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The Ancestry of Oliver Mainwaring: Spurway

1 John Spurway = Florence Worthe
2 (?) John Spurway = Anne Sherron
3 Thomas Spurway = ________
4 Juliana Spurway = George Mainwaring
5 Oliver Mainwaring (I) = Margaret Torbock
6 Oliver Mainwaring (II) = Prudence Esse
7 Oliver Mainwaring (III) = Hannah Raymond

W.G. Hoskins, “English Provincial Towns in the Sixteenth Century,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th ser., 6 (1956): 1-19, at pp. 8-9, cites Hooker’s Commonplace Book of Exeter for the statement that the Spurways were members of a franklin family with a pedigree and lands in Devonshire then going back at least 200 years.[1] In 1488 a Robert Spurwey — perhaps the on of this name who in the 1620 visitation is shown as a brother of Thomas Spurway — held “a messuage called Spurwey in the parish of Okeford” as an under-tenant of Nicholas Stucle, who held it of the Countess of Richmond, mother of King Henry VII.[2] A nineteenth-century work treats the family under the parish of Oakford:

Oakford, or Okeford, in the hundred of Witheridge and in the deanery of South Molton, lies about nine miles from Tiverton, and two and a half from Bampton. The manor belonged anciently to the Montacutes, earls of Salisbury, of whom it was purchased by Sir Lewis Pollard, one of the justices of the Common Pleas, in the reign of Henry VII. His great-grandson, Sir Hugh, sold it to Richard Spurway, Esq., of Tavistock, a younger brother of the Spurway family. After the death of Henry Spurway, Esq., in 1680, this estate was divided between co-heiresses. A fourth is now vested in Mr. R.H. Parkin, descended from one of the co-heiresses; the remainder, which in 1773 belonged to the Rev. Mr. Sanford, is now the property of James Hay, Esq.
The manor of Spurway, in this parish, has been, from an early period, in the Spurway family, and is now the property of the Rev. John Spurway, of Barnstaple. The manor-house, which was the seat of the elder branch of the Spurways, is now occupied by the farmer of the estate. Grede, in this parish, appears to have been the original residence of the Spurways, who, in the reign of Henry III., were described as Grede alias Spurway.[3]

The 1620 Visitation of Devon (Harleian Society, vol. 6), p. 274, treats the Thomas Spurway who appears as the second generation in our account, showing only one of his two marriages and only one of his more than four children, missing among others the daughter Julian named in his will. It purports to provide six generations of his ancestry in the male line, and gives his arms as argent, on a bend sable, a mullet between two garbs of the field.[4] A description of these arms published in the nineteenth century gives the same arms but with varying tinctures: argent, on the [sic] bend azure, a spur-rowel, or, between two garbs of the first.[5] The perfectly acceptable blazoning here of what had earlier been called a mullet as a spur-rowel reflects the likelihood that these were canting arms, and it also suggests the possibility that the arms originated in a period when the true meaning of spurway — a mediaeval form of the word sparrow — had been forgotten, for otherwise one would expect the arms to have featured sparrows.

1. John Spurway married Florence Worthe. These names are given in the Spurway pedigree in the 1620 Visitation of Devon as the grandparents of Thomas Spurway (no. 3), but see below for the possibility that they were actually his parents.

(?) 2. John Spurway married Agnes Sherron. These names are given in the Spurway pedigree in the 1620 Visitation of Devon as the parents of Thomas Spurway (no. 3), and are accepted as such by the author of the entry for their son Thomas Spurway in the History of Parliament. However, we understand that in the manuscript Seven Centuries by Brice Clagett, the author deletes this generation and makes Thomas Spurway a son of John Spurway and Florence Worthe. We do not know the basis of this identification, and have been unable to establish any dates which might help settle the matter.

3.  Thomas Spurway, of the parish of St. Martin’s Exeter, Mayor of Exeter, Devon (1540-41), M.P. for Exeter (1542), Receiver-General to the Earl of Devon,[6] and to the Marquess of Exeter,[7] born in 1481-83 (aged 56 in 1538 or 1539), died 1548, between 29 March (when he made his will) and 8 May (when it was proved).[8] The History of Parliament states, “He was born at Tiverton, of a gentle family with a tradition of service to the Courtenay earls of Devon, and this he followed until 1539 when the Marquess of Exeter was arrested for treason. His ‘great credit’ with the marquess did not harm him, for he was put in charge of the forfeited estates; he was also given the administration of some of the lands of two queens [i.e. Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr]. It was after his marriage to the daughter of a former mayor of Exeter that Spurway was made a freeman, and on his father-in-law’s death he went to live in Lewis’s house in St. Martin’s parish. For a number of years he reconciled the demands of a civic career with his position as the marquess’s representative, but he was no longer filling the second when he was elected to Parliament.…. He may have had a hand in the election for Exeter to the next Parliament of his colleague in Catherine Parr’s service John Grenville.”[9]
    Thomas Spurway was receiver-general both to Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire, and to the latter’s widow, Katharine, born a daughter of King Edward IV. He is mentioned as serving in this capacity to the countess in a document of 1524,[10] and he served as one of the witnesses to her 1527 will.[11]
    In his own will, in which he styles himself “Thomas Spurwaye of the coutie and citie of Exeter gentleman,” he requests burial in “Saint Nicholas churche yarde,” and makes many charitable bequests. An abstract of this will follows

