The Medical Gentlemen of Bow


About a mile and a half outside Bow in the direction of Okehampton lies Broadnymett. a parish surrounding a manor house, with a church and a list of rectors dating back to 1332.

In the 1880s the church of St Martin, Broadnymett fell into disuse. It was absorbed into the nearby farm and used to house animals.

In 1839 the parish was united with Bow alias Nymet Tracey.

Broadnymett Parish was just 450 acres: In 1774 there were just two families residing in the parish but by 1850 there were about 50 inhabitants mainly working on the farms.


The last baptism to take place in the church at Broadnymett was probably that of Nancy Norrish on 19 July 1790.

Sheep Stealing at Broadnymett - 1835

In 1835 Broadnymett Farm was owned by Thomas Prickman.  He had about 20 agricultural workers, apprentices and servants living and working around the farm.


On 15 January 1835, Prickman noticed that two of his flock of 71 sheep were missing.


The sheep had been butchered, the skins had been thrown into the turnip field. After a search the meat was found in the houses of three of his employees:

Alexander Croote, aged 41

William Coombe, aged 28

Josias Austin, aged 38

All three were married with children


They were accused of sheep stealing and tried at the Devon Assizes in March. They were found guilty and sentenced to be transported for life.

Croote and Coombe were sent to New South Wales, and Austin to Tasmania.

Coombe and Austin remarried and had families in Australia.


This had a devastating effect on their wives and children left behind.

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Disused Church at Broadnymett

Photos by Robin Lucas [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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