Parishes: Topsham - Twitchen

Magna Britannia: Volume 6, Devonshire. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1822.

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'Parishes: Topsham - Twitchen', in Magna Britannia: Volume 6, Devonshire, (London, 1822) pp. 520-538. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]

In this section


TOPSHAM, an ancient market and seaport town, lies in the hundred of Wonford and in the deanery of Aylesbeare, about three miles and a half from Exeter. The village of Weare is in this parish.

King Edward I. granted a market at Topsham to Hugh de Courtenay, to be held on Saturday (fn. n1), and confirmed a fair for three days at the festival of St. Margaret, which had been granted by King Henry III., in 1257, to Baldwin de Insula. (fn. n2) There is still a market on Saturday for all sorts of provisions, and a small fair which is held on the first Wednesday after July 10.

Topsham is within the port of Exeter. At this place all large ships trading to Exeter unlade their cargoes. From an early period there was a navigation for small vessels to Exeter, but it was for a long while obstructed by the Courtenays, as lords of Topsham, which occasioned great litigation. The inland navigation has since the middle of the seventeenth century been rendered very commodious. In the reign of King William, Topsham had a more extensive trade with Newfoundland than any other port in the kingdom, London excepted. (fn. n3) It has long since been wholly removed. (fn. n4) The quay at Topsham, which belonged to the Northmore family, was sold to the Chamber of Exeter about the year 1778.

The number of inhabitants at Topsham, in 1801, was 2748; in 1811, 2871, according to the returns made to parliament at those periods.

Whilst Exeter was besieged by the King's forces in 1643, we are told that the Earl of Warwick, the parliamentary admiral, battered down a a fort at Apsom (fn. n5), (Topsham,) near Exeter, and killed 70 or 80 men. (fn. n6) Sir Thomas Fairfax, with the parliamentary army, was quartered at Topsham on the 27th of October, 1645, and it seems to have been the head-quarters of the army for somewhat more than a fortnight, after which they removed to Ottery. (fn. n7)

The manor was part of the ancient demesnes of the crown: it belonged, in the reign of Henry II., to Earl Richard, afterwards king. The Courtenays, earls of Devon, possessed it for several generations. Having been forfeited by attainder, it continued many years in the crown. After this it is said to have been for some descents in the family of De Courcy: it is now the property of Alexander Hamilton Hamilton, Esq. The lords of this manor had formerly the power of inflicting capital punishment. (fn. n8)

The manor of Weare-park, anciently called Heneaton, Hineton, or Honiton Siege, belonged, in the reign of Henry III., to the family of Bukenton, and afterwards to that of Bathe, or Bathonia: from the last it passed by successive female heirs to Medsted and Holland. John Holland, who first settled at Weare, was a younger son of Robert Lord Holland, and brother of Sir Thomas Holland, K. G. (ancestor of the dukes of Exeter.) This place continued to be the property and seat of this younger branch of the Hollands, till after the middle of the seventeenth century. It was afterwards in the family of Foulkes, by whom it was conveyed to a younger branch of the Rodds, of Trebartha, in Cornwall. It was purchased of the latter, about 1760, by the Spicers of Exeter, an ancient family, who had been for some centuries merchants in that city, and had several times borne the office of mayor. William Francis Spicer, Esq., sold it, about the year 1804, to the late gallant Sir John Duckworth, K. B. and Bart., who greatly improved the house, and died there in 1817. It is now the residence of his widow: the property is vested in her son, Sir John Thomas Duckworth, Bart., a minor. The ruins of the old seat of the Hollands are to be seen about a mile from the present mansion, on the banks of the Exe.

Newcourt, in this parish, belonged for several descents to the Shapleigh family, and is now the property and residence of John Bawdon Cresswell, Esq. Northbrooke, which belonged some time since to Daniel Hamilton, Esq., is now the property and residence of Henry Seymour, Esq., who purchased it about the year 1800. A villa, called the Retreat, built by Mr. Orme, was lately the property and residence of Sir Alexander Hamilton, Knight; now of Alexander Hamilton Hamilton, Esq.

