Thomas Spoure (c1470-?) m Anne Trebartha - the parents of ..
    ..Thomas Spoure (c1500-c1558) m Katherine Reskimer - the parents of ..
        .. Thomas Spoure (c1520-c1569) m Jane Jackman - the parents of ..
            .. Henry Spoure (c1542-1603) m Mary Roose - the parents of ..
                .. Richard Spoure (c1570-1647) m Mary Courtenay - the parents of ..
                    .. Henry Spoure (c1600-1670) m Gertrude Bury - the parents of ..
                        .. Richard Spoure (c1628-1716) of Gray's Inn, London and of Henry Spoure (c1625-1666) m Elizabeth Speccott - the parents of ..
                                .. Edmund Spoure (1654-1696) m Mary Rodd - the parents of Mary Spoure (c1676-1729) and Henry Spoure (1677-1687)..


The Spoure family lived at Trebartha Hall from 1498 to 1729. Before that the seat was occupied by the Trebartha family. Today there remain two significant works by Edmund Spoure that help us understand the family's heritage. He constructed the splendid memorial to his son, Henry, that is in the church of St Torney's in North Hill, and he wrote "The Book of Spoure". The Spoure legacy was to pass on a viable estate that the Rodd family owned and worked for a further 240 years.

The Arrival of the Spoure Family and Growth of the Trebartha Estate

In the Book of Spoure by Edmund Spoure (1694) he says "The Spoures were also an ancient Famely, in the County of Summerset, nigh Crookarn [Crewkerne], and had Misterton their Mansion house from Edward Courtney Erle of Devonshire, in the first year of Henry The fourth [1399/1400]; and now nigh Bristoll, and in Shopsheir, are some younger branches of the Famely even to this day; but I finde anciently by old records, they were a Nottinghams Sheir Famely, and flourished for many descents in that County; but at what place in the County, I cannot finde, so darke, and obscure has ancient times left their Memorialls to us." Edmund's information regarding the Bristol connection appears correct. In The National Archive is the will of Morris Spoore of Easton in Gordano, near Bristol, dated 19 April 1588.

Nicholas Trebartha, the last male heir of that family, died in the reign of Henry VII (1485-1509) leaving his daughter Anne as sole heiress. She married in 1498 to Thomas Spoure of Misterton in Somerset. He was captain of a troop of horse and had been sent to Cornwall to suppress an uprising against the Crown, and there met and married Anne.

Thomas and Anne's son, also named Thomas, married Katherine Reskimer. He purchased from Sir George Carew the adjacent manor of Treveniel in North Hill as well as lands in Blisland. This Thomas' son, yet another Thomas, married Jane, daughter of John Jackman of Stoke Climsland. The Book of Spoure relates how their son, Henry Spoure esquire, married Mary Roose of Froxton, near Holsworthy, in the parish of Whitstone in the 11th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1569). Because Mary was their sole heir to her father's estate, Froxton then became part of the Spoure estates.

Henry purchased additional lands in North Hill, notably Trewortha and Lemarne, and subsequently sold Misterton, the original seat of the Spoures. Lemarne is of particular interest because of the tin mine which provided so well that Henry was able to give 1000 pounds a piece to his five daughters. Apparently this was the first time that such a large sum of money had been given to a daughter by a private gentleman from his class in Cornwall. Henry built the great parlour and other rooms and buildings as additions to the existing Trebartha Hall.

The Spoures gradually purchased more land to add to their estates, including the neighbouring manor of Tolcarne (purchased from John Kekewich of Catchfrench), Coquernell and Trekernell in North Hill. They acquired by marriage with the family of Speccott various properties in Devon and in Launcells.

Edmund Spoure (1654-1696)

Edmund was born in 1654. His parents were Henry Spoure and Elizabeth, nee Speccott. Edmund was a scholar, an artist, a poet and an author as well as the master of the Trebartha Estate. His father had died when he was 12 years old and Edmund was the heir to the Trebartha Estate. His mother administered the estate until Edmund took it over in his own right. She died at Trebartha Hall in 1683.

In 1675 Edmund married Mary Rodd, the daughter of James Rodd of Oakhay, Stoke Cannon, Devon, and his wife Mary, nee Bampfylde. Edmund's sketch of Oakhay is shown here and has been taken from The Book of Spoure; click on the image for a larger image.

