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North Molton Shattockes

by Philip Shaddock


"NORTH MOLTON is a large village on the bold western acclivity of the river Mole, 3½ miles N. by E. of South Moulton. It consists chiefly of irregularly built thatched houses, and its extensive being enclosed. This large parish extends about 5 miles N. and N.E. of the village, to the sources of the Mole and Duns Brook, among the lofty hills on the borders of Somersetshire and Exmoor Forest. It includes the hamlets, &c., of Heasley, Ben-Twitchen, Hunston, Walscott, Upcott, Flitton, and many scattered farmhouses. About ten years ago, a very rich copper mine was discovered in the northern part of the parish, called "Prince Albert's Mine," and containing a mixture of gold. . . . There is a woollen mill at Heasley, and the village has two cattle fairs, on the Wednesday after May 12th, and the last Wednesday in October. It had formerly a weekly market and a fair on All Saints' day, granted in 1270 to Roger le Zouch, whose family obtained the manor from King John, . . . Lord Poltimore owns most of the parish; and Court Hall, being in the neighbourhood of Exmoor Forest, was long occupied by his family as a hunting seat; and the few wild red deer which still linger in that mountainous region, render it a desirable abode for the lovers of the chase. . . . The Church (All Saints,) is a fine antique structure, with a tower containing six bells, and rising to the height of 100 feet." [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850), transcribed by Brian Randell, with thanks]

The North Molton Shattockes belong to a major branch of the Shattocke family I call the Devon Shattockes. Descendants of this branch have the Y19716 SNP mutation. Click on the image to see where the Devon Shattockes branch from our common ancestor.

Shattocke Family Tree
The North Molton Shattockes are a sub-branch of the Devon Shattockes. Descendants have the FGC43713 SNP mutation. 

There is some evidence for a theory that the North Molton Shattockes are related to the Massachusetts Shattucks, possibly through an ancestor who lived on west Somerset. See the evidence for this on the Yarnscombe Shattocke page.

The North Molton Shattockes appear in the earliest parish records for North Molton. Johanne Shattick is born to John Shattick in 1542. 

The Shattockes of North Molton have a long, multi-generational history in North Molton. According to a YFull estimate, based on advanced DNA testing of north Devon Shattockes, the branch formed about 1567. 

In the forties and fifties of the last century there was a Shaddick who was one of the earliest family genealogists. His name was Clifford Ramiro Shaddick (1887-1956). He was born in Wales, lived in London and retired to south western England. He explored the parish records in the villages of North Devon and tracked down wills in London and Exeter as part of his research into the history of his family, the Tawstock Shaddicks. (You can download his document here.) Studying the dispersal of Shaddocks and Shaddicks throughout north Devon, he came to the conclusion all Shaddocks, Shaddicks, Shattocks and Shatticks originated from North Molton. While I favor a theory that Shattockes emanate from a founder in west Somerset based on my examination of west Somerset records, it is possible that Cliff was right since there are no records that prove his theory is wrong. 

North Molton from the south east.

North Molton is at the northern tip of Devon, on the edge of the Exmoor National Park, about 23 miles across the forest to the port of Minehead in Somerset and about 60 miles from Taunton in Somerset.

As we will see below, the port of Minehead would draw lines of business between North Molton and Taunton. Shattockes are known to have lived in Tolland, on the road to Minehead.

The forest acts as a natural barrier separating people living in Devon from those in Somerset. Culmstock, the Devon village east and a bit south of North Molton, did not have Shattockes occupying it until 1631. It should have been settled by Shattockes earlier, because it is in the fertile valley uniting Somerset with Devon. In fact in later years you do see Shattockes moving back and forth between Culmstock in Devon and Wellington in Somerset. If the first Shattockes to live in Devon were not farmers, what industry were they involved in? Cliff suggests it might have been mining. Copper was mined since medieval times in an area north of the village, called Bampfylde, and later iron mining. 

