The Feniton History Group and Feniton Church hosted a talk on the Malherbe family. This family held the Manor of Feniton from 1146 until 1555. At one time the village was known as Finneton Malherbe.
Our speaker was Professor Gordon Reeves, who after retirement from a career in medicine, took up researching the Malherbes as a hobby.
The illustrated talk entitled “Arise Noble Weed” explained the families origins in France, the place names found in France and Britain which had taken the family name, the researching of very old Latin documents to find the details of the early family in Devon, not helped by three generations of William Malherbes each marrying a wife by the name of Joan!
The description of the family was followed by a compilation of the various coats of arms used by the bearers of the name. Feniton and Payhembury Churches both have pillars on which have the coat of arms of nettles are carved.
Professor Reeves went on to tell us about the other uses of the name, Malherbes being “bad weeds” like the nettle and leadwort and club moss. Some malherbes were used as dyes like Mallow, Woad and Weld. Also he mentioned the word “malady”. Today the name is used by a vine yard, there are poets, artists and a haulage company!
Professor Reeves, accompanied by his wife was thanked by David Lanning who presented a Honiton Lace paperweight to the couple.
It was a very interesting evening and to have a talk on a medieval family in a medieval church was perfect. The re-ordering of Feniton Church has provided the community with a versatile venue.
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