Brightley was historically the principal secondary estate within the parish and former manor of Chittlehampton, Devon, situated about 2 1/4 miles south-west of the church and on a hillside above the River Taw. From the early 16th century to 1715 it was the seat of the Giffard family, whose mansion house occupied the moated site immediately to the west of the present large farmhouse known as Brightley Barton, a Grade II listed building which incorporates some elements of the earlier house. It is not to be confused with the 12th-century Brightley Priory near Okehampton, an error made by the Devon historian Tristram Risdon in his 1630 work "A Survey of Devon" in his account of the parish of Chittlehampton.
Brightley was the seat of a junior line of the prominent gentry family of Giffard of Halsbury in the parish of Parkham. The present house, named Brightley Barton which has long served as a large farmhouse, retains only one room of the former much larger mansion of the Giffards, but the mediaeval retaining walls of the former moat survive, which is a great rarity in North Devon. A 17th-century stone sculpted heraldic escutcheon showing the Giffard arms is built into the stonework above the porch, said by Pevsner to date from the 15th century. During the Civil War it served as quarters for 300 Royalist troops, at which time it was owned by Col. John Giffard (1602-1665). These troops are said to have crossed the River Taw over the weir. The estate of Brightley was sold in the 1950s by Lord Clinton, heir of the Rolle family of Stevenstone, to its tenant Mr John Thomas, whose family had been tenants of Lord Clinton across the River Taw at Bartridge, in Atherington parish, and were invited by Lord Clinton during the agricultural depression of the 1930s to take the lease of Brightley also.
Descent of the estate
The family of FitzWarin (alias FitzWarren) appears to be the earliest recorded holder of the manor of Brightley, in the 12th century. The family was a branch of the FitzWarin family, powerful Welsh Marcher Lords of Whittington Castle, Shropshire and of Alveston, Gloucestershire, which shares very similar armorials. The Devon historian Tristram Risdon (d.1640) states that Brightley became the residence of William Filius Warini (i.e. Latin for "son of Warin", French fils de contracted to fitz) in the reign of King Richard I (1189–1199), and states him to be the son of "Fulk FitzWarren", who had inherited it from his father in the time of King Henry II (1154–1189). A similar account is given by Risdon's contemporary Sir William Pole (d.1635) who states: "William, sonne of Fulk Fitzwarren, receyved this land from his father in Kinge Henry 2 tyme" (i.e. between 1154 and 1189). This suggests William de Brightley to have been a younger son of Fulk I FitzWarin (died 1170/1), of Whittington and Alveston. The family then took the surname "de Brightley" and adopted a simplified, differenced version of the FitzWarin paternal arms, and several of that family named William succeeded one another for several generations at Brightley. One William de Brightley was Knight of the Shire in 1365. The senior line of FitzWarin became Barons FitzWarin in 1295 and were also from 1382 feudal barons of Bampton, Devon and from 1391 co-heirs to the lands of the feudal barony of Barnstaple, Devon. The title Baron FitzWarin and the feudal barony of Bampton and their share of the feudal barony of Barnstaple passed in the 15th century to their descendants the Bourchier family which made its principal residence at Tawstock in Devon, ancient seat of the barons of Barnstaple, about 6 miles north-west of Brightley. The Bourchiers were created Earls of Bath in 1536, and were highly influential in Devon. According to Risdon Brightley passed from the de Brightley family via the family of Carew to the family of Coblegh.
