The Bovetts, from 1610 to 1880

Setting the scene

Southleigh Hill, DevonThomas Bovett, born 1610 in Southleigh, Devon; just a few miles inland from Beer.

Thomas is my Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather. Is that great, or what?

Now - just imagine you're there in 1638, a fly on the wall of the cottage of newly-weds Thomas  and Joanna Bovett, who are turning in for the night.

In the morning, Thomas will be up at first light for a long day's hay harvesting, and Joanna will have some serious lace making to do. But tonight, Joanna looks thoughtfully at Thomas, sighs and then moistens her fingers. She leans across the bed, reaches over and with a quick squeeze and release movement,

Bovett Cottage. snuffs out the candle wick.  She lies back with her eyes closed, ready to do her nightly duty, singing very quietly to the tune of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’:


“Lah, lah, la la la… oooh! ouch! Oh Thomas dearest… don’t do that.”


(ED. Mmmm, not a good start. Elgar will not be born for another 200 years – is this poetic license or just sloppy research?)

Five generations, Thomas to Thomas

And so it came to pass that Thomas (1610) begat another Thomas (1634-1721), who married Margaret and begat John (1664-1747), who married another Margaret and begat yet another Thomas (1690-1769), who married Sarah and begat another John (1714-1797), who married Elizabeth and begat half a dozen:

The story now continues. We still have a Thomas Bovett (this one a Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather), we’re still in Southleigh but a century has passed. (So has the bubonic plague - which has killed three quarters of the population of Beer, the next village to the south.)

The rest of the world

Oh, and a few other things have happened in the world outside Southleigh – just the odd English civil war, the plague and the fire of London; Descarte has published his Principia Philosophiae  and Newton his Principia Mathematica; Samuel Pepys has recorded the last entry in his diary. The English scientist Christopher Merrett has invented the ‘methode champenoise’ - 200 years later the French will adopt the method for Champagne. Bacteria has been discovered, the speed of light has been measured and the Scottish economist John Law has invented ‘modern’ credit-based finance, leading to the collapse of the French economy and the world’s first financial ‘bubble’ (way to go, John). The Bank of England has been founded.

(Allegedly, Henry Purcell had a meeting with the newly-appointed governor and composed this little ditty on the way home:

Meanwhile, here in Southleigh, not much has happened except Bovett-breeding and shed-loads of hay and lace.

This tiny corner of Devon

Now where were we? Ah yes, Thomas has moved some 8 miles up the road to the village of Ottery St Mary, where he has married local girl Joan Carnell. Their kids: John (1775-1835), Thomas (1777- 1852), James (1780-1862), Mary (1782) and William (1786-1852).

Youngest son William (1786-1852) then moved a further 3 miles inland to Feniton, to marry Mary and bred: William (1811-1858), Margaret (1815), Mary (1817), Arabella (1819-1894) and Sarah (1825).

William’s eldest, William (1811-1858) married Frances in Ottery St Mary in 1837 and there followed:Annie Bovett and Tom Havill

Ann married local lad Charles Lowden, so the story now continues on the Lowden page.

Bovetts Journey