English Heritage

by Philip Shaddock
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On the Celtic Origin page I discuss the DNA evidence that identifies Shattockes and our genetic cousins the Parrishs and Byars as descendants of Alpine La Tène Celts from southern Germany and Switzerland and Pontic steppe ancestors before that. The evidence indicates we were immigrants to England sometime between 400 BC and 1450 AD. We have a common ancestor that was born in the 14th century. The earliest records of Shattockes show we originate from west Somerset, although there was also a family in North Molton, Devon on the border with Somerset.

On this page I present the story of the Shattockes in England, from the beginning of written records until the massive diaspora of Shattockes to the English colonies. We were a wandering horde.

Our Ancestors in West Somerset

The case is pretty strong for west Somerset villages or North Molton on the border between Devon and Somerset as the original homeland of all the scattered Shattocks, Shattucks, Shaddocks, Shaddicks, Shadducks and other name variants around the world. There are virtually no Shattockes that show up in the earliest parish records north of Bridgwater, Somerset, south of North Molton on the northern border of Devon and east of Taunton in Somerset. There are no 16th century or earlier records of the family further south in England or in Dorset. There are no records of Shattockes in the middle or north England. There are no records of Shattocks born in London before 1600.


Somerset is shown outlined in red. The Shattockes are found in western Somerset.

The next graphic shows how the villages distribute in the late 16th century and early 17th century. Villages that had Shattocke families in the 16th century are dated in red color. 

Although parish records were mandated in 1538, many parishes did not begin record keeping until much later. The villages are concentrated in the area west and north of the town of Taunton, up the Tone valley and as far west as North Molton on the border between Somerset and Devon.The distance between Tuanton and Stogumber, near the top of the map, is only about 11 miles (18 km).

There are only about a dozen villages where families are found in the 16th century. They cluster up the Tone Valley to Stogumber from Taunton. There is a family in North Molton across the Exmoor on the border with Devon and there are a couple of villages with Shattocke families north of Bridgwater. There are no villages south or east of Taunton or east of Wellington. The Tone Valley and North Molton are ground zero for Shattockes worldwide.

Shattocke Population Study

DNA studies show that all worldwide Shattockes are direct descendants of a single male ancestor, who lived in the 14th century. I believe that a single founder explains why there are so few Shattockes at their point of origin in a small area of west Somerset when records first began. I have recorded births, deaths, marriages, wills, land documents, court documents and other paper records of Shattockes in what I call my digital shoebox that can be downloaded from here.  

The period between 1500 and 1600 saw explosive growth in the population of England. According to Michael Reed (in the The Age of Exuberance 1550-1700, p. 9), from the 1540s when parish records began to 1600 the population of England grew from 2.75 million to 4 million. The explosion in the population of Shattockes reflects this.

Certainly outbreaks of the plague in England, along with periods of famine, war and other diseases must have drastically altered the distribution and density of Shattockes from the middle of the 14th century to the middle of the 16th century. 

Major Shattock Villages in Somerset Early History


Stogumber today is a tiny village well off the beaten track. But it may have had the largest population of Shattocks in the world in 1560. 

We may never know where the common ancestor of all Shattockes lived in the 14th century because the plague would have rewritten the map of Shattocke villages by wiping Shattocke families from entire villages.  But we do have a pretty good idea where the major Shattocke villages were from records beginning in 1450.

For a long time I thought Staplegrove, now a suburb of Taunton in west Somerset, might be the home of the founder, but a document at the South West Heritage Centre listing tenant farmers in the area in and around Taunton only shows one Shattock family, that of Thomas Shattocke in 1450. Thomas Shattocke was most probably the founder of the Staplegrove Shattocks, but was he the founder of all Shattocke branches of the family? Let's see where the evidence leads us...

The fact that we find families in other areas of west Somerset and north Devon when written records first appeared in the first decades of the 16th century suggests Staplegrove was not the home village for present day Shattockes worldwide. There was a William Shattocke who married Alice Lewse in Stogumber in 1560. There was a John or Johane Shattocke of Bicknoller who had a will in 1533. There was a Samuel Shattocke who was assessed for land in Tolland in 1525. John Shattick had a daughter Johane Shattick in 1542 in North Molton. Bampton Parish in 1524 lists a tax payer called Thomas Shatok (sic) who was taxed for ownership of goods. It appears that he or his son (John Shattocke) were taxed again in 1543 again based on ownership for goods. So it is pretty clear there were a lot of Shattocke families spread around Somerset and North Devon by the first decades of the 16th century. 

