We are fortunate to study a surname where, very early in the surname’s development, the nameholders held land. This means that some very early records survive relating to land transfers, taxes and military service. In addition, the Estelake/Estlake name was prevalent in the Bratton Manor rolls. Even though limited, the records provide a welcome window into those bearing this surname in medieval times. Other records from this period undoubtedly exist, for example in manors other than Bratton Clovelly, so this collection should grow in future.
Summary of Findings
The availability of parish registers from the mid-1500s, along with the quickly increasing number of civil records, provides far more opportunities for locating people. However, as manor documents become more accessible, this should shed further light on the 13th to 15th centuries. In the chart below, dates refer to when individuals appear in the records found to date rather than specific life events. If a life event is known, it is identified by the abbreviation ‘b’ (baptism), ‘m’ (marriage) or ‘d’ (burial).
Bratton Manor Rolls
Before the 16th century, Eastlake records are very rare. Partly to understand more about the bearers of the surname and partly to understand more about the community in which they lived, we have spent the past several years getting the ten surviving Bratton manor rolls translated. Our special thanks to Brooke Westcott for these translations and to the Devon Heritage Centre for their high quality digitisation of the rolls. Eastlakes occur in all rolls between 1377 and 1552 by which time this small family had begun migrating to other parts of Devon and Cornwall.
These rolls provide invaluable insight into life in the Bratton parish along with about 80 references to those with the Eastlake surname, although these references only identify seven individual Eastlakes. But beyond the people identified, the rolls tell us that the Eastlakes were prominent free tenants of the manor repeatedly serving as jurors and providing surety for others. They also often appeared in personal action cases, either as complainant or defendant, a means of relieving the tensions of the close-knit medieval communities that frequently settled out of court and a welcome income stream for the lord or lady as the trespass (of animals onto others’ land), debt and broken agreement lawsuits and countersuits rolled on.
View these records.
If you would like to learn more about what the manor rolls have shown us about Bratton Clovelly, the following presentation from a Guild of One-Name Studies seminar may be of interest.
‘Bratton Court Rolls’, Devon Heritage Centre, ref 314M/0/1-10 (1377-1685).
A fascinating Feudal Aid reference of 1422 shows the succession of Godescote, including a number of farms in the detached portion of Bratton manor, from the lord of Bratton Manor Thomas de Somerton to Richard Estlake. The implications of this transfer are not entirely clear but it must have given additional property and property rights to the family. However, land deeds identify that some portion of this property was sold only a few decades later although Eastlakes continued to live and remain prominent in Bratton Clovelly for another century. To date, we have no explanation for this early sale of the Eastlake lands. A transfer of land in Cornwall to Richard Estlake in 1455 is also interesting in that Eastlakes were known to be in Cornwall a century later. Was this just coincidence?
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‘Calmady Manuscripts’, Plymouth & West Devon Record Office, TNA ref 372.
‘Some Notes of Medieval Genealogy’, http://www.medievalgenealogy.org.uk/ [accessed 10 June 2016].
O J Reichel, ‘Hundred of Lifton in the time of Testa de Nevil, 1243’, Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 46 (1914).
‘The Devon Wills Project’, GenUKI, http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/DEV/DevonWillsProject#Interim [accessed 10 Jun 1596].
Medieval lay subsidies could be for land or goods but there are only a few mentions of Eastlakes and their assessments are modest. The most valuable aspect of these records, and there may be more to be found in The National Archives E179 database, is that they provide some additional locations for Eastlakes. More investigation is needed of early records beyond Bratton Clovelly.
View these records.
The Devonshire Lay Subsidy of 1332, ed Audrey M Erskine, The Devonshire Press Ltd, (Torquay, 1969).
Devon Lay Subsidy Rolls 1524-7, ed T L Stoate, published by T L Stoate, (Almondsbury, Bristol, 1979).
Devon Lay Subsidy Rolls 1543-5, ed T L Stoate, published by T L Stoate, (Almondsbury, Bristol, 1986).
