Magna Britannia: Volume 6, Devonshire. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1822.
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Westcote, writing in the reign of Charles I., says, that whereas considerable quantities of grain used formerly to be exported from this county; it was in his time, from the increase of manufactures, especially in the north and south parts, become so populous that much grain was imported, and he instances one year (1610) in which as much-was brought into the county as sold for 60,000l. Mr. Fraser, in his Survey, (1794,) speaks of the district about Kingsbridge, Dartmouth, and Modbury, as remarkable for the produce of barley, and observes that it was exported from Salcombe in quantities scarcely to be credited. A great part of the barley is now malted in the county: the quantities exported in the year 1820 from the port of Dartmouth (in which Salcombe is included) were 5548 quarters of barley, and 7180 quarters of malt. There were exported also from this port 2468 quarters of wheat, 558 of wheat flour, and 357 of oats; all these were sent coastwise. Great quantities of corn are grown in the neighbourhood of Hartland, Bideford, and Ilfracombe; and there is a considerable exportation from those ports. (fn. n1)
The chief corn-markets in the county are Exeter, Tavistock, Totnes, Barnstaple, Plymouth, and Kingsbridge.
About the year 1770 potatoes were grown in great quantities in the neighbourhood of Moreton Hampstead: they were taken to a market then held at Two-bridges on Dartmoor, and purchased for the supply of Plymouth and its populous neighbourhood, which is now entirely supplied with potatoes grown south of Dartmoor. Potatoes are now grown in considerable quantities in the South Hams: 90,498 bushels were exported from Dartmouth in 1820.
I find no data for ascertaining when Devonshire first became noted as a cyder county. Orchards are not mentioned in the Domesday survey, and I have not met with any incidental mention of them in records of the two or three centuries succeeding, to throw any light on the subject. It appears from a passage in Hoker's MS. Survey of Devon (fn. n2), written in the sixteenth century, that a considerable variety of apples were then cultivated, and he does not speak of orchards as a novelty. He enumerates thirteen sorts, one of which he calls the cyder fruit. The following passage from the description of Great Britain (fn. n3) by Harrison, who was a contemporary of Hoker, intimates that cyder was then by no means a common liquor; the more general use of it seems to have taken place before the beginning of the ensuing century. "In some places of England," says he, "there is a kind of drink made of apples, which they call cider, or pomage, but that of peares is named pirrie, and both are ground and pressed in presses made for the nonce; certes these two are very common in Sussex, Kent, Worcester, and other steedes (Devonshire is not mentioned), where these sorts of fruit do abound; howbeit they are not their only drinke at all times, but referred unto the delicate sorts of drinke, as metheglin in Wales." A great increase of orcharding took place in Devonshire soon after this. Westcote, writing early in the following century, says, "They have of late years much enlarged their orchards, and are very curious in planting and grafting all kynds of fruits for all seasons, of which they make good use and profyt, both for furnishing their own table and the neighbouring markets; but most especially for making of cyder, a drink both pleasant and healthye (fn. n4), much desired of seamen for long voyages, more fitte to make beverage than beere, and much cheaper and easier to be had than wyne." (fn. n5)
Great quantities of cyder are now made, in a productive year, for exportation. The largest exportation ever known was in the year 1820, in which 11,265 hogsheads (fn. n6) were sent from the ports of Exeter and Dartmouth (the former including Teignmouth, and the latter Salcombe (fn. n7) ). Prodigious quantities are made for home-consumption. Almost every part of the county has its orchards; but the cyder of the South Hams is preferred, and it is there only, and in the neighbourhood of Exeter, that it is made for exportation. I find however in Polwhele an observation that cyder of a fine quality is made in the parishes of Dunkeswell and Church Staunton, said to have been equal to that of the South Hams; and this observation I have heard confirmed. In the more fertile parts of the county, most adapted for the culture of the apple-tree, the produce is said to be immense. Mr. Polwhele speaks of one tree as having produced five hogsheads of cyder. Mr. Fraser mentions an orchard of three acres at Staverton, which, in 1793, produced 80 hogsheads. It is estimated that in that parish alone 8000 hogsheads are made in a full-bearing year: there are 32 presses and pounds in the parish. Dartington also, and some other of the neighbouring parishes, produce great abundance of cyder, and of the richest quality.
Cyder is sent from Devonshire to London, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Sunderland, Leith, Swansea, Liverpool, and thence by the canals into Yorkshire, &c.
