Stogumber Shattocks

Sheep shearing, depicted in an early 16th-century manuscript

Stogumber, a tiny village in west Somerset, is the birthplace for the founder of the Massachusetts Shattucks, William Shattuck (1622-1672), and is one of the most ancient of Somerset Shattock villages. It is also the ancient home of the Stogumber London Shattocks, who are linked to the Stogumber Massachusetts Shattocks by the genetic marker Y19751.

Evidence seems to indicate that the Shattocks in the area were concentrated around the fulling mills just south of Stogumber around the Vexford manor (Upper and Lower Vexford). Lesley Morgan, a local historian, provides a perspective on the geography: "The Tolland - Stogumber area is on the edge of the Brendon Hills. They are geologically different from Exmoor, but still pretty inhospitable. Sheep would be the main animals, but subsistence farming would be the norm. Everyone needed food and clothing and could not necessarily get to the main markets. Corn, especialy barley, was grown but only for local consumption. Tolland is getting near to the more fertile vale of Taunton and its markets. I think that the steady supply of water coming off the hills was a major reason for the fulling industry becoming important. Certainly spinning and weaving were cottage industries."

Stogumber is on a slope where three roads converge to cross a stream. From British History Online:

  • In the late 17th century there were two main routes through the parish, both of which presumably had medieval origins. The route from Bridgwater to Barnstaple, following part of the southern boundary of the parish and probably also forming part of the Saxon 'herpath' from beyond the Quantocks to the Brendon ridgeway, forded a stream at Coleford Water, an 11th-century crossing place, and proceeded through Hartrow to the parish boundary. The second route, from Taunton and Crowcombe, passed through Stogumber village towards Watchet and Minehead, a route probably used by the military authorities in 1686.

What is significant about these two routes is that the endpoints, Barnstable in Devon and Watchet and Minehead on the Bristol Channel, were ports where cloth and wool was exported. Stogumber had a cottage industry of spinners and weavers and was at a trade crossroads for cloth and wool. Early in the 16th century Shattickes would settle in North Molton, a cloth industry village close to Barnstable. Given that markets were some distance from the village, and the land was not very arable in the area, the location of the village at a crossroads and the presence of streams for fulling made it possible for Shattock families to live in its rural hinterland.

In his 1720 diary of his travels in Somerset, Daniel Dafoe writes of the prosperity and far reach of the port of Minehead because of its deep harbor:

  • Minehead, the best port, and safest harbour, in all these counties, at least, on this side: No ship is so big, but it may come in, and no weather so bad, but the ships are safe when they are in...the town is well built, is full of rich merchants, and has some trade also to Virginia, and the West Indies: They correspond much with the merchants of Barnstable, and Bristol, in their foreign trade...

The reference to Barnstaple is particularly important because it was also a port involved in the export of cloth and there were generations of Shatticks in nearby North Molton who may have arrived in the village from the area around Stogumber: Bicknoller and Crowcombe. The trade route patterns conform to Shattock and Shattick migration patterns.

I provide a much more detailed study of the wool and cloth industry and the production of undyed broadcloth from Somerset for European markets. The trading network extended from cloth manufacturing areas like Stogumber to the Low Country hinterland stretching back from the Belgium port of Antwerp. See the English Heritage page.

The evidence for an export market for wool and cloth products in Stogumber includes a specific case in terms of Shattocks. The earliest record of a Shattock in the area was Roger Shattock in 1454 , a cloth merchant who had cloth robbed from his house. While the presence of at least one other Shattock, Thomas Shattock who owned land on the outskirts of Taunton, means that Roger Shattock was not the founder of Shattocks, it is possible Roger was following in the footsteps of previous generations of Shattocks in either Somerset, East Anglia, London or the Low Countries. Roger was likely the son or grandson of the common ancestor of all Shattockes, Y17171. The jury is still out on the question of where Y17171 lived.

