Wreyland Documents, Note 215

Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries vol. VI, (January 1910 to October 1911), pp. 228-230.


Oswald J Reichel

Prepared by Michael Steer

The Note is a continuation of a heated debate between Rev. Reichel and Mr Torr on the origins of Wreyland Manor. It provides information on complex early feudal relationships in this part of Devon. With parts dating back as far as the 13th century, Wreyland Manor is principally a 16th-century building that has been beautifully preserved. The house is situated at the edge of Lustleigh village in the Wrey Valley, within the Dartmoor National Park. It was originally part of Bovey Tracey Parish but in the Victorian period became linked with Lustleigh. The article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

Note 215. WREYLAND DOCUMENTS (VI., par. 181, p. 189 ; par. 182, p. 190; par. 191, p. 202; par. 192, p. 206). - If Mr. Torr had only referred to the after death inquest of John de Molis, junior, who died in 1337, he would have found that although Kingskerswell and Diptford, of which his father, John de Molis, senior, died seised in 1310 (A.D. Inq., 3 Ed. II, No. 33), did not come to John de Molis, junior, but to his elder brother Nicolas, whose widow Alice died seised of them in 1338 (A.D. Inq., 11 Ed. Ill, No. 57), yet John de Molis, junior, did die seised of lands and tenements in "Wreysard and Alvynton," these being his only possessions (A.D. Inq., 11 Ed. Ill, No. 56). This inquisition clearly shows that the Wrey which descended in the Molis family was not the manor of Wrey, but lands and tenements in Wrey appurtenant to the manor of Kingskerswell, and that these lands and tenements were given to the younger brother when the elder brother inherited the manor of Kingskerswell. Surely this is sufficient to dispose of the claim of Molis' Wrey to be the Domesday manor of Wergi or Wereia.

2. Mr. Torr generously insinuates that I have declared a document to be wrong when it appears to tell against my argument. In reply, let me inform him that one document in Feudal Aids, that of 1346, is constantly wrong in the honours to which it assigns estates, as even the merest novice can see for himself. I do not say the same of the others. It must, however, be borne in mind that the juries who supplied the information on which these documents are founded did not always return, and indeed did not always know of, the intermediate lords of whom estates were held. The feudal system was already breaking up, of which the hundred rolls supply many instances. In this respect there is a great difference in the fulness of the returns between one hundred and another. The Teignbridge jurors in 1285 state that the manor of Wrey (not Wrey, parcel of Kingskerswell) was then held by William de Cheverston of John de Humfravill for half fee and that the same John held it of the King in chief (Feud. Aids, 339), but they do not add, perhaps they took it for granted, that like all Umfravil's estates, it was held of the King in chief through a middle lord (per medium) the Earl of Gloucester. Two entries below they do exactly the same thing with Hennock. Hennock, they say, is held by John Tremalet (meaning Tremenet) for one fee of the heirs of Henry de la Pomeray and the same heirs hold it of the King in chief (Feud. Aids, 339), but here again they omit to add that there was an intermediate lord between Pomeray and the King, viz., Hugh de Courtenay, baron of Okehampton. Elsewhere, however, in the same volume (Ibid., 389) it is distinctly stated that Pomeray held Hennock of the honour of Okehampton, shewing that Pomeray held it of the King in chief through a middle lord. Many other instances of the like omission can be given from Feudal Aids. To say this is not to say that the document is wrong, but only that some of the entries are incomplete.

3. I cannot follow Mr. Torr into other counties where the Domesday names have been changed under other phonetic surroundings than prevailed in Devon. I find, however, that in the Devon Domesday only four estates begin with a WER, viz., Wera, Wermehel, Wergi or Wereia, and Weringeurda. Wera is undoubtedly Wear or Wear Giffard ; Wermehel is W T armhill. There remain Wereia and Weringeurda, respectively represented by Wrey and Wringworthy. In both cases Wer has become Wr. The final a in Wereia and also in Wera is a Latinisation, but you cannot ignore the EI or GI, which forms the second syllable in Wereia, and treat it as if it were only Wera.

4. I can quite understand Mr. Torr's disappointment at finding a cherished illusion of his contested by one who has no interest in his estate. I may even say that I should have been pleased to be able to agree with him after reading his careful compilation of Wreyland documents. But when both are friends, it is a sacred duty to prefer truth. And I have seen nothing in what he has said to shake the conclusion at which Mr. Whale and myself arrived, independently of one another, some years back, that the Domesday Wergi or Wereia is now represented by Wrey or Wray barton in Moreton Hampstead.                          Oswald J. Reichel