This family are a branch of the Bassetts of Tehidy Park (Cornwall), who will form the subject of my next post. They first acquired property in Devon through the marriage of John Bassett (1374-1463) to Joan Beaumont of Umberleigh, who proved to be the eventual heir of both her brother, Sir Philip Beaumont (d. 1473), kt. and her mother, Philippa Dinham. Through this marriage, the family inherited the Beaumont estates at Umberleigh, Heanton Punchardon and Shirwell, and the Dinham estates at Nutwell, Kingskerswell and Hartland, but Sir John Basset (d. 1528) seems to have lacked the means to pay the entry fines and other charges necessary for him to take possession of the estate. In 1504, when he seems to have given up hope that his wife would provide a male heir, he therefore entered into an agreement with Giles Daubeney (1451-1508), 1st Baron Daubeney, who agreed to pay these costs (amounting to about £2,000) on condition that one of Sir John's daughters and co-heiresses would marry Daubeney's son Henry Daubeney (1493–1548), later 1st Earl of Bridgewater, before his 16th birthday. The expected outcome was that the Beaumont lands would be entailed upon the male issue of a Daubeney-Basset marriage. However the indenture allowed for Sir John Basset and his wife to retain possession during their lives of Umberleigh and lands in Bickington, and crucially, it also provided that if the marriage did not take place, the lands would revert to Sir John's heir general. Basset sent two of his four daughters, Anne and Thomasine, to live in the Daubeney household 'on approval', but - perhaps because Lord Daubeney died in 1508 - the marriage never took place and the lands stayed with the Bassets. Sir John's second wife, Honor, eventually provided him with a male heir in 1518. Perhaps because rebels had destroyed his house in Cornwall when he was serving as sheriff of that county in 1497, Sir John seems to have made Umberleigh his chief residence and he remodelled or rebuilt it in 1525. His widow remarried after her husband's death to Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, the illegitimate son of King Edward IV, and maintained an extensive and surviving correspondence with friends at Court. As a result, we know a great deal more about some of the 16th century members of the family than is at all common.
|Bassett of Heanton|
Sir John Bassett's heir was John Bassett (1518-41), who died very young, leaving two daughters and a pregnant wife. Her child proved to be a male heir, later Sir Arthur Bassett (1541-86), kt., with whom the genealogy below begins. Sir Arthur (he was knighted in 1575) was a major landowner in north Devon and played a significant part in local administration as a justice of the peace, deputy lieutenant and MP. His career was no doubt assisted by his friendship with the 2nd Earl of Bedford, who was influential both in the county (where he became Lord Lieutenant) and at court. Sir Arthur's wife died in 1585, leaving a young family, and he himself died early the following year, when he was one of eight judges and JPs who caught typhus while attending the Assizes in Exeter.
Sir Arthur left his estates and family in the care of trustees, who ensured his eldest son, Sir Robert (1574-1641) - he was knighted in 1599 - was introduced in his late teens his public responsibilities. Sir Robert, however, proved to be a disappointment: after a decade of travel and adventure in the 1590s, he proved to be profligate and unstable. Although his father had held Puritan views, he was suspected of Catholicism and also of voicing a treasonable claim to the English throne based on his (illegitimate) Plantagenet ancestry. In 1603 he fled abroad, travelling through France to Italy, although whether this was primarily to escape his creditors or to save his neck is unclear. The authorities seem to have been happy to see the back of him, and declined to let him return until 1611, when he was given a conditional pardon on the grounds that he had been 'lately distracted', i.e. mentally ill. He repeatedly entered into and broke arrangements that were designed to restrain his expenditure and preserve his estate for his heirs, and his eldest son, Arthur Bassett (1597-1673) became so concerned about the risk to his patrimony that in the 1620s he went to law with his father. Although the squabbles continued until Sir Robert's death in 1641, Arthur managed to clear some of the burdens of the estate, but soon after he finally took ownership of the estate the Civil War broke out. As a Royalist commissioner of array and a colonel of militia, Arthur quickly made himself obnoxious to Parliament, which ordered his arrest. His career has often been confused with that of his cousin of the same name in the Cornish branch of the family, who was a much more active and prominent Royalist. The Devon Sir Arthur's estate was sequestrated and in 1648 he compounded for its release with a fine of £1,362, but it was later claimed that he had arranged for the estate to be under-valued, and he did not finally clear his account until 1654. At the Restoration he recovered his role in public life and was made recorder of Barnstaple, but his appointment did not please the townspeople and they eventually secured his replacement.
Arthur Bassett outlived his eldest son, who died in 1660, and was succeeded at his death in 1673 by his grandson, John Bassett (1654-86), who was MP for Barnstaple and also recorder of the town. He rebuilt or remodelled Umberleigh House in 1674 and married a daughter of a cadet branch of the Acland family, but he had no children, and on his death his estates passed to his brother Francis Bassett (1657-93). He too died young, although he did leave a son and daughter. The son, John Bassett (c.1682-1721), inherited the Heanton and Umberleigh estates and married Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir Nicholas Hooper MP, some of whose property she inherited on the death of her brother. Even though John was MP for Barnstaple in 1718-21 and filled other public roles, the family were no longer the leading figures in the county they had been in Elizabethan times. John's son, John Bassett (1714-57) and grandson, Francis Bassett (1740-1802) did little to change that, although Francis did rebuild Heanton Court, probably in the 1760s. When the family were in the public eye, it was for the wrong reason, as Francis' elder sister, Elizabeth Eustachia Bassett (1737-1812) was divorced by her husband in 1778 after having an affair with William Wade, the Master of Ceremonies at Brighton, whom she later married.
Francis Bassett was unmarried and when he died in 1802 he left the Heanton and Umberleigh estates to Joseph Davie (1764-1846), the eldest son of his younger sister, Eleanor. As a condition of the inheritance, Joseph, who had already inherited his father's properties at Orleigh Court in Buckland Brewer (which he sold) and Watermouth in Berrynarbor, was required to change his name to Bassett, which he did in 1803. Joseph Davie Bassett, as he became, made Watermouth Castle the centre of his scattered estates and remodelled Umberleigh House as a farmhouse. He was a man of considerable energy and ability, who had taken a degree at Oxford and gone on to Lincoln's Inn to study the law before being called to the bar in 1788. He became the Chairman of Devon's magistrates, and in 1812 was jointly responsible for a complex exercise to reapportion the county rate more equitably, which earned him much grateful acclaim from his fellow magistrates. Probably around the time of his inheritance, he remodelled Watermouth Castle, and he did so again in the 1820s, although the interiors seem then to have been left unfinished. In old age, he seems to have become somewhat crochety and litigious, and in 1841 he and his heir were involved in a legal dispute that turned on the state of repair of Watermouth Castle. When his son Arthur Davie Bassett (1801-70) inherited in 1846, he at once employed his friend George Wightwick to carry out repairs and complete the interiors, and in 1852 he sold off Heanton Court.
