Philip Avant

The Reverend Philip Avant was baptised at St Budeaux, Plymouth on 20 November 1642, the son of Philip Avant and Joanne (nee Lampen).  His parents had married there on 25 July 1642 (so looks like she was pregnant when they got married!).

He matriculated at Gloucester Hall, Oxford aged 19 years on 21 February 1661-2.  On 20 September 1663 he was ordained as a deacon at Christ Church, Oxford. On 15 January 1665-6 he became vicar at Salcombe Regis, East Devon. At some point following he married (to Joanna) and their first son, Thomas was born in 1668.

At about 1695 it is assumed that Rev Philip Avant moved to live at the Chudleigh Grammar School although he is recorded as remaining vicar at Salcombe Regis until 1699. If he did move to Chudleigh about 1695-6 then he would have employed a curate to cover his duties at Salcombe. He was buried at Chudleigh on 19 April 1701 aged 59 years.

Beyond this not a great deal is really known about Philip Avant, a minor poet and a strong supporter of William III, other than the brief entry in William Henry Kearley Wright’s 1896 West-country Poets: their Lives and Works.

Amongst his works are some local poems in praise of Torbay, and on the burning of Teignmouth by the French in 1690. The title of one of his publications is given in the Bibliotheca Devoniensis: Torbaia digna Camaenis ad Gulielmum tertium regem gratissimum.  Ecclesiae Anglicanae conservatorem.  Authore Philippo Avant, minimo indignissimo Ecclesiae Anglianae Presbytero: London, 1692.  This contained, besides the above, some poems in honour of William and Mary ‘ On the Fall of Belgrade,’ and others to Bishop Burnet.

It is likely that Philip Avant would have seen, from his own door, the French fleet riding into Torbay on 13th July 1690.  Early in the morning several of the French galleys attacked Teignmouth ransacking and plundering the town.  In the space of three hours they burnt and destroyed a hundred and sixteen houses, together with eleven ships and barques that were in the harbour.  Philip Avant wrote “Upon Tingmouth” as lines of sympathy with his neighbours, the people of Teignmouth, probably in the same year.

Want to know more?  Checkout:

Devon History Society
Chudleigh History Group
William Henry Kearley Wright’s 1896 West-country Poets: their Lives and Works (book reference).
United Kingdom Genealogy
Wayland Wordsmith
The French in Teignmouth

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