MORETON, MANOR OF.

At the time of Domesday, Moreton was a royal manor. The entry reads: ‘At the time of King Edward the Confessor's death it paid tax for three hides (units of roughly 80- 120 acres). There is land for twenty ploughs. In lordship there are three ploughs and six serfs (unfree labourers) cultivating one hide; and sixteen villeins (villagers) and six bordars (smallholders) with eight ploughs cultivating two hides. There are twenty acres of meadow, sixty acres of pasture; the woodland is one league long and one furlong wide. There are twenty cattle and one hundred and thirty sheep. It pays £12 in tax weighed and assayed, the same as it did when Baldwin acquired it. To the manor of Moreton belongs the third penny of the hundred of Teignbridge.’

The lordship of the manor of Moreton remained in royal possession until Henry I gave it to his illegitimate son, William de Tracey. It then passed from William to his daughter Grace, and from her to her son, another William, who adopted the name 'de Tracey'. This man was the knight who assisted in the murder of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. After the deed he went into exile and in 1173 divided off the manor of DOCCOMBE. The rest of the manor of Moreton was inherited by his son, Henry the Hunchback, who gave it to the Chief Justice, Geoffrey fitz Piers (d.1213), in return for assistance in regaining his inheritance after his father's disgrace.

Geoffrey Fitz Piers changed his name to Geoffrey de Mandeville, and was granted the title Earl of Essex. IIt was he who in 1207 obtained Moreton's first charter and with it the right to hold a market and fair. In 1214 his second son William de Mandeville (d.1227) was deprived of Moreton for plotting against King John, who granted it to Henry 'son of the earl' in 1215; it was restored to William in 1219 shortly after the accession of Henry III. On William's death in 1227 it passed to his half-brother John fitz Geoffrey (d.1258) and from him passed to his sons John fitz John (d. 1275) and Richard fitz John (d. 1297). At Richard’s death it was noted that the heirs were the descandants of the three sisters and coheiresses of the deceased (Cal. Inq. Post Mortem, vol. 3, Edward I (1912), p. 282. In 1299 Moreton passed to the son of Aveline fitz John, namely Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster (d.1326). In July 1304 the earl of Ulster exchanged the manor with Gerard de Orum for two manors in Ireland (CPR 1301-7, p. 245). Five years later it was bought in 1309 by Sir Hugh de Courtenay (d.1340), later Earl of Devon, in whose family it remained until 1890. In 1406, on the death of Sir Philip Courtenay it was worth 20 marks but in 1415, on the death of Richard Courtenay, bishop of Norwich, it was worth £24 yearly not including £10 for the advowson (Kirby (ed.) Cal. Inq. Post Mortem, vol. 20, 1-5 Henry V, pp. 39, 141).

In 1890 W. H. Smith bought the manor, along with the manors of North Bovey and Shapley. His son, W. F. D. Smith, inherited the manor the following year and proceeded to rebuild a great number of the properties, as well as the hospital. Manorial tenancy came to an end in 1922 with the abolition of copyhold tenure; so when W. F. D. Smith died in 1928, and the estate was divided up and sold off, the manor of Moreton effectively ceased to exist at that point.

For the other manors, see DOCCOMBE, HAYNE, WRAY and SOUTH TEIGN.

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