There is a caveat and it is a very big one. In almost all the villages I have studied with early to middle 16th century parish records, there appears to be only one family in the village at the beginning of the 16th century. 

There is some evidence that the upper Tone Valley was where Thomas Shattocke, Taunton Deane tenant farmer in 1450, was born. It is found in form of a will probated at Wells Cathedral in Wells, Somerset in 1533. Here is the transcription:

Johane Shottocke, wedow. 7 Mar. 1533.

in churchyd of Bekenaller—S. Androw iiijd—to the reparacions of Crocombe a pan and a standerd (4)—cb. of B. xijd—reparacion of Kylve bells a shepe—Sir Symon Atwell a shepe.

Res.—Sir Thos. Shottoke my son, and John Grant. longovai*

Witn.—Sir Symon Atwell, John More.

The will of Joan Shattocke, widow, says she was buried in Bicknoller, west Somerset. Bicknoller is found in the upper Tone Valley, two miles north east of Stogumber and three miles north west of Crowcombe. She must have had connections to Crowcombe because she bequeaths a pan, presumably to the church there. But what is fascinating about this will is the prefix to her son's name: "Sir Thomas Shattocke." When I first saw this I thought there might be an error in the transcription. But then my cousin John Shattock discovered a 1570 legal document that involved the case of a Sir John Shattock.


John noted that the name on the document has the letter "S" and the medieval cursive shorthand for "ir" in front of it. Later I found a tax document for Sir Henry Shattock dated 1585. This makes it more likely that the Sir Thomas Shattock, whose mother was buried in the churchyard at Bicknoller, was indeed a knight. 

It is possible that Johane Shottocke was born in Bicknoller and chose to be buried there among her relatives. There is a Johanna Shattocke in the Manor of Taunton Deane tenants list shown having her farm in Bishop's Hull in 1506. She could have been married to Thomas Shattocke, junior, who first shows up on the tenants list in 1483, presumably the son of Thomas Shattocke senior on the same list in 1583. But what is she doing in a graveyard in Bicknoller in 1533? Well, Thomas Shattocke junior does not appear on the Tenant's List after 1583. It is not until 52 years later that a Thomas Shattocke shows up on the List in Staplegrove, presumably a different Thomas Shattocke. There is a Thomas Shattocke who died in Crowcombe in 1606. He had a son Jasper born Oct. 6, 1595. So it is possible that Thomas Shattocke, son of the Thomas Shattocke who was a tenant farmer near Taunton in 1450, had a son who moved to the upper Tone Valley and founded a dynasty there. Johane or Johanna Shattocke may have been born in Bicknoller and returned there after her husband died, as was often the case. All this is highly speculative, but possible.

Ultimately I am trying to layer all the genealogy information over what the family tree DNA evidence constructs. An example is the Milverton Shattocks. What the genealogical paper trail appears to reveal is a founder in Milverton with subsequent generations spreading down to Runnington and Langford Budville and finally to Wellington. Was that founder in Milverton descended from a Staplegrove Shattock or a Stogumber Shattock? If you look at the Milverton branch in the Shattocke family tree I have constructed, you will see that the DNA version of the tree and the genealogical tree seem to be in synch. 

The Tone Valley. The view is from around Tolland looking south to the Taunton area. This is the Shattock homeland.

The Shattocks of west Somerset appear to have gone through explosive growth in the 16th century. We have a case history of what happens to the dispersion of a family with the history of Shattucks in America. They descend from a single individual, William Shattuck (ca. 1622-1672). You see a very rapid expansion of the family from a single location (Watertown, MA on the Massachusetts Bay) over the succeeding generations. At first the family spread from coastal Massachusetts to the interior, with a branch of the family transplanting to South Carolina at the turn of the century and spreading out from the coast to eventually the entire south under the family surname Shaddock. The northern Shattucks spread to neighboring states then joined the American wagon train to the west, eventually settling in California and the northwest coast.  Lemuel Shattuck documented this thoroughly and highly accurately in his Memorials, and his thesis that all Shattucks descend from a single ancestor has so far been corroborated by DNA evidence. And we are able to give the branches of the family geographical names. If his ancestors could have spread out across America in the 200 years up to Lemuel's time, forming geographical nodes that are echoed in the DNA data, I have no doubt the same can be found for Shattocks. And we are beginning to find the records that prove that. 


The will of William Shattocke, the second, probated in 1607 in West Bagborough. His list of worldly possessions makes it clear that he was a farmer. The will is written in "secretary hand," a cursive style of writing common at this time in English history. This will was found and transcribed by Deanna Wallis.

