John Carpenter, Vicar of Branscombe 1580 -1620/1,
Rector of Northleigh 1587-1620/1,and his Son Nathaniel.

Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries vol. VII, (1912-1913), Exeter: James G. Commin. 1913, pp. 95-97.


A.J.P. Skinner

Prepared by Michael Steer

Rev. John Prince (1643–1723), vicar of Totnes and Berry Pomeroy is best known for his Worthies of Devon, a series of biographies of Devon-born notables covering the period before the Norman Conquest to his own era. In Worthies of Devon Prince mentions that Rev. Nathaniel Carpenter, son of Rev. John Carpenter, was born at North Lew in Cornwall. The present Note’s author provides information showing that Prince was in error, having mistaken Northleigh, Devon for North Lew. 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 63. JOHN CARPENTER,VICAR OF BRANSCOMBE 1580-1620/1, RECTOR OF NORTHLEIGH 1587-1620/1, AND HIS SON NATHANIEL. - John Prince, amongst his Worthies of Devon, includes "Nathaniel Carpenter, B.D.," and states "he was born in the parsonage-house of North-Lew (not Northleigh, as the author of Ath. Oxon. tells us), near Hatherleigh, in this county, on the 7th Feb., 1588. His father was John Carpenter, a Cornishman by birth, and at that time rector of that parish church, a reverend and learned divine, as may appear from the works he published."

The following notes tend to show that Prince is wrong when he states that Nathaniel Carpenter was born at North Lew and not at Northleigh, and that Anthony Wood is right when he tells us in Athenae Oxoniensis "that Nathaniel Carpenter, son of John, mentioned under the year 1620, was born at Northleigh, near to Culleton, in Devonshire, 7 Feb., 1588"; he continues that, "by a virtuous emulation and industry he became a noted Philosopher, Poet, Mathematician and Geographer. By the generality of Scholars cried up for a famous preacher." Wood then gives a list of his published works.

Foster's Alumni Oxoniensis says: - "Nathaniel Carpenter of Devon, cler. fil., St. Edmund Hall, matric. 7 June, 1605, aged 16; fellow of Exeter Coll., 1607; B.A., 5 July, 1610; M.A., 28 Apr., 1613; B.D., 11 May, 1620 (son of John, rector of Northleigh, Devon); Chaplain to Dr. Usher, Primate of Ireland; Schoolmaster of the King's Wards in Ireland; died there in 1628."

John Carpenter was also Vicar of Branscombe, which his biographers omit to mention. (1)

The Branscombe registers contain the following entries: 1580. John Vele, Vicar, buried 10 Feb.

In the Baptisms, against the date 4 Feb., 1580, is a note : - "Here John Vele dyeth and John Carpenter cometh in Vicar of Branscomb."

1585. John Carpenter, Vicar, and Lucretia Carwithen, married 29 June.

1586. Ruthe, dau. John and Lucretia Carpenter, baptized 12 February.

John Carpenter, of Norleigh, co. Devon, "clearck and preacher of the worde of God," in his will dated 3 July, 1617, and proved in the Principal Registry of the Bishop of Exeter, 26 May, 1621, mentions: - "My wief Lucretia, her mother Dorothie Strobridge, sonne Nathaniel Carpenter, second sonne Samuell, dau. Ruth, sonne Abraham, dau. Dorothie, wief Lucretia, sole executrix."

Anthony Wood, in Athen. Oxon., states that "John Carpenter received his first breath in Cornwall, entered Exeter Coll. 1570, where going through the courses of Logic and Philosophy for the space of four years or more, with universal industry, left the University without a degree, and at length became rector of an obscure Town called Northleigh, near to Culleton, in Devon. He gave up the Ghost at Northleigh before mentioned in the latter end of the year, viz., in March, in sixteen hundred and twenty, 1620/1, and was buried in the chancel of the church there, before the 25th of the said month as it doth partly appear in the Register of that place." Then follows a list of his works "written and published."

John Carpenter's wife Lucretia was daughter of "Edward Carwithen, of Exeter, and his wife Dorothy, daughter of Sir John Gaynsford, of Cowherst, in the countye of Surrye, knyght." The Colyton registers contain the marriage in 1558 of John Strobridge, of Streathayne, son of John Strobridge, late of Streathayne, and Mrs. Dorothy Carwithen, widowe, and gives her parentage as above.

John Strobridge, of Streathan, parish of Colyton, co. Devon, in his will dated 30 Jan., 1593, proved 2 March, 1593,

P.C.C., mentions: - "To Dorothye my wife 1 milch cow and also the annuity granted from John Mallock, the bond being locked with two keys, one in her son-in-law John Carpenter's possession; to each of the four children of my daughter-in-law Lucretia Carpenter 2od.; my son-in-law John Carpenter, minister to preach at my funerall, 10s. John Carpenter, an overseer."

Bernard Strobridge, of Strethan, parish of Coliton, co. Devon (bapt. 31 May, 1551, bur. 30 June, 1590, son of John Strobridge, of Streathayne, and his first wife Johane, da. of William Coxhed, of Chumleigh, Mar., 1541, she bur. 18 May, 1556), in his will dated 6 May, 1590, proved 31 July, 1590, P.C.C., mentions: - "To my father John Strobridge my nag; to my mother-in-law Dorothy Strobridge one angell; sister-in-law Lucretia 10s.; to John Carpenter her husband 10s. for a sermon at my burial; my brother John Carpenter an overseer."             A. J. P. Skinner.


(1) The registers are signed, 1607, Thomas Lord, curate; 1614, William Shaw, curate, showing the vicar was non-resident.