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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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The Parish Register of Ilsington contains a graphic account of an accident which took place in September 1639. The original was written using the spelling and language of those times so what follows has been re-worked in the English of today.


Ilsington's restored schoolroom


The restored schoolroom over the west gate as it is today

©Richard J. Brine


September 1639:

Over the west gate of the churchyard in Ilsington there was a room built in former times about ten feet from the ground, sixteen feet in length and twelve feet in height. The east and west side walls were about ten feet in height. The covering was of  slate or shingle stone laid on good timber rafters about twelve feet in length.


This room was recently converted to a Schoolhouse, to which place there normally came around 30 boy scholars. Tuesday September 17th 1639 was wet which, with other factors, kept some at home. But others to the number of seventeen were together at school with their schoolmaster as it came up to eleven o'clock at which time the scholars go  home for their dinner.


At the same time, a woman passed underneath the room and finding the gate to be heavy, she let it close with a bang - something it had often done. Before she had reached a house about six yards from the place, part of the south stone wall, right up to the timber part of the roof, slid away so that the whole roof collapsed, driving both east and west side walls outwards so that they fell down onto the floor of the schoolroom leaving not one stick or stone of the entire structure remaining in its original position.


The School door, which opened inwardly, was shut when the structure began to fall. Four of the boys fell down into the churchyard with the east side wall and escaped with little hurt. Some though were struck down with timber and stones which fell from over their heads.


A timber beam trapped one boy in the middle of the room but when it was lifted, he was able to get up and run away. And which was yet more wonderful was that another sweet child (called Humphrey Degon) fell out with the east side wall into the street where he was totally wedged and buried under the rubble so that no part of his body or clothes appeared. There he lay for a quarter of an hour or more when he was then happily found and taken up for dead in the judgement of everyone who saw him. But life was not totally gone; the child recovered consciousness, and now is healthy and well and free from any harm.


In this accident, we have a special demonstration of God's Providence and Goodness in delivering them from imminent danger. Twelve had their heads cut and broken so they bled for it to remind them all of the danger they were in. But God, with their guardian angels surrounded them so that not a bone was broken, nor a joint displaced their wounds are all healed and there is not one of them who in any way has had a permanent injury.


As I write this account in this book, they are all in health and so living to praise God for their deliverance.


I will always give thanks unto the Lord; his praise shall ever be in my mouth.

O praise the Lord with me and let us magnify his name for ever.

He has kept all our bones so that not one of them is broken.

The Lord has delivered the souls of his servants

and they that put their trust in Him shall not be forsaken.



Mr. Hans Corbin, Schoolmaster


David Leere

Thomas Leere

John Leere

Henry Leere

(These four are brothers)

Thomas Smerdon

Thomas Corbin

John Crevose

John Degon

Humphrey Degon

Stephen Tyler

Bartholomew Potter

Thomas Potter

John Michelmore

John Foord

John Stancombe

Hannibal Satturley

John Leate (or Leafe)


Charles Pomroy

Hoscar Bowden

David Byrd

Richard Smerdon

Will Surrage

Will Soaper

John Baker

Josias Baker

Edward Leate

John Simonde

Henry Lampseed

John Gurrell

It is the Lord's mercy that we were not consumed.

His compassion did not fail us.


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