This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.

I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)






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EDWARD TAVERNER or AVERY. He first appears in the Bovey Tracey registers at his marriage in 1592. This suggests he was probably born in the 1560s, in the early years of Elizabeth I’s reign. His baptism does not appear to have taken place in Bovey Tracey.

There is a promising baptism for him in the parish of Bridford. The little village of Bridford stands high above the River Teign, five miles north of Bovey Tracey. The southernmost tip of the parish touches the northernmost tip of Bovey Tracey parish, at the present-day Trenchford Reservoir.

Elsewhere in the Teign valley, the surnames Taverner and Avery are used interchangeably, or together as an alias. In Bridford, the surname is always recorded as Taverner.

Baptism. Bridford. (IGI)

1566 Edward Taverner son of William Taverner 3 Sep

The Bridford registers provide no evidence of his mother’s name. The burial register has a number of possible women.

This baptism would make him 24 at the time of his marriage – a typical age. There is no record of any other marriage in Devon for Edward Taverner in the relevant period, though it should be said that many parish records do not go back that far. There is no record of this child being buried in Bridford, nor did he raise a family there. It also seems likely that Mathew Taverner, his brother, or cousin, moved to Bovey.

The baptism took place in the church of St Thomas à Becket. William Tracey, lord of Bovey Tracey, was one of the four knights of Henry II who murdered the archbishop of Canterbury in his cathedral in 1170. The naming of the church was an act of penance.

This church retains a fine rood screen, with nine arches spanning the north aisle and nave, carved with rows of painted figures. Inside the side chapel and chancel are panels painted with larger figures of men and women in what is thought to be 16th century costume.

This Edward Taverner appears to be one of a large family. The baptismal register lists seventeen children of William Taverner between 1548 and 1574. However, examination of the dates shows that some are too close for these all to be the children of the same William. Unusually the register makes no distinction between the fathers, such as ‘senior’, ‘junior’, or a note of his place of residence or occupation. Edward is the twelfth of these seventeen. He was thus either a younger child of the first William or, more likely, one of the older children of the second. There may, of course, have been three or more.

We do not know the family’s standing, or William’s occupation. In the 1544 Devon Subsidy Rolls, the Taverners of Bridford range from the second highest rated to the lowest.


It would seem that Edward left Bridford as a young man to work in Bovey, perhaps with relatives. Some of the Avery alias Taverner family had already moved there, though not necessarily from Bridford. The first instance of either surname in Bovey is the marriage in 1567 of ‘Walterus Averye’ to ‘Elizabet filia R. Bearne’, followed by the baptism in 1569 of ‘Johñes filius Walteri Averye et Elizabeth ux.’ John was buried two years later. It seems likely that there were more children of Walter and Elizabeth, but we have no information that Edward was one of these.

Edward Taverner’s marriage in 1592 is the next occurrence of the name. The subsequent baptism of a son has him as Edward Avery , but the burial of that baby next day shows that this is the same man as Edward Taverner .

Similarly, the baptism of William, son of Francis Averye, around this time, is followed by more baptisms for children of Francis Taverner. Francis is probably related to Edward , but how closely is not clear.



ELIZABETH HAILE. Elizabeth’s origins have not yet been established. She appears to have been living in Bovey at the time of her marriage in 1592, but her baptism has not been found there.

The only previous Haile in the Bovey registers is the burial in 1563 of “Alson Hayle, vid. a pore woman in ye almshouse”.

The IGI offers Elizabeth Heale of Gnaton, born ‘about 1583’, daughter of Walter Hele and Elizabeth Stroude. “Gnaton” is probably Knighton, or Chudleigh Knighton. It is a small village at the southern end of the parish of Hennock. It lies on the Chudleigh-Ashburton road, 3 miles east of Bovey Tracey. There are a few Heles, or Hells, in the Hennock registers in the late 16th century, but no mention of Walter and his family. The most hopeful entry is:

Baptism. Hennock. (DCRS transcript)

1570 3 die Julii Elizabetha Holle Baptizata erat.

Her parents are not named. This Elizabeth did not marry in Hennock. She would have been 22 at the time Elizabeth Haile married in Bovey.

At the other end of the social scale there were Heales among the gentry in Bovey. In the Bovey Tracey Church Rates of 1596, under the Borough of Bovey Tracey, there is an entry for Mr John Heale. ‘Mr’ was only used for the gentry. He was rated for Sperkes Barne and Sops, Undertowne. The next entry is for Sops House at Bridge, so John Heale lived at the lower end of the town, by the river Bovey.

There was a more famous Hele associated with Bovey, in the first half of the following century. Elizaeus Hele was an eminent lawyer who held the office of Treasurer under James I. He inherited money from his father and from his two wives. The second of these was Alice, widow of Nicholas Eveleigh of Parke, a mansion on the outskirts of Bovey. He moved there from Plymouth and died at Exeter in 1636.He and Alice are buried in the Cathedral.

Since his only son died at the age of twelve, he left his fortune in trust, ‘to be desposed of in pious uses’. He became known as ‘Pious Uses Hele’.

Part of his wealth came from Bovey Tracey Mills. Much of it went to support schools, including Hele’s School and the Blue Maids School (later the Maynard School) in Exeter and one in Moretonhampstead.

An elaborate monument in Bovey Tracey church has recumbent effigies of Elizaeus Hele, his two wives and his young son.

The likelihood is that Elizabeth stood somewhere between these Heale or Hele gentry and the ‘pore woman’ Hayle who died in the almshouse.


Marriage. Bovey Tracey.

