From the 'Lympstone Jottings' of 'The Devon Weekly Times' March 22nd 1895:
"Mr Williams related a bit of interesting history in connection with Lympstone and the River. When the Bight Oyster Company had formed (ca. 1862) they laid certain claims to the foreshore along the sides of the river for some distance and placed buoys at certain points. Lympstone fishermen, who had been in the habit of getting shellfish, did not see the fun of having their ancient rights taken away by a new Company and, as per usual would go and gather cockles and other shellfish.
"Eight of these men were arrested and taken to Starcross, and one of them was bound over to appear at Exeter Assizes. It was to be a test case. However on the Saturday before the Monday on which the man was to appear at Exeter the poor fellow dropped dead. The next day a letter was received from the Admiralty saying that the prosecution was not to be proceeded with. Then Lympstone fishermen gathered together all the Oyster Company's buoys and took them out over the bar and left them, 'and' added Mr Williams, 'I dare say they are out there now.'"
Dramatic arrests and a death! It can't quite have been the way Mr Williams, (of Sowden?) remembered it, but it's a good tale and there must be a foundation of truth to it which we shall sound.