1 Plantagenet impaling Hainault
2 Plantagenet impaling de Bohunt
3 Bourchier impaling Plantagenett
4 Chichester impaling Bourchier
5 Courtenay quartering de Redvers impaling Champernowne.t
6. Chichester impaling Chamernowne
7. Coppleston impaling Chichester
8. Bamfylde impaling Coppleston
9 Bastard impaling Bamfyldet
10 Pollexfen impaling Specott
11 Pollexfen impaling Stretchley
12 Pollexfen impaling Woollcombe
13 Pollexfen impaling Harris
14 Bastard impaling Pollexfent
15 Vere impaling Cecilt
16 Herbert impaling Vere
17 Poullett impaling Herbert
18.Poulett impaling Bertiet
19 Bastard quartering Pollexfen impaling Poulett.
20 Bastard quartering Pollexfen impaling Worseley
21 Bastard quartering Pollexfen impaling Pownoll
22 Bastard quartering Pollexfen impaling Wymondesold.
23 Bastard quartering Pollexfen impaling Woollcombe
24 Bastard quartering Pollexfen impaling Foster
25 Dexter, quarterly of nine pieces
26 Bastard impaling Crispin
27 Bastard impaling Rodney
28 Bastard impaling Fitz Stephen
29 Bastard quartering Pollexfen impaling Scrope
30 Bastard impaling Besilles
31 Bastard impaling Damarell
32 Gilbert impaling Compton
33 Bastard impaling Gilbert
34 Boleigh impaling Bodrigan
35 Killiowe impaling Boleigh
36 Killiowe impaling Trevillian
37 Bastard impaling Killiowe
38 Reynell impaling Walrond
39 Reynell impaling Fortescue
40 Bastard impaling Reynell
41 Hele impaling Glanville
42 Bastard impaling Hele
43 Bampfylde impaling Wadham
44 Bampfylde impaling Drake
This is the coat of arms which begins the outline of the Pollexfen line of descent, the family who owned Kitley before the Bastards. These five shields, number 10 to 14, are arguably the most important which are displayed on the walls of the hallway at Kitley, and so it is apposite that more space should be devoted to discussing them than has been assigned to the others. For it was through a marriage into the Pollexfen line that the Bastards inherited Kitley (q.v. shield 14) and so the Pollexfens should take pride of place in the discussions on the earlier history of the property.
Or, at least, this is what previous writers would have their readers believe! For every published source consulted during research by the present author has stated, or at the very least implied, that Kitley was the ancestral home of the Pollexfens. This was such a well established historical “fact” that it could hardly be disputed. Even the family pedigree outlined in Vivian’s Visitations of Devon is headed “Pollexfen of Kitley”. But recent research had proven that not only are there glaring inconsistencies and inadequacies in the established pedigree of the Pollexfens, as recorded by Vivian and others, but also the fact that earlier generations were only “of Kitley” because they happened to live there. They were in fact tenants. The family did not actually own the estate until a very late period. An observation which does not, by the way, diminish their place in local history – the importance of which has so far been unrecorded in any published sources – for the Pollexfens once owned extensive lands elsewhere in the South Hams, and were once a very prominent and wealthy local family.
First of all, the history of ownership of the property, as it has been established through current research, which is still ongoing, should be summarised. The earliest deed which has so far been uncovered records the sale, on 1st Nov 1583, of the Manor of Yealmpton (of which Kitley was a part) from the Earl of Huntingdon to John Hele of Plymouth for £10,660. This John Hele, descended from the ancient Devonian family of that name, was sergeant-at-law to Queen Elizabeth, and had, according to Prince, amassed a personal fortune in excess of £100,000 during his early exploits. His status explains how he could afford to lash out such extravagant sums of money on buying up other Devon estates during this period. Monuments to members of the Hele family at nearby Wembury and Holbeton churches testify to the enormous wealth they once enjoyed.
Part of the Hele family fortunes collapsed during the English Civil War, during which time Sir John Hele of Wembury heavily mortgaged his Yealmpton estates (amongst others) to the Hungerford family, in order to finance his campaign whilst fighting for King Charles I. The precise line of inheritance of the Manor of Yealmpton during the Civil War period is much confused, and will not bear relating in full here, and it will be sufficient to record that Sir Edward Hungerford also married the daughter and sole heiress of Sir John Hele of Wembury, Dame Jame Hele of Dorset.
Following the Restoration of the Monarchy, in 1669 Sir Edward Hungerford offered his Yealmpton estates for sale, in order to recover the mortgage debts which had accrued on them. It was then that Edmund Pollexfen purchased the portion of the ancient Manor of Yealmpton of which Kitley was a part, for £4,100 (q.v. shield 13) – other portions of the original Manor were sold to other parties. The sale went through a very convoluted process, involving countless deeds, and was not finalised until sometime c1675.
Thus, not only did the Pollexfens not actually own Kitley until the mid 1670s, but Kitley was also not the historical seat of the Manor of Yealmpton, as had been inferred by previous writers. Indeed, Kitley was described in all of the early deeds as “part and parcel” of the Manor of Yealmpton, rather than as the “capital messuage”, which latter description would be expected if it was the original Manor House. Where, exactly, the ancient Manor House was situated has not yet been established for certain – the Manor of Yealmpton formerly comprised not only Yealmpton itself, but also extensive lands in Noss Mayo, Revelstoke and other places roundabouts, and so there are a number of possible large country houses which need to be considered.
Which brings the discussions to the Pollexfens themselves, and their lineage
as displayed in the heraldry at Kitley. That the pre-c1675 occupiers of Kitley
of this name were tenants of the Heles and Hungerfords has been firmly established
from recent documentary research, briefly outlined in the foregoing notes,
findings which are supported by the contents of the few Pollexfen wills which
survive from the period. The first Pollexfen impalement dates from this era,
signifying a marriage which, according to Vivian and others, was that of John
Pollexfen to an unknown Specott daughter. No dates are given against the entry
in any previously published pedigree. However, research has not indicated
that the hitherto unknown wife was almost certainly Phillippa Specott –
the identity of her father is as yet unresolved. She, Phillipps Pollexfen,
was buried at Yealmpton on 11th Jan 1601/2. Her husband John was buried there
later the same year, on 1st August 1602.