Manor of Monkleigh
Descent of the manor
The Domesday Book of 1086 records Monkleigh as Lege, the ninth of the 79 holdings in Devon as tenant-in-chief, of Robert, Count of Mortain (c. 1031–1090) the half-brother of William the Conqueror. His tenant at Monkleigh was a certain Alured, modernised to Alfred. Before the Norman Conquest of 1066 it was held by the Saxon Ordulf, modernised as "Ordwulf".
During the reign of King Stephen (1135-1154) the manor of Monkleigh was granted by its then holder "Alfred the Butler", together with his other estates of Frizenham (in the parish of Little Torrington.) and Densham (in the parish of Woolfardisworthy), to Montacute Priory.
Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, a lease of the manor of Monkleigh was granted by the crown gratis on 26 August 1540 for the term of their lives to James Coffyn of Alwington and Anne his wife It was valued at £21 11s 6d per annum, but unusually no charge was made for the grant. As is recorded in the text of the royal grant Anne was the widow of Sir George St Leger of Annery, the chief estate within the manor of Monkleigh. The Heraldic Visitations of Devon suggest she was the daughter of Sir William Chudleigh (d.1515) of the branch of that family seated at Ashton[nb 1] in the valley of the River Teign near Exeter.
James Coffin was the second son of John Coffin of Portledge, in the parish of Alwington. He was still living in 1551 when he was mentioned in the will of his eldest brother Richard V Coffin (d.1555) of Portledge. The Coffin family is one of the most ancient of Devon families. Tristram Risdon (d.1640) stated: "Alwington...the manor whereof hath been in the name of Coffin even from The Conquest". The heraldic visitations of Devon commences the family's pedigree in the reign of King Henry II (1154-1189).
On 11 June 1544 the crown granted the manor of Monkleigh, subject to the life interest of James Coffin and his wife, to Sir John Fulford of Dunsford and Humphrey Colles of Barton, Somerset, along with other grants of property. For Monkleigh manor they were charged £194 3s 4d, representing 10 years' purchase of its annual value. They were also granted Monkleigh Woods for £29 13s 6d, representing 20 years' purchase Fulford and Coles paid the purchase price in full on 2 June 1544 and just one week later obtained royal licence to alienate to James Coffin of Alwington, the life tenant.
A small monumental brass of a kneeling knight exists in Monkleigh Church high up on the north wall of the chancel, affixed to a stone tablet on which are sculpted several heraldic escutcheons of the arms of Coffin (Azure, three bezants between eight crosses crosslet or) impaling arms of their heiresses. Pevsner suggests a date for the brass of 16th. century and that the stone tablet on which it is now affixed was originally part of a now lost 16th. century monument.
James Coffin left no male progeny by his wife Anne, only a daughter Jacquet, who married George Basset of Tehidy, Cornwall. Although the descendants of his elder brother, Richard V Coffin (d.1555) of Portledge, continued to be baptised and married in Alwington Church, his third son James Coffin (d.1566) "of Marsh",[nb 2] was buried in Monkleigh Church.
The next member of the Coffin family recorded by the heraldic visitations of Devon to have a connection with Monkleigh Church is John Coffin (1593-1622) of Portledge. John was Richard V Coffin's great-grandson. Three of John's daughters were married in Monkleigh Church, between 1645 and 1657. A mural monument exists in Monkleigh Church, in the north transept, to his eldest daughter Jane Coffin (1593-1646), who in 1645, aged 26, married in Monkleigh Church to Hugh Prust (1614-1650) of Annery, within the parish of Monkleigh. She died the next year, as her mural monument records, and her husband died five years later without progeny, when his heir to Annery became his younger brother Lt-Col.Joseph Prust (1620-1677) of Annery."
