In Devonshire, Richard’s younger son, Henry, married Matilda Whyte (White), daughter of Roger Whyte of Ottery St. Mary, and had two sons, Richard and John. During Elizabeth's reign this Richard Duke served as Sheriff of Devonshire. Richard and John continued the Devonshire line of the Duke family. Richard’s only son died young, and the line devolved to John’s descendants.

George Duke, who inherited Poer Hayes, went on to establish the Lake, Wilts, branch of the family. Poer Hayes was bought from George Duke by Richard Duke, son of Henry Duke and Matilda Whyte Duke, and later High Sheriff of Devonshire under Elizabeth I.

It fell to another Richard, the son of John Duke, who was son of Henry Duke of Pynne (younger brother of Richard Duke of the Court of Augmentations), to head the Devonshire family during the early 17th century. In 1620 a visitation by the royal herald confirmed the family arms, and noted that Richard was the son of John Duke, who in turn was the second son of Henry Duke. This Henry was the second son of Richard, and was grandson of William Duke, who had been Mayor of Exeter in 1442-61.

Richard Duke married Martha Parker, daughter of John Parker of London, who died on March 1, 1583. This continues the evidence of the London associations of the Devonshire Duke family during this period. He then married Katherine, daughter of George Prideaux of the Manor of Nutwell, on December 9 of the same year.


Nutwell is south of Exeter on the Exe River. The Prideaux were long established in this area. The family was begun in England by Paganus de Prideaux, who held Prideaux Castle in Cornwall under William I, suggesting participation in the Norman Conquest of 1066. Their family crest includes the head of a Saracen, denoting their participation in the crusades.

Herden Prideaux, great-grandson of Paganus de Prideaux and son of Nicholas de Prideaux (died 1169) married the daughter and heiress of Ralph Orcharton, of Orcharton, Devon. This established the Devonshire line of the family, which after the termination of the Cornwall line in 1387 was the senior line.

The Devon family included Sir Jeffrey Prideaux, who died in about 1243; Sir Roger Prideaux, born about 1224; and Sir Ralph Prideaux, born about 1243. In 1346 Thomas Prideaux served in the war in France, presumably at Crécy and Calais, with John Trevaignon of the king's retinue. Other members of the Prideaux family were feoffees of the very powerful Courtenay family, earls of Devonshire. John Prideaux, Knight (died 1403) was the son of Sir Roger Prideaux of Orcherton and Joan, the heiress of Peter Clifford. Sir John was a commissioner of array in Devon between 1379 and 1392, and was a knight of the shire in the parliaments of October, 1383 (with Sir Robert Cornu) and February, 1388 (with Sir Philip Courtenay). He and his family had close connections with the earl. His sister’s son, Robert Scobhull, was another of the earl’s esquires; his cousin, also John Prideaux, married the daughter of Robert French, one of Earl Edward’s lawyers, in the 1390’s. Sir John himself acted as a feoffee of the earl in 1383, and witnessed with him a charter of Thomas Beauchamp. The Nutwell branch, from which Richard Duke’s wife came, was established by a cadet branch of this line.


Richard Duke was buried on March 21, 1606, leaving 14 children by his two marriages. On October 24, 1617, his oldest son, also Richard Duke, matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford University. Students from Devonshire very frequently chose Exeter from among the Oxford colleges. Richard's younger brother, Robert Duke, also matriculated that year. At least five members of the Devonshire Duke of Lake family attended Exeter College, Oxford (Richard, b.1599; Robert, b.1600; Humphrey, b.1611; Richard, b.1652; George, b.1654). Richard's oldest son, Richard, was subsequently disinherited because of “an unsuitable marriage.” We have no information about his unsuitable bride. The younger Robert inherited the Poerhayes estate, after being admitted to the Inner Temple (the Bar) in 1619. An even younger son, Humphrey, emigrated to Barbados in the first years of its colonization, establishing the roots of the Barbados Dukes family. The story of this branch of the Duke family will continue later, as we move on to the time of the English civil war and to the Duke family in America.


