Feudal Barony of Berry Pomeroy

The Feudal Barony of Berry Pomeroy was one of eight[1] feudal baronies in Devonshire which existed during the mediaeval era, and had its caput at the manor of Berry Pomeroy, 20 miles south of the City of Exeter and 2 miles east of the town of Totnes, where was situated Totnes Castle, the caput of the feudal barony of Totnes. The exact location of the 11th-century baron's residence is unclear, perhaps it was next to the parish church on the site of the present former rectory known as Berry House,[2][3] as it is now believed that the present surviving nearby ruined Berry Pomeroy Castle was not built until the 15th century.[4] The manor and barony was owned by the Pomeroy family from before 1086 until 1547 when it was purchased by Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, in whose family it has since remained and today the manor and much of the former estate belongs to his descendant the Duke of Somerset, seated at Maiden Bradley House in Wiltshire.



The descent of the barony in the de la Pomeroy family is as follows:[6]

Ralph de la Pomeroy (d.pre-1100)

Ralph de la Pomeroy (d. pre-1100),[7] (alias Pomeraie, Pomerei, etc.), 1st feudal baron of Berry , one of the Devon Domesday Book tenants-in-chief in 1086. He was lord of the manor of La Pommeraye, Calvados in Normandy.[8] He was one of the two commissioners appointed to carry to the royal treasury at Winchester the tax collected in Devon resulting from the assessment made based upon the Domesday Book survey.[9]

William de la Pomeroy (d.pre-1114)

William de la Pomeroy (d. pre-1114), eldest son and heir,[10] who in 1102 donated the manor of Berry (Pomeroy) to Gloucester Abbey, which during the abbacy of Serlo (d.1104)[9] was redeemed by his brother Joscelin in exchange for Seldene[11] (alias "Seldenam", in Devon).[9] He donated 1/4 of a knight's fee in St Omer in Normandy to the "Abbey of Val in St Omer".[9] He died without progeny at some time before 1114.

Joscelin de la Pomeroy (d.post-1123)

Joscelin (alias Gozeline) de la Pomeroy (d. post-1123) (younger brother and heir). He refounded the "Abbey of Val in St Omer" in the diocese of Bayeux, Normandy, to which in 1125 he gave the churches of Berry (Pomeroy), "Braordin" and "Clisson" in Devon with others elsewhere, and also a small estate and tithe of a mill in La Pommeraye.[9] He married a certain Emma, who consented to her husband's grants of 1125.

Henry I de la Pomeroy (fl.1156, died pre-1165)

Henry I de la Pomeroy (fl.1156, died pre-1165) (son), Constable of Normandy,[6] a household knight of King Henry I (1100-1135) and named as one of the king's household constables in the Constitutio Domus Regis. He was a leader of the king's household troops on several occasions, notably in 1124 at the Battle of Bourgtheroulde, about ten miles southwest of Rouen.[12] He married Rohese de Dunstanville.[13]

Henry II de la Pomeroy (d.1201/7)

Henry II de la Pomeroy (d.1201/7), eldest son and heir. He married Rohesia Bardolf, sister of Doun Bardolf (1177–1205)[14] Rohesia survived her husband , and as the widow of a tenant-in-chief, Rohesia's second marriage became the property of the crown to dispose of, and in 1201/2 Sir John Russell (died c. 1224) of Kingston Russell in Dorset agreed to pay 50 marks to the royal treasury for the hand of his bride. After Russell's death in 1224 his widow Rohesia obtained royal licence of the king, at the suit of Ralph de Blundeville, Earl of Chester and Lincoln (1172–1232), to marry whomsoever she pleased, so long as he should be a faithful subject of the crown. This was perhaps merely a formality to give her freedom from "troublesome solicitations of the king's courtiers" and no records survive of any subsequent marriage having occurred.[15] Following the death Henry II de la Pomeroy his estates were assigned by the King into the custody of William Brewer until 1210 when his heir raised 600 marks for his feudal relief.[16]

Henry III de la Pomeroy (d.1222)

Henry III de la Pomeroy (d.1222) (son), married Joan de Vautort (alias Valletort), a daughter and in her issue co-heir of Roger II de Vautort (d.1207), feudal baron of Totnes from 1206.[17]

Henry IV de la Pomeroy (1211-1237)

Henry IV de la Pomeroy (1211-1237).