The following graphic shows where in the Shattock and Shaddock family the Stogumber Shattocks lies within the family tree.

Stogumber, early in the 20th century.

Stogumber History

There are local names that suggest Stogumber and area was the site of an Saxon village and the Domesday survey compiled by the Norman conquerors after 1066 lists a minster on the site, suggesting a Saxon presence. The population of Stogumber can be estimated from the Domesday survey of 1086. Although it lists only 11 villagers, they were probably heads of families, giving us an estimate of 50 villagers when we include other family members. There were only 133 households in the parish in 1563.

Stogumber residents were non-conformists and probably sided with the parliamentarians during the English Civil War. Those who sided with the king suffered. "In September 1642 royalists were quartered in the village on their way to Minehead. Several local people suffered for their loyalty to the king, including Francis Dodington of Combe Sydenham, whose estates were confiscated, and Hugh Gore, Crown purveyor and servant of the duke of York. In 1685 three men were hanged at Stogumber for their part in the Monmouth rebellion." (British History Online)

A local Stogumber historian, Lesley Morgan, wrote for the local newspaper some very good articles about life in Stogumber in ancient times. Lesley writes about a Robert Shattock who was a Baptist who was “laid into his grave without an appointed burial of the church”.

Lesley Morgan kindly dug through the archives and came up with these two very significant records:

“The earliest evidence in fact dates from the fifteenth century when there was a fulling mill at Vexford, and there were several chapmen, (cloth dealers) working in the parish already. In 1454 one Roger Shattock of Stogumber lost six dozen of white and russet cloths worth five marks when a Nettlecombe man broke into his home and made off with them” (Talk given by Mary Siraut, editor of the Victoria County History of Somerset, in 2005. From the Registers of Bishop Beckyngton, transcribed by the Somerset Record Society Vol 49, page 307).

Look at the date Roger Shattock of Stogumber lost his cloth. 1454! Two things. First he is a cloth dealer. Secondly the oldest Shattock reference found previously was Thomas Shattocke in the tenants list for the Manor of Taunton Deane. This is just four years later. So as far back as 1454 there was a Shattock merchant living up and beyond the Tone Valley in Stogumber. And he was a cloth merchant.

The second reference is to a Shattock murdered in Stogumber 50 years later. So Shattocks must have been living continuously in Stogumber for a very, very long time. But how early is the presence in Stogumber of Shattocks?

It may have been the cloth industry that first brought Shattocks to Stogumber. According to Lesley Morgan, fulling has been conducted in the area since at least 1243. Fulling cleans wool and makes it denser and thicker. It used to be done manually, but in the 13th century the process was automated with the invention of the water wheel, which raised a hammer that fell on wool, fulling it. Fulling used to be done in the major towns, like Bristol and Taunton, so it was surprising to learn it was practiced in Stogumber that early. In towns the craft was under the control of a guild, which restricted the number of fullers in order to keep prices high. To evade these constrictions mills were built in the countryside where streams are found, like Stogumber which has the Doniford stream on its eastern boundary. By the 14th century the towns had lost a significant portion of their cloth business because once fulling was done in country villages, other trades like dyeing and cloth making followed. And such trades as spinning and weaving created a cottage industry around the mills. As it happens Roger Shattuck was born about the time fulling mills had bled towns of their monopoly on the wool business and when weavers were being imported by the king to bolster the cloth making business in his kingdom. If the common ancestor of Shattockes, Y17171, was in the cloth trade, this raises an interesting possibility. Perhaps he settled in Stogumber because it was a cloth producing center.

The Doniford Stream is highlighted in blue. The stream flowed north, fed by tributaries. There were fulling mills at Higher Vexford, Lower Vexford and Stogumber. These are likely locations where Shattocks are found because cloth tradesmen settled close to the fulling mills. Crowcombe and Bicknoller are villages where early Shattocks are also found.

