Acc 1930-0: Deeds and papers, originally a temporary deposit, c50 boxes;
Acc 3356-0: eleven bundles of deeds and associated legal and testamentary papers relating mainly to properties in Dunkeswell (Sterwood, Abbeywood, Butsons etc.), Broadhembury, Hemyock, Uffculme, Shaldon and Shobrooke, 1891-1919.
This company now operates as Stags. Stags is one of the oldest and most respected firms of chartered surveyors and auctioneers in the South West, with a distinguished heritage dating back to the 19th Century, based on livestock markets and valuations. Over the course of time, Stags has expanded the focus of its business to encompass property sales, lettings and farm agency.
The origins of Stags can be traced back to the Mid 1800s and four rival Devon firms of agricultural valuers and auctioneers: Dobbs and Son (North Molton), Edwin Cockram (South Molton), Hewitt & Stagg (Exeter) and Cook and Birmingham (Tiverton), (who were later bought out by Hewitt & Stagg). In 1923 all these firms decided to merge and became a single practice under the name Cockram, Dobbs and Stagg, auctioneers. The firm remained the same until 1950, when it amalgamated with Knowlman & Sons, a renowned firm of auctioneers in Wellington, Somerset, with the aim of establishing a presence in the Taunton market.
At this point, the new firm, Dobbs, Stagg, Knowlman & Co, was still predominantly livestock auctioneers, running 31 markets mainly based at railway stations or collection centres, with drovers to take the stock to the nearest station. Farm sales were prevalent with the auctioneer arriving by pony and trap the day before to set up the sale, playing cards and drinking into the night followed by the farm sale the next day. Marketing was by illegal fly posting or an announcement at the Parish church on the Sunday and therefore very localised.
The auctioneers were also agricultural valuers and would often carry out 50 tenant right valuations each Lent and Michaelmas, since farms often changed hands as there was no security of tenure prior to the Agricultural Holdings Act 1948. In the 1960s the firm started to specialise, with numerous markets now concentrated at three centres, and developed specialist sales (dairy) as well as property. Another name change came in 1979, when Dobbs, Stagg, Knowlman & Co was shortened to the punchier Stags, with a Stags head logo for marketing purposes. John Stagg was still a senior partner and the firm was still predominantly an agricultural and auctioneering business, concentrating on three livestock markets, as well as dairy sales, professional work and some farm sales.
The new Stags continued to grow and from 1981 to 1990 it expanded from five to seven offices. The focus by now had shifted to property with further specialisation in agriculture with livestock markets, on-site farm sales, an expanded professional department (offering rural property consultancy services), eight Letting offices, Farm Agency, Holiday Complexes, Commercial and Development Land and Planning departments. Several more mergers took place, as the partners carried out their policy of opening offices in all major towns throughout the West Country. In Plymouth Stags amalgamated with a local firm called Punch and Roche, while in Honiton, in 1996, Stags took over an old firm of Devon auctioneers, T D Hussey & Son, who had been in business since 1777.