H. G. Hoskins in Devon (David & Charles, 1954) confirms this: "The parish also has a mining history, going back to Elizabethan days when German miners were brought over to develop English Minerals." This is pretty significant because "Shattocke" is considered by early etymologists to be of German origin and we are descended from German Celts. 


Weaver at this loom.

However, another important industry in North Molton was the woolen trade. Cliff quotes from Tristram Risdon (1580-1640), the antiquarian who authored the Survey of the County of Devon, which he completed in 1632. There was a long history of the export of raw wool to Europe, especially through the trade corridor between London and Cologne in the Rhine Valley. 

The cloth trade was the basis for the English economy throughout the middle ages. The Weavers' Guild had established a monopoly over the trade in London. But by the early 14th century there was considerable resentment among citizens of the privileges and wealth of the Guild. In 1321 the Court of Hustings broke the power of the Guild by allowing Freemen to set up their own looms and trade in cloth as long as the King received his tax. The Guild fought back, trying to control the craft, but many weavers left the city and set up their looms in the country. Seeking to expand the industry, the King allowed Flanders weavers, already upset over conditions in Flanders, to settle in the English kingdom, bringing their looms and their skills with them. And he allowed them to form their own guilds. Bristol and Taunton were the chief settlement areas in Somerset. The source of these settlers was from Flanders and the Low Countries. 

In support of Cliff Shaddick's thesis, there are two industries that might have attracted German or Flemish immigrants to North Molton. 

All Saints Church in North Molton

We know that the cloth trade existed at North Molton from very early times. W. G. Hoskins in his Devon history book notes that there was a tucking mill (a water powered mill where cloth was washed and finished) as early as 1327 (p. 125). "Most of the small towns of Devon seem to have been centres of a cloth industry by the time of the Black Death, and some of the larger villages also." In fact it was the invention of the tucking mills that that "brought about a rapid dispersal of the industry into the countryside during the 13th century, a movement so pronounced that it has been called 'an industrial revolution.'" (p. 124) The presence of many tumbling streams in Devon made the spread of the tucking mills possible.

By the early 16th century, at the time when parish records were first kept, North Molton was enjoying prosperity from the wool trade. The All Saints church dominating the landscape around North Molton was built in the late 15th century and local historians point to the burgeoning wool trade that made the church's size and splendor possible. There are many fine buildings in the village that date from this time that attest to the wealth the trade brought to its citizens.  In fact there was a type of cloth called "Moltons" that was shipped for export to Minehead (across Exmoor to the coast) and Bridgwater (further east along the coast). See the map above.

After the cloth trade revived in the late 17th century, and the mining activity declined, the town continued to be a woolen centre well into the 19th century. Hoskins (p. 436): "There was formerly a woollen industry here: in Polwhele's day the population were mostly combers and weavers, very poor but healthy."

According to the Victoria County History webpage: 

The core of North Molton is the Square, a large open space where the fairs would have been held and to one side of which stands the church, and the long straggling East Street. Here are several fine houses originally of the early 18th century including Frayne house, Zeals, Castle Hill, and Jarman’s. Clearly the place was prosperous at that period as the churchyard contains some fine 18th-century chest tombs including those to the Moorner, Frayne, and Flemen families. There are a few earlier houses of quality such as the Bampfylde’s grand 1553 Court House or 17th-century Hillside View. In the 1730s parishioners paid for nearly 8,000 sheep to graze in the Exmoor forest, far more than any other community and a fifth of all the sheep in the forest.

Those rich families in the churchyard do not seem to have Anglo-Saxon or Celtic names, do they? Flemish? Dutch? German? The North Molton parish records show a lot of Shattockes born and married during this period.

Cliff Shaddick believed that Shattockes spread from Devon to Somerset and then London. Do we find Shattockes in west Somerset earlier than 1542? There is a record of a Thomas Shattocke, on the list of tenants for the Taunton Deane in 1450. 

