It cannot be said that the race is altogether extinct. The magistrates have had much trouble with certain persons living in hovels on the outskirts of the moor, who subsist in the same manner. They carry off lambs and young horses before they are marked, and when it is difficult, not to say impossible, for the owners to identify them. Their own ewes always have doubles.
In the West Okement valley, in a solitary spot, are the foundations of a cottage in which for many years a man lived, preying upon the flocks and cattle on the moor, and carrying on his depredations with such cunning that he was never caught. It was shrewdly suspected that he was in league with a number of small farmers, and that he was by this means able to pass on his captures and ensure their concealment.
Black Down is an extensive ridge of moorland traversed by the high road from Okehampton to Tavistock. The highest point is called Gibbet Hill, but tradition is silent as to who hung there.
In the Mary Tavy register occurs this entry:—
"1691, March 12, William Warden, a currier, was whipped by the Parson and Churchwardens of Whitchurch, and ordered to be passed on as a wandering rogue from parish to parish, by the officers therein, in 26 days to his native place, Cheshunt in Hertfordshire, and as the Churchwardens were conveying him on horseback over Black Down, he died on the back of the horse, and was buried the same night."
The parson of Whitchurch was a Mr. Polwhele, who was also justice of peace.