When you study the wills that Shattocks in west Somerset left behind, you find they clustered around the largest Shattock villages. It is not a coincidence that the villages with large, multi-generational Shattocke families are also villages with the wealthiest of Shattocke families. In a society with no family benefits you needed either land or money to start a family. The richest families had the largest families and kin networks because the parents could give land or money to give their children a start in life. This is a phenomenon described by E.H. Rigby in his study of the medieval family in A companion to Britain in the later Middle Ages (read the excerpt on a sub-page of this one). But it is well documented in our own family tree. The largest group of Shattocke descendants are the Massachusetts Shattucks. With 8,000 living descendants they are by far the largest branch of the Shattocke family with as many as 13,000 living descendants. They have grown to this number from a single individual, William Shattuck (ca. 1622-1672) the pilgrim to the Massachusetts Bay colony about 1640. What drove this population explosion was free or cheap land that successive generations moved to and raised families on in a steady march to the west. (See the North Dakota Shattucks as a great example of this. Read how successive generations moved from Massachusetts to the mid-west to the far west.) The same is true for the Shattockes who emigrated to other English colonies seeking land to raise their families on. The result is that 87% of the living descendants of that original Shattocke in the 15th century were born and live outside of England. In England land was too expensive or simply not available for sale. In fact the largest spurts of emigration out of Somerset came when economic conditions and crop failures drove people to "greener" pastures.

This phenomenon might also explain why so few branches of the family survive over time. Going back to the Shattocke family tree, you see that all the living descendants of the original Shattocke founder belong to only six branches. Look at the dates associated with the SNPs for each of these three branches (shown in bold green). The DNA estimate is approximately 1600 for the Massachusetts Shattucks, which happens to fall close to the arrival date of the Shattucks in the Massachusetts Bay colony (between 1635 and 1641). The DNA estimate is approximately 1600 for the A8033 Parrishs, which happens to be close to the arrival of Shattockes and Parrishs in Virginia (about 1620). The DNA estimate for the Milverton branch of the family is 1565, again remarkably close to the dates for the other branches of the family. And the DNA estimate is 1568 for the Devon Shattockes, who are first found in North Molton, a town on the border with Somerset at the beginning or record keeping in 1538. The dates for the North Molton, Massachusetts Shattucks and Parrish branches all coincide with migrations of Shattockes: to Virginia, to New England and to north Devon. Plus there appears to be a family of west Somerset Shattocks who sought their fortune in London. 

All six branches of the family, according to YFull estimates of their date of formation, fall remarkably close together in time, with four branches within 35 years of each other (between 1565 and 1600) and the other two as yet undated. This falls right within the period when the population of England was going through explosive growth. And it was also the time when Shattocks begin appearing further afield from their homeland in the Tone Valley and North Molton. 

One of the factors that must be considered in this diaspora of west Somerset and North Molton Shattockes to other parts of England and in the early 17th century to the English colonies is the law of primogeniture in England. "Promogeniture" means "first born." In England the whole real estate of the intestate passed to the first born son. (One should add the living first born son.) That left the other living sons scrambling to make a living. Some apparently scrambled all the way out of the county of Somerset. In the century and a half before 1540, the birthrate was very low, so not too many sons would have survived to the age of fourteen. But after 1500 suddenly there was more than one son who survived into adulthood. He had to move further afield to marry and start a family. And when land was not available he had to find work as an itinerant farm worker or a trades person.  

The distribution of Shattockes appears to cluster around these multi-generational Shattocke villages with wealthy Shattocke family members. Let's look at each of them in turn.


Taunton's oldest building is dated 1578, when Queen Elizabeth I was sitting on the throne. 

I lump Taunton, Staplegrove, and Norton Fitzwarren together because the paper trail indicates the families moved freely between these towns. (See this side-by-side map showing the three areas in relation to each other.) You cannot really discuss Staplegrove and Taunton as if they were separate towns. Taunton was a major producer of cloth and the first place in Somerset to do so. There is documented proof of a merchant Shattock family in Staplegrove and there is a Staplegrove family legend of a once prominent family that fell into ruin. (The family legend and John Shattock's 1533 will is discussed on the Staplegrove page.) See the page devoted to Taunton for a discussion of the impact of the wool trade on Shattocke fortunes. In nearby Kingston St. Mary, is a "George Shatoke" who is found in the will of John Bult dated 18 Sep. 1558. Nearby Creech St. Michael (less than two miles away) had a mill in which a Henry Shattocke owned an interest. And another name found among the Taunton - Staplegrove - Norton Fitzwarren Shattocks, Thomas Shattock, was involved in a legal dispute over land in Creech St. Michael in the 1591-1596 time period. We don't see a Shattock child born in Creech St. Michael until 1670. The father, John Shattocke, left a will in that year. It is possible West Monkton was founded by a Shattocke born in the Staplegrove - Taunton branch of the family. 

