I had it said to me (in manner bold)
the title 'Interesting' is much too cold
towards all who's common lot
is drudgery in weather cool or hot.
But "Nay!", I said, "that's not meant to be,
it's hard to set a title that all could agree;
I settled on 'Interesting', please know,
to keep it short, and line to toe!".
Therefore, PLEASE submit YOUR special story,
of anyone etched in a little glory;
A name once on the lips of local folk, long last, their memory re-awoke!
If you've no story about some hero,
then PLEASE don't submit absolute zero!
There's always some other kind of history,
e.g. a monster, rogue, or source of mystery!
Please send me your contribution to this page
by e-mailing all details to
with the Subject entitled DEVON BIOPICS.
It would be particularly helpful if the item is sent in text or WORD6 format.
Thank you!!

Last updated 14 Jan 2007

Please link to this page for a listing of 30 Famous Devonians , otherwise scroll down to continue.

Developers of the fore-runners to to-day's computers !! Click here

England's foremost 16th c. explorers and colonists: Click here

BEAVIS, Richard - 1824-1896 Artist.
(kindly provided by Robin Holmes)
Click here for the complete story.
BLACKMORE, R.D. Author of 'Lorna Doone'. See this webpage for his biopic.
CAPERN, Edward Poet. See my webpage The Postman Poet
COLLINGS, Jesse 1831-? (d. post-1900) Politician. From 'Exmouth Milestones' by E.R. Delderfield, 1948.
(kindly provided by Robin Holmes)
A very close friend of the remarkable 19th c. politician, Joseph Chamberlain (father of subsequent Prime-Minister Neville) at Birmingham. Jesse Collings, known in parliamentary history as the 'three acres and a cow' M.P. was born in 1831 at No place, Exmouth, and sprang from the ranks of agricultural labourers. No Place was a small Court approached by a covered way, which occupied the site where now the last three houses of Raleigh Villas (Rolle Street end) stand. The Court was complete with its pump and was still standing in 1885. Jesse Collings was apprenticed to an ironmonger, Plimsoll, who was in business on the Strand. He did not enter parliament until he was fifty years of age, and during his Parliamentary life did useful service by airing the grievances of the agricultural labourer. He was a member for the Bordesley Division of Birmingham, in the Liberal-Unionist interest, and was devoted to his friend and patron, Mr Joseph Chamberlain. In 1885 he was appointed a member of the Cabinet but was unseated as an M.P. later, on petition for bribery by one of his agents at Ipswich. In connection with Jesse's early history at Exmouth, there is the story of one Sally "Blidder", ...... Sally obtained her name by the fact that two lads - one of whom was Jesse - were carrying a bucket of pigs blood, when to give the poor woman a fright, they tipped it over her, crying, 'Let's blid her'.
FAGGUS, Tom - 17th c. Highwayman. See the last portion of my webpage on 'Lorna Doone'.
LERWILL, Frederick bn. 1891 (Combe Martin), d. ca. 1970. Farmer. From The Hampshire Farmer ca.1950 .......It is right, therefore, that leaders, both local and national, should be acquainted with the agriculture of other lands. In Mr. Lerwill the county has a man who knows something of the picture " down under ", for he spent two years in Australia and some sixteen years in New Zealand " one of the best places on earth " to quote his own words. It was as an Anzac that he served with the colours during World War I......Click here for the complete story.
LERWILL, (Brigadier) Godfrey - 1910-1991 Soldier. Reported in The Daily Telegraph. Brigadier 'Loppy' Lerwill, sometime of the Sikh Regiment, who has died aged 80, won an immediate M.C. for his stalwart defence of Datta Kuel in the summer of 1938. The fort, 10 miles from the Afghan frontier, was a regular target for attacks by Wazir tribesmen who were well equipped with rifles and artillery. Lerwll's command consisted of 150 trained Tochi scouts and a small garrison of Khatracks, Mohmands and Yusufzais. But the sieging force of several thousand had blown up bridges and mined the only road along which relief could come and as the whole frontier was ablaze under the incitement of the Faqir of Ipi, the chance of early reinforcements were negligible. .....Click here for the complete story.
