The Churchward One-Name Study


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SignThe town of Buckfastleigh lies on the edge of Dartmoor- where the moor meets the South Hams. In earlier times it was quite an important wool town, deriving its power from the river Mardle, and round the edge of the built-up area are still found the large houses of the original mill owners.

Today, visitors to the area do not necessarily enter the town, which is now by-passed by the A.38 Exeter to Plymouth trunk road. They are more likely to be drawn towards the local tourist attractions such as nearby Buckfast Abbey, and the Dart Valley Railway which steams its way between the town's station and Totnes.

Holy Trinity - the original parish church (sadly gutted by fire in 1992) stands aloof from the town on a nearby hill, Church

underneath which is a honeycomb of limestone caves. However, it is the many Churchward headstones in the churchyard which give a clue to the family's long connection with the town.

The Churchward Families.

The Buckfastleigh parish registers commenced in 1602, but the first Churchward entries were for a baptism in 1698, a burial in 1699, and a marriage in 1712. This rather suggests that the Buckfastleigh Churchwards must have originated somewhere else in Devon.

The various Churchward families have been associated with the town for over three hundred years.  Before that, their roots are probably in one of the nearby parishes, e.g. Stoke Gabriel, Paignton or Brixham, whose records show earlier examples of the surname.  From 1777 onwards, the descendants of John Churchward and Rebecca (née Pinson) are fairly well documented, and to date I have been in contact with 39 of them – including 10 Canadians and 4 Australians.  All together I have records of over 1,000 descendants and their families.


Details of the descendants of John and Rebecca Churchward will be added to this website at a later date.