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THE DEVONSHIRE HOUSE

The ecclesia de Sancto Claro is mentioned in 1245 as giving more than double the returns of seven others in Devon. In the Inq. ad Quod Damnum, Number 128, 1321, appears: William St.Clare held a portion of the manor of Baunton.

John de St.Clere by marriage with Joan, heiress of William Tidewell, acquired the propertie of Tudwell, to which seven of the name of St.Clere succeeded each other, ending with Gabriel St.Clere. Richard Seint Clare of Todewill acquired Clisthidon by marriage with Isabel, daughter of William Hidon; it was sold by the said Gabriel. Kynawersy of "the Knights" Hidon, also came unto Seintcleer by the heir, and Egidia, one of the three co-heiresses of William Carew, becoming wife of William St.Clere, brought a third part of Torrington Parva to him. Johanna, daughter of Richard St.Cleere of Ashburton, armiger, married John Hull, armiger, and the Hulls of Larkebeare, therefore, quarter the St.Cleere arms, per pale [vertical stripe] or [gold] and azure [blue], the sun in his beams counterchanged. After the dissolution the manor of Polsloe, to which Budleigh is subservient, was sold to St.Clere of Tidwell. Budleigh had been previously owned by the Somerset St.Clares. Gabriel St.Clere sold it to Thomas Ford of Bagster. John St.Clere, son and heir of Gilbert St.Clere of Budleigh, married Joan Ford, and his sister Joan married George Ford. Gilbert St.Clere of Toodwell, Devon, married Joan, daughter of John Strawbridge of Collyton, and had Agnes, wife of John, son and heir of Thomas Carew of Bykeley, Devon [son of Edmund, Lord Carew]; Joan, wife of George Ford; George, William, Thomas, and Phillipa St.Cleer, the daughter. At Wilton, of the great nunnery, in Wiltshire, in a church there, a 10-inch monumental pictorial brass exists to John Coffer and his wife Philippa St.Cleer, this daughter. John is in the kneeling attitude. The date is 1585. Above the female effigy is the shield of her husband, an armiger or squire, and one quarter has the St.Cleer arms: Per pale or and azure a sun counterchanged. Gabriel St.Clere was last in possession of Tidewell. It is recorded of him that "he was a man well qualified, but that by prodigality having consumed his estate, whereof being ashamed, he did (a malo ad pejus) counterfeit lunacy, and in that humour pulled down his house and sold timber and stones, affirming that none of his posterity could prosper so long as that house, where so much sin had been committed, stood, and it was credibly reported that a dead man, booted and spurred, was found in one of his fish ponds, and also the bones of divers children". The Proceedings of Chancery in the reign of Elizabeth refer to his case, S.s. 19 Number 61: "Elizabeth, wife of Gabriel Saintclere, plaintiff: Thomas Ford and Robert Mylls, defendants: Object of suit, premises: For relief of the plaintiff and her children, charging the defendant Thomas Ford with keeping away her husband from her and family, and by fraudulent means procuring a conveyance of the capital messuage, barton, and demesne of Tudwell, on which the plaintiff had a settlement as jointure, and also his manor of Budleigh, and lands in Budleigh and Ashburton, and by fraudulent practices and promise of payment to plaintiff of a rent charge of £10, procured her to levy a fine with her husband of all his estates, to the utter ruin of the plaintiff and her family, the defendant not allowing her access to her husband: County Devon".

Arscot, a younger brother of Arscott of Annery, married Gabriel's daughter and rebuilt Tidwell. Joan Ford was the wife and widow of a Gabriel, perhaps predecessor to the last of Tidwell, and a Mark St.Clare married a lady named Bois in Devon. In the Chancery Proceedings, Elizabeth, Number 10, is another entry of interest. "Hugh Pomerye, esq., plaintiff: Gawen St.Clere, Sampson Letheby, Barbara (his wife), John Keymer, and Thomas Jones, defendants: Object of suit to quit plaintiff's possession: premises - the manor of Engesdon, otherwise called the manor of Over Engesdon, in the parish of Ilsington, and divers lands in Ilsington, the inheritance of plaintiff: Devon county". In the Valor Ecclesiasticus of Henry VII, a George St.Clere is noted as rector of a Devonshire chapel. In Braybrook, Rothwell hundred, Northampton, there is a mural monument, with the arms, a sun in its glory, and having two side inscriptions in Latin which translate thus: "The woman reverencing her lord shall be praised", and "Gracefulness is fleeting and beauty is hollow", while the chief inscription runs: "To Mary, risen from the Devonshire family of the ancient and honoured nobility of the Sinclers, his very faithful and good wife dead by too bitter fate at Braybrook. Thomas Valence, her surviving husband, has placed this therefore with the highest love and eternal devotion: She died in the hope of the resurrection on the fourth day of September, in the year of human salvation 1571. Tears will remain her monument".

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