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Jenson Morcombe and his descendants lived in Littleham for at least 150 years.


The earliest Morcombe ancestor proven by birth and marriage records lived in the reign of Henry VIII, in the tiny village of Littleham by Bideford, north Devon. Many Morcombes from way, way back came from north Devon, north of Dartmoor. There were eight from the hundred (subdivision of a county having its own court) of Shebbear, which included the villages of Parkham, Frithelstock, Northam and Littleham, who paid taxes to King Henry VIII in 1524 and 1525, not to mention three more from the neighbouring hundred of North Tawton. Four of these taxpayers came from Parkham and one from the next village Littleham.

Church registers had been instituted ten years or so after the tax. In the 70 years or so to 1600 the IGI gives the names of 66 Morcombes in Devon, extracted from the church records. No less than 46 of these lived in Littleham or nearby. Of these, 27 were from Littleham itself, 8 from Shebbear, 6 from Parkham and 5 from Northam. records are mostly Jenson, our first ancestor, was married in Littleham in 1548. He would have been of marriageable age, say 21 to 25 on this date, so that his birth was between 1523 and 1527, too early for it to be recorded in the parish register, which was not started until 1538.

Jenson was perhaps just born when the Devon Morcombes paid taxes to Henry VIII in 1524 and 1525. There is a record of Davy Morcombe from Littleham by Bideford who paid tax at this time. Most likely Davy was the father of Jenson, but we have no records to support this. Parish too succint to give the names of mothers. Only fathers were essential to record. We have the names of only two mothers, Johne Calle and Anne Wonnacott. Three mothers are missing but I don't know of any way to find their names.

John, born in 1555, was one of the 4 children of Jenson. This John married Johne Calle in 1573. Our next ancestor was another John, the youngest child of John and Johne (Calle) born in 1582. Although we do not know the name of his wife, they had a son John in 1614, born before their marriage in 1615. There were two other children of this marriage, Jenson and Marye. Jenson Morcombe ca. 1525? John, born in 1555, was one of the 4 children of Jenson. This John married Johne Calle in 1573.

Our next ancestor was another John, the youngest child of John and Johne (Calle) born in 1582. Although we do not know the name of his wife, they had a son John in 1614, born before their marriage in 1615. There were two other children of this marriage, Jenson and Marye. The John born in 1614 married Anne Wonnacott at Hatherleigh in 1644. Hatherleigh is 15 miles south of Littleham by Bideford and is another Morcombe stronghold. John and Anne only had one child, Phillip, born in 1647. I have not yet found the details of Phillip's marriage, but I guess it was in 1677. Although his wife's name is not known, there were two children. Our ancestor is another John born in 1679. he had a younger brother Phillip, born in 1686.

For two years I was unable to go back further than 1740 when the marriage of John Morcombe to Joan Harson took place in St. Germans. It was Joan Bennett's searching ability which gave me the clue, when she sent me a long letter dated 21 Nov 1991 about Morcombe births around 1700 on the east of the river Tamar. Its receipt coincided with Peter's arrival the day before my 80th birthday celebrations on 23 Nov 1991. Her letter had to be put aside until our arrival in Puerto de la Cruz and I had time to digest all the implications. Fortunately, I had time before leaving to obtain copies of the relevant IGI Cornish and Devonshire microfiches from the Bournemouth Reference Library.

Although not exhaustive, they include very odd spellings in the St. Germans Parish Registers in the 17th century, beginning with Ma, such as Markham, Markum, Macumb and even Macumber. Such spellings are not included under variants of the spelling Morcombe recorded in the IGI. I was not surprised to find a John Morcom from this part of North Devon whose birthday was a perfect fit for the John who married in St. Germans in 1705. The one we want is the John Morcombe/Marcum, who was christened in 1679 and married Mary Evins on 11 Jun 1705 at St. Germans. This John provides the link between Littleham and St. Germans. He had only one child, our ancestor John Marcum/Morcom, born on 25 Jun 1718. As a consequence I can write an unbroken Morcombe chain of 15 generations, starting with the earliest Morcombe, Jenson Morcombe to my grandson Simon Haley Morcombe who married Debra Amabile in Elkton, Maryland, USA, in January 1991 and to Peter Joseph Morcombe born in 1986.

 

 

 


©2007 Peter H. Morcombe
Last update: 14-Jun-2007