Edmund and Mary had two children, a son and a daughter:

  • Their first child was a son named Henry. he was baptised in St Torney's church on 1st November 1677. In the early spring of 1688 young Henry died when just nine years old. He is remembered on the Spoure Memorial. The entries of his baptism and burial, taken from the registers of St Torney's Church in North Hill, can be seen below (click for a larger image).

  • Their daughter, Mary, was born about 1680 (there is a gap in the North Hill baptismal register from 1678 to 1682 for individuals whose name commences with the letter 'M'). She first married Rentaus Bellot and then, after his death, she married Charles Grylls, and had a child by each of them. She survived them all and she died in 1729.

Edmund, probably being aware of his own impending death but certain that this branch of the Spoure line was to end with him, commenced two projects to help ensure the Spoure name lived on. Following Henry's death, Edmund commissioned the splendid Spoure Memorial shown above. This was as much a testament to the family as it was to Henry. Indeed, we learn from a document dated 1723, when the then master of Trebartha, Charles Grylls, petitioned to modify the pews in the Spoure Chapel, that this area of the church had been the traditional burying place for members of the Spoure family. Erecting a large memorial on the site would have gone some way to ensuring the family's interred remains would be undisturbed.

In 1694 he wrote the magnificent "The Book of Spoure" for his daughter, Mary.

Edmund died in 1696 when he was just 42.

Mary Spoure's two marriages to Renatus Bellott and Charles Grylls

In 1697 Mary Spoure married Renatus Bellott of Bochym in Cury on the Lizard peninsular in Cornwall. The Bellott family had come to Cornwall during the reign of Elizabeth. Renatus was Member of Parliament for Mitchell in Cornwall in 1702. In 1704 he and Mary had a son, Renatus, but the child died in 1712, and was buried in North Hill churchyard. His father died a few years later, the last of his family. Bochym was sold, but some lands were acquired by Mary, in St. Neot and St. Cleer.

Around 1720 Mary married for a second time; her husband was Charles Grylls of Court in Lanreath, shown below. This would appear to be their portraits commemorating their wedding.

These images are reproduced with the kind permission of National Trust Images

Mary Spoure - this image from The Book of Spoure

Their only son George died in infancy, and Charles died in 1728. Once again Mary was a widow without an heir. All Charles' lands, presumably including Trebartha Hall and the attached estate which came to his possession when he married Mary, were left in trust for Mary for her life and after her death to revert to trustees to the use of his kinsman William Grylls of Chaddlehanger near Lamerton in Devon. This appears not to have happened as Mary wrote her own will in 1728 and no bequests were made into the Grylls family. Had she not written a will it is likely that Trebartha and its lands would have fallen into the hands of either this William Grylls or Richard Grylls, the vicar of Lanreath. If the estates had been protected from the Grylls and Mary died intestate the natural beneficiaries would have been the Bond family of Quethiock.

Mary, however, was determined to secure a future of her choosing the Spoure estate. There were very few close relations on her father's side of the family. Her mother, Mary Spoure nee Rodd, lived with Mary until her death 1724. The Rodd family were blessed with a larger number of family members and they lent their support to Mary and her mother. Following Charles Gryll's death, therefore, Mary, the last surviving Spoure of Trebartha became engaged to her mother's nephew and her own cousin Francis Rodd, son of Bampfylde Rodd of Devon. In 1728 she made a will leaving him all her property "provided he is not already married to, or shall not at any time take to wife, Jane Parker, now living in Covent Garden, London". Whilst this was to have been an expedient marriage because it ensured that the estate would remain in the family of Mary's mother, it seems that Mary had a real affection for her cousin. Before the wedding could take place Mary died of smallpox, and in 1730 Francis Rodd found himself the owner of considerable estates in Cornwall. From hereon the Rodd family occupied Trebartha Hall. read more ...

Mary was buried at St Torney's on 6th May 1729.

