The earliest Pidgeons in Devon can be traced back to the villages of Cotleigh and Sidbury in east Devon. A Muster Roll of 1569 lists seven able-bodied Pidgeons at Sidbury, while surviving wills and parish records help to piece together the earliest traceable family at Cotleigh. Other Devon families, although not connected by surviving records, were probably descended from these early families. Today, the descendants of these Devon families have spread across the world, and probably form the greatest proportion of living Pidgeons with English ancestors.
Much of the research into these early Devon Pidgeon families was undertaken by Basil Pidgeon of Bideford, Devon and his cousin Jean Harris of Toronto, Canada. They searched the parish records in the Records Offices at Exeter and Barnstaple long before such information was made easier to search on the internet. Their results came to me from Basil, but where I acknowledge this, Jean’s contribution should not be forgotten.
Branscome & Sidbury
William PIDGEON and Susannah BOYLING were married at Branscombe in 1732. They settled at Sidbury, but many of their children returned to Branscombe.
Their grandson Samuel PIDGEON married Sarah FARLEY at Broadhembury in 1818. They settled at Woodbury, but in 1823 were forced by a Removal Order to leave Woodbury and move to ~~
In 1723 a John PIDGEON was born at Cotleigh, and it is possible that it was he who married Joan BOWER at Cullompton in 1748. Many of their descendants remained in Cullompton, but some emigrated to the USA (Oil City, PA and the state of New York), and one son travelled north to Stockport, Cheshire. The following branches off this tree are shown separately:~~
. . . . Stockport, Cheshire
Henry PIDGEON, John's son travelled north to Stockport, Cheshire where he married Ann BASKERVYLE in 1792.
. . . . ELLICOT family
Mary PIDGEON, John's eldest daughter married Thomas ELLICOTT in 1770.
. . . . RICE family
Elizabeth PIDGEON, John's second daughter married Richard RICE in 1772.
. . . . FACEY family
Sarah PIDGEON, John's youngest daughter married William FACEY in 1784.
Yarcombe & Thorncombe
Richard PIDGEON was born at Cotleigh in 1730 and he married Hannah PARSONS there in 1758. They first moved to Yarcombe, about 5 miles north-west of Cotleigh, then to Membury, about 4 miles to the south.Finally, most of the family settled in Thorncombe, Dorset, a further 7 miles east of Membury. From here their descendants dispersed to Chardstock, Chard and Hawkchurch (all within 5 miles of Thorncombe) and then to places such as Bristol, South Wales, Derby and several places abroad, including Australia, as shown on the following six branches:
. . . . Guernsey & Australia
Jonah PIDGEON was born in 1831 at Thorncombe, but went to live on the Island of Guernsey. Two of his children, Thomas and Mary emigrated to Australia in 1886.
. . . . Whitchurch Canonicorum
Henry PIDGEON was born in 1830 at Thorncombe and moved 5 miles south to live at Whitchurch Canonicorum, Dorset.
. . . . Chard & Monmouth
Daniel PIDGEON was born in 1831 at Thorncombe, where he married and raised a family, but after about 20 years there he moved to the nearby town of Chard in Somerset. Two of his sons went to South Wales and settled in Monmouthshire.
. . . . Chardstock
George PIDGEON was born in 1835 at Thorncombe, but went to live at nearby Chardstock.
. . . . Chard & Derby
William PIDGEON was born in 1839 at Thorncombe and went to live in the town of Chard. Three of his grandsons, Thomas, George and Herbert moved north to Derby.
. . . . Hawkchurch
James PIDGEON was born in 1800 at Thorncombe, but married a girl from nearby Hawkchurch and settled there, bringing up 7 children. His four sons were given the biblical names of Simeon, Levi, Eli and Enos.
Taunton & Cardiff
Mary PIDGEON was born at Cotleigh in 1767. Several years before she married Thomas BASTIN he gave birth to two illegitimate sons. One of them, Richard PIDGEON married Fanny WOODMAN at Gittisham. They went to live at Taunton, Somerset. Their youngest son William married and settled at Cardiff, South Wales.
Mary's younger brother William PIDGEON married Ann CAWLEY at Cotleigh in 1798. They settled in Honiton with a son and six daughters.
James PIDGEON was born at Cotleigh in 1705, but married Betty DRUMMET at Awliscombe, where many of their children were born. Although James and Betty later returned to Cotleigh, most of their children married and settled at Awliscombe. Many of their descendants moved further afield, as shown on the following branches:~~
. . . . Stockland
John PIDGEON, a grandson of James and Betty, married Mary SANSOME at Cotleigh in 1793, but settled in the village of Stockland, about 3 miles away. Many of their descendants remained within 10 miles of Stockland and Axminster, but others emigrated to Queensland, Australia.
