|Axminster in the mid-17th century
ENDICOTTS IN AXMINSTER
The earliest records of Endicotts in Axminster were in 1617 following probably a drift eastward of the family from Dartmoor, where they seem to have originated in the 16th century. That year saw the marriage of William Endicott to Margaret Smyth and the baptism of Robert Endicott (given the same name as his father). Other early baptisms were Sarah Endicott in 1625 (father Roger) and Sicilia in 1629 (father William).
Even earlier than these however is the baptism of Agnes Endycotte in Axminster in 1579 (father Nicholas Endycotte) although probably not related to the later Endicotts.
The main influx of Endicotts into Axminster however appears to be around the middle of the 17th century with the parish registers recording the families of Aaron, Leonard, Thomas and William Endicott. There is no record of their baptisms in the registers and with the marriage register not introduced until 1695 the only records directly related to them being their or their wives' burials between 1678 and 1721. However, the baptisms of the first born children of Aaron, Leonard and Thomas were all registered in 1661 with the first born of William following in 1670.
There is a very strong probability that all four were brothers and with no records of their baptisms in Axminster they may have been new arrivals in the town and possibly not close relatives of the families referred to above who had settled in the town earlier.
By the end of the 17th century the four Endicott families were becoming established in Axminster although there is no evidence to show what attracted them to the town or their occupations. What is known is that during the 17th century there was a flourishing woollen cloth industry in Axminster but it was the growth in agriculture which was possibly their source of employment.
Endicott remained the popular spelling of the family name in Axminster throughout the 17th and during the first half of the 18th century. The first indication of a change was in 1670 where the burial register referred to Enticot in the case of Florence, daughter of Thomas & Dorothy Entycot and an unnamed child of William & Alice Enticot. The only full spelling of Enticott in the 17th century was on the burial of Ann, daughter of Aaron & Margery Enticott in 1678.
Although there was an occasional reference to Enticott in the baptism and burial parish registers for Axminster during the first half of the 18th century it was not until the middle of the century that Enticott became established and replaced Endicott as the dominant spelling thereafter.
Information on the families' employment in Axminster and the surrounding villages is not available until the first half of the 19th century during which period labouring particularly in agriculture was the common calling for the men-folk with younger girls in domestic service.
Towards the end of the century masons and stone cutters were in evidence whilst fish and fruit dealers were established with one side of the family continuing in that trade until only a few years ago. During the second half of the century several apprenticeships were entered into by
younger members of the family including carpenters, saddlers, blacksmith, plumbers and ironmonger. The arrival of the railway provided another source of employment as did the brush factories of Coates and Bidwells.
Living conditions up to the early 20th century cannot have been easy given the generally large families and viewing the houses and cottages which are still standing today where the families lived. Families with 8 or 9 children were commonplace whilst 15 families have been traced with 10 or more children including two of 13 and one of 14, these mainly in the 19th century.
Infant mortality was very high up to the end of that century.
ENTICOTTS AND THE LAW
The early arrivals of Enticotts in Axminster did not make a particularly good start with an entry in the parish books for 1675 reading "paid for sending Aaron Enticott before Sir Courtney Pole, by a warrant etc., granted about catching a salmon £0.0.6d." Worse was to follow in 1688 with an entry in the Churchwardens Accounts "to John Pinney (apothecary) for searching Enticotts wifes wounds 0.5.0 (she died and was "crowned" and her husband was apparently tried at Exeter Assizes)" The identity of this Enticott is not known.
1685 was the year of the Monmouth Rebellion when the Duke of Monmouth landed at Lyme Regis to claim the throne from his uncle, James I. He immediately marched to Axminster where he was joined for a time by some of the local militia. Monmouth was later defeated at the the Battle of Sedgemore and in September that year the "Bloody Assizes" under Judge Jeffries was held at Dorchester, Exeter & Taunton. A James Enticott was included in 78 men from Axminster who were indicted for high treason but were at large. Again it is not certain which James Enticott this referred to and whether he was ever captured or tried.
Isaac Enticott was imprisoned for 2 years and 9 months as an insolvent debtor and released midsummer 1801. Isaac was an haberdasher and his problems originated with a fire in 1791 from which he was unable to recover. He had 6 children at the time of which 4 were put in the workhouse and 2 were supported by his wife selling a few trifling articles.
An Ann Enticott was prosecuted for felony and convicted to be imprisoned in the high gaol for 6 months at Epiphany 1799. It has not been possible to identify which was the Ann involved.
In total some 26 different spellings of the name have been traced starting with E including many permutations on 't' or 'd', 'i' or 'e' or 'a' and single or double 't' with or without an 'e' at the end. Taking into account Indicott, Yendicott and Andicot with their alternative spellings the
total traced to date increases to 38.
The 5 most common spellings are Endicott, Enticott, Entecott, Endecott and Endacott,
It is easy to understand why there has been a wide range of spellings particularly late into the 19th century given the illiteracy common in the general population until the Education Act of 1879/80 made education compulsory for children up to 10 years of age.
Prior to that date the majority of the population received no education and consequently were unable to read or write. As a result surnames were passed by word of mouth and it is easy to see how a wide range of names appeared where it was left to the vicars or curates to interpret the spelling in recording baptisms, marriages and burials in parish registers. (Especially when the clergymen may have been from a different class and a different part of Britain, struggling to interpret the strong Devon accents of their parishioners! G L's comment)
None of this of course makes life easy for the researcher!
(adapted from Ray Enticott's 'Notes on the Enticott family'
Endicott/Enticott family tree, from John Endicott in the early 18th century to the parents of 'Papa' Endicott (G.L.'s great-grandfather) in the mid-19th century. (Researched by Ray Enticott.)
(m. Mary Turner 1735?)
b. Axminster 1736
d. Axminster 1807
m. Mary Woolly Axminster 1761
Matthew Enticott (+ 9 siblings)
b. Axminster 1774
d. Axminster 1836
m. Mary Hamlin Axminster 1807
d. Axminster 1854
John Hamlin Enticott (+ 7 siblings)
b. Axminster 1820
d. Smallridge 1851
m. Elizabeth Steel Axminster 1847
There is little more information on any of these ancestors beyond the dates of their baptisms, marriages and burials. However Ray Enticott was able to record the fact that Matthew Enticott died in an accident at Weycroft Mill, a grain mill a short distance outside Axminster on the road north to Chard.
Very many thanks to Ray Enticott for the information from his research that I have put on this page. G.L.