Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries vol. VI, (January 1910 to October 1911), p.103.
Prepared by Michael Steer
A tradition is a belief or behaviour passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past. The phrase "according to tradition", or "by tradition", usually means that whatever information follows is known only by oral tradition, but is not supported (and perhaps may be refuted) by physical documentation, by a physical artefact, or other quality evidence. In both instances cited by Windeatt, it is likely that ‘hearsay’ is unable to be supported by fact. 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 96. TRADITION. - Many interesting records which have only passed from one to another by word of mouth have been proved to be founded on fact, and there are many still current in Devon which could perhaps be shown to be true. As an instance some time since a leading salmon fisherman on the Dart, residing at Stoke Gabriel, was asked if it was possible to account for the great variation in the catches in that river of salmon in various years.
He replied it could not be accounted for, Skipper Davis, who lived at Stoke Gabriel 200 years ago, said it always was so. The reference being to John Davis the great navigator, the discoverer of Davis's Straits, who was a native of Stoke Gabriel, the only error being that he lived about 300 years ago.
There is also a tradition that the Vicar of Stoke Gabriel was hanged from his Church Tower in Mary's reign, and it is said that if a quarrel takes place between any of the Stoke Gabriel men and those of Cornworthy on the opposite side of the Dart, the Cornworthy men will taunt the Stoke Gabriel men with "who hung their vicar from his own Church Tower."
Can any of your readers say if there is any foundation for the tradition. Edward Windeatt.