Book about the Exmouth dynasty crosses Pond

PUBLISHED: 11:32 13 November 2014 | UPDATED: 11:32 13 November 2014




The tale of Exmouth's enigmatic Bryce dynasty, the Victorian family which made a mint from bird droppings by working Chinese coolies to exhaustion and built Devon's most expensive mansion, has reached their descendents 'across the pond'.

Exmouth Local History Group’s fascinating book, The Elusive Bryce Family, chronicles the story of John Paul Bryce who came from a dubious background dealing with Peruvian guano (fertiliser) harvested by Chinese coolies.

John Paul Bryce moved to Exmouth in 1859 and built Marley (pictured), which, in today’s money, would have cost £25million.

He also took over the estate of Bystock, now the home of the threatened Bystock Court.

However, John Bryce’s brother, Francis, stayed in Peru, where he became involved in large-scale sugar production.

He survived the war in Chile and falling out with his US business partners, and, to this day, some of his descendants remain in Peru and in the United States.

Mike Tracey, of the group, said: “Thanks to the efforts of Trevor Bryce, Luis and Rodolfo Bryce, direct descendants of Francis were alerted to the existence of the book.

“Rodolfo happened to be visiting his son in London, so took a day out to come to Exmouth, where he met Trevor, local historian Ian Cann and the book’s author, June Coulson.”

He was shown Bystock Court, the site of Marley - the house was demolished in the 1930s - and the Bryce’s private burial ground at St John in the Wilderness, which he is interested in restoring to its full glory.

Mike added: “He was so impressed with the book that he bought seven copies for distribution to the family back home.”

If you missed the book first time around, it is available for £15 from Sleeman’s in Exeter Road.

It would make a great Christmas present for anybody interested in Exmouth history.

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