Laurie Bovey, one of Hatherleigh's ex-local policemen, tells his story and that of a murder in 1905
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Page updated: June 13, 2011

Laurie Bovey

Out of the blue last year came an email from the fellow below, now living in Exeter but once a resident of Claremont and the local Bobby.. He retired from the Police in 1983 as Sergeant.

His knowledge of Hatherleigh will be of interest to many so we've set everything up for you to read it all below, in particular his personal story and also the story of a murder that took place more than a century ago in Hatherleigh.

First, here's Laurie and his new wife Sheila on their wedding day.

Laurie and Sheila Bovey, in the 1950s

By our front gate shortly after arriving in 1958 at 2nd house in, on righthand side (No 2?) of Claremont Place. The house on the right hand side of the pic was allocated as the home of the resident District Nurse. Clarity might imporve with enlarging (Done: Ed).

Town Constable Laurie, Policeman's wife Sheila, and Angela.

Here's a pic of our two girls of around the time they were co-potboilers. Give me 24 hours and I'll look in the loft for any better/clearer. In the attached, our firstborn, Angela, is the one with wide open eyes out-staring the camera. Her sister Janice is beside her, on her lefthand side.

Now, on to the even better stuff! Here are Laurie's two articles, written originally for the Parish Pump and published in the May and June 2007 issues

Matters touching upon the sad decease
of Mary Breton, 1905

Read Laurie's story of an infamous murder and its aftermath

(You'll need Adobe Acrobat, which you can get free here if it's not already installed).

After receiving the above material, DotNet later heard that a postcard depicting the murder scene had been located by Andy Dodds of Odds and Dodds online auctioneers in The Square. We contacted Andy and he kindly gave us this image of the postcard:

Update June 13th 2011 - We heard from Clayton Veale, of Vancouver, Canada as follows: Just a note on your story regarding the murder of Ida Mary Breton in 1905. Arthur Isbell b. 1834 was the son of a doctor from Plymouth and Mary Malet Veale born at Passaford House, Hatherleigh. His first cousin was my great-grandfather, Henry Mallet Veale, who in 1905 had let Passaford House out and was living in Exmouth (he died later that year). Ida Mary Breton was a church worker, living in Newington, and was the niece of Arthur Isbell's wife Ellen Lydia Creed. The Veale and Mallet families went back to the early 17th century at least at Ash House and Passaford in this region.

Addendum: Good journalistic practise demands that stuff is checked if in doubt, especially concerning 'privacy'. We have confirmed that the current owners of the Police House have no objection to this story appearing and we have asked around concerning the surnames mentioned, with no result to date. Laurie's policeman's instinct took over when we said to him: "But what if there's anyone who might be affected by this story?" That triggered the following, which we publish as it is really part of the story.

SUBJECT: ~ WARE are they now?

Well, I have found 130 addresses in the UK which house a WARE, and 99 which are home to a BRETON (incl a Ms Clementine Bretonnierre in Bournemouth, maybe a Channel Islander.) Both names are spread throughout GB with a preponderance in both cases in the S-East corner. 3 families of BRETONS live in Devon 12 WARE families live in Dev/C'wall.

Those figures are not all-inclusive as they come from the 2005 Electors Rolls which are far from complete as regards released details. (We were all given an option of having our details barred from accessibility to other parties like murder-story hammer-chewer writer-uppers.)

The only clues we can garner from the narrative is that Ida Mary's uncle Mr ISBELL was well-to-do, seeing he lived in Clarement Villa, by the sound of it. But we get no further than that, as I can access no records either of Isbell or Isbel anywhere in the UK.

Mr VEALE the co-searcher has a name which is too common to be of practical help, methinks.

John Ware although a native of H'leigh had no kinfolk (or least not on good terms with) in or near H'leigh, because he was in lodgings. But he did say on his last night that he was off to Plymouth next day. To whom - his family??

Also in the brief list of clues is Doddiscombsleigh (or Doddiscombeleigh as it is sometimes spelt). That is a short distance due west of the M5 terminal at Exeter . So we can discount that as his destination ~ he'd have said he was going to Exeter, rather than Plymouth.

I could write to the Devon/Cornwall Wares and Bretons simply asking if they "know anyone in their family tree who had connections with Hatherleigh at the turn of last century as I am researching the town of those days". Wotcher fink? At least the two Plymouth-based Wares. Writing to merely the Devon/C'wall families with an sae would cost 15 x 2(sae) x 21p = 6.30 which is in striking distance I suppose. But to do the job more thoroughly would mean 229 x 2 (sae) x 21p = 96. Add to that the purchase of 229 x 2 = 458 envelopes .... I accept and applaud the diligent prudence of your observation, Geoff., but I am seriously and conveniently persuading myself that as the sad story occurred over 100 years ago now, any sensitivities there may have been, will be those of generations born thereafter, and somewhat at least diluted. And yet - suppose they are living in blissful ignorance???

Shortly afterwards he wrote: "

At last. I think we have covered all or most eventualities and as far as I am concerned, I think you can go ahead and publish, if you wish. I picked out 3 likeliest names and addresses with the victim's name and 3 with the alleged perpetrator. Of those who bothered to reply (using the s.a.e), none were likely to be upset, indeed fascinated is more the attitude.

BUT: If you know of anyone likely to be adversely affected by this story please let us know


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