Early History

The first mention of the name Yeo was one William atte Yeo, who was Sheriff of Devon in 1359. William was knighted in 1346 by King Edward 111, who called him 'my beloved'. This was probably because of William's bravery in the Battle of Crecy.

I have really enjoyed researching the early history of the Yeos, and their interlinking families.. Much of my research has been done using original documents and words cannot describe how it feels to handle old documents, all handwritten, using quills, on vellum, stiff with old age.. Sometimes there are signatures of our ancestors and occasionally seals with the Yeo crest impressed in the wax. It was an amazing family that left so many documents. Just try a 'Yeo' search on www.pro.gov.uk and you will see the legacy that has been left.

The Family Home

Heanton Satchville, Near Petrockstowe, North Devon 1969

Heanton Satchville  

Now home to Lord Clinton and his family. Three mansions have borne the name of Heanton Satchville, the first of which was situated on the far side of the valley, near Petrockstowe, Devon. This was the ancestral home of the Yeo familly for several hundred years. Then in 1782 Sir James Innis, Duke of Roxburgh purchased the estate and built a new house on the site of the present one. Lord Clinton, a Yeo descendant, purchased this in about 1820, and it became one of the family's principal residences until a disastrous fire gutted the whole building in 1935, and then this one was built

My research can be read here


I am inserting a piece on the family written by the historian, Mr H W Williams

YEO OF TRE-YEO By H W Williams - from his book Ancient Westcountry Families

Arms: Argent, a chevron between three shovellers sable. (Fig. 48.)

WESTCOTE tells us that Tre-Yeo was the ancient dwelling of this family. Tre-Yeo is in the parish of Launcells, Cornwall, and afterwards became the property and residence of the family of Joulby or Joubly.

PRINCE says: "There was a fair dwelling named Yeo in the parish of Alwington, in the north-west part of Devon, which gave its name to its inhabitants, which, as it is supposed, it took from a fair stream of water near by, in the old Saxon language called 'ey' or 'e'a,' and in the French 'eau,' and hence corruptly 'yeau,' and at last Yeo. Thomas at Yeo was the last dweller of that name in this place, whose daughter and heir, Joan, became the wife of Jeffery Giffard, whose dwelling was there, and his posterity after him. It was a handsome structure for those ancient times unto which a chapel belonged wherein was a dormitory for the dead. After several descents in the name of Giffard, the estate came to Thomasine, the only daughter and heir of John Giffard, the last of this line so called who resided there. She married, first, John Bury, of Colaton, from whom she obtained a divorce. After that, she became the wife of Sir George Cary, of Cockington, in whose family her lands descended. 'Tis not unlikely that the name which heretofore flourished at Heanton Sachvile, proceeded from the house called Yeo aforementioned. This was anciently the inheritance of Sachvile (de Sicca Villa) so far back as the days of King John; and continued in that name to the reign of King Edward III, when the heiress of Sachvile brought it to her husband, Nicholas Yeo."

BURKE, however, asserts that the family of Yeo continued to flourish at Tre-Yeo, in Launcells, until the time of Edward III,, when Nicholas Yeo married the heiress of Sachville of Heanton Sachville, which place he made his principal residence.

The pedigree of Yeo of Heanton Sachvile commences with the name of William Yeo, whose son, Nicholas Yeo, married Elizabeth, the daughter and heir of Henry Killigrew, of Heanton Sachvile, presumably by whom he acquired that estate. From this marriage descend the various branches of Yeo of Huish, Yeo of Hatherley, Yeo of Shebbear, and Yeo of Bradworthy; the main line of Yeo of Heanton Sachvile running out in the ioth descent, in the person of a female heir, into the family of Rolle.

Out of the six Successive heirs from William Yeo we find no less than five marrying heiresses and co-heiresses of other families, viz. Sachvile, Esse, Pyne, Jewe, and Brightley, whose arms the family of Yeo are entitled to quarter with their own. From Nicholas Yeo, and Elizabeth his wife came John Yeo, who was the father of William Yeo, sheriff of Devon in the year 1359. 'He was witness to a deed of John Holland for land in Sheepwash in the 24th year of the reign of King Edward III, by the name of William at Yeo; as he had been the year before to a deed of Richard Hody to John de Chelsharn, in Torrington." He married Anne, the daughter and heir of John Esse, or Ashe, of Devon, by whom he had a son, Robert Yeo of Heanton Sachvile, living 1410, who married Joan, the daughter and heir of William Pyne, of Bradwell, by whom he had issue Robert Yeo, who died in 1399, having married Isabell, the daughter and heir of John Brightley, of Brightley, by whom he had a son, John Yeo, of Heanton Sachvile, son and heir, aged nineteen years and more at the death of lis father, and who married Alice, the daughter and co-heir of William Jewe, of Cotley, by whom he had a son, William Yeo, of Heanton Sachvile, who married Ellen, the daughter of William Grenville, of Stowe. The recorded issue of this marriage is as follows: Helen, married to John Holland; Alice, married to Philip Stafford; and five sons-Robert, Nicholas, Edward, Leonard, and Robert, of whom we shall treat severally.

