Anthony Baker reigned from 1625 to 1646, who had also been ordained deacon prior to his appointment to Barnstaple, and belonged to an old yeoman family. He was popular with the people, who presented him with a new gown. He saw the suspension of his vicar by the Standing Committee, and probably died of the plague in 1646, when the town found itself without vicar, deacon, or clerk. The plague was raging, people dying, and no one to minister to them. No clergyman would come save the old vicar, Martyn Blake, who was at length allowed by the Puritan rulers to return, to the great joy of the inhabitants. He appointed Symon Sloby (1647-81), but could not get him ordained deacon, as bishops and ordination were abhorred and abolished by the Puritan rulers. Sloby was appointed “Register of Barnestapell” during the Commonwealth period. He saw his vicar ejected and carried off to Exeter by some of the Parliamentary troopers and subsequently restored to the living, and records with much joy and loyalty the restoration of the monarchy. He served three successive vicars, records many items of interest, including certain gifts to himself with a pious wish for others to go and do likewise, and died in a good old age.
Richard Sleeper succeeded him in 1682, and reigned till 1698. He conformed to the more modern style of clerk of an important parish, a dignified official who attended the vicar and performed his duties on Sunday, occupying the clerk’s desk. Of his successors history records little save their names. William Bawden, a weaver, was clerk from 1708 to 1726, William Evans 1726 to 1741, John Taylor 1741 to 1760, John Comer 1760 to 1786, John Shapcote 1786 to 1795, Joseph Kimpland 1795 to 1798, who was a member of an old Barnstaple family and was succeeded by his son John (1798-1832), John Thorne (1832-1859), John Hartnoll (1859-1883), and William Youings 1883 to 1901.
This is a remarkable record, and it would be well if in all parishes a list of clerks, with as much information as the industrious inquirer can collect, could be so satisfactorily drawn up and recorded, as Mr. Chanter has so successfully done for Barnstaple. The quaint notes in the registers written by the clerk give some sort of key to his character, and the recollections of the oldest inhabitants might be set down who can tell us something of the life and character of those who have lived in more modern times. We sometimes record in our churches the names of the bishops of the see, and of the incumbents of the parish; perhaps a list of the humbler but no less faithful servants of the Church, the parish clerks, might be added.