Colebrooke - Reverend Isidore Dampré

Isidore Daimpré was born in Dublin in 1841, the son of a barrister. He graduated BA from Trinity College Dublin in 1866. The following year he was ordained at Exeter Cathedral and became a curate in Cornwall, successively in St Ives, St Agnes, Carnmenellis and Mount Hawke, before his appointment as a naval chaplain in 1873. In 1870 he married Sarah Drake, daughter of the Vicar of Halsetown, St Ives.

They had three sons and then in October 1877, twins – a son and a daughter – were born in Portsea, Hampshire. Shortly afterwards his wife died in Portsea, apparently of Typhoid Fever. He remained in the Navy and the children were probably looked after in Dublin, where his only daughter died when almost a year old.

In 1880 he left the Navy and was appointed Vicar in Timsbury, Hampshire, for three years; He then married, in Dublin, Mary Jane Wolfe, and had temporary posts in Exeter until his appointment as Vicar of Colebrooke in September 1885.

On 7 October he appointed 25 year old Jane Harvey, previously a waitress at the White Hart Inn, Okehampton, as a domestic servant. She accepted the position but asked for the first Sunday off. She had made plans to meet her boyfriend. That Sunday morning they took the train from Crediton into Exeter where they hired a small rowing boat from the Port Royal Inn. They were seen to get into difficulties on the river. The boat was swept over Trew’s weir and swamped and they both drowned. Her body was found shortly afterwards but his not until the following day. He was later identified as Robert Tucker, 30, a jeweller from Okehampton. His silver watch had stopped at 10.27. Around the neck of the female deceased was a silver necklace and locket, and the latter contained a miniature photo of Tucker.

Daimpré was not universally welcomed to Colebrooke, as some parishioners objected to his high church stance. However they immediately set about fund raising for restoring the church, including removing the gallery that had been erected in 1832.

Jan 1886: COLEBROOKE. An entertainment was given the Schoolroom on Wednesday evening. The Rev. I. Daimpré, of the Parish, exhibited a series of photographic views, enlarged by the magic-lantern, comprising a voyage to India, the Suez Canal, and the Cape of Good Hope, places and persons of interest in those countries, and many other of England's possessions. The Vicar, having visited all these during his connexion with the British Navy, was able to graphically describe them. The audience much appreciated the intellectual treat afforded them. Music and songs were interspersed, voluntarily rendered by Miss Hirtzal, Okehampton, and Mr. John Algar, of Exeter. The proceeds will be devoted to the fund for the church bells.


In November 1887, he was sued for bankruptcy.

THE AFFAIRS OF THE VICAR OF COLEBROOKE was the newspaper headline. He had £1200 debts. The Official Receiver said that there had been “unjustifiable extravagance”.


Creditors later received 6s 8d to the pound

In April 1890 there was a court case in Exeter when Robert Jewell, landlord of the Bell Inn in Colebrooke, sued Rev Daimpré for non payment of £6 9s 9d, the price of beer, stout and cider “supplied to his workers”. Daimpré countersued for £6 14s for hay supplied and rent due. Both parties ended up ordered to pay the other somewhat less than they had demanded, and their own costs. Two months later, he was back in court suing his churchwardens for non-payment of a charitable bequest to the parish. This case was thrown out.

At the end of August he was insolvent again, sued by the creditor who bailed him out to the tune of over £400 in 1887. Daimpré claimed that he had been ill for a couple of months and had been “compelled to take a change of air”, and that with seven children, his income was “nothing better than starvation”. Daimpré had to sell up and all his belongings were auctioned by the Official Receiver.

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