William Hornsey Gamlen [Obituary]

Trans. Devon. Assoc., 1885, Vol XVII, pp. 64-65.


Rev W. Harpley

Prepared by Michael Steer

William Hornsey Gamlen was the second son in his family. His brother (born/bap 1811) died when he was two. As per the tradition of that period, the next child of the same gender was given his dead brother’s name. He became Mayor of Tiverton at an early age and was described as 'Gentleman' on the marriage register entry for his son, Leonard in 1876. The article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. A portrait of William Gamlen is available on Art UK.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.

William Hornsey Gamlen was born at Tiverton on February 7th, 1814, and was educated at Blundell's School in that town. He lived at the family estate of Hayne upwards of fifty years. He early identified himself with all works of usefulness in the town and neighbourhood. In 1843 he was elected Mayor, and a few years later he was created a permanent magistrate of the Borough. During Mr. Gamlen's Mayoralty a proposal was brought forward to introduce the "New Police" into the town in place of the old “watchmen." Mr. Gamlen was strongly in favour of making the change, and endeavoured to bring the Town Councillors to his way of thinking, by reminding them of a crime which had shortly before been committed in the town. A man had been set upon one night by some ruffians in one of the principal streets, and had been murdered, and his body had then been dragged away and hidden. The neighbours said at the inquest that they had heard cries of “murder" from the street, but were so used to them that they took no notice. Mr. Gamlen urged that this case, and the state of things which it revealed, seemed to afford sufficient proof that the new police system ought to be introduced. The Councillors were equally divided on the question, and Mr. Gamlen decided it by giving his casting vote in favour of the change.

In 1864 Mr. Gamlen left Tiverton and took up his abode at Brampford Speke, where he soon gained the affectionate respect of a large circle of friends.

He was one of the earliest members of the Association, having joined it at the first meeting in Exeter in 1862, He was soon elected a member of the Council, and in 1875 filled the office of Vice-President. He was rarely absent from the annual meetings, which he greatly enjoyed, and was regular in his attendance at the meetings of the Council.

At the meeting at Totnes in 1880 he contributed a paper entitled "Agriculture in North-east Devon Fifty to Sixty Years Ago," which was printed in the volume of Transactions for that year.

He died April 6th, 1885, at his residence at Brampford Speke, and on April 9th his remains were carried to Tiverton and interred there.