I. Robert, son and heir, married Alice, the daughter of John Walrond, by whom he had a daughter, Elizabeth, who married Sir John Crocker, of Lynham, Kt., and a daughter, Joan, also five sons: Philip, William, Nicholas, Edward, and Robert. Of these, Philip, the elder, died without issue, William became the heir, and no further information is forthcoming regarding the younger sons. William Yeo, of Heanton Sachvile, married Joan, the daughter of Sir Thomas Fulford, ol Fulford, by whom he had issue Robert, Humphry, Alice, and Joan. Robert Yeo, son and heir, married Mary, the daughter of Bartholomew Fortescue, of Filleigh, by whom he had an only daughter, Margaret, who married Henry Rolle, third son of George Rolle, of Stevenstone, from whom came the branch of Rolle of Titherleigh, and in direct succession-Robert Rolle, of Heanton Sachvile; Sir Samuel Rolle, Robert Rolle, ancestor of the Lords Clinton through his marriage with Lady Arabella, the daughter of the Earl of Lincoln; Samuel Rolle, Margaret Baroness Clinton; and George, 3rd Earl of Orford. The estate of Heanton Sachvile is now the property of Trefusis, Baron Clinton, through the foregoing line, as fully set forth in a former article under the heading of Trefusis.

II. We now return to Nicholas Yeo, second son of William and Ellen, who by his first wife had a son, John Yeo, of Hatherley, by whom he had with other issue three sons- Robert, of Hatherley; William Yeo, living in 1586, who married Audry, the daughter of Sir Lewis Stuckley; and Leonard Yeo, of North Petherwin, who left a son, Edward Yeo, whose issue by his wife, Elizabeth, the daughter of John Killigrew, of Arwenack, consisted of eight daughters only. Robert Yeo, of Hatherley, married Mary Giffard, by whom he had a son, John Yeo, of Reed, in Hatherley, who married his cousin, Rebecca, the youngest daughter of Henry Rolle, of Heanton Sachvile, by whom he had four daughters and seven sons, of whom no further account is given. Nicholas Yeo, by his second wife, had a son, Leonard Yeo, described as " of the sign of the Unicorn, Cheapside, in the parish of Bow, London, mercer, and of Exeter, who was born at Tavistock and who died in the year i~86." In those days all houses of trade, banks, etc., possessed signs, but the only remaining tradesmen who perpetuate the custom are the tavern-keepers, barbers, and pawnbrokers.

Leonard Yeo was twice married, but left issue by his first wife only, viz. Arminel, the daughter of Corbett, and widow of Christopher Beresford, of London, by whom he had four daughters and three sons- George, Nicholas, and Robert. George Yeo, of Huish and Hatherley, only surviving son and executor of his father's will, who died about the year i6o6, married Elizabeth, the daughter and co-heir of Nicholas Smith, of Totnes, by whom he had three daughters and five sons-Leonard, John, Jeremy, Nicholas, and George. Leonard Yeo, of Huish and Colaton, son and heir, and who died in 1642, married Sara, the fourth daughter of Hugh Fortescue, of Filleigh and Weare, by whom he had four daughters and four sons-George, Arthur, Leonard, and Anthony. George Yeo, son and heir, born in 1597 at Filleigh, admitted to the Inner Temple in x6x8, and who died aged seventy-four in I67I is the George Yeo of whom Prince gives the following account "He was very eminent for his loyalty to King Charles I, whose cause he faithfully adhered to with his life and fortune. He was an excellent soldier and valiant man; a major in the wars, and in peace a Lieut.-Colonel in the county militia. He suffered much, both in his estate and person, upon the fall of the royal martyr and his interest. He was sequestrated, plundered, and imprisoned; and was always one of the first of those old royalists in this county who, upon the least suspicion of a plot, were sure to be taken up and clapt into prison. Having gone through the dangers of war he died in a good old age at Huish, some years after the restoration, and lies interred in that parish church." He married Elizabeth, the second daughter of Sir Robert Basset, of Umberleigh, Kt., by whom he had four daughters and four sons-Leonard, of Huish; Arthur, George, and Anthony. Leonard married one of the daughters of Colonel John Giffard, of Brightley, by whom he had two daughters and six sons- George, John, Leonard, Robert, John, and Thomas. Of these Robert was a lieutenant in the Army and died in Spain, Thomas was killed in a sea fight, and George Yeo succeeded his father at Huish, and died in 1714, aged sixty-one.