The parish records for West Monkton (four miles north east of Taunton) don't begin until 1599, but it appears Shattocks owned land there from at least that time if not sooner. Christopher Shattocke was involved in a dispute over land there sometime between 1603-1625. There was a will for a Henry Shattocke in 1610 and another Henry Shattocke will in 1613. Henry Shattock assigned a lease to another man there in 1647. He is described as a yeoman, which signifies his position as a landed gentleman. There follows continuous Shattock habitation in the village. Shattocks with the Christian names of "Henry" and "Christopher" in West Monkton Shattocks were most probably close family relations with the Taunton - Staplegrove - Norton Fitzwarren Shattocks, if not individuals who actually lived in those villages. 

I cannot leave out North Petherton as another link to the cluster of Taunton - Staplegrove - Norton Fitzwarren Shattocks. More than one Christopher Shattocke was born in one village and died in another. The name Henry Shattock appears in descendants in 1669 and 1694. Henry is a signature name for the cluster of Shattocks around Taunton. North Petherton is 6.5 miles north of Taunton, just one-half mile over the walking distance that was considered to be the maximum for labourers working in one area and living in another (according my correspondent John Shattock). The village was on a main route from Bridgwater to Taunton and then south to Exeter in Devon. Paris records are among the earliest (1557) showing a John Shattocke marrying a Joan Nowell in 1561 in North Petherton. They had John and Richard, two common Shattock names. I write about this village on this page.

I also lump Milverton, Langford Budville, Runnington and Wellington together because the appear to be an "economic zone" stretching out from Wellington. DNA evidence groups descendants of Milverton and Wellington Shattocks (along with Virginia Shaddocks) under the Y29590 SNP mutation. The parish records show the first Shattock family in Milverton in 1588, then a Shattock family in Langford Budville in 1606 and no Shattock family in Wellington until 1760. Milverton is only six miles west of Taunton, and it seems probable that in the 16th and early 17th centuries the fulling mill for their product, indeed the market for their product, was in Taunton. So it is certainly possible Shattockes migrated from Taunton to this area early on. I devote a page to Milverton here.

Bishop's Lydeard is a village that is only 5.5 miles (7.5 km) northwest of Taunton. It is only 2 miles (4 km) south of West Bagborough. Milverton is only 4 miles (6 km) to the south. It must be considered to be a crossroads among Shattock villages and the parish records show Shattocks, apparently from all the branches of the family, have lived there over the centuries. However, there is a multi-generational family that owned land and had descendants in Bishop's Lydeard as far back as the beginning of parish records at the end of the 16th century. I write about Bishop's Lydeard on this page


St. Mary's Church, Stogumber

The villages of Crowcombe and Stogumber were also places where relatively wealthy Shattockes lived. The road between Taunton and the coast runs through Stogumber. The main road from Bridgwater to Barnstaple crossed the Taunton to Watchet road in Stogumber. The streams in the area were used by dyers, tanners, and fullers in cloth and leather work until the trade diminished into the 1800s. Northam Mill in Stogumber was first recorded as a fulling mill in 1568.  There were already multiple Shattock families in Stogumber when parish records began in 1559, and a lot of Shattock families lived there up to 1760. As mentioned earlier there is even evidence of a knighted Shattock in the area, Sir Thomas Shattocke, son of Johane Shattocke, widow, who was buried in the churchyard of nearby Bicknoller in 1533. 

Crowcombe's register began in 1562, but it is not until Thomas Shattocke's will is probated in 1607 that we detect the presence of a Shattocke in the village. Nearby Stogumber's parish records began in 1559, and William and Alice Shaddock (sic) are shown as marrying there in 1560 and having a large family. The Shattockes were land owners here, with this interesting box of documents with Staplegrove - Taunton names on it:

Admissions to the manor of Vexford. 1578-1595 ...35/15/1           Copyhold admission. Land and tenement in Vexford. 1 Margaret Luttrell widow 2 John Shattock and Christopher son of Henry Shattock, brother of said John. Autograph: Luttrell. Seal: ?lion’s... LUTTRELL FAMILY OF DUNSTER MANUSCRIPTS   Box 35.  (South West Heritage Centre)

The manor of Vexford had three farms and was an ancient estate of the Luttrell family. What about that seal with the mysterious "?lion's" transcription. I searched the parish records for Stogumber. The name "Henry" does not appear in the record until 1634 when Henry Shattock marries Phyllis White and has a family in Stogumber. He leaves a will in 1646. There is no subsequent Henry in Stogumber. Christopher Shattock dies and his will is probated in 1619. There are no other Christopher Shattockes in Stogumber. John is a name that appears many times in the Stogumber parish records. The villages of West Bagborough, Crowcombe, Tolland and Stogumber are on the road to the port of Minehead, where much of the wool grown in the area, and later cloth, were exported. Did the Shattockes of Taunton and Staplegrove pass through these villages on their way to doing business in Minehead? 