Several major branches of the Duke family trace their origins to the Otterton, Devon, family. WILTSHIRE

Michael Duke was the first to lease Lake House near Amesbury, in the 1550’s, as part of the same chantry grants that profited Richard Duke of Devonshire and his friends so well. He was not the only leasee, however. Alice Duke is also listed, having leased “diverse arable lands of the lord’s demesne.” Alice paid £3 13s. Michael paid the sum of “6s 8d p.a. for a good fat swan at the Feast of St. Lucy the Virgin, £3 6s 8d.” Michael Duke is generally said to have come from Devonshire, which is rendered more probable by the chantry grant associations with Richard Duke of Devon.

Amesbury had been described in the Domesday Book (Annotated) as follows: Amesbury Ambles/Ambresberie. King’s land; 3 thanes, the pre-Conquest holders; Osmund from Edward of Salisbury. 8 mills. town on the River Avon; Stonehenge and Woodhenge, both c. 1500 B.C. In A.D.980, Queen Elfrida founded a nunnery there.

As the annotated Domesday noted, the most famous of English prehistoric archaeological sites, Stonehenge, is located in Amesbury Parish, as is the somewhat smaller Woodhenge. Amesbury itself is known in legend as the place where Queen Guinevere died, and from which her body was carried in state to Glastonbury.

The area around Lake includes several very famous English landmarks. Stonehenge is only a few miles away, and Salisbury Cathedral, a few more miles to the southeast, is historically and architecturally important.

In 1570 Michael’s son John leased a farm in Wilsford from George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, for the lives of himself and his children John and Agnes. Michael’s grandson, George, married Dorothy Poer and inherited Poer-Hayes in Devon, but sold this to his cousin Richard. He then purchased Lake House in 1578, establishing this as the family seat that was to survive as such until its sale out of the family in 1897. The house is still intact today, on the road through the Woodford Valley from Salisbury to Amesbury.

In 1086 the estate that later became part of Lake Manor was held by Hugh de Avranches. It seems to have come into the hands of Edward, Earl of Salisbury, in the early 12th century, who gave it to his foundation, Bradenstoke Priory. It continued to be held by the Earl of Salisbury, until sold by the Countess of Salisbury in 1325 to Hugh le Despenser, an acquisitive gentleman who profitted conspicuously from very close relationships with the royal family. After his death the lands were forfeit to the Crown, and might have been granted to William de Montagu with the Earldom of Salisbury in 1337, as part of his substantial reward for assistance to Edward III. The Montagu family retained it until at least 1428, with the exception of the years 1400-1409, when it was forfeit to the Crown. John de Montagu had engaged in rebellion, which was always sure to annoy the Crown. In 1475 Lake House was held by a John Cheyne of Pynne, presumably the same Pynne in Devon where a branch of the Otterton Duke family lived a few years later. Henry Duke, who founded the Pynne branch of the Otterton family, was born in 1462.

Lake Manor then went through a variety of owners until the mid-sixteenth century. At that time, Lake House was held by the wardens of the fraternity and guild of St. Anne, Croscombe (Somerset). The crown leased the manor to Michael Duke, as part of the process of realizing income from seized chantry grants. Lake House was then sold by the Crown to Robert Thomas and Andrew Salter, merchant tailors of London, in 1550. They immediately sold it to John Capelyn, who in 1579 sold it to George Duke, grandson of Michael Duke. It remained in the Duke family for nine generations, and was sold in 1897 by Jane, widow of Rev. Edward Duke (1814-1895).George Duke seems to have re-built the Lake manor house soon after his purchase in 1578. The house has been described as follows:

Lake House is of two stories, basement, and attics, and has stone mullioned and transomed windows, gabled roofs, and diagonally-set chimneys. The external treatment of stone and flint chequerwork is an outstanding example of this technique. The original building was L-shaped, the principal block facing west and the shorter arm running back behind its northern end. It has been suggested that this north wing may incorporate part of an earlier house … The principal west front facing the road is symmetrical and has a projecting porch flanked by semi-octagonal windows, a ll three features being two-storied and surmounted by embattled parapets. At roof level is a line of five small gables. A shield above the doorway is blazoned with the three annulets of the Duke family … It was said that there had formerly been a drawbridge across the stream behind the house.

