There are other means by which additional matter may be acquired. Thus it is quite possible to draw a pedigree—a genuine, well-authenticated one—of almost any tradesman's or yeoman's family from the time of Elizabeth. Now Lieutenant-Colonel Vivian has spent infinite  pains in tracing the genealogies of those families in the West of England which bore arms, and were accounted gentle at the beginning of the seventeenth century down to the present day.
For this purpose he has searched all the wills extant relative to Devon and Cornwall, and most of the parish registers in these counties. Consequently, we can take his conclusions as being as reliable as they can well be made. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the heralds made periodical visitations of the counties, and noted down the pedigrees of the gentle families, enrolled such as had a right to bear arms, and disqualified as ignobiles such as had assumed the position and arms of a gentleman without legitimate title.
In the county of Devon there were visitations by the heralds in , , , and , this last was the final visitation made. Now in the lists then drawn up appear fourteen gentle families under letter A, forty-seven under B, sixty-three under C. Of the fourteen whose names began with A, the Aclands alone remain. Of the forty-seven whose names began with B, only five remain.
Of the sixty-three under C, fifty-eight are gone.
Some few linger on, represented in the female line, but such are not included, though the descendants may have taken the ancient name. How are we to account for this amazing extinction?
Arminell: A Social Romance, Vol. 3 by S. Baring-Gould
The families were prolific, but apparently those most prolific most rapidly exhausted their vitality. The Arscotts go back to the beginning of the reign of Henry VI. John Arscott of Arscott, who died in , had eight sons. His eldest son Humphry had indeed but two, but of these, the eldest and heir had two, and the second had six; yet in the estates devolved on a daughter.
John Arscott in had three brothers. Of these the next, Thomas, married a Bligh in , and had four sons. Of these the descendants of one alone can be traced to a certain Roseclear Arscott of Holsworthy, who left four sons; all these died without issue. The son and heir is buried at Whitchurch, near Tavistock, with the laconic entry—"Charles Arscott, gent. The third of the four—of whom John Arscott was the eldest—was Richard, who left four sons. Of these the second, Humphry, was the father of seven, and Tristram, the eldest, of two.
Tristram's family died out in the male line in Of the seven sons of Humphry all traces have disappeared. The  fourth was John Arscott of Tetcott, he, like his elder brothers, a man of good estate. His family became extinct in the male line in The Crymes family, of Buckland Monachorum, was vastly prolific. William Crymes, who died in , had nine sons; of these, as far as is known, only three married—William, Lewis, and Ferdinando.
William left but one son; Lewis had a son who died in infancy, and that son only; Ferdinando had a son of the same name, whose only son died within a year of his birth.
Arminell, a social romance - Wikisource, the free online library
Ellis Crymes, the son of William, and inheritor of the estate, married twice, and had by his first wife, a daughter of Sir Francis Drake, as many as ten sons; by his second wife he had six more. Of the ten first only eight had children; and of the offspring of the second batch of six not a single grandchild male lived. In two generations after this prolific Ellis with his sixteen sons, the whole family disappears.
I do not say that it is absolutely blotted out of the land of the living, but it is no longer represented in the county, nor can it be traced further. I can give an excellent example in my own family, as I have taken great pains to trace all the ramifications.
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In the Visitation of , John Gould of Coombe in Staverton is represented as father of seven  sons; and Prince, who wrote his Worthies of Devon , published in , in mentioning the family, comments on its great expansion; yet of all these sons, who, one would have supposed, would have half peopled the county, but a single male lineal representative remains, and he is over fifty, and unmarried. The Heles were one of the most widely-spread and deeply-rooted families in the West of England. At an assize in Exeter in , when Matthew Hele was high-sheriff, the entire grand-jury, numbering about twenty, was all composed of men of substance and quality, and all bearing the name of Hele.
Where are they now? Vanished, root and branch. Where are the Dynhams, once holding many lordships in Devon? Gone, leaving an empty shell—their old manor-house of Wortham—to show where they had been. In the seventeenth century John Bridgeman, Bishop of Chester, father of Sir Orlando Bridgeman, and ancestor of the Earl of Bradford, bought the fine old mansion, Great Levers, that had at one time belonged to the Lever family, then had passed to the Ashtons.
He reglazed his hall window, that was in four compartments, with coats of arms. In the first light he inserted the armorial bearings of the  Levers, with the motto " Olim " Formerly ; in the next the arms of the Ashtons, with the legend, " Heri " Yesterday ; then his own, with the text, " Hodie " To-day ; and he left the fourth and last compartment without a blazoning, but with the motto, " Cras, nescio cujus " Whose to-morrow, I know not. Possibly one reason for the extinction, or apparent extinction, of the squirarchal families is, that the  junior branches did not keep up their connexion with the main family trunk, and so in time all reminiscence of cousinship disappeared; and yet, this is not so likely to have occurred in former times, when families held together in a clannish fashion, as at present.