The parish of Beer Ferrers has long been noted for its produce of fruit, as cherries, strawberries (fn. n8), pears, walnuts, &c. Goodleigh has long been, and still is, famous for its produce of cherries, which are brought to the market at Barnstaple. There are cherry-orchards also at Christow. Paignton, on the Torbay coast, is famous for a peculiar sort of cabbage, which takes its name from that village: it is grown also in great quantities in the adjoining parish of Cockington: this cabbage is an excellent vegetable, and there is a great demand for it in the season, as well as for the seed and plants. The great markets for it are Exeter and Plymouth.
Hemp was formerly grown in great quantities in the parish of Comb Martin. It was spoken of as an important commodity when it was proposed to make a port at Hartland, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. (fn. n9) It has long ceased to be cultivated in that neighbourhood. Flax is spoken of by Campbell as one of the principal commodities of Devon at a later period. It is still cultivated in considerable quantities in the parish of Halberton, and some is grown in the adjoining parishes, on the borders of Somersetshire.
Among the vegetable productions of the earth, or rather of the rocks, which have been converted to a commercial purpose, may be mentioned the lichens, or rock-moss, used by the dyers. We are told that, in the years from 1762 to 1767 inclusive, Mr. Davy, whose brother had obtained a patent for making it into English orchil, collected, from the rocks and tors of Dartmoor, nearly 100 tons of the lichen tartareus. Many tons of this lichen, and of the lichen parellus, which is applicable to the same purposes, were collected in the neighbourhood of Oakhampton about 20 years ago. After they have been well stripped, it requires many years to clothe the rocks again with these vegetable productions; but I am informed that there is now a plentiful crop of both species.
The number of cattle bred in this county is considerable; they are, for the most part, sent in droves from various parts of the county, to the graziers, in Somersetshire, Essex, &c., who fatten them for the London markets. Considerable numbers of sheep also are bred in the north of Devon, and there is a great sheep-fair at Bampton, but not equal to those in Hampshire. Among the exports of 1820 at Dartmouth, I find 3684 sheep sent coastwise to Portsmouth and Brighthelmstone.
The wool grown on Dartmoor was formerly (in the reign of Edward I.) exported in considerable quantities to foreign countries. In more modern times it has formed one of the principal articles of importation, especially in the more flourishing periods of the manufactures.
Butter is sent in considerable quantities from the neighbourhood of Honiton, Axminster, &c., to London. I am assured, from the best authority (fn. n10), that not less than 1500 dozen pounds are sent weekly from Honiton to London, and about 300 dozen pounds for the supply of the towns on the south coast of Devon. During the war, great quantities were sent to Portsmouth.
What has been said of the Cornish mines may here be repeated of the tin-mines of this county; that it appears from Strabo, Herodotus, and other ancient writers, that the Phœnicians, and after them successively the Greeks and the Romans, traded for that article with the western inhabitants of Britain, and that there is no doubt that it had become an article of commerce at a very remote period, and continued such even during the middle ages. There is no mention of the Devonshire tin-mines in the record of Domesday; yet we find that so early as the reign of Richard I. it was one of the principal sources of the revenue of the earldom of Cornwall. In the tenth year of that monarch's reign, the earldom being then in the crown, William de Wortham accounted at the exchequer for the ferm and issues of the tin-mines of Devon and Cornwall. (fn. n11) In the 14th of King John, the same William accounted for the sum of 200 marks for the ferm of the stannary of Cornwall, and 200l. for the ferm of that of Devon, by which it seems that the Devonshire mines were then worked to a greater extent than those of Cornwall. It is probable, however, that, from some temporary causes, the tin-mines were not then so productive as they afterwards became; for the immense wealth which enabled Earl Richard, in 1257, to purchase the title of King of the Romans, has been attributed by the old foreign historians to the revenue which he derived from the tin-mines of his earldom.
In 1250 King Henry III. had granted a charter of protection to the tinners of Devon, commanding all knights and others, of whom the tinners of Dartmoor held, that they should not exact from them other customs or services than they ought, and had been accustomed to do, nor to vex them contrary to the liberties they had before enjoyed under charters of the King's predecessors, but maintain them in the said liberties. (fn. n12) In 1337 the profits of the coinage of tin to the Earl of Cornwall, in the county of Devon, were 273l. 19s. 5¾d. (fn. n13) In the years 1373, 1374, and 1375, the coinage of tin produced, on an average, only 127l. per annum. (fn. n14) In 1471 the quantity of tin raised in Devon was 242,624 lb. the profit to the duke 190l. 17s. 11½d., being at the rate of 1s. 6¾d. per hundred weight. The quantity raised in Cornwall that year was 851,116 lb., the profit 1705l. 5d., the rate of duty in that county being at 4s. per hundred weight. In 1479 the weight of tin was, in Devon, 211,045 lb., the profit 166l. 9s. 5½d.; in Cornwall, 808,950 lb., the profit 1620l. 17s. 11d. (fn. n15) The profits in both counties, 15 Hen. VIII., were 2771l. 3s. 9¼d. In that year there were, in the county of Devon, 424 tinners, who paid what was called the white rent, 8d. per annum, to the duchy. In the year 1602 the profit of the coinage of tin in this county was only 102l. 17s. 9¾d. (fn. n16)
The average quantity of tin raised in Devon for six years, ending at Michaelmas 1820, was 1171 blocks, weighing 586 cwt. and 9lbs., and yielding a duty of 45l. 17s. 9d. (fn. n17) Of the tin-mines now worked, Vitifer, in the parish of North Bovey, Ailsborough, in that of Shipstor, and Whiteworks, in that of Lidford, are upon a large scale. The former has been rather productive, but is now on the point of being abandoned. Gobbets, in Widdecombe in the Moor, is, or was lately, working: Wheal Union, in Ashburton, and Bottlehill, in Plympton St. Mary, are, or were lately, working for tin and copper. There are also some stream-works and small mines near Dartmouth, worked by labouring miners on their own account.