In the parish-church are the monuments of Admiral Sir John Thomas Duckworth (fn. n9), Bart., G.C.B., 1817; and his son, Colonel George Duckworth (fn. n10), who fell in his country's service at the battle of Albuera, in 1811; an ancient grave-stone of Richard Duke, vicar, 1526; and the monuments of John Goodrich, Esq., 1785; William Spicer, Esq., of Weare, 1788; and Thomas Hole, Esq., of Southbrooke, 1788.

The church-yard, which is on the banks of the Exe, commands a fine view towards Powderham, Haldon, &c. The dean and chapter of Exeter are appropriators of the tithes, and patrons of the perpetual curacy, which is in their peculiar jurisdiction.

In the year 1715, there were meeting-houses at Topsham of the Presbyterians and Baptists: the former still exists; and there are meetinghouses of the Wesleyan Methodists, and of the Baringites.

The Rev. Joseph Somaster, who died in 1769, gave the sum of 300l. for the building of a charity-school for boys and girls. The executors fixed on Topsham as its site. The money appears to have been expended in erecting the schools. Its endowment consists of some land given by John Greenfield, (date unknown,) now producing 12l. per annum; 35l. given by Mrs. Bridget Osborn, which, in 1776, had accumulated to 53l. 3s. 8d.; 50l. given by Mary Colman, in 1784; and 400l. given by Samuel Elliot, in 1766. The whole income is now about 28l. per annum. With this endowment, 20 boys and 14 girls are taught. There is a school also on Dr. Bell's system, supported by subscription; in which about 110 boys, and 70 girls, are at present taught.

Tor Bryan, or Brian

TOR BRYAN, or BRIAN, in the hundred of Haytor and in the deanery of of Ipplepen, lies about five miles from Ashburton, Totnes, and Newton Abbot.

The manor of Tor Bryan (fn. n11), or Tor Newton, belonged to the baronial family of Brien, or Bryan, from the reign of Henry II. to that of Richard II. Having passed, by successive female heirs, to Fitzpayne, Poynings, and Percy, it became vested in the earls of Northumberland, who possessed it as late as the year 1528. This estate was afterwards successively in the families of Kitson, and Peter, and was purchased of the latter by the ancestor of John Wolston, Esq., who is patron of the rectory, by purchase from the Trists of Bowden. The manerial rights have been long ago sold off, and are vested in the several land-owners. The lords of this manor had formerly the power of inflicting capital punishment. (fn. n12)

In the parish-church is the monument of William Fitzpeter, or Fitzpierre, of Tor Newton, 1614.

Tor Mohun

TOR MOHUN, in the hundred of Haytor and in the deanery of Ipplepen, lies about six miles from Newton Abbot, near the Torbay coast. The village of Upton is in this parish.

The manor belonged to William de Briwere, or Brewer, a powerful baron in the reigns of Henry II., Richard I., King John, and Henry III. Prince supposes him to have been a native of this place. His younger daughter and co-heiress brought this manor to the Mohuns. That ancient family had a seat here, at which Reginald de Mohun, founder of Newenham Abbey, died in 1257. (fn. n13) It was purchased of the Mohuns of Dunster by John Ridgway, whose grandson, Thomas, was created a baronet in 1612; in 1616, Lord Ridgway; and in 1622, Earl of Londonderry. This manor was purchased, about the year 1768, of the Earl of Donegal, by Sir Robert Palk, Bart., grandfather of Sir L. V. Palk, Bart., the present proprietor. The manor of Tor had the custom of free bench. Its lords had formerly the power of inflicting capital punishment. (fn. n14) Tor-wood Grange, an old mansion, which had belonged to the abbey, was granted, in 1540, to John Ridgway, and became the seat of the Earls of Londonderry: it is now a farm-house, standing on an eminence, and overlooking Torbay, and the beautiful surrounding scenery.

In the year 1196, William Briwere founded an abbey of the Premonstratensian order, on a spot called Rowedon, in this parish, on which the church of our Saviour, (the monastic church) had been built, or at least begun, when his charter of donations was executed. (fn. n15) By this charter, the monastery was handsomely endowed; some estates were added by his son, and subsequent benefactors. The annual revenues were valued, at the time of its suppression, in 1539, at 396l. 11d. per annum. There were at that time fifteen monks in the house, besides the abbot. The site was granted in 1543 to John St. Leger, Esq., who, the next year, conveyed it to Sir Hugh Pollard. Hugh Pollard, the grandson, sold it, in 1580, to Sir Edward Seymour, whose son conveyed it, in 1599, to Thomas Ridgway, Esq., father of the first Earl of Londonderry. The Earl sold it, in 1653, to John Stawell, Esq., afterwards Sir John Stawell, of Indiho, of whom it was purchased, in 1662, by Sir George Cary, Knight, ancestor of George Cary, Esq., the present possessor.

