Brittons Farm is a dairy farm in the small hamlet of Goldsworthy, between Alwington and Parkham in North Devon.

My research into Brittons Farm has led me to believe that it may have been the home of our Hartland Brittons ancestors who arrived in the Parkham/Alwington area in the late 16th century before ultimately leaving to settle in Hartland, a few miles to the West, in the mid-18th century.

When I spotted Brittons Farm on the map, I immediately contacted the current owners to see if they knew anything about the origins of the farm’s name but they knew nothing. It was too much of a coincidence for there to be a Brittons Farm in the exact area that our ancestors settled without it having some connection with them. So I started to research.

The first Britton to arrive in the Parkham/Alwington area was Lewis Britton. He married Alice Southcott in Westleigh by Bideford in 1571 but soon moved to Parkham where he and Alice had several children including Thomas born in 1574. Thomas in turn had a son, John, born in 1616. This John married Ann (surname unknown) in the midst of the English Civil War. One of John and Anne’s children was Anthony who was born in Alwington in 1664. He later married Hester Fryer in Alwington in 1705.

The 1674 Hearth Tax records show that Ann Britton (widow of John Britton b 1616 and mother of Anthony b 1664) was paying tax on ‘one hearth’ in Alwington, but this could well have actually been at Goldsworthy or Worthyeat in the parish of Parkham due to the fact that these hamlets were owned by the Coffins of Alwington, so may well have shown up on the Alwington records.

In the North Devon Records Office I found a document which suggests that in 1727, Anthony Britton had a connection with Goldsworthy where Brittons Farm is today. It shows that, on the 20 March 1727, an: “Inventory of the goods of Nicholas Gholwill of Goldworthy in Parkham, gent., deceased. [Was] Valued by Anthony Britton and Richard Shutt, both of Parkham (4pp.)

I then looked into the Land Tax records for Parkham and found that in 1780, there was a property described as ‘late Brittans, Wordgate’ and another described as ‘late Brittans, Goldsworthy’. The area called Wordgate or sometimes ‘Worthyeat’, was a hamlet close to Goldsworthy. Both these properties were owned by Richard Coffin Esquire, Lord of the Manor in Alwington, and neither was currently occupied by Brittons. The word ‘late’ before the description of the property means that it had picked up the name even though the occupier with that surname no longer living there.

The fact that there were no Brittons living in either property fits with my research, as by 1780, the Britton surname had moved on to Hartland.

There are two entries in the 1800 Land Tax records, one for ‘Brittans, Worthyeat’, and one for ‘Britans, Goldsworthy’, both still owned by Richard Coffin Esquire. By 1830, the properties are described as ‘Brittons, Worthyeat’ and ‘Brittons, Goldsworthy’, the spelling which continues to this day.

One interesting point is that Goldsworthy and Worthyeat/Wordgate, although in the parish of Parkham, were owned by the Coffin family of Alwington, which could explain why some of the Britton births, deaths and marriages turn up in both the Parkham and the Alwington parish records.

I think it’s entirely possible that the Britton ‘clan’ of Parkham and Alwington were living in the area of what is now Brittons Farm in Goldsworthy from the time of Lewis Britton in the late 16th century up until the time when John Britton moved away to Hartland (via Woolsery) in the mid-18th century.

Whether or not the Britton family lived at what is now Brittons Farm in Goldsworthy for two hundred years or for a shorter period during the early 18th century, it’s pretty clear that they lived there long enough for the Britton name to become attached to the property. It’s also clear that the farm and surrounding area has a strong connection with the family that later became the Hartland Brittons.