During 2013 the Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage were supported by a Heritage Lottery Grant to undertake the Voices of the Hoar Oak Valley Project. The aim was to find and share the little known story of this remote cottage and the lives and work of the shepherd families who once called it home. The Friends are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for providing a grant under their ‘All Our Stories’ programme which supported this work.   The project was successfully completed in 2014 and the results have been, and continue to be, shared through talks, presentations, exhibitions as well as through this website, Facebook and Twitter. For more information about the project please feel free to contact us.

THE STOCK DIARIES of Robert Tait Little and William Little

In 2013, as part of the Voices of the Hoar Oak Valley Project, two remarkable sets of books came to our attention.  They are the stock diaries kept by Head Shepherd Robert Tait Little and Hoar Oak Shepherd Bill Little.  Both shepherds and their families came from Scotland and although they share a surname are not related.

In the mid-1800s Robert Tait Little came to Exmoor from Dumfries in Scotland to be Head Shepherd for the Knight family and their Exmoor Estate and you can read more about Robert Tait Little on this link.

Also in the mid 1800s, a shepherd called John Little came to Exmoor from Peebles in Lanarkshire and founded a family which still has strong roots on Exmoor including a grandson and shepherd Bill Little. You can read the story of the Little family on this link.

Both men kept stock diaries – Bill Little about his herds including when he was shepherd at Hoar Oak Cottage and Robert Tait Little about all of the herds on Exmoor between 1870 and his death in 1907.

Both sets of diaries have been digitised, transcribed and interpreted thanks to the Devon Family History Society, volunteers from family members and from the Devon Voluntary Association and Nora Solesbury from Prestwick in Scotland.   The work goes on to find a partner to carry on this work and make the diaries available to more interested parties.

If you would like to find out more please contact us.

Examples of the diaries kept by Exmoor Head Shepherd Robert Tait Little between 1870 and 1907.
Archive Ref: 3394/HOC261 Stock Diaries of Bill Little including for Hoar Oak Cottage. Several diaries and stock books in different formats.