The Western Antiquary, Volume 4, edited by William Henry Kearley Wright (June 1884 – May 1885)

The Manor of Taunton Deane – Names of the Tenants in the year 1450

Thomas Shattocke is listed as a tenant in The Hundred of Hull (including the Tithing of Dipford, in the parish of Trull, Hull and Rumwell, in the parish of Bishop’s Hull, and North Trendle in the parish of Pitminster)  (p. 216)


But the reference is made doubtful by the fact that we do not have the source document, and must rely on a transcription that is itself undocumented. 

Lemuel Shattuck, in his book "Memorials of the Descendants of William Shattuck" (Dutton & Wentworth, Boston, 1855 pp 8 - 14) summarizes research into the ancient origins of the family and identifies the earliest record of a Shattock in England.

A friend of ours, in making researches for other purposes. incidentally met with some facts, from which it appears that he found the name in Old England more than a hundred years before the settlement of New England. In the year 1525 Samuel SHATTOCKE and Alice SHATTOCKE of Tolland, in Somersetshire, appear upon the Rolls which contain the Assessments of the Subsidies granted by Parliament. 

On the page I devote to the origins of the Massachusetts Shattucks I explore this reference and present evidence that Tolland and nearby West Bagborough might be the villages from which Shattucks departed in their pilgrimage to the Massachusetts Bay Puritan colony. What is most significant about Tolland is that it was a key location in the wool trade. It is 22 miles (37 km) across the Exmoor forest from North Molton to Tolland. If Cliff is correct, it is the woolen industry that drew Shattockes from North Molton to Somerset. 

There is a paper written about the woolen trade in West Somerset called, "The West Somerset Woolen Trade 1500-1714" by Philip Ashford. He says that by about 1555 villages in Somerset were beginning to compete with Somerset towns for the trade.

In 1555 it was reported that the woollen trade was deserting the Somerset towns of Bridgwater, Taunton and Chard, and establishing itself in the villages, much to the chagrin of the town worthies who saw their ancient monopolies and influence diminishing along with the prosperity of some of their townspeople. (p. 170)

In this connection, it is interesting to note that many of the villages that became prominent in the woolen trade are also Shattocke villages. Was North Molton, just across the forest from a shipping point for woolen exports, which also had extensive sheep herds in the Exmoor forest, a beneficiary of this decentralization of the trade? This seems plausible. Certainly the large sheep herds would provide employment for North Molton families.

The expansion of the Shattocke family in Devon seems to support this theory. Examination of parish records shows that the first Shattocke entries for births, deaths or marriages were in the very northern parts of Devon and in Somerset. There is a tax record for a Thomas "Shatok" in 1524 in Bampton, which is east of North Molton, on the road to the wool market in the town of Tiverton. It is notable that Exeter and villages around it show a small presence of Shattockes in the early records. Was that because Exeter was also a center for the wool trade? Agnes Shattocke has a son John Shattocke born Sept. 25, 1578 in Woodbury, just east of Exeter. But the records of Shattockes in Exeter are few. In Dorset the first record of a Shattocke is the birth of Thomas Shattocke Jan. 13, 1599 in Melcombe Regis.

Only in North Molton is there evidence of continuous occupation by a Shattocke family in Devon from 1542 to 1766 with the birth of Anne Shaddick on Mar. 21, 1766. 

One of the earliest records of the expansion of the Shattockes into northern Devon is the will of Gregory Shatticke of Pilton, just north of Barnstaple, not far from North Molton. Cliff Shaddick says he was born in North Molton in 1587. He died in 1634, leaving money to the poor of Pilton and North Molton and to his relative John Shatticke of North Molton. He was a man of means. His occupation? Weaver. Cliff believes he was trained in weaving by his father in North Molton, Edmond Shatticke. 

