the Monarchy.  I  would  think it  probable that the new Lord of the  Manor resided at Deverals Farmhouse, as this might explain the relics of prosperity within,  that survive today,  namely  an Adam fireplace and an ornate corner cupboard.

The  joint  Lord  of the Manor of  Swanbourne  James  Adams,  was residing  at  Little Horwood at this time,  so John Deveral  must have  enjoyed a position of priority in the  village  until  his death in 1784.   From reading between the lines of the Wynne Diaries one concludes that  the  coming of the Fremantles in 1798 did not go down  well with the Deverals.

The great show of patronage and grandeur was way  beyond  their means to compete  with, and  the  consequent resentment  led to some friction between the families.  This is revealed by comment of Captain Fremantle in a letter to his wife, dated 17 March 1801: `I  am not surprised to hear your neighbour Mrs M Deveral is going to leave Swanbourne; however, I think you will have no great loss in her, or in any of that NAME`.

Deverals Farm was Captain Fremantles first serious  purchase of  agricultural  land.   Betsy Wynne wrote `We are to  be  great farmers`.    Later  in  1847  Sir  Thomas  was to  have  the  satisfaction  of purchasing  the  last Deveral holding and demolishing  the  Manor House of the Godwins.  This was an act of supreme vandalism by the standards  of  today.  At that time the ‘Stone  House’,, the  Manor House of our time, was also scheduled for demolition.

Confusion regarding the descent of lands is inevitable as the  Deverals  were so numerous in the village during the 17th and  18th Century.   In fact, they were so numerous that the entries in the Church book resort to  the  use of nicknames and addresses.   The  entries  of  John Deveral  Vulgo  Long, Thomas Deveral Vulgo Major,  Mr.  William Deveral of Nearton,  Will of Duckend and Thomas of Noreton (Nearton) occur.   At enclosure John Deveral ‘The Younger’ received a huge award  of land, second only to James Adams. These lands had  their  origin  in  the  holdings of Askew [Adams] and Godwin  as  well  as Deveral.  These awards all in the West or ‘Hay’ Field.

In  1709  William Deveral was appointed chief  Constable  of  the Cottesloe Hundred.  The list of electors in Swanbourne dated 1713 reveals that no less than one third of the freeholders were named Deveral.  The total electorate 24, Deverals 8.

At  enclosure in 1763 no major beneficiary was not either married to, or decended from, a Deveral.

In 1783, the Will of John Deveral gent. Reveals personal occupation of   what  is now Nos.  4 & 6.  Station Road  and ownership of Holcombe Farm,  described  as his  ‘West Down Bargain.’ Also ‘School  House Close’  and  adjacent plots described as his  ‘Pightle’  and  ‘Home Close’  These remnants of the Godwin Estates seem to have derived from some kind of exchange with Robert Carter.

RETURN to Lords of the Manor Category