Sir John died in Exmouth in 1754 and was buried in the churchyard of his beloved St Michael’s and All Angels Church in Withycombe Raleigh. His elaborate tomb had his family coat of arms on it. The attached picture of the church shows his tomb in the foreground. The church was eventually demolished in 1865 and on its site is now Withycombe Raleigh Primary School. The churchyard, right beside the road, is now a peaceful grass covered area, where all the headstones have long since disappeared, there just being one or two stones lying at grass level. Withycombe Village  Road was widened by the burial ground in 1967.

Whereas, when the graveyard was deconsecrated and the bodies of about twenty souls were discovered in lead-lined coffins in a crypt and reinterred at St John’s in the Wilderness, the whereabouts of any remains of Sir John’s tomb are a mystery and the subject of ongoing investigation. However, the following may shed light on it:

In a report of St Michael’s Churchyard of February 1967 when the road widening commenced and the following book: Sources: In the book Memorials of Exmouth by William Everett in 1875, on page 18.

My thanks also go to the church at St John’s in the Wilderness for their help in trying to solve this mystery and to Maurice Southwell for his assistance which at the time of writing remains a mystery unsolved!

Sir John Colleton, 4th Baronet:

Grandson of Sir John Colleton, the 3rd baronet and was born in 1738 at Fairlawn, Charleston Berkeley, South Carolina, He was the son of John and Susanna (nee Snell) Colleton. He lived at Fairlawn almost all of his life, returning to England only occasionally. On one of the visits he married Anne Fulford, daughter of Francis Fulford of Great Fulford, Devon. This turned out to be an unfortunate marriage which was afterwards dissolved by an Act of Parliament in 1771. He married secondly, Jane Mutter of Bovey Tracey, Devon in 1774.

He died in 1778, aged 40 at Monks Corner, Charleston Berkely, South Carolina. On his death he had disinherited his two sons by his second wife and he left his entire estate to Louisa Caroline Colleton, his daughter by his first wife. However, Fairlawn and all its contents were totally destroyed in 1781 at the end of the American Civil War, so Louisa did not inherit a vast fortune.

Sir John Snell Colleton. 5th Baronet:

He was born in 1775 at Fairlawn, and was three years old when he inherited the baronetcy in 1778 on the death of his father. In 1785 he was taken back to Devon by his aunt, Louisa and never returned to South Carolina. This ended the Colleton family’s connection with South Carolina.

He joined the Royal Navy in 1795 and as a Lieutenant was captured by the French and was listed as an exchanged prisoner of war in France and landed in Plymouth on 12 July 1796. He left the navy in 1799.

He died on 28 July 1801 in Melcombe Regis, Dorset, aged 25, unmarried and without children.

Sir James Nassau Colleton. 6th Baronet:

The son of Robert and Ann Colleton, born on 23 March 1752 at Ash Park, Hertfordshire. He married Susanna Nixon, the daughter of William and Elizabeth Nixon (nee Smalley) on 2 December 1778 at St Pancras, London.

He received £10,000 compensation from the British government for his family’s losses in South Carolina and purchased an estate near Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire with this money.

He died on 16 January 1815, aged 62 and is buried at Euston/Camden, London.

Next week we will conclude the story of the family to the present day, but in the meantime, if you would like to know more visit the museum website at or email Mike at