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  Devon -NOTES AND GLEANINGS. ( III. 29. 15 May, 1890.)


GEORGE YEO , of Huish, North Devon, was the eldest son of Leonard Yeo of the same place and of Collaton in the parish of Newton Ferrers, South Devon. His mother was Sarah, fourth daughter of Hugh Fortescue of Wear Giffard and Filleigh by Elizabeth, one of the numerous daughters of Sir John Chichester, of Raleigh, Kt . His great­grandfather, also called Leonard, was a scion of the elder branch of the old Devonshire family of Yeo of Heanton Sachville whose estates ultimately came by marriage to the Rolles, and he was sometime a citizen and mercer of London and lived at the sign of the Unicorn in Cheapside. This ancestor married the presumably wealthy widow of another London citizen (called Beresford in the Heralds' Visitation of 1620, but Brock in the family MSS.) and retired to his manor of Huish aforesaid which, according to Risdon, he had purchased and on which he built a "proper home." Seven generations of his posterity established here.

George Yeo, the subject of this Note, was born at his maternal grandfather's house at Filleigh on the 20th February, 1577/8. Folllowing a wise fashion of the young county gentry of those days, he entered in due time an Inn of Court, not necessarily for the pursuit of the Law as a profession, and was admitted of the Inner Temple in the year 1618. About the year 1624 he married Elizabeth, a daugh­ter or Sir Robert Bassett of Umberleigh, by whom he had three sons - Leonard, the eldest, who ultimately married Joan, a daughter of Colonel John Gifford of Brightley, (not mentioned in Colonel Vivian's pedigree or the Gifford family), and four daughters.

From an interesting family MS. in his own hand, with the loan of which I have been favoured, it appears that at the breaking out of the great Civil War, in 1642, Mr. Yeo, who had recently succeeded to the family estates, his father having died in May, 1641, adopted the cause of King Charles, and was subsequently engaged in most or the services on the Royalist side in Devonshire until the final disaster at Torrington in February, 1646. Early in December, 1642, he rode, I find, to Modbury, where the Sheriff (Sir Edmund Fortescue) accompanied by other Devonshire Royalists was raising the posse comitatus for the King. In the attack upon this party by a force from the Parliamentary garrison or Plymouth Mr. Yeo seems to have escaped, although his brother-in-law, Mr. Arthur Bassett, was one of those taken prisoners and sent to London to be dealt with by the Parliament. Mr. Yeo returned home. He is undoubtedly the same Mr. Yeo who, later in the month, in association with Colonel Acland and Mr. Gifford, occupied Torrington at the instance of Sir Ralph Hopton, as mentioned in Barnstaple and the Northern Part of Devonshlre during the great Civil War, p. 107., although his identity was not discovered by the author of that work. From the 3rd January, when he was driven out of Torrington, in an attack on his troop by the Parliamentarians or Barnstaple, to the 13th March, 1643, a period in which were comprised the battles of Bradock Down and Modbury, Mr. Yeo was with Sir Ralph Hopton's army.

From that time until August, during which interval the struggle between Hopton's Royalist and Stamford's Parliamentary forces was renewed, resulting in the ruin of the latter at Stratton, the account gives no hint of Mr Yeo's services, but by the month of August it appears that he had raised a company of Foot at Torrington and was present, although the Foot took no part in the action, at the repulse by Colonel Digby's Horse of the attempt on the town by the Parliamentarians of Barnstaple and Bideford.

Afterwards, Mr. Yeo was attached continuously to Colonel Digby's force which was engaged in the siege or Plymouth until the end or December, 1643, when he was wounded in one or the conflicts that took place outside the defences of Plymouth and lay at Plympton nearly three months until March, 1644. Subsequently, he was probably with Sir Richard Grenville's or one of the other divisions or the Royalist army in the Cornish campaign until the collapse of the Parliamentary army under the Earl of Essex. He remained at home for a short period and then, in October, 1644, resumed his post with the blockading force before Plymouth. In the ensuing campaign, when the Royalists under Goring, Grenville, and Berkeley were manoeuvring on the borders or Devon and Somerset, Mr. Yeo was there employed from January to May, 1645, and, after a brief stay at home, he returned to the army just as it was about to come into collision with Fairfax and Cromwell at the battle of Langport on 10 July. At this disaster of the Royalists he appears to have been present. The disorganized retreat of Goring's shattered forces brought Mr. Yeo back to his own home near Torrington, where, with the exception of a short interval or duty at Crediton, he remained until the end of September. From that time he was involved in the erratic movements of Lord Hopton's army down to its occupation of Torrington in February, 1646, and to have been engaged in the battle which followed and practically determined the rate of King Charles's cause in the west.

I have amplified and illustrated with the help of the contemporary historical facts, the very brief resume of Mr. Yeo's services, con­tained in his own MS. The document is not however so much a record or those services as a summary of.his expenses during the period. It was no doubt such a document as many a fervent Royalist kept in the family chest, in the illusive hope that some day, either to himself or his descendants, the sacrifices made in the royal cause would be repaid with interest and possibly with honours. , _

The following is the statement :­

"The 5th of December 1642. I rid to Tauestock and thence to Modbury, when Sr Edm: Ffortescue the Sheriffe of Devon was taken there with many others, and I continued in ye Kings service from that time till the 16th of Ffebruary 1645, when the rout was at Torrington given by Sr Thomas Ffaire£ax.


Spent in the service during the time or wch the accounts follow :.


