Following on from the talk given by Bill Gilbert on January 26th on some of Devon’s connections with the history of Newfoundland, some additional details have come to light. One of the three personalities on which Bill focussed his presentation was Sir John Berry (1635-90). C.M. Rowe, in his article on Berry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography gave his birthplace as ‘Knoweston near Ilfracombe’. Bill repeated this information in his talk, but has since realised, having done further research, that some amendments need to be made, beginning with the fact that the parish of Knowstone is nowhere near Ilfracombe – near South Molton would be more accurate.
On the memorial to Sir John in St Dunstan’s, Stepney, the Latin inscription states that he was baptised at Knowstone on 7 January 1635, his father being Daniel Berry (1609-54). Indeed, Daniel was Vicar of Knowstone cum Molland (the two benefices being united at this time). Although Sir John’s career in the Royal Navy took him to the West Indies, Virginia, Newfoundland, Tangier, etc., his family and his roots on the foothills of Exmoor remained dear to him, and he personally paid for an elaborate memorial to his father in the church at Molland, which is still to be seen on the north wall of the chancel.