THE SPARKS FAMILY
The Sparks andBlackmore families connection with the village of Sheldon go way back in 1535John Blackmore and his son John farmed at Northcott they were tenants of theAbbey at Dunkeswell they later owned Northcott.
Later John Sparkes whomarried Sarah Moor were tenants of Northcott also lower Northcott had beenformed by the mid 1870’s Sparkes farm had been formed, on this site there nowstands a Bungalow .
Again by this timeSheldon had become a thriving village boasting its own tradesmen some of whomwere,
Richard Underwood the Blacksmith, James Curron theCarpenter. Also bigger farms had been formed William and John Blackmore farmedNorthcott, John Patten farmed Newhouse, later to be owned by William Blackmoremarried to Harriet Sparks. John Acland farmed Slade, Edward and Sarah DobleFarmed South farm.
The Sparks familieswere scattered liberally throughout the farming communities in the area aroundthe market town of Cullompton in Devon. The closeness of these farming villagesto each other and the Sparks Families that dwelt within their boundaries provesthrough research a relationship between each of the Sparks
Families. Strong connections exist with the Sparks familiesof Clayhidon, Churchstanton, Uffculm, Upottery, Halburton ,Luppit ,Honiton,Hemyock
Broadhembury, Buckerell, Brixham ,Totnes and Chard to name just a few. The Welsh townsand 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 theworking background to the Sparks families in Devon and Somerset was farmingsome owned their own farm others worked as agricultural farm labourers.
There were other formsof employment taken up by the Sparks families in Plymouth they were Marinerssailing on important voyages of discovery, one John Sparke was a Lieutenant onboard the Jesus of Lubeck under captain John Hawkins. Sparkes wrote accounts ofhis journeys these accounts exist today giving us an insight to what it waslike to sail on voyages and discovering new lands and people he also wrote ofthe animals they found.
In Brixham they weretrawler owners and Skippers also deep sea cargo carrying ship Captains sailingto places like Brazil and America. At Chard and Crewkerne we found
Coachbuilders and Justice of the peace, and Solicitorsprofessional people.
The Sparks Story atSheldon really started well before we found them in local census. Otherdocuments like Bishops Transcripts and other early church records we findinformation 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 HigherNorthcott. This name is closely related to the Moore family. Sparks must havebeen a man of some standing for he was nominated for the position of TaxCollector.
In 1783 John SparkeJunior was a tenant at Vrean farm, Vrean was owned by Mr Hodges and Mr NickolasMeardon.
It is more than likely that although the names are speltdifferently John Sparke Junior was the son of John Spark the elder. By 1786John 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 HigherNorthcott this continued into the 1790’s.
In 1806 John Spark wasthe sole tenant of Higher Northcott but part of the farm was now owned byElinor and Sarah Blackmore.
Caster Sparke farmed at Shute farm yearly tax Three poundseleven shillings eight pence £.3.11.8 the farm at this time was owned jointlyby Mr Clark and Mr Ellis.
John Spark owned land he had bought from the Blackmore’s healso owned London house.
Christopher Sparks was left Shute Farm by his grandfatherJohn Sparks in his will.
There is much evidenceof the Sparks families in local government and church wardens they along withthe Blackmores were pillars of their society some were wealthy some yeomenowning their own land in the village. This lasted up to the 1960’s.
Some of the earlymarriages 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 Walesbecame Steelworkers Dockers Tinplate workers shopkeepers and business people
Although we present the Sparks family as a family of thevillage of Sheldon we believe that at its head is the family of John andDorothy 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 onthe. 4. 7. 1698.
Joan. She was baptised on the. 1702.
The Sparksfamily existed in the early part of the sixteenth Century at the Village’s of
Churchstantonand Clayhidon Devon.
A Bartholomew Sparkeyeoman who was quite a wealthy farmer made a will naming friends and family amongthese names were Robert, John, Nicholas. Edmund favoured family names of ourSparks Line.
Wills of later family members link most of the familiesand villages mentioned in these pages
Names of early members of theSparks family give a clue as to relationship each
brother would name it seems his offspring after favouredmembers 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.
Onesuch name was that of Nicholas Sparke and has been handed down throughgenerations the name belonged to a person held in high esteem by the Sparksfamily it would seem from records that Sparks and its variations was a variantof Sparke.
Nicholas was a churchwardenof Clayhidon Devon who lived to a great age for on the 23rd December1664 Nicholas Sparke was buried aged about 100 years this achievement of greatage is recorded in parish registers.
Wealso discovered in the West Studies Library
documents relating to aNicholas Sparke kin to the
Famous John Sparke ofPlymouth Cornwall who died over the age of 100 years is this a link to the two
families as yet we do notknow but to have lived to that great age was almost unheard of in those hardtimes.
Another clue to a possiblelink with the families of
Plymouth is the fact that aWilliam Sparks of Clayhidon made a will 1815 and was formally of PenzanceCornwall
These are some of themany Sparks recorded in records we have tried to show part of the tree of theSparks family the roots firmly planted in the village of Sheldon.
The tree grew and its branches spread to the Valley’s andtowns of Wales and far across the oceans to Canada America Australia the treebore fruit multiplied and prospered.