Tor Abbey (fn. n16), the seat of Mr. Cary, (now occupied by the Honourable Hugh Charles Clifford,) is a modern edifice, constructed partly out of the ruins of the monastery. The chapel was the refectory. The ruins of the conventual church are to be seen in the garden on the north side of the mansion: one only of the three fair gateways, mentioned by Leland, now remains. The Abbey House stands at a small distance from the coast: the grounds, particularly the warren, abound with most beautiful and diversified prospects.

In the parish-church is a large monument with his effigies in armour, for one of the Ridgway family, father of the first Earl of Londonderry; some of the Cary (fn. n17) family; George Baker, Esq., of Madras, who enriched himself, and rendered a most essential benefit to that settlement, by devising and carrying into execution a scheme for supplying it with water: he died in 1799, and bequeathed the sum of 500l. to this his native parish; and in the church and church-yard are memorials for several persons who have died at Torquay, whilst resident there for health. (fn. n18) The view from the church-yard is singularly beautiful.

Nearly half a mile from the church, on the summit of a hill, is the shell of a chapel dedicated to St. Michael. There was formerly a domestic chapel at Tor-wood, built by Reginald de Mohun, in 1251.

The great tithes, which had been appropriated to Tor Abbey, having been some time in the Mallock family, were sold, a few years ago, by the Rev. Roger Mallock, to Sir Lawrence Palk, Bart., and George Cary, Esq., each of whom purchased those belonging to his own estate. Mr. Mallock is patron of the donative, which has been augmented by Queen Anne's bounty, and by parliamentary grant.

In this parish is Torquay, much resorted to of late years as a bathing place, and from its sheltered situation, recommended as a winter-residence for invalids. The beauties of its surrounding scenery have proved so attractive, that within a few years it has grown from a hamlet of a few scattered houses to a town of considerable population, and a market-house is now building for the accommodation of the inhabitants, by Sir L. V. Palk, Bart. Mr. Mallock, in whom the ecclesiastical jurisdiction is vested, has it in intention also to build a chapel. Torquay has some share of the Newfoundland trade; and there is a coasting trade for the importation of coals, culm, &c.: a fishery is as yet in its infancy. The act of parliament for building the pier passed in 1803, and it was begun in 1804.

Black Torrington

BLACK TORRINGTON, in the hundred of that name and in the deanery of Holsworthy, lies about nine miles from Holsworthy. The villages of Gorford, East Child, West Child, Ley, and Middlecott, are in this parish.

The manor of Black Torrington was granted by King Henry I. to Geffry de Medmana, or Mayne: his son, Joel, having taken part against King John, this manor was seized by the crown, and granted to Lucy. By a subsequent royal grant, it was bestowed on Roger le Zouch (fn. n19); whose son William, being possessed of it by his father's gift, settled at Totley, in this parish. From Zouch, it passed by successive heirs female to Fitzwarren, Davailes, and Harris; which families all resided at Totley. The manor is now the property of William Arundel Harris, Esq., of Castle Park: the old mansion at Totley is in a ruinous state.

Coham has been, for many generations, the property and residence of the Coham family; now of the Rev. William Holland Coham. Northcote, in this parish, belonged to the Arscotts of Tetcott: it was sold by their representative, Sir William Molesworth, Bart., to Mr. William Oliver, and is now the property of Messrs. Harvey and Rowe, who married Mr. Oliver's daughters. The barton of Braundsworthy is the property and residence of Mr. George Braund. Whitlegh, partly in this parish and partly in that of Halwell, belongs to John Morth Woollcombe, Esq., of Ashbury.

In the parish-church are monuments of the family of Coham. Sir C. W. Bampfylde, Bart., is patron of the rectory.

Great Torrington

GREAT TORRINGTON, in the deanery of that name and in the hundred of Fremington, is a market-town 10 miles from Barnstaple, about 36 from Exeter, and 192 from London.

