M*CH*MORE One Name Study
Where do the M*CH*MOREs come from?
Underlining (if any) indicates changes made at the latest
The first M*CH*MORE records come from Devon, England. The earliest records, covering the period from 1243 to the 16th century, are spasmodic, consisting of a few wills, other legal documents and the occasional population return. Systematic records commenced with church records in the 17th century, superseded by civil registration and decennial censuses from the mid-19th century.
The first records of M*CH*MOREs living in England outside Devon come from eastern Cornwall in the mid-16th century. The earliest M*CH*MOREs living outside England are recorded in the United States in the late 17th century and Australia in the early 19th century.
On this page, we examine the first English records in four sections: (1) the earliest isolated Devon records, (2) the early southern South Hams linked records, (3) the early northern South Hams linked records, and (4) the early eastern Cornwall linked records. A discussion of subsequent overseas emigration is available here. We also include some information on two independent M*CH*MORE lines in the USA.
The earliest Devon records
The first extant M*CH*MORE records are as follows.
- C Spiegelhalter, in his 1958 book A dictionary of Devon surnames, has an entry for G de MICHAMORE in 1220 but does not cite his source.
- The earliest known documentary reference to a M*CH*MORE occurs in the Devon Feet of Fines, a record of land transactions dating back to mediaeval times. There it is reported that on 17 May 1243, Richard de MUCHELEMOR bought 1½ ferlings of land in Edelton (modern Ilton, near Malborough) from Richard de CURCHESWELL for a price of 8 marks of silver. (A ferling was about 4 hectares. A mark was two-thirds of a pound sterling.) Spiegelhalter (op. cit.) is undoubtedly referring to the same person when he mentions 'Rd de MICHELMORE 1238'.
- According to O. J. Reichel ('The hundred of Stanborough or Dippeforda in the time of Testa da Nevil, AD1243', Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature, and Art, 1913, XLV, 169-207), the jury of the Stanborough Hundred (an area of South Devon roughly the same as the modern South Hams) reported that Richard Noel, bailiff of Alfyngton [modern Alvington], had taken ½ mark from Nicholas de MOCHELEMORE in 1274.
- Nicholas de MOCHELMOR of West Alvington is also mentioned in the Hundred Rolls of 1274.
- The College of Arms holds a record of an indented deed dated 1328 which shows that Guy de MOCHELMORE had an interest in land in Badeston (modern Bayton, Salcombe) in the parish of Malborough.
- A correspondent has a record showing that one John MICHELMORE paid a groat to the churchwardens of Ashburton in 1334.
- Another entry in the Devon Feet of Fines, dated 28 Jan 1380, records that Richard MICHELMOUR and William MICHELMOUR both held life-long leases on dwellings on an estate in Dydesham (modern Dittisham) belonging to Thomas FYCHET and his wife Ricarda.
- On 27 Oct 1406, again according to the Devon Feet of Fines, John MARTYN, William BURLESTON and Thomas REYMOUND leased from John & Joan CROSSE various properties in Estwere, Bodeleford (Buddleford, Collumpton), Lyneworthy, Badeston (Bayton, Salcombe) and Radewey (Radway, Teignmouth) along with the homages and services of, among others, Peter MOCHELMOUR.
- An unknown source relates that a Robert MYCHELMORE was one of the leaders of a group of men who seized a Spanish ship that put into the bay off Bolt's Head, South Huish, in 1410.
- H R Watkins' Dartmouth (Exeter, 1935) states that Walter MOCHELMOR was a freeman of the borough in 1458.
Extracts of records nos. 2, 7 and 8 are available here.
The next known records are from the period 1480-1550. The surviving documents refer to several M*CH*MOREs resident in East Allington and Kingsbridge as well as to individuals in Ashprington, Hartland, Kingsteignton, Malborough and Slapton. Later 16th century records relate to M*CH*MOREs in Blackawton, Buckfastleigh, Dartmouth, East Allington, Halberton, Halwell, Kingsbridge, Kingston and Ugborough.
These records strongly suggest that the M*CH*MORE surname first arose in the Malborough-West Alvington area (south of Kingsbridge) in Devon and spread outwards from there. This hypothesis is supported by Y-DNA testing, which suggests that most M*CH*MOREs have a common ancestor in the 13th or 14th century. Exactly how the surname spread was rather different in the northern and southern South Hams.