Arthur Davie Bassett's son and heir was a clergyman, the Rev. Arthur Davie Crawfurth Bassett (1830-80), a mild mannered man of simple tastes. He let Watermouth Castle to a member of his brother-in-law's family and retired to a cottage which he built on the estate. He was unmarried and childless when he was thrown from a bolting horse and broke his neck in 1880. His heir was his sister, Harriet Mary (1829-1920), the wife of Charles Henry Williams (1834-1908) of Pilton House near Barnstaple, and they took the name Bassett on coming into the inheritance. Over the next few years they built up the estate around Watermouth Castle, buying lands in the parish of Berrynarbor, some of which had been owned by the Bassetts in the 17th century. Charles and Harriet's only son, Walter Bassett Williams Bassett (1863-1907) suffered from ill health throughout his life and predeceased his parents. On Charles' death in 1908, the estate thus passed to his daughter, Edith (1861-1943), the wife of Maj. Ernest Charles Penn Curzon (1856-1938). During the First World War they made Watermouth Castle available as a convalescent hospital for army officers, and in 1917 they sold the Umberleigh estate to the farmers who were their sitting tenants. They seem never to have moved into Watermouth Castle as a residence. The furniture was sold in 1922, and most of the estate in 1924. During the Second World War the building was requisitioned by the Government for military use, and served as the headquarters for Operation PLUTO. During the war, Edith Curzon died, and her son Charles (1885-1952), who inherited the house, sold it in 1946 when the Government de-requisitioned it. It then passed through several hands before being acquired by the Haines family in 1979 and made into the tourist attraction it is today.
Umberleigh House, Atherington, Devon
This was reputedly the site of a Saxon palace and chapel built by King Athelstan in the 10th century, and was the first seat of the Bassets in Devon, which they acquired by marriage in the late 15th century.
|The porch stonework from Umberleigh reused as a garden gateway at Watermouth Castle.|
Very little is known about the house they occupied here in the 16th and 17th centuries, but it was evidently remodelled or rebuilt in 1525 for Sir John Bassett (d. 1528), for that is the date on the porch which was removed to the grounds of Watermouth Castle in the 19th century.
The present house has a Georgian style five-bay centre with sash windows, and when this was re-rendered in 1999 a datestone for 1674 with the initials of John Bassett (1654-86) was found. To the left of this centre block are two similar but slightly projecting bays, while to the right is an unusual blind canted bay. The datestone seems to relate to a remodelling and refronting of the house rather than a complete rebuilding, for their is older work inside. Polwhele, writing in about 1800, claimed that the house was modernised 'about eighty years' previously, when a 'large and spacious' hall with 'fine carved work... was destroyed'. It seems possible that this is a reference to the refronting of 1674 but there could have been two phases of work.
|Umberleigh House: entrance front in 2012. Public Domain Image from Wikipedia.|
In the 18th century the house was largely superseded by Heanton Court as the chief family residence, and in the 19th century the estate passed to the Davie (later Basset) family whose seat was at Watermouth Castle. The house has thus been used as a farmhouse for over 200 years. The blind canted bay referred to above belongs to a remodelling of around 1825, which included the reordering of the interior, new sash windows, new wall-heads and guttering, and the replacement of the Tudor porch with a more sophisticated Tuscan one. The interiors are still largely as reworked in this late Georgian revamping. At the rear of the house there is an east wing which was less altered in the 19th century as it became a separate dwelling, and which preserves four 17th century roof trusses. At the back of the house Victorian outbuildings conceal some lancet windows and the blocked doorway of a 13th century chapel built for Lady Joan Champernowne, which is said to have been taken down in 1800.
Descent: Sir John Bassett (d. 1529), kt.; to son, John Bassett (1518-41); to son, Sir Arthur Bassett (1541-86); to son, Sir Robert Bassett (1574-1641), kt.; to son, Arthur Bassett (c.1597-1673); to grandson, John Bassett (1654-86); to brother, Francis Bassett (1657-93); to son, John Bassett (c.1682-1721); to son, John Bassett (1714-57); to son, Francis Bassett (1740-1802); to nephew, Joseph Davie (later Bassett) (1762-1846); to son, Arthur Davie Bassett (1801-70); to son, Rev. Arthur Crawfurth Davie Bassett (1830-80); to sister, Harriet Mary (1829-1920), wife of Maj. Charles Henry Williams (later Bassett) (1834-1908); to daughter, Edith (1861-1943), wife of Maj. Ernest Charles Penn Curzon (1856-1938), who sold 1917 to the Andrew family.
Heanton Court, Heanton Punchardon, Devon
The estate belonged to the Punchardon family for a century or so after the Norman Conquest. It then passed by marriage to the Beaumonts of Youlston, and from them, in about 1500, to the Bassetts of Whitechapel Barton and Tehidy (Cornwall). The house stands in a fine position on the north bank of the Taw estuary, but nothing is known about the predecessor of the present building, which was occupied by the family from about 1603 until it was rebuilt in a castellated style for Francis Bassett (1740-1802), perhaps soon after he came of age in 1761. The architect is unknown. The present house has an eleven-bay south front overlooking the river, with a three-storey tower at either end. This is now only a single room deep, but as originally constructed the house ran back for five or six bays to a further three-storey tower at the north-east corner. The house is built of rubble stone and this now appears rather crude and forbidding, but a view of 1796 shows that it was originally stuccoed.
After Francis Bassett died in 1802, the estate passed to his nephew, Joseph Davie (later Bassett) of Orleigh Court, who never occupied Heanton, which was relegated to use as a farmhouse. It was probably at this time that the rear portion of the building was pulled down, for by the time it first appears on the Ordnance Survey map in 1886 it had been reduced to the surviving front block and was described as the 'remains of a mansion'. In 1874 the position of the house was severely compromised by the construction of the Barnstaple to Ilfracombe railway between the house and the river: this has now closed, but the main road which runs immediately behind the house means the situation still lacks its original charm. In the later 19th century the house was let to gentry tenants, including the Munro family, among whom was the younger Hector Munro, better known as the author 'Saki'.
|Heanton Court: watercolour of the house in 1796 by Rev. John Swete.|In 1971 the house was sold with just one and a half acres, and became a public house, now known as the Tarka Inn. Soon afterwards, the dividing walls of the interior and the original staircase were removed to create an open-plan space. As a result of this and the loss of the original external finish, the house has lost most of its interest, although it still makes a fine object in the landscape.