In 1623 a visit by the herald St. George confirmed the family arms, identical to those of Otterton, of the Duke family of Lake, Wiltshire. George's son John inherited Lake at his death in 1610. John Duke married Maria Young, and became Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1640. The Young family was well-established among the gentry of southwestern England. Of southeastern Devonshire during this period it has been said that:

A high degree of aristocratic landownership was giving way, by the mid-seventeenth century, to dominance by some of the most eminent gentry families: among them the Poles, the Drakes, and the Youngs or Yonges.


John Duke’s son, also John Duke, established yet another family residence in the Andover Hundred of Hampshire, near Amport; this is referred to as the Sarson, Hants., branch of the Duke of Lake family. John purchased Cholderton Manor, historically also referred to as Anne Savage, which after his 1670 death was inherited within the Duke family until at least the time of William Duke, of Chichester, in 1873.

In 1595 an additional home, Compton Breamor manor, was sold to George Duke. This manor was in the Downton Hundred of Wiltshire, but today is found within the borders of Hampshire. When he died in 1610 it was inherited by Robert Duke, and it was then sold in 1702 to George Duke, of Sarson, in Amports, Hampshire, whose son John inherited it. George was a descendant of the John Duke who moved from Wiltshire to Hampshire and died in 1670. This is interesting not only in terms of documenting the continuation of the Duke of Lake family in Hampshire, but because it establishes the existence of an otherwise undocumented son of George, named Robert.

Robert’s portion of the family settled at Compton Breamor after George Duke’s purchase of that property in 1595, and inherited the property after George’s death in 1610 until its sale in 1793 by a descendant of George Duke, Robert Duke. Compton Breamor (now known as Breamore House) is on the Avon River, in Hampshire immediately adjacent to the southern boundary with Wiltshire, and survives today.

Lt. Col. Robert Duke, a conspicuous member of the Duke family during the English Civil War, was part of this portion of the Duke family, establishing his family home in Stuckton, Fordingbridge, Hampshire, only a few miles south of Compton Breamor. Kent and Surrey

In the mid-1550's, another branch of the Duke of Lake family broke off from the Devonshire group, to establish themselves in Kent and Surrey in southeastern England, in Maidstone and in Aylesford, Kent, and subsequently at the manor of Milkwell in Surrey:

The manor of Milkwell was partly in Camberwell and partly in Lambeth … . The manor with Milkwell Wood in Lambeth was granted in 1541 to Sir Thomas Wyatt, who was attainted in 1554. It was afterward acquired by Richard Duke, clerk of the Court of Augmentations, and remained for some time in the same family. By 1609 it had come to Thomas Duke, whose property consisted of the manor, 6 messuages, 8 cottages, 5 barns, 5 gardens, and 400 acres in Milkwell, Camberwell and Lambeth, besides 30 acres once parcel of the monastery of Bermondsey. Sir Edward Duke, his heir, sold them to Robert Campbell, alderman of London.

Sir Edward Duke was knighted for service to the crown in August 1607.

This portion of the Duke of Lake family came to have many American connections, in part through their long-standing association with the Wyatt family, which produced the first royal governor of Virginia, whose son married a member of the Duke family from Kent. A variety of sources identify members of the Kent branch of the Duke family as among the earliest settlers of Virginia.


The Duke family prospered in early 17th century England. In 1639-40, John Duke was Sheriff of Wiltshire. At the same time the distantly related Suffolk Duke family had similar success; Edward Duke was Sheriff of Suffolk. However, a time had come when parts of the family would begin to disperse to the New World. Political turmoil was a major cause of departures during the 1600’s, but personal choice, family disputes, and economics also shaped decisions to emigrate.


Among the connections of the Duke family of Devon was Sir Walter Raleigh, who founded the colony of Roanoke in 1586 and praised the New World to his friends and relatives. Raleigh was born at Poer Hayes, and in 1584 wrote to Richard Duke that he wished to purchase the estate: “but for the natural disposition I have to that place, being born in the house, I had rather seat myself there than anywhere else.” Raleigh failed to acquire Poerhayes, and also failed to establish any permanent colony in America. It was not until 1607 that the London Company succeeded in placing the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.