It is interesting to note that Tolland is on the road between Taunton in Somerset and North Molton. Shattockes are found in villages seem to be on the the woolen trade routes. The Exmoor forest, important to the woolen trade because sheep grazed there, would have naturally drawn North Molton into the woolen trade. Tolland is only 10 miles from the major woolen center of Taunton. Bridgwater is only eleven miles from Taunton. And another village from which pilgrim migrants to Massachusetts Bay came from, Wedmore, is 16 miles from Bridgwater. Minehead, the shipping point for woolen products, was only 23 miles from North Molton across the Exmoor forest. With the grazing for sheep in the Exmoor forest and the close proximity to the Minehead port, there is good reason why there was business and employment opportunities in North Molton for Shattockes. And if the family expanded, it may have expanded along the trade routes in west Somerset.

Ashford raises another interesting point. There is a Quaker connection across the Exmoor forest from North Molton. According to Ashford (pp. 172-3) West Somerset Quakers were involved in the trade, such as William Alloway, a prominent Quaker. There were West Somerset Quakers and Puritans who settled on Massachusetts Bay. And there was an evangelizing Quaker, Master Edward Elton, in Ash Priors, only 3.5 miles from Tolland.  Henry Wolcott, who was connected to the Shattocke family, fell under his influence. (See the page on the the origins of the Massachusetts Shattucks.)

Main Trade Woolen Trade Roots and Main Woolen Towns

I have included on this site an excerpt from a book published in 1923 by Joseph Hoyland Fox, called "The Woollen Manufacture at Wellington, Somerset; Compiles from the Records of an Old Family Business." It describes a major woolen trade route, from Minehead on the western coast of Somerset (for the import of cotton from Ireland) to the port at Topsham on the east coast of Devon where ships exported wool and cloth to markets in Europe. It also includes local color, such as the condition of roads and the obstacles to trade.

The Diaspora of Shattockes from North Molton

I believe Cliff Shaddick was not quite correct in his theory that Shattockes were immigrants to England in the 14th century, since the evidence is that the immigration in the 15th century. And his theory that the point of origin of all branches of Shattockes was North Molton is open to question. The paucity of records between the early 15th century and the first Shattocke records in the 16th century gave the descendants of the original settler lots of time to have moved around in the English west country. So a distribution map based on 16th parish records is up to four or five generations out of date. The problem is there are no records that support a North Molton point of origin, or alternately a west Somerset village point of origin.  

There are records of Shattockes found in the area west of Taunton, Somerset when records began. But there are not records of Shattockes in Devon except for North Molton.  It is possible there were Shattockes in Devon, but they were wiped out by the plague, diseases or the records were lost. And it is possible the burgeoning woolen trade in Somerset drew Shattockes across the Exmoor forest to opportunities in Somerset. North Devon was a pretty barren and depopulated area at the time. There may have been relatively few opportunities for Shattockes in north Devon if they were miners or in the wool trade.

I was hoping that DNA testing of direct descendants of west Somerset Shattockes would help identify where the first Shattocke village might have been. They have not. If anything they have breathed new life into Cliff Shaddick's North Molton thesis. There is some evidence that the Massachusetts Shattucks and the North Molton Shattockes share a common ancestor. But where did he live? The west Somerset descendants tested so far do not share key SNP mutations and signature markers with the other branches of Shattockes. It looks like the west Somerset descendants, defined as those with ancestors that have only recently (i.e. in the 19th century) left Somerset or who are still there, do not share common ancestors with the other branches. They descended independently from the common ancestor in the 15th century.

Until evidence turns up to tip the scales in one direction or another, we have to include North Molton as just as likely a point of origin for Shattockes as any other village in west Somerset. 

Building and grave markers in North Molton show that prominent citizens with continental European names were a vital part of its early history. The fact that the spelling of the surname as "Shatticke" only appears in North Molton in the early records is worth noting. Is it a transliteration of one of the suggested German origins of the name: Schadeck?

What do we make of the fact Shattockes were present in North Molton from when records began in 1538 but it took 100 years for them to spread into North Devon? Then there was a rather sudden diaspora of Shattockes south into north Devon in the early 17th century. 