Charles Grylls and the Dispute over the Pews in St Torney's Church

Charles' impact on North Hill lasted for a short time until his death in 1727 after a decade married to Mary. In that time, though, he managed to upset the locals in a significant way because of changes he wanted to make to St Torney's Church. In 1723 Charles wrote to the Bishop of Exeter asking for permission to remodel the east end of the south aisle. This was known as the Spoure aisle and was, apparently the burial site for the Spoure family. Charles' petition to the Bishop has survived and is in the Devon Heritage Centre in Exeter as part of a bundle of papers on this subject. The document shown below on the left is part of that bundle and contains the essence of Charles' petition.

the petition (transcript below)

click on the image to open a panorama inside the church; the Spoure Chapel comes into view as the camera sweeps to the right

the entrance to the Spoure Chapel commissioned by Charles Grylls (click for a larger image)

The petition, which can be quite difficult to read for the untrained eye, has been transcribed by Paul Cockerham, and with whose permission it is shown here [note - paragraphs have been included here to aid understanding but the original spelling and syntax have been preserved]:

"Lancelot by divine permission Lord Bishop of Exon

"Whereas Charles Gryles of Trebartha in ye Parish of Northill in ye County of Cornwall Esqre. did lately supplicate our Licence Leave to new build Certaine Seates or Pews in ye South Chancell or Isle of ye said Church of Northill comonly called Spour’s Chancell Containeing about 18 foot in length & 17 foot in breadth and also three seates adjoineing comonly used by his Servants & Containeing about 9 foot in length & 7 foot in breadth, suggesting that all those seates had for time immemoriall been Constantly Possess’d and Enjoy’d by ye Proprietors & occupiers of ye Barton of Trebartha

"whereof he is now owner, and Praying our Confirmation of those seates to him and ye future Possessors of ye said Barton of Trebartha and likewise ye Liberty or Right of Sepulture in the said south Isle or Chancell where ye ancient Proprietors of ye said Barton had (as he suggests ) used to bury their Dead.

"And whereas upon Publishing a General Intimation in ye said Church of Northill Notifying the Import of ye said Petition & Suggestion a Controversy arose concerning the Premises and long depended in our Consistory Court between ye said Charles Gryles as Party Promovent and John Roberts, Clerke Rector of Northill aforesaid Theodore Darley Esqre. and William Bate Parishioners Defendants,

"and after diverse witnesses had been examined on both sides all ye Partys hearde and ye Merits & Circumstances of the Cause fully debated & Discuss’d our Trusty & well beloved Dr. William Stuart our Vicar Generall & Comissary Did by his definitive sentence Pronounce & decree the said seates in ye South Chancell & three servants seates adjoineing to be Confirmed to ye said Charles Gryles Esqre. & ye futures Possessors of ye said Barton of Trebartha with liberty to bury their Dead in ye said Chancell [Translated from Latin: notwithstanding however the Prejudice of the Rector of the same place for the time being, in regard to burial]

"We therefore takeing ye Premisses into our serious Consideration do hereby Ratify & Confirme the said seates in the said South Chancell or Isle of Northill and the three servants seates adjoineing unto ye said Charles Gryles Esqre. and ye future Possessors of the said Barton of Trebartha with Liberty to bury their dead in ye said south Chancell only [Trans. from Latin: notwithstanding however the Prejudice of the Rector of the same place for the time being, in regard to burial] and we do hereby give full power and authority to ye said Charles Gryles Esqre. to new build the said seates in ye south Chancell and the three seates adjoineing in such manner as he shall think fit and convenient for his own use, so as that no other persons Right be thereby Injur’d.

"In witness whereof 13th day of March Anno Domini 1723."

Clearly this proposal did not meet with the approval of the Rector, John Roberts, and some notable parishioners, Theodore Darley and William Bate. Charles was obliged to exercise his influence to gain permission from the Bishop of Exeter. Inevitably Charles won the day and set about reworking The Spoure Chapel into the Grylls Chapel.

