The Church at Stoke Canon, England

(Reprinted from October 2004 "Compass," quarterly publication of The Boone Society, Inc.)

The ecclesiastical parish of Stoke Canon is a small community only about five miles north of Exeter, County of Devon in England. Also known as St. Mary Magdalene, this is the church in which George Boone II and Sarah (Uppey/Opie) Boone baptized three of their children, Henry in 1663, George (III) in 1666, and John in 1673. Henry and John both were buried there; Henry at age four months, and John at age 20. George (II) and Sarah were buried there also; George II in 1696 and Sarah in 1708. No tombstones exist today for this family.

The Boone Society’s English Research Committee has copies of the above mentioned baptism and burial records. (See p. 16 or ordering information.)

14th Century Stoke Canon Church
In 1889 the population of Stoke Canon Parish was 426, compared with 1995 of almost 700.

Dave Yelton and Mike Blackford, friends of the Boone Society and this editor, recently visited the little church in Stoke Canon and brought back a booklet, Stoke Canon, A Short History, printed in 1985, and given to them by the Priest-in-Charge, the Rev. Dr. Michael Simpson. In 1301 church records note "that the Church was in possession of many vessels, crosses, vestments, and banners, but a complaint was made that there were no altar frontals. It was also noted that the figure of St. Mary Magdalene over the high altar was old and ill-shaped," so it seems that the church was old even in 1301!

Entrance to St. Mary Magdalene Church at Stoke Canon with a notice posted on door that the church is temporarily closed for repairs.

The book says, "It is probable that the church of Stoke Canon was one of the Doomsday Churches of Devon, and long before the Norman Conquest, there may have been some small rural Oratory of cob, thatched with osiers, served by a priest from St. Peter’s Monastery for the benefit of those who lived on the manor.

"When the Monastery at Exeter was made into Exeter Cathedral in 1050, the endowment of Stoke manor (Stocha) remained with it. The Doomsday Book, compiled in 1086 by order of William the Conqueror, records that Bishop Osbertn, Leofric’s successor, has a Manor called ‘Stocha" which is recorded as being for the support of the Canons (of Exeter Cathedral).

"In 1148 Bishop Robert Chichester of Exeter assigned certain churches for the use of the Canons of the Cathedral, among which was included the Church of Stoke. It would appear from records that there was a dwelling house at Stoke for the Canons of the Exeter Cathedral when not in residence."

Old gravestones at Stoke Canon Church. Inscriptions cannot be read, but one wonders if two of them might be for our George II & Sarah Boone?

Sir Humphrey de Bohun (VIII) was entombed in the Exeter Cathedral. Photographs of the Cathedral and his tomb were shown in the April 2002 Compass. Above his tomb in Exeter Cathedral is a sign, "Sir Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, he married Elizabeth daughter of (King) Edward I, was taken prisoner at the battle of Bannockburn, died 1322." Could it be the closeness of these two churches that caused some to believe our Boone ancestors were related to the royalty line of de Bohun of Exeter? Brought to our attention by Yelton and Blackford is another clue of a Boone-de Bohun relationship which is found in a British periodical, "Notes and Queries," Vol II, Nov. 18, 1916, P. 412, which says, "Mark Noble states that Tho. Boone, M.P., to conceal his obscure origin, pretended descent from the Earls of Hereford. The arms certainly resembled those of the great Bohuns. The transition from Bohun to Boon can be seen in the parish register of Bishop’s Teignton, Devon." All this considered, "expert" researchers still seem to agree such a connection is unlikely.

Inside the Church at Stoke Canon

"In 1640 when Fairfax besieged Exeter, his method of reducing the city to surrender was to establish blockades and garrisons at all points surrounding it. One garrison was at Stoke Canon."

"The first recorded history of the Stoke Canon School shows that the first school here was in 1662, when the schoolmaster was licensed." Since our George Boone (III) was baptized here in 1666, it is quite probable that he attended school at this church.

Stoke Canon Church is badly in need of repairs, which are estimated to cost 300,000 ($551,460 US dollars). Because of the needed repairs, the church is not currently open, and services are being held away from the church.

The Boone Society has been in touch with officials with the Church at Stoke Canon. We want to help them restore the roof of the old church, and they are planning to install a memorial plaque stating the Church is the place where George Boone III (grandfather of Daniel Boone) was baptized in 1666. Please help us repair this precious old church. Donations of any amount will be greatly appreciated. Send your check payable to the Boone Society to Dell Boone Ariola, Treasurer, 12384 Aries Loop South, Willis, TX 77318-5225. Indicate on your check or with a note that you are contributing to the church at Stoke Canon.

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