Although unmentioned in modern reference books and works of economic history, Thornton was one of the greatest commercial figures of the day and, writes W.G. Hoskins, when he died, left “by far the largest fortune of the century to that date.”
Much of the history of any English district is recorded in its farmhouses. This, writes W.G. Hoskins, is particularly true of Devon; where, at some places, “farming has been carried out without a break since Romano-British times,” and possibly from the prehistoric period.
Not problems of the Squire’s pedigree, or of titles to land, but the origins and growth of town and village communities, W.G. Hoskins argues, should be the subjects of local historians today.