The specific connection between the Raleigh family and the Duke family has not been identified although one comtemptory writer considers the families were intermarried. Walter Raleigh was born at Barton Hayes (Poer Hayes) in 1539 to Walter Raleigh and Katherine Champernowne (Champernon) Raleigh. The Raleighs were descended from an earlier Walter Raleigh, born about 1220 at Raleigh, Devon. The parents of Katherine Champernon are unknown, but the Champernon line in Devon descends from a very distinguished Anglo-Norman family that originally settled in Cornwall, with a branch moving on to Devonshire by the 13th century.

Fortunately, despite this connection the early immigrants to the New World from the Duke family did not choose to go to Roanoke. It has sometimes been suggested that the first of the Duke family to leave England was the disinherited Richard Duke of Otterton. In 1633 it has been thought that he could have become one of the famous “Ark and Dove colonists” (named for the ships in which they traveled) to the new colony of Maryland; a Richard Duke was among them. Although this individual was apparently absent from the colony during the years 1642-1648 (suggestive dates to anyone familiar with the history of the English civil wars), and died in England in 1653, his descendants were among the distinguished early settlers of the Maryland colony. However, it is very uncertain that these are the same individuals. There are records suggesting that the Richard Duke of Maryland was born in 1613, long after the disinherited Richard Duke of Otterton.


As the English civil war began, Robert Duke of Otterton was the head of the Devonshire branch of the family. He later became known as a "trimmer," one who trims his sails to fit the political climate of the times.

Robert’s grandmother (step-grandmother actually, but the only paternal grandmother that he knew) was Catharine Prideaux Duke, daughter of George Prideaux of Nutwell. The Prideaux family were leading Parliamentarians in Devon. Peter Prideaux was a conspicuous leader of the pro-Parliament faction in the county, and Edmund Prideaux was Cromwell’s Attorney General. However, Robert’s mother, Margaret Bassett Duke, was the daughter of Sir Arthur Bassett of Heanton, who was one of the three or four most prominent royalist leaders in Devon. In addition, Robert’s aunt Elizabeth Duke had married Humphrey Walrond, a royalist and father of another strongly committed royalist, who later lived in Barbados. An aunt, Martha Duke, married Hugh Chichester. The Chichester family was perhaps the most conservative of all; many of the Chichesters were recusants.

Robert’s wife, Sarah Reynall Duke, was the daughter of Richard Reynall of Creedy Wild. Her brother Thomas Reynall was identified as the epitome of a trimmer J.P. and M.P., and the family as a whole was active in local government during the Interregnum but could not be said to be actively pro-Parliament, although Thomas was called “an ardent Presbyterian.”

It seems unlikely that there were many friendly Duke family reunions in Devonshire between 1642 and 1660.

Other members of the family were not so cautious as Robert Duke of Otterton. It has been said that in 1642 a Robert Duke, while a student at Magdalen College, Oxford University, “threw off his gown and bought him a sword.” The parentage of this “Robert” is not identified in this source, but it is noted that he was of the Duke of Lake family of Wiltshire.

In 1648 John Duke of Lake House in Wiltshire was implicated in an uprising against the parliamentary government, and ordered arrested.

In contrast, in the 1650’s Robert Duke of Otterton was among the Assessment Commissioners for Devonshire. At Easter in 1654 he examined a Newton Poppleford couple in his position of Justice of the Peace. This was apparently a sexual misconduct charge. However, it has been noted that Robert Duke was “not a specialist in the unmarried sexually active,” apparently a popular specialty in the days of the Puritan Cromwell.

The rebellious Robert reappeared in 1655. Lt. Col. Robert Duke “took up arms” and was second in command in the defense of Portland Castle, under Col. Gallop, during Penruddock’s Revolt. This was probably the most conspicuous of the attempts to overthrow the government of the Protector, but lacked organization and widespread support. The royalists surrendered Portland to the beseigers representing Cromwell. Robert was convicted of treason on April 18, 1655, and with them was condemned to be beheaded. However, this was commuted to life in Exeter Gaol for Robert.

