Tombstone Tuesday: John and Mary Stooke

This one is not actually a tombstone, but a memorial in Trusham Church in Devon, England. A booklet on the church says:

At the east end of the north aisle is the large wooden monument to John and Mary Stooke in imitation marble. There is only one other such monument in Devon in any way comparable. John Stooke was the son of a yeoman farmer (also John) at Pristons in Trusham (now disappeared). An interesting local story attaches to him: in January, 1645, at the time of the Civil War, the night before the battle of Bovey Tracey a party of royalist officers were surprised while gaming at an inn in Bovey. One of these, said to have been a Clifford, escaped with his winnings — a bag of gold — and rode off towards Trusham, pursued by roundheads. It is said that in attempting to avoid capture he threw the bag over a hedge into a field called “Kiln Close” (still known by that name, by the turning off to Ashton; here it was found next day by John Stooke junior, who then set up as a clothier in Chudleigh, making his fortune and enabling him to leave substantial moneys for charity in Bovey Tracey, Trusham, Ashton and Christow. The two almshouses in Trusham were provided in this way…

Three of the bells date from the seventeeth century, the earliest (1623) bears the name of Adrian Norman, parson, Sand\ford Tucker and John Stooke, churchwardens. Two more (1676 and 1684) were given by John Stooke, son of the last, and already referred to (Stooke monument). These three are Pennington bells, from the Exeter foundry of that name.

Stooke memorial in Trusham Church

Stooke memorial in Trusham Church

Here is a closer view of the inscription:

Stooke memorial inscription in Trusham Church, Devon

Stooke memorial inscription in Trusham Church, Devon

John Stooke (1628-1696) was the elder brother of my 7-great grandfather Edward Stooke (1631-1699), and they were among the nine children of John Stooke (1592-1642) and Grace Smallridge (d. 1645). The younger John married Mary Apter, and they had no children. Edward, my ancestor, married Mary Satterley, and their son Edward married Mary Furlong.

The Stooke family lived for several generations in the Teign valley in Devon, mainly at Trusham and the nearby village of Ashton.

7 Responses

  1. My maiden name was Stooke. My grandfather was Charles Stooke. I believe the family first immigrated to Canada and then to Tennesee. But my grandfather settled in San Diego, California. I would be interested if you know the origin of the Stooke name. I was told that it was Welsh but recently, my daughter returned from a visit to the UK and was told that it was not Welsh.

    • Most Stooke families seem to come from Devon, England. Can you tell me anything more about your grandfather, especially when he was born?

    • Stooke is a Viking name: It meant a “Jutting Crag”, something that stands out against the skyline. The Vikings settled in Devon and one of their chieftains was named “Jutting Crag”…. a “stook” of corn has the same derivation, ie: something that stands out agains the skyline.

      My family are Stookes from Devon. My father was Roy Stooke of Raleigh Terrace, Exmouth, and my Grandfather was Thomas Stooke, Master Mariner in the Merchant Navy who sailed the seas to China, America and Australia. He had 4 daughters -one of whom ended up in Australia… there is a “Stooke Street” in Melbourne,

      • Imogen, this is quite exciting for me, since I believe your grandfather was the brother of my great grandmother, Mary Barber Stooke. That means you are one of my closer cousins on the Stooke side of the family. I’ll be in touch by e-mail.

  2. Sorry about the really slow response.

    I visited the Trusham Church in Trusham in May 1980 & went through the parish record books that were in Exeter at the time. I took some pictures inside the church & have the information on John stooke & how he got his money & his will if you do not have that information. I’ll resume my search for the pitures again.


  3. […] Trusham, where Stookes had also lived, and the church was a bit better maintained, and there were monuments to the Stooke family inside the church. We spoke to a woman there who was looking after the […]

  4. Hi, I’ve been looking at research carried out by my mother’s cousin, Edward Stooke, John’s brother was my 7 times great grandfather too – so I gues we are related!

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