The xxixth day of marche in the seconde yere of the raigne of ower sovorayne lorde Edwarde the Sixte. And in the yere or ower lorde god a thousande v c xliii [1548]. I Thomas Spurwaye of the countie and citie of Exeter gentleman beinge hole [i.e. whole] of remembrace but yet somewhat diseased of my boddye callinge to remembrance and also knowynge that deathe unto every man and woman lyvinge in this transitorye worlde (etc.). My body to be buried in Saint Nicholas churche yarde. To the reparacion of my parrishe church of Saint Martins in Exeter __ [illegible]. To the parson of the same churche for my tithes forgotten v s. To every poore man and poore woman in every almes house in the countie and citie or Exeter and the suburbes of the same one penyworthe of bread and for their reliefe and comforte. (etc. etc.)
To thre[e] of my youngest children that is to saye to John Spurwaye Grace Spurwaye and Julian Suprwaye my youngest doughter to everye of them twentie poundes in money and a fetherbedd parformed [?] in all thinges at the time of their marriage. And yf anny of my said thre[e] children happen to die that then the part or portion of him or them come to him or them overlyvinge [i.e. surviving] equallye to be divided. And if all they three happen to die before they be married then all the foresaide goods shall remayne to Thomas Spurwaye my sonne and heir apparant. I will that my sonne Thomas Spurwaye with th[e] advise of my overseers be and remane in and under the custedye and kepinge of my freende John Haydon[12] gentilman and that he do sett him to his learninge at London or elsewhere for his better knowleige.
Whereas I have and holde to me and to myne assignes my measuage tenement or howse that I dwell in w[i]t[h]in the countie and citie of Exeter for terme of certeyne yeres not yet expired. And where also by one other lease I have and holde to me and myne assignes of John Southcott Esquier one temement and gardeyne w[i]t[h]in the foresaid countie and citie of Exeter for terme of certeyne yeres yet to come. Amye my wife shall have and holde the same twoo severall temements and gardyne to her and her assignes duringe her naturall lyfe. After her deceas the residue of the yeres then not expired shall remayne to Thomas Spurwaye my sonne foresaide. And where also I stande and ame seased [i.e. seised] of an in landes tenements meadowes pastures fedinges [?] woodes underwoodes rentes reversions and suites [i.e. suits] and other hereditaments w[ith] there appurten[a]nc[e]s w[i]t[h]in the tythinge of Chettiscombe and ellswhere w[i]t[h]in the hundrethe of Tivi[r]ton the mannors and buroughe of Tivi[r]ton Exmynster and in the parishe of Saint Leonards w[i]t[h]oute the Southegate of the countie and citie of Exeter. I do give to the forsaide Thomas Spurwaye my sonne and heire apparannt and to t[he] heires of his boddye lawfullye begotton [sic]. And if my sonne Thomas happen to die w[i]t[h]oute heirs of his boddy laufullye begotton then all the foresaide measuages (etc.) shall come to my sonne John Spurwaye and to the heires of his boddye laufullye begotton. And if it happen my sonne John to die w[i]t[h]oute heirs of his boddy laufullye begotton then all the foresaide measuages (etc.) shall come to Grace Spurwaye and Julian Spurwaye my youngiste doughters and to t[he] heires of their boddyes laufullye begotton. And yf it happen my said twoo doughters Grace and Julian to die w[i]t[h]oute issue of theire boddyes laufullye begotton then all the foresaide measuages (etc.) shall come to my cosyn Robarte Spurwaye[13] of Germondyshey and to his heires males of his boddye laufullye begotton and yf it happen my saide cosyn Robarte Spurwaye to die w[i]t[h]oute heire[s] males of his boddy laufullye begotton then all the foresaide measuages (etc.) shall come to my doughter Julyan Manweringe wiffe of George Manweringe and to her heires and assignes for ever to holde of the cheefe lordes of the fee of fees by the suites and rentes thereunto.
And as to all the residue of my goodes and c[h]attalls movable and unmovable not yet given nor bequethed I give and bequethe to Amy my wyfe and Thomas my sonne whom I ordyne and make myne Executors. I ordyne and make John Haydon gentilman foresaide, William Buckenam marchannte, and David Hensteley clerke, myne overseers for the dye and true execution therof and they to have for there paynes xl s. equally between them to be devided. In wytnes wherof I have to this my testament and laste will putte my hand and sealed it w[i]t[h] my seale in the pr[e]s[ence] of John Haydon gentilman foresaide, David Hensteleygge clerke, Gregorie Basset clerke parson of Saint Martins, John Tuckfeld marchannte taylor, Philipp Collyer, Stephen Smythe.

