Sunday, January 2, 2011

Daniel Tanton: A Gruesome Death

Daniel TANTON's untimely death in 1797 at St Giles in the Wood in Devon is described in gruesome detail on his gravestone. This Grade II listed monument was the starting point several years ago of my research in the TANTON family— research that has taken me from St Giles in the Wood to the neighbouring parishes of Beaford and Great Torrington, to the seaports of Bideford and Stoke Damerel, and across the ocean to Prince Edward Island and Ontario.

Daniel, the youngest son of William and Elizabeth TANTON, was baptised at Bideford in 1779. In about 1790, William TANTON moved from Bideford to St Giles in the Wood with his wife and several of his children. The earliest record of the TANTONs in St Giles in the Wood is the baptism of a nephew of Daniel TANTON in 1791, although Daniel's brother James TANTON (1768-1853) married in the neighbouring parish of Beaford in 1788. William TANTON first appears on the Land Tax Assessments in 1794, occupying Ley, Great Huish and Collamore — part of the ROLLE estate.

After William TANTON's death in 1800, Daniel's eldest brother John (1761-1824), became the patriach of the family. John had previously established himself elsewhere so occupancy of Ley Farm passed to John's brother Thomas TANTON (1772-1835). Descendants of Thomas TANTON continued to live in St Giles in the Woods well into the 20th century.

According to his gravestone, John TANTON left, "a widdow and 12 children to lament their loss." Sometime before his death he moved to Ward Farm in St Giles in the Wood. When John died, occupancy of Ward then passed to his son Thomas TANTON (1796-1861). At least seven of Thomas's eleven children emigrated in the 1860s from St Giles in the Wood to Middlesex County in what is now Ontario.

Another of Daniel's brothers, George TANTON (1766-1848) emigrated to Prince Edward Island with most of his children in 1819, having first lived in Bideford then Stoke Damerel. One of George's sons, George Davies TANTON (1795-1844) was a bailiff who was murdered while boarding a vessel to serve a warrant on her master for trading illegally in oysters.

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