Thursday, 6 July 2017

Family History of Meavy: Walter, Wido and William

Of Land and Sheep and Primogeniture.
In the latest installment of the story of my Devon ancestors, we find them living under the rule of King John and his son Henry III.

It has been estimated that in the 11th century there were only 27 persons to the square mile in Devon, and it stood thirteenth in the country in order of density of population. Devon was underpopulated, underdeveloped and poor. However, the 12th and 13th centuries were periods of immense change. Free movement of peasants who had land granted to them by their lord increased the number of new settlements. During the reign of both Richard I and King John we see these freehold estates turning into what we know now as parishes. The hamlets of Hoo Meavy, Good-a-Meavy, High Meavy, Maker Meavy and Meavy itself would all be regarded as a parish, and by the beginning of the 13th century they would have a new lord over them. Who he was is a bit of a mystery.

This mystery man's wife was my ancestor Gilda, a lone daughter with a reasonable inheritance, she was born into a time of tension and favouritism within the royal family, this favouritism threatened to be exploited by a foreign power, that left unchecked, could plunge the country into chaos, however the sons of Henry II managed to achieve this all by themselves, without any outside help. The death of Henry in 1189 left the country in the hands of his third son Richard, a continuous thorn in his side and who, along with two of his brothers, had taken up arms against their father whom they sought to dethrone. Richard’s death, ten years later, in the arms of his wailing mother, left John to pick up the pieces and run the country on an empty treasury.

Walter, Wido, William/Gilda's story continues on my website

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