Robert is almost certainly the son of Robert Duke who inherited Compton Breamor from George Duke, although parish records have not survived to preserve the names of his children. Lt. Col. Robert Duke is known to have been a member of the Duke of Lake family from Wiltshire; his wife, Anne’s, later petition to the government makes reference to this. He attended Magdalen College at Oxford, which is consistent with this information. (He does not, however, appear in the published Oxford lists, presumably because he never completed his degree.) Magdalen was favored by the Wiltshire branch of the family; others who attended Magdalen were George, who was involved in the Salisbury Uprising, and John, son of Edward Duke of Winterbourne Stoke. He established his household in Stuckton, Hampshire, near the Compton Breamore estate of the older Robert Duke. In addition, it is the Wiltshire rather than the Devonshire or Kent branch that was heavily involved in attempts to overthrow Cromwell's government.

In Salisbury Penruddock's Revolt involved about 200-400 people who took the Sheriff of Wiltshire prisoner in his nightshirt, along with other county officials. They proceeded into Devonshire, but were overcome and captured. Among the royalists were John and George Duke of Lake. Penruddock and his second-in-command, Grove, had been given assurances of pardon for themselves and their troops if they surrendered, but Penruddock and Grove were ultimately beheaded, after a rather rudimentary trial. The others were imprisoned at Exeter.

Robert subsequently petitioned Cromwell for parole or exile, and was exiled to Barbados. His successful petitions can probably be attributed to the influence of his family, and to an abjectly penitent (even groveling) petition:

Petition of Fras. [Francis] Jones and Rob. [Robert] Duke prisoners in Exeter Castle, to the Protector. We owe the very air we breathe to your clemency, and would rather be torn in pieces than stir a little finger against you. We beg you to add liberty to life, on our plighting faith and religion, and giving security for good deportment in our native country; or else to banish us, that our familes may not perish by the expense of our tedious, though deserved imprisonment. With reference to Council, 2 Nov. 1655.

This petition was granted in an order of November 30:

Order thereon in Council that Gen. Desborow give a warrant to the keeper of the prison to deliver them, and others in prison at Exeter on the late insurrection, to merchants or others, who will give security to transport them prisoners to the East Indies, not to return without special license.

There is inconsistency here in the supposed location of the exile of Robert Duke, with virtually all other sources giving Barbados as the place of exile. Oliver Cromwell had a preference for shipping political dissidents to Barbados, and this is what happened to the Penruddock Rebellion prisoners:

This practice was continued after the Penruddock rising at Salisbury in 1655. On suspicion of complicity, about seventy royalist gentlemen were arrested and brought for trial. Owing to lack of evidence, the jury could not convict them [ed. note: Robert Duke and several others were exceptions; there was abundant evidence and they were convicted]; ‘yet your petitioners and others’, in the words of their graphic appeal, ‘were all kept prisoners for the space of one whole year, and then on a sudden (without the least preparation) snatcht out of their prisons, and driven through the streets of the City of Exon [Exeter] … none being suffered to take leave of them, and so hurried to Plymouth aboard the ship John of London.’ The petition goes on to describe the terrible conditions of the voyage out to Barbados, and their sufferings as servants on the plantations, ‘grinding at the Mills, attending the furnaces, or digging in this scorching land, having nothing to feed on (notwithstanding their hard labour) but Potatoe Roots, being bought and sold still from one Planter to another, or attached as horses and beasts for the debts of their masters, being whipt at the whipping posts, as Rogues, for their masters pleasure, and sleep in styes worse than hogs in England.’

In 1656 a George Duke petitioned, in company with Edward Penruddock (brother of John), to be sent from the prison at Exeter to Virginia rather than Barbados. This introduces the possibility that the wrong George Duke has been identified with the Penruddock Rebellion by English family historians. Sources usually indicate that the John and George Duke in question were those who resided at Lake House at this time.

However, this does not appear to be true. John Duke of Lake House did participate in the Rebellion, but he lived undisturbed at Lake until his death at the age of 94 in 1671. He pled ill-health and advanced age and was exempted from exile. His son George died at home on October 13, 1655. Exile of the Penruddock prisoners was not even ordered until November 30, 1655, after Robert Duke’s petition, and a month after George Duke of Lake House, son of John, was dead. Thus, a delay in presenting the petition to Council could scarcely account for the discrepancy in dates. George Duke, son of John, was not the George of the 1655 Rebellion.