It will be noted that as he calls Grace and Julian his “youngiste doughters,” he presumably had older ones who had already been given marriage settlements. The son Thomas did in fact survive, and was the father of the man who subscribes to the pedigree in the 1620 Visitation of Devon. The arms of this grandson of the testator are given as argent, on a bend sable, a mullet between two garbs of the field, quartering argent, a lion rampant between three cross crosslets fitchée vert (the latter for Spring, an heiress of which family allegedly married one of the early Spurways).
    This visitation mistakenly shows Thomas Spurway’s second wife, “Anne” [really Amy] Gale, as his only wife. In fact he married (1) ____ Lewis (sometimes called Joan, although on what grounds we have not been able to learn), daughter of Geoffrey Lewis, Mayor of Exeter, of St. Martin’s parish in that city. He married (2) (as her first husband) Amy Gale, of Crediton, who survived him and subsequently married secondly, Walter Staplehill, M.P., by whom she had further issue.[14] The 1620 visitation makes (Amy) Gale the mother of his son Thomas, but it is not clear which wife was the mother of his daughter Julian.

4.  Julian Spurway. She is named in two places in the 1548 will of her father, in which she is left £20;: once as “Julian Spurwaye my youngeste doughter,” and again as his “daughter Julyan Manweringe wiffe of George Manweringe.” This will also names two sons, and as previously noted it is clear from the Spurway pedigree in the 1620 Visitation of Devon that the son Thomas, at least, survived and left issue. Thus the Mainwaring pedigree of the same visitation, which designates her as “Julyan d[aughter] & h[eiress] of Spurway Maior of Exon” is mistaken in making her her father’s heiress.[15] She married before 29 March 1548 (the date of her father’s will), George Mainwaring, of Exeter, Devon, son of William Mainwaring and Margaret Tytley, whom see for the continuation of the line.


1We owe this citation to Anthony Richard Wagner, English genealogy, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1972), 158, n. 2.
2I.p.m. of Nicholas Stucle, dated 29 October, 4 Hen. VII (1488), in Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Henry VII, vol. 1, no. 403.
3Daniel and Samuel Lysons, Magna Britannia (1822), 6:370-381, available online at http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=50586.
4“Spurwaie,” 1620 Visitation of Devon (Harleian Society, vol. 6, 1872), p. 274, available online at http://books.google.com/books?id=fqwKAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA274.
5Daniel and Samuel Lysons, Magna Britannia (1822), 6:132-160, available online at http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=50553.
6On 29 September 1520 he rendered an account “as receiver-general of the lands of Edw. Courtenay, late earl of Devon, from Mic. 11 to Mic. 12 Hen. VlII,” abstracted in Letter and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII, ed. J.S. Brewer, vol. 3, pt. 1 (London, 1867), p. 368.
7Joyce A. Youings, “The Council of the West,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th ser., vol. 10. (1960): 41-59, at p. 55 n. 1, cites to this effect P.R.O., Special Collections, Ministers’s Accounts, 6194 (Lands late of the marquis of Exeter, 1538-39). It was presumably in fulfillment of official duties that he participated in the “Grant by Edmund Worth, and George Worth, son and heir of Edmund aud Elizabeth his late wife, to John Chechester, Anthony Harby, Richard Haydon, and Thomas Spurway, of their manor of Grylston, with its appurtenances, [as feoffees] to the use of Henry, Marquis of Exeter…. 2 May, 21 Hen. VIII [1529].” — Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds, vol. 1 (1890), no. A652.
8Will of “Thomas Spurwaye of the Countie and Citie of Exeter, Gentleman,” P.C.C. 6 Populwell, modern archival reference PRO prob. 11/32.
9History of Parliament: The House of Commons, 1509-1558, Members, 3 vols. (London, 1982), 3:362.
10Letter and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII, ed. J.S. Brewer, vol. 4, pt. 1 (London, 1870), p. 342.
11“The will of Katharine, Countess of Devon, daughter of Edward IV, dated May 2, 1527,” Archaeological Journal (Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland) 10 (1853): 53-58, available online at http://books.google.com/books?id=cozQAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA53.
12An M.P.
13We have not identified this man, but at this period the term cousin normally meant a niece or nephew, not a cousin in the modern sense.
141620 Visitation of Devon, as above, s.v. “Spurwaie,” p. 274 (where she is erroneously called Anne Gale) and “Staplehill,” p. 275 (where she is correctly called Amy Gale, of Kirton, Kirton being an alternate name of Crediton); see http://books.google.com/books?id=fqwKAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA275. There is a pedigree of Gale (of Crediton and elsewhere) in The Visitation of the County of Devon in the year 1564, with additions from the earlier visitaiton of 1551, ed. Frederic Thomas Colby (Exeter, 1881), 109, but like most visitation pedigrees it does not show daughters in the early generations. Walter Staplehill is briefly discussed in an editorial note in The Life and Times of Peter Carew, Knt., ed. John MacLean (London, 1857), 154, available online at http://books.google.com/books?id=5XcLAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA1-PA154.
15“Mainwaring,” 1620 Visitation of Devon, as above, p. 177.

The content of this page first appeared as part of an ancestor table, under the now-defunct URL http://johnblythedobson.org/genealogy/AT/view_AT.cfm?ID=29, on 21 August 2002
This page was last revised 27 May 2009