Devon at the time of the Domesday in 1086

Since so many of our Wheaton/Wheadons etc. harken from Devon I thought perhaps you might like a snapshot of Devon at the time of the Domesday Book about the year 1086. Yes a long time ago.

Approximately 9-10,000 farms of which approximately 8,500 were small outliers worked by “villeins” (bonded peasants)

About 1200 Manor houses

Population ranged from 10-15 per square mile around Exon (Exeter) and Berry Pomery near Totnes) to the sparsely occupied areas of Dartmoor with 2 or less per square mile. The vast majority was in the 5-10 persons per square mile category.

Total population was about 7,000 with Exon having about 1500 of that total.

This would be before the advent of surnames. It does not take much to imagine how manors, farms and occupations would be a source of surnames when they became more prevalent in the 13th and 14th centuries.


1 Comments on “Devon at the time of the Domesday in 1086”

  1. Did that 7,000 include serfs? If it did, we Wheatons whose family came from Devon must have formed a reasonable section of the populace. If it didn’t, maybe many of us were up to our knees in mud for our feudal lord. Given that two of my family groups (cousins) from 1725-1800 had most of their children apprenticed by the Overseers of the Poor, and, in the case of two of them, were subject to Resettlement Examinations, this seems quite likely.

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