There have been old tin-mines in most of the parishes bordering on Dartmoor (fn. n18), and stream-works on most of the rivers in its neighbourhood; the old stream-works at Plympton were renewed some years ago, but have not been worked since 1805.
Early in the sixteenth century the stream-works on all these and the Cornish rivers were worked to a great extent, whereby the principal southern ports and havens of the two counties were decayed and destroyed. The act passed for their preservation, in 1531, states in the preamble, that so great a quantity of sand, gravel, stone, rubble, earth, and filth, descending and coming down from the rivers near which the said works were carried on, had so filled and choked the said havens that whereas ships of 800 tons might heretofore have easily entered at low water, then ships of 100 tons could scarcely enter at half-flood. It was enacted, that no person should search for tin near the rivers connected with these havens, unless the searchers should make "hatches or tyes" to secure the said stone, sand, gravel, &c., from being carried down by the rivers, under a penalty of 10l. By another act passed four years after, the penalty was increased to 20l. It was enacted in the fourteenth year of Richard II., that tin should be exported from Dartmouth only; but this statute was repealed the following year. The tin concerns are regulated by the stannary laws (fn. n19), which have been already mentioned. The stannary towns of Devon are, Ashburton, Chagford, Plympton, and Tavistock. The tin was formerly smelted and coined in the county, but since the produce raised has been so much diminished, it has been taken into Cornwall to be smelted.
It appears that some copper-mines were worked in this county early in the last century; but it was not before the commencement of the present that they were worked to any extent. Mr. Polwhele, in his History of Devon, published in 1798, speaks of copper-mines at Ashburton, WoodHuish, in the parish of Brixham, Sampford Spiney, and a mine at Oakhampton, worked some years, but then long since deserted. Of these mines he promised to give a more particular account, but it is not to be found in the subsequent part of his work. By inquiry at Oakhampton, I cannot find that any copper-mine had been ever worked there with success. The history of mining, in the Cyclopædia of Dr. Rees, states that previously to 1800 it was supposed that the copper-mines of Devon, mostly situated within a few miles of the town of Tavistock, had not altogether, in any one year, yielded more than 100 tons of fine copper, and even this was then a recent occurrence. The rise of price of the metal gave a great stimulus to the exertions of the miners, and from this time the quantity of ore dug greatly increased.
In 1811 there were seven mines worked in the county of Devon, exclusively perhaps of a few others unproductive: the names of these are subjoined, with the quantity of ore offered for sale by each.
|Wheal Crebor (on the Tavistock canal)||1308|
The following account of the produce of the copper-mines of Devon from the beginning of the century to 1811, is copied from the new edition of Risdon, having been communicated by Mr. John Taylor, who has obligingly enabled me to continue it to the present time.
The principal copper-mines now worked are Wheal Friendship, in Mary Tavy; Wheal Crowndale, in Tavistock; Wheal Crebor, near the tunnel on the Tavistock canal; East and West Liscombe, on the south side of the Tavistock tunnel; and Wheal Tamar, adjoining East Liscombe on the west; and a mine at Buckfastleigh.