1592 Taverner, Edwardus et Elizabetha Haile 6 Nov


Lance Tregoning writes of the parish church where they were married: “This would give credence to the legend that the church was built by Sir William de Tracey as penance for the murder of Thomas à Beckett in 1170. It was dedicated to St Thomas by the Bishop of Exeter in 1176; its Saxon predecessor having already been dedicated to St Peter and St Paul….

“The reason Sir William de Tracey asked to be one of the four knights who murdered Beckett, is that he feared his wife had had an affair with the Archbishop. She had been lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret, the daughter of the French King, when she was in the custody of Beckett, then Lord Chancellor.

“When she married Sir William and was installed as mistress of Bovey manor House (old Parke), she remained very friendly with Beckett. When Becket paid a visit to the Abbot of Buckfastleigh he was the guest of Lady de Tracey and was given the use of a large room, which ever after, was called the Bishop’s Chamber. He occupied this room on several occasions.

“After the murder William fled to north Devon when he soon discovered that his wife’s interest in the prelate was purely spiritual and nothing more, and he was overcome with remorse.

“In order to obtain the Pope’s pardon, he offered to use a portion of his great wealth to erect a new church in Bovey, dedicating it to the Martyr. As indeed it was…

“The end of the fifteenth century was a great time for the furnishings of churches, and the beauty of the decorations in the parish church is undoubtedly due to the fact that the lady of the manor at this time was Lady Margaret Beaufort, countess of Richmond and mother of King Henry VII. She was in possession of the manor throughout her son’s reign and the beautiful chancel screen, (reputedly one of the best in the west country), the pulpit, lectern and font were all added during this time.

“The paintings of Saints and Apostles, at the base of the screen, are still in the original medieval paint and were not touched when the screen was restored later, and so are almost six hundred years old.

“Lady Margaret also built the College, two rows of old thatched cottages which stood below the church [now demolished].

“These buildings were founded as a college for clerks, who were officials having the duty of serving at Mass, carrying holy water to all who had paid for it and providing music and singing in the rood loft (over the screen).

“In 1577 the loft above the screen was removed and replaced with a gallery at the west end; and about the same time the beautiful old Elizabethan chalice was made by Hall of Exeter….

“George Manning became vicar of Bovey in the year before the institution of Henry VIII, and it is strongly suggested that he had Protestant leanings.

“During his incumbency, he helped to destroy the images of the Virgin Mary and St Thomas of Canterbury, also the rood from above the screen. [Dispossessed by Mary in 1554.]”

It is clear that the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century changed the appearance of churches as much as the Civil War and the Puritan Commonwealth in the 17th century.


The marriage of Edward and Elizabeth in this church is followed by two baptisms.

Baptism. Bovey Tracey. (DCRS transcript)

1595 Averye, Stephanus filius Edward 3 Apr

Baby Stephen was buried the following day. In the register, Edward’s surname switches back to Taverner.

Burial. Bovey Tracey. (DCRS transcript)

1595 Taverner, Stephanus filius Edwardi 4 Apr

Baptism. Bovey Tracey. (DCRS transcript)

1596(7) Taverner, Hugo filius Edwardi 16 Feb

1599 (1600) Averie, Richardus filius Edwardi 25 Jan

This is the last time we find the surname Avery used in the Bovey registers. In the 17th century, all the family entries are for Taverner.


We do not know where Edward and Elizabeth were living at this time. In the Bovey Tracey Church Rates for 1596 there are no entries for either Taverner or Avery. Unless they lived outside the parish boundary, but used Bovey church, the likelihood is that they were part of a larger household. If Mr John Heale of Undertowne was a relative of Elizabeth, Edward may have been working for him.

Nor do we know Edward’s occupation. A century later some of his descendants were farmers. In 1656 Stephen Taverner of Bovey Tracey was a ‘sealer’. A possible meaning of this is someone who checked the accuracy of weights and measures.


Some of Edward’s family came to join them in Bovey. In 1603, Mathew Taverner of Bridford, who is probably Edward’s brother or cousin, had his first child baptised there. He is probably the same Mathew Taverner who appears in the Bovey registers, having more children baptised from 1605 onwards.


There was another baptism in 1611.

Baptisms. Bovey Tracey. (DCRS transcript)

1611 Taverner, Agnes filia Edwardii 17 Julii

There is a long gap between Richard and Agnes, so this may not be the same family. But there is no evidence of another Edward for her father. Perhaps the family lived outside Bovey for a time. More children may have been born in the interim.


Edward died in 1617, in the reign of the first Stuart king, James I.

Burial. Bovey Tracey. (DCRS transcript)

1617 Taverner, Edwardus 16 Julii

He was probably aged around 50.


The following year, Elizabeth lost her 21-year-old son.

Burial. Bovey Tracey. (DCRS transcript)

1618 Taverner, Hugo filius Elizabetha Vidua 27 Sept


It is likely that Elizabeth survived Edward by more than 20 years.

Burial. Bovey Tracey. (DCRS transcript)

1639(40) Tavernor, Elizabeth widdow 19 Jan


Genuki website for Bovey Tracey

Armitage Hargreaves, Bovey Tracey History and Legend , (Mid-Devon Newspaper Co, Ltd, 1968)

Lance Tregoning, Bovey Tracey: An Ancient Town , (Cottage Publishing, 1993)




Next Generation: 11. TAVERNER

Previous Generations:  13. TAVERNER



Augustine comes from Rome to Canterbury, fearful of this pagan kingdom. But the feisty Queen Bertha has been there before him