Monthly Archives: February 2018


It is perhaps significant that Richard does not seem to have had any family near him during his illness; his bequests appear to be to four of his friends, a situation consistent with that of a young man far from home. Perhaps he had come up from Devonshire hoping to make his fortune in the capital, but fell instead an untimely victim to some foul and horrible disease, a grim lesson to any
other young man from home hankering after the excitement of the big city. It is interesting to observe that William Neate was also dead by the time the will was proved; this suggests the possibility of some epidemic disease. If an epidemic was responsible for the two deaths, it is unlikely to have been the bubonic plague,* which in Seventeenth-Century London peaked in 1603 (estimated 33,347 deaths due to the plague), 1625 (41,313 plague deaths recorded), 1636 (10,400 plague deaths recorded) and 1665 (the Great Plague with 68,596 recorded deaths), but from which there are no deaths recorded between 1610 and 1625. More likely it would have been smallpox, which became prominent in Britain in the Seventeenth Century, with 1614 being the worst year all over Europe and the East. Or possibly it might have been that unmentionable disease known euphemistically throughout Europe as the
French pox (except in France where it was attributed to the Spanish), which reached epidemic proportions in Europe for almost thirty years from 1494 and became widely prevalent again in England during the reign of James I (1603-25).



The Will of Richard Tapson dated 15 September 1613


I Richard Tapsonne beinge sicke of bodie yett of perfecte memorie doe heare make my last will and Testament in manner and forme as followeth

First I give and bequeath my soule to god to whom it is most dew

Item First I give to Francis Clarke the some
of 40 shillings

Item unto Ellis Rich 40 shillings more

Item unto John Postler Five shillings

Item Fowrthly I give and bequeath all the rest that I have as moneye Clothes or Whatsoever ellse i have unto William Neate

In wittnes whereof I have here sette my hand and seale / beinge dated this 15th of September Anno 1613 Richard / Tapsonne

presence William Lackewell wittnes
the marke / of William Johnsonne witnes




Even after the Dissolution Buckland Abbey continued to play an important part in the life of the parish in which the Tapsons were concentrated in the Sixteenth Century, for it was sold by Henry VIII to Sir Richard Grenville, a member of an aristocratic Bideford family, who demolished many of the buildings but converted the abbey church into a Tudor mansion. About 1580 his grandson, also named Sir Richard Grenville (of the Revenge), sold the estate to Sir Francis Drake, who used it as his principal residence when not at sea. Thus the Buckland Monachorum Tapsons, although living far from London, must have been quite well-informed about national events. There would have been much talk about the death at sea in 1545 of Roger Grenville (father of the younger Sir Richard) when the Mary Rose, the second largest ship of Henry VIII’s fleet, capsized and of the death of Sir Richard himself in 1591 when the English fleet was caught unawares, leaving the Revenge, under Sir Richard’s command, alone to face the 53 Spanish galleons, on which he inflicted much damage before losing to the enemy his own ship, which Subsequently sank in a gale.

The Sixteenth-Century Tapsons would have known of Sir Francis Drake, who was born into a local farming and sea-faring family, as he set out on his many expeditions from the nearby port of Plymouth. They would have heard of his adventures as a successful pirate on the Spanish Main (1570-73), of his voyage of circumnavigation in the Golden Hind (1577-80), of his ransacking of Carthagena (1586) and his wreaking havoc on the Spanish fleet at Cadiz (1587), and could not have failed to hear of his part in the scattering of the Armada (1588). The Buckland Monachorum Tapsons would no doubt have discussed the injustice of his subsequent court-martialling after an unsuccessful plundering trip to the Azores and his enforced retirement at Buckland Abbey for five years, in disgrace with the Queen, and would have been saddened to hear of his death at sea in 1596 during his final expedition against the Spanish.



Surnames were introduced into England in the eleventh century by some of the more prominent Normans, but usually inherited only by the eldest sons. The custom of applying a man’s name to all his children developed slowly, at first only among the upper classes, and it was not until about 1450 that hereditary surnames were in universal use in England. The subsequent spelling of a surname was often determined by its spelling in the early parish registers. The Tapson surname, meaning son of Tapp, is said to be derived from an Old English first name Tasppa. Although the name Tasppa has not survived in the written records and is of unknown meaning, it is considered to have given rise to the first element in place-names such as Taplow (Buckinghamshire), Tapners and Tappington (Kent), and Tapton (Derbyshire). The use of Tapp as a surname occurs as early as 1194, when John and Roger Tappe were mentioned in the Dorset Pipe Rolls.* In Devonshire, Tapp was fairly common as a surname, certainly by the sixteenth century, though in the north rather than in the south-west of the county where the Tapsons were to be found. The name Tapp also forms the first element of other surnames such as Tapscott and Tapping, the latter also meaning son of Tapp.



