NEWTON FERRERS ITS CHURCH AND THE YONGES
Newton Ferrers is a pleasant scattered village of some twelve hundred people on rising ground at the head of a small creek from the estuary of the Yealm river. It is seven miles south east
of Plymouth and two miles from the coast. The Yonge family have been closely associated with the village and its church since James Yonge married Mary Upton of nearby Puslinch House in 1718
"Newton" is Anglo Saxon and literally
means "New Farm" and not "New Town". The "Ferrers" part of the name comes from the Ferrers family. Tenth century Normandy saw the emergence of a strong sense of lineage in the use of family names which were often toponymic in form i.e. the chief family in
an area became known by the name of the nearest town or village.. One of the great families in Normandy at the time of the conquest were the Ferriéres family. Ferriéres is in the Manche province of the Cherbourg peninsular.
Newton Ferrers means the manor of Newton ( originally new farm ) owned by the Ferrers family as its lords. To call it simply "Newton would not be sufficient, there could be many places of the same name and of course adding the family name to a place
would have given the Ferrers family prestige. It is very common for place names to have the suffix of the Lord of the Manor though usually manors took the name of the first lord. There are several places in Devon and Cornwall named after the family such
as Bere Ferrers and Churston Ferrers.
There were many different versions of the name over the years and it was only in the 14th century that Ferrers became an accepted addition. The versions as they appear in various documents are NIWETONA in
1086, NYWETON and NIWETON in 1242, NEWENTON in 1249, NEWINTONE in 1279, NIWETON FERIERS in 1306, NEWENTON FERERS in 1328 and NEWATON FERYS in 1412.
A manor is simply a large agricultural estate comprising the lords house, a home farm,
other smaller farms and a village with some common land. Puslinch although it is the parish of Newton Ferrers it is not in the manor of Newton Ferrers. It seems to have become its own separate manor in the 13th century.
THE CHURCH HISTORY
The church is first mentioned in the Saxon Geld Roll of 1084 when "St Mary of Newton" was one of those lands held free of this tax. This original church was probably made of wood and occupied the west end of the present church. It is not known when
the church acquired its present name of Holy Cross.
During the rule of Bishop Bartholomew of Exeter 1161-1184 many churches in Devon were rebuilt or enlarged. This may well be what happened to Newton Ferrers church, for during the 19th century
restoration the foundations of a Norman church were found.
The church was probably rebuilt again early in the 14th century for there are a number of early English features. However by the middle of the century there were signs of neglect. Commissioners
reported in 1347 that the portable cross was not good enough, the bells were insufficient, the missal lacked musical notes and the church had not been re-dedicated after enlargement. The report concluded "let these things be amended."
upkeep of the church was paid for by a church rate levied by the churchwardens. In a document , originally with the Puslinch records and written in medieval Latin, and translated by the Rev C.B. Yonge, there is an entry for 1409 in respect of one John
Clerk who had not paid his rate for 20 years and who was ordered to pay the arrears and to "stand penance under the bell tower imploring pardon"
After the country recovered from the plague many churches were rebuilt or extended and Newton
is no exception. It was enlarged in the perpendicular style, two aisles were added and the tower built of granite and topped by four fourteen foot high pinnacles was built.
Early in the 16th century seats were put in the church which about a hundred
years later were made into pews. The Reverend John Yonge writing to a Dr Miles, an antiquarian, in 1750 described them as being carved with saints and coats of arms. They were bordered with fragmentary Latin inscriptions which Yonge wrote in a somewhat
ironical way "are just fragments and therefore, I presume to all antiquarians, the most valuable"
In the 18th century the Church of England was a lethargic institution and this was reflected in the repair of its buildings. The Reverend John
Yonge who took over the living in 1752 wrote to a friend that the church was "in a very ruinous and slovenly condition" although the church wardens reports in this period were to the effect that "everything is in good and sufficient repair."
partial restoration was carried out in 1866 when the gallery was removed and the roof was reslated in 1879, both at the expense of the Reverend Duke Yonge.
MEMORIALS AND GRAVES
There are many Yonge graves in the churchyard and
memorials in the church. The graves of the Yonge family are in two distinct parts of the churchyard. The older ones are in the North east corner, near the church while the more recent ones are in the south east corner. The latter group are all in the form
of crosses made from Dartmoor granite. The particular quarry has now closed and any future crosses will be of Cornish granite. Some of m the more interesting are to:
IN THE CHURCHYARD
The grave of John Colborne
is in the north part of the churchyard. The grave is surrounded by several graves of the Yonge family and four of his children. The Colborne family were linked with the Yonge's, through several marriages.