Who was the George Duke who petitioned for a change in the location of his exile in 1656? The Committee for Compounding with Delinquents, which sequestered the estates of royalists and recusants, on September 17, 1652, claimed a share of the Wiltshire estates of a George Duke, of Salterton, at the same time that they took a share of that of John Duke, of Lake. Earlier, George Duke of Bulford had been identified as a recusant on January 13, 1648. This George is probably a son of Andrew or John Duke of Bulford, moving from his father's home at Bulford to another Wiltshire town, Salterton, between 1648 and 1652.

Lt. Col. Robert Duke was not shipped to Barbados on the John of London in 1656 with the other prisoners; a deposition in the Public Record Office dated 1659 has established the list of prisoners transported on that ship in 1656, and he is not on it. Presumably he was shipped on some other transport, perhaps with the Francis Jones who joined him in his petition. George Duke also fails to appear on the list of the John’s passengers. However, George Duke is known to have gone from England to Virginia in 1656, this was the George Duke of the Penruddock Rebellion.

A number of references during this period reflect the political association of some Devon and Kent Duke family members with the Commonwealth. In 1658-9 Robert Duke of Otterton was High Sheriff of Devonshire. This is an office that Robert Duke would not have held had he not maintained cordial relationships with Parliament. Similarly, in 1658 there was a request by George Duke and other justices of peace at Maidstone [Kent] assizes, to the Commissioners of the Great Seal; for "customary relief to the distressed petitioners." The Duke family in Kent seems also not to have foregone their customary offices and political functions. However, the Wiltshire family continued its opposition. On July 9, 1659, Sec. Nicholas wrote from Brussels to Mr. Mompesson:

I am glad that you and your lieutenant-colonel are so ready to go for England; the time seems now seasonable, there being so great distractions among the rebels, and if we hear truth, the greatest part of the nation, being very weary of the rebellious government, wish and incline to appear for the King’s restoration … when landed, contrive to get to your friends, and raise your regiment. By the time you get a number of horse, I hope you may hear of some of the King’s friends gotten together in a body, whom you should join as soon as you can safely. Edw. Penruddock and Mr. Duke are in England, and will join you.

This presumably refers to Edward Penruddock, brother of John, and to the George Duke with whom he petitioned the Council in 1656. John Duke of Lake House was at this time about 82 years old, and unlikely to have been travelling the world. Both Lt. Col. Robert Duke and George Duke of Lake House were dead. The George Duke of the Rebellion seems to have been exiled to Virginia in 1656, and it was certainly this exile from which he was returning. There are no indications that he later returned to Virginia.


In 1660 Charles II assumed the British throne, restoring the monarchy. In that year Anne Duke, widow of Lt. Col. Robert Duke, and his five children petitioned Parliament in October for estates in Hants. (Hampshire) to replace those lost. Anne reported that Robert died in exile prior to that time: Anne, widow of Robert Duke. For a lease for 99 years of Ellingham Manor, and of the Abbey Lands, Christ Church, co. Hants [Hampshire], forfeited by attainder of John Lisle. Her husband suffered much in the late wars, was engaged in Col. Penruddock’s rising in the west, and sentenced to death, but reprieved and banished to the East Indies, where he has lately died.

The five children of Robert Duke, to the same effect.

It is scarcely surprising that Robert died in exile, given the conditions of the transport and servitude in Barbados. However, Anne’s request was not granted, or if any lease was granted it was for a very short time: This John Lisle the regicide, created Viscount Lisle by Cromwell, was attainted at the Restoration, but escaped to the Continent, where he was assassinated in 1664. Subsequently Ellingham was restored to his son John, who died in 1709….

Evidence that Anne and her children remained in Stockton, Hampshire, where they lived when Robert was arrested, is found in the lists of Oxford graduates. In 1671 John Duke, listed as son of Robert Duke of Stuckton, gentleman, matriculated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and received his B.A. in 1674, his M.A. in 1677, and a B.D. in 1687. In 1696 he was Rector of Bishops Waltham, Hants. This is certainly one of Robert's children, probably the oldest son. There was no other Duke family in Stuckton. John was 17 when he matriculated, and would have been born in 1654, the year before Robert's arrest.

