Feudal barony of Okehampton

"A view of Okehampton Castle and town taken in the park", 1772 drawing by Francis Towne (1739-1816), Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, USA
Remains of Okehampton Castle today

The feudal barony of Okehampton was a very large feudal barony, the largest mediaeval fiefdom in the county of Devon, England,[1] whose caput was Okehampton Castle and manor. It was one of eight feudal baronies in Devonshire which existed during the mediaeval era.[2]


First folio of listing of Devonshire manors held by Baldwin the Sheriff, forming the feudal barony of Okehampton, Domesday Book, 1086. Starting halfway down column 2, listing his first 7 holdings, namely: *19 houses in Exeter *6 destroyed houses in Barnstaple *Okehampton and its castle, Lifton hundred *Chichacott, Lifton hundred *Bratton Clovelly, Lifton hundred *Boasley, Lifton hundred *Bridestowe, Lifton hundred

The first holder of the feudal barony of Okehampton was Baldwin FitzGilbert (d.1090) called in the Latin Domesday Book of 1086 Baldvinus Vicecomes, "Baldwin the Vice-Count" (of the County of Devon), which office equated to the earlier Saxon office of Sheriff of Devon. The Norman office of Viscount soon was replaced by that of Sheriff, thus Baldwin is known in modern times as "Baldwin the Sheriff", but also has several other aliases, such as "Baldwin de Moels", (or "Meules", "Moeles", etc.) "Baldwin FitzGilbert" and "Baldwin de Brionne". He was the younger son of Gilbert, Count of Brionne, and took his name "de Moels" from the manor of Meulles in Calvados, Normandy.[1] His fiefdom listed in Domesday Book comprised 176 land-holdings, mostly manors, but 2 of which, listed first, comprised groups of houses in Barnstaple and Exeter. The third holding listed for his fiefdom is Okehampton: Ipse Balduin ten(et) de rege Ochementone, ibi sedet castellum ("Baldwin himself (i.e. in demesne) holds Okehampton from the king, there sits his castle"). The nature of the feudal land tenure for feudal barons was per baroniam, that is to say they were bound to serve the king as one of his barons, which involved onerous duties not only of attending parliaments to advise the king but also of providing knights and soldiers for military service to the royal army for specified periods each year. The baron himself was frequently present in battle.

De Moels

The descent in the de Moels family was as follows:[3]


Arms of Courtenay, from about 1200: Or, three torteaux

List of constituent manors

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.

The barony comprised originally the following manors held in-chief per baroniam by Baldwin the Sheriff, in order of Domesday Book listing:[16]

No.Name of manorHundredBaldwin's tenantPre-1066 tenant
119 houses in ExeterHundredUnknownLordship of King Edward the Confessor
26 destroyed houses in BarnstapleHundredUnknownUnknown
3OkehamptonLiftonin demesneOsferth
5Bratton ClovellyLiftonin demesneBrictric
7BridestoweLiftonRalpf de PomeroyEdmer
9LewtrenchardLiftonRoger de MeullesBrictric
10WarsonLiftonRoger of MeullesWaddell
12DuntertonLiftonRalph de BruyèreBrictmer
14Sampford CourtenayTorringtonin demesneNorman
17MonkokehamptonTorringtonBaldwin's tenantre 1066 tenant
20LashbrookTorringtonRogerAlgar Long
21BradfordTorringtonin demesneAlgar Long
26Broadwood KellyTorringtonModbertLeofric
27HoneychurchTorringtonWalterAlwin Black
34Little TorringtonMertonBaldwin's tenantre 1066 tenant
35Heanton SatchvilleMertonRalph de BruyereEdwin
43ChawleighShebbearin demesneSiward
44DoltonShebbearWilliam son of WimundUlf


  1. 1 2 Thorn & Thorn, part 2, chapter 16
  2. Sanders, Contents, pp. ix-xi; the others being Bampton, Bradninch, Great Torrington, Barnstaple, Berry Pomeroy, Totnes, Plympton
  3. 1 2 3 GEC Complete Peerage, vol.IV, p.317, pedigree chart "The Heirs of Richard FitzBaldwin", followed by Sanders (1960)
  4. Sanders, p.69
  5. GEC Complete Peerage, vol.IV, p.309
  6. The Complete Peerage refers to Pole's "Emma" as "....... of Dolton, Devon"
  7. "Adelise", in the Norman French, according to The Complete Peerage
  8. 1 2 3 4 Pole, p.2
  9. Pole, pp.2-3
  10. 1 2 Pole, p.3
  11. Sanders, pp.70,138
  12. 1 2 3 Sanders, p.70
  13. 1 2 Sanders, p.138
  14. Pole, p.5
  15. Historic England. "OKEHAMPTON CASTLE (440855)". PastScape. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  16. Thorne & Thorne, part 1, chap.16


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