St. Pancras' Church, West Bagborough

It is difficult to decide if West Bagborough should be lumped in with Stogumber or Staplegrove. West Bagborough is on the edge of the Quantock Hills, up the valley from Taunton, on the way to Minehead, which was a major shipping point for wool and cloth. It is a very, very small parish, with a population of 348 people in 2014. In 1894 the population was only 107. We happen to know the population of the village in the 14th century. When the plague ravished the village its population was reduced to 64 people over the age of 14. The residents were so traumatized by the plague that they did not return to their homes around the manor house, choosing instead to build new homes away from the infected area. The parish records begin in 1558 and a Shattock child, Johanne Shattock, is baptized at the church April 15, 1560. Her parents, John and Johanne, have six children in West Bagborough. There is a will dated 5 Sep 1558 of Florence More that bequeaths to Florence Shatocke "a pair of amber beades."  I have records of the family that show continuous habitation into the late 18th century.


St. John the Baptist Church in Tolland, Somerset

In nearby Tolland (4 miles or 7 km distance), there was a tucking mill owned by the famous Wolcott family who were prominent wool and cloth merchants, exporting much of their products through the port of Minehead on the coast. Alexander Shattuck is a beneficiary in the will of John Wolcott (c. 1547-1623) of Tolland, a miller, in a will dated 1623, “7 pence each to Richard Locke and Alexander Shattuck.” There is an Alexander Shattock whose will Lemuel Shattuck cites. He was buried in West Bagborough in May 1588 and his will was probated that year. On the page The Ancestral Home of the American Shattucks in England I present evidence that Tolland and West Bagborough are highly likely to be the origin point for the Shattockes who were among the first pilgrims to land in the Massachusetts Bay colony.


Monument to Sir Amyas Bampfylde, erected by his son John in 1626 in the south ailse of the Church of All Saints, North Molton.

North Molton
 has two industries, mining and wool, that might have attracted a German migrant to the village as early as the 14th century . Although mining occurred here, it is the woolen industry that enriched the town and sustained Shattockes for many generations, until the wool industry declined. Although Shattockes were in North Molton when records began, it was not until the middle of the next century that they dispersed south into Devon. They mostly became farm labourers. Others sought work in towns and cities of Somerset. See the diagram that shows how North Molton might be linked to Tolland and Taunton in Somerset. There is a possible genetic link between North Molton and the Massachusetts Shattucks. See the Yarnscombe page.

We know that our genetic cousins the Parrishs and Byars are descended from a Shattock who left west Somerset early in the formation of the Chesapeake Bay colony. Parrishs and Byars are descended from our common ancestor Y16884 and split off from Shattockes about 1641. Don Parrish, who has extensively studied Y16884 Parrishs and their movement over time in the American south, traces them back to Virginia in the early 17th century. This means that a Shattocke male was either adopted by a Parrish family or fathered a Parrish child at that time. Hopefully DNA testing of direct west Somerset Shattocks will show what branch of the west Somersets that male belonged to. 

The London Shattocks are probably good examples of how medieval serfs and peasants, freed from bondage to country manors, moved to towns and built successful businesses, rising up the social scale. This may be the case with the Staplegrove Shattocks, whose founder Thomas Shattocke was a tenant farmer for the Manor of Taunton Deane in 1450. By the time his son died in 1533, he was a merchant. And his descendants, particularly Henry Shattocke (1666-1717) became very successful, owning large estates, mills and shops. There was commerce between Taunton and London, and you would expect newly enriched Shattocks would seek business opportunities in the big city. 

The earliest example of a Shattock presence in London dates back to the second half of the 16th century. It is a notice of a marriage between Mary Shattock and William Pickering in London in 1566. 
St. Bartholomew the Great interior. It is the oldest church in continuous use in London. Worth a visit!

There is no evidence of a Shattock family in London in the middle of the 16th century. But there was commercial traffic between London and villages or towns in Somerset that were involved in the wool trade, like Stogumber and Taunton. So it is possible this was a marriage conjugated out of a business relationship. 