. . . . Colaton Raleigh
John's brother James PIDGEON married Mary ROW in 1792 at Colaton Raleigh, 10 miles south of Awliscombe. At first they lived at Aylesbeare, before settling at Colaton Raleigh.
. . . . Great Torrington
A great-grandson of James and Betty, Henry PIDGEON married Anna LOWMAN in London in 1806. They settled at Great Torrington in North Devon. The Pidgeon name has now died out from this branch, but ancestors of one of their daughters moved to South Wales and St Louis, Missouri, USA.
. . . . PEI, Canada
Henry's youngest brother James PIDGEON emigrated to Prince Edward Island, Canada, where he met and married a Scottish lass Ann MacLEOD in 1823. Descendants continue to live in PEI, while some have emigrated to the USA.
. . . . Paddington & Boston
Another grandson of James and Betty was William PIDGEON, born at Honiton about 6 months after the death of his father. After moving to London, he called himself William Henry PIDGEON and in 1817 he married Elizabeth ATTWOOD at Paddington. Their son Charles was an engine driver for the GWR and was said to "have a girl at every station". He appears to have abandoned his wife to live with his mistress Leah TRIPP and their children, marrying her about 15 years later. Charles switched railway companies and moved his family to Boston in Lincolnshire, moving back to London after Leah's death. Descendants continue to live in England.
. . . . Kentisbeare & Banks, NZ
A great-grandson of James and Betty William PIDGEON married Rebecca Way ROAKE at Kentisbeare in 1823. Their son Philip PIDGEON emigrated to New Zealand, where his descendants settled on Banks Peninsular, and many still live in the nearby city of Christchurch.
. . . . Exeter
The younger brother of William of Kentisbeare, James PIDGEON married Susan BURROW in 1835, also at Kentisbeare. Their only son Joseph continued to live with mother and step-father after the early death of his father, but when in his twenties, he moved to Exeter, where most of his descendants continued to live into the 20th century.
There were Pidgeons at Sidbury in the 16th century. The Devon Muster Roll of 1569 lists the following at Sidbury:
Robert PIDGEN was one of six sworn Presenters, men who were the more prominent in the parish and brought to record the able-bodied men. There were 39 able-bodied men at the time in Sidbury, amongst them being the following:
Archers – Thomas PIDGEN, John PIDGEN, Henry PIDGEON
Harquebusiers (or musketeers) – Thomas PIDGEN, John PIDGEN jun
Pikeman – John PIDGEN
As these Pidgeons pre-date those of Cotleigh, and there were none at Cotleigh in the Muster Roll, it is probable that the Cotleigh Pidgeons came from Sidbury. Unfortunately, there are no surviving records to confirm this.
In 1850 a fire at the Sidbury vicarage destroyed all the registers for the parish for the years 1559 to 1812, and the marriage registers from 1813 to 1837 were later lost. Although some Bishop's Transcripts of the records exist, they are far from complete. This makes it very difficult to trace the many Pidgeons of Sidbury. John and Richard PIDGEON at the heads of the two Sidbury trees below may be brothers or distant cousins, but there is no way of knowing with so few 17th century records surviving. Similarly, the other trees below may also be related to these of Sidbury, as the parishes are close by:
John PIDGEON was probably born about 1690 at Sidbury. He married Martha BREAM in 1711.
. . . . Torquay branch
John PIDGEON of Sidbury and Mary SMITH of Hennock were married at Bovey Tracey in 1813. They lived for a few years at Lustleigh, then settled in the parish of Tormoham (now Torquay), Devon.
Richard PIDGEON was probably born at Sidbury about 1700. He married Grace MARWOOD there in 1722.
. . . . PAGE family
Ann PIDGEON, born 1787 at Sidbury, married James PAGE in 1811.<
. . . . BARRATT family
Caroline PIDGEON, born in 1820 at Sidbury, married Emmanuel BARRATT in 1843.
Ottery St Mary
John PYGEON and Elizabeth LEE were married at Branscombe in 1600. John may have been a son or grandson of one of the able-bodied men of Sidbury in the 1569 muster roll.
William PIDGEON (son of Nicholas) was born at Sidbury in 1670 and married Joan MANNING at Seaton in 1692.
James PIDGEON was born about 1741 and married Ann HOAR in 1773 at Broadhembury.
John PIDGEON was probably born in the 1750s and married Mary HARE in 1780 at Sidmouth.