The Cobley family of Brightley were the leading familoy resident within the manor and parish of Chittlehampton but were not lords of the manor of Chittlehampton. Two monumental brasses commemorating the Cobley family are set into two stone slabs measuring 65" * 25" set into the floor of the parish church immediately below and to the west of the pulpit. The more southerly one comprises a brass plaque only, measuring 17 1/4" * 3" (44 * 8 cm) inscribed with the following Latin text in gothic lettering:
Hic jacet Henricus Coblegh et Alicia uxor eius parentes Joh(ann)is Coblegh qui quid(a)m Henricus obiit vice(n)simo die mens(is) Julii Anno d(o)m(ini) mill(ens)imo cccc.o (quadringentensimo) lxx.o (septuagensimo) quor(um) a(n)i(m)abus pr(opiti)et(ur) de(us) Amen ("Here lie Henry Coblegh and Alice his wife the parents of John Coblegh which certain Henry died on the twentieth day of the month of July in the one thousandth four hundredth and seventieth year of Our Lord on the souls of whom may God look with favour")
The son of Henry Coblegh (d.1470) by his wife Alice was John Coblegh whose monumental brass lies adjacent to the north. John married twice, firstly to Isabella Cornu, secondly to Joan Pyne (possibly of the Pyne family of East Down), as his brass records. His son by his second marriage was John Coblegh (d.1542) who married Joan (or Jane) Fortescue, a daughter of William Fortescue (d.1520), 2nd son of John Fortescue, of Wimpstone, Modbury, which John Fortescue was 1st cousin of Sir John Fortescue (c. 1394–c. 1480), Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. John Coblegh is recorded in the Lisle Letters as one of the Devonshire notables who were given a deer by Honor Plantagenet, Viscountess Lisle (d.1566) from the park of her nearby manor of Umberleigh. He also features further in the Letters. There exists in Chittlehampton church a slab monument of John Coblegh (d.1542) and his wife Joan Fortescue. Their only child and sole heiress was Margaret Coblegh who married Sir Roger Giffard (d.1547), thus Brightley, together with other estates including Tapeley in the parish of Westleigh, passed to the Giffard family.
Sir Roger Giffard (d.1547)
Sir Roger Giffard (d.1547) was a younger son of the Giffard family of Halsbury in the parish of Parkham, 4 miles south-west of Bideford. He was the 3rd son of Thomas Giffard (1532/3) of Halsbury but the eldest by his second wife Anne Coryton, daughter of John Coryton of Newton Ferrers in the parish of St Mellion, in Cornwall. Several monuments exist to the Coryton family in the Church of St Melanus, St Mellion. Thomas's eldest son by his first marriage was heir to Halsbury and the senior line of the family remained seated there until the death of John Giffard of Halsbury (d.post 1666), the last in the male line, who bequeathed the estate on Roger Giffard (1646-1724) a younger son of the junior Brightley line. Sir Roger Giffard had 14 children by his wife Margaret Coblegh, including:
- John Giffard (d.1585), eldest son and heir (see below).
- Hugh Giffard, 3rd son, married Johanna (or Joane) Bampfield, widow of Sir Richard Pollard of Way, St Giles in the Wood and a daughter of Richard Bampfield (1526-1594) of Poltimore, Sheriff of Devon in 1576, whose monument exists in St Mary's Church, Poltimore.
- Roger Giffard (1533-1603), 4th son, who purchased Tiverton Castle after the death without progeny of Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon (d.1556). His mural monument exists to the north of the high altar in St Peter's Church, Tiverton, next to the castle. On the death without male progeny of his grandson Roger Giffard (b.1605), of Tiverton, the property passed to Robert Burgoyne, the husband of his only daughter Joan Giffard.
- Jane Giffard (d.1596), the wife of Amias Chichester (1527-1577), founder of the family of Chichester of Arlington, a junior line of the prominent Chichester family of Raleigh, Pilton.
- Wilmot Giffard, wife of Lewis Fortescue (d.1595), younger brother of Richard Fortescue (c. 1517–1570), MP, of Filleigh.
- Mary Giffard (d.1598), wife of John Wykes (c.1520-1591), of North Wyke in the parish of South Tawton, Devon, whose effigy exists in the Wyke Chapel in St Andrew's Church, South Tawton. He is known locally as "Warrior Wykes", and commanded a horse regiment as indicated by the spurs on his effigy. He fought at Havre de Grace and was wounded. He built much of the surviving mansion house of North Wyke, including its chapel, on the corbel of the upper eastern window of which are sculpted the arms of Wykes (three Danish battle-axes) and Giffard.
John Giffard (d.1585)
John Giffard (d.1585), son and heir of Sir Roger Giffard (d.1547), married Mary Grenville, daughter of Sir Richard Grenville (c.1495-1550), lord of the manors of Stowe, Kilkhampton in Cornwall and Bideford, Devon, MP for Cornwall in 1529. Mary was the sister of Roger Grenville, believed to have been the captain of the Mary Rose in the sinking of which at Portsmouth he drowned in 1545, and was thus aunt of his son the heroic sea captain Sir Richard Grenville (1542-1591) of the Revenge. She survived her husband and remarried Arthur Tremayne of Collacombe. His eldest son and heir was John Giffard (d.1622).