The grave reads
Right John Colborne, Field Marshall, Lord Seaton, G.C.B. G.C.H, G.C.M.G, Colonel 2nd Life Guards Colonel in Chief Rifle Brigade Born February 1780, married 12th February 1831, died April 17th 1863 and Elizabeth
his wife, daughter of Reverend James Yonge of Puslinch Born March 7th 1790, died November 28th 1872 at Beechwood
CHARLES BURRELL YONGE
The inscription on his grave
(which is shown in the colour picture surrounded by Yonge graves) reads:
In memory of Charles Burrell Yonge, priest, rector of this parish 1891-1940, second son of the Reverend Duke John of Puslinch. Born 6th April 1866, died 30th
November 1943. Also Katherine Ada Helena, wife of the above, died 30th October 1966 aged 98.
In the nave opposite the door, on the North wall, there is a plaque
In memory of Charles Burrell Yonge, Rector of this parish
from 1891 to 1940, died 30th November 1943. He planted the cyclamen in the churchyard.
These still carpet the churchyard with mauve blossom twice a year.
DUKE MOHUN YONGE
Duke Mohun Yonge died 10th November
1948 aged 79 years, forth son of the Reverend Duke Yonge of Puslinch. Also in loving memory of 2nd Lieutenant Geoffrey Bowen Yonge (T6), Devon Regiment, only son of the above, who died of wounds in France 1st November 1918 aged 19. Also Isabella Sydney
Yonge (S5) died 31st March 1954 aged 94.
Geoffrey Bowen Yonge's name appears on the War Memorial in the churchyard. He is buried in a CommonwealthWarGrave Cemetery near Rheims
the floor of the Church, just before the chancel.
Sacred to the memory of the Reverend John Yonge of Puslinch and Rector of this Parish. He died the 9th day of June in the year 1772 aged 25 years and 5 days. His once happy wife, infcribes this
marble, an unequal testimony of his worth and her affection. Ah cruel fate to stop thy gentle breath.
He died on a fall from his horse, whilst out hunting but out of the hunting season!
YONGE RECTOS OF NEWTON FERRERS
twenty members of the family are recorded as being Reverends, mainly in the 18th and 19th centuries. In this period in the families of minor gentry, such as the Yonge`s, it was very common for one son to be put in the church, especially with the 18th century
the Church of England an intellectual backwater, no great devotion to duty was required.
In medieval times clergy had been almost universally poor and ignorant. By the 18th century many went to university, and though there were still
poor clergy there were also clergy who were comfortably off. Many clergy were seen in the 18th century less as people dedicating their entire lives to God but as ordinary people whose profession was to represent society in its moral and religious aspects in
the same way as a lawyer represented the law without allowing it to dominate his life. There was time to carry out his professional duties and to live like any other country gentleman. He dressed the same, kept the same kind of company and pursued whatever
other interests a country gentleman wished to do.
Many gentry controlled the livings where they lived i.e. the power to appoint the local priest. This they could appoint members of the family or even themselves! James Yonge 1679-1745 bought
the living of Newton Ferrers and the family over the years took full advantage of the right
RECTORS OF NEWTON FERRERS 1752-1943
The first date alongside each name is the date of appointment.
1752-JOHN YONGE RECTOR
752-1757. He married Elizabeth Duke. He was instituted on his own petition as patron. Not unusual then but abuse of patronage became an increasing issue in the Church of England .
1767 Richard Doidge
1772-JOHN YONGE RECTOR 1772
He was the son of the above. While out hunting he was killed in June 1772 when he fell from his horse. He had held the position only seven months. Recounting this the reverend C.B. Yonge commented " What he was hunting in June I do not know!"
1774-JAMES YONGE RECTOR 1774-1797. He was brother of the above. James who died in 1797 aged forty nine after a years illness was rector for twenty four years. During this period of illness a Mr Halloran came to take
the services, as curate in charge, but he apparently turned out to be a crook and an impostor and he was transported to Australia. Years later when James son, Admiral Edmund Yonge's ship called at the newly established Swan River Settlement, he came
across the former curate in charge. He in fact prospered in Australia and became respected member of the community.
1798-DUKE YONGE RECTOR 1798-1808. He was a brother of the above.
1808-DUKE YONGE 1808-1812. He was a son of
1812-JOHN YONGE RECTOR 1812-1877. He was a son of JAMES above. A local trade directory of the 1890's states that John. on his death in 1877 was the oldest incumbent in the diocese. Up to this century it was the job of a master
to ensure that his apprentices learnt their catechism and were confirmed. C.B. Yonge records that his grandfather John, who became rector in 1812. once asked a farmer how he was so successful in bringing forward his apprentices to be confirmed. The farmer
apparently told John Yonge "I tell them they can`t be confirmed before they have learnt the catechism, that they can`t be married before they are confirmed, so if they don`t come forward to be confirmed, they think they will never get married."
1877-DUKE YONGE RECTOR (R7) 1877-1881. He was a son of JOHN above.
1882-Samuel Howard Archer
1891 CHARLES BURRELL RECTOR (S3) 1891-1940. He was a son of the above. This last Yonge to hold the living,
was what we would now call an antiquarian.
The family still control the patronage though in practice they alternate with the bishop in providing the rector.
© R I Yonge 2013