Finding Your Sticklepath Ancestors

Finch Foundry Workers

Includes Albany Finch (right side arm on top of post)

Ralph Finch (hand on hip)

Willy May (holding the horse) Lawrence Taylor, Joe Hellier, Mt Goe, Jack Powlesland, W.Endacott

Did your ancestors live in Sticklepath near Okehampton, Devon?

There is another Sticklepath in Devon, that is Sticklepath Hill in Barnstaple.  This can be confusing. 

Sticklepath Parish was only formed in 1987. Prior to this most of Sticklepath was in Sampford Courtenay Parish but some villagers, at Sticklepath Bridge end, were in South Tawton Parish. Others ‘up the valley’ or “factory” were part of Belstone Parish.

Most were in Okehampton Registration district (for birth marriage and death registration) but the bridge end was in North Tawton Registration district.

Sampford Courtenay Parish Church was some miles distant, so many were baptised, married or buried in South Tawton or Belstone so don’t forget to look there too. I hope all these parish records will come online soon, Findmypast seems to have most, and don’t forget non-conformist records especially Wesleyan Methodist.

These issues are easily sorted now you are aware of them!  It is more frustrating to learn that the Exeter record offices were bombed during WW2 and so you would be lucky to find your ancestors Will, though it is definitely worth a look!

Sticklepath’s wealth of resources include:

The Sticklepath Heritage group – a small keen group who have an archive and are willing to help anyone searching for information. Take a look around their website and do not hesitate to contact them. The Heritage group is working on several house histories as well as the post offices and shops.

A number of records exist for the children who attended the village school.

Genuki hosts Online Parish Clerks for Sampford Courtenay, Belstone and South Tawton again very helpful people:

https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/DEV/SampfordCourtenay

https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/DEV/Belstone

https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/DEV/SouthTawton

Chapman of Dawlish and others took many photographic postcards of Sticklepath from the late 1800s. There are photographs of most Sticklepath Houses from 1983 alongside numerous other photographs and newspaper clippings in the Sticklepath Archive.

The Finch Foundry – now a National Trust property.  Many people living in Sticklepath will have had contact with or been employed by the Finch family.  It was a prominent feature of the village from 1814 to 1960 and a visit can give some idea of what it would have been like to live nearby. It is a very pleasant detour if visiting Cornwall!  Make sure you book in advance at a time when the machinery is being demonstrated.  

The Quaker burying ground – an ecumenical burial ground, for which records do exist though not comprehensive. Open to visit at all times, behind ‘The Foundry’ in the middle of Sticklepath.

Other employers: Sticklepath Quarry, Ramsley Mine (contact South Tawton history group),  Sticklepath Copper Mine, Thomas Pearse’s woollen mill, the pubs etc.

War memorials – a member of the Heritage group has looked into the soldiers who died in the two great wars. Documents can also be found in the archive for William Middle, Crimean war veteran. 

Religious heritage – although the Quakers were predominant in the 17th and 18th centuries, visits by Charles and John Wesley meant there was a strong Wesleyan Methodist heritage during the 19th and 20th centuries. This dwindled until the chapel, on the main road opposite the village hall,  was sold for a residence in 2015. (Sadly still derelict 2020). At one time Sticklepath was the head of the circuit.    The little Anglican Chantry Chapel can still be visited.  Although initially part of Sampford Courtenay Parish it was later under the Vicar of Belstone.  The current Community Church meets in the Village hall.

My own contribution is just at the start of a long term project, which includes imagining a walk along the street of Sticklepath and commenting on some of the houses and families that have lived there. I welcome and comment, information and enquiries. You are welcome to view and comment on my photo collection, https://www.flickr.com/photos/135489732@N02/albums/72157659988461929

OF course there are the usual resources available to those researching their family tree. The Devon County Archive has a huge wealth of information.  The National Archive (TNA) can be useful, lots of advice on researching every topic. Using TNA Discovery you can search for names and places. 


“During Covid there are some extra documents that are free to download from TNA so don’t forget to take advantage!”


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