Descent: Sir John Bassett (d. 1529), kt.; to son, John Bassett (1518-41); to son, Sir Arthur Bassett (1541-86), kt.; to son, Sir Robert Bassett (1574-1641), kt.; to son, Col. Arthur Bassett (c.1597-1673); to grandson, John Bassett (1654-86); to brother, Francis Bassett (1657-93); to son, John Bassett (c.1682-1721); to son, John Bassett (1714-57); to son, Francis Bassett (1740-1802); to nephew, Joseph Davie (later Bassett) (1764-1846); to son, Arthur Davie Bassett (1801-70), who sold 1852 to Sir William Williams (1791-1870), 1st bt.; to son, Sir Frederick Martin Williams (1830-78), 2nd bt.; to son, Sir William Robert Williams (1860-1903), 3rd bt.; to son, Sir William Frederick Williams (1886-1905), 4th bt; to brother, Sir Frederick William Williams (1888-1913), 5th bt.; to brother, Sir Burton Robert Williams (1889-1917), 6th bt.; to uncle, Sir Frederick Law Williams (1862-1921), 7th bt.; to son, Sir William Law Williams (1907-60), 8th bt,; to second cousin, Sir Robert Ernest Williams (1924-76), 9th bt.; sold 1971 for conversion to a public house.
Watermouth Castle, Berrynarbor, Devon
The Davie family bought the estates of the Berry family at Berrynarbor in 1712, and built on the present site at some point in the early 18th century. The resulting building was recorded by the Rev. John Swete in 1796, and his drawing shows that although it was grandly designed in the Palladian style, it was scarcely a dwelling at all, but rather a maison de plaisance set on a terrace above the sheltered and picturesque cove known as Water Mouth. By the time Swete visited, the house was 'in a dilapidated state, to which it was intentionally reduced with the view of its enlargement'. The intentions were presumably those of John Davie (1741-93) but it would seem that his son, Joseph Davie (later Bassett) followed through with the construction of a new and substantially larger house set on an impressive terrace.
|Watermouth Castle: the Palladian house of the Davie family, drawn by the Rev. John Swete in 1796.|
Davie was resident by 1803, and Watermouth was apparently his main residence (he had another house at Umberleigh in Atherington, but had sold off his father's main house at Orleigh Court before 1807 and let Heanton Court). An aquatint published in 1825 shows the castle at this time and depicts a curiously irregular but not especially picturesque building with a slender tower at one end, Tudor Gothic windows and a service wing to the rear. At just about the time this view was published, work began on an ambitious remodelling designed to turn the house into the sort of picturesque castle which John Nash had made fashionable at the turn of the century. It was a remodelling not a rebuilding, and the general form of the previous house is still recognisable under the 1820s detail of mullioned windows and additional towers.
|Watermouth Castle: an aquatint published in Ackerman's Repository of the Arts in 1825.|
An engraving of 1829 shows this work as largely complete and in 1830 it was successfully let, but in the same year the author of a published tour of Dartmoor remarked that it was 'in so unfinished [a] state as to convey but little idea of the effect if it were completed'. When the initial three-year lease expired it was again offered to let, mention being made of the 'large handsome and lofty drawing and dining-rooms, breakfast parlours, housekeeper's room, sleeping apartments, and domestic offices of every description', and gardens which 'excite the admiration of every beholder'. On this occasion, however, a tenant proved harder to secure, and after three years of trying, John Davie Bassett seems to have reoccupied the house himself. A legal spat between John Davie Bassett and his son Arthur (1801-71) in 1841 provides evidence that the castle was not in good condition at this time, and once Arthur inherited in 1846 he at once turned to his friend and former travelling companion, the architect George Wightwick, for designs to complete the house: work was about to start in 1847.
|Watermouth Castle: an engraving of 1829 shows the house substantially in its current form.|
|Watermouth Castle: the entrance front from a mid 20th century postcard.|
|Watermouth Castle: the side and rear elevations from much the same position as the views of 1825 and 1829. |
The internal plan of Watermouth is straightforward. Entrance is through a four-centered archway set between a pair of turrets supporting the Bassett coat of arms. This leads into a full-height hall running through the house, the rear part of which is occupied by a staircase which is divided from the entrance hall by a pretty Gothic screen supporting a balcony, which was no doubt designed by Wightwick, although there is a tradition that some of the woodwork was brought here from the Bassetts' Umberleigh House. Around this memorable space are set four principal reception rooms: a dining room and morning room on the left, and a drawing room and library on the right. These rooms are decorated in such an eclectic and inconstant mix of styles (Gothic, Jacobean, Classical, even Chinese forms occur) that the interior decoration must be entirely of the 1840s. On the first floor there were fifteen bedrooms and dressing rooms, and in the attics a further seven bedrooms for servants.
In the later 19th century, when the house was sometimes let, the gardens of Watermouth Castle were much celebrated, but little of their horticultural splendour survives now. One of the gates into the walled garden is still framed by spectacular carved stonework dated 1525 which was brought here from the porch at Umberleigh House (see above).
|Watermouth Castle: the hall and staircase in about 1900.|
During the First World War, the house was made available as a military convalescent home, and it never returned to private occupation. Much of the furniture was sold in 1922, and the estate was broken up in 1924, although the family, now represented by Mrs Edith Penn Curzon, retained the house. In the Second World War the house was requisitioned and became the headquarters of Operation PLUTO, the scheme to lay underwater fuel pipelines to France in support of the D-Day Invasion, and later an army store. It was finally sold by the family in 1946. Plans to restore and develop it as an hotel failed, and it was rejected by the National Trust in 1952. It languished in increasingly poor condition before being bought by the Brain family, who spent significant sums on essential maintenance and on re-furnishing the house with appropriate contents in the 1960s and 1970s; they also also bought back areas of the surrounding land which had been separated from the house. The first visitor "villas" were built in the early 1970s by Robert and John Brain, and after the Haynes family acquired the property in 1979 the house was further restored and adapted as a theme park, with extensive holiday accommodation in the outbuildings and grounds.
Descent: John Davie (1741-93); to son, Joseph Davie (later Bassett) (1762-1846); to son, Arthur Davie Bassett (1801-70); to son, Rev. Arthur Crawfurth Davie Bassett (1830-80); to sister, Harriet Mary (1829-1920), wife of Maj. Charles Henry Williams (later Bassett) (1834-1908); to daughter, Edith (1861-1943), wife of Maj. Ernest Charles Penn Curzon (1856-1938); to son, Charles Ernest Bassett Lothian Penn Curzon (1885-1952), who sold 1946... sold 1955 to Cecil Brain (d. c.1972) and his wife Dorothy; to sons, Robert and John Brain who sold 1973 to Roy James; sold to Peter de Savary; sold 1979 to Haynes family.
