Adam Carey, of Devonshire

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Adam Carey, of Devonshire

Also Known As: "de Cary", "de Karry", "de Kerry", "de Carey", "de Karri"
Birthdate: (30)
Birthplace: Devonshire, England
Death: circa 1199 (22-38)
Immediate Family:

Son of Henry Lovel; Lord Henry Lovel; Alice de Carey and Alice De Karry
Husband of Ann Trevett, Lady
Father of John Cary

Managed by: Mark Intermill
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Adam Carey, of Devonshire

From Thomas Carey, December 2017:

It is clear that Adam de Kerry is not the son of Henry Lovel and was not the Lord of Castle Carey in Somersetshire. It is far more likely that the Carys were a Devon family as described in this information from the Castle Carey Museum staff pasted below.

Email exchange between Chris Hicks and Lisa Carey, October 2015

From Chris Hicks <> Oct 6 at 2:27 AM To Lisa Carey

Dear Madam,

I am emailing you as I have looked at your Cary website on the internet. I am a member of the Museum Committee here in Castle Cary in Somerset. As you will not be surprised to learn we frequently receive requests from people searching their Cary ancestors. Many of them take their line back to Adam de Kari as he is recorded in many books as being the Lord of Castle Cary in Somerset.

However, we have never been able to find any evidence that this is so and I note that you do mention the uncertainty of this connection. Now recently we have undertaken a detailed search of all the known sources and we can say that he was in fact based in a Castle Cary in the Tamar Valley in Devon and that the connection to Castle Cary in Somerset is an error based on a manuscript written in 1630. Unfortunately, this error has then been repeated in some of the subsequent publications.

Further, the records show that the lords of the manor here were the families of Perceval/Lovel, St Maur, Zouches and Willoughbys. No Cary has ever been the lord of the manor here. If you would like a more detailed explanation of all this please feel free to ask and I will happily email it to you,

Yours sincerely

Chris Hicks For Castle Cary Museum

Chris Hicks* Bookbinder Tor View, Cary Hill Castle Cary Somerset BA7 7HL 01963 359019

From Chris Hicks <> Oct 14 at 2:55 AM

Dear Lisa,

Many thanks for your reply. To enlarge on the information in my last email I am attaching a two page summary of the research carried out recently in an attempt to resolve the confusion over this man. So far as a credit is concerned in this respect I am Vice Chairman of the Committee at the Castle Cary Museum in Somerset,


Chris Hicks

Adam de Kari: Was he the Lord of Castle Cary?

by Chris Hicks, Vice Chairman, Castle Cary Museum, Somerset

This is frequently asked when people are researching their family history and are able to take their line back to this man. This paper tries to answer that question.

The origin of the name Cary

The name of the river that rises in Castle Cary and flows out onto the Somerset Levels is Celtic in origin and simply means ‘pleasant stream’ although some authorities also suggest it means a rocky place by a stream. It therefore predates the Saxons who were here before the Norman invasion.

Cary Families in Castle Cary in Somerset

Cary as a family name is also fairly common but the earliest occurrence of it in the Castle Cary records is in 1588 when the baptism of an Edward Cary is recorded in the parish register. Then over the years many people with this name have lived in the town but there is nothing to suggest that this is more than a simple coincidence. Various families with the name Cary have come and gone, none of them having any connection to the Manor. That someone moving away could then have been called ‘of Cary’- is certainly likely but as there are other places which include the word Cary in their name both in this area and elsewhere it would be impossible to draw more than very general conclusions from this.

The Lords of Castle Cary in Somerset

The names of the lords of Castle Cary are recorded in The Domesday Book and other documentary sources. [1] The first owner of what can be called the manor of Cary in Somerset was a Saxon thegn named Elsi or Alfsi. He was displaced by William the Conqueror after the Norman invasion and the lands given to Walter of Douai. When his male line moved elsewhere the lordship was given to Robert Perceval de Breherval. He was succeeded by his son Ascelin Gouell de Perceval who acquired the nickname ‘Lupus’ and this became the surname of the family changing to Lovel. During the next few centuries, mainly by descent and marriage, the estate passed successively through the hands of the Lovels, the St Maurs (Seymour) the Zouches and the Willoughbys. Eventually Edward, Duke of Somerset purchased it and then in 1684 it was sold again and the estate broken up. Later the Lordship of the Manor was purchased by the Hoare family of Stourhead in Wiltshire. No person with the name Cary has ever been lord of the manor in the town.

Cary Family in Devon

Adam de Kari first appears in the “Heralds Visitation of Devon of 1620” there being no mention of him in earlier visitations. [2] A much later visitation then states that Adam was lord of Castle Cary in 1198. Although useful the visitations must be treated with some caution as the information was often supplied by the families in question so it is unclear how reliable this might be. The then head of the family was Sir William Cary and in referring to Adam de Kari he was going back up to twelve generations and four hundred years. Concerning Castle Cary the pedigree explicitly places it in Devon thus; “Sir John Cary…had landes in three sundrie shires, Devon, Dorset and Somerset…at Hoke in Dorset, at Castle Cary in Devon.”