British History Online:

  • Cloth making was concentrated largely in the hamlets along the Doniford stream and its tributaries where fulling mills were recorded from the 15th century. There was a fuller at Vexford in 1243. Weavers, fullers, dyers, and clothiers were prominent in the parish in the 16th and 17th centuries. There were five fulling mills in the parish between the 15th and 18th centuries, and field names indicate racks at Capton, Stogumber village, Downside, Over Vexford, Lower Vexford, and Northam. Dyeing was carried out in the 16th century at Vellow and Boarpath, and later at Carslake. Three combers in the parish were supplied by a serge weaver from Lydeard St. Lawrence in 1696 with wool already dyed.

In this period, there are signs that Stogumber may have acted as a market and distribution centre, though there is no documentary evidence that it had any truly urban status in the medieval period (there are no traces of a borough). Moreover, the first direct references to a formal market are in the post-medieval period. Stogumber was, however, the local wool town, acting as a centre for distribution to the cottage industries in the surrounding hamlets and farmsteads. In addition it had a fulling mill where cloth was finished.

The fulling conducted in Stogumber at least as early as the 13th century transformed the local economy from a producer of raw wool and agricultural products to a value-added economy based on cloth that was exported to the German and Dutch markets. Stogumber was the crossroads between Taunton, Bridgwater and the coastal ports like Minehead on the coast. Across the moors in North Molton, Devon, another Shattocke from west Somerset, Thomas Shattocke, founded a family dynasty in the the wool and cloth town situated near a large grazing area for sheep. Like Stogumber's location on export routes, North Molton was near South Molton, a major wool and cloth center. It was near the major port of Barnstaple, active in exporting cloth and wool. Visit the page for North Molton and South Moltin Shattickes, which contains a lot of information on the wool and cloth trade.

British History Online:

  • There was a fulling mill at Lower Vexford by 1537. It stood north of the hamlet and was probably driven by the stream running from Willett. It may have been the fulling mill rated between 1770 and 1806. There was another in Over Vexford manor in the 16th century, possibly at Northam where a fulling mill was recorded in 1568.

There is an excellent online article based on talks Dr. Duncan Taylor gave to the Stogumber History Society about the fulling mills at "Much of the economic life of the community was centered on the cloth trade and Stogumber can best be thought of as perhaps an industrial or semi-industrial community rather than a quiet agricultural backwater. Although they do not provide the only reason, fulling mills were a central reason for the location of Britain's premier industry in areas such as Stogumber."

Direct evidence of Shattocks in the Stogumber area who were weavers are Edward Shattock and William Shattock who appear in the will of William Dale of Old Cleeve, Oct. 27, 1675 and are identified as weavers. This is probably the same Edward Shattock (a very rare Shattock given name) who appeared in the 1666 Pole Tax for Stogumber as a "man servant of Edward Hunt." A servant can simply be a man in his employment, presumably as a weaver.

Christopher Shattock

Christopher Shattock, who lived in the Vexford area south of Stogumber, was involved in a land transaction with the Luttrell family, the famous owners of Dunster castle. He may have been the son or grandson of a famous and wealthy Henry Shattock of West Monkton, the village close to Taunton. See Sir Henry Shattock of West Monkton.

The document that links him to the Vexford area of Stogumber is found at the Southwest Heritage:

  • 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)

Yarn Market in Dunster with the Dunster Castle in the background.

There were fulling mills at Upper and Lower Vexford, with the Lower Vexford apparently a more recent addition in 1537.

John Shattock, my cousin in Leicester, has studied the Luttrell family from whom John and Christopher Shattock purchased the land. He writes (quoting from Niall C.E.J. O’Brien's blog "Medieval News," in an post studying fulling mills in first half of the 15th century):

  • Hugh Luterell, of Dunster Castle, had two fulling mills in Carhampton in 1428. [Carhampton is north of Stogumber near the coast.] Margaret, widow of Sir John Lutterell, received as part of her dower a tenement and fulling mill at Carhampton that Thomas Cross rented for 13s 4d per year.