A search for London Pickerings at this time turned up Sir William Pickering (1516–1575), courtier and diplomatist, born in 1516, the son of Sir William Pickering (d. 1542), by his wife, Eleanor, daughter of William Fairfax. It could not be this William Pickering because he died unmarried. But it could have been a member of the family. 

The first indication of a Shattocke family presence in London was at the turn of the century. In 1601 there is a record of a tax paid by John Shattocke (sic Shuttocke) in Southwark. Tokenbooks are the written record of the effort, by the officers of St Saviour parish, in the weeks preceding Easter each year, to require every head of household in the parish to purchase tokens for the Easter communion, one token for each person over sixteen years of age in the household. These tokens were to be turned in at the church by communicants on the day of communion.After this date there are records of Shattocks doing business in London, including owners of inns, and merchants. 

Reference: C 2/JasI/S15/41; Description: Short title: Shattocke v Franklin. Plaintiffs: Agnes Shattocke, late the wife of Francis Shattocke (daughter of John Tyler). Defendants: William Franklin and Thomas Hobman. Subject: title to messuage called the Flower de Luce [inn] and tenements in Fishers Alley in the parish of St Andrew Holborn, London. Document type: [pleadings]. SFP Date: 1603-1625; Held by: The National Archives, Kew

Somerset was a major wool and cloth supplier, and there is direct evidence Shattocks were involved in the industry in Somerset, so it is no surprise Shattocks would have found opportunity in London.

Title: John Shattock, cit. & haberdasher to John Johnson, cit. & merchant tailor, assignment of lease of Kings Head, Southwark, for 21 years. Reference: CLA/022/04/020/6. Date: 9 Novr 1671. Held by: Corporation of London Record Office: City of London

Another example is William Shattock, merchant of London:

Reference: PROB 11/374/559. Description: Will of William Shattock, Merchant of London. Date: 19 December 1683. Held by: The National Archives, Kew

By the nineteenth century Shattocks would rise to the highest ranks in London, becoming stockbrokers, members of the London Stock Exchange, wealthy collectors and high ranking civil servants. See the Southwark London Shattocks.

Shattockes Occupations


Medieval wool merchants

I once thought that Shattockes were descended primarily from farmers and agricultural workers. But that was true only of rural Shattockes. Shattockes who moved to the towns of Bristol, Exeter, London, Cardiff in Wales, Birmingham and other towns and cities of England and its colonies became successful trades people, entrepreneurs, professionals, civil servants and business owners. However, early in Shattocke history, in the 16th to 18th centuries, Shattocke fortunes were indeed tied to the principal economy of England, the wool trade. There is evidence that Shattockes in the 16th and 17th century were wine merchants, but even wine was woven into the wool trade as wool and cloth were traded for wine.

We have some perspective about the wool industry in Somerset in figures quoted in "Pensford and the Growth of the Cloth Industry in Late Medieval Somerset" (by John Hare, 
The Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society). John Hare tells us that the 1350s Somerset had already achieved "a dominant position" in the trade (p. 173). By the 1390s Somerset had become "by far and away the most important cloth-manufacturing county in England. North Molton on the border between Somerset and Devon, was also a major wood town. "By the late 15th century, the West Country was responsible for what Carus-Wilson described as ‘possibly half the whole cloth production of the country, and for almost all the broadcloths’ (1987, 679)." In the 1390s the industry was concentrated in four main towns, Taunton, Bath, Wells, and Frome. However the shift to the countryside occurred earlier and more extensively in Somerset than in neighboring counties. This might help explain why so many wealthy Shattockes are concentrated in Staplegrove - Taunton and also explains how they dispersed into the fertile regions of west Somerset. 

By the early 16th century Somerset was one of the richest counties in England, ranking second in a survey of lay and clerical wealth in 1514 (Schofield 1965, 504). The cloth industry would have played a considerable importance in this growing wealth. In the 1390s, Somerset produced 25% of the country’s cloth. But a few years before in 1377, it possessed only about 4% of the country’s population (see poll tax figures, excluding Cheshire and Durham for which there are none, Dobson 1970, 54–7). Even allowing for a degree of internal migration, the textile industry provided a source of employment that allowed the creation of an exceptional concentration of new wealth. This would have affected most of the county’s society, whether in generating jobs, consumer goods or food and other agricultural products. (pp. 1777-8)

Hare cites the extensive church re-building that occurred at this time as evidence of the wealth that was generated by cloth-making.

There is not a lot of information about the occupation of Shattockes in the 16th and 17th centuries. However the overwhelming number of records are for Shattockes involved in the wool industry. 