From the late 15th century to the middle of the 17th century North Molton was a bustling wool trade center that offered opportunity and employment for Shattockes. But by the middle of the 17th century the wool trade was in decline. Part of the reason was competition from Irish cloth. There was a small pox epidemic that struck hard in the 1640s. And the English Civil war visited North Molton when  the local clubmen battled against the Royalist army in North Molton in 1645. Here is what Wikipedia says about clubmen:

Clubmen were bands of local defense vigilantes during the English Civil War (1642–1651) who tried to protect their localities against the excesses of the armies of both sides in the war. They sought to join together to prevent their wives and daughters being raped by soldiers of both sides, themselves being forcibly conscripted to fight by one side or the other, their crops and property being damaged or seized by the armies and their lives threatened or intimidated by soldiers, battle followers, looters, deserters or refugees. As their name suggests, they were mostly armed with cudgelsflailsscythes and sickles fastened to long poles. They were otherwise unarmed.

Initially Clubmen gatherings came together spontaneously in response to the actions of soldiers in their localities. But as the war went on Clubmen in some areas were organised by the local gentry and churchmen and were a force which both sides in the war had to take into account when planning a campaign and garrisoning some areas, particularly in the south and west. The Clubmen, distinguishing themselves by white ribbands, were of a third party, neither Royalist nor Parliamentarian, and they were repressed severely by the authorities on both sides. Though Lord Fairfax met with clubmen and negotiated with them, eventually he moved against them.


The battle against the Royalists in August 1645 at North Molton did not end well for our fore-bearers if they were clubmen. They were soundly defeated. The soldiers would have pillaged the village, raped the women and destroyed buildings. 

There were also epidemics of smallpox during the 1640s. The epidemic was worse in villages where sanitary conditions and crowding made people more vulnerable to the disease.

It was probably a combination of the decline of the wool economy, war and disease that caused the dispersion of Shattockes from North Molton to other parts of Devon. They would become farm laborers. Apparently the looms were abandoned behind.

Twenty-five males (40 km) south and east of North Molton, in Culmstock, the earliest Shattocke record was the marriage of William Shatocke (sic) to Mary of unknown last name in 1631. We can be pretty confident that William and his family are the founders of the Culmstock Shattockes because the Protestation Return of 1641 shows that the sole Shattocke adult male living in Culmstock was "William Shattocke." In fact the relative scarcity of Protestation Returns for Shattockes (I have only found one other in South Molton) is additional evidence Shattockes were not present in Devon before the middle of the 17th century.

Another possible lineage coming out of North Molton are the Bristol Shaddicks. The founder of this lineage, who was born in Bristol, claimed on one census form to have been born in South Molton, which is only 5 km or 3 miles from North Molton. DNA studies of Donald Shaddick, a descendant, has confirmed this close relationship, but the descent from a North Molton Shattocke is controversial.

There is also a very strong possibility that the Instow Shaddicks, whose patriarch is John Shaddick (1751-1827), are descendants of North Molton Shattockes. The case for this is argued in the page on the Instow Shaddicks. John Shaddick most likely was born in 1751 in Fremington, Devon on the north Molton coast. His father, John Shaddick (1718-1769), was born in Yarnscombe, the village where the patriarch of the Yarnscombe Shattockes, Richard Shattocke (ca. 1640-1706) raised his family. The paper trail then leads back to North Molton, all the way back to the first Shattocke to be found in the North Molton parish records, John Shattick, born about 1510. 

We probably know the exact month when the Instow Shattockes moved from North Molton to Yarnscombe. John Shaddick's direct ancestor (his 3rd great grandfather) had a child baptized on 7 Aug 1664 in North Molton that appears to have died on 24 Sep 1664, six weeks later. Of course it is possible that the father, John Shatticke, born 1636 in North Molton, was already living in Yarnscombe, returned to North Molton to have the child baptized. Yarnscombe is 19 km (12 miles) from North Molton. 

Another possible reason why Shattockes may have left North Molton in the 1640s was a smallpox epidemic that killed a lot of people. 

