Where did the Exons live?


By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the heartland of Exons in Somerset was the large village of Stogursey and the surrounding small villages of Kilton, Lilstock and East Quantoxhead. These villages were set in gently undulating farming country near the north central coast of the county where the coastline runs roughly from east to west. The family had lived in the area since the early seventeenth century and had contained fairly wealthy branches as well as agricultural labourers.  Read a short history of the Stogursey Exons.

There was another set of families living nearer Bristol, centred on the village of Banwell. I have found no records of them in this area earlier than three separate marriages of Exon men in the mid to late eighteenth century. Recently some records of the manor of Fairfield, Stogursey have been indexed by the staff of the Somerset Records Office and these show that John Exon of Banwell was involved in the lease of a property in Stogursey.  This shows a connection between the Banwell and Stogursey Exons and I have been able to make tentative identifications of the baptisms at Kilton of the men married in the Banwell area, who may have been brothers.  Earlier, there had been a substantial and well-documented family living in the villages of North Curry and Creech St Michael near Taunton, but these had died out or moved by the middle of the eighteenth century.

Rural Somerset was noted for the low wages paid to agricultural labourers (there was a rising against high food prices in Stogursey in 1801) and the young and enterprising tended to move away. Some of them moved across to Wales to work as miners in the South Wales coalfields or were attracted to Bristol, London and the industrial north of England. Others emigrated to Australia or the USA. Between 1831 and 1911, Stogursey, for example, had lost one third of its population. By the end of the nineteenth century few Exons were left in Somerset.

The Midlands

The IGI shows that the Exons in the Midlands were spread over a much wider area, including a number of families in Leicestershire and Lincolnshire. This would be accounted for if we assume that there were a large number of Exton families and that some of these randomly assumed the name Exon. By the nineteenth century, there were hardly any Exons in the area. There were some in Hathern and Loughborough in Leicestershire but few others. It is possible that the presence of Exton families around meant that their names became assimilated back into Exton.

If you are interested in Exons and Extons in the Midlands, you should check out Liz Exton's site, although I would still like to hear about any families persistently using the name Exon, or individuals who might have descendents still using the name Exon today.

London and elsewhere in England

There are considerable numbers of early Exon entries in the IGI for the rest of the country, including London, but little evidence of them later. Almost all the Exons in London in 1881 were originally from Somerset, except for one family who lived in Shoreditch and seem to have had London origins.

As can be seen, there was a narrowing down of the range of Exon families between the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries, so that eventually those of Somerset origin came to predominate.

Last updated May 2004