He married Gertrude, the seventh daughter of Richard Coffin, of Porthledge, by whom he had a daughter, of her mother's name, and five sons-Leonard, George, Richard, John, and Roger, The latter was an officer in the Customs at Topsham and died unmarried in 1737. Richard Yeo, eldest surviving son and heir of his father, who died in 1750, left by his wife, Elizabeth, five daughters and three sons-George, John, and Richard. George Yeo succeeded his father at Huish, and at his death in 1750, was succeeded by his only son, Edward Rooe Yeo, M.P. for Coventry, who sold Huish and died unmarried at Norman-ton in 1782, when the representation of this line devolved upon the Rev. Beaple Yeo, son of William Yeo, of Northam, rector of Atherington, heir of his cousin, Edward Roos Yeo.

The Rev. Beaple Yeo was succeeded by his son, William M. Yeo, of Clifton, who married in 1787, Phillis Arundell, only daughter and heir of Clotworthy O'Neill, of Ireland, by his wife, Mary, eldest daughter and heir of Thomas Aruxidell, of Trevelver, in the parish of St. Minver, Cornwall, and heiress of his Cornish estate, which same passed at her death to her daughter, Phullis. William M. Yeo died in 1809, when he was succeeded by his eldest son, William Arundell Yeo, j.m, D.L., High Sheriff of Devon in 1860. He married Eliza, the daughter of Dr. C. E. Bernard, of Clifton, and at his death in 1862, was succeeded by his only son, William Arundell Yeo, Counsellor-at-Law, who died unmarried in 1880, when the estates of Fremington and Dinharn passed to his sister, Miss E. B. Arundell Yea.

III. Edward (Edmuond) Yeo, third son of William and Ellen, was succeeded by Edward, Thomas, John, William, and Alexander, the latter being aged thirty in 1620, of whom no further account is given. (The progenator of the Swimbridge branches)

IV. Leonard Yeo, fourth son of William and Ellen, was a priest.

V. Robert Yeo founded the line of Yeo of Shebbear, whose son, Robert, married the daughter of Faulk Prideaux, of Adeston, by whom he had a son, William Yeo, of Shebbear, who died in 1611, leaving a son, Humphry Yeo, who was the father of a numerous family, of whom Robert was the elder. He left two sons, of whom no further account is given. (This is a generation out as Robert Yeo of Shebbear was the son of Robert Yeo & Alice Walrond)

The line of Yeo, of Bradworthy, comprises some four generations through John Yeo, of Bradworthy, whose son, John, was the father of Robert Yeo, who by his wife, Alice, the daughter of Oliver Kelly, of Kelly, had seven sons--Oliver, the heir, described as of London; James, Edmund, Samuel, John, Robert, and Jonathan.

Of the Totnes branch of the Yeo family Prince writes: "There was another graft of this ancient stock, as I take it, which heretofore flourished in the town of Totnes in this county: Leonard Yeo was mayor thereof in 1558 and 1570. It prospered well in this place for several descents until it came to be transplanted into Cornwall." Prince probably refers to the descendants of William Yeo, and Margaret his wife, who came to Plymouth in the seventeenth century, where he continued to reside for some years, his children being baptised at St. Andrew's Church. Subsequently he removed to St. Stephens-by-Ash, where he and his wife were buried, the one in 1686, and the other in 1688. Of his sons, George, Humphry, and James, Humphry seems to have settled at Exeter, where he married Honour, the daughter of John Fountayne, of Stockley. He was a merchant of some repute, and left numerous issue. George remained at St. Stephens and was twice married. At his death in 1703 he left an only surviving son, George Yeo, father of William. James Yeo, third son of William and Margaret above mentioned, remained in Plymouth, and from him, in all probability, was descended the family of Captain John Yeo, whose name is to be found in the registers of St. Andrew's and Charles' Churches.

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