I am emailing you as I have looked at your Cary website on the internet. I am a member of the Museum Committee here in Castle Cary in Somerset. As you will not be surprised to learn we frequently receive requests from people searching their Cary ancestors. Many of them take their line back to Adam de Kari as he is recorded in many books as being the Lord of Castle Cary in Somerset.
However we have never been able to find any evidence that this is so and I note that you do mention the uncertainly of this connection. Now recently we have undertaken a detailed search of all the known sources and we can say that he was in fact based in a Castle Cary in the Tamar Valley in Devon and that the connection to Castle Cary in Somerset is an error based on a manuscript written in 1630. Unfortunately this error has then been repeated in some of the subsequent publications.
Further the records show that the lords of the manor here were the families of Perceval/Lovel, St Maur, Zouches and Willoughbys. No Cary has ever been the lord of the manor here. If you would like a more detailed explanation of all this please feel free to ask and I will happily email it to you,
For Castle Cary Museum
Many thanks for your reply. To enlarge on the information in my last email I am attaching a two page summary of the research carried out recently in an attempt to resolve the confusion over this man. So far as a credit is concerned in this respect I am Vice Chairman of the Committee at the Castle Cary Museum in Somerset,
Adam de Kari: Was he the Lord of Castle Cary?
This is frequently asked when people are researching their family history and are able to take their line back to this man. This paper tries to answer that question.
The name of the river that rises in Castle Cary and flows out onto the Somerset Levels is Celtic in origin and simply means ‘pleasant stream’ although some authorities also suggest it means a rocky place by a stream. It therefore predates the Saxons who were here before the Norman invasion.
Cary as a family name is also fairly common but the earliest occurrence of it in the Castle Cary records is in 1588 when the baptism of an Edward Cary is recorded in the parish register. Then over the years many people with this name have lived in the town but there is nothing to suggest that this is more than a simple coincidence. Various families with the name Cary have come and gone, none of them having any connection to the Manor. That someone moving away could then have been called ‘of Cary’- is certainly likely but as there are other places which include the word Cary in their name both in this area and elsewhere it would be impossible to draw more than very general conclusions from this.
The Lords of Castle Cary in Somerset
The names of the lords of Castle Cary are recorded in The Domesday Book and other documentary sources. The first owner of what can be called the manor of Cary in Somerset was a Saxon thegn named Elsi or Alfsi. He was displaced by William the Conqueror after the Norman invasion and the lands given to Walter of Douai. When his male line moved elsewhere the lordship was given to Robert Perceval de Breherval. He was succeeded by his son Ascelin Gouell de Perceval who acquired the nickname ‘Lupus’ and this became the surname of the family changing to Lovel. During the next few centuries, mainly by descent and marriage, the estate passed successively through the hands of the Lovels, the St Maurs (Seymour) the Zouches and the Willoughbys. Eventually Edward, Duke of Somerset purchased it and then in 1684 it was sold again and the estate broken up. Later the Lordship of the Manor was purchased by the Hoare family of Stourhead in Wiltshire. No person with the name Cary has ever been lord of the manor in the town.
Adam de Kari first appears in the “Heralds Visitation of Devon of 1620” there being no mention of him in earlier visitations. A much later visitation then states that Adam was lord of Castle Cary in 1198. Although useful the visitations must be treated with some caution as the information was often supplied by the families in question so it is unclear how reliable this might be. The then head of the family was Sir William Cary and in referring to Adam de Kari he was going back up to twelve generations and four hundred years. Concerning Castle Cary the pedigree explicitly places it in Devon thus; “Sir John Cary…had landes in three sundrie shires, Devon, Dorset and Somerset…at Hoke in Dorset, at Castle Cary in Devon.”
However this warning has been clearly been missed or ignored by later writers and several books published on the Cary family continue to state that Adam de Kari was the Lord of Castle Cary in Somerset in 1198. In some books later generations are listed as born in Castle Cary Somerset whilst in others the family is immediately removed back to a place in Devon with the same name. There are now also at least a dozen family history pages online which perpetuate the story and simply quote extracts from these books.
It is now clear that the Cary family was based in Devon and no evidence of any connection with Castle Cary in Somerset has been found. They held lands in two areas. Firstly in Torbay, the Manor of Cockington which they held from 1374 until 1654 and also Torre Abbey. In St Marychurch there is a nineteenth century pseudo-mediaeval house built by a branch of the family and called Cary Castle. This similarity of name has caused additional confusion with the assumption that Cary Castle and Castle Cary are one and the same thing
The list of the lords of Castle Cary in Somerset shows that the Perceval/Lovel family were the lords here from before 1120 until 1330. The family of Adam de Kari was firmly located in Devon and any suggestion that he was the Lord of Castle Cary in Somerset in 1198 is unsustainable.
 Victoria County History of Somerset, Vol X Castle Cary and the Brue-Cary Watershed, ed Mary Siraut, 2010,
Hershon, Cyril P. The Castles of Cary, Pavalas Press Bristol, 1990
 St.George, Sir Henry & Lennard, Sampson. The Visitation of the County of Devon in 1620, ed F T Colby, Harleian Society, 1872
 Westcote, Thomas. A View of Devonshire in 1630 with a pedigree of most of its gentry, ed G Oliver & P Jones, Exeter,1845
 cf; Pole, Sir William. Collections towards a description of the County of Devon, 1701.
Izacke, Richard. An Alphabetical Register of divers persons…of the county of Devon, 1736
 cf; Cary, Henry Grosvenor. The Cary Family in England, Boston, 1906
 Gerard, Thomas. Particular Description of the County of Somerset 1633, ed E H Bates, Somerset Record Soc, 1900
Harrison, Fairfax. The Devon Carys, New York, 1920
Ellis, Arthur Charles. An Historical Survey of Torquay, Exeter, 1930