No record appears of a grant of the market, which is held by prescription. There was a fair as early as the year 1220. The market is now held on Saturday (fn. n20) for corn, butchers' meat, &c. There are fairs for cattle May 4., July 5., and October 10.; and a great cattle-market on the third Saturday in March.

Chapple mentions the trade of Torrington as chiefly consisting of stuffs; there is now a considerable manufacture of gloves in this town; and a small woollen manufactory.

The number of houselyng people, in 1547, was 1500; in 1801, the number of inhabitants in the town and parish was 2044; in 1811, 2151; according to the returns made to parliament at those periods.

Torrington was formerly a parliamentary borough; but it appears, that the burgesses were exonerated from the burden of sending members to parliament, at their own request, in 1368. They stated in their petition, that they had never been subject to this burden till the twenty-first of the then king's reign, when the sheriff, to their great injury, summoned them to send two members to the parliament, by which they had been put to great expense and trouble. Their prayer was granted; but it does not seem that their statement was borne out by facts; for it appears on record, that they returned members to parliament sixteen times before 21 Edw. III., although they had not been summoned from the 15th till the 21st.

Torrington is said to have been incorporated by Queen Mary, under a charter of King James, in the fifteenth year of his reign, confirming all former charters. (fn. n21) The corporation consists of eight aldermen, including the mayor, 16 burgesses, a town-clerk, recorder, &c. The mayor, during his year of office, and the following year, and the recorder, are justices of the peace. The records of the corporation were destroyed by a fire, which happened in the month of July, 1724, and consumed fourscore houses.

In 1484, a sessions was held at Torrington, at which Bishop Courtenay and others were indicted for treason against King Richard III. In 1590, the Michaelmas sessions were held at Torrington, on account of the plague then raging at Exeter. Torrington was visited with this calamity in 1591. This town was the scene of some important actions during the civil war. About the latter end of August, 1643, Colonel Digby being sent into the north of Devon as a check to the parliamentary force, took up his quarters in this town, where he was reinforced by some of the Cornish royalists. Here he was attacked by Colonel Bennet, with a strong force from the garrisons of Appledore, Barnstaple, and Bideford. Notwithstanding a great inferiority of numbers, in consequence of a sudden panic which seized his enemies at the commencement of the skirmish, he remained master of the field. The above-mentioned forts surrendered to Colonel Digby a few days afterwards. (fn. n22)

About the middle of February, 1646, Lord Hopton had scarcely stationed his army at Torrington, which he had fortified and barricadoed in the best manner the time would allow, when Sir Thomas Fairfax, advancing from Chudleigh by way of Stevenstone, attacked him in his quarters in the night of the 16th. After a severe action, the royalists were totally defeated; eight colours were taken and numerous prisoners, 200 of whom were destroyed, together with those who guarded them, in the church, by the blowing up of nearly 80 barrels of powder, which had been deposited there by Lord Hopton. (fn. n23) Both Lord Hopton and Lord Capel were wounded in the action. This victory was esteemed of such importance, that a public thanksgiving was appointed for it: indeed it appears to have been the death-blow of the power of the royalists in the west of England. The famous Hugh Peters, who was then chaplain to the army, preached in the market-place, and is said to have made many converts to the parliamentary cause. (fn. n24) On the 19th, the General left Torrington, the quarters being inconvenient, on account of the church having been blown up. (fn. n25)

Torrington gave title of Earl to the celebrated General Monk, Duke of Albemarle: it was extinct by the death of his son in 1687. In 1689 Arthur Herbert was created Earl of Torrington, which title became again extinct in 1716. The same year Thomas Newport, second son of the Earl of Bradford, was created Baron Torrington: he died in 1719 without issue; and in 1720 Sir George Byng was created Viscount Torrington, which title is still enjoyed by his descendant.