Wheal Friendship mine, which produces also some lead, is very productive of rich copper ore. It has been working for 25 or 26 years, and is now about 170 fathoms deep. Wheal Crowndale, which was discovered in 1799, was very rich in ore for about ten years, but of late years has been so little productive, that it is now nearly abandoned; it is 110 fathoms deep. Wheal Crebor was very rich from about 1811 to 1819, when it became unproductive; but further discoveries have been lately made which promise to render it again more productive: it is about 80 fathoms deep. East Liscombe, discovered about three years ago, has lately become productive; a large water-wheel has been erected to drain the mine, for the purpose of prosecuting further discoveries: it is now about 50 fathoms deep. Wheal Tamar, near the river of that name, has been working about 30 years, and was rich with copper-ore for a short time, but has not of late years been so productive. This is the only copper-mine in the county which has a steam-engine; the others being worked by very powerful overshot water-wheels, some of which are from 40 to 50 feet diameter. The four last mentioned mines, Wheal Crowndale, Wheal Crebor, East Liscombe, and Wheal Tamar, are on the same lode which ranges as usual from east to west, and are included in a space of about four miles in length. There are other small copper-mines which have been tried, or are now exploring, but they are not considered as being entitled to particular notice. (fn. n20) The copper-mine at North Molton is said to have been worked many years with good success. (fn. n21) It had been abandoned before 1778. Vancouver speaks of its having been re-opened, and worked about the year 1813; but it was not found to answer to the adventurers, and has since been wholly abandoned. (fn. n22)
The lead mines of this county and of Cornwall are more enriched with silver than those of any other part of the kingdom. The produce of the mines at Comb Martin and Beer Alston, is said to have been unusually great in the reigns of Edward I. and II., and to have much enriched the treasury of those monarchs. In the year 1293, William de Wymundham accounted at the treasury for 270 pounds of silver raised in Devonshire, which was given towards the portion of Eleanor, the king's daughter, then married to the Duke of Barr. The next year there was refined the quantity of 521l. 10s. weight; and in 1295, 704l. 3s. 1d. weight. In 1296, in which year 360 miners were impressed out of Derbyshire and Wales, there was great profit from the Devonshire mines. (fn. n23)
In the year 1326 it appears, that the mine of Bir-lond, which I take to have been Beer, was in the king's hands, certain persons being then empowered to elect miners in the counties of Cornwall and Devon, and to bring back such as had deserted from the works. (fn. n24) In the early part of Edward the Third's reign, I find a grant to the inhabitants of Devon, of liberty to dig for gold or silver on their own lands for two years, giving an account to the king's clerks. (fn. n25) In 1358, the king granted to John Ballantine and Walter Bolbolter, all his mines of gold and silver for two years. (fn. n26) This, probably, was an experiment; for I find that at the end of the two years, the king took the mines into his own hands. In 1360, a writ was issued authorising certain persons to take up so many miners and workmen as should be necessary to work in the king's mines in Devonshire, allowing them reasonable wages according to the custom of the country; to arrest and imprison such as should resist, till they should give security to serve the king in the said mines; and to buy and provide timber at a competent price. (fn. n27) In 1361, John Wolf was made controller of the king's mines in Devonshire. (fn. n28) In 1370, there was a writ, directed to the masters of the king's mines in the county of Devon, empowering them to take eight men (miners, melters, and boilers,) out of the county of York, and six miners from the counties of Nottingham and Derby. (fn. n29) King Richard II., in 1377, assigned Henry de Burton, by himself and his deputies, to search all mines of gold and silver in the counties of Devon, Cornwall, &c., as well in the banks of rivers, and in rivulets, as in other places in the said counties, where it might seem to him most for the king's advantage; and also to elect and take, wheresoever they might be found, such labourers and workers as should be necessary for the said digging and works; and to imprison such as should resist. (fn. n30)
In 1384, King Richard II. granted to Nicholas Wake, Clerk, license to dig for gold and silver in Devon for ten years (fn. n31), paying tithes to the church, and one-ninth to the king. (fn. n32) In 1405, Henry and John Derby, had a lease of the king's mines in Devon, the prior of Pilton being made controller. (fn. n33) In 1427, John Duke of Bedford had a lease of these mines for ten years (fn. n34); and in 1438, John Solers for 20 years, from the expiration of the Duke of Bedford's term, paying to the crown a fifteenth of pure gold and silver. (fn. n35) In 1440, Richard Curson, Esq., had a 20 years' lease of all mines of gold and silver in Devon and Cornwall, with wood and underwood requisite for the purpose of proving and refining the metal. (fn. n36) John Bottright, the king's chaplain, was made controller of the mines in 1451 (fn. n37) : in 1454, Alured Cornburgh. (fn. n38) The next year they were granted to Richard Duke of York, for 20 years. (fn. n39) John Bottright, abovementioned, was made governor of the mine at Beer Ferrers in 1457 (fn. n40); and soon afterwards he made complaint, as appears by a record in the Exchequer, that Robert Glover, by the command of Roger Champernowne, (lord of the manor) had taken away 144 bouls of glance ore, valued at 15l. 6s. 8d., and made profit of the same without any thing allowed to the king, to the king's damage of 100l. (fn. n41) In 1461, the Devonshire mines were leased to John Ormond, Esq., for 22 years. (fn. n42) The same year, soon after the accession of Edward IV., all the king's mines in Devon and Cornwall were leased to Sir John Neville, of Montague, at the annual rent of 110l. (fn. n43)
The Comb Martin mines were re-opened in the reign of Queen Elizabeth under the direction of Sir Bevis Bulmer, a skilful engineer, much esteemed by that queen and her ministers. Mr. Bushell, a celebrated mineralogist of that day, and a pupil of Sir Francis Bacon, strongly recommended the reworking of the Comb Martin mines to the long parliament, in 1659. Fuller, who wrote soon after the Restoration, observes that the mines had not recovered their former credit. They do not appear to have been reopened before the close of that century, and then without success. The mines were opened again in 1813, and continued to be worked for four years, during which time 208 tons of ore were shipped for Bristol; but the quantity of silver obtained being not found sufficient to pay for the expence of working, they were given up in the month of August, 1817.
