from Somerset, Devon and Dorset


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Who was Cousin Hebe?

Cecil Templer was one of the early genealogist who worked out the the Templer family.

Transcript of the Templer family tree by Brigadier C. R. Templer DSO

"And who is Cousin Hebe, mother?"

"Ask your Uncle Harry, he always says we are descended from a Colonel of horse in the service of William of Orange."

How often does a remark such as this part of an abiding interest in one's family tree.

In 1927 the only genealogical clues I could find was a tree in an appendix to the 'Poems of James Lethbridge Templer' published privately in 1872. In this this was a tree showing my grandfather Robert Baron Templer descending through six generations to a James Templer who in 1688 was Colonel of Horse in the service of William of Orange.

An elderly cousin Hebe had produced some unrelated facts on the family and I decided to start from scratch from my grandfather Robert Baron Templer. My elderly cousin's notes only got me back one generation but it provided the telling clue that my great grandfather was born at Salmon Pool near Exeter.

Years rolled on and after service abroad in India, in 1935 I was appointed Adjutant of the Royal Devon Yeomanry Artillery with headquarters at Exeter and easy access to the Exeter City Library. There I found that the Devon Records Society had transcribed almost complete copies of birth, marriages and deaths of all Exeter parishes.

I found that the 'Tree' in the 'Templer's Poems' was entirely bogus. Fortunately the family had lived for five generations in a tight circle of parishes around Fore Street, Exeter carrying out their trades of Inn Holders and Braziers.

They was staunch Royalist I found by then entry in 1650 of 'Anne Templer entered the street, threw down the crubbs (panniers) of the Commonwealth soldiers.' Being fined for this affray

No sign so far of the mythical Colonel of Horse until one day in the parish register of St Mary Steps, Exeter I read 'A Captain of the Prince of Orange was buried 11th of December 1688', no name given. Later in the same register I read 'Thomas Templer was buried 1st of January 1719'. He, I had already placed as a direct ancestor and respectable Inn Holder, so that laid to rest that myth - I wonder which of my ancestors started it.

 I knew that there were two main branches of the Devon Templers, my own, the Salmon Pools of Exeter and the Stovers of Newton Abbot but no one seemed to know if they were related.

The Stover branch were the most colourful, James Templer educated as an orphan at the Bluecoat School, Exeter was apprenticed to a carpenter. He jumped his indentures and boarded a ship bound for Madras as a ship's carpenter. There he was engaged in building the Madras docks when in 1787 he cleverly married the bosses' daughter Mary Parlby. With his father-in-law he returned to England and help to build the Plymouth docks, in the process of making himself the equivalent of a modern millionaire. He owned, amongst many other properties, all the parish of Paignton. With part of his fortune he built Stover House near Newton Abbot, a vast mansion of granite which is now a girl’s school of 150 girls. Incidentally his grandson through the lot!

There was no proof of any connection between the Salmon Pool and the Stover branches so going back from James of Stover I traced back three generations of 'Sope Boylers' and 'Braziers' until I met his grandfather Thomas (Sope Boyler) who proved to be the youngest son of my direct ancestor Richard (Cordwyner) of Exeter who died in 1653, thus proving our common descent.

Births, marriages and deaths register provided the outline of the tree going back to Alexander Templer of North Petherton near Taunton who died in 1626 and left a will out of the as a husband's mum and I was determined to try and find out what I could about any of my inn holders ancestors.

Luckily they were relatively men of substance and they have left Wills in the court of the Bishop of Exeter, so with the help of cousin Jack who could read old English we took extracts of the wills of five Generations, fascinating reading.

'In the Bare Mitre, Cross Keys, Anchor, Bull, Draggon, Lions Windmill, Crown, King's Head, Lamb and Halls, ....... one and a half pipes of canarye, one but of sherry, for the things decayed lying loose which we call lomber etc. Total £206.19 shillings.

That was in 1936 and we noted that there were about 20 more Templers Wills registered at Taunton, going back to 1500, the examination of these I decided to put back in until my retirement hopefully within 10 years.

Hitler decided otherwise and in the Exeter blitz of 1942 in World War II, all the Exeter and Taunton Wills, kept in the cellars of Bedford Circus, Exeter were destroyed.

So I am left with 539 names (310 of them Templers) from a Tree all descended from Alexander Templer 1662. I feel that due to the destruction of the Taunton wills I can go back no further but it would have been interesting to learn how we may have been descended from The Knights Templer, a bachelor order!

Recently I came across a real find which would have saved me many hours of research, an almost complete set of data of the Templer family going back to Alexander which was published by the Mormon Church.

It is a marvellous record, much of it I suspect obtained from the entries in the Templer family tree which I have lodged in the Exeter City Library. I can strongly recommend anyone looking for old records to consult the Mormons, in their record of Templers there were 10 pages recording 450 entries of births, marriages and deaths, a remarkable document.

So now there rests, lodged in the West Country section of the Exeter City Library the complete tree of 10 generations of the Templer family, many now in New Zealand and South Africa, for future generations to study.