The barony of Torrington belonged to an ancient family, who took their name from this, the place of their residence. After five descents, the barony was divided between the co-heiresses of Matthew, Baron de Torrington, married to Merton, Waleis, Tracy, Sully, and Umfraville. The shares of Merton and Waleis became united, and continued for several descents in the family of Merton. Tracy's passed with other estates of that family to the Martyns, Audleys, &c. Sully's was inherited by Guy de Brian, and Umfraville's by St. John. The whole eventually came to the crown, and was possessed, under royal grants, by the Hollands, Dukes of Exeter, and by Margaret, Countess of Richmond, who is said to have resided at Torrington. Queen Mary granted the manor or barony of Torrington to James Basset, Esq., whose son sold it to Sir John Fortescue, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster. Sir John gave it to Sir William, his younger son. (fn. n26) The manor and barony of Torrington now belong to the Right Honourable Lord Rolle: I have not been able to ascertain when it came into his family; but it was among the numerous estates, of which his ancestor, Sir John Rolle, of Stevenstone, died seised in 1708.

Torrington Castle, which appears to have been built by Richard de Merton in 1340 (fn. n27), stood on the south side of the town, near the edge of a high and steep precipice, overlooking the river Torridge. A bowlinggreen occupies the site. The chapel (fn. n28), which had been converted into a school-house, was taken down before the year 1780.

Beam, in this parish, was a seat of the Rolles. It is now the residence of the Rev. Joseph Palmer, Dean of Cashell, who holds it on a lease of lives under Lord Rolle.

In the parish-church are monuments, or inscribed grave-stones, in memory of Dennis Rolle, (son of Sir Samuel,) 1671; Judith, daughter of John Hancock, wife of Henry Stevens, of Vellstone, 1676; Samuel Goodinge, 1702; Sarah, his wife, daughter of Prideaux, 1699; William Young, Esq., of Caynton, Shropshire, 1768; Thomas Morrison (fn. n29), M. A., 1770; and John Palmer (fn. n30), Gent., 1770.

Cardinal Wolsey is said to have given the church of Torrington to the dean and chapter of Christ's Church in Oxford (fn. n31), who are appropriators and patrons of the vicarage.

There is a dissenting meeting-house in this town, the congregation of which were formerly Presbyterians. John Howe, chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, who had been ejected by the act of Uniformity in 1662, was the first minister. The meeting-house was rebuilt on a new site since the year 1805, and is still occupied by a small congregation of Presbyterians. The Baptists have a meeting at Torrington, and the Wesleyan Methodists.

An almshouse for six poor persons is said to have been founded by one of the Rolle family; the inhabitants receive no pensions; it is presumed, therefore, that the house has no endowment; but I have not been able to obtain any information concerning it. John Huddle, in 1604, appears to have founded an almshouse for eight poor persons, to which William Stevens and Anthony Copleston were benefactors. The endowment of this almshouse produces now about 50l. per annum, but will be capable of considerable increase, as the trustees have determined not to renew the leases of the lands, which are now out on lives.

John Lovering, Esq., in 1671, gave the sum of 100l. for building a charity-school, and 40l. to be laid out in lands towards its endowment. It is said that the same gentleman gave by will the sum of 950l. to this school, and that it has received further benefactions from the Rolle family, but I have not been able to learn what is the present income of its endowment. The master is paid a salary of 16l. per annum. Twenty boys are educated and well clothed: after having been seven years in the school, each boy has 1l. given him towards an apprentice-fee. (fn. n32)

There is a school of 110 boys, on Dr. Bell's system, supported by subscription.

Little Torrington

LITTLE TORRINGTON, in the hundred of Shebbear and in the deanery of Torrington, lies about a mile from Torrington. The village of Taddiport is separated from Great Torrington by a bridge, and appears as part of its suburbs.

The manor of Little Torrington was at an early period in the family of Crewys, whose co-heiresses brought it to Davils, Luccombe, and St. Clere. The two former sold it to Speccot. It is now the property of Thomas Stevens, Esq., by whose grandfather it was purchased.

Cross, the seat of Thomas Stevens, Esq., has been for several generations in the Stevens' family; the name was taken by the present possessor on succeeding to the estates of his maternal uncle.

Part of Potheridge manor, belonging to Lord Rolle, extends into this parish.

Woodland, in this parish, belonged to the family of De Woodland, whose co-heiresses brought it to Sellers and Wibbery. The whole became eventually vested in Wibbery, from whom it passed, through the Bonvilles, to Copleston. A younger branch of the Coplestons was for some time settled at Woodland, another branch of which family was of Wyke in this parish. Woodland is now the property of the Rev. Joseph Palmer, Dean of Cashell, in Ireland, by purchase from Thomas Stevens, Esq. Bagbear, in this parish, now the property of Mr. Stevens, has been long in the Stevens family: at an early period it was successively in the families of De la More and Moringe.