Bassett family of Heanton Court and Watermouth Castle
Bassett, Sir Arthur (1541-86), kt.. Only son of John Bassett (1518-41) of Tehidy Park (Cornw.) and Umberleigh (Devon) and his wife Frances, daughter and co-heir of Sir Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, born posthumously, 4 October 1541. MP for Barnstaple, 1563-67 and for Devon, 1572-83; JP for Devon, 1569-86; High Sheriff of Devon, 1574-75; Deputy Warden of the Stanneries by 1580. He was knighted at Kenilworth (Warks), 18 July 1575. He was a Puritan in religion, and one of the group of friends surrounding the 2nd Earl of Bedford, Lord Lieutenant of Devon, who shared such views. He was one of the promoters of his cousin Richard Grenville's colonial expedition to North America, for which he helped raised finance. He married, about 1570, Eleanor (d. 1585), daughter of Sir John Chichester, kt., of Raleigh, and had issue:
(1) Ann Bassett (c.1572-1664), born about 1572; married, 1 October 1591, John Chichester (1567-1608) of Hall and Westcote (Devon) and had issue two sons and four daughters; died 1664 and was buried at Marwood (Devon);
(2) Sir Robert Bassett (1574-1641), kt. (q.v.);
(3) Dudley Bassett (b. 1576), baptised at Barnstaple, 29 December 1576; died before 1585;
(4) Margaret Bassett (c.1578-1619), born after 1575; married, reputedly on 8 November 1592, Richard Duke (c.1567-1641) of Otterton (Devon) and had issue seven sons and four daughters; died 9 July 1619 and was buried at Otterton;
(5) Sir Arthur Bassett (c.1580-1640), born about 1580; accompanied his uncle, Sir Arthur Chichester, Lord Deputy of Ireland, to Ireland in c.1605 and settled in Belfast; an officer in the army in Ireland (Capt.) and Provost Marshal of Munster, 1607 but had acquired lands in Co. Antrim by 1608; MP for Newry, 1613 and Bangor (Co. Down), 1634, in the Irish Parliament; awarded (jointly with Francis Blundell) a three-year grant of wardships in Connaught in 1614; knighted, 18 July 1616; a commissioner to raise money for the army in Tyrone in 1627, and was still active in military affairs in Ulster in 1629, when he imposed martial law in Co. Tyrone; died unmarried and was buried next to his uncle in the Chichester vault in Carrickfergus church, 2 July 1640;
(6) William Bassett (b. c.1582; fl. 1585); born about 1582; living in 1585;
(7) Francis Bassett (b. 1584), baptised at Atherington, 19 May 1584; living in 1585
(8) John Bassett (b. 1585), baptised at Atherington, 30 June 1585.
He inherited the Tehidy, Umberleigh and Heanton estates from his father in 1541, but sold his Cornish property to his uncle, George Bassett, in 1558. He lived chiefly at Umberleigh. At his death he owned over 13,000 acres in four counties, with the greater part of his lands situated in and around Barnstaple.
He contracted 'gaol fever' (i.e. typhus) while attending the Assizes in Exeter in March 1586, and died 2 April 1586: seven other judges and JPs attending the Assizes also died. He was buried 3 April 1586 at Atherington, where he and his wife are commemorated by a monument; his will was proved 16 June 1586. His wife was buried at Atherington, 10 July 1585.
Bassett, Sir Robert (1574-1641). Eldest son of Sir Arthur Bassett (1541-86), kt. and his wife Eleanor, daughter of Sir John Chichester, kt., of Raleigh, said to have been born 20 January 1574. MP for Plymouth, 1593. In 1593 he obtained licence to travel abroad for three years but he was back in England the following year. He went to Ireland with the Earl of Essex, who knighted him there, 15 July 1599. JP for Devon, 1597; DL for Devon from 1600. Having begun to ‘waste and consume his estate’, he was prevailed upon to settle his property on his wife and children in 1601, but then recovered it due to continuing financial difficulties. He was persuaded to convey his lands to his father-in-law Sir William Peryam in 1603 in return for an annual allowance, but soon afterwards fled to Italy, blaming ‘that damned filthy old judge’ Periam for his troubles. In 1606, the bulk of his estates were conveyed in trust or mortgaged to his uncle Sir Arthur Chichester, the recently appointed lord deputy of Ireland, who became a patron of the family until his death in 1625. In addition to his financial troubles, Sir Robert seems to have displayed some mental instability, and there were rumours that he was a Catholic and that he had recklessly 'made some pretensions to the Crown of England' based on his grandmother's Plantagenet blood. Concern about his possibly treasonable behaviour meant that he was not allowed to return to England until 1611, when he was granted a conditional pardon as 'having been lately distracted', and he was kept under observation until 1614. After his return to England he began to accumulate further debts and around 1615 he sold one of his Devon manors to Sir Thomas Monck in breach of the 1606 trust. Monck sought to secure his title by persuading Chancery to overturn the earlier settlement, and finally obtained a new ruling in 1618 from the Lord Chancellor, Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), by which three manors passed to fresh trustees, some land was freed for sale or lease to satisfy Monck and other creditors, and existing trust agreements were cancelled as appropriate. Almost immediately, Sir Robert breached this settlement also, conveying the three trust manors to Monck and Sir Henry Helmes, another major creditor. Concerned that his inheritance was being squandered, Sir Robert's eldest son Arthur claimed that his father and Monck had bribed Bacon to obtain the 1618 Chancery ruling (this was probably true, as in 1621 Bacon admitted to other charges of bribery). By early 1622 Sir Robert was imprisoned for debt in the Fleet, where he remained for at least three years. From prison he sought to reach terms with his son, and a new Chancery decree followed in February 1622, which guaranteed Arthur inheritance of the three trust manors in return for £3,000 to clear the outstanding debt. Lord Chichester lent Arthur the money for this purpose, but it was not applied as intended and further litigation followed which led to Arthur also being briefly imprisoned for debt. The squabbles over the family estates dragged on for several more years, and were not finally resolved until Sir Robert's death. Sir Robert married, c.1591, Elizabeth (c.1571-1635), daughter and co-heir of Sir William Periam of Fulford (Devon), judge, and had issue including:
(1) Arthur Bassett (b. & d. c.1593); eldest son; died in infancy;
(2) Anne Bassett (1595-1631); married, 17 December 1614, Jonathan Rashleigh MP (1591-1675) of Menabilly (Cornw.) (who m2, 1633, Mary, daughter of John Harris of Radford near Plymouth), son of John Rashleigh, and had issue five children; died June 1631;
(3) Col. Arthur Bassett (1597-1673) (q.v.);
(4) Elizabeth Bassett (b. c.1599; fl. 1640), born about 1599; married, 1621, George Yeo (1597-1671) of Huish (Devon), son of Leonard Yeo, and had issue three sons and four daughters; living in 1640;
(5) Frances Bassett (1600-01), baptised at Heanton Punchardon, 16 December 1600; died in infancy and was buried at Heanton Punchardon, 4 June 1601;
(6) William Bassett (1602-34), born 28 March 1602; died unmarried, 7 May 1634 and was buried at Atherington, where he is commemorated by a monument;
(7) Eleanor Bassett (1605-35); died unmarried; will proved 18 February 1634/5;
(8) Mary Bassett (b. 1606; fl. 1634); died unmarried after 1634.
He inherited the Umberleigh, Heanton Court and Whitechapel estates from his father, but sold Whitechapel and much other property.
He died 11 May 1641 and was buried at Atherington. His wife died in 1635 and was buried at Heanton Punchardon, where she is commemorated by a monument.
