Richard Bampfylde, Sheriff of Devon

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Richard Bampfylde

Also Known As: "Bampfield", "Bamfield"
Birthplace: Poltimore, Devon, England
Death: May 29, 1594 (67-68)
Poltimore, Devon, England
Place of Burial: Devon, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Edward Bamfield and Elizabeth Bamfield
Husband of Elizabeth Bampfylde
Father of Sir Amias Bampfylde; Mary Moore; Ursula Fulford; Margaret Glisson; Susan Bamfielde Bamfield and 4 others
Brother of Joan Pollard; Catherine Pym; Elizabeth Percival; Mary Wardour and Laurencia Bamfield
Half brother of John Warre, of Chipleigh and Grace Melborne

Managed by: Carole (Erickson) Pomeroy,Vol. C...
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About Richard Bampfylde, Sheriff of Devon

  • Sir Amyas Bampfylde (or "Amias Bampfield" etc.[1]) (1560 – 9 February 1626) was an English Member of Parliament who sat in the House of Commons in 1597.
  • Bampfylde was the son of Richard Bampfylde of Poltimore in Devon and Bampfylde House in Exeter by his wife Elizabeth Sydenham, daughter of Sir John Sydenham of Brympton d'Evercy, Somerset.[2]
  • He matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford on 3 December 1575, aged 15. He studied law at the Middle Temple in 1576.[3] He succeeded to the manor of Poltimore on the death of his father in 1594. He was J.P. for Devon from 1596. In 1597, he was elected Member of Parliament for Devon. He was knighted at Windsor on 9 July 1603. He was High Sheriff of Devon from 1603 to 1604. In 1616 he was Deputy Lieutenant.[2]
  • Bampfylde married Elizabeth Clifton, daughter of Sir John Clifton of Barrington Court, Somerset in 1576. The Bampfylde monument in South Molton Church shows the arms of Bampfylde impaling Clifton: Argent, semee of cinquefoils pierced a lion rampant gules. They had six sons and two daughters. In 1602 Bampfylde and Thomas Drake, brother and heir of Sir Francis Drake, made a double marriage settlement for his son John Bampfylde aged 14 and a daughter, aged 16, who were to marry Drake’s daughter and son with each parent settling £660 on the other’s daughter.[2]
  • Bampfield died at the age of about 65 and stated in his will his wish to be "buried in South Molton church with his parents".[2][4]
  • A fine stone monument to his memory exists against the south wall of the south aisle chapel ("Bampfylde Chapel") in North Molton Church. On the wall to its right is affixed a stone tablet inscribed with the following lines:
    • "Stand passenger gaze such was he
    • As thou tremble such shalt thou be
    • He dy'd to live so live to dye
    • Depart muse on eternity"
  • Ameae Bamfylde equiti aurato patri suo charissimo ex antiqua Bamfydeorum (sic) de Poltimore familia patre Richardo Bamfyde (sic) armigero matre Elizabetha Clifton de Barrington per 45 annos conjugato ex qua 12 filios 5 filias suscepit prudenti sed pio animoso sed affabili provido sed hospitali et benigno de suis de patria bene merito ex hac miseriarum valle anno aetatis suae 67 ad immortalitatem commigranti et sui reliquias his in terris quas post diuturna litigia et graves expensas sui posteritati foeliciter recuperavit in spem resurrectionis requiescere volenti Johannes Bamfylde filius et haeres qui etiam ex Elizabeth Drake de Buckland 8 filios et 7 filias ante patris obitum habuit anno Christi 1626 regis Caroli 2 hoc monumentum pietatis ergo posuit quas terras mea cura meis non parva redemit hae mea jure sinu molliter ossa fovent.
  • Translated literally into English thus:
  • "To Amyas Bampfylde, knight bachelor, most dear to his father, from the ancient family of the Bampfyldes of Poltimore from Richard Bampfylde, esquire, his father, from Elizabeth Sydenham of Brympton his mother; with Elizabeth Clifton of Barrington having been married during 45 years from whom he received 12 sons, 5 daughters. Prudent but with a pious spirit but easily spoken to; forward-looking but hospitable and benign, well-merited from his country. From this vale of miseries he migrated towards immortality in the 67th year of his age and having wished the remains of him to rest in hope of resurrection in these lands which after long-lasting dispute and heavy expenses happily he regained for his posterity. John Bampfylde his son and heir, who also from Elizabeth Drake of Buckland had before the decease of his father 8 sons and 7 daughters, in the year of Christ 1626, 2nd. of King Charles, therefore of piety placed this monument that these bones might gently warm the lands he redeemed not with small care".
  • There is a monument in Exeter Cathedral to his married daughter Dorothy Bampfield, daughter of Sir Amyas Bampfield, formerly wife of Edward Hancock (d.1603), MP, of Combe Martin, later wife of Sir John Doddridge (1555–1628), Justice of the King's Bench. The Latin inscription on a tablet within a strapwork surround is as follows: "Hic jacet d(omi)na Dorothea uxor Johannis Dioderidge militis unius justiciarioru(m) d(omi)ni regis as placita coram rege tenenda assignati et filia Amisii Bampfield militis quae obiit primo Martii Anno Dom(ini) 1614" ("Here lies Dorothy the wife of John Doderidge, knight, one of the Justices of the Lord King assigned at the Pleas held before the King, and daughter of Amisus (Latinised form) Bampfield, knight, who died on the first of March in the Year of Our Lord 1614")
  • From:



