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About the study

All Westaway Family members descend from probably one source. The first mention of the name was in the 15th century and for several hundreds of years they lived mainly in one area around Okehampton, Devon, mainly in the parishes of South Tawton, Belstone, Inwardleigh and Sampford Courtenay

The Westaways were a typical rural England family, living in one small area of Devon for centuries. What is unique is the research, Bob Westaway's extraction of the early Manorial records of Sampford Courtenay, the many early wills and poor law records have given us an amazing insight into their lives from 1500 - 1850. The Distribution Map of the Westaway Name from 1524 - 1674 shows clearly the name was predominantly found around the Okehampton area of Devon.

Variant names

Variants of the name are Westway, Westawaye and Wastaway.

Name origin

The first deeds that mention the Westaway name are to be found in the Calendar of Deeds transcribed by Tinsley. In 1541 there was a bargain and sale by John Westawaye of Dolton to John Martyn of all his messages, lands etc in Morchynton in Throwleigh. Morchington is a farm west of a place called Waye which was part of the Rushford Manor of Chagford, Devon and it is possible this is where the origins of the Westaway name came from, West of Waye.

Historical occurrences of the name

The manorial deeds as listed in the Westaway Chronicle start as early as 1504 with a John Westaway at Lydcott, Belstone, Devon and by the mention of many of the names it appears that the Westaways held this property for a number of years and it is quite probable that the Inwardleigh Westaways came via a son of this John who may have married an Ellis hence the name Elyce that appears frequently in the early Inwardleigh Westaways. There are many incidences of Reddaway, Westaway & Ellis marriages and as most of them were farmers or trades connected to farming, such as tanners or weavers, initially these farms changed hands according to whom they married. Some of the farms mentioned in the manorial deeds are Apple Donford, Boscombe, Coombe, Coscombe, Donaford, Golberton, East Cliston, Ventown, Honeycott, Mollis More, Northwood, Radcomb, Reddaway, Lydcott and Arscott. The Westaway's living in Plymouth during the 1600's, were from the Okehampton area but moved there to take advantage of the new exciting exploration of New England. One John Westaway is named as a supplier of goods in the early Newfoundland records and it is probable the branch around Cornworthy were also involved in this trade, supplying meat and provisions. The wool from the sheep was used for serge weaving and most of this was done by the wives in their little cottages and this would also have been exported to New England for clothing as well as being used by the local community. Some of the Westaways in Belstone were thatchers, others butchers, and one branch living in South Tawton in the early 1700's were physicians and druggists.

Some Notable Westaways are :-

Julia Westaway (1820 -€“ 1901) whose picture is at the top of the page. She used her inheritance money to finance charity projects such as educating Jersey boys to become gardeners and fruit growers and clothing for the orphans in Dr Barnado's home at Teighmore, Gorey, She also presented a painting by John H Lander called 'Assize d'Heritage' to the States of Jersey and this now hangs in the Court House, When she died she left everything, (an estate worth £80,000 - £90,000) to charity. Julia gave £10 to the founding of the Creche for poor children in St Helier and £4,000 towards its maintenance, She left money to set up a charity to provide 'poor christian childrenwith shoes' and to this day most Jersey schools have a cupboard full of Gym shoes provided by Julia. The will was contested by her nephew John on the grounds she was senile at the time the will was written, however he failed to win and the money went towards helping the poor children of Jersey.

John Nathaniel Westaway -€“ sister of Julia. John Nathaniel died in 1870 when the ship he was sailing in was in a collision of the coast of Jersey. . It was Mr Westaway who very humanely assisted in saving Miss Clara Godfrey of Jersey and the last man who left the ship said that no person exceeded in coolness and courage or in attempts to save passengers than Mr Westaway.. It was certain that Mr Westaway and Mr Kinlock might have saved themselves if they had preferred their own safety to that of others. Mr J. N. Westaway, at his last moment when standing on the ill-fated ship, and asked to get into the boat of rescue, exclaimed 'No, I am in God's hands'. A Monument to this tragedy was erected in 1871 in St Helier, Jersey. Money was also raised by public subscription for a memorial to John Nathaniel Westaway. It has a stone base with a cast relief of the head of John Nathaniel on the side, Above this is a large cast dolphin entwined around and anchor. The whole appears to have been designed as a fountain although never used as one, It originally stood by the weighbridge, but was later moved to be on the Victoria Pier beside the Harvey Memorial. John was also a public figure and at the time of his death the President of the Jersey United Club, where his portrait hangs above an upstairs fireplace.