It clearly was not possible for Robert, or any others exiled after the Penruddock affair, to take their families with them to Barbados, and it would have been years -- probably until the Restoration in 1660 -- before those who survived could have sent for their families had they chosen to remain in Barbados. The Duke family in Devon continued to prosper through the Stuart Restoration. This was noted in 1664:

Bishop Ward compiled a list of 14 presbyterians and ‘Oliverians’ who had survived the 1650’s [as J.P.’s and members of Parliament]; to their number could be added Robert Duke of Otterton, Sir John Northcote, who was prominent in debates in Parliament on religion and who thought of deans and chapters as mere parasites, and probably Sir Francis Drake and John Maynard.

In 1661 Robert Duke of Otterton was pardoned by Charles II for taking up arms against the king. He was buried at Otterton 1665, and succeeded by his son Richard. In the 1660’s Richard Duke was described as having been among gentry purchasing land to consolidate ancestral estates. Later, he was the focus of an interesting disagreement between Magdalen College and the king. On March 16, 1681, King Charles II wrote to the President of Magdalen College, requiring him to admit Richard Duke into the place of steward of that college. On March 28, 1681, President Clarke of Magdalen, March 18, wrote to the King that his letter arrived too late, that he had made another appointment and could not appoint Richard Duke steward of Magdalen College. Then, on April 8, 1681, Charles II wrote to President Clarke of Magdalen, that this was unacceptable, and that he was to appoint Richard Duke. This ended the exchange; presumably the king won.

The Duke Family and the Duke of Monmouth

Histories associate the Duke family of Devonshire with James Duke of Monmouth, a son (probably illegitimate) of James II who attempted to overthrow his half-brother Charles. In in the early 1680’s he frequently visited Mr. Duke of Ottery, near Colyton, in Exeter, Devon:

It was soon noticed that the manor doors opened to Monmouth were those either of the traditionally Parliament squires, such as Strode, Prideaux, or Duke, or of those few, who from deep conviction, had supported the Whigs. With the exception of Sir Edmund Prideaux and Sir Thomas Thynne of Longleat, not one of these could be classed as a ‘great’ squire. They were men of moderate estates with gross incomes in the neighborhood of £3,000 or £4,000 a year, and none of them had ever played a part or cut a figure in the world of politics and power.

Monmouth was killed at Sedgemoor in 1685 and his followers were either hanged, drawn and quartered, or, again, sold into indentured service in Barbados. Only one member of the Duke family, a John Duke of Colyton, is listed among those who were intended for arrest after Sedgemoor. There is no evidence that he was tried and convicted.


The Duke family continued to live at Lake and to play significant parts in local and county affairs for several centuries after the English civil war.

In 1779 Edward Duke was born. He was the second son of Edward Duke of Lake House and Fanny, daughter of John Field of Islington. Edward attended Magdalen College, Oxford, was ordained as an Anglican priest, and inherited Lake House in 1805. He was known principally as an antiquarian and archaeologist who explored tumuli and excavated at Stonehenge. He published, with Hoare, Duke's Druidical Temples of Wiltshire. as well as other archaeological studies. He was an active Wiltshire magistrate and a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and of the Linnean Society, a prestigious scholarly organization.

Edward Duke

After his death in 1852 he was succeeded by his eldest son, also named Edward who was the parish preist at St. Nicholas Church, Wickham in Hampshire. He had two sons, Stephen and Robert. Robert is remembered on a plaque in St Nicholas's. He was a Flying Officer in the Royal Flying Corps between 1916 and 1919 and died in an air crash at Beauvais in France in 1922

In the 19th century another Duke, associated with the Duke family of Lake House, became Lord Mayor of London. This was Sir James Duke, Bart, whose arms upon being awarded his peerage incorporate the three wreaths of the Duke family of Lake House.

The Duke family is still resident in Dorset, Devon and Wiltshire, and continues to play a part in county, and sometimes national, affairs. Perhaps the most distinguished member of the family in this century, Sir Henry Duke, was a Member of Parliament for Exeter, and in 1923 chaired a committee to establish a Department of Law at the University of Exeter. He was the Chief Secretary for Ireland after the Easter Rebellion of 1916-18 and was made first Baron Merrivale in 1925. He was presented with an exceedingly difficult situation in Ireland, and has been described as follows:

…. his methods in an impossible task [have been] criticized as too conciliatory … [he was a] serious, imperturbable counsel, formidable in cross-examination; [he was a] dignified and urbane judge.

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