John goes on to say:

  • The Lutterells were huge estate farmers, owning thousands of acres of agricultural land and village properties but they were also involved in the wool and cloth trade. The impressive medieval Yarn Market building in Dunster was built in 1609 by them and included international trade. They built the port for exporting and importing. Dunster produced cloth from the early 13th century and cloth known as Dunsters was exported from the mid 16th century. Before the Yarn Market was built in 1609, wool or yarn was sold from a market cross in the open air.
  • Apparently, the Lutterells took taxes off of all merchants selling cloth in the region. I don’t know how far that extended or whether it was just in the markets that they controlled and the ports of Dunster, until it became unusable, and Minehead. They were a family that my father also blames for removing and selling sand from the beach at Minehead when he was a child.

There were fields named after fulling mill drying racks in Over Vexford, connecting the area to the wool trade, and the Shattocks.

John has long suggested that the Yarn Market may have been one of the places where Shattocks might have gone to sell their wares. The fact Shattocks are found purchasing a building and land in the Vexford area links Shattocks in the Stogumber area to the cloth trade. See the article on Squire Henry Shattock of West Monkton for a colorful incident recorded involving Christopher Shattock involved in the land transaction.

The property purchased from the Luttrells on Vexford manor by Christopher and John Shattock may have been the result of the woolen industry declining in the Taunton area in favor of the more outlying villages, particularly Stogumber. In Ashford's study of the woolen industry of west Somerset he writes, p. 170:

  • 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. Such was the decline of Bridgwater that Leland commented on the loss of 200 tenements in 1543. Many West Somerset villages thrived in the trade including Stogumber which appears as a significant location on the maps.

Stogumber is a tiny village. The size and splendour of the church, St. Mary's, is clear evidence that the town was once very wealthy from the cloth trade.

"Greater Stogumber"

I am exaggerating the size and importance of Stogumber by calling nearby villages part of "Greater Stogumber," but there is a good case to be made that Stogumber's fulling mills and its location on major roads supported a large local cottage industry involved in the cloth trade. And other villages close by were pulled into Stogumber's hub.

West Bagborough is on the edge of the Quantock Hills, up the valley from Taunton at a distance of 22 miles, half way between Taunton and Stogumber on the way to Minehead, which was a major shipping point for wool and cloth. A study I made of West Bagborough shows Alexander, the first recorded resident, was probably from Bishop's Hull, on the outskirts of Taunton. Up until the middle of the 17th century I found no evidence of Stogumber people in the village. But Alexander's son Thomas may have moved to Stogumber and died there.


The villages of Crowcombe and Stogumber are places where relatively wealthy Shattockes lived. The road between Taunton and the coast runs through Stogumber. The main road from Bridgwater to Barnstaple crosses 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.

Nearby Tolland had a particularly important role to play because it was home to the Woolcots who were major cloth merchants who shipped their products from the coast. And there is a clear link between Shattockes in the area and one of the Puritan pilgrims from Tolland who emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay colony.

Elworthy, which is a hamlet of Stogumber, is where the scene of the dog bite of a Shattock child took place. It appears to have been inhabited by Shattocks as far back as 1569. Thomas Shadock, billman, is in the 1569 muster roll. (He carried a billhook, originally used to clear underbrush, but transformed into an infantry weapon, used to hook the enemy in the chink of his armor and cut him deeply.) Isota Shattocke was taxed for land in the 1597 subsidy. And William Shattocke was taxed 6d in the 1641-2 lay subsidy. There is no record of baptisms, marriages, or burials in the Church of St. Martin in Elworthy, so it may be that the Shattockes owned property there and lived elsewhere. This is additional evidence that some Shattocks made a good living in the Stogumber area.

Looking back from St. Mary church to Stogumber village.