What we see today is still referred to as the Spoure Chapel but it is the result of Charles Gryll's plan. It may have been at this time that the monument to Henry Spoure was moved a few feet from the south wall to the east wall and the window behind the monument blocked up. The memorials on the wall around the monument were probably gathered together at this time, all of which point towards a grand legacy that Charles had inherited. Newly created box pews were installed and the entrance was emblazoned with the Grylls and Spoure crests either side of the quartered arms of the two families. The arms shown on the right of the three images above above are Grylls (Or, three bendlets enhanced Gules) quartered with Spoure (Gules, on a chevron Or, a rose of the first between two mullets pierced Sable). Either side of the doors are the family crests of Grylls (A porcupine passant) and Spoure (Demi-Heraldic antelope Ermine, erased per fess Gules, crined and attired Or, holding in the mouth a broken spear Sable, headed Argent, the head downwards).


The Spoure Memorials in St Torney's Church

There are five memorials in the church displaying Spoure heraldry. On the church plan they are numbered 17, 18, 19, 21 and 23. The most significant is #19 - The Monument to Henry Spoure (1677-1688).

#17 - The three arched memorial to the infant Richard Spoure who died in 1653

Infans quid loquitae

[Spoken by the child]

This carved tombe
The sad inscription beares
Of my sooth death
And of my parents' teares
For my departure
Though that happy I
By that was freed
From future misery
And now instead of their
Fond dandling kisses
I now enjoy a heaven
A heaven of blisses
Waile not the before for me
But heavens implore
That God with other issue
You would store
Whose pious lives may cause
You joyful eyes
And tend your deaths
With sacred obsequies

"Here lyeth ye body of Richard Spoure ye son and heire of Henery Spoure Esq and Elizabeth; who was buried ye 20th day of April in Anno Domini 1653 - et aetatis suiae 3 moneth [aged 3 months]"

His mother was Elizabeth Spoure nee Speccott.

Click on the image for a larger version

#18 - The four plaques showing Spoure genealogy

In the Spoure Chapel in St Torney's Church in North Hill there are four square plaques showing various arms related to the Spoure family. The latest of these dates from around the mid 1650s when Edmund was born. It is possible that there were more plaques but some have been lost. The one which refers back furthest references a marriage around 1500.





The four plaques
1 and 3
2 and 4
The Trebartha arms are quartered with the Calloway (Kellaway) arms. The Spoure arms are in the escutcheon. The Spoure arms are quartered with the arms of Roose. The Spoure arms are impaled with the arms of Bury (Berry). The Spoure arms are quartered with the Speccott arms.

Dating the plaques. The style of the plaques would seem to indicate that they were created at the same time, probably by Edmund or his father, Henry. This would have been in the mid to late 1600s. It is interesting to note that the fourth plaque's base has been shaped, perhaps indicating that this was added after the others. In support of this theory is that the third plaque shows the Spoure arms, of Henry Spoure, being impaled by the Bury arms of Gertrude Bury. This would suggest that Henry and Gertrude were alive when the plaque was created. Gertrude died in 1657 and Henry died in 1670 and so it may have been that Henry commissioned the plaques and later his grandson, Edmund, added the final plaque after his own father's death in 1666 in order to complete the story of the Spoure family.


1. (c1475 - Trebartha and Kellaway) Around 1475 Nicholas Trebartha married Catherine Kelloway and they had a daughter Anne. If they had other children then they would have died as Edmund describes Anne as being the daughter and sole heir of Nicholas and Catherine. Both the Trebartha and the Kelloway families were armigerous and the arms on the plaque are Anne's as they show both her parents; she was the heraldic heiress. The escutcheon of pretence placed in the centre of her arms references her husband, Captain Thomas Spoure, whom she married around 1498. The heraldic convention is that if the wife be an heraldic heir or coheir, in lieu of impalement, the arms of her family are placed on an inescutcheon superimposed on the centre of her husband's arms, the inescutcheon being termed an escutcheon of pretence, because jure uxoris she being an heiress of her house, the husband "pretends" to the representation of her family. These arms, however, show the husband's arms in pretence. This is either unusual or, more likely, incorrect as a woman of this time was not legally capable of owning property and upon her marriage would not be responsible for her husband's estate.

Thomas Spoure and Anne Trebartha had a son Thomas who married Katherine Reskimer. Thomas and Katherine had a son Thomas who married Jane Jackman. Thomas and Jane's son, Henry, married Mary Roose. These marriages are not represented in the array of plaques and prompts the suggestion that there may be lost plaques.

