Magna Britannia: Volume 6, Devonshire. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1822.
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EXMINSTER, in the hundred of that name and in the deanery of Kenne, lies about four miles from Exeter. The principal villages in the parish are Lower Shillingford and Matford. There is a holiday-fair at Exminster on the first Thursday in May.
King Alfred bequeathed the manor of Exminster to his younger son: at the time of the Domesday survey, it was held in demesne by William Chievre or Capra. In the reign of Henry II. it belonged to Earl Richard, afterwards King, who appears to have given it to William Brewer. It was afterwards in the Courtenays, Earls of Devonshire, who had a magnificent mansion at this place, in which Archbishop Courtenay and his brother Sir Peter, an eminent military character, are said to have been born. Leland mentions the ruins of a manor-place, which was supposed to have belonged to the Marquis of Exeter. This manor passed to the heirs general of the last Earl of Devonshire, and having been re-united to the family estate by the purchase of Lord Courtenay, about the year 1752, is the property of the present Viscount.
Peamore (fn. n1), in this parish, the seat of Samuel Kekewich, Esq., was anciently in the family of Bolhay, whose heiress brought it to the Cobhams. After a continuance of five descents in the Cobhams, it passed to the Bonvilles. On the attainder of the Duke of Suffolk, this and other estates of the Bonvilles fell to the crown. Peamore was purchased by Jeffrey Tothill, Esq. Henry Northleigh, Esq., who became possessed of Peamore by marriage with a co-heiress of Tothill, died in 1638. Mr. Kekewich purchased this estate of Henry Hippisley Coxe, Esq., one of the representatives of the Northleighs.
Lower Shillingford, North Shillingford, or Shillingford Abbot, was given to Tor Abbey by William, Lord Briwere, or Brewer. James Southcote, Esq., purchased this estate after the dissolution: it was sold by his descendant, Henry Southcote, Esq., to Sir Robert Palk, Bart., and is now the property of his grandson, Sir L. V. Palk, Bart.
Kenbury was purchased of Elizabeth Trevelyan and others, in 1668, by John Cook, merchant, and continued in his descendants till 1788, when it was purchased by Philip Stowey, Esq., and is now the property of his widow.
Great and Little Bowhay belonged anciently to the family of Bolhay or Bowhay, afterwards to the Peters, who had a seat there. The heiress of Peter married Sir Allen Apsley. Great Bowhay was afterwards successively in the families of Baker and Michell, and is now, by purchase from the latter, the property of Mr. — Tossill. Little Bowhay was purchased of the Southcotes with Shillingford, and is now the property of Sir L. V. Palk, Bart.
In the parish-church is the monument of Otho Peter, Esq., who died in 1607. The 12 corporators of Crediton are impropriators of Exminster, and patrons of the vicarage. (fn. n2) The corporators of Crediton give 4l. per annum to this parish, for the instruction of 12 children.