Marcus Curtius


The Newcombe family of Braunton

The ancestry of Ray Newcombe of Braunton.

From initial research into the ancestry of my father, Ray Newcombe in Heanton Punchardon and Braunton, I was first able to draw up a pedigree descending from his grandparents Henry Newcombe and Susan Drake. This information was supplied by the many relatives still alive and with first hand knowledge. A distant cousin Commander John Gammon of Braunton, whose mother was a Newcombe, was a fountain of local knowledge. I discovered further ancestors and cousins through the local parish registers and created a comprehensive family tree, often verified by another cousin’s independent research. I traced all the Braunton Newcombe’s back to George Newcombe, who married Jane Hunt; but from where this George Newcombe came from, I could not discover in the Braunton or neighbouring parish archives.

From my many years of research, I can with certainty attest to the accuracy of the family ancestry to George Newcombe who arrived in Braunton sometime before August 1794. The evidence is clear that he was of the working class, being employed as a farm worker or perhaps overseer, also a builder of one of the bridges over the River Caen in Braunton.

At his wedding to Mary Hunt he signed the register with a capital G, so he was probably illiterate; but somehow managing to expand his horizons and obtain the licence for an inn called "Braunton Abbots" in Braunton.

1987 Braunton Abbots Inn

"Braunton Abbots" pub is the pink and adjoining white building on the left on Abbots Hill; and also had the stables opposite in the lower fork of the road at the top of East Street. This use to be the main road between Ilfracombe and Braunton.


1987 Tucker's House Silver Street

Tuckers House in Silver Street, Braunton; owned by the Woolcombe family of Ashbury and home to the aged George Newcombe. This use to be the main road between Braunton and Ilfracombe. It was originally a thatched roof dwelling but like so many old cottages they have been slated or tiled over.


Although George was working class he strived for the betterment of his family; and they did indeed become respectable members of the village community. George died in Braunton in 1829 and was aged 82 (or so the informant thought!); therefore he was born circa 1747. My search for his place of birth and parentage took many years before I discovered a suitable candidate from the many parish registers viewed. I found a George Newcombe christened the 26 December 1750 at Inwardleigh, a village to the north of Okehampton and in which the entry mentions that his father was George Newcombe of Northlew. This christening date at Inwardleigh could be that belonging to George Newcombe of Braunton and I have not discovered any other better candidate from the many parish registers that I viewed.

His children appear to have improved on their social position and their eldest son George was the Marsh Inspector and lived in the purpose built Toll House on Braunton marsh in the early 19th century, and their second son owned a confectionary shop at 17 Joy Street, Barnstaple.

1910 Toll House Marsh

A watercolour painted in circa 1910 of the Toll House on Braunton Marsh. This was the home of George and Rachel Newcombe from when it was built to until at least 1861, when it was mentioned in the 1861 census as "Newcombe's Castle".


George Newcombe 1845

The above award was in the possession of the late Commander John Gammon RN of Saunton Road, Braunton; a cousin of mine as his mother was a Newcombe. John Gammon was very knowledgeable concerning Braunton, and left his sizeable collection of documents to the Braunton Museum; which he had also helped to found.


I then made a study of the Newcombe’s of Inwardleigh, Northlew, Okehampton, Sampford Courtney etc. in order to piece together the extended family. It became apparent that George was a popular name for the Newcombe’s of this area and rather complicated the identification of individuals.

In summation I can assert that I am 100% content with the ancestry of my father Ray Newcombe back to his 3rd great grandfather George Newcombe (junior) of Braunton.

Accounting for the identification of this George Newcombe (junior) and his parentage, is I believe beyond reasonable doubt for the following reasons:

  1. His baptism date is suitable in relation to his approximate age given at his burial in Braunton, and an exhaustive search of many other Devonshire parishes has found no other suitable candidate.
  2. His father was called George (senior), so there is a continuation of this family name in the Newcombe descendants in Braunton for many generations.
  3. His fathers’ occupation was that of a tenant farmer of a small farm called Hore Hill in Northlew and this would match the social position and occupation of his son George (junior) in Braunton.
  4. As an adult, there is no suitable George Newcombe (junior) found in the archives of Northlew or Inwardleigh etc., which indicates that he moved away i.e. to Braunton.
  5. His father George Newcombe (senior) signed an indenture for Hore Hill farm, which passed to his elder son William, who farmed at Whore Hill farm from circa 1802 to 1811. George (junior) had nothing to inherit in Northlew and so would have looked for alternative employment.
  6. In the Northlew land tax assessment for 1781, John Woolcombe Esq. was proprietor of  Lower Gorhuish which was partly occupied by a Sarah Newcombe and she was assessed at £2 0s 4d. Also George Luxton Esq. was the proprietor of Hore Hill which was occupied by John Newcombe and assessed at 9s 2d.; The Newcombe’s were therefore well acquainted with the Woolcombe family of nearby Ashbury parish.
  7. The ancient Woolcombe family of Ashbury owned land in Braunton, so George Newcombe (junior), being known to them, could have been employed as their trusted agent in Braunton.
  8. The Land Estimate for Braunton in 1813 mentions (that the elderly) George Newcombe (junior) was living at "Tucker's House" in Silver Street, Braunton from 1812  until 1822, which belonged to Woolcombe Esq. who had probably been George Newcombe's sponsor from Northlew.

I am satisfied that the first difficulty in the Newcombe ancestry has been determined in favour of George Newcombe coming from Northlew, based on the circumstantial evidence found.


For the family tree click here: Newcombe genealogy 



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