08 November 2009

In pursuit of the Totnes Barters

Well sure enough, the rolling countryside of Devon was beautiful in October and Totnes was remarkable for its architecture -- especially Tudor -- and narrow streets. On the main drag, I found the Family Study Centre quite by accident and got a bit more information on Totnes area Barters.

According to Sam Barter, "The Avondale, New Brunswick, family originated in Devonshire, England, mostly around Totnes at the head of the River Dart. One, James Barter (born c1750), settled in Massachusetts Colony at Boston, and had two boys -- James (c1775) and William -- and two girls -- Mary and Charlotte."

I was actually expecting to find many Barter birth, marriage and death records but our family information for that era was slim indeed although there is a Samuel Barter buried in Totnes Cemetery who died in 1869 at age 45.

The James Barter I was able to find was baptised 12 May 1754, the bastard son of Mary. Isn't that interesting? The date is about right (babies were normally baptised quite soon after birth) and his social status might be a good reason to have emigrated to the new world. And one of his daughters could have been named for his mother.

However, another Barter descendant in the USA has written me recently about this James Barter. According to his research, James indeed was born 12 May 1754 in Holne, Devon (not far from Totnes) and died 14 April 1834 in Widecombe, Devon -- obviously not in North America. He was twice married and a tenant farmer until he acquired Bittleford Farm about 1806. James was also a church warden, 1813-1814. His mother, Mary, was born 20 December 1726 and died 1 May 1797 in Holne. She married John Barter Jr on 18 February 1754 in Holne, he being the son of John Barter and Joan Smith. They had four children in all.

I must say that I'm not convinced by this story, despite the records noted, but I will investigate and will be disappointed if this bastard I dug up is not my ancestor after all.