THE SPARKS FAMILY
The Sparks and Blackmore families connection with the village of Sheldon go way back in 1535 John Blackmore and his son John farmed at Northcott they were tenants of the Abbey at Dunkeswell they later owned Northcott.
Later John Sparkes who married Sarah Moor were tenants of Northcott also lower Northcott had been formed by the mid 1870’s Sparkes farm had been formed, on this site there now stands a Bungalow .
Again by this time Sheldon had become a thriving village boasting its own tradesmen some of whom were,
Richard Underwood the Blacksmith, James Curron the Carpenter. Also bigger farms had been formed William and John Blackmore farmed Northcott, John Patten farmed Newhouse, later to be owned by William Blackmore married to Harriet Sparks. John Acland farmed Slade, Edward and Sarah Doble Farmed South farm.
The Sparks families were scattered liberally throughout the farming communities in the area around the market town of Cullompton in Devon. The closeness of these farming villages to each other and the Sparks Families that dwelt within their boundaries proves through research a relationship between each of the Sparks
Families. Strong connections exist with the Sparks families of Clayhidon, Churchstanton, Uffculm, Upottery, Halburton ,Luppit ,Honiton ,Hemyock
Broadhembury, Buckerell, Brixham ,Totnes and Chard to name just a few. The Welsh towns and villages with our family connections are just as important these are
Llantrisant, Llangeinor, Ystrad Rhondda, Caerau, Measteg, Nantyfyllon, Baglan,
Neath Port Talbot, Aberafan, Cwmavon , Penarth, Cardiff, Monmouth ,
Predominantly the working background to the Sparks families in Devon and Somerset was farming some owned their own farm others worked as agricultural farm labourers.
There were other forms of employment taken up by the Sparks families in Plymouth they were Mariners sailing on important voyages of discovery, one John Sparke was a Lieutenant on board the Jesus of Lubeck under captain John Hawkins. Sparkes wrote accounts of his journeys these accounts exist today giving us an insight to what it was like to sail on voyages and discovering new lands and people he also wrote of the animals they found.
In Brixham they were trawler owners and Skippers also deep sea cargo carrying ship Captains sailing to places like Brazil and America. At Chard and Crewkerne we found
Coachbuilders and Justice of the peace, and Solicitors professional people.
The Sparks Story at Sheldon really started well before we found them in local census. Other documents like Bishops Transcripts and other early church records we find information recorded well before the start of the census that started in 1841. For instance at Sheldon we find that in 1781 and 1782 John Spark became a
partner with Henry Banfield or Bamfield as tenants of Higher Northcott. This name is closely related to the Moore family. Sparks must have been a man of some standing for he was nominated for the position of Tax Collector.
In 1783 John Sparke Junior was a tenant at Vrean farm, Vrean was owned by Mr Hodges and Mr Nickolas Meardon.
It is more than likely that although the names are spelt differently John Sparke Junior was the son of John Spark the elder. By 1786 John Sparke Junior had moved to Slade farm the owner was Mrs Flood the yearly tax was Two Pounds Three Shillings £2.3.0
Whilst John Spark remained with his partner at Higher Northcott this continued into the 1790’s.
In 1806 John Spark was the sole tenant of Higher Northcott but part of the farm was now owned by Elinor and Sarah Blackmore.
Caster Sparke farmed at Shute farm yearly tax Three pounds eleven shillings eight pence £.3.11.8 the farm at this time was owned jointly by Mr Clark and Mr Ellis.
John Spark owned land he had bought from the Blackmore’s he also owned London house.
Christopher Sparks was left Shute Farm by his grandfather John Sparks in his will.
There is much evidence of the Sparks families in local government and church wardens they along with the Blackmores were pillars of their society some were wealthy some yeomen owning their own land in the village. This lasted up to the 1960’s.
Some of the early marriages that took place.
1780 John spark of Sheldon married Sarah Moor
1793 Susanna Spark of Sheldon married John Broom.
1793 John Spark of Sheldon married Elizabeth Tucker
The descendant families of Samuel living in South Wales became Steelworkers Dockers Tinplate workers shopkeepers and business people
Although we present the Sparks family as a family of the village of Sheldon we believe that at its head is the family of John and Dorothy Sparke of Churchstanton
They were married in 1687 and they had six children
Dorothy. She was baptised on the. 6. 1. 1688.
Samuel. He was baptised on the. 6. 2. 1690
John. He was baptised on the. 25. 10. 1693
Mary. She was baptised on the. 5. 1. 1695.
Peter. He was born on the. 4. 7. 1698.
Joan. She was baptised on the. 1702.
The Sparks family existed in the early part of the sixteenth Century at the Village’s of
Churchstanton and Clayhidon Devon.
A Bartholomew Sparke yeoman who was quite a wealthy farmer made a will naming friends and family among these names were Robert, John, Nicholas. Edmund favoured family names of our Sparks Line.
Wills of later family members link most of the families and villages mentioned in these pages
Names of early members of the Sparks family give a clue as to relationship each
brother would name it seems his offspring after favoured members of preceding
generations particular family names were kept alive.
The most favoured among these were.
Nicholas,Christopher,Peter,Thomas, John, Joseph,Henry
Samuel, Edwin,Edmund, Frederick, William, Robert.
Girls names were.
Sarah, Mary, Elizabeth, Ann.
One such name was that of Nicholas Sparke and has been handed down through generations the name belonged to a person held in high esteem by the Sparks family it would seem from records that Sparks and its variations was a variant of Sparke.
Nicholas was a churchwarden of Clayhidon Devon who lived to a great age for on the 23rd December 1664 Nicholas Sparke was buried aged about 100 years this achievement of great age is recorded in parish registers.
We also discovered in the West Studies Library
documents relating to a Nicholas Sparke kin to the
Famous John Sparke of Plymouth Cornwall who died over the age of 100 years is this a link to the two
families as yet we do not know but to have lived to that great age was almost unheard of in those hard times.
Another clue to a possible link with the families of
Plymouth is the fact that a William Sparks of Clayhidon made a will 1815 and was formally of Penzance Cornwall
These are some of the many Sparks recorded in records we have tried to show part of the tree of the Sparks family the roots firmly planted in the village of Sheldon.
The tree grew and its branches spread to the Valley’s and towns of Wales and far across the oceans to Canada America Australia the tree bore fruit multiplied and prospered.