Bassett, Col. Arthur (c.1597-1673). Eldest surviving son of Sir Robert Bassett (1574-1641) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of Sir William Periam of Fulford (Devon), born at Heanton Court, in about 1597. Educated at Exeter College, Oxford (subscribed 1613; BA 1615/6) and Inner Temple (admitted 1617). Between 1614 and 1625 he was involved in continuous legal battles with his father and his father's creditors to defend his inheritance, which only finally ended with his father's death in 1641. He was briefly imprisoned for debt himself in 1625, but secured his release by claiming parliamentary privilege on being elected MP for Fowey, 1625-26 at the instance of his brother-in-law, Jonathan Rashleigh. In the 1630s his affairs became less desperate as he managed to clear some mortgages and he began to hold local office as JP for Devon, 1634-43 and as an officer of Devon militia (Col., 1642-46, 1661-72). In 1639 he promised £10 towards the costs of the First Bishops’ War, and in January 1642 he was chosen to help deliver Devon’s petition against popery to London. Despite this evidence of his concern about some royal policies, the king, at the outbreak of the Civil War, instructed him to take command of Sir Samuel Rolle’s regiment of Devon militia and disband it. This action caused him to incur the wrath of Parliament, which ordered his arrest. He was not, however, the Sir Arthur Bassett who was an active Royalist soldier in Cornwall and elsewhere during the Civil War: that was his cousin, of the Tehidy branch of the family. He paid £1,362 in 1648 as a composition for his estate on the Exeter articles, but claims that he had undervalued his estate led to its partial re-sequestration in 1650 and he was only finally discharged by the Committee for Compounding in 1654. After the Restoration he was proposed for the order of the Royal Oak with an estimated income of £1,000, and was made recorder of Barnstaple, 1661-65 by the commissioners for corporations, but he was not popular with the townspeople, who eventually managed to replace him. He also served again as JP, 1660-72 and DL , 1661-62, and as Captain of the Barnstaple Trained Band, 1670. He married, 13 April 1629, Agnes (d. by 1672), daughter of Sir William Leigh, kt. of Burrough in Northam (Devon), and had issue:
(1) John Bassett (1631-60) (q.v.);
(2) Arthur Bassett (1632-56), baptised at Northam, 27 September 1632; educated at Oriel College, Oxford (matriculated 1652) and Middle Temple (admitted 1653); said to have married and had issue one son who died young; buried at Temple Church, London, 6 December 1656, 'in the Round Walk at the north end of the iron grate where the Knight Templars' monuments are';
(3) William Bassett (b. & d. 1634), baptised at Northam, 18 September 1634; died in infancy and was buried at Northam, 9 October 1634;
(4) Francis Bassett (c.1635-72), born about 1635; probably the man of this name educated at Oriel College, Oxford (matriculated 1652); buried at Heanton Punchardon, 10 September 1672.
He lived at Umberleigh until he inherited Heanton Court from his father in 1641. In the early 1630s he spent some time living at properties owned by his wife's family.
He died 7 January 1672/3 and was buried at Heanton Punchardon, 9 January 1672/3, where he is commemorated by an elaborate monument of coloured marbles; his will was proved in the PCC, 13 June 1673. His wife predeceased him but her date of death is unknown.
Bassett, John (1631-60). Eldest son of Col. Arthur Bassett (1597-1673) and his wife Anne Agnes, daughter of William Leigh of Burrough in Northam (Devon), baptised at Northam, 19 May 1631. He married Susannah (1634-62), daughter of Sir John Bluett, kt., of Holcombe Rogus, and had issue:
(1) John Bassett (1654-86) (q.v.);
(2) Arthur Bassett (1655-81), born 16 July 1655 and baptised at Atherington (Devon); educated at Exeter College, Oxford (matriculated 1673; BCL 1680); died unmarried, October 1681, and was buried at Heanton Punchardon;
(3) Francis Bassett (1657-93) (q.v.):
(4) Thomas Bassett (1659-60), born 19 June 1659 and baptised at Heanton Punchardon; died in infancy, April 1660.
He died in the lifetime of his father, August 1660, and was buried at Heanton Punchardon, 6 September 1660. His widow died 22 April 1662 and was buried at Heanton Punchardon, 1 May 1662.
Bassett, John (1654-86). Eldest son of John Bassett (1631-60) and his wife Susannah, daughter of John (or Thomas) Bluett of Holcombe Rogus (Devon), baptised at Atherington (Devon), 26 February 1653/4. DL for Devon, 1676-86; MP for Barnstaple, 1677-86; Recorder of Barnstaple, 1684-86; an officer in the Devon Militia (Col. by 1677). He married, 1682, Elizabeth (1666-83), only daughter of Arthur Acland MP of Bittadon (Devon), but had no issue.
He inherited Umberleigh House and Heanton Court from his grandfather in 1673 and remodelled the former. At his death they passed to his younger brother, Francis.
He died 13 May 1686 and was buried at Heanton Punchardon, where he is commemorated by a monument; his will was proved in the PCC, 27 January 1686/7. His wife died 16 November 1683.
Bassett, Francis (1657-93). Third son of John Bassett (1631-60) and his wife Susannah, daughter of Sir John Bluett, kt. of Holcombe Rogus (Devon), baptised at Atherington, 13 April 1657. He married Elizabeth (d. 1710), daughter of John Connock of Treworgey, St Cleer (Cornw), and had issue:
(1) John Bassett (c.1682-1721) (q.v.);
(2) Elizabeth Bassett (d. 1714/27); married, 3 March 1710/1 at Heanton Punchardon, Thomas Davie of Orleigh Court, Buckland Brewer (Devon), but had no issue; buried at Buckland Brewer, 7 April 1714 or 7 November 1727.
He inherited Umberleigh House and Heanton Court from his elder brother in 1686.
He was buried at Heanton Punchardon, 22 February 1692/3; his will was proved 5 April 1693. His widow was buried at Heanton Punchardon, 31 March 1710.
Bassett, John (c.1682-1721). Only son of Francis Bassett (1657-93) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of John Connock of Treworgy (Cornw.), born about 1682. Educated at Exeter College, Oxford (subscribed 1704). Tory MP for Barnstaple, 1718-21. He married, 20 August 1713 at West Down (Devon), Elizabeth (1695-1744), only daughter of Sir Nicholas Hooper MP of Raleigh House, Pilton and Fullabrook, Braunton (Devon), and heiress of her brother, Nicholas Hooper, and had issue:
(1) John Bassett (1714-57) (q.v.);
(2) Elizabeth Bassett (b. 1716-26?), born 6 October and baptised at Heanton Punchardon, 10 October 1716; probably the person of this name who was buried at Heanton Punchardon, 28 January 1725/6;
(3) Francis Bassett (1719-24?), baptised at Heanton Punchardon, 29 June 1719; probably the person of this name buried at Heanton Punchardon, 2 April 1724.
