Some years ago, when researching Richard Sillifant – a rare Sillifant who was not an ‘ag lab’ – I purchased The Victorian Policeman by Simon Dell (Shire Publications) from the Guild Bookstall, to learn more about what it would have been like for him being an officer in London in Victorian times. The author was a long-serving police officer in the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and had a regular column in the Tavistock Gazette. Imagine my surprise when I saw this document on page 6:
Dated 1852, some four years before the formation of the local county police force, it is the list of candidates to be appointed as parish constables for the parish of Mary Tavy in Devon. Completed by the Vestry Committee of the parish, fourth row down is George Maunder, my great-great-great-grandfather!
George Maunder married Elizabeth Godard on 12 October 1841 in St Mary’s Church, Mary Tavy.
The village of Mary Tavy (sometimes called ‘Tavy St Mary’) was, according to White’s Devonshire Directory (1850), “a scattered village in the Tavy valley, and on the western side of Dartmoor, 4 miles N.E. by N. of Tavistock, is mostly inhabited by miners. Its parish contains 1552 souls, and 4180 acres of land, including about 2100A. of open moorland; the village of Horndon; the high moorland district of Black Down, and other parts of Dartmoor, where there are five valuable copper, tin, and lead mines, called Wheal, and North, South, and East Wheal Friendship; and Kingscott and Bedford. . . . John Buller, Esq., is lord of the manor, owner of a great part of the soil, and patron of the rectory, valued in K.B. at £14. 5s. 7½d., and in 1831 at £260. The Rev. Anthony Buller is the incumbent, and has 30A. 1R. 10P. of glebe, and a small Parsonage. The tithes were commuted in 1843, for £207 10s. per annum. The Church is a small antique edifice, with a tower and three bells. Mrs Carpenter and several smaller owners have estates in the parish, mostly freehold. The Bible Christians have one, and the Wesleyans have two small chapels in the parish. . . . ”
In 1851 – a year before George was made parish constable – the Maunder family lived at Lanehead in the village:
[Ref: 1851 census, Mary Tavy, Devon – HO107/1884/9/10]
Mary Tavy: overlooking the Willsworthy valley. View towards Ger Tor, on the horizon, left. With Lanehead and Nattor Farm, centre right, and Standon Hill, right. © Copyright Martin Bodman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
George Maunder farmed 90 acres at Great Warn(e) in 1861 and by 1871, this had expanded to 137 acres and required him to employ four labourers. George died in 1880 – his wife, Elizabeth, predeceasing him in 1877. Both George and Elizabeth died in ‘the 66th year of their age’. Had I not purchased The Victorian Policeman, I would probably never have known about George’s role within the village of Mary Tavy.
This map is extracted from Kain, R.J.P., Oliver, R.R., Historic Parishes of England and Wales: an Electronic Map of Boundaries before 1850 with a Gazetteer and Metadata [computer file]. Colchester, Essex: History Data Service, UK Data Archive [distributor], 17 May 2001. SN: 4348. Acknowledgement is made to R.J.P. Kain, R.R Oliver, the Economic and Social Research Council, the History Data Service and the UK Data Archive.