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The Story of Benjamin Manning's Life in North Devon

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Recent interest in the possible development of the so-called Manning's Pit on the left bank of Bradiford Water has given rise to speculation about the origins of the name. Initially, it was thought to come from Benjamin Manning who was born in Tiverton and came to Pilton as a lace worker sometime in the 1820s. Margaret Reed of The Pilton Story has researched his life in North Devon as revealed in official documents and discovered that, although he started as a lace worker, Benjamin Manning changed occupation several times in his life. By 1851 he was recorded in the census as a 'butcher and grocer' living in Pilton Street but by 1861 he had become a spirit merchant and auctioneer living in Joy Street, Barnstaple and running a wine bar.
Significantly, in 1873 it is his eldest son John who is recorded as a butcher and cattle dealer based in Barnstaple High Street. It would appear, therefore, that a member of the Manning family was involved in cattle dealing, but it was John, not his father Benjamin, who was the likely tenant of what has become known as Manning’s Pit in Pilton.

Thanks to Margaret Reed for the research which has resulted in this document 'THE STORY OF BENJAMIN MANNING’S LIFE IN NORTH DEVON AS REVEALED IN OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS'

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