Robert Furse: A Devon Family Memoir of 1593
Robert Furse, born in about 1539-35, built on inheritances from his humble ancestors to become a gentleman and lord of a manor. He was proud of his achievements and the improvements to his family home, Moreshead, now Moorshead, in Dean Prior parish, Devon. He was proud of his defences of his entitlements in law, proud of the local offices he held, and of his acquaintance with notables such as the Courtenays, earls of Devon. In 1593 he knew he had an incurable illness, and although he had fathered nine daughters, his only son was a mere nine years old, and Furs knew he would never oversee the child’s upbringing as he would have wished. He chose to write a book for his son, his mentors, and his successors, giving moral and practical advice, and as much information as he could about each line of ancestry, the properties that descended from each family, with descriptions, values, and where he thought necessary proofs of legal titles. The whole is livened with character sketches, lawsuits, gossip and scandal, the odd murder and execution and other reminders of the fragility of life, all rendered in his own vernacular style. The book’s interest lies not only in Devon, but extends to all aspects of life among the lesser gentry of Tudor England.
Over illustration: Moorshead, Dean Prior: watercolour by James Thorpe (died 1949), by kind permission of Mrs Phoebe Woollcombe.
Published by the Devon and Cornwall Record Society, 7 Cathedral Close, Exeter, EX1 1EZ, United Kingdom.
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