Emanuel was born and baptized in approximately 1771. An official record for this event is yet to be located.

Emanuel was the 15th of Thomas and Joan Underdown’s (nee Cox) 18 children. He was their 10th and youngest son. His siblings were Sarah, Jane (Jenny), Robert, Abraham, Thomas, James, Phillip, Samuel, Benjamin, Joseph, Elizabeth, Molly, Agnes, Noah, Anne (died young), Susanna and Ann.

Death of Siblings[]

Being one of 18 children, a few of his siblings died before Emanuel was married. The first was his sister Anne, who died before 1775 when his youngest sister with a similar name was born. Next was his eldest sister Sarah, who did in 1783 at the age of 33.

Witness to Marriage[]

Emanuel was witness to his sister Agnes’ marriage in 1794, along with his sister Susanna.


Emanuel married Mary Mitchell on 27/1/1795 in Colyton in Devon. She was the daughter of Philip and Elizabeth Mitchell (nee Upham). She was a sister to John Mitchell, who married Emanuel’s youngest sister Anna. Witnesses to the marriage were Robert Underdown (Emanuel’s older brother) and Joseph Mitchell (likely to be another brother to Mary). Emanuel was recorded as being of Farway at the time of his marriage.


Hornshayne Farmhouse, photo courtesy of

Emanuel’s father died in April 1795, three months after Emanuel married. The will of his brother Samuel states that Samuel and his brother Robert inherited land from their father. It is unknown if Emanuel inherited anything at this time, but it is likely that he may have taken the lease to Hornshayne Farm from his father. This is due to references in the National Archives to a Thomas Underdown on the Hornshayne property prior to Emanuel’s presence there.

The property of Hornshayne Farm covered the corner of three or four parish tithes in East Devon – Farway, Colyton, Northleigh and Southleigh. The land was owned by Sir E.S. Prideaux, Bart, who was lord of the manor at Netherton in the parish of Farway. It appears that Emanuel’s father was a tenant farmer on the property, and may have passed the lease down to son Emanuel, who began baptizing his children in the Farway parish in approximately 1800.

The contract for Northleigh Farm in Samuel Underdown's will.


Not only did Emanuel inherit the lease to the Hornshayne Farm, he appears also to have inherited his parent’s penchant for having a large family. Although full evidence of all these children is not available at this time, it appears that he had 18 children. They were Elizabeth in 1795, Joseph Upham in 1796, Benjamin in 1797, Mary in 1799, Susanna in 1800, Rebecka Mitchell in 1801, Anajoan in 1803, Fanney in 1804, Thomas in 1805, Edwin in 1806, Angelina in 1807, Virginia in 1809, Robert Emanuel in 1810, Emma in approximately 1811, Silas in 1813, Melita in 1816, Jesse Thomas in 1817, and Caroline in 1821. Wife Mary was mostly pregnant for approximately 26 years of her life.

It is interesting in that the will Emanuel left on his death only mentions 8 of their children. This is the only document that mentions child Emma at this stage. The children who are not mentioned are Mary (still alive at her father’s death), Susanna (still alive at her father’s death), Rebecka (dead by 1835), Anajoan (death unknown), Fanney (death unknown), Thomas (death unknown), Edwin (still alive at his father’s death), Angelina (dead by 1824), and Virginia (still alive at her father’s death). Daughters Mary, Susanna and Virginia were all married at the time and it could be that he did not include them as he saw them as being supported by their husbands.

Land Tax Redemption[]

According to Land Tax Redemption Records for 1798, Emanuel was an occupier of land owned by his brother Robert in the parish of Southleigh. He was also an occupier of land in the parish of Farway that was owned by a member of the Marwood family, a Mr Tucker and a Mr Underdown. I believe this location is the Hornshayne property, but who the Mr Underdown was who owned part of the property is not clear. He was also a tenant on land of the Marwood family at Colyton.

Newspaper References[]

According to the Sherborne Mecury newspaper dated 20/2/1804, a Mr Underdown of Hornshayne, near Honiton, had lost a mare. This reference is to Emanuel.

According to several issues of Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post (dates of 5/9/1805, 11/9/1806, 20/9/1810, 14/09/1820), the Exeter & Plymouth Gazette (13/09/1828), and The Western Times (26/12/1835), Emanuel Underdown was listed with persons who had obtained game-keeper’s certificates, at the rate of three guineas each, in the County of Devon. In the 1805 edition, Emanuel was listed at Southleigh, in the 1806 issue he was recorded at Farway & in 1810 he was listed of Farwood Manor, appointed by James Thomas Marwood. Farwood Manor is in Colyton. In the 1820, 1828 and 1835 articles, he is just listed of Southleigh.

Emanuel listed with his siblings in his brother Thomas's will.

Wills of brothers[]

As the youngest son of the family, Emanuel appears regularly in the wills of his older siblings, taking some type of role. This is likely to be because his older siblings thought that, being younger; Emanuel would still be around to carry out their wishes. Whether Emanuel relished or resented this role is unknown.

