This land does not fall in the land mapped for the manor of Moreton in 1790 but seems to have been alienated from the manor at an early date and held as a free tenement. In the early thirteenth century, the lord of the manor, William de Mandeville, partitioned a portion of land for Ely Ford. It remained in the Ford family for the next nine generations (Vyvyan (ed.), Visitations of Devon) until Margery, daughter of Richard Ford, married John Charles of Moreton. It was inherited by their son William Charles of Moreton, and his son, William Charles of Moreton, who died in 1523. Its extent at this time is recorded as ‘3 messuages, 100 acres of land, 20 of meadow, 40 of pasture and 40 of heath in Moreton held of Sir William Courtenay of his manor of Moreton by fealty and 6d rent, worth £10 yearly’ (WCSL IPMs). The sixpence is clearly quitrent. Ford then passed to his brother John Charles and from him to his son of the same name, who added two more messuages: the inquisition post mortem on his death in 1563 describes it as ‘5 messuages, 200 acres of land, 30 of meadow, 40 of pasture and 60 of heath in Moreton held of the heirs of William Courtenay of the manor of Moreton’. The heirs were the Charles family of Tavistock, who seem to have sold it off piecemeal.

One indication as to the possible location of the original Ford comes from a sale of land in 1567 by William Brimblecombe of North Tawton, baker, to John Agget of Moreton, weaver, and Nicholas Caseleigh, tailor of Moreton; this is described as ‘a close of lands containing five acres called Langhill within the manor and parish of Moreton in the tenure of John Agget, between the Queen’s highway to Chagford in the north and east, and the lands of John Wannell directly in the east, THE LANDS OF JOHN CHARLES GENT IN THE SOUTH and the lands of John Cornysshe in the West’ (WCSL Enrolled deeds, no. 834). It should be noted that ‘John Charles’s land’ is described as such – it is not specifically Ford and may well be one of the two messuages he added to his estate. Also ‘the lands of John Wannell’ are a possible indicator; three years later John Wannell alias Voisey, yeoman bought four messuages in Moreton from Richard Wannell, one of which was ‘Forde’ (WCSL Enrolled deeds, no. 881). If there was a free tenement held by the Wannell family called Ford adjacent to a free tenement belonging to the Charles family that had owned a ‘Ford’ at an early date, it seems we are in the right area: between Langhill and the borough of Moreton.

Further evidence that this part of the parish was once an estate called Ford is a deed in Devon Record Office (DRO 4930 B/T/M/204, 205 dated 1790) which refers to ‘fields, closes or parcels of land now being four in number, and a little plot of garden taken out of one of them, containing nine acres adjoining Embleford Lane, formerly part of a tenement and close called Tarves Park otherwise Mill Hill, Ella Meadow, Embleford Meadow and Mill Pool Moor and PART OF THE BARTON OF FORD, formerly in the possession of Mathias Nosworthy, afterwards of Edward Cheesworthy and Anna his wife, since of William Eastabrook deceased, but now of Dorcas Potter of Moretonhampstead, widow’. The reference to the ‘barton’ of Ford suggests there was a freehold estate or free tenement of this name, and the presence of Forder House near Embleford, inclusive of Forder Fields, Forder Meadow, etc, suggests Ford was here, and that John Charles’s estate extended from Embleford to lands near Osborne Farm. [IJFM]