When Charles, thirteenth Duke of Norfolk, had completed his restoration of Arundel Castle, he proposed to entertain all the descendants of his ancestor, Jock of Norfolk, who fell at Bosworth, but gave up the intention on finding that he would have to invite upwards of six thousand persons. In the reign of James I. In this case the noble race of Montague has lasted, and holds the Earldom of Sandwich, and the Dukedom and Earldom of Manchester. The name of Montague now borne by the holder of the Barony of Rokeby is an assumption, the proper family name being Robinson.
Three of them were lords, and three more knights. The estate of Stowe passed out of the male line with Hester, second daughter of Sir Richard Temple, who married Richard Grenville, and she was created Countess Temple with limitation to the heirs male of her body. This Sir John, who was born at Boston, in the United States, assumed the baronetcy on the receipt of a letter from the then Marquis of Buckingham, informing him of the death of Sir Richard Temple in ; but the heirship has not been proved, and there exists a doubt whether the claim can be substantiated.
Innocent XIII. He thought, and others thought with him, that the Conti family was safe to spread and flourish. Yet, a century later, and not a Conti remained. In the following chapter I will tell the story of the extinction of a family that was of consequence and wealth in the West of England, owning a good deal of land at one time. The story is not a little curious, and as all the particulars are known to me, I am able to relate it with some minuteness. It affords a picture of a condition of social life sufficiently surprising, and at a period by no means remote.
I N a certain wild and picturesque region of the west, which commands a noble prospect of Dartmoor, in a small but antique mansion, which we will call Grimstone, lived for generations a family called Grym. This family rose to consequence after the last heralds'  visitation, consequently did not belong to the aboriginal gentry of the county. It produced a chancellor, and an Archbishop of Canterbury. The family mansion is still standing, with granite mullioned windows and quaint projecting porch, over which is a parvise. A pair of carved stone gate-posts give access to the turf plot in front of the house.
The mighty kitchen with three fireplaces shows that the Gryms were a hospitable race, who would on high days feed a large number of guests, and the ample cellars show that they did more than feed them. I cannot recall any library in the house, unless, perhaps, the porch-room were intended for books; if so, it continued to be intended for them only. The first man of note in the family who lived at Grimstone was Brigadier John Grym of the Guards, born in , a fine man and a gallant soldier. He had one son, of the same name as himself, a man amiable, weakly in mind, and of no moral force and decision of character.
His father and mother were a little uneasy about him because he was so infirm of purpose; they put their heads together, and concluded that the best thing to do for him was to marry him to a woman who had in abundance those qualities in which their son was deficient. Now there lived  about four miles off, in a similar quaint old mansion, a young lady of very remarkable decision of character. She was poor, and one of a large family. She at once accepted the offer made her in John Grym's name by the Brigadier and his wife, and became Madame John Grym, and on the death of the Brigadier, Madame Grym, and despotic reigning queen of Grimstone, who took the reins of government into her firm hands, and never let them out of them.
The saying goes, when woman drives she drives to the devil, and madame did not prove an exception. The marriage had taken place in ; the husband died six years later, but madame survived till Throughout the minority of her eldest son John, that is to say, for sixteen or seventeen years, she had the entire, uncontrolled management of the property, and she managed pretty well in that time to ruin the estate. She was a litigious woman, always at strife with her neighbours, proud and ambitious.
Her ambition was to extend the bounds of the property, but she had not the capital to dispose of to enable her to pay for the lands she purchased, and which were mortgaged to two-thirds of their value. She borrowed money at  five and six per cent. She attended the parish vestries, where she made her will felt, and pursued with implacable animosity such farmers or landowners as did not submit to her dictation.
She drove a pair of ponies herself, but  whilst driving had her mind so engaged in her schemes that she forgot to attend to the beasts; they sometimes ran away with her, upset her, and she was found on more than one occasion senseless by the roadside, and her carriage shattered hard by. As her affairs became worse, more and more intricately involved, she began to be alarmed lest she should be arrested for debt. For security she had a house or pavilion erected in which to take refuge should the officers of the law come for her.
This had a secret chamber, or well, made in the thickness of the walls, accessible from an upper loft through a trap-door. When she had received warning that she was being looked for, she fled to the loft. The trap was raised, and madame was lowered into the well on a carpet or sheet, then the trap was closed and covered with a mat.