The problem starts in 1630 when Thomas Westcote, in his “A View of Devonshire” [3] records the Cary family in two statements, “Cockington is now in our sights…Now it is the seat of the illustrious family of the Carys, whose ancestors may be derived from Adam (I mean) Cary, of Castle Cary and has taken deep root and multiplies in this soil…..” and “Cary, of Castle Cary in Somerset, Hook in Dorset and Cary and Kegbear in Okehampton…Adam de Cary, of Castle Cary…”

He quite clearly refers to the Devon family, mentioning a Cary in the same county, then makes the first suggestion that the Castle Cary in question is in Somerset but without offering a reason for this. It is likely that a branch of the Cary family from Devon owned land in Somerset but not in Castle Cary itself. Westcote’s book remained in manuscript for many years but it was widely circulated amongst scholars and was quoted by later writers who appear to accept his statements with little reservation. [4] When the book was eventually printed in 1845 the editors were very forthright in cautioning the reader about its accuracy. In particular, they say; “As to his pedigrees of most of our Devonshire Families it is evident that he is chargeable with some egregious mistakes and errors….” However, this warning has been clearly been missed or ignored by later writers and several books published on the Cary family continue to state that Adam de Kari was the Lord of Castle Cary in Somerset in 1198. In some books later generations are listed as born in Castle Cary Somerset whilst in others the family is immediately removed back to a place in Devon with the same name. [5] There are now also at least a dozen family history pages online which perpetuate the story and simply quote extracts from these books.

Some books do attempt to redress the balance. [6] Even by 1633 in Gerard’s Survey of Somerset the visitation pedigree was being called into question. He also says that Adam de Cary flourished at the time of Edward I which would place him a century later than other sources. In “The Devon Carys” there is a detailed description of the confusion. The author, in pointing out the that the information supplied by Sir William Cary should be treated with caution, goes so far as to wonder if the use of the name ‘Adam’ was no more than a variation on the saying ‘we are all descended from Adam.’

It is now clear that the Cary family was based in Devon and no evidence of any connection with Castle Cary in Somerset has been found. They held lands in two areas. Firstly in Torbay, the Manor of Cockington which they held from 1374 until 1654 and also Torre Abbey. In St Marychurch there is a nineteenth-century pseudo-medieval house built by a branch of the family and called Cary Castle. This similarity of name has caused additional confusion with the assumption that Cary Castle and Castle Cary are one and the same thing

The Cary family also held lands in North Devon in the parishes then called Liston and Paneston. Part of the family was located in a small village called St Giles-on-the-Heath by a tributary of the Tamar called the Cary but usually referred to in various sources as Carywater. This is close to the border with Cornwall and a few miles north of Launceston. It is here that the manor house, the Castle Cary referred to in the visitation of 1620, was located. This burnt down in 1796.


The list of the lords of Castle Cary in Somerset shows that the Perceval/Lovel family were the lords here from before 1120 until 1330. The family of Adam de Kari was firmly located in Devon and any suggestion that he was the Lord of Castle Cary in Somerset in 1198 is unsustainable.

CURATOR'S NOTE: Any of the following information linking Adam with Castle Carey/Kari in Somerset is incorrect. I have removed a number of notes with incorrect information.

  • first recorded progenitor of the Carys. Name derives remotely from the Celtic word "caer" meaning a huge fortified place. Caernarvon, in Wales, had the same etymological ancestry. The Carys of Devon, who took their surname from the manor which they held were probably of Norman origin.

The first mention of the Cary Family was around 1086. They were listed in the “Domes Day Book”. They were living in Kari Castle. Over the years the spelling has changed several times. It has been spelled deKarry, Karry, Kari, Carye and Cary. The “De” in DeKarry most likely was French from the Norman invasion. It most likely was dropped for that reason after the invader considered themselves English and not Norman or French. There may have even been caused by one of the many conflicts or disagreements large and small between the two nations.

He was Lord of Castle Kari in 1198.

Cary and Carey are old west-country surnames of England. Sir Bernard Burke, in his book "Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland," states that the ancient family of Cary derives its surname from the manor of Cary or Kari (as it is called in the Domesday Book).

Excerpted from "The Cary Family History" by Evelyn S. Cary : [In William the Conqueror's Domesday Book is recorded....] Kari Manor in the parish of St. Giles-on-the-Heath, near Launceston in the county of Devon [Colonial and Revolutionary Lineages of America, Vol. I, p. 245] near the border of Cornwall. This manor was the primary home of the Carys until the reign of Richard II with one branch of the family remaining there until the reign of Elizabeth I. The estate was made up of 3220 acres of land, of which 2400 acres were used for farming, 720 acres were kept in woodland, and 52 were meadows. About 1086 acres were used to raise swine. The pigs lived in the wooded areas and feasted on the acorns from the many oak trees there.

For centuries, Castle Kari has been gone, however, the town of Castlecary still remains as does the old manor house where "King Charles II slept."

Laurel Logan

August 3, 2008

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Adam Carey, of Devonshire's Timeline

Devonshire, England
Age 30
Age 30
Castle Cary, Somersetshire, England