Henry V de la Pomeroy (d.1281)

Henry V de la Pomeroy (born post 1216; d.1281), who was a minor under the age of 21 at his father's death in 1237.[18] He confirmed his ancestor's grants to Ford Abbey. He married a certain Isolde, a widow, who survived him and in 1293[19] is recorded as holding as her dower one third (a widow's usual entitlement) of her late husband's manors of Berry and Stockleigh Pomeroy[20]

Henry VI de la Pomeroy (1266-1305)

Sir Henry VI de la Pomeroy (1266-1305), (son). He was born at Tregony,[20] in Cornwall. In 1281 he married Amice de Camville, daughter of Sir Geoffrey de Camville (d.1308).[21] Amice survived her husband.

Henry VII de la Pomeroy (1291-1327)

Sir Henry VII de la Pomeroy (1291-1327) (son), married Joan de Moels, daughter of John de Moels, 1st Baron Moels (d.1310),[22] of North Cadbury.[23]

Henry VIII de la Pomeroy (d.1373)

Sir Henry VIII de la Pomeroy (d.1373), (son), married Elizabeth, widow of Oliver Carminow of Cornwall.[24]

John de la Pomeroy (1347-1416)

Sir John de la Pomeroy (1347-1416), married Joan de Merton, daughter and co-heir of Richard de Merton and widow of John Bampfield of Poltimore,[25] The marriage was without progeny. His heir was his nephew John Cole, son of his sister Margaret, and his niece Joan Chudleigh (1376-1423), daughter of his sister Joan.

Edward I de Pomeroy (d.1446)

Edward I de Pomeroy (d.1446). Grandson of Thomas the 5th son of Sir Henry by Joan Moels, Thomas's son William died and his grandson Edward inherited the barony after the death of Sir Thomas Pomeroy, son of Robert of Upottery & Bockerell, in 1426. Thomas Pomeroy, Esq., a Kings knight of a cadet line who had made the unlicensed marriage in 1388 to Joan Chudleigh, the twice widowed niece and coheir of Sir John who had died in 1416 without living issue. Thomas persuaded the king to set aside Sir John's declared heir, Edward, in his favour. Thomas and Joan had one daughter Isabel who died after her mother in 1423 and before her father in 1426. After Joan's death Thomas married Joan Raleigh widow of Whalesborough. After his death the barony of Berry Pomeroy reverted to Edward de Pomeroy (d.1446). He had in about 1404 married Margaret Beville (d.1461), daughter of John Beville of Woolston in Poundstock, Cornw. Edward died in 1446 Margaret in 1461.

Henry IX de Pomeroy (1416-1481)

Henry IX de Pomeroy (1416-1481) (son), married Alice Raleigh, daughter of John Raleigh of Fardell, Devon. His eldest son Sir Seintclere de Pomeroy (d.1471) predeceased his father without issue.

Richard de Pomeroy (1442-1496)

Sir Richard de Pomeroy (1442-1496), Sheriff of Devon in 1473, a Knight of the Bath, knighted by King Henry VII. He married Elizabeth Densell (d.1508), daughter and co-heiress of Richard Densell of Weare Giffard and Filleigh in Devon, and widow of Martin Fortescue (d.1472), of Wimpstone in the parish of Modbury in Devon. The monument to himself and his wife survives in Berry Pomeroy Church, but is missing all its original monumental brasses, robbed before 1701, as described by the biographer Rev. John Prince (1643–1723), for many years vicar of Berry Pomeroy:[26]

As for any monuments raised over the graves or sepulchres of the dead relating to this family there is only one remaining, now robbed of its former splendour. It is an altar-tomb under an arch in the north wall of the chancel raised near breast-high covered with a fair table of green marble which was sometime inlay'd with a coat of arms and a motto under of gilded brass or copper. On a rough marble stone about six foot long and three deep fastened in the wall over the tomb and under the canopy were inlaid in like manner the effigies of four several persons in large proportion with labels proceeding out of their mouths. Also four smaller figures between as many escotcheons, (sic) all of gilded brass or copper. Which are long since become the prey of some greedy or childish hand. At the east end of this monument is Pomerai impailed with Denzil, at the west end single, which shew it was raised to the memory of Sir Richard Pomeroy and his lady, who was the daughter and heir of Denzil. The arch is finely fretted and flowered.