2. (c1570 - Spoure and Roose) The Spoure arms are quartered with the arms of Roose of Whitstone. These would have been the arms of Richard the son and heir of Henry and Mary Spoure, mentioned above. Richard married Mary Courtenay and they had a son, Henry Spoure who was born about 1600.

3. (1622 - Spoure and Bury) Richard and Mary's son, Henry, married in 1622 to Gertrude Bury whose family hailed from Colleton Barton in the parish of Chulmleigh in Devon. Henry's arms are impaled by the Bury arms. See the note above on dating the plaques. Henry and Gertrude had a son, Henry, who married Mary Speccott.

When writing The Book of Spoure in the mid 1690s Gertrude's grandson, Edmund Spoure, makes almost no mention of the Bury family history. Edmund wrote the book to demonstrate the family's long heritage and influential social standing. Matters from the family history that contradicted the impression that Edmund created were not recorded by him. For that reason, the harrowing story of Gertrude's grandfather, John Bury, was left out. The story was told in 1915 in "Country Life" under the heading of "Colleton Barton" and you can read it by clicking on the image above.

4. (1654-1675 - Spoure and Speccott) The quartered arms of Spoure and Speccott are those of Edmund Spoure himself, before his marriage to Mary Rodd in 1675.

#19 - The Spoure Memorial in the Spoure Chapel in St Torney's Church, North Hill.

This is the monument to Henry Spoure (1678-1688), the son of Edmund Spoure and Elizabeth (nee Speccott). Edmund and Elizabeth are kneeling in prayer. Behind them are their children Henry, to whom the monument is dedicated, and Mary, each of them holding a book in their hand. Mary's book is open but Henry's is closed, signifying his death.


To read more about the heraldry, go to The Book of Spoure

Mary's ancestry is shown here and explains the source of many of the elements of the armorial plaque set at the very top of the monument.

The crest's blazon is a 'Demi-Heraldic Antelope Ermine, Erased Per Fess Gules, Crined And Attired Or, Holding In The Mouth A Broken Spear Sable, Headed Argent, The Head Downwards'. The families represented here are shown below.

Top Row
Spoure & Trebartha, Jackman, Spoure & Roose of Whitstone, Courtenay of Powderham

Second Row
Bury of Colleton, Spoure & Speccott, Rodd, Wallis

Third Row
Hay, Trebartha & Callaway, Giffard of Weare Giffard, Downe

Bottom Row
Strode of Newnham (Plympton), Walrond of Bradfield in Devon

#21 - this would appear to be an incised floor slab which has been moved to the wall.

Mary was born Mary Spoure and was the last of the Spoure line. She married Renatus Bellot around 1703 and their only son, named after his father was born a year or so later. Renatus senior died in 1710 and is buried at Cury. Renatus junior died when just eight years old and is buried in North Hill, probably beneath the nave or in the Spoure chapel.

Mary remarried at some point in the 1720s to Charles Grylls but he died in 1728, leaving Mary without a husband or an heir to inherit her estate.

#23 - is an incised tomb slab which has been lifted and now stands as part of the south wall of the Spoure chapel.

There is furniture preventing a single full length image. You can view the upper part, the lower part and some detail.

The arms shown are those of the Spoure and Trebartha families. The outer edge inscription reads
"Here lyeth the Bodye / of Henrie Spoure of Trebartha Esquire who departed this lyfe the / xviii daye of October, anno / domi 1603 who had issue v sonnes and vi daughters, his adge 61."

Incised into the middle of the slab between the skull and the coat of arms it says:
"As thou art, so was I
and as I am so shall thou be."

The area beneath the coat of arms is inscribed in Latin:

Me ego flos veris quondam mos mortis imago.
Sole novo iuvenis, sole cadente senex.
Vi viri morior vitam mors ipsa probabit.
Qui mortis mors est hic mihi vita fiet

Rich Spoure Armig
defunti filius et heres

I myself, once in the springtime of life will soon encounter the face of death.
A youth in the dawning sun, an old man in the setting sun.
I die with the honour of a nobleman, death itself will prove my life to be worthy.
This death, death is here for me and my life.

Rich[ard] Spoure Armig[er]
son and heir of the deceased


Family Conflict or Class Division?