The mines at Beer Alston and Beer Ferrers, are remarkable for the length of time for which at different periods they have been worked, and for the quantity of silver which they contain; the silver in each ton of lead being from 80 ounces to 120. (fn. n44) This I suppose to be the same mine which in a record of the reign of Henry VI. is called Bir-lond. Either this or the mine at Beer Ferrers, was worked in the reign of Charles II. by Sir John Maynard, but, as it is said, without success. In 1783, or 1784, this mine was again opened by Christopher Gullett, Esq., and the silver produce of the year 1784 and 1785, amounted to 6500 ounces. (fn. n45) Extensive preparations were made for opening the Beer Alston mines again, about 1809, and the undertaking was divided into 3000 shares of 100l. each. It has been said, that some time after the last re-opening, 6000 ounces of silver were procured in six weeks. The mines are described as 110 fathom deep, and running under the Tamar. (fn. n46) The Beer Alston and Beer Ferrers mines are contiguous, upon two lodes, or veins. They have not answered to the adventurers, and the whole has been again abandoned except the mine called South Hooe. Wheal Betsy lead-mine, in Mary Tavy, which had been worked about 80 years ago, was re-opened about 1806, and has been a productive concern. The quantity of pig-lead obtained from it is now between 300 and 400 tons in a year, and the silver from 4000 to 5000 ounces, although a ton of the lead yields only 12 ounces. (fn. n47) This mine is drained by large water-wheels, and is now about 60 fathom deep, with good promise of continuing productive. (fn. n48)
About the year 1787, Mr. Gullet, above mentioned, re-opened a lead and silver mine at Newton St. Cyres; but it was abandoned after a trial of five or six years. The proportion of silver in this ore is said to have been 30 ounces in a ton. (fn. n49) The lead veins or lodes in Devon range from north to south, crossing the usual direction of the copper and tin mines. It is said that there have been lead-mines formerly at Ilsington. Lead-ore has been found at Rattery. Lead is found accompanying the copper in Wheal Friendship mine. At one time, this was the only lead ore raised in the county. (fn. n50)
Most of the ores dug in the mines near Tavistock, are exported from Plymouth. The quantities have of late decreased; in 1819, 9271 tons were exported; in 1820, 8096; and in 1821, only 6312.
There are said to have been old iron mines at Rattery, and near South Molton. Vancouver mentions, that a considerable quantity of rich ironstone was sent annually from the neighbourhood of Comb Martin to South Wales. Upon enquiry, I find that this was from the year 1796 to 1802; and it was sent to the iron-works at Llanelly. The quantity sent in the seven years was 9293 tons. (fn. n51) None has been shipped since 1802, which was some years before Mr. Vancouver's survey was published.
Manganese has been found in great quantities in this county; and within the last fifty years a considerable trade has been carried on in that article. It was first found about the year 1770, at Upton Pyne, about four miles north of Exeter; and this mine, together with two others of less consequence on the same lode at Newton St. Cyres, for many years supplied the whole united kingdom with this article; and of the finest quality, as I am informed, ever raised any where. The consumption for some years was inconsiderable, the use of it being confined almost wholly to manufacturing what was called the Egyptian ware in Staffordshire, and in purifying glass. Its use in bleaching, however, afterwards became considerable; and from about 1804 to 1810, the quantity shipped from Exeter amounted to between two and 3000 tons per annum. The mines, or pits, at Newton St. Cyres, failed about the year 1810; and since that period, the mine at Upton Pyne has been exhausted. New discoveries of manganese, however, were made in the parishes of Doddescombleigh, Ashton, Christow, &c. seven miles west of Exeter, which are said to have produced from ten to 1500 tons per annum. They are still worked, but the produce of last year did not much exceed 450 tons. It is shipped at Exeter.