Richard Shattocke, founder of the Yarnscombe Shattockes, was born approximately 1640 based on the date of his marriage to Agnes Strellin in 1659 in Yarnscombe. The fact is we do not have a birth record or baptism record for him in Devon. On the Yarnscombe page, I have worked out a speculative genealogy for him. He may have been born in nearby Tawstock. 

I have always wondered why South Molton, which is only 3 miles from North Molton, does not a Shattocke birth until that of George Shattocke in 1635. The obvious reason would be that they did not keep parish records until then. Or the records were lost. However, the migration of Shattockes out of North Molton to other Devon villages seems to have occurred over the two decades of 1630 - 1650. South Molton falls right into that period. Perhaps a simpler reason should be sought. By the 1630s the family had grown to the point where sons could no longer be supported by the family business. They had to move on to greener pastures. 

Additional evidence for north Devon family connections that trace back to North Molton comes comes from a study of a descendant of the South Molton Bristol Shaddicks, Donald Shaddick formerly of Bristol. The founder of this lineage, Richard Shaddock (1799-1859) was born in Bristol. He claimed on one census form to have been born in South Molton, which is only 5 km or 3 miles from North Molton. DNA studies of Donald Shaddick, his descendant, have shown that he is closely related to Clive Shaddick, descendant of Instow Shaddicks, and me of the Yarnscombe Shattockes. The genealogical and DNA evidence keeps piling up for a theory that North Molton is place where Shattockes entered Devon from Somerset.

The Eggesford - Chulmleigh Shaddicks are descendants of the North Molton Shattockes.

Here is the paper trail I worked out for John Shaddick of Instow. As you see, it takes us right back to the first Shattocke in the parish records. While it threads a path through the parish records, it is speculative. There are a lot of names in the records that I could not find places for in the tree.  I hope to keep correcting it in the future using both genealogical and DNA tools, as well as the input of others.


John Shattick ca. 1510 (wife unknown)

1. Edmond Shattick 1522– Agnes Kensleye

Richard Shattick 1549–
Margaret Shattick 1552–
William Shattick

          2. Robart Shattick 1529– Gillion Mathewe

1.1 Thomas Shattick 1556– Syblie Thorne

1.1.1 Robarte Shattick 1580–1639 Joan

1.1.2 William Shatticke 1603–

1.1.3 Thomas Shatticke 1604–

1.1.4 John Shatticke 1604– Elizabeth

1.1.4.1 Johnathan Shatticke 1623–

    1.1.4.1.1 Cornelius Shatticke 1643– South Molton
    1.1.4.1.2 John Shatticke 1646– South Molton
    1.1.4.1.3 Samuel Shatticke 1648– South Molton
    1.1.4.1.4 Cornelius Shattocke 1652– South Molton     
Joane Shaddick 1673–
Cornelius Shaddick 1675–
? Shadick 1677–
Dorothy Shaddick 1679–
John Shatticke 1681 Bratton Fleming

1.1.4.2 Temperance Shatticke 1625–

1.1.4.3 Christian Shatticke 1626–1636

1.1.4.4 William Shatticke 1631–1636

1.1.4.5 John Shatticke 1636– Dorothy Jacob

             1.1.4.5.1 John Shattocke 1661–Grace Reed

                    1.1.4.5.1 John Shaddock 1690–

                               1.1.4.5.2 Charles Shattocke 1694– 
1st wife: Sarah Boynes
John Shaddock 1718–1769
                John Shaddock (1751-1827) Instow Shaddicks
Charles Shaddock 1721–

Richard Shaddock 1724–

2nd wife: Elizabeth Saunders
William Shaddock 1732–

Elizabeth Shattocke 1735–

Mary Shattocke 1738–1739

             1.1.4.5.2 Thomas Shattocke 1664–1664

1.1.4.6 Joan Shatticke 1639–

1.1.4. Mary Shatticke 1643–

1.2 Christopher Shattick 1561–

1.3 George Shattick 1654–

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