Arthur William Shattock (1893-1915) worked as a clerk for the railroad when he was 14. Then he took to adventure on the high seas, becoming a "telegraphist" on passenger ships between England and North America. Family legend has it that he did not look after his health. He died at the age of 21. He was a descendant of the Staplegrove Shattocks. 

William Shattock of Pawlett, a small hamlet 12.5 miles north of Taunton, is described as a husbandman in a court document of 1615. "Husbandman" is an ambiguous term. In the medieval and early modern period he was a free tenant farmer or small landowner, in status below a yeoman. And it is actually more likely that he had sheep on his land than crops as west Somerset was a major wool industry area. "Husbandman" can also mean William Shattock of Pawlett was involved in animal husbandry, which might be the case here because the court case was about the theft of wool. (QUARTER SESSIONS RECORDS FOR THE COUNTY OF SOMERSET Sessions roll for 1614-15.)

Alexander Shattuck is a beneficiary in the will of John Wolcott c. 1547-1623 of Tolland, a miller, will dated 1623, “7 pence each to Richard Locke and Alexander Shattuck.” The mill was probably a fulling mill, used to clean and process wool. This suggests Alexander Shattuck had a long term business relationship with John Wolcott, a major player in the west Somerset wool industry.

In the will of William Shattocke of West Bagborough in 1642, he is described as a husbandman.

Christopher Shattocke of Staplegrove is described as a husbandman in 1626.

John Shattock of Taunton is described as a "vintner," a merchant of wines, in 1569. 

George Shattocke of Taunton is described as a sergeweaver in 1671.

John Shattocke is a servant in a 1601 legal document in Bishop's Lydeard.  

James Shattocke in Wellington in 1654 is a "maimed soldier" entitled to a pension.

Thomas Shattick of the village of Langford Budville was a weaver who leased a cottage and a garden in 1641. In the same village, James Shattocke's will in 1657 describes his occupation as weaver. 

In 1689 Robert Shattocke of Langford, husbandman, leases a house in Langford Budville. 

The patriarch of all Shattuck descendants in the U.S., William Shattuck (ca. 1621-1672) was a weaver from Somerset, or most likely inherited his loom and his trade from his father. 

The 1678 will for Henry Shattocke of Norton Fitzwarren shows him to be a clothier (maker of clothing). 

It can be said that the wool industry in the 16th and 17th century was the economic engine of Somerset, indeed for most of England, and therefore it is a likely reason why so many Shattockes were employed in, or owned wool industry businesses. And some of the husbandmen could have simply been farmers. However 9 of the 12 cases where I found an occupation were either husbandmen or weavers. Of the remaining three, one was a vintner, who would have been indirectly or directly involved in the wool industry as wool exports funded wine imports. We do not know if the Shattocke servant was involved in the wool industry indirectly. The only one of the twelve that was clearly not involved in the wool industry was the maimed soldier.

Shattock Gentry


Sir Henry Shattock's name on a 1685 tax document.

I have not discovered even the most tenuous indication that Shattockes were descended from royalty or even married into royalty, although a female descendant of the Tawstock Shattocks (Gwendoline Isa Shaddick 1888-1956) married a hereditary Irish peer with the illustrious name Cecil Vivian Moore Etienne Le Fanu (1877–1936) in 1917 at the wonderful church of St. Martin in London. However there is a good case to be made that some of the Shattocks of Staplegrove, beginning in the late 15th century probably until the 18th century, would be considered to be members of the gentry. In the 16th century, there were at least three knights, Thomas, John and Henry. It is not clear whether Sir Thomas Shattock was the first knighted, and the other two were his son and grandson. 

John Shattock in his will of 1833 gives his "shoppe" and its "gear" to his eldest son and his "mansion" or "abode" to his other son. A shop owner would be considered to be part of the town's ruling class. Political power was largely held in local hands. West Somerset Shattocke wills throughout this period testify to the family's wealth, as indeed do the deeds and numerous Shattocke-owned farms that James William Shattock (1869-1948) refers to in his 1943 letter to his son. He describes the Shattockes as a "family of importance" in the history of Taunton and its surrounding villages.

There is a John Shattocke described as a "vintner" in a 1569 document associated with Taunton. He would have been a merchant, since wine was largely imported. That might have sent him at least to London to purchase his supplies, if not further afield in Europe or the Mediterranean.  In 1632 we find a James Shaddock (sic) in London identified as a vintner (wine merchant) and a member of the "Worshipful Company of Vintners." He had a London apprentice: “Robinson John son of John, Edmonton, Middlesex, yeoman to James Saddock, 2 May 1632, Vintners’ Company” The Vintners' Company got its first Charter in 1363.  It was one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City  of London. The wine trade was a major part of the English economy in the late medieval period, accounting for up to a third of imports. The Vintners' Company was a classic medieval guild, and membership in it gave the bearer rights and social status. This is very good evidence of how well Shattockes were doing in this period of time. Taunton was a major exporter of cloth famous for its quality and wine was a principal exchange item for wine. This suggests Shattockes in Staplegrove / Taunton and London were travelling between the two towns enabling the trade as merchants. 