John Giffard (d.1622)
John Giffard (d.1622), son and heir of John Giffard (d.1585), married Honor Earle (d.1638), daughter of Sir Walter Earle of Charborough, Dorset. His eldest son Arthur Giffard (1580-1616) predeceased his father having married Agnes Leigh (d.1625), daughter of Thomas Leigh Esq., of Burrough (anciently "Borow", "Borough", etc.) in the parish of Northam, near Bideford. Arthur left a son and heir to his grandfather, Col. John Giffard (1602–1665), and eight other children including his 2nd son Rev. Arthur Giffard (1605-1666), appointed in 1643 Rector of Bideford by his cousin Sir John Granville (1628–1701) (created Earl of Bath in 1661), but forcefully ejected by the Parliamentarians during the Civil War. The Devon biographer Rev. John Prince (1643–1723) served under him at Bideford as a young curate and thus had personal knowledge of the family and included his brother Col. John Giffard (d.1665) as one of his Worthies of Devon.
Col. John Giffard (1602–1665)
Col. John Giffard (1602–1665), grandson of John Giffard (d.1622), was a Colonel of Royalist forces in the Civil War, who married in 1621 Joan Wyndham, daughter of Sir John Wyndham (1558–1645) of Orchard Wyndham, near Williton, Somerset. He had a daughter Grace, whose effigy exists in Chittlehampton Church, and at least two sons, John Giffard (1639–1712), his heir, and Roger Giffard (1644–1724).
John Giffard (1639–1712)
John Giffard (1639–1712), son and heir of Col. John Giffard (1602–1665), married twice:
- Firstly to Susannah Bampfylde, of North Molton. Their son John Giffard (d.1704) married Margaret Clotworthy, daughter of Roger Clotworthy of Rashleigh. This marriage produced only a daughter Margaret (d.1743), who married John Courtenay (d.1732), the last in the male line of Courtenay of Molland. The arms of Giffard are shown on the mural monument to John Courtenay in Molland Church as an escutcheon of pretence within the Courtenay arms, denoting her status as an heraldic heiress.
- Secondly to Frances Fane, by whom he had at least two sons, Henry Giffard (1675–1709) an officer in the Royal Navy, who married Martha Hill, daughter of Edward Hill, Judge of the Admiralty and Treasurer of Virginia. His brother and John Giffard's 4th son was his heir Caesar Giffard (d.1715) who married Mary Melhuish. They had a daughter Rachel Giffard who married Thomas Colley (d.1762). The executors of the will of Caesar Giffard sold the manor of Chittlehampton in 1737 to Samuel Rolle of Hudscott, within the parish of Chittlehampton. The property comprised 1,300 acres and was sold for £9,550.
Giffard Monument (1625)
This monument situated against the north wall of the north transept serves as a memorial to five generations of the Giffard family of Brightley Barton, the principal manor within the parish of Chittlehampton. It was erected in 1625 by John Giffard, then a young man, shown kneeling at the bottom right, ostensibly as a monument to his grandfather John Giffard (d.1622), who is represented by the main recumbent effigy. The young John's father Arthur Giffard (d.1616) is shown kneeling opposite his son at the bottom left, praying before a bible placed on a lectern. He pre-deceased his own father John Giffard, whose recumbent effigy is above. Two renaissance-style stone medallions sculpted in relief are positioned above the recumbent effigy and represent on the left Sir Roger Giffard (d.1547) and on the right his son John Giffard (d.1585), father of John (d.1622) below him. On a panel directly above the recumbent effigy are inscribed in Latin, in Roman capitals, the following text:
Hic jacet Johannes Giffard armiger vir pietate probitate prudentia providentia insignis: qui ex Honora uxore e familia Earliensi prolem suscepit faecundissimam. Primogenito autem eius Arthuro defuncto patre adhuc superstite Johannem Arthuri filium haeredem sibi substituit. Familia itaq(ue) sua splendide et foeliciter composita natis natorumq(ue) natis sufficienter dotatis atq(ue) haerede suo Johanne conjugi selectissimae Joannae ex illustri Wyndamiorum prosap(ia) Somerset(.) sociato iam septuacenarius e vivis excessito. Cuius contacta urna e mortuis (2 Reg(orum) xiii : xxi) quasi resurrexisse videntur nomina illa praeclara olim defuncta: Rogerus Giffard miles e familia Halisburieni oriundus qui uxorem habuit Margaretam filiam et haeredem Johannis Cobleigh de Brightly, Johannes Giffard armiger qui uxor fuit Maria filia Richardi Greenfield militis et summae spei Arthurus Giffard qui uxorem sibi ascivit Agnetem filiam Thomae Leigh armigeri. Hoc monumentum piessimae observantiae symbolum posuit Johannes Giffard nepos maestissimus.