He inherited Umberleigh House and Heanton Court from his father in 1693 and came of age in about 1703.
He was buried 3 August 1721; his will was proved in the PCC, 24 May 1722. His widow married 2nd, 3 June 1732 at St Andrew Undershaft, London, as his first wife, Rev. Thomas Morrison (c.1705-78) of New College, Oxford and later Rector of Littleham (Devon), and had further issue two sons and two daughters; she was buried at Littleham*, 8 October 1744.
* Some sources state she was buried in Bath Abbey, but this is a misidentification.
Bassett, John (1714-57). Elder and only surviving son of John Bassett (c.1682-1721) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Nicholas Hooper of Fulbrook (Devon), baptised at Heanton Punchardon, 10 October 1714. Educated at New College, Oxford (matriculated 1731). Briefly MP for Barnstaple, 1740-41: he was returned at a by-election and did not stand again at the following general election. High Sheriff of Devon, 1747-48. He married, 10 June 1734 at Powderham (Devon), Eleanora (1711-65), third daughter of Sir William Courtenay, 2nd bt., of Powderham Castle, Lord Lieutenant of Devon 1714-16, and had issue:
(1) Elizabeth Eustatia Bassett (1737-1812), baptised at Powderham, 27 September 1737; married 1st, 31 August 1762 at Atherington (Devon) (div. 1778), John Campbell Hooke* (later John Hooke Campbell) (1733-95) of Bangerstone (Pembs), Lord Lyon King of Arms, son of John Campbell of Cawdor (Nairns), and had issue one son and four daughters; they were divorced by Act of Parliament in 1778 after she committed adultery with William Wade (1733-1809)**, Master of Ceremonies at Brighton, whom she married 2nd, 30 June 1787 at St. Marylebone (Middx), as his second wife; she died in Brighton about November 1812;
(2) John Montagu Bassett (1738-48), baptised at Heanton Punchardon, 10 February 1738/9; died young and was buried at Heanton Punchardon, 21 February 1747/8;
(3) Francis Bassett (1740-1802) (q.v.);
(4) Eleanora Bassett (1741-1800) (q.v.).
He inherited Umberleigh House and Heanton Court from his father in 1721 and came of age in 1735. His wife brought him a portion of £2,400.
He was buried at Heanton Punchardon, 29 December 1757; his will was proved 3 February 1758. His widow was buried at Heanton Punchardon, 14 September 1765.
*He fell to his death while sketching at St. Vincent's Rocks in the Avon Gorge, Bristol, 8 September 1795.
** Wade was convicted of 'criminal conversation' with Mrs, Campbell in the Court of Kings Bench in 1777.
Bassett, Francis (1740-1802). Second but only surviving son of John Bassett (1714-57) and his wife Eleanora, daughter of the Hon. William Smith Courtenay of Powderham Castle (Devon), baptised at Heanton Punchardon, 19 April 1740. Educated at New College, Oxford (matriculated 1758). MP for Barnstaple, 1780-84. An officer in the North Devon Militia (Lt-Col.) and Tremington, Braunton, Georgeham and Barnstaple Volunteers (Lt-Col. commanding, 1800). He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Heanton Court, which he remodelled, and Umberleigh House, from his father in 1758, and came of age in 1761. At his death they passed to his nephew, Joseph Davie (later Bassett).
He died 17 October and was buried at Heanton Punchardon, 25 October 1802; his will was proved 7 June 1803.
Bassett, Eleanora (1741-1800). Younger daughter of John Bassett (1714-57) and his wife Eleanora, daughter of the Hon. William Smith Courtenay of Powderham Castle (Devon), baptised at Heanton Punchardon, 9 June 1741. She married, 18 August 1763 at Atherington (Devon), John Davie (1741-93) of Orleigh Court, Buckland Brewer (Devon), and had issue:
(1) Joseph Davie (later Bassett) (1764-1846) (q.v.);
(2) Rev. Charles Davie (1765-1836), born 18 August and baptised at Buckland Brewer, 15 October 1765; educated at Trinity College, Oxford (matriculated 1784; BA 1788; MA 1790); ordained deacon, 1788 and priest, 1789; vicar of Buckland Brewer, 1790-1836 and rector of Heanton Punchardon, 1791-1836; prebendary of Exeter Cathedral, 1803-36; married, 2 June 1801 at St George, Hanover Sq., London, Bridget (1761-1828), daughter of John Boyfield of Westminster, and had issue one son and one daughter; died at Pilton, 6 February 1836 and was buried at Heanton Punchardon; will proved October 1836 and 14 June 1860 (effects under £3,000);
(3) Eleanora Davie (1767-1840), born 4 December 1767 and baptised at Buckland Brewer, 19 May 1768; married, 22 September 1802 at Heanton Punchardon, Rev. Lewis Lewis (d. 1826), rector of Clovelly (Devon), 1796-1826, but had no issue; died 2 December 1840;
(4) Juliana Davie (1768-1858), born 31 December 1768 and baptised at Buckland Brewer, 3 March 1769; married, 10 October 1798 at Berrynarbor, Rev. John Watson Beadon (1762-1835), rector of Christian Malford (Wilts) and precentor of Wells Cathedral, but had no issue; died 22 May and was buried at Bath Abbey, 28 May 1858; will proved 14 June 1858 (effects under £600);
(5) Capt. John Davie (1770-1825), born 13 May and baptised at Buckland Brewer, 23 August 1770; an officer in the Royal Navy, 1782-1818 (Lt., 1793; Cdr. 1800; Captain, 1809; retired 1818); married, 7 February 1815 at St Clement Danes, London, Jemima (1783-1856), daughter of John Tappen of London, and had issue one son and one daughter; he also had an illegitimate son by Elizabeth Savory of Cheltenham, for whom he made provision in his will; he died at Heavitree, Exeter (Devon), 13 February 1825; his will was proved in the PCC, 21 April 1825;
(6) Thomas Davie (b. 1771), born 21 May and baptised at Buckland Brewer, 18 December 1771; died young;
(7) Eustacia Davie (1772-1843), born 21 May and baptised at Buckland Brewer, 10 September 1772; married, 21 August 1797 at Heanton Punchardon, Maj. William Shairp (1775-1840) JP DL of Kirkton (West Lothian) and the city of Rochester, an officer in the 29th Foot, and had issue nine sons and three daughters; died 11 November and was buried at St Helier (Jersey), 17 November 1843;
(8) Frances Davie (1773-1839), born 6 July and baptised at Buckland Brewer, 24 September 1773; lived at Ilfracombe (Devon); died unmarried 5 March, and was buried at Heanton Punchardon, 9 March 1839; will proved 8 June 1860 (effects under £1,000);
(9) Harriet Davie (1774-1843), born 24 August and baptised at Buckland Brewer, 13 October 1774; died unmarried and was buried at Heavitree, Exeter (Devon), 26 December 1843; administration of goods with will annexed granted 23 January 1844;
(10) Francis Davie (b. 1777), baptised at Bideford (Devon), 7 February 1777; an officer in the Royal Marines (Lt.); died unmarried;
(11) Peregrine Davie (1778-1824), born 15 April and baptised at Buckland Brewer, 27 May 1778; educated at Trinity College, Oxford (matriculated 1796); an officer in the East India Company's Madras army (Lt., 1800; Capt., 1812); married, 3 March 1808 at Bellary, Madras (India), Jane Durand, and had issue two sons and one daughter; buried at Madras (India), 1 May 1824; will proved at Madras, 7 June 1824;
(12) Mary Davie (1780-1859?), born 27 April and baptised at Buckland Brewer, 31 July 1780; married 1st, 14 February 1811 at Cannanore (India), Capt. John Alexander Lumsden (d. c.1812), by whom she had issue one son, and 2nd, 6 October 1813 at Cannanore, Michael Jones (d. 1865), paymaster of 30th Foot, and had issue one son; living in 1843 and possibly the woman of this name who died at Craig House (Co. Sligo), 15 June 1859;
(13) Henry Davie (1782-1809?), born 14 September 1782 and baptised at Buckland Brewer, 9 January 1783; probably the man of this name who was buried at Northam (Devon), 11 June 1809;
(14) Charlotte Davie (c.1785-1857), born about 1785; married, 1 March 1803 at St Mary, Walcot, Bath (Som.), as his second wife, Jasper Debrisay (c.1727-1818) of Kilmacud (Co. Dublin) and later of Bath and Worcester, an officer in the 4th Dragoons who carried the colours of his regiment at the Battle of Culloden in 1746; they had issue one son; died at St. Helier (Jersey), 25 June 1857; will proved in the PCC, 19 November 1857.