200 - 11 - 2


from:ye 5 th of 10 ber 1642 to ye 30th at Modbury,Tottnesse & Torrington

6 - 2. 11

44 - 7 - 10


from ye 3rd or January 1642 to ye 13th or March in Cornwall & at Plimpton

20 - 12 - 0


fro ye 27. of March 1643.to ye 7th of August at what time I had raysed my company at Torrington

17 - 12 - 11


fro ye 7th or August 1643 to ye 29th of 10'ber when I lay hurt at Plimpton, spent at Torrington, Bediford, Okehampton, Tauestock and Plimpton whiles wee lay before Plymouth. The accounts are lost


12 - 18 - 11


fro ye 29th of 10ber 1643 to ye 19th of March-hurt

17 - 6 - 5

17 - 6 - 5

fro ye 19 of March 1643 to ye 16th of Septemb, 1644

42 - 15 - 4

46 - 18 - 6

fro ye 16th of 7ber 1644, to ye 23 of October-at. Home

7 - 11 - 3

7 - 11 - 3

fro ye 23 of 8ber 1644 to ye 30th of January at Plimpton

26 - 1 - 10

32 - 11 - 4

Ifro ye 30th ot January 1644 to ye 30th of May 1645 at Compton & in Somersetshire

33 - 9 - 0

26 - 19 - 6

Ifro ye 30th of May 1645, to ye 16th of June-at home

7 - 13 - 6

13 - 11 - 10

fro ye 16th of June 1645 to ye 12th of July at ye rout at Langport

3 - 10 - 0


fro ye 12th of July, 1645 to ye 19th of August-at home

3 - 5 - 7
4 - 0 - 7

fro ye 21 of August 1645, to ye 6th of 7ber at Orediton

4 - 13 - 7
14 - 10 - 5

fro ye 6th of 7ber 1645 to ye 24th-at home

1 - 3 - 9

fro ye 25th of Septemb, 1645 to ye 20th 9ber at Tiverton, Tauestock, Whitstone, Okehampton etc

2 - 8 - 7

fro ye'20th of 9ber 1645 to the 16th of ffebruary, 1645 at Stratton, Okehampton, Torrington

6 - 4 - 6


220 - 16 - 7

Monday ye 16th of Feb b: 1645, was the rout at Torrington

The above, on the back of fol. 88 appears to be written by George Yeo, of Huish, son of Leonard - which George died January 10th, aged 74 almost signed JD

The result of Mr. Yeo's notorious " deliquency" was the sequestration of his estates by the Parliament immediately after the close of the first period of the Oivil War. Mr. Yeo went to London, it appears, to make his composition at Goldsmiths' Hall before the Committee for Compounding-a sacrifice of part to save the remainder-and was mulcted, according to the record, in the fine of £327 5s. (equal to about £1,000 of present money). On the business of the composition he remained, kicking his heels," like many others, in London for two months. In another account, in Mr. Yeo's handwriting, are the following items in connection with this business :­


It: fro. 21st of 8ber to the 23 of 10ber spent in my journey to London, & whilst I was there about Composition

34 - 1 - 6

It: January 20th 1646, Payd here at Huish to Joseph Yeo what I borrowed of his Brother, Rob: Yeo in London

8 - 0 - 0

It: Jan: 23, 1646 Payd by Will. Yeo to my cosine Lew. Culme at Cannoleigh what I borrowed of his brother Ric: Culme in London

5 - 0 - 0

The composition money seems to have been raised by loans on bond from his relatives. Such was the scarcity of ready money at that time and the straits to which the squire was put that he was reduced to borrow five pounds of a village blacksmith and four pounds of one of his own servants. Later on, when Cromwell's distrust of the "malignant" Royalists had increased in intensity and his hand fell more heavily upon them, Mr. Yeo was compelled to enter into a bond in the sum of £2,000 for his good behaviour. The following is Mr.Yeo's note of this transaction: - .

April 29th 1656. My selfe & Leon. Yeo (his eldest son) & Tho. Giffard for mee, became bound to ye Protector Cromwell in 2000 1b for my good abearing & keeping the peace of ye Comonwealth: The Bond given at Torrington to Capt. Fran. Rolle, to the Protector's use. (Note in his writing of later date)-This Bond I gatt up by chance & by the helpe or my frend Capt. Glub.

This was probably one of the results of Wagstaff's abortive insurrection of March, 1655-an insurrection against the de facto Government which it is alleged Cromwell devised, or at least tacitly allowed to be developed, in order that it might be more dramatically crushed and afford a good pretext for increased severities towards the Royalists. As an illustration of the political antagonism then existing between families nearly related, it may be pointed out that the bond appears to have been exacted from. Mr. Yeo by Mr. Francis Rolle, a relative.

If he escaped without further losses than have been here set forth, or without personal suffering, of which we find from another source more than a hint, Mr. Yeo may be deemed to have been fortunate. Prince, however, (Worthies, ed. 1810, p. 774), who surmises rather than traces Mr. Yeo's descent from William at Yeo, one of his "Worthies" Sheriff of Devon temp. Edw. Ill, states that he suffered much both in his estate and person upon the fall of the royal martyr and his interest-that he was" seques­ trated, plundered and imprisoned; and was always one of the first of those old royalists in this county who upon the least jealousy or suspicion of a plot were sure to be taken up and clapt into prison - so dangerous an enemy they thought he might have prov'd unto their cause if left at liberty." According to Prince he was not only a sober, honest gentlemen but an excellent soldier and a valiant man. The Yeos were a fighting race; one of George Yeo's younger brothers went to the Netherlands and died at Maestricht after passing through many campaigns of the Thirty Years War, and a grandson was killed in a sea-fight in the Mediterranean between the English and French fleets. Alter the Restoration, Mr. Yeo was a lieutenant-colonel of the Devonshire Militia. He died in the year 1671, aged nearly 74, and was buried in Huish church, and not withstanding all his losses he appears to have left the family estate better than he had found it. R.W.C.

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