The Cudmores of Shobrooke and Crediton

Matthew Cudmore was born in Shobrooke in 1695. He married Dorothy Brownscombe there in 1721 and they had five children.

Their eldest son, William was born in Shobrooke in 1727. About ten years later the family moved to Crediton



In April 1749, Matthew Cudmore and his son William were arrested in Exeter on suspicion of stealing several horses from Mr Robert Leat in Somerset. Cudmore had in his possession three black horses, a bay horse and a bay mare that he couldn’t account for. The Cudmores were examined before a magistrate and remanded in the County Gaol.


At the July Devon assizes in Exeter they were both found guilty and sentenced to death. After the assizes the judges commuted William’s sentence to one of transportation for 14 years.


Matthew, 54, was hanged on the 4th of August 1749 from a tree at the gallows at Heavitree, just outside Exeter. His body was buried later that day in Crediton.


In 1750, William was transported to Virginia, then a British colony in North America. However he found his way back to England where he was re-arrested in Bristol in 1752. His explanation of what had happened was reported in the newspapers.

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He was found guilty of being at large while under a sentence of transportation and, aged 25, was one of three men hanged at St Michael’s Hill in Bristol on 24 April 1752.

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