About 1815, manganese mines were discovered in the neighbourhood of Tavistock, in the parishes of Coryton, Brent Tor, Lifton, Maristow (fn. n52), and Milton Abbot, from which considerable quantities are procured and shipped at Plymouth; at which port the exportations of this article are increasing, 1336 tons having been shipped off in 1819, 2170 in 1820, and 2212 in 1821: but a considerable portion of this must have been from the neighbouring part of Cornwall. In the note below will be seen the produce of each of the Devonshire mines in the year 1821. (fn. n52) Manganese has been found in the north of the county, in the parishes of Braunton and Marwood, but not in sufficient quantity to encourage speculation.
Antimony is of rare occurrence in this county; but a considerable and increasing quantity is dug for sale at Pillaton, in the adjoining county of Cornwall (fn. n53), and exported from Plymouth. (fn. n54)
Cobalt has been found near Meavy and Walkhampton, but not in a sufficient quantity to become an article of commerce. (fn. n55) The same may be said of zinc and arsenic.
Large quantities of ochre occur in the parish of East Downe. In the year 1785, Mr. Pine Coffin set up a manufactory there for grinding it: umber, raised at Berry Narbor, was sent thither to be ground with it; and for three years 45 tons, on an average, were shipped and consigned to London; but from difficulties which occurred in managing the concern, Mr. Pine Coffin was induced to discontinue it. Whilst the concern was carried on, these articles were much in use by the paper-stainers: the umber was esteemed to be of a particularly good quality.
In the parishes of Hennock and Lustleigh there is found in the granite a species of micaceous or specular iron ore, known by the name of Devonshire sand; a few tons of this article were sent, some years ago, from Exeter to London, where it was used for writing-sand, and various other purposes. It was sold from three guineas to eight guineas a ton.
Pipe-clay was formerly dug in great abundance at Weare Giffard, and in the parishes of Peters Merland, and Petrockstow. It was sent coastwise from the port of Bideford, and by canals to the potteries in Staffordshire. The pits at the two last-mentioned places have not been worked for nearly 20 years.
Pipe and potters' clay are found, in inexhaustible quantities (fn. n56), in the parishes of Hennock, Ilsington, Bovey-Tracey, Teigngrace, King's Teignton, &c. Some years ago pipe-clay was dug at Knighton, in the parish of Hennock, and manufactured into tobacco-pipes on the spot. The manufacture has been long since given up, and the works abandoned. Both pipe and potters' clay are now dug in great quantities on Bovey Heathfield, and in the parish of King's Teignton; and are conveyed by the Stover canal, constructed by Mr. Templer, to Teignmouth, whence it is shipped to most parts of the united kingdom. The potters' clay is used at the manufactories at Indio and Bovey Heathfield, and sent to most of the manufactories of earthenware. A potters' clay, of a very superior quality, has recently been discovered in the parish of King's Teignton, which burns remarkably white, and is considered as a most valuable discovery for the manufacture of China. About 20,000 tons of clay of the various sorts, are annually exported from Teignmouth. (fn. n57)
The clay-pits are for the most part the property of George Templer, Esq.: they were first worked about the year 1730. The demand has greatly increased within the last 40 years, particularly since the Stover canal has been opened. The pits are open works, seldom exceeding 100 feet in depth: the clay is cut into square pieces of about 33 lbs. each, which are readily raised by the workmen without machinery. The pits are kept clear of water by common wooden pumps.
Brown clay is raised in the parish of Fremington, and manufactured into useful coarse earthenware at the potteries at Barnstaple and Bideford.
The anthracite, already mentioned as found near Bideford, is raised in considerable quantities for the purpose of a pigment, and is employed as such in the dock-yard at Plymouth.
Several attempts have been made to procure coal in this county. Mr. Northmore sunk a shaft for this purpose near Exeter in 1818, but was unsuccessful, as his father had been in 1761: he still supposes, nevertheless, that coal would be found at a great depth; but it is the opinion of the most scientific geologists of the present day, that coal does not occur in the strata of this county. It has been said, that it has been found in small quantities at Abbotsham (fn. n58), and elsewhere; but culm might have been mistaken for it. Culm has been dug in the parishes of Tawstock, High Heanton, and Chittlehampton. At the two last-mentioned places, the works were soon abandoned; but, at Tawstock, it was procured in great quantities and of a good quality about the middle of the last century. The works had been given up, and re-opened about 1790: they were abandoned about 1800, on account of the water; at that time, about 900 bushels a week were procured; the depth of the pit being then about 25 fathoms. The culm is found at the depth of about five or six fathoms; the veins, of which there are two, are about nine feet thick, and are supposed to be of great depth.
