Merton so named of its site by the meer-side, which gave name to an ancient family of knight’s degree that sometime lived in this place, and continued lords of this manor from King Henry the second’s time unto the latter end of king Edward the third. Then Eleanor, daughter of sir Richard Merton, by her marriage to sir Matthew Stowel, brought a fair estate unto the family, who have enjoyed this land ten descents since the said Eleanor.
In 1086 Merton was held by Edric under bishop of Coutances and passed either by gift after and escheat (reverted to the lord of the manor due to an intestate death of owner or tenant) or by marriage to the family which lived at and took its name from Merton. In 1166 Philip de Merton held Merton and Sutcombe for 2 fees of Oliver de Tracy. These fees were held by William de Merton in 1196, by Henry de Merton in 1241,the Advowson (ecclesiastical office or religious house) was in the patronage of William Page temporarily during 1269 Thomas de Merton succeeded to Sutcombe in 1825. Sir Richard de Merton held both the manor and the advowson in 1303, he died in 1342 and his son Richard de Merton was lord in 1346 he died in 1370 leaving a widow Matilda who remarried Sir John FitzWarin and four daughters when the Merton lined died out.

Poderidge, or Potheridge, presents itself to your view, an ascendand seat, upon a ridge of a hill, which for many ages, has been the mansion of the ancient family of Le Moigue, commonly Monk, being the first I find to have dwelt at Poderidge, quasi upon the ridge, whose park is in a manner insulated by the river’s winding retches. This family has enjoyed the same some fifteen descents, and are allied to many eminent houses, and long since they matched with one of the co-heirs of Arthur Plantagenet, viscount Lisle, which land, by so long race of worthy ancestors, is descended to Thomas Monk, esq. who married the daughter of Arscott.

Speccot which has given name to a family formerly called Fitz-Bernard, who held the same many generations, where Nicholas Speccot lived in the time of King Henry the second. From whom issued sir Richard Speccot, knight, who married Maude, the eldest co-heir of sir Baldwin Belston. This barton has been inherited by that name some sixteen descents; and sir John Speccot, knight, is lord of this his ancestors’ ancient place, bearing his name, who married the daughter of sir Peter Edgcombe, knight. His second wife was the daughter of sir John Mallet, knight

Huish. Another fountain that feedeth this meer maketh way by Huish, in old evidences Hewisch, that had long since lords so sirnamed; where Philip Huish held lands, in the reign of King Henry the second, which hereditarily desecended in that name, unto the latter end of king Edward the third, divers of them being of knightly rank. Emma, the daughter of the last of this line, was wife, first of sir Robert Tresilian, chief justice of England, and secondly, of sir John Coleshill, knight. This land was purchased by Leonard Yeo, a flourishing branch of Heanton-house, who married Arminell, the daughter of Chrisopher Bereford, of London, and built here a proper house for his posterity, who prosper well. The present possessor, whose name is likewise Leonard, married the daughter of Fortescue, of Wear; his father, the co-heir of Smith; his son the daughter of sir Robert Basset, knight. In the same parish you have Lovelston, the lands of Robert Lovell, the twentieth of king Henry the third; and Robert Lovell held the same in reigns of King Edward the first and second, the inheritance whereof was lately belonging to the name Leigh.

From Risdon’s survey of Devon 1811

An early domestic chapel was at Dinsbear in Merton in 1310, first domestic chapels were only started from 1308 so one can assume the family at Dinsbear were very wealthy. By the end of the 14th century many houses of any consequence in Devon had a private chapel or oratory. These were of course Catholic as was the faith at the time, history and the protestant faith perhaps assisted in burying all knowledge of the earlier faith which was so abruptly broken off.

From Hoskins chapter on Ecclesiastical History

Also ‘The hundreds of Devon’ by Reichel

Place names

Merton has been recorded with a variety of names:
Merton(a) in the 1086 doomsday book
Mereton 1175 and 1196
Marton 1428
Martyn 1535
Merton – commonly Martin

Denesberga 1086
Denysbeare 1388
Dynesbere 1242
Dinnesbere 1244
Dynnesbere 1296
Dynsbere 1329
Probably ‘Dynni’s wood’

Porriga 1086
Poderigge 1303
Podrige 1375
Puderigge 1183
Puderugge 1240
Puderigge 1248
Potherugge 1303

Spececota 1086
Speccote 1185
Spekcoth 1242
Spekecote 1256
Now Speccott may have originated from old English name for brushwood ‘spaec’ and and hence ‘cot(e) by the brushwood’

Coombe probably home of Robert de la Cumbe 1285
Greatwood probably home of Thomas atte Wode 1330
Moorhill probably home of Adam ate More 1333
Northdown probably home of Adam Bynorthedoune ‘north of the down’ 1330
Yendamore probably home of William Beyundemyre ‘beyond the mire’ 1333

From Place Names of Devon part 1 Gover,Mawer & Steaton 1931