Jean G. Rihl, a French naval officer, was taken prisoner on the Basque, Man of War, on 13 November, 1809 and arrived in Moretonhampstead on parole on 22 March 1810, his rank was ‘Ensign de Vaisseau’.   On Feb 13 1812 he was sent from Moreton to Oswestry.

(From a transcript of list of prisoners in the West Country Studies Library cat. no. 365.64 DEV FRE).(see Prisoners of War)

On 21 Feb 1811 Ann Soper of Moretonhampstead had a son who was baptised in the Unitarian Chapel on 19/4/1818 as William Rihl Soper.  In 1819 Ann Soper married John Bidder, elder brother of George Parker Bidder (see Bidder). 

We next hear of Ann’s first son as William Rihll, watch and clockmaker of Exeter, when he married Mary Ann Dayment in Moretonhampstead in 1837.   It is said that he made the change from Rihl to Rihll because it gave a better appearance when inscribed on the face of a clock.

The following children of William and Mary Ann Rihll were baptised in Moreton:  George Dayment (1838), Matilda (1839), Louisa (1842), Lewis (or Louis) John (1845), Albert John (1846) and Ellen (1855).   William is described as mason on the first two occasions but as watchmaker after that. William died in 1878, his wife in 1873, and Ellen in 1881.  In turn Albert John Rihll married Eliza Metherell and they had five children (including a daughter who died in infancy) between 1876 and 1884.

The census shows that William and Mary Ann Rihll and their family were living in New Street (now the end of Court Street where it becomes the Square) in 1841 and 1851, and they appear in the Directories as being in New Street or the Square from then on.  By 1878 Albert John had taken over the business of watchmaking but also had a draper’s shop in the Square, and William was listed as parish clerk.  Later  Albert’s son Ted (christened Albert Edward)  was a butcher and his brother Blake, a milliner and boot and shoemaker in the Square.  In the next generation Ted’s son Harry became a chemist.