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DEVONSHIRE, THE BIRTHPLACE OF OUR FAMILY. 21
spring of the year 1068 Exeter in Devonshire was besieged and taken by the Conqueror who built a castle there which was again besieged in 1137 by Stephen for three months. There are many ancient ruins in the county of great interest.
Nearly the whole area of Devonshire is uneven and hilly. It contains the highest land in England south of the Yorkshire Ingleborough. The scenery, much varied, is in parts of the county very striking and picturesque. The coast has grand cliff and rock scenery not excelled by any in England or Wales. The country immediately inland is of great beauty. There are many rivers, most of which run south and empty into the English Channel. In the central portion of the county, Dartmoor has existed as a royal forest from a period before the conquest.
Devonshire is an agricultural country and is called the "Garden of England." Its fisheries also have been of importance. No county in England, save Middlesex, has given birth to so many eminent men as Devonshire. Among these are: Sir Walter Raleigh, Drake, Hawkins, Marlborough, Monk, Coleridge, Hooker, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Jno. Davis, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Wolcott, Kingsley, John Ford, Sir Richard Grenville, Bishop Jewell, Gay, St. Boniface, Newcomin, Lord Peter King, Lord Chancellor of England and a host of others. It was from Plymouth, Devonshire, that the Pilgrim Fathers in the Mayflower took their final leave of old England and it was after that Devonshire town that they named their first settlement in New England—Plymouth.
Devonshire was the scene of much disturbance and fighting during the civil war of the commonwealth. Both Exeter and Plymouth in Devonshire were besieged for many months. Plymouth was one of the cities which successfully resisted the Royalist forces. At that time (1642-1658) the residence of William Kinge, the first of our ancestors who came to America, was at Ugborough, Devonshire, about fourteen miles from Plymouth and about thirty miles from Exeter. He was thus situated in the very midst of the scene of conflict and could scarcely have escaped being an actor in it. It was during this time also that his two children, William Jr. (1643) an<i James (1647), afterwards of Suffield, Connecticut, and the founder of our family in America, were born.
ENGLISH AND IRISH RELATIONSHIPS.
Such is the country from which the ancestors of our own King family came. Branches of the King family, however, undoubtedly extended outside of Devonshire. They were to be found in London, and also in the counties of Northampton, Dorset, Sussex, Cornwall, Suffolk, Essex and elsewhere. The English records are too meager and disconnected to enable one to establish and present a complete chain of relationship between many of the King families of Great Britain which are by tradition and in all probability thus connected. It must be remembered that there were no parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials kept in England until the year 1538, and a number of those kept since that date are quite imperfect, while some have been lost or destroyed through negligence or in times of great political disturbance or revolution.
Wills probated in England furnish some clues but anything like a thorough search of them involves great labor and expense. Besides, estates and especially the small holdings of the middle class descended in most instances according to the law of inheritance and not by will. The records of these intestates often give valuable information. Land could not be devised by will in England until about A. D. 1540 when a statute of Henry VIII made it possible. It was only wills of personal or mixed personal and real property that were required to be probated and no probate of a will of merely real property was necessary until about 1857. Title to real estate by will might be shown by production of the will as a document of title in the same manner as a deed. Furthermore there were no adequate laws for the registration of the transfers of title to land and hence few records were made until in quite recent times. From all these circumstances it will be readily understood that the searches of a genealogist are made under great disadvantages and difficulties. During the past few years, however, the English court and other records are being extensively investigated, copied and published to the great aid of genealogical research in general.
There are occasional features, also, tending to show a connection between many individual families bearing the name King (Kinge and Kynge) who now reside in widely separated localities in Great Britain. Such, for instance, are similarity of coats armor and crests, which we will consider more fully hereafter. References in wills, writings or records to the names of common ancestors, or localities from which the family originally came, parish registers, entries in family Bibles or other family records, inscriptions on tombstones and even occasionally tradition, when it appears probable and without motive, are all evidences that should be given their due weight and consideration.
King is originally and essentially an English name. It is not Irish, and was a family name in England when there were few surnames to be found in Ireland. Indeed it is a curious fact that so backward were the Irish people generally in adopting surnames that as late as the year 1465 it was deemed necessary to pass a statute (5 Edward IV chap. 3) by which it was enacted "that every Irishman that dwells betwixt or among Englishmen in the County Dublin, Myeth, Uriel and Kildare * * * shall take to him an English surname of one towne, as Sutton, Chester, Trym, Skyrne, Corke, Kinsale; or color as White, Black, Brown; or art or science, as Smith, Carpenter; or office, as Cook, Butler," etc.
There are Irish families of the name, King, but on careful examination they will be found to have originated in England. Many instances of this can be traced. Thus one branch of the Kings seems to have been settled in Huntingdonshire as early as the fourteenth century and a part of the family still resided there during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and even up to the present time; but some branches of the same family removed to Ireland, thus planting the name in that country and, indeed, before them it had been carried there by less conspicuous members of the family. Sir John King of Huntingdonshire was given by Queen Elizabeth in 1559, as a reward for his military services, a lease of the Abbey Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland, and from James I he also obtained numerous grants. He died in 1636 and from him is descended one extensive Irish branch of the King family, now represented by Henry Edwyn King (9th), Earl of Kingston, Viscount Lorton, Baron Kingston, etc., Lieutenant 3d Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment, born Sept. 19, 1874.
Of another very extensive Irish branch of the English King family is Sir Gilbert King, Baronet of Charleston, County Roscommon. He is descended from Rev. Edward King, born in 1575, at Stukeley, Huntingdonshire, Doctor of Divinity at Dublin in 1595; Bishop of Elphin, Ireland, in 1617; died in 1638. He had fifteen children, which seems not an unusual number in the King family (see King family in America, especially Ebenezer (No. 72) and Lieut. Eliphalet (No. 33). It is unnecessary in the above reference to the Irish King families to give the intermediate ancestors between Sir John King and Henry Edwyn King, Earl of Kingston, or between Bishop Edward King and Sir Gilbert King, Baronet. They can be found in Burke's Peerage and Burke's "Landed Gentry." We have only mentioned these families as showing the transference of the name to Ireland. Within the last century there has been quite a large immigration of Kings from Ireland, but prior to this those of the name in America were almost entirely of English origin.