The Book of Spoure is a revealing document and gives us insight into the life and thoughts of Edmund Spoure, Esquire, gentleman and landed proprietor of Trebartha Hall. He was born in 1654 into a family that strongly supported the monarchy and the Church of England. He was aware of life under the Commonwealth and the Restoration of the Monarchy. Like the rest of his family recorded in The Book of Spoure, he was also a devout supporter of the monarchy and the established church. He had been regaled with stories of daring and courage by and about members of the family. He was aware of lives lived and lives lost and of the leaders of those troops all performing their duty before God and the King. Edmund wrote this book and finished it in 1694 in celebration of the Spoure family who manifested these values.

Edmund also lived in the small, fairly isolated Cornish community that was North Hill. The relationship the community had with the outside world had changed little over the centuries and, for most local residents of the parish, its people were the essential elements of their lives. Everybody knew everybody else and who lived where, who was in a relationship and who was working for whom. The minutiae of people's lives was the interest of all. Edmund would have been well aware of people living nearby and their relative social standing..

Living in the parish, at the time that Edmund was writing his book (1694), was another family that went by the name of Spoure. No family relationship has been found to connect these two Spoure families into a single family with two branches but it is possible to speculate on this.

The earliest known event in North Hill of this 'other' branch of the family was in 1637, the burial of Anne Spoure, recorded as the daughter of Robert Spoure. She was probably in her mid-twenties and unmarried. Anne and her siblings had been born in Ugborough in Devon, which is where her parents had married in 1600. Sometime after 1610, but before 1637, the family moved to North Hill. This was most likely to have been an economically driven move and perhaps at the invitation from the Spoures of Trebartha Hall, who could offer to what may well have been their cadet branch of the family, land to work.

The marriage of Oliver to Temperance Vincent provides an indication of their social standing. Temperance was the great granddaughter of Thomas Vincent (d1607). The Vincent family lived at Battens and were armigerous but a step down the class ladder from the Spoures of Trebartha Hall.

In 1649 the incumbents of Trebartha Hall, Henry Spoure and his son, also named Henry, leased Dewstowe's tenement, part of the Manor of Treveniel, to John Barriball. John Barriball's granddaughter, Blandina Barriball, as we shall see below, married Oliver Spoure's grandson, Richard Spoure. Through this marriage the tenement eventually fell into the occupation of the cadet branch of the Spoures, being leased to them by the Spoures of Trebartha Hall.

The parish records are not complete for the mid 1600s, through the upheaval of the English Civil War its causes and ramifications, but we know from the baptisms and burials that have survived that Oliver's son, John, married about 1670 to a lady named Grace and they had six children. One of their number was Richard Spoure who was baptised in St Torney's in 1672 and later married Blandina Barriball as mentioned above. They worked the Treveniel lands as tenant farmers as shown by the list of conventionary tenants from 1729.

click for larger image

In 1694 (the year that Edmund wrote the Book of Spoure), a lease on Dewstowe's tenement provided for Blandina Barriball to occupy as a tenant of Edmund Spoure. It is probably likely that Edmund knew how the cadet Spoures were related to his own family; after all, he was very well informed on his family's heritage.

The family tree of the Spoure family of Trebartha shows many males from whom Robert could be descended as a son or grandson, but one connection is worthy of mention as perhaps more likely than others. The second Thomas Spoure (c1500-c1558) married Katherine Reskimer, as can be seen at the top of this page. Katherine was a widow, having married John Jackman of Stoke Climsland around 1515 and they had a son Sampson Jackman. John Jackman died soon afterwards and Katherine remarried to Thomas Spoure, bringing her son, Sampson, to the Spoure family. Having been brought up as a Spoure it is possible that Sampson adopted the family name and passed it on to his children and descendants. It is likely that Edmund would have known if this was the case and probably just as likely chose to ignore this family as the line descended from Jackman and Reskimer, and not from Spoure.

None of Robert's family nor any of his descendants is mentioned in The Book of Spoure, as written by Edmund Spoure. This begs the question of why this was the case and what was the relationship between the two Spoure families, or were they two branches of the same family divided by conflict or Edmund's attitude towards those of a lower class?

The header image shows the family coat of arms and three members of the Spoure family, taken from the Book of Spoure.