The following families all originated in Devon, but cannot be traced back to either Cotleigh or Sidbury. In some cases Y- chromosome DNA tests have proved that there is a link to Cotleigh Pidgeons, but it cannot be found.
John PIDGEON and Ann HODY were married in 1732 at Hawkchurch, where two of their five children were baptised. They then went to live at Honiton which is where many of their descendants were born and lived, including a large FILDEW family.
. . . . FILDEW family
Betty PIDGEON was the daughter of John and Ann. She married William FILDEW in 1767.
Daniel PIDGEON of Sidbury married Elizabeth POOKE in 1746 at Rockbeare. Daniel and Elizabeth lived at Sidbury, but most of their children moved into the larger town of Honiton or nearby Offwell.
Kilmington & Bridport
John PIDGEON and Joan COOKE were married in 1729 at Luppit, but settled at Kilmington. DNA suggests John was related to the Pidgeons of Cotleigh, but the link has yet to be found. One of their grandsons, James PIDGEON moved to Bridport, Dorset where he married Sarah BUDDEN. The descendants of James and Sarah spread out to London, the Isle of Wight, Hampshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire. Two such families are shown on the following branches:
. . . . Poplar branch
John PIDGEON was the youngest surviving son of James and Sarah. He married Mary Ann GUPPY in 1842 at Bridport and most of their children were born there, and some married there. In the 1870s the whole family left Bridport and moved to Poplar in east London, where they found work in the London docks.
. . . . Stafford branch
William James Hodder PIDGEON was a grandson of James and Sarah. He married Augusta GALE in 1860 at Bridport and moved, with his family, to Stafford, Staffordshire sometime between 1871 and 1874.
Joseph PIDGEON married Sarah ELSON in 1780 at Kenton, which lies about 5 miles south of Exeter on the west bank of the Exe estuary. Several generations of this family continued to live in Kenton, but others migrated via Dorset to Hendon, Middlesex, via Wales, as shown in the following branches:
. . . . Dorset & Hendon branch
Joseph PIDGEON and Mary WEST married in 1850 and settled at Broadmayne, near Dorchester. After Mary died, Joseph moved to the north of Dorset and remarried. He fathered a son and a daughter in each marriage, and his eldest son moved to Middlesex and worked in the new Schweppes factory at Hendon.
. . . . Glamorgan branch
John PIDGEON and Fanny PIKE married at Starcross, near Kenton in 1842, but then lived at a number of places before settling at Llanwit Fardre, near Pontypridd in Glamorgan. John and his four sons all became coal miners.
. . . . Bristol branch
William PIDGEON and Joan CRIBBETT married in 1806 and lived at Exeter before moving to Bristol about 1815.
. . . . Newton Abbot & London branch
Joseph PIDGEON and Mary COSSEY were married at Kenton in 1822. Two of their sons moved to Ashburton and another to Wolborough, both near Newton Abbot. After Joseph died, Mary followed them. Three of their daughters, and several of their grandchildren from Ashburton went to live in London, where many of them managed public houses
Jasper PIDGEON married Elizabeth BOWCHER in 1779 at Kenton. They settled a mile to the east in Powderham, but their descendants have migrated all over Devon and some to Swindon, Lincolnshire and Norfolk. Those who went to Lincolnshire are shown on a separate branch:
. . . . Grimsby branch
Jasper Stanbury PIDGEON married Selina JONES in 1865 in London. They first settled in Bristol, where he shortened the family name to PIDGEN. The family then moved to Grimsby in Lincolnshire, where most of their descendants remain today.
William PIDGEON was born at Thorncombe about 1796, but it is not known who his parents were. He married Elizabeth NEWBURY in 1821 and settled at Hawkchurch.
Henry PIDGEON was married in 1788, and settled at Tiverton in the 1790s. His son Henry junior was rather unfortunate between 1838 and 1848, losing 2 wives and 5 children.
James PIDGEON married Grace WILLS in 1809 at Antony, Cornwall, a small village just across the River Tamar from Plymouth. His parents are unknown, but DNA suggests he was related to the Pidgeons of Cotleigh. Many of his descendants still live in this corner of Cornwall, but some have emigrated to Australia and Canada.
Nathaniel PIDGEON and Jane CORRY were married in 1773 at Ilchester, Somerset. DNA suggests that these Pidgeons were related to those of Cotleigh, Devon, but the connection is uncertain.
The family below came from Ireland, but lived in Devon for a short while.
William PIDGEON and Eliza Jane were married in Ireland, but came to England in the late 1780s, settling at Withycombe Raleigh, near Exeter.