She lived with her husband at Orleigh Court, Buckland Brewer.
She was buried at Buckland Brewer, 22 September 1800. Her husband was buried at Buckland Brewer, 19 June 1793.
Davie (later Davie Bassett), Joseph (1764-1846). Son of John Davie (1741-93) of Orleigh Court, Buckland Brewer (Devon) and his wife Eleanora, younger daughter of John Bassett of Heanton Court, born 18 May and baptised at Buckland Brewer (Devon), 20 June 1764. Educated at Trinity College, Oxford (matriculated 1781) and Lincoln's Inn (admitted 1783; called 1788). He assumed the name and arms of Bassett by royal licence in 1803. JP for Devon and Chairman of Quarter Sessions, in which capacity he achieved with two other justices, the complex task of equalising the impact of the county rate, 1812. He was at law with his eldest son in 1841. He married, 12 May 1800 at Georgeham (Devon), Mary Peard (1778-1862), daughter of Christopher Irwin of Barnstaple (Devon), and had issue:
(1) Arthur Davie (later Davie Bassett) (1801-70) (q.v.);
(2) Augusta Mary Bassett (c.1802-68), born about 1802 and baptised at Berrynarbor, 9 February 1804; married, 17 April 1827 at Berrynarbor, Rev. William Bickford Coham (1792-1843) of Coham in Hatherleigh (Devon) and Dunsland (Devon), and had issue two sons and two daughters; died 8 October 1868;
(3) Rev. Francis William Davie Bassett (1804-82), baptised at Berrynarbor, 9 February 1804; educated at Trinity College, Oxford (matriculated 1820; BA 1825); rector of Heanton Punchardon, 1836-82; married 1st, 27 April 1832 at Teignmouth (Devon), Mary (d. 1876), second daughter of William Cartwright of Teignmouth, but had no issue; married 2nd, 12 January 1877 at Heanton Punchardon, his housemaid, Mary (b. c.1852), daughter of John Newcombe; died 28 September 1882; will proved 3 November 1882 (effects £2,091);
(4) John Davie Bassett (1804-92), born 7 October and baptised at Berrynarbor, 12 October 1804 (privately) and 11 June 1806 (publicly); educated at Edinburgh University (admitted 1823; MD 1827) and as a mature student at Magdalen Hall, Oxford (matriculated 1835); physician to the North Devon Infirmary, 1836, and later in private practice in Barnstaple; he was a great sportsman, a keen rider to staghounds, and an enthusiastic pedestrian, which latter sport he continued to pursue until an advanced age; married 1st, 5 June 1841 at Sandhurst (Glos), Sarah Elizabeth (1809-44), daughter of Robert Smith of Sandhurst, and had issue one daughter; married 2nd, 29 November 1848 at Walcot, Bath (Som.), Harriet (1808-83), daughter of Benjamin Aislabie of Lee Place (Kent), wine merchant, and widow of Capt. William Hilton (d. 1839) of the Indian Army; he died 19 March 1892 and was buried at Ide (Devon);
(5) Mary Davie Bassett (1806-67), born 15 December 1806 and baptised at Berrynarbor, 16 August 1810; married, 2 January 1826 at Berrynarbor, Gen. Sir Hopton Stratford Scott KCB of Woodville, Lucan (Co. Dublin), son of Sir Hopton Scott KCB, and had issue four sons and four daughters; died at Woodville, 13 March 1867; will proved in Dublin, 11 April 1867 (effects under £12,000);
(6) Joseph Davie Bassett (1809-12), born 1 October 1809 and baptised at Berrynarbor, 16 August 1810; died young, 1 May 1812 and was buried at Berrynarbor, 8 May 1812, where he is commemorated on his father's monument;
(7) Eleanora Davie Bassett (1811-13), baptised at Berrynarbor, 14 May 1811; died in infancy, 17 March 1813 and was buried at Berrynarbor, where she is commemorated on her father's monument.
He inherited Orleigh Court and the Watermouth/Berrynarbor estate from his father in 1793, but sold Orleigh Court before 1807. He inherited Umberleigh House and Heanton Court from his maternal uncle, Francis Bassett, in 1802. He remodelled Watermouth Castle before 1803 and mortgaged the estate to the Bank of England for £42,000 in 1825, probably to finance a further remodelling that was apparently left unfinished in 1830.
He died 10 December and was buried at Berrynarbor, 18 December 1846, where he and his wife are commemorated by a monument; his will was proved in Exeter in 1847. His widow died 21 April 1862 and was buried at Berrynarbor; her will was proved 8 May 1862 (effects under £4,000).
Davie (later Davie Bassett), Arthur (1801-70). Eldest son of Joseph Davie (later Davie Bassett) (c.1764-1846) and his wife Mary, daughter of Christopher Irwin of Barnstaple, born 14 May and baptised at Berrynarbor, 30 June 1801. An officer in the North Devon Militia (Capt., 1822). He married, 4 December 1828 at Dulverton (Som.), Harriet Sarah (c.1805-63), daughter of Thomas Smith Crawfurth, and had issue:
(1) Harriet Mary Bassett (1829-1920) (q.v.);
(2) Rev. Arthur Crawfurth Davie Bassett (1830-80) (q.v.);
(3) Francis Courtnay Bassett (b. & d. 1839), born about January 1839; died at Umberleigh House, Atherington, 1 May and was buried at Heanton Punchardon, 7 May 1839;
(4) Eleanora Susan Bassett (1842-81), baptised at Chittlehampton (Devon), 17 October 1842; died unmarried, 21 November 1881; will proved 17 December 1881 (effects £90,599).
