Webpage created: August 26, 2019
Webpage updated: August 26, 2019
Widey Flour Mills were quite a distance from Widey Court and Widey Farm, which were to the south of Widey Cross on the map below. As a result, it was sometimes known as Knackersknowle Mills.
The mills were originally built by Sir Francis Drake and were driven by water from his leat supplying Plymouth with fresh water from Dartmoor.
They were apparently owned in 1751 by Mr Peter Maddock Docton and let to Mr Robert Harris. In 1771 they were in the ownership of a Christiana Gennys and Elizabeth May Docton and tenanted by Elizabeth Harris. By 1780 they had passed to a Mrs Harris (Elizabeth perchance?), who let them to Mr John Warn. Elizabeth and John Harris then let the mills to Mr William Sumpter in 1803 but by 1810 they were back in the hands of Mr Edmond Gennys, who let them to Mr William Chowne. He then let them to Mr Francis Fincher from 1802 to 1809 and Mr John Bartlett from 1812 until 1819, after which that ubiquitous Plymouth and Tavistock business-man, Mr Thomas Gill, ran them until 1823.
Apparently there were three mills here when, in 1827, Mr Edward Genys let them to Mr John Bartlett the elder for £350. However, when they were passed to John's grandson, Mr Samuel Bartlett French, in 1841, the property was described as 'a water grist mill, millhouse, dwelling house, storehouse, stable, piggery, outhouses, gardens and orchard'.
The entry in the 1851 census has been incorrectly transcribed as "Wisley Mills" but the miller at Widey Mills was, indeed, the Mr John Bartlett that is listed. He lived with his wife, Grace, and their two daughters, Grace Honor and Joanna, an unmarried 31-years-old assistant by the name of Mr Thomas Bistin and a female servant.