A Post for Peter

DSCF2572When Peter’s sister, Lucy, was born, I wrote about her direct maternal line. Four months later and her cousin Edward’s post was about grandparenthood. Now it is Peter’s turn. When I learned what his name was to be my immediate reaction was that it was a new name for our family but actually it isn’t. I can only comment on his maternal ancestry but there are six Peters amongst his known direct ancestors on this side of the family. What follows is their story; young Peter needs to be aware that he can’t choose his ancestors!

Three of the Peters are members of the Elford family, grandfather, father and son; baby Peter’s 12, 11 and 10 x great grandfathers. The eldest of these is one of our earliest known ancestors and very little is known about him. Peter Elford senior was baptised in Mary Tavy, Devon in 1584, the son of William and Joan Elford née Cudlipe. At this time, Queen Elizabeth I was still on the throne and Walter Raleigh found Roanoke Island in North America. Mary Tavy, four miles north of Tavistock, on the edge of Dartmoor, was in the nineteenth century home to the world’s largest copper mine. It is likely however that the Elfords were yeoman farmers. Peter senior married Jane Bowden in 1606, the year Guy Fawkes was executed and Macbeth and King Lear were first performed. They had eight children. One of their daughters, Joanna, is a strong candidate for the Joanna Elford who was indicted for witchcraft in 1671. The youngest child, Peter, was baptised in 1622. In 1641, two Peter Elfords signed the Protestation Return in Mary Tavy; probably Peter senior and his son. Peter senior died in 1650.

The second Peter Elford married Katheren Wills in 1646, just as the first phase of the English civil war was coming to an end. Peter served as parish constable and churchwarden for Mary Tavy. A lease dated 1669/70 shows that Peter was a yeoman of Peeke’s Tenement in Mary Tavy. Peter and Katheren had five children. Their son, the youngest Peter Elford, was baptised in 1647. He married Margery Spiller in 1676, just as Christopher Wren was putting the finishing touches to the Royal Greenwich Observatory. They too had five children.

A pair of Peter Geachs, father and son, are young Peter’s 10 and 9 x great grandfathers. Peter Geach senior married Frances Addams in St. Mellion, Cornwall in 1674. He leased a property called Forse Field, Viverdon Common in St. Mellion and was described as a husbandman. Only two children have been found for Peter and Frances. Peter Geach junior was baptised in 1675. He and his wife, Anne née White, moved from St. Mellion to nearby St. Dominick, where they had four children.

Norham village green


The most recent Peter is Peter Eadington, young Peter’s 6 x great grandfather. Edington and its rarer variant, Eadington, is a surname found predominantly in Northumberland. It is a locational name, taken from the hamlet of Edington (Ida’s town), which is three miles south west of Morpeth. Peter Eadington arrives in the family history as the father of Isabella E(a)dington who was baptised at St. Cuthbert’s, Norham, Northumberland on the 29th of June 1789 to Peter Eadington and Isabella Mather. Baptisms in the area do sometimes give mothers’ maiden names but the entry suggests that Peter and Isabella Mather were not married. This is borne out by the existence of a bastardy bond citing Peter Edington, a miller of Norham, as the father of Isabella Mather’s unborn illegitimate child. There are other baptisms in Norham for children of Peter E(a)dington around this time. He appears to have had four children by Alice, to whom it seems he was married and another illegitimate child by Mary Brown in 1794.

Norham is right on the Scottish border and it has been difficult to identify the site of the mill. Local folklore suggests that it was on the site of what is now Tower Cottages and the adjacent ‘vennel’, or alley, is known as The Mill Opening. A painting of 1907 depicts what might be a sail-less windmill. Ordnance survey maps however suggest that this structure was a dovecot. The deeds of 14 Castle Street, next to Tower Cottages, confirm that a miller lived there but there is no certainty that the mill was next door. The Tithe Map and schedule site a mill on the opposite side of the village green however there were no male Eadingtons in the parish at that date. This building is near a tributary of the River Tweed and would almost certainly have been a water mill. There was no building on the site of this mill by 1898. Even if the site of the mill could be identified, there is no proof that this was the mill worked by Peter Eadington. Call Books listing freeholders for the manor of Norham Town do not list Petter {sic} Eadington until 1795 and he sells his freehold to principal landowner Sir Francis Blake in 1805. The land tax for 1798 mentions a mill in the hamlet of Twizel in Norham so it may be that Peter worked here before moving in to the centre of the village.

So, just tiny fragments of Peter’s ancestry and rather a mixed bunch but all part of the rich tapestry that is our family’s history.


One comment on “A Post for Peter

  1. Jenny Rundle says:

    I am researching my. Husbands family (Rundle) and have an ancestor Peter Elford b 1584 Mary Tavy. Your information on Peter Elford makes them one and the same. I am trying to find a link to Linkenhorne, a document dated 1608 which has been passed down the family links to Linkenhorne.

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