The Diaspora From Stogumber

If you look at the parish records for Stogumber and surrounding villages, you come across a remarkable fact. By the late 17th century Stogumber was largely abandoned by Shattocks. From when parish records began in 1559 in Stogumber, it had the largest number of baptisms, marriages and deaths in Somerset, indeed in England since only a few Shattocks had ventured out of Somerset at this time. And there is evidence of Shattocks living in Stogumber for the previous one hundred years.

Lesley Morgan, who is a local historian in Stogumber, sent me a picture of the road that once was the main thoroughfare between the ancient ports of Watchet and Minehead on the coast of Somerset and Taunton. The road made Stogumber an important link in the wool trade in Somerset when Shattocks lived there. When the modern turnpikes were built, bypassing Stogumber, it became much quieter village tucked away in the countryside. Lesley told me the road in places is difficult to traverse even on foot at times in "Wellies."

The number of Shattocks in Stogumber peaked by 1640. In the 1641-1642 Protestation Returns there were seven men recorded as over the age of eighteen in Stogumber, six in North Molton and half that number or less in the other major Shattock villages, Taunton, Staplegrove and Milverton. I counted thirteen familes in Stogumber between 1559 and 1641.

There is a family of Shattocks, John and Edith (nee Coles) in the 1666 Poll Tax. They had a child baptized in St. Mary's in 1667. He may be a descendant of John Shattock who, along with Christopher Shattock, a Vexford manor resident, purchased land a tenement from the Luttrells. That is an open question. In any event my notes shows the family moved away from Stogumber and settled in Lydeard St. Lawrence, just over two miles south of east of the Vexford manor area, where John and Edith died. They are the last family in the Stogumber area for another century.

It makes me wonder if one or more of the fulling mills in the Vexford manor area had closed down, and this might have been the catalyst that sent Shattocks working in the cloth cottage industry packing. In fact agriculture was going through a boom period at this time, as grain prices increased by sixfold by 1650. If Shattocks were largely agricultural workers, the expansion in agricultural returns would have kept them on the land in Stogumber.

There is also an Edward who is a servant to a Hunt in the 1666 Poll Tax list. I think he was a weaver, as I determined above. Perhaps he was the last remaining Shattock weaver in the area.

On poor relief between 1668-1679 are John and Honor Shattock and Elizabeth Shattock. Then no marriages or baptisms after 1679, no Shattocks on poor relief, no taxes. It is not until 1776 that John Shattock marries Ann Clouter in Stogumber and they have three children baptized there. I suspect this Shattock appears to have returned to Stogumber from elsewhere. The parish records show that only a few other elderly Shattocks are found in the area after 1640.

So the question becomes, why did Shattocks leave Stogumber?

Shattock Pilgrims or Strangers?

According to a history written for the Somerset government site, there was widespread resistance to King Charles I 's attempt to raise taxes without parliament's support. The sheriff found it difficult to collect Ship money in 1634. There was also strong Puritan resistance in the county to Archbishop's Laud attempt to restore Anglican ceremonial. "They refused to move the communion table 'altarwise'." It is quite probable that many Shattocks were Puritans since "the traders and the workers in the woollen cloth industry were for the most part strongly Puritan and supported Parliament." To make the scenario even more complex and stressful, some Shattocks may have become extreme in their religious views ("low church"), which would have put them at odds with both their Puritan neighbors and their Royalist neighbors.

But what evidence do we have for Stogumber Shattocks religious views? According to Lesley Morgan, Stogumber local historian, there is an "anabaptist" burial in 1669 of Robert Shattock in Stogumber. (Anabaptists did not believe in infant baptism, believing only adults who could choose to be baptized could be baptized. They are considered extreme because they wanted to restore the true church to an Apostolic model. They believed the state churches were beyond reformation.