The fact that sometime between 1571 and 1643 John Shattocke donated to the St. Saviour church in Southwark (across the river from London), indicates a presence of a Shattock in London. In 1614, John Shattocke, blacksmith, is called as a witness in a trial concerning the theft of iron. This is probably the same John Shattocke or his son. Blacksmiths were not of the first rank of society, but they were often described as yeomen, meaning they were respected members of society.  

Just over a hundred years after we find a John Shattocke described as a "vintner," we discover that there is a John Shattocke, described as a merchant, who got into a what looks like a trade dispute with the governor of the island of Madeira off the coast of Portugal. The dispute involved a group of English and New England merchants, of which John Shattocke was the spokesperson. It was serious enough to to reach the royal court and the attention of Charles II. The incident appears to have unfolded over two years from 1675 to 1677. Jenny Trapnell, a Shaddock descendant, has this to say about a possible connection between Shattockes and Bristol at this time: "Bristol and the port of Bristol was famous for importing Sherry & Port and other fortified wines from the likes of Portugal and Madeira. A famous brand is Harvey's Bristol Cream. This business is still in existence in Bristol today so quite likely a Shattock would have worked out of Bristol."

At first I thought this John Shattocke might be the master mariner from Salem in New England, but the first record of the descendant of Samuel Shattuck, one of the Massachusetts Shattuck founders, was in 1712. William Shattuck had a son John, but he died in 1672 and was not a mariner. 

The trade dispute confirms that at least one Shattock in this time period was a merchant trading beyond the borders of England. The island of Madeira was a major exporter of wine. 

Shattocke Emblem?

Shattocke Family Crest

The involvement of Shattockes in the wool and cloth industry is supported by visual evidence.  It is in the form of a graphic found by Ken Shattock in the public library in London in 1970. It is a crest bearing the description "A dexter hand holding a lion's gamb," which translates as "a right hand holding a lion's leg." The twisted fabric out of which the hand rises is obviously a reference to the weaving of cloth. The hand is transforming three skeins of wool thread into a figurative symbol, the lion's paw. The fist of the hand and the lion's paw are linked. The lion symbolism represents the weaver's pride in the product, a statement of its strength and enduring quality. English wool was highly prized for its quality in high medieval Europe, and Flemish weavers were the most expert in its transformation into quality cloth and tapestries.  The graphic may have been on a sign outside a Shattocke shop, or a symbol attached to the products exported from Taunton to markets in Europe.

The number three appears to be "woven" into this graphic. There are three bands of each of two colors in the twisted rope at the bottom. There are three lion's claws. There are three skeins of wool at the base of the hand and three fingers gripping the lion's leg. Does this have religious significance, as in the "Holy Trinity?" The little finger is pointing up. Fingers pointing up are found in medieval paintings and tapestries, signifying the connection between earthly life and the spiritual realm beyond this world. Paul Shaddick quotes a possible biblical reference: "Ecclesiastes 4:12 A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." A commentator on Ecclesiastes 4:12 has this to say, and it seems to fit:

Perhaps the most direct answer to the question is that rope technology serves as an ideal illustration of the practical benefits of working together. A single strand ravels easily and does a poor job of distributing load to its component fibers. Laying two strands, which would be the natural illustration of the point, results in a rope that is little better than the twine itself. Four or more strand ropes give up a degree of pliability and are more complicated to manufacture for marginal gains in strength. To this day, three-ply or plain laid rope is only rivaled in popularity by synthetic, braided ropes. Three turns out to be the sweet spot when it comes to rope strands.

What gives a religious interpretation of the symbolism in the graphic credence is the fact that the wool industry was dominated by non-conformists and English Dissenters who were Christians who separated from the Church of England in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The Massachusetts Shattucks are descended from English Dissenters. William Shattuck (ca. 1622-1572), the founder, was a weaver.

Was this perhaps a sign of quality on containers for Shattocke woolen goods exported from England? 

You can download a much larger version of the graphic here

The Story Continues

On the next page, we come to the final chapter in the tale of the wandering horde of Shattockes. I call it the "Great Diaspora to the English Colonies." 

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