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)
SIMON HAMMET and MARY (9)
W.G. Hoskins describes Cheldon as ‘a tiny, lost parish above the wooded valley of the Little Dart’. The church and a handful of houses stand on a narrow lane which runs eastward to West and East Worlington and Witheridge and westward to Chawleigh.
The Devon Record Office’s registers for Cheldon only start from 1708. But in a file of churchwarden’s accounts are fragments from earlier registers, going back to the 1670s. Providentially, some of these contain important information about the Hammet family. Sometimes the date has to be inferred by comparison with preceding and following pages. In some cases, part of an entry is missing.
They show two Hammet families raising families in Cheldon at this time.
SIMON HAMMET is the first mentioned. He is followed almost immediately by Anthony Hamett, who may be his brother. Anthony’s wife is Joane.
In 1675 Alice Hammat was paid 3s 6d for washing the surplice and making clean the church. Her relationship to Simon is unclear.
John Hamett was buried in1677, William Hammat in 1686, and ffrancis Hammat in 1692. Any of these could be Simon’s father.
MARY and Simon were probably already married by 1675, the date of the first known baptism for a child of Simon, though the mother’s name is not given. Mary’s name is included in the next baptism in 1678.
Simon and Mary may have married much earlier, with the three baptisms we have being only the last of a larger number.
Simon was already a respected member of the community when the records begin. In 1673 there is a list of the principal payers of the church rate in Cheldon. There are six of them, and Simon Hammet ranks fourth.
Rec d of Simon Hammett 163 Rates at 6 d the Rate comes to £4..1..6d
This was a not inconsiderable sum in the 17th century. The other rates range from £12.4.6d to £1.7.2d. In 1711, a similar list of seven ratepayers names estates rather than people. Comparing the two suggests that Simon and Mary Hammet may have lived at Herne. The farm cannot be identified on the modern map, but the 1851 census shows Hern between East Cheldon Farm and the Parsonage, putting it probably not far east of the crossroads. It was then occupied by a farm labourer, but next to it in the transcript is ‘Barton, ….’, indicating an illegible entry. There could have been a Herne Barton, now lost.
Simon was apparently a man with a cart, unusual for the seventeenth century, when most transport on Devon’s notoriously bad roads was by packhhorse or sledge. The churchwarden’s accounts for 1673 show that major work was being done on the church tower and steeple. The payments include:
Paid to Simon Hammett for carriage £1..17..0d.
This is a substantial sum compared to other payments.
The accounts for 1673 end with:
We do appoint Simon Hammett to be Churchwarden for the next year following.
There appears to be only one warden each year in Cheldon and the list of their names matches the principal ratepayers, including one woman, Ann Edworthy, widow.
The following year, Simon presents his own accounts in beautifully clear regular handwriting. He signs his name with an elaborate S.
He had a busy year. Work was continuing apace on the church tower. A new bell was cast. Simon not only recorded the expenditure, but played an active part. He allows himself payment for the carrying of lime and sand, for cutting and carrying scaffolding poles and for supplying a quantity of board. He fetched two cradles (probably for hoisting the bells) from Brushford, a journey of some eight miles each way, up and down steep hills and across the Little Dart. He made the same journey to return them. Most importantly, he went to Exeter, a distance of nearly 20 miles, several times, and finally brought back the new bell.
It still hangs in the church tower, inscribed with his name.
Simon Hamet Warden 1674
He gives his own list of seven principal parishioners, the same five men and one woman as before, plus the churchwarden for 1673. They appear to have given shingles for the steeple roof, dividing up the 10700 they needed among themselves proportionally, according to their economic status. Simon was fifth out of these seven, providing 846.
It is not possible to be certain of Simon’s occupation from the work he did for the church. Other parishioners also carried lime and sand and provided poles. Francis Cornwall provided 278 foot of timber. But Simon is the only one who provided board, 170 foot of it. He was probably a yeoman farmer with a quantity of timber on his land.
Besides this exceptional building work, he also carried out the normal business of a churchwarden. This involved him travelling twice to the Archdeacon’s Court in Barnstaple, about 20 miles in the opposite direction from Exeter. At the start of his year, he had to take an oath of office and receive an article book. At the end of his term, he returned to the court with a copy of the register book. Some churchwardens’ copies survive as Bishops Transcripts. They do not always correspond exactly with the original register kept in the parish chest.
It was during his year of office that Simon and Mary’s first known child, though possibly not their eldest, was born. Two more followed.
Baptisms. St Mary. Cheldon.
? 1674 (5) Joane the daughter of Simon Hammat was baptized February the sixteenth
? 1678 ….. the sonne of Simon Hamett & Mary …. was baptized the (no date given)
? 1679 (80) Stephen Hamett son of Simon Hamett and Mary his wife was baptized y e 27 th of January
Shortly after Stephen’s birth, Simon was again chosen as churchwarden, for 1680-1.
His accounts this year are considerably shorter. Work on the tower had been completed. The only building works he had to make payment for were minor repairs to the church gate, mending a glass window, iron stuff for the bells and maintenance of the bell-ropes.
What concerned him more that year was the number of people passing through his parish. Sailors were issued with passes, which enabled them to make a claim on parishes they travelled through on the way to their ships. This happened four times that year, the largest number recorded at one time being seven. But besides these ‘seafaring men’, there were groups of ‘passengers’ and ‘travelers’, though never as many as in his previous year of office, when he once had to pay for 54. There was also 10 shillings ‘ffor the Gypsies & carrying of y m to y e next pish’ ( parish ).
It was Simon’s last year as churchwarden. Soon after relinquishing office he died.
Burial. St Mary. Cheldon.
1681 Simon Hammat was buried Apr. 5 th / 1681
Next Generation: 8. HAMMET-BOAVINS