Harry Westaway,sen, Harry Westaway,jun & Bill Westaway of Belstone, Devon and "€œTom Pearse"€ It was whilst Baring-Gould was seeking old people who could recall the words and music of the old Devon songs, around 1880, that he first received the words of 'Tom Pearce' from Harry. These words were written down by Baring-Gould in Harry's farm of Priesticott, in Belstone. . Baring-Gould used to ride up from Lew to pursue his researchs on northern Dartmoor, which he reached by following the wild ways of the Tavy, the less famous but beautiful Amicombe, and the Brimbrook. In a heather bank near the head waters of the lonely Bambrook, he had a chache of mineral waters and biscuits, replenished weekly by the Westaway family. The arrangement continued for many years, and was ended only by Baring-Gould's death in 1924. The Westaways, father and sons, were also employed by him to mark or cut tracks through the peat-veins, over wide areas of which no horse can pass. The most ambitious of these pioneering experiments was being planned when he died.

Westaway & Westaway Stores, Great Russell Street, Knightsbridge, London, one of London'€™s oldest specialist Scottish Knitwear retailers. Sometime in the early 1900's Frederick Charles Westaway & Henry Mark Westaway moved to London from Devon. Frederick Charles married Louisa Bromby in 1906 in Lambeth and their three children, Frederick Charles, born 1906, John Christopher, born 1913 and Raymond Mark, born 1920, were all born there. Henry Mark married Dorothy Narina Elliot in 1918 in St George Hanover Square but they had no chldren. When the business of Westaway & Westaway was established it seems from Henry Mark's will that he was a major share holder and that John Christopher was the entrepreneur behind the business. Henry was a Textile Merchant and died in 1968 and was then living at 4, Henty Avenue, Dawlish, Devon. His estate was worth £67,907.00.

Westaway Sausages -€“ these delicious sausages are sold in many major stores such as Tesco. The name was chosen when Steve Turtin bought the butchery business from Dennis Westaway. Dennis descends from the Belstone Westaways and is still making his famous hogs puddings in the factory even though he is now nearly 90 years of age.

Robert Cecil Westaway author of The Westaway Chronicle and one of the founder members of the Westaway research. After his retirement in 1985 he decided to trace his Westaway family tree and recorded this in the book, The Westaway Chronicle which is a brilliant documentation of the early family and includes extracts from the Sampford Courtenay Court Rolls.

Roger Dart Westaway -€“ He emigrated to Prince Edward Island in Canada in 1820 and was the progenator of many eminent Westaways in Canada. They were farmers & shipbuilder and later senators & surgeons.

Alan Westaway, actor recently starring in The Bill and has appeared in many other television programmes and theatres.

Dr. David Westaway, descendant of the Sampford Courtenay Westaway family, now of the University of Toronto,Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases, is a molecular biologist with a special interest in the use of genetically-engineered 'transgenic' mice to recreate and decipher human neurologic disorders. He obtained a first class degree in Biochemistry from the University of Sussex, England. He than went on to complete his PhD at St Mary's Hospital Medical School, University of London, under the guidance of Prof. Bob Williamson FRS. Dr Westaway is also involved in studies of Alzheimer Disease with Drs. Peter St George-Hyslop and Paul Fraser of the CRND.

William Westaway 1840-1908 -Bradworthy to Ontario, Canada - his poems which have been preserved are an original documentation of life in Devon & Canada in the last century

Distribution of the name

In 1841 the Westaway name was found mainly in Devon with the largest cluster of Westaways around the Okehampton area. By 1891 the migration had started and the largest cluster of Westaways was around the Newton Abbot & Torquay areas of Devon and Bradworthy area in North Devon. They had also moved to Cornwall, Somerset, London & South Wales.


The Westaway information on the website includes searchable databases and is as follows:-

Searchable on-line Databases