In the parish-church is a monument in memory of R. C., (most probably Copleston,) 1617; in the south window of the chancel a tablet for Joan wife of Peter Phesaunt, Esq., "attorney-general in these northern parts," daughter and co-heir of Fulnethy, of Lincolnshire, 1635. There is a handsome monument also by Rouw, of London, for Henry Stevens, Esq., of Cross, only son of Henry Stevens, Esq., by Christian, sister of Lord Rolle.

At Tadiport is a hospital dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, founded by Lady Anne Butler, daughter of the Earl of Ormond, and wife of Sir John St. Leger, for three poor persons, and endowed with lands valued, in 1547, at 2l. per annum. A chapel was founded at the same time, and a priest appointed, with a salary of 2l. 6d. per annum, to say mass to the said poor one day in every week. (fn. n33) In 1665, there not having been at that time for some years any poor person in the hospital, Tristram Arscott, Esq., the representative and heir-at-law of the founder, gave and confirmed the hospital, with the lands thereunto belonging, to the mayor and aldermen of Great Torrington, and the churchwardens of Little Torrington, for the poor of those parishes, to be appropriated according to a deed of uses then drawn up, of which I am informed no copy now remains. The hospital is inhabited by the poor of Great and Little Torrington; and a field, producing a rent of about 4l. per annum, is appropriated to the rector of Little Torrington for reading prayers at the chapel 12 times in a year.


TOTNES, in the hundred of Coleridge and in the deanery of Totton, is situated on the side of a steep hill, on the banks of the Dart, about eight miles from Dartmouth, 23 from Exeter, and 196 from London.

In ancient records it is called Totenais, Toteneis, Toteneys, Totton, Totonie, Tottenes, &c. The town was formerly walled, and had four gates, of which the south gate only remains.

The record of Domesday, in which it is called Totneis, describes it as having 95 burgesses, besides 15 without the walls; it states, that the borough was never taxed but at the same time with Exeter, and that it rendered the same services as that city.

The market is, by prescription, on Saturday, for corn, and all kind of provisions. A wool market, established by King Charles's charter, in 1684, has been long discontinued. There is a great cattle-market, on the first Tuesday in every month; and there are two annual fairs for cattle, &c., May 12. and October 28. There is still a considerable trade at Totnes for long ells; the weavers of which reside chiefly in the neighbouring villages.

The number of inhabitants in the town and parish of Totnes, in 1801, was 2503; in 1811, 2725, and in 1821, 3128, according to the returns made to parliament at those periods.

Totnes is said to have been governed by a mayor ever since the reign of of King John. (fn. n34) That monarch granted the burgesses a charter of privileges, in 1205, but it does not seem, that they had a mayor before the reign of Henry VII., who granted them the power to elect a mayor annually, on St. Matthew's day. The corporation consists of 14 burgesses, or burger-masters, out of whom a mayor is elected, and 20 common-councilmen. This town has sent members to parliament ever since the reign of Edward I., the right of election being vested in the corporation and freemen, between 60 and 70 in number. Totnes, or Totten, gives name to a deanery, and to one of the three archdeaconries, into which the county is divided. It gave the title of Earl to George Carew, so created by King Charles, in 1626. The title became extinct by his death, in 1628. Charles Fitzcharles, a natural son of Charles II., was created Viscount Totnes, and Earl of Plymouth, in 1675; he died without issue, in 1680.

Although Totnes had a castle capable of being made a place of considerable strength, and was of some importance, as being on the road to Dartmouth, Plymouth, &c., we do not read of many military transactions, which occurred there during the civil war. It was a temporary quarter of Lord Goring, in October, 1645; and appears to have been in possession of the King's forces, in the month of January following, when they quitted it on the approach of Sir Thomas Fairfax towards Dartmouth. (fn. n35) After the surrender of that town, the besieging army returned to Totnes on the 21st. (fn. n36)

The honor or barony of Totnes, which had been part of Edward the Confessor's demesne, was given by William