LERWILL, William - 1842-1931 Clockmaker.....Click here for the complete story.
LERWILL, William - 1896-1934 A Haunting Suicide.....Click here for the complete story.
NORTON, William - 1822-1888 A Notable Exeter Man.
(kindly provided by Ann Franklin)
.....Click here for the complete story.
NORTON, William John Jenkins - 1831-1906 A Notable Exeter Man.
(kindly provided by Ann Franklin)
.....Click here for the complete story.
NORTON, Rev.Prof. William Alfred - 1870-1962 A Notable Exeter Man.
(kindly provided by Ann Franklin)
Born 1870 in Exeter, Devon, son of William & Mary Ann Norton (nee Hanson). An Anglican priest and accomplished philologist, he went to Africa from England in 1901. He worked in missions in Lesotho, Orange Free State, and held the first chair of Bantu philology at University of Cape Town 1920. He strongly advocated the necessity for correct training and preparedness for missionaries. It was said of him: He was one of those amazing people with a gift for languages, like Bishop de Cat or Dr Doug Ellis of Ottawa parish. He said matins and evensong each day in a mixture of Greek, Hebrew and Latin. If there were hymns he liked, he'd say them in French, German, Italian. Before the outbreak of the First World War he had much enjoyed a conversation in Latin with the last Cardinal Prince Archbishop of Bohemia. After obtaining an MA and a B Litt from Oxford he entered the novitiate of the Society of the Sacred Mission at Kelham in Nottinghamshire where, I am sure, he led a spartan and busy life. After profession his order sent him to the Kingdom of Lesotho, where SSM was responsible for varied missionary endeavours. Witchcraft and attendant ritual murders were a great problem, which a later bishop tried to combat by importing contemplative nuns to pray and pray. The country was and remains dirt poor. Fr Norton would have had to get about on horseback, for the Kingdom seems to be all mountain and no roads. Here he fell in love with the languages of Southern Africa. Years later he was the first person to occupy the chair of Bantu Languages at the University of Cape Town.
RACKLEY, (Captain) Stephen - 1816-1903 Sailor. From "History of Sunderland - Sunderland Notables"
(kindly provided by John Burlinson)
As an example of courage and great kindness an incident in the career of the late CAPTAIN STEPHEN RACKLEY may be recorded. Captain Rackley had a record of fifty-two years service in the Sunderland Lambton Colliery ships. He was at Hamburg with his vessel on the occasion of the great fire in 1842. Together with his officers and crew he assisted in subduing the flames and rescuing the people from the burning houses. He afterwards accommodated a large number of women and children, who were homeless, on board his vessel. For his prompt assistance and kindness he was presented with the freedom of the City of Hamburg, together with a commemoration medal, cast from the Cathedral bells, which were damaged by the fire. Capt. Rackley died at Sunderland in 1903 in his eighty-eighth year, and he will long be remembered for his many sterling qualities and his genial disposition. Stephen White Rackley was a Devon man. He was christened at Kenton, Devon, 29th July 1816, parents William Rackley & Sarah ?. No further information on his actual birth or parents.
STATT, Daniel - 1822-1894 A Prolific Progenitor.
(kindly provided by Diana Statt)
Diana Statt says: "My gggrandfather, Daniel Statt was born in Chagford, Devon, in 1822. Sometime around 1854 he moved to the Channel Island of Jersey, where between them, he and his eldest son had 42 children. The great number attributed to him alone was a point of confusion because he and his son William were having children concurrently for many years. Daniel Statt died on Jan 20, 1894 in St. Saviour, Jersey, and he fathered children until 2 years prior to his death. In the Jersey Evening Post, dated Thursday, 14 April, 1988, the following article appeared."
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