As explained in the Origin section, the Eastlake’s land holdings obligated them to military service early on which is probably why they appear as men-at-arms during the Hundred Years War with France. In addition, able-bodied men from all walks of life could appear in muster rolls since every man bore the obligation of home defence. Even after the Eastlakes left Bratton Clovelly and the farm eventually came under the ownership of the Calmady family, the military tradition continued. In 1699, Josias Calmady of Eastlake commanded the soldiers from across the Lifton hundred (a much larger area that included Bratton Clovelly) in Sir Francis Drake’s regiment.
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The Devon Muster Roll for 1569, ed A J Howard and T L Stoate, published by T L Stoate, (Almondsbury, Bristol, 1977).
Information on soldiers has been taken from from the AHRC-funded ‘The Soldier in Later Medieval England Online Database’, http://www.medievalsoldier.org/ [accessed 10 June 2016].
‘1715 Militia Assessments and Related Documents’ (includes 1699 ‘List of Trained Souldiers’), Z1/43/4/1 Lifton Hundred, Friends of Devon’s Archives, http://www.foda.org.uk/militia/1715/lifton/lifton_soldiers_1699.htm [accessed 10 June 2016].
Various other sources now indexed or available in translation also help to characterise the Eastlakes. We know from these miscellaneous sources that there was at least one other manor roll, existing when Rev Whale wrote an article on the Manors of Bratton Clovelly in 1895 but missing today, that stated that Richard Estelake was elected tithingman of Bratton in 1422. Other sources identify an Eastlake serving as an attorney to the Arundells of Lanherne, ‘the Great Arundells’ who were perhaps the leading family in Cornwall during the medieval period. As well, an Eastlake matriculated at Oxford in the 16th century, one who we believe later served in Devon as a clergyman. So although there were Eastlake land sales in the previous century, it appears that the family retained its socioeconomic standing.
View these records.
Rev T W Whale, ‘Manors in Bratton Clovelly’, Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature, and Art, Vol 27 (1895), accessed at Internet Archive, http://www.archive.org/stream/reportandtransa21artgoog/reportandtransa21artgoog_djvu.txt [accessed 10 June 2016].
‘Hounte v Vysik. Plaintiffs: John Hounte, late servant to the parson of …’, Chancery Pleadings, The National Archives, TNA ref C 1/9/461.
‘(1 Eliz); at Lanhern Lease for term of lives John Arundell of Lanheron, esquire …’, Cornwall Record Office, TNA refs AR/4/1217 & AR/4/1419.
Alumni Oxonienses: The Members of the University of Oxford, 1500-1714, (Oxford, 1888-1892), accessed at Ancestry, http://home.ancestry.co.uk/ [accessed 10 June 2016].
‘Shield of Arms of the Lord Arundell of Wardour.svg’, by Erpecom (own work, elements by Sodacan) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AShield_of_Arms_of_the_Lord_Arundell_of_Wardour.svg [accessed 10 June 2016].
Although parish registers were relative late-comers at the end of the medieval period, they are the first records to capture men, women and children from all walks of life through the baptism, marriage and burial records. We are fortunate to have excellent online sources for both Devon and Cornwall parish registers. While the records of the 1500s cannot be considered complete because not all registers survived, it can quickly be seen that in short order the small number of Eastlake families in Devon who had survived the medieval period was quickly outnumbered by one family who migrated to Bodmin, Cornwall in the mid-1500s. Worldwide, it remains the case that the lines that started from this Cornwall family headed by Robert Estlake/Estlacke are still the largest lines today.
Parish Registers, Bratton Clovelly, Devon Heritage Centre, A2A ref 2003A/PR series, (1552-2000).
Devon Baptisms, Marriages & Burials, FindMyPast, http://www.findmypast.co.uk/ [accessed 10 June 2016].
Cornwall Baptisms, Marriages & Burials, Cornwall Online Parish Clerk Database, http://cornwall-opc-database.org/ [accessed 10 June 2016].
FamilySearch Records, https://familysearch.org/ [accessed 10 June 2016].