It is difficult to determine what the Shattocks who emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony believed. We know that three Shattock males were migrants to New England (two Williams and one Samuel) and a widowed female "Damaris" Shattock. A fourth Shattock male was an indentured servant transported to the Chesapeake Bay colony in Virginia. Several West Bagborough families moved to the Stepney area of London where shipbuilding and other marine activities were located in the early 17th century. And one family may have gone north to London from Stogumber and settled in the Waltham Abbey area of Essex. William of Watertown was a weaver and Samuel of Salem was a serge maker or hatter. But what about all the other Shattocks who seem to have evaporated from the Stogumber parish records after 1640?

What drove the Shattockes out of Stogumber on such hazardous migrations?

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded by a group of Puritans who set up the Massachusetts Bay Company. It was granted a charter by Charles I in 1629, with the right to engage in trade in New England. The charter did not say the members had to stay in England to conduct their official and legal business. The Puritans realized this meant they could move the legal entity to the colony. In effect they could create a religious commonwealth with members living according to the laws and rules established by the leaders, with no interference from the King or parliament. In their words they could create a "City of God in the wilderness."

In fact they did not want to allow non-Puritans into the colony. But to pay for the cost of establishing the colony they did allow people they called "strangers" (Anglicans and other Protestant religious sects) on board their migrant ships. And they had another important reason for allowing strangers to enter the colony. They feared corruption and immoral contamination from England. So they endeavored to make the colony as self-sufficient as possible to keep the colony out of transatlantic trade and prevent the rise of a mercantile class bent on profit and self-enrichment rather than piety and good deeds for others. That meant they allowed people with essential skills to join the colony. That happens to describe the weaving skill of William of Watertown, the serge-making or hatter skills of Samuel of Salem and the shoe making skills of William of Boston. Damaris Shattuck married a successful merchant.

Of the early Shattocks who migrated to the colony, we know that Damaris and Samuel were admitted to the church, presumably the Puritan faith, in 1641 and 1642. That raises the question about their faith before they left England. We know that William of Boston was persecuted as a Quaker, so his reasons for emigrating may have included pilgrimage. But a Quaker would not be welcome in the colony. We know nothing about the faith of William of Watertown. Presumably he had to become a Puritan as attending Sunday church was a requirement in the colony.

Its certainly possible that in England they were Puritans and more radicalized sects as the people working the cloth trade are known to be non-conformists. But I do not think that was the only reason for abandoning Stogumber. And if they were Anglicans and not Puritans, what other reason did they have for leaving Stogumber?

Economic Reasons

It was the steep decline of the wool and cloth trade. On the English Heritage page I trace the rise and fall of the export market for West Country undyed broadcloths. The evidence is that the Shattocks of west Somerset, in Stogumber, in Milverton and in North Molton in Devon were heavily involved in the wool and cloth trades. And when the cloth export market fell, they fell with it. Since agriculture was in a massive boom period, they would not have an incentive to leave. They must have been wool and cloth trades people.

Stogumber had been a cloth center at least since 1243 when a fuller is recorded as working in Stogumber. The cloth industry had supported families involved in the cottage industries associated with cloth making. The earliest record of a Shattock in the area is a document about Roger Shattock, cloth merchant, who had experienced a theft of his merchandise. Alexander Shattuck is a beneficiary in the will of John Wolcott c. 1547-1623 of Tolland, a miller, will dated 1623. The Wolcotts were also cloth merchants. John and Christopher Shattock purchased a tenement and land from the widow Margaret of the famous Luttrell family in Vexford, just outside of Stogumber.

But all cloth making was in trouble. By the end of the 16th century wool and cloth trade had become challenging for Shattocks earning a living from the cloth industry. Most of the cloth was exported, and conditions in the late 16th century had become less favorable. (See Textile Industries Since 1550) The export market was much more important than the domestic market and Germans and Dutch were the largest customers. The industry had its ups and downs as religious wars and other conflicts took their toll on export trade.

