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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WILLIAM TAVERNER. The most likely father of Edward Taverner or Avery , who was raising a family in Bovey Tracey around 1600, is William Taverner of Bridford. This is a hilltop village above the Teign Valley, four miles east of Moretonhampstead.

Bridford is lucky in having baptism and burial registers going back to 1538, the year when Henry VIII decreed that every parish church should keep records of its baptisms, marriages and burials. But tracing Williamís story is made difficult by the fact that these Bridford registers give the minimum of personal information. They record Edwardís baptism, but name his father only as William Taverner .

Eighteen children are attributed to William Taverner, but overlapping dates in the 1560s mean that they cannot all have the same father. There appear to be at least two Williams fathering children at this time, but the register makes no distinction between them and does not name the mother. Since Edward was the twelfth of these eighteen children, it seems more likely that he was fathered by the younger of the two Williams, but there is another baptism close to his, so he could be one of the last children of the older William. It is, of course, possible that there were three Williams, the younger two raising a family at the same time.

Judging from the baptism of his first child in 1549, the older William was probably born in the 1520s. The younger William (or one of the two younger) appears to be the son of John Taverner , born in1541. He was a twin, baptised on St Valentineís day.

Baptism. Bridford. (DCRS transcript)

1540/1 Tavener, William s of John 14 Feb

1540/1 Tavener, Tamsin d of John 14 Feb

These are the first Taverner baptisms in the register. There is no way of knowing how many children were born to John and his wife before 1538. Probably the twins were among their youngest. There are two more baptisms for a children of John Taverner, that of Thomas in 1550 and Alse in 1556. Given the ten-year gap between the twins and Thomas, this could be a different John.


There are three Taverners in the 1544 Subsidy Roll: Simon, highly-rated at £15, Peter in the lowest category, £1, and the widow Joan, heading a household and rated at £2, the most common sum. This means that either of the Williams could have come from the higher or lower ends of the social scale, or from an average family. We do not know where John Taverner stood. He either died before 1544, or was not the head of a household.

Whatever his origins, William grew up amid the turmoil of Henry VIIIís Protestant Reformation. This led to many churches being stripped of statues of saints and other Catholic iconography. More artistic work was lost in the Civil War in the next century. But Bridfordís church of St Thomas ŗ Becket, like many others in the Teign Valley, has preserved some treasures. In particular, it has a richly carved and painted rood screen, with nine arches spanning the north aisle and the nave, and ending in a similarly carved pulpit. It is believed to date from 1508. A row of figures, lay and ecclesiastic, including a jester, is carved in high relief and the whole is richly coloured. Some faces were mutilated during the Civil War, but more survived.

Particularly unusual are painted wooden panels in the chancel and the north aisle chapel. These show large figures of men and women in secular fourteenth-century dress. Who they are, and why they are there, is uncertain. One figure is cut in half where it meets a corner. These panels appear to have beenere taken from a secular building and re-used.




Henry VIII died in 1547, and was succeeded in turn by his young son Edward VI, his daughter Mary (1553-1558), and by Elizabeth, who reigned until 1603. The boy king Edward, under Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, was strongly Protestant, Mary a devout Catholic, and Elizabeth Protestant again. As with churches all over the country, the Taverners saw changes to their sacred building, church furnishings and style of worship made, and reversed, and changed again.

We do not know the name of Williamís wife, nor the date of their marriage. The Bridford burial register in Tudor times is unusual in not identifying women as someoneís wife, and only twice identifies a Taverner woman as a widow.

The older Williamís mother could have been the widow Allus, who died in 1540, or the widow Jone, who died in 1545.

The mother of either William, or the wife of the older, could be Brydgett, who died in 1557, or Agnes, who died in 1571.

Since the last baptism for a child of William Taverner occurred in 1574, any of the burials of Jone in 1579, Agnes in 1583, Marye in 1610, another Jone in 1613 and Elizabeth in 1620, could be the wife of the younger or the older William, or possibly the mother of one of them.


The baptisms for children of William Taverner begin in 1549 and continue until 1574. The older William probably married around 1548, near the beginning of Edward VIís reign. The closeness of the dates in the 1560s, and the baptism of two Williams less than a year apart, suggest that the younger William married around 1561 or earlier. By then, Elizabeth I was on the throne.

Baptisms. Bridford. (DCRS transcript)

1548/9 Tavener, Peter s of William 31 Jan

1550 Taverner, Mergerie d of William 6 Apr

1553 Tavernor, John s of William 24 Jun

1555 Taverner, Margaret d William 12 Nov

1558 Taverner, Denis d of William 9 Dec

1560 Taverner, Mathew s of William 9 Aug

1561 Tavenor, William s of William 28 Nov

1562 Taverner, William s of William 15 Aug

1563/4 Taverner, Tamsin d of William 27 Feb

1564 Tavenor, Simon s William 6 Apr

1565 Tavenor, Margret d of William 27 Mar

1565 Tavenor, Edward s of William 3 Sep

1568 Tavenor, John & Jone ye Children of William 15 Sep

1569 Tavernor, Phillip s of William 22 Apr

On 1 Nov 1570, William, son of William Taverner, was buried. Tamsin, daughter of William Taverner, was buried on 5 Nov.

1571 Taverner, Agnes d of William 1 Apr . This may be the Agnes Taverner who was buried on 20 July of that year.

1572 Taverner, Stephen s of William 12 Oct

1574/5 Taverner, Alse d of William 19 Mar


The William who was born to John Taverner in 1540 clearly cannot be the father of Peter in 1548. The younger William would probably have married in his twenties, around the mid-1560s. It is just at this time that we find the baptisms of children too close together for them to have the same parents. These significant baptisms are Tamsin and Simon in 1564, Margret and Edward in 1565, twins John and Jone, and Phillip in 1568-9. It is likely that the children born in the 1570s were fathered by the younger William. We cannot say how large either of their families was.


The absence of personal information in the registers makes it difficult to identify the burials in this period. Only for William and Tamsinís burials is the father named. Other names corresponding to these baptisms mean that more of the children may have died, but these could be the names of adults.


There are possible dates for Williamís own burial.

Burials. Bridford. (DCRS transcripts)

1575 Taverner, William 3 May

1591 Taverner, William 17 May

Estimating from the birth of his first child, the older William would have been in his mid-50s if he was buried in 1575.

This 1575 burial supports the returns for the 1581 Subsidy Roll. Under Brydforde Parish, only one name, William Tavernor, is listed for this family.

He was assessed at G3, in other words, goods valued at £3. It is generally recognised that the assessments bore no relation to peopleís real wealth. It was calculated to produce the return the Exchequer needed, at a rate of 2/8d in the pound on goods. G3 was the lowest rated in Bridford. Those assessed as having a lower income were not included. This means there could have been other Taverners who were poorer, or who were not the head of a household. Still, the evidence of the baptism registers suggests that there was by then only one Taverner household in Bridford, that of the younger William. He was evidently a man of modest means.

If the second burial is this younger William, son of John, then he was 50 when he died.


T.L. Stoate, ed, Devon Lay Subsidy Rolls 1543-1545 ( www.thebookshop.org.uk )

Visitors Guide to the Parish Church of St Thomas a Becket, Bridford, Devon.

T.L. Stoate, ed, Devon Taxes 1581-1660 ( www.thebookshop.org.uk )





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