They say two things are certain in life. Thomas died at age 76 in 1814. And, yes, he paid taxes. The tax records provide another layer of evidence for Thomas of North Molton being Thomas of Exford.
Starting in 1693. A tax was levied on land with an annual value of more than 20 shillings. Imagine a record connecting names with land! The most extensive surviving records span the period 1780 to 1832 -- a convenient time-span for pinning down Thomas. The records, created by parish, list proprietors (owners) and occupiers (tenants).
A man looking suspiciously like our Thomas appeared in three series of tax records over a thirty-year period.
|Cutcombe Land Tax Assessments, 1791, FHL film 1,526,821, item 5|
- Thomas Tudball first appears in 1782 as an occupier of a parcel called Smith's, or Smyth's, in North Molton parish; the proprietor was William Thorne (Sir Charles Bampfylde was proprietor starting in 1784). Thomas' land was probably the same parcel occupied by Henry Smith in 1781. Thomas might have been taxed before 1782, but earlier records are not available. Thomas occupied Smyth's from 1782 through 1792, after which Smyth's was occupied by John Thorne.
- Then, in 1793, Thomas Tidbold appeared as proprietor of land known as Thorne Sheaf in Cutcombe parish. If this is the same Thomas, it is also likely that Thorne Sheaf was in some way associated with the Thornes of North Molton. Thomas Tidbold (sometimes Tidboald or Tudball) was listed as proprietor of Thorne Sheaf from 1793 to 1804, when Sir Philip Hale became proprietor.
- In 1804, Thomas Titbale/Tidbald/Tidball reappeared in North Molton as occupier of a half of Lyddicombe, land owned by Charles Bampfylde. Thomas occupied the land through 1811, after which he was succeeded by Richard Shapland.
The geography also works. Cutcombe is only about 15 miles northeast of North Molton. The two farms were even closer together. North Molton is a large parish. Lyddicombe was about three miles north of North Molton village. A farm known as Thorne was a mile or so southwest of the Cutcombe parish church. As the crow flies, Thorne was only 11 miles from Lyddicombe.
But, what about Thomas of Exford? The tax records help here, too, but that part of the story will be told next week. In anticipation, you might want to remember this: Thorne was only half mile from a place called Luckwell Bridge.