He inherited Heanton Court and Watermouth Castle from his father but sold the former in 1852. He completed the remodelling of the house at Watermouth Castle in the 1840s to be designs of George Wightwick.
He died unexpectedly, 8 December, and was buried 12 December 1870; his will was proved 31 December 1870 (effects under £40,000). His wife died, aged 58, on 18 December 1863.
Bassett, Rev. Arthur Crawfurth Davie (1830-80). Only surviving son of Arthur Davie (later Davie Bassett) (1801-70) and his wife Harriet Sarah, daughter of Thomas Smith Crawfurth, born 11 August and baptised at Dulverton (Som.), 14 August 1830. Educated at Eton and Oriel College, Oxford (matriculated 1849; BA 1852; MA 1860). Ordained deacon, 1854 and priest, 1855. Curate of Hilton (Hunts); King's Prebend in Collegiate Church of St. Endellion (Cornw.), 1870-80. JP for Devon. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Watermouth Castle from his father in 1870, but let it to Capt. Williams RN; at his death it passed to his sister Harriet. He lived a retired life in a small cottage (Watermouth Cottage) which he built about half a mile from the castle.
He died as a result of being thrown by his horse, which was known to be a difficult animal to ride and had twice thrown him before, 23 April 1880; the horse was subsequently shot. His will was proved 23 July 1880 (effects under £80,000).
Bassett, Harriet Mary (1829-1920). Elder daughter of Arthur Davie (later Davie Bassett) (1801-70) and his wife Harriet Sarah, daughter of Thomas Smith Crawfurth, baptised at Berrynarbor, 27 August 1829. She and her husband took the name Bassett in lieu of Williams on inheriting Watermouth Castle from her brother in 1880. She married, 7 January 1858, Charles Henry Williams (later Bassett) (1834-1908), an officer in the Royal Navy (Lt.) and later in the North Devon Yeomanry (Maj.), MP for Barnstaple, 1868-74 and Master of the Devon & Somerset Staghounds, 1887-93, fifth son of Sir William Williams, 1st bt., of Tregullow (Cornw.), and had issue:
(1) Edith Williams (later Bassett) (1861-1943) (q.v.);
(2) Walter Bassett Williams (later Bassett) (1863-1907), born 20 September 1863; an officer in the Royal Navy (Lt., 1884; ret. due to ill health, 1886) and later an engineer with Maudslay, Sons & Field (director, 1890; managing director, 1891), who manufactured ferris wheels, including the Wiener Reisenrad (1897), which remains one of Vienna's most popular tourist attractions; when this business was wound up in 1899 he founded the Bassett Screw and Nut Company at Houdeng (Belgium) which he managed until his death; Member of the Institute of Civil Engineers, 1904 (Associate, 1896); married, 18 November 1890 at Bideford (Devon), Ellen Caroline Charlotte (1863-1945), younger daughter of Admiral Sir William Dowell GCB, but had no issue; died 27 May 1907; administration of his goods granted to his widow, 18 November 1907 (estate in England, £17).
She and her husband lived at Pilton House near Barnstaple, although it is not clear whether they rented it or purchased it. They inherited Watermouth Castle from her brother in 1880, and in the next few years they repurchased lands in Berrynarbor which the Bassett family had owned in the 17th century. At her death the estate passed to her daughter.
She died 12 May 1920; her will was proved 12 April 1921 (estate £118,885). Her husband died 1 February 1908; his will was proved 16 October 1908 (estate £12,886).
Williams (later Bassett), Edith (1861-1943). Only daughter of Maj. Charles Henry Williams (later Bassett) (d. 1908) and his wife Harriet Mary, elder daughter of Arthur Davie Bassett of Watermouth Castle (Devon), born 1861. She was appointed CBE in 1918 for her work as donor and organiser of an officers' hospital at Watermouth Castle in the First World War. She married, 18 October 1882, Maj. Ernest Charles Penn Curzon (1856-1938), eldest son of Col. the Hon. Ernest George Curzon, and had issue:
(1) Nina Eleanora Curzon (1883-86), born 18 July 1883; died young, 17 May 1886;
(2) Charles Ernest Bassett Lothian Curzon (1885-1952), born 10 May 1885; educated at Wellington College; an officer in the merchant navy (Master, 1911) and trawler owner; served in First World War with Royal Navy Reserve (Lt., 1914); inherited Watermouth Castle from his mother but sold it in 1946 and lived latterly at Old Deer (Aberdeens); married, 13 January 1917 at Holy Trinity, Brompton (Middx), Geraldine Fosbury (c.1892-1962), daughter of Sir James Mills KCMG, shipowner, and had issue one son and two daughters; died 23 June 1952; will confirmed in Scotland and sealed in London, 19 February 1953;
(3) Lorna Katherine Curzon (1887-1961), born Oct-Dec 1887; married 1st, 27 October 1908 at St George, Hanover Sq., London, Capt. Quentin Dick (1847-1923) of Walcot Park (Shrops) and Carantrila (Co. Galway) and 2nd, 4 August 1927 at St Mark, North Audley St., London, her first cousin once removed, Richard George Penn Curzon (1861-1929), 4th Earl Howe, but had no issue; she died 24 February 1961; will proved 12 April 1961 (estate £351,973).
She inherited Watermouth Castle from her mother in 1920. After her death it was sold by her son in 1946.
She died 30 April 1943; her will was proved 27 January 1944 and 13 June 1946 (estate £21,337). Her husband died 12 February 1938; administration of his goods was granted to his widow, 17 March 1938 (estate £2,679).
Burke's Landed Gentry, 1937, pp. 114-15; J.L. Vivian, The Visitations of the County of Devon in 1531, 1564 and 1620, with additions, 1895, pp. 45-48; Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants, Observations during repairs to Umberleigh House, 1999; H. Meller, The country houses of Devon, 2015, pp. 501-02, 1033-34, 1062-64.
Location of archives
Bassett family of Heanton Court and Watermouth Castle: estate papers, 1853-1947 [North Devon Record Office B170]
Coat of arms
Barry wavy of six, or and gules.
Can you help?
- Can anyone provide more information about the owners of Watermouth Castle after it was sold by the Curzon family in 1946?
- I should be most grateful if anyone can provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above, and who are not already illustrated.
- Any additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated.
Revision and acknowledgements
This post was first published 27 October 2020 and was updated 29 October and 1 December 2020. I am grateful to Max Craven, Dr. Brid McGrath and Richard Brain for assistance with this entry.