The early southern South Hams records
The southern South Hams
Parish churches began keeping records of baptisms, marriages and burials in the middle of the 16th century, but many of the earliest records have been lost. Even the extant records are difficult to read and in some cases are illegible. It was not until the beginning of the 18th century that reliable records are available for most parishes.
From these parish records and the subsequent civil registration and census records, we have been able to reconstruct five family trees and several subtrees (sequences of past families that cannot yet be fitted into any of the family trees) that originate in the southern South Hams region.
Two family trees (Tree 05 and Tree 09) have been traced back to East Allington in the 16th century, and Tree 02 has been traced back to Stokenham in the following century. Y-DNA testing shows that these three trees are closely related. Two further, unrelated trees have been traced back to the 18th century: Tree 11 to Thurlestone and Tree 13 to Blackawton.
Two large subtrees, Tree 101 and Tree 102 reach back to the 16th century at East Allington and Blackawton, respectively, but it has proved impossible to extend them beyond the 17th century or link them to other trees. Another large subtree, Tree 106, originated in nearby Sherford but many descendants lived in Cornwall before the tree died out in the 19th century.
Apart from these, there are several smaller 17th century subtrees of families located at Bigbury, Chivelstone, Dartmouth, Harberton, Stokenham and West Alvington and a number of 18th century subtrees originating in Chivelstone, Dartmouth, Sherford, South Pool, Stoke Fleming, Plympton and Plymouth.
The following chart shows the relationship between the five southern South Hams trees and the larger subtrees in terms of their time span. Further research may uncover links that allow a reduction in the number of independent trees.
The early northern South Hams records
The northern South Hams
Most of the early northern South Hams M*CH*MOREs were born in Buckfastleigh, with a smaller number coming from Totnes.
Buckfastleigh church records go back to the beginning of the 17th century but a number of factors make it extremely difficult to reconstruct early family relationships:
- The 17th century Buckfastleigh baptismal register did not record mothers’ names.
- No records were kept in the Commonwealth period between September 1642 and October 1653, and there is an inexplicable absence of M*CH*MORE records for the years 1658 to 1672.
- There was only a small number of forenames in use. For example, of the 58 children baptised between 1600 and 1750, over a quarter were called Philip and nearly a half were either John, Robert or William.
As a result, it has often been impossible to link Buckfastleigh children to their parents with any degree of certainty. The best we have been able to do is to reconstruct four family trees (Tree 16, Tree 17, Tree 18 and Tree 19) and three subtrees (Tree 302, Tree 303 and Tree 304). There is also a large number of Buckfastleigh records that cannot be reliably assigned to any of these trees or subtrees (see Tree 351).
Y-DNA testing confirms that Tree 17 and Tree 18 are definitely related. No results are yet available for Tree 16, and there are no surviving male members of Tree 19.
The Totnes M*CH*MOREs constitute Tree 15. Evidence from Y-DNA testing is inconclusive as to whether this tree originated in Buckfastleigh or somewhere in the southern South Hams.
The following chart shows possible connections between the four trees and the three subtrees.
The early eastern Cornwall records
Cornish parishes with M*CH*MOREs
From the available parish records and subsequent civil registration and census records, supplemented by several wills, we have been able to reconstruct one family tree (Tree 20) and two subtrees (Tree 600 and Tree 601) that originated in eastern Cornwall in the triangle between North Hill, Liskeard and St Stephens by Saltash at the beginning of the 17th century.
It seems very likely that these three Cornish lines are related. The following diagram shows some possible links:
Y-DNA testing to date suggests that the Cornish M*CH*MOREs had a completely different origin than any of the Devon trees or subtrees.
The USA MUCH*MOREs
The Muchmore Family Association has traced two MUCH*MORE trees in the USA back to the 17th century in Connecticut and New Hampshire respectively. It seems likely that the progenitors of these two trees were Devon fishermen engaged in the Newfoundland trade who travelled farther down the east coast of the USA. Y-DNA testing confirms this hyphothesis for one of these trees, which has the same Y-DNA spectrum as Tree 02, Tree 05 and Tree 09, but gives no hint on the origin of the other.
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