After the religious wars on the continent, exporters faced import duties and other restrictions in the early 17th century. In 1616 there was a revival in the export market but it fell again with the beginning of the Thirty Years War on the continent in 1618. There followed huge unemployment in the industry and many clothiers failed. Exporters also faced stiff competition from foreign clothiers, especially Spanish cloth, which was favored.

There is a clear example of the decay of the cloth industry in the Stogumber area in Philip Ashford's study of the west Somerset woolen industry (p. 171) Richard Wolcott (c. 1610-1658) was a fuller in Stogumber: "Richard had been in possession of a tucking mill and two clothing racks in the village since before 1634 when the facilities had been described as ‘in decay’."

What makes this particular reference interesting is that there is a connection between the Wolcotts and the Shattocks. 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.” And Henry Wolcott emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay colony where Samuel, William and the widow Damaris Shattuck emigrated sometime after 1634. Were the Shattocks who braved the hazardous trip to the colony escaping poverty that result from a failing export cloth industry in Stogumber? In fact, was I discuss on the Bishop's Lydeard page, Alexander Shattock (born 1579) may have moved his family from West Bagborough to Bishop's Lydeard because of the decline of the cloth trade in the Tolland - Stogumber area. Certainly the declining cloth economy would have been a strong reason for the journey to the new world for pilgrim Shattocks, along with the desire to be part of a religious community whose members shared their believes and values.

It might be asked why tradespeople escaping poverty in Stogumber and nearby villages like West Bagborough did not choose to move to the town of Taunton. They may have had strong religious reasons for staying clear of Taunton. The guilds would have made working there virtually impossible. Alexander Shattock appears to have moved to the Conquest farm just outside Taunton. And there was no work for weavers and other cloth trades in Taunton. Ashford notes (p. 177) "Taunton's woolen industry was depressed by 1622 when the town was ‘greatly impoverished’, and again in the 1680s and 1690s when the serge trade was suffering and some workers were ‘facing the immediate prospect of starvation’." And Ashford finds (p. 171) that "the poorest weavers tended to live in Taunton and the richest manufacturers in places such as Holford, Fiddington, North Petherton, and Bridgwater." Among these villages only North Petherton was a Shattock village and they appear to be descended from the Taunton area Shattocks.

War May Have Accelerated The Diaspora

If there was a final blow for Shattocks working in the cloth industry in Stogumber area it was probably the English Civil War. It had been brewing in the 1630s and finally broke out in 1642. (Jon. Shattock, William Shattock of Watertown, widow Damaris Shattock and Samuel Shattock probably left after 1634 and before 1641.) Dr. Michael Shattock suggests that the Shattocks may have been on the wrong side of the war: "The Shattocks always seem to have been low church, not just Puritan. This was an age of extremism in terms of religious worship and it could be that their radicalism was at odds with the prevailing views of the Parliamentary army. You remember the Putney Debates between the Levellers and Cromwell and Ireton, the army leaders later in the decade." This is an interesting idea because it suggests Shattocks may have been at odds with their neighbors, giving them a reason for leaving town.

It his study of the wool and cloth industry (The West Somerset Woolen Trade, 1500-1714 by Philip Ashford, Somerset Archaelogy and Natural History, 2007) Ashford divides his history before and after the Civil War (p. 165): "The two periods chosen for the maps have the civil war dividing them, the first map representing earlier patterns which changed when the old monopolies were challenged during the English Revolution." This gives Mike Shattock's statement that the Shattocks may have been on the wrong side of the war additional evidence. In fact the map Ashford creates showing the distribution of wool and cloth occupations in west Somerset closely parallels the map I have of early Shattock villages in west Somerset. (See the English Heritage page of this site.)