  • Devonshire wills: a collection of annotated testamentary abstracts, together with the family history and genealogy of many of the most ancient gentle houses of the west of England (1896)
  • . . . . the said Sir Richard Merton, Kt, presented to Poltimore only sixteen months later, 24th March, 1362, as "Guardian of John Baunfeld, a minor, son and heir of John Baunfeld." This youthful heir also died young, but added much to the fortunes of the family by his marriage with Joan, daughter and heir of John de Hocesham, through which alliance his posterity acquired the adjacent manor of Huxham,1 which is still the property of Lord Poltimore. His widow, Joan, presented to Poltimore Rectory, as "relict of John Baunfeld," and by right of her dowry, 4th January, 1372-73. Her eldest son, Thomas "Bampfeld," presented to Poltimore 24th September, 1404, and to Huxham, as " true patron," 3rd February in the same year.2 He married Agnes, daughter and co-heir of John Faber of Bovey Tracy, and was the grandfather of John Bamfield of Poltimore, who by his wife Agnes, daughter and heir of John Pederton, by Cecilia, daughter and heir of John Turney, was the father of Sir William Bamfield, son and heir of Poltimore. This John and his wife rebuilt the Parish Church of Poltimore, as shown by an inscription on a gravestone which was, some years since, removed from the nave to the chancel, and which bears the following inscription : . . . .
  • Their son, Sir William Bamfield,3 was sheriff of Devon in 1426, and died in 1474. The Manor of Huxham appears to have been settled upon his second son William Bamfield, *
  • who may have acquired the Pinhoe property, mentioned in the mortgage above noted, by his second marriage with Margaret Kirkham, widow of John Cheyney, of Pinhoe ; he succeeded his elder brother Walter "Bamfield," at Poltimore, 1st Sept., 1478, and was the father, by his first wife Margaret St. Maur, of Sir Edward Bamfield of Poltimore, who married Elizabeth Wadham, and died in 1528. His son and heir, Richard Bamfeild, who was an only child and but two years of age at his father's death, was, presumably, the hero of a sensational story which has been handed down to us by John Prince, the author of the "Worthies of Devon," published in 1701, and which he tells us is "a most memorable passage of undoubted credit," and to the effect that "one of the heirs of the house, not many generations back," being ward to "some very great person in the east country," was taken away in his infancy, and brought up in ignorance of his real position and prospects. He was trained to be a servant, and, when discovered by one of his late father's tenantry, was employed as huntsman in his said guardian's establishment. The Poltimore farmer is then said to have abducted him, to have taken him before the proper authorities, and to have duly established the right of his young landlord to his inheritance.
  • This Richard Bamfeild, at the age of fifty, became Sheriff of Devon in the eighteenth year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth. His mother, a widow, at the time of her second marriage, was a daughter of Nicholas Wadham, of Merrifield, co. Somerset, and his wife was a daughter of Sir John Sydenham of the same county ; by her he had a family of twelve children, viz., nine daughters and three sons. The eldest of the latter, Giles, predeceased him, having been drowned during his passage to Ireland, so he was succeeded in 1594 by his second son, Amias, then over thirty years of age, who was Sheriff of the county in 1603, and was knighted that same year at Windsor.* He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Clifton, of Barrington, Somerset, and had ten children ; one of *
  • his daughters married the nephew of the great Sir Francis Drake, who was created a baronet in 1622, and whose sister, Elizabeth, was the wife of his eldest son and successor, John Bamfeild, of Poltimore, who was born about 1590. The latter also had a large family, fifteen children ; one of the daughters, Dorothy, was the wife of Henry Worth, of Worth. The sixth son, Francis, was a Nonconformist minister, and died in Newgate Gaol in the spring of 1604 ; the eighth son, Thomas Bampfield, was Recorder of Exeter during the Usurpation, and member for Exeter in 1656. The third son, John Bamfield, was created a baronet 14th July, 1641, and through the deaths of his two elder brothers, Amias and Arthur, succeeded to Poltimore at his father's death, and married Gertrude, sister and co-heir of John Coplestone, of Warleigh. During the great rebellion this first baronet was active on the side of the Parliament, and Poltimore House was garrisoned by Fairfax in 1645 ; its owner died in 1650, aged forty, when he was succeeded by his son, Sir Coplestone Bampfield, the eldest of a family of nineteen, and who was as zealous for the Restoration of monarchy as his sire had been for its overthrow, and who was duly "pricked " Sheriff of Devon as soon as the king "came home again." He was, however, equally zealous in his promotion of the Revolution, being actuated, as evidently as his father had been, by perfectly conscientious motives, and on his death-bed he called his family around him, and impressed upon them the necessity of an invariable adherence to the "religion of the Established Church of England, and of allegiance to the right heirs of the Crown." He experienced a great domestic bereavement shortly before his demise, through a melancholy and fatal accident of which his eldest and promising son was the victim. This son, Colonel Hugh Bampfield, who commanded the county militia, was returning from a wedding, when his horse tripped whilst descending a hill near Plymouth, and the young rider's neck was broken. He left a widow, Mary, daughter of James Clifford, of Ware, who administered to the will of her father-in-law in the minority of her eldest son, Coplestone Warwick Bampfield, who succeeded as third baronet in 1692, and also, by devise, to the estates of his far away kinsman, Warwick Bampfield, of Hardington, . . . .