Translated into English thus:
“Here lies John Giffard, esquire, a man of outstanding piety, probity, prudence and providence who from Honora his wife, from the family of Earle, received a most plentiful progeny. However with Arthur his firstborn having died with his father still living, he substituted for him as his heir John the son of Arthur. Thus with his family splendidly and successfully settled, with his sons and with the sons of his sons sufficiently provided for and with John his heir having been allied in marriage to the most select Joan from the illustrious stock of Wyndham of Somerset, already a seventy-year-old, he departed from the living. With his urn having been touched (2 Kings 13:21), those famous names once upon a time dead seemed as if to have risen up again: Roger Giffard, knight, sprung from the family of Halsbury, who had as his wife Margaret the daughter and heiress of John Cobleigh of Brightley; John Giffard, esquire, who Mary was the wife (of), the daughter of Richard Grenville, knight; and of the greatest hope Arthur Giffard who received for his wife Agnes, the daughter of Thomas Leigh, esquire. John Giffard, his most sorrowful grandson, placed here this monument, a symbol of most pious observance”.
Atop in Latin are the words translated as “The angels carried him into Abraham's bosom”.
- Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, pedigree of Giffard pp. 396–404, Giffard of Brightley pp. 400–401
- Prince, Rev. John, Danmonii Orientales Illustres: or, the Worthies of Devon, 1810 edition published by Edward Upham, Exeter and Longman and Hurst, Rees and Orme, London, printed for Rees and Curtis, Plymouth, pp. 411–415, Giffard, Colonel John
- Listed buildings text, Brightley Barton
- Risdon, 1810 edition, p.320
- Pevsner, N. & Cherry, B., The Buildings of England: Devon, London, 1991, p.260
- Pevsner, p.260
- Knight, p.35
- Knight, p.36
- Risdon, Tristram (d.1640), Survey of Devon, 1811 edition, London, 1811, with 1810 Additions, p.320
- Following the death of John Cogan (d.1382), feudal baron of Bampton, whose sister and heiress was Elizabeth Cogan (1374-1397), wife of Fulk IX FitzWarin, 5th Bron FitzWarin (1362-1391)
- Following the death of Nicholas Audley (c.1328-1391), feudal baron of Barnstaple, one of whose sisters and co-heiresses was Margaret Audley, wife of Fulk VIII FitzWarin, 4th Baron FitzWarin (1341-1374)
- GEC Complete Peerage, vol.V, p.508, Baron FitzWarin
- Pole, p.14, mis-transcribed as "Tavistoke", see note on difficulties of transcribing Pole's manuscript, p. xv
- Vivian, p.632, pedigree of Pyne
- Stated in the Visitations of Devon to have been MP for Totnes, Tavistock and Plympton; However the History of Parliament biography of his 1st Cousin Sir John Fortescue, Lord Chief Justice, of Ebrington, states the latter to have been MP for those places, thus confusion exists between the 2 sources
- Vivian, Visitations of Devon, p.357, pedigree of Fortescue; Joan's brother Henry Fortescue founded the Fortescue family of Preston, Devon
- Byrne, Muriel St. Clare, (ed.) The Lisle Letters, 6 vols, University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London, 1981, vol.1, pp.326-8
- Risdon, Tristram, Survey of Devon, 1810 edition, p.284
- Genealogy per information sheet in church
- Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, pedigree of Giffard pp.396-404, Giffard of Brightley pp.400-401
- Vivian, p.597, pedigree of Pollard
- Vivian, p.39, pedigree of Bampfield
- Vivian, p.400
- Vivian, p.173, pedigree of Chichester
- Vivian, p.354, pedigree of Fortescue
- Vivian, p.825, pedigree of Wykes of NorthWyke; Pevsner, Nikolaus & Cherry, Bridget, The Buildings of England: Devon, London, 2004, p.752, description of effigy
- http://www.wykes.org/nthwyke.html; North Wyke house described in Pevsner, pp.605-6
- History of Parliament biography
- Vivian, p.400
- Called Agnes by the biographer John Prince, who was a friend of one of her sons, but called Anne in the Heralds' Visitations, p.400
- Vivian, p.528, pedigree of Leigh of Borough
- Framed list of Rectors of Bideford in Bideford Church
- Knight, p.38
- Genealogy based on information card located in church
- Literal translation based on information card placed in church