John Coffin's son and heir was Richard VII Coffin (d.1700) of Portledge, Sheriff of Devon in 1683, who in 1648 married his third wife Dorothy Rowe in Monkleigh Church. His son and heir by this third wife was John Coffin (1649-1704) of Portledge, who was baptised at Monkleigh. He left no progeny and eventually his heir became his heir became his great-nephew Rev. John Pine-Coffin (1735-1824), the grandson of his eldest sister Dorothy Coffin (b.1651) and her husband Edward Pyne of Eastdowne.[nb 4] Later in about 1823 his son and heir Richard Pine-Coffin (1770-1833) sold some land in his manor of Monkleigh to John Rolle, 1st Baron Rolle (d.1842) for part of the course of the Rolle Canal between about the Ridd limekilns to the Beam Aqueduct, following the left-bank of the River Torridge. Colonel Richard Geoffrey Pine-Coffin (1908-1974) DSO & Bar, MC, born at Portledge, was a parachute officer of the British Army during World War II. The Pine-Coffin family until recently still possessed the advowson of Alwington Church, making it one of the most ancient lineages in Devon, albeit more recently via a female line, although the mansion of Portledge was converted into a hotel some time before 1959 and the estate of Portledge was sold in 1998, due to a dispute with the Inland Revenue.
Within the manor and parish of Monkleigh is located the former historic estate of Annery. The post-Dissolution lords of the manor of Monkleigh had their main residence elsewhere outside the parish at Portledge, Alwington, and thus Annery was the most important seat within the manor and the successive holders of it had their own chapel within the parish church, at the east end of the south aisle, known as the "Annery Chapel".
- Pedigree of Coffin of Portledge, Alwington; p.189, pedigree of Chudleigh, where "Anna" is described as uxor 1 Jacobi Coffyn de Portlege ("wife 1 of James Coffin of Portledge" (Alwington)); Risdon, p.131, Ashton</ref>
- James Coffin married Elizabeth in 1560. This marriage differentiates him from James I Coffin.
- These are not the arms of Coffyn given in the heraldic visitations of Devon, but are shown again on the monument opposite to Jane's sister Elizabeth Gay. When a family or branch of a family changes to new arms, they are referred to as "ancient" and "modern" (see e.g. Royal Arms of France for the 14th century change in those arms)
- In 1810 the manor of Monkleigh was still owned by a descendant of James Coffin, namely by Rev. John Pine-Coffin of Portledge, Alwington.
- Thorn, part 1, chap. 15, 9
- Thorn, part 2, chap. 15,32
- Thorn, part 2, chap. 15,31
- Thorn, part 2, chap. 15,9
- Risdon, p. 276
- Hoskins, p.439
- Youings, pp. 39-41
- Youings, p.39
- Vivian, p. 209
- Risdon, p. 131
- Risdon, p. 243
- Vivian, p. 208
- Youings, p. 39
- Youings, p.41, Grant 45
- Pevsner, Cherry, p. 573
- Vivian, p. 208-9
- Vivian, pp. 209-210
- Vivian, p. 210
- Pevsner, p.573.
- Vivian, p.210.
- Vivian, p.630
- Vivian, p. 630
- Vivian, p. 630
- Vivian, p. 210-11
- Risdon, p. 422.
- Vivian, p. 211
- Scrutton, p. 30
- Hoskins, p.297
- Pine Coffin
- Pevsner, p. 690
- William George Hoskins (1959) . A New Survey of England: Devon. London.
- Nikolaus Pevsner, Bridget Cherry (2004). The Buildings of England: Devon. London.
- "The Pine-Coffin Saga; How the taxman forced a family to sell its stake in history". Thefreelibrary.com. 1996-08-16. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
- Tristram Risdon (1811). Survey of Devon.
- Susan Scrutton (2006). Lord Rolle's Canal. Great Torrington.
- Caroline Thorn, Frank Thorn and general editor John Morris, ed. (1985). Domesday Book: Devon, Part 2. 9 Devon, Parts 1 & 2. Chichester: Phillimore Press.
- Lt.Col. J.L. Vivian, ed. (1895). The Visitation of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620. Exeter.
- Joyce Youings. Devon Monastic Lands: Calendar of Particulars for Grants 1536-1558 1. Devon & Cornwall Record Society, New Series. Torquay, 1955