Nearby Taunton, only 13 miles away and which largely supported the parliamentarians, became embroiled in the war when it was approached by a Royalist army in June 1643. The town surrendered. Then in July 1644 the town was rescued by the parliamentary forces. In October the Royalists were back, the town fell, but the parliamentarians retreated to the castle. Much of the town was burned to the ground in the fighting. When the Royalists heard a parliamentary army was approaching, they fled. Taunton had two market fairs a year, as befits a major town at the time, and the war would have disturbed the ordinary course of commerce. Add this to the disruption of the trade route between London and west Somerset and the disruption to the export markets in Holland and Germany. The war and the decline of the cloth trade may be a very good explanation of why Shattocks who had not gone to the colony continued to depart from Stogumber after 1640. William Shattuck of Boston first appears in the Boston records in 1650. According to Dr. Duncan Taylor, in a series of talks he gave in Stogumber about its history (and archived online) " Much of the economic life of the community was centered on the cloth trade and Stogumber can best be thought of as perhaps an industrial or semi-industrial community rather than a quiet agricultural backwater. Although they do not provide the only reason, fulling mills were a central reason for the location of Britain's premier industry in areas such as Stogumber." Stogumber would be hard hit by downward fluctuations in the export cloth trade. Mike: "Cromwellian Puritans were comparatively right wing as compared to some of the other sects who joined the Civil War on the Puritan side. Remember that one of the Shattocks was a founder of the Plymouth Brethren which were (and are) an extreme sect. Cromwell was no more sympathetic to someone like Lilburne, a Leveller, than he was to High Tories. Religion and economics may have together been a reason for the exodus. The old 14th century saying--When Adam delved and Eve spun who was then the gentleman?-- does not suggest that some 200 or so years later weavers would necessarily be any less radical."

There was another Shattocke diaspora from a wool and cloth village at about the exact same time. Since about 1520 Shattockes (or Shattickes) of North Molton in Devon had been living and working in the village, known for its nearby herds of sheep and its cloth industry. Then, about 1640 they abandoned North Molton and found work in the agricultural fields south of the village. My own lineage descends from the Shattockes of Yarnscombe. There is no record of Richard Shattocke's birth, around 1640, but the 1642 Protestation Return shows his father Thomas living in the village. Richard's birth record was probably a casualty of the English Civil Wars.

The armies that marched through Somerset villages like Stogumber seized provisions and often looted the citizens. But it was the aftermath that was the legacy of the war for villagers. " As disastrous as the war were the outbreaks of 'contagious sickness, plague and pestilence' recorded for the years immediately following. At East Coker, 70 people died in 1645; at Wiveliscombe, 468 people died between October 1645 and August 1646; and at Yeovil in 1647, 'manie hundred soules died, and the sickness growing soe daungerous that noe living would undertake to bury the deade infected bodies'. As constant a danger as plague was the threat of famine, when, on the average, every fourth harvest fell below requirements."


There were two significant migrations of Shattocks from their homes in Somerset, and later from both Somerset and Devon. One happened in the 17th century and the second in the 19th century. Both were due to agricultural and economic factors. I discuss the first diaspora in the early to mid 17th century on this page. Most Shattocks in Somerset at the time worked in the cloth cottage industry. When that industry collapsed they moved to the London area or the Virginia and New England colonies. Religious strife in England and their non-conformist faith may have played a large role in their decision to cross the dangerous waters of the Atlantic. From the wool and cloth towns in North Molton, Devon, and from the wool and cloth village Stogumber, some dispersed into other villages in Somerset and north Devon working as farm labourers or as tenant farmers. The North Molton page also discusses the impact of the wool and cloth trades on Shattocke migrations. I also discuss the impact of the wool and cloth trade on the lives of early Shattockes in "Taunton and the Rise and Fall of the Wool Trade."

The second and largest diaspora of Shattockes occurred as a result of the agricultural revolution that began in the 18th century. There was also a decline in agricultural products as a result of competition from imports from an industrialized America. And the agricultural revolution in England reduced the need for labor on English farms. I discuss that Shattocke diaspora on the Diaspora page.