My extremely-uncommon and forever-mispelled last name—Huxham—happens to also be the name of a tiny village right outside of Exeter in SW England. My ancestors left Britain from the port of Plymouth on the other side of Devonshire, so I feel fairly confident this might be where my last name comes from. However, even though I have the means and the desire to visit this hamlet…what do I do there? Just start knocking on doors? Should I contact the parish priest and/or tourism board?
So, my last name is Huxham,
an extremely-uncommon surname of English extraction related to the names Huxtable and Huxley. From the little genealogical work that I’ve done, my paternal ancestors left Britain for America sometime in the late 1800s from the port of Plymouth, England—one of the biggest cities in Devonshire. I did some digging around and found that there happens to exist an extremely tiny village/hamlet/settlement called “Huxham”
right outside of Exeter on the other side of the county. It first appeared in the 1086 CE Domesday Book as “Hochesham,”
but I know almost nothing else about this place except that my last name almost certainly comes from here.
I’m planning a trip to the county of Devon during the week before Easter this year—going to hit up Exeter city, maybe the Dartmoor national park, and probably Plymouth, too. Huxham seems to be accessible via public transportation from Exeter, although from Google Maps there doesn’t seem to be much to the village…at all…besides a few houses and farms and an old parish church with a old cemetery and ancient yew tree.
What I’m wondering is this: how should I go about visiting this village?
Should I plan to just hop off the bus and start knocking on doors to see if any long-lost cousins want to chit-chat? Should I contact the parish priest associated with the local chapel/church? Would Exeter’s or even Devonshire’s tourism board be able to help me out? Should I try and get in contact with The Locals, and if so, how? Do rural Brits take kindly to (American) foreigners blithely wandering around village roads? Would I be seen as naïve for making a “back to the motherland” journey to this small town?
Thanks so much for any insight y’all might have.