The substance called Bovey coal, on Bovey Heathfield, (for an account of which see p. ccxlix.) was first dug for use early in the last century. It is not much used for fuel, except by the neighbouring cottagers, on account of its bituminous smell: its use, indeed, is now chiefly confined to a pottery established a few years ago near the pit, and an adjoining lime-kiln. The bed appears to be inexhaustible, and were its smell less offensive, would be a most valuable property.
There are various beautiful marbles in Devonshire, which occur in the limestone rocks at Chudleigh, Bickington near Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, Denbury, Staverton, Berry Pomeroy, Waddon, Churston, &c. near Torbay, Babicombe, St. Mary Church, King's Teignton, Drewe's Teignton, South Tawton, Yealmton, Brixton, Oreston, &c.; and some years ago, a good deal of the Babicombe marble was polished, and sent to London. The marble from the Chudleigh and Harcombe rocks is now manufactured into beautiful chimney-pieces, and sent from the port of Teignmouth.
Prodigious quantities of lime are procured from the limestone and marble rocks, which occur in various parts of the county; near Plymouth, at St. Mary Church, Buckfastleigh, Bickington near Ashburton, Branscombe on the south coast, South Tawton, Bampton, Cannonleigh, Hockworthy, Castlehill, Swimbridge, Comb Martin, &c. &c. &c. Lord Fortescue, who owns the works at Castlehill, had formerly lime-works at Challocombe, but they have been discontinued. The great lime-works at Swimbridge are on an estate called Marsh; there are other smaller works in that parish and Landkey. There are several small lime-works in Comb Martin: those of J. D. Basset, Esq., are on an extensive scale, as are those at Canonleigh, in Burlescombe. The great excavations near the present lime-works at South Tawton, show that they have been worked there for a great length of time. So extensive is the use of this article in Devonshire as a manure, that, besides the immense quantities raised in the county, there are at least 20 kilns between Weare Giffard and the mouth of Bideford harbour for the purpose of burning lime imported from Wales, and three or four more scattered round the bay.
Granite of the best quality, which has of late been brought much into use for bridges and other public works, may be obtained in any quantities from the Dartmoor rocks; but on account of the difficulties of carriage, it has never till of late been thought of as an article of commerce. A railroad is now making to convey granite from Dartmoor to Plymouth; and a rail-road has been completed by Mr. Templer, which conveys this article from his quarries at Heytor to the Stover canal. The Heytor granite is said to be equal in quality to that of Aberdeen, and has great comparative advantages in the facility of carriage. The concern is in its infancy, but a considerable quantity has already been exported from Teignmouth; 150 men are now working the quarries, and it is expected that double that number will soon be employed.
There are quarries of good building-stone at Flitton, in North Molton, in Ashwater, Lew Trenchard, &c.; at Great Cocktree, in South Tawton, and at Beer on the south coast. That of the latter quarry exactly resembles the fine stone at Toternhoe, in Bedfordshire. A considerable quantity of it is dug and sent coastwise. It was used for the inside work of Exeter cathedral. The clay-porphyry, which occurs in detached rocks on Roborough down, near Plymouth, is said by Marshall to have been used formerly for the Gothic ornaments of most of the churches in the west of Devon, and the neighbouring parts of Cornwall. (fn. n59)
The alabaster which is found in the cliffs from Beer to Salcombe, Branscombe, and Sidmouth, makes good plaster of Paris; but it is in small quantities, and, I am informed, is now collected by a labouring man, who scarcely makes a livelihood by it.
The principal slate-quarries in Devonshire are near Ivybridge; Cann quarry, about five miles from Plymouth, Lamerton, Lew Trenchard, Werrington (an insulated district of the north of Cornwall), Mill hill, and other places near Tavistock; West Alvington, and Buckland Toussaints. Before the Dutch war, in 1781, great quantities of slate were exported from the Buckland quarries to Holland. This trade has not since revived. A branch of the Tavistock canal has been carried to the Millhill slatequarries. The slate from this neighbourhood is exported to Guernsey and Jersey, and has been sent to France, but not of late years. The quantity of slate sent from the quarry has indeed altogether much diminished.
The soft sandstone on the side of Blackdown, within the parishes of Peahembury, Broad Hembury, and Kentisbeare, is worked on the spot, whilst wet, into whetstones: they are made also on the east side of Haldon, in the parish of Kenne. The greater part of the whetstones, which are sold by the name of Devonshire batts, are sent to Bridgewater, and thence by water to Bristol, Gloucester, Worcester, &c. &c. Some are exported from Topsham to London.
Westcote mentions the magnets of South Brent as famous in his time, and Chapple speaks of them among the commodities of Devon: but they have long ceased to be considered as such.