Emanuel was an executor of his brother Robert’s will, along with his brother Benjamin. Robert was the oldest brother in the family and had been captain of the East Devon Local Militia, dying in April 1811. Robert appears to have had no wife or children and left debts on his death. The newspaper article that advertised this listed Emanuel as of Hornshayne, Northleigh in 1811. On 3.10.1811, he had to sell a house in order to cover his brother’s debts. Both Emanuel and his brother Benjamin appeared to have suffered as a result of covering this debt for their brother.

Will of Emanuel page 1

Another brother, Samuel, died in 1812 and Emanuel was again named as an executor in his will. According to Samuel’s will, the debts that Emanuel and his brother Benjamin were left with after their brother Robert’s death appear to be the result of Robert purchasing a property that was never paid for during his lifetime. The property was called Northleigh Farm lying in the parish of Northleigh, and Samuel contracted with Emanuel and Benjamin the real estate in trust. The premises consisted of a Barton and farm and had been purchased for the price of five thousand and seven hundred pounds. Samuel instructed his brothers in the will to sell the property to cover the outstanding amount, but it appears that the sale of the property alone may not have been enough. The Taunton Courier newspaper records Emanuel as executor of the will and lists him of Horshayne in Southleigh on 15/4/1812.


Amongst the Apprenticeship Binding Orders and Miscellaneous papers at the Devon Record Office is a document that describes the discharge of an apprentice from Emanuel’s service (3483 A/PO 28/11). It is dated 1822, and concerns a girl by the name of Elizabeth Snell. The document has not been obtained for viewing at this stage.

The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette of 13/9/1828 has Emanuel Underdown of Southleigh recorded in the game duty listing for that year.

Dispute over Charitable land[]

There is an interesting reference to an Emanuel Underdown in the Colyton district in The Report of the Commissioners Concerning Charities, Volumes 1-2, by T. Besley, 1826. It is unclear at this stage whether this definitely refers to this Emanuel, but the main reference to a Noah Underdown seems to indicate that this does refer to this Emanuel and his elder brother Noah. 4 fields had been given over to the local parish by an unknown donor for use by the poor not receiving parish relief. The fields were approximately 8 acres in total and on Lady Day (the 6th April) 1819, were let by tender (after a notice had been affixed to the church door) to a Noah Underdown. The rent was 141 per annum, subject to a deduction for tithe, at the rate of 3s in the pound. This was a substantially reduced amount on the rent that had been charged to previous tenants, but had been through a gradual process of reduction over the three years.

One of the former tenants was an Emanuel Underdown. Emanuel made a complaint that the letting took place without his knowledge and that the rent Noah had to pay was inadequate. The reference indicates that Emanuel’s complaint was dismissed readily as the letting had been generally known around the district, as had the decline in the rent. Emanuel then suggested that the rector (who was trustee of the properties) was not the trustee of this land, but no trust deeds were available to ascertain this. The rent was collected half-yearly and distributed by the rector and distributed among the ‘industrious poor’.

Property for Lease[]

An article in the Sherborne Mecury newspaper dated 29th of July 1833 indicates that the property of Hornshayne on which Emanuel resided was being advertised to be let for term of 21 years. The article indicated that Hornshayne was situated in the parishes of Colyton, Southleigh, and Farway, and that the lease also extended to a farm called Lower Holnest. It is beleived at this time that Emanuel retained as least some (if not all) of his lease.

Emanuel is again listed in the Game List of persons who obtained game certificates for the year 1835, in the Western Times dated 26/12/1835. The game certificate was for Southleigh, which indicates that he was still on the Southleigh section of the Hornshayne property.

The Northleigh property once held by his brother Robert continued to haunt Emanuel into the year 1836, some 26 years after Robert's death. On this occasion, only the house on the property (called 'Northleigh House') was being targetted for auction, and the advert stated that it was occupied by a 'Mr Underdown' and Mr Samuel White. It is unlikely that Emanuel actually lived in the house himself, and the 'Mr Underdown' mentioned in one of his sons, or even his nephew Robert.

Will of brother Thomas[]

Emanuel is mentioned in the will of his brother Thomas, who died in Widworthy in 1839 of mortification of the leg. Thomas had no wife or children and left some money to Emanuel’s son Joseph Upham Underdown, and all his living brothers and sisters. Emanuel was named as executor of the will (documented in 1835), but appears to not have taken a role in its actual administration. This appears to have all been handled by Thomas’s other executor, Robert Henry Aberdien. Why this occurred is unknown.

Emanuel was the contact for the sale of two properties called Lambrooks and Ryders in September 1839. This was advertised in the newspaper The Western Times on the 28th September that year. This could have been the extent of his involvement in the sale of property from brother Thomas' estate, or some other property he himself was involved with.

Tithe Apportionment[]

Will of Emanuel pg 2

The Northleigh Tithe Apportionment (dated to approximately 1840) lists an Emanuel Underdown as owner occupier of land plots 139 to 158. Emanuel is recorded as living next to a William Tucker, who is mentioned in family information provided by Maxine Cadzow about Emanuel’s brother, Samuel. He resided on his property, which included a garden, Townsend Orchard and Common, 34 acres of arable land and 10 meadow plots. (This indicates that Emanuel took over the land once occupied by his brother Benjamin called Townsend).