Although we shall never know for certain, there is strong circumstantial evidence to
suggest that the Tapson name may have originated in the south-west corner of Devonshire, possibly in the parish of Buckland Monachorum, monachorum being the genitive plural of the Mediaeval Latin word monachus meaning monk. Buckland of the Monks was so called because Buckland Abbey, of the Cistercian Order, was founded there in 1278. In the Domesday survey of 1086 the parish is called Bocheland or Bochelanda ; the Episcopal Registers of the Diocese of Exeter of 1271-6 refer to it as Bockelonde; but in the Taxatio Ecclesiastica (Supplement to Bishop Bronescombeâ’s Register) of 1291, thirteen years after the establishment of the abbey there, the parish has acquired the name
Boclonde Monachorum.*

Nestling among the sheltered south-western foothills of the great granite mass of Dartmoor, the village of Buckland Monachorum is about four miles south of its nearest market town, Tavistock, and nine miles north of the city and naval port of Plymouth. This peaceful little village has changed little over the centuries, although nowadays it can become quite bustling during the tourist season, the principal attraction being the abbey, a mile to the south of the village.

The Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536-1540) was motivated by the financial needs
of King Henry VIII, who confiscated the monastic wealth and property, and it was excused on the grounds of the alleged decadence of the monastic orders and the scandalous lives of their members.  By the time of the Dissolution of Buckland Abbey in 1539 the Tapson family was well established in Buckland Monachorum.



Since my cousin has generously put his astonishing history of our family into the public domain, I thought I would whet your appetites with some extracts. I could go on doing this for years as it is a huge work, but will look out for bits you will enjoy. Today, an introductory piece.

The plan of this book is straightforward. In Chapter 1 a general discussion, based on
documents of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, of the probable origin (in the Devonshire parish of Buckland Monachorum) of the Tapson name is followed by a preliminary account of the dispersal of the Tapson family from their Devonshire homeland. Chapters 2 to 4 present detailed evidence about the lives of family members living in the Seventeenth and early Eighteenth Centuries. The Eighteenth-Century and Nineteenth-Century descendants of the branch of the Tapson family introduced in Chapter 4, to which the great majority (if not all) of present-day Tapsons belong, are
investigated in Chapters 5 to 9 and Chapter 10 Part 1. Chapter 10, Part 2, deals with Strays, a few individuals, or small branches of the Tapson family, who are not descendants, or have not yet been proved to be descendants, of the Tapsons of Chapter 4. Although no account is given of Tapsons born after the Nineteenth Century, most Tapson readers should be able to lock into the family tree provided they can trace their ancestors back to that century, a comparatively easy task. 

A comprehensive work indeed. It can be seen in full and downloaded without charge at:…



Felix wishes to report that yesterday morning he was seized by his unkind Mummy, stuffed in his basket and taken to the vet, who pretended to be his friend and then stuck a needle in him!

Just because of a few ATISHOOS!

His furriness demands that you all sympathise.



After this you’ll just have to read the books!sea-view-far-away-island-misty-42482576

A short way on, they stopped to rest, leading Regin to the water and taking food and drink themselves.
‘What shall we do if we can’t cross the river?’ asked Doren.
‘At the very worst, we shall have to travel back to the ferry and cross there; but Regin would have to stay on this side,’ said Tamnet.
Several children set up a clamour at this answer, and some wept.
‘We can’t leave him here!’ cried Allet.
‘Well, no need to think the worse just yet. The river is narrow just here, as well as fast and fairly deep; but we may yet come to a place where it is shallower and slower – it depends on the land. I can’t rightly make out exactly where we are, now everything is so different,’ said Mor-Len. ‘Come; let’s go on, into the wagon with you.’
By the time dusk fell, they were still nowhere near a possible crossing. They set up camp for the night, and Torik led many noisy and energetic games for the children, so that soon after supper they were all falling asleep, some in the wagon and some on the grass. So that night passed quietly.

perian’s journey

shadows of the trees (skorn 2

the dry well (skorn)

dreamless roads


The birds swept up into the air and darkened the sky above the lion’s body. Saranna made ready to fling herself forward onto him. It cannot end like this, what can I do?
Then Naetsan shouted again, a shout of frustration and impatience. The great lion was changing. Its body was shrinking and its golden fur deepening to a rich chestnut red, sleek and shiny. Balked, the birds flew up again. Naetsan snorted with exasperation as a stumbling, wet-nosed newborn calf trembled towards her, bleating and imploring in a shaky voice. It trailed its runny nose across Naetsan’s green robe, and Saranna found she had to resist an urge to laugh. Instead she spoke carefully.
‘Naetsan.’ The ancient goddess turned to her. ‘There are other ways to reach an end.’ Saranna fell silent. The calf bellowed again, and started to suck at the folds of cloth in Naetsan’s skirt. She let out a growl and reached into a pocket. Saranna stepped forward as she saw the flash of a blade in the goddess’s hand.

sue bridgwater