After having spoken at large of the commodities of the land, something should be said of the produce of the rivers and the coast. The most important fishery of the rivers was that of salmon, which has of late years much declined in this, as well as in other counties, in consequence of the fish having been destroyed in the spawning season. Salmons are the produce of all the principal rivers: those of the Exe and Dart are said to be most esteemed. Salmon-peal is found in the Tavy, the Tamar, the Otter, the Dart, the Arme, and the Mole. Trout abound in almost all the principal rivers. The lamprey is found in the Exe and the Mole, but has not the same repute as the lamprey of the Severn.
The herring-fishery on the north coast of Devon, though never to be spoken of as of much importance, compared with the fisheries of Scotland, was formerly much more considerable than it has been of late years, and consituted a chief source of employment for the poorer classes of Clovelly, Lymouth, &c. Both white and red herrings were then cured at Ilfracombe (fn. n60) for exportation, and great numbers of both sorts were sent to Bristol. For some years past the herrings have not been so abundant on this coast. During the last year, the fishery promised to be more successful; but the exposed situation of the coast is most unfavourable to the fishermen, and the storms which happened in the month of October last afforded a melancholy instance (fn. n61) of its insecurity. There is a small herringfishery at Teignmouth: considerable numbers are taken during the winter season in set-nets.
There has been for some years an extensive pilchard-fishery at Burrisland in Bigbury bay. Large quantities were taken here, and at two adjoining stations, called Clannaborough and the Warren. They are cured on the spot (fn. n60), and sold to the Cornish merchants. About four years ago, so large a quantity was taken in the bay as produced about 7000l., but the fishermen have not since had a successful season. (fn. n62) In Start bay there is also a pilchard fishery, but not on so extensive a scale: there are also about 300,000 pilchards taken annually, on an average, by drift-net boats from Dartmouth and Brixham. There was formerly a pilchard-fishery at Teignmouth.
Pilchards taken on the Cornish coast are cured at Plymouth, and exported from thence. Sidmouth is spoken of by Leland as one of the fishing towns of the county, but there is now scarcely any fishing carried on there. Westcote speaks of the fishing-trade at Plymouth as having been carried on in his time to a great extent; and says that very often 100 sail of fishing-vessels, and sometimes double that number, were to be seen in the harbour. There are now about 40 trawlers belonging to this port, which supply Plymouth with fish, besides what is sent from thence to the Bath market.
Teignmouth has a considerable fishery for whitings, mackerel, soles, turbot, &c.; but the great fishery of the western part of England is now in Torbay. The number of decked fishing-smacks belonging to Brixham is 89; that of open fishing boats 60; the number of men and boys employed in the fishery about 540. The number of tons weekly brought to market, is, on an average, 120; the annual quantity 6240 tons. The fish taken are chiefly turbots, soles, whiting, mackerel, &c. The Bath and Exeter markets are supplied from this fishery, and great quantities are sent by sea to Portsmouth, whence they are conveyed by land-carriage to London.
At Star-cross are oyster-beds, to which the oysters are brought from the Teign, from Weymouth, Pool, Saltash, &c., and having been fed for awhile in these beds, are sent to the Exeter market. The young oysters from the Teign are sent to be fed also in the Thames for the London market.
The port of Bideford had formerly a great concern in the Newfoundland trade, as is stated more at large in the account of that town. Topsham had also a considerable share of the trade. At present no port in Devonshire, except those of Dartmouth and Teignmouth, have any great share in it, and the trade of the former has of late years much declined. In 1791, 112 ships were employed in this trade at Dartmouth; there are now only 59. In 1820, 10,504 quintals of cod-fish, brought from Newfoundland, were shipped from this port, of which 1073 were sent coastwise, and 9431 to foreign ports. The same year 3326 quintals of cod-fish were sent from the port of Exeter, which includes Teignmouth, from which place 35 vessels sailed that year for Newfoundland. The small port of Torquay has some concern in this trade. At Plymouth two ships only are regularly employed in it: a few ships from this port are now employed in the whale-fishery (fn. n63); and a ship is lately gone to South Shetland for furs and skins.
Trade of the Principal Ports of Devon.
Barnstaple was formerly the chief port for the importation of wool from America and Ireland. This trade, as far as relates to America, ceased with the American war, and no wool is imported at Barnstaple now from Ireland. From the æra of the discovery of Virginia, Bideford, in consequence of its connection with its discoverer, Sir Richard Grenville, became the chief port for the importation of tobacco; and till the middle of the last century it imported more than any port in the kingdom except London. It had also a great trade to Newfoundland, having sent out more ships thither in the year 1699 than any port in the kingdom, except London and Topsham. Exeter established a trade with Africa in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, from whom the merchants of that city had a charter of monopoly (fn. n64) in that trade during a certain period.