On the Hornshayne section of Northleigh (plots 137 & 138, plus 341-356), a Samuel Underdown is listed as landowner, and a Gideon Ware Gideon occupying the land. The most likely candidate for this Samuel is Emanuel’s nephew (son of brother Samuel), but considering he was an ironmonger in Langport by 1851, another Samuel Underdown may need to located. Our Emanuel is not known to have had a son called Samuel. Son Robert appears to be located on plots 159-161, while he allows Mary Anne Halfyard to occupy plots 376-381 and 417-421.

The Southleigh Tithe Apportment (also dated to approximately 1840) lists Emanuel as occupier of Hornshayne from plots 22-55, which are owned by Sir Edward Marwood Bart Elton. This was the section of land for which he had a gaming license. The land Emanuel occupied called Hornshayne coved a section that crossed into a number of the different Tithe boundaries, as he is also listed in the Farway Tithe Appointment at plots 741-756, on land owed by John Inglett Fortescue, and the Colyton Tithe Apportionment, plots 1999-2030 owned by Sir Edward Marwood Elton. This would explain why his children were being baptized in a number of different locations.

Will of Emanuel pg 3

1841 census[]

Emanuel is listed at Hornshayne Farm, Southleigh in the 1841 census, with wife Mary and daughter Melita. Others located on their farm include Emma Pady, Henry Pady, Ann Smith (servant), Samuel Snell (servant) and James White (servant).

Will of Emanuel pg 4

Death and Will[]

Emanuel died in Southleigh on 16th April 1845, aged 74 years. His cause of death was recorded as natural decay from age, and witness to his death was daughter Melita. He was buried at Northleigh.

Emanuel left a will naming his friend Samuel White of Northleigh (yeoman and maltster) and his friend Henry Broom of Poltimore in Farway as his executors. (Henry Broom appears as one of his neighbours on the Farway Tithe Appointment for 1840 while Samuel White is his neighbour on the Colyton Tithe Appointment).The will was proved on 17/2/1846 in the Archdeacons Court of Exeter and his effects were sworn to be less than 800 pounds. Despite occupying a lot of land, Emanuel owned only a small amount. This is likely due to having to pay for his brother Robert’s debts.

Emanuel left the sum of one hundred pounds each to his children Jesse Thomas, Joseph Upham, Melita and Caroline. He also left twenty five pounds per year for his wife Mary for the rest of her life. Emanuel deliberately excluded his children Benjamin, Elizabeth (known as Betsey) and Emma from the will, stating that “by reason of their having more than a fair share of my property during my lifetime”.

Estate duty was required to be paid on Emanuel’s death. A copy of this information is located in the Devon Record Office.

Sale of goods and chattels left on Hornshayne[]

After Emanuel’s death, all the property (including livestock and furniture) that he left on the property was sold. This was advertised in the Western Times on 07/03/1846 and 27/03/1847, indicating that it took some time before everything was sold.


Name Birth Death
Children of Emanuel & Mary Underdown

Elizabeth (Betsey) bap 31/12/1795
Northleigh, Devon
alive in 1845

Joseph Upham bap 24/6/1796
bap Northleigh, Devon (born Colyton)
Sep Q 1868
Honiton District,Devon

Benjamin bap 22/6/1797
Northleigh, Devon
alive in 1845

Mary bap 14/3/1799
bap Northleigh, Devon (born Colyton)
March Q 1877
Honiton District, Devon

Susanna bap 16/06/1800
bap Farway, Devon (born Southleigh)

Rebecka Mitchell bap 29/12/1801
Farway, Devon
bur 14/03/1835
buried Northleigh, Devon

Anajoan bap 27/01/1803
bap Farway, Devon

Fanney bap 20/6/1804
bap Northleigh, Devon

Thomas bap 1805
bap Colyton, Devon

Edwin bap 01/01/1806
bap Farway, Devon (born Colyton)
June Q 1852?
Hontion District, Devon

Angelina bap 19/2/1807
bap Northleigh, Devon
buried 02/07/1824
buried Southleigh, Devon

Virginia bap 24/02/1809
Farway, Devon
Sep Q 1888
Exeter District, Devon

Robert Emanuel 22/04/1810
bap Northleigh, Devon (born Colyton)

Melita c1816
Farway, Devon
Sep Q 1887
Totnes District, Devon

Jesse Thomas 26/12/1817
Southleigh, Devon




  • Parish records
  • Genealogical information from Peter Underdown
  • Devon Tithe Apportionment, 1840
  • 1841 census
  • Wills of Thomas, Samuel and Emanuel Underdown
  • Sherborne Mecury, 20/2/1804
  • Trewman's Exeter Flying Post, 5/9/1805, 11/9/1806, 20/9/1810, 3/10/1811, 10/10/1811, 17/10/1811
  • Taunton Courier, 3/10/1811, 15/4/1812
  • Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 13/09/1828, 04/06/1836, 11/06/1836, 18/06/1836
  • Western Times, 26/12/1835
  • Devon Record Office