  • The building of the current POLTIMORE HOUSE on this site started in the 1550s, long years after the first mention of the manor of Poltimore in the Domesday Survey of 1086.
  • By the time Richard Bampfylde began building his Tudor mansion, the estate had been held by Bampfyldes for more than three centuries - after John Bampfylde was bequeathed it by a Canon of Exeter Cathedral in 1298.
  • That first great house can still be seen at Poltimore today - the three-gabled north front, the fine Tudor staircase tower in the corner of the central courtyard. Attic windows and fragments of Tudor fireplaces are still visible - in some cases revealed as a result of its damaged condition today.
  • When Richard Bampfylde died in 1594 his will describes the house and its fittings, and mentions 'the Parlor Chamber the Sollar Chamber the hall Chamber and the Chamber over the Kitchen.'
  • Still there at Poltimore, though covered over with more recent changes, the locations of these key rooms of a Tudor house can still be identified.
  • Successive generations of Bampfyldes built, rebuilt and added to the house. In 1646 the end of Civil War in the south west was negotiated at Poltimore, and the Treaty of Exeter was signed in the Great Hall at Poltimore - in the fine east-facing room re-modelled in about 1740 as the Saloon.
  • As described in Jocelyn Hemming's A Devon House, the story of Poltimore (2005),
  • 'For over six centuries the Bampfylde family lived at Poltimore, and every hundred years or so, successive generations pulled down and rebuilt or extended the mansion and modernised their estate.'
  • The remarkable building history of the house closes once Augustus Bampfylde, the second Baron Poltimore completed the addition of the outer west wing in 1908, housing new comfortable rooms and the grand ballroom.
  • But by 1921, following the death of the third Baron Poltimore in 1918, the house was surplus to the family's needs, and it was put up for auction.
  • Failing to sell, it was taken over by a girls' school which renamed itself Poltimore College after its new home. And when Poltimore College finally closed in 1939, the boys of Dover College moved in, evacuated to the comparative safety of Devon from their front-line position in Kent.
  • In 1945 it was eventually bought by two Exeter doctors who recognised the urgent need for new hospital bedspaces, and for a maternity hospital to cope with the post-war baby boom.
  • In 1962 it became the property of the South West Regional Hospital Board, as part of the National Health Service, who, until 1976 when it was sold, and the estate yet further dismembered, leaving only 13 acres of grounds with the house today.
  • From 1976 to 2000 this great building, sorely in need of care, repair and security, had none of that. Passing from owner to owner, with many fine elements of the house stolen, water coming through the leaky roof and an arson attack in the west wing, Poltimore House in 2000 was a sorry sight.
  • The Poltimore House Trust was formed in May 2000, with support from East Devon District Council, and a remit to restore and return the house to the people of Devon. In 2003 Poltimore House featured on the Restoration programme, and many people understood for the first time what a predicament faced the Trust.
  • By 2005 a new scaffold and massive protective roof had been erected, under which the house is safe and dry for the first time in near 30 years.
  • And, in 2009, English Heritage, which has never lost interest in Poltimore, has awarded a grant of £500,000 to the Poltimore House Trust, to start the long process of repair.
  • From:


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Richard Bampfylde, Sheriff of Devon's Timeline

Poltimore, Devon, England
Devon, England
Devon, England
Devon, England
Poltimore, Devon, England
Chilfrome, England
May 29, 1594
Age 68
Poltimore, Devon, England