The church was rebuilt during Sir Richard's tenure.[27]

Edward II de Pomeroy (1478-1538)

Sir Edward II de Pomeroy (1478-1538), married Johanna Sapcot, daughter of Sir John Sapcote.

Thomas Pomeroy (1503-1566)

Sir Thomas Pomeroy (1503-1566), (son), married Jone Edgcumbe, daughter of Sir Piers Edgcumbe of Cotohele (Mount Edgcumbe was not built till 1547-1553, by Sir Piers son Richard). On 1 December 1547 he sold the castle, park and manor of Berry Pomeroy to Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset[28] who gave it to his eldest son from his first marriage, Lord Edward Seymour (1529–1593).


The descent of Berry Pomeroy in the Seymour family is as follows:[30]

In 1829 Edward St Maur, 11th Duke of Somerset (1775-1855) purchased Stover House,[35] Teigngrace, Devon, possibly as a base from which to administer his continuing Berry Pomeroy and Totnes estates.


  1. 8 per Sanders, 1960; Pole (d.1635), pp.1-31, listed 12
  2. Kightly, Charles, Berry Pomeroy Castle, English Heritage guidebook, 2011, pp.5, 25
  3. Pevsner, Nikolaus & Cherry, Bridget, The Buildings of England: Devon, London, 2004, p.166
  4. Kightly, Charles, Berry Pomeroy Castle, English Heritage guidebook, 2011, pp.3,25,26: "No archaeological finds from the site (of the castle) can be dated before the late 15th century" (p.25)
  5. Vivian, p.605
  6. Sanders, pp.106–7
  7. Sanders, p.106
  8. Sanders, p.106, note 9
  9. Vivian, p.605
  10. Heir to father per Sanders (1960); Vivian (1895) however gives his brother Joscelin as the eldest son and heir
  11. Prince, p.647, quoting William Dugdale, Baronage of England
  12. Church, S.D., The Household Knights of King John, Cambridge University Press, 1999, p.24
  13. Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.605, pedigree of Pomeroy of Berry Pomeroy
  14. Sanders, 1960, pp.76-77, Shelford
  15. Wiffen, pp.104-108
  16. Church, p.25
  17. Sanders, p.90, Totnes
  18. "Under age 21 Henry III", per Vivian, 1895, p.606, i.e. still a minor (under 21 years of age), thus a candidate for wardship, in (1236/1237). Therefore born post 1216. This information derives from the inquisition post mortem of his father, who died in 1237
  19. on 27 April in the 21st year of Edward I (27 April 1293)
  20. Vivian, p.606, pedigree of Pomeroy
  21. Sanders, I.J., English Baronies, Oxford, 1960, p.104, Barnstaple
  22. Vivian, 1895, p.606: "Johanna, da. of John, Lord Mules"
  23. Victoria County History, Somerset, North Cadbury
  24. Vivian, p.606
  25. Vivian, p.38, pedigree of Bampfield
  26. Prince, p.648
  27. Hoskins, W.G., A New Survey of England: Devon, London, 1959 (first published 1954), p.333
  28. Vivian, p.607
  29. Vivian, p.702
  30. Vivian, pp.702-3, pedigree of Seymour
  31. Vivian, p.702
  32. Over £20,000, according to John Prince in his Worthies of Devon, 1697
  33. Stewart Brown (1996), "Berry Pomeroy Castle", Devon Archaeological Society, 54: 210–211, ISSN 0305-5795
  34. Hoskins, p.333
  35. Pevsner, 2004, p.768


  • Powley, E.B. The House of De La Pomerai, Liverpool, 1944
  • Prince, Rev. John, Worthies of Devon (1701), 1810 edition, pp. 645–9, Pomerai, Sir Henry, Lord of Biry
  • Sanders, I.J. English Baronies, Oxford, 1960, pp. 106–7, Berry Pomeroy
  • Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, pp. 605–9, Pomeroy
  • Pole, Sir William (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, Sir John-William de la Pole (ed.), London, 1791, Book I, pp. 1–33, Baronies, pp. 17–20, Biry
  • Risdon, Tristram (d.1640), Survey of Devon, 1811 edition, London, 1811, with 1810 Additions, pp. 361–4, The Baronies of this County and how many Knight's Fees were held of the Honours, with the Ensigns of their Ancient Owners, p. 362
  • Pomeroy, Albert A., History and Genealogy of the Pomeroy Family, 3 parts, Detroit, USA, 1922, part 3
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