The First Shapcotts of Knowstone
The first Shapcotts of whom we have any clear record appear on a family tree at the time of the Royal Visitation of 1620.
In Vivian’s version of the family tree the surname is spelt in four different ways
From this pedigree we can derive the earliest date that the Shapcott family were living at East Knowstone was 1350.
These were two brothers: William and Simon. William heads the Shapcote family tree, and had a son named Simon.
This pedigree concludes with Phillip Shapcott “of Shapcott”, who died on the 31st August 1703.
His gravestone can be found in the Knowstone Parish Church.
Many of the Shapcote family’s names are to be found amongst the registers, gravestones and memorials of St Peter’s Church in Knowstone, where the Shapcott family worshiped, and also in the parish registers of the surrounding villages, such as: Bishops Nympton, West Anstey, Molland, North Molton and South Molton.
The farm previously known as Chenutdestana now was called: “Shapcott” or SHAPCOTT BARTON.
The meaning of the word “Barton” is “farm building or barn”.
The Shapcotts of Knowstone were involved in sheep farming from at least the 14th century, wool being a prosperous industry at that time,
and thus they took on our distinctive surname.
They could well have become known in the district as: "the sheep cote people", and the property they occupied as "the sheep cote farm" (or barton).
Note: It should also be considered that as well as the owners of the farm, families who worked and probably lived on or around the farm, could also have become known as belonging to the “Sheepcote family or farm" and thus also acquired the surname of Shapcote or a name of some similar spelling.
This early pedigree formed the basis for further research by J.L. Vivian in 1895, when writing his book “Visitations Of The County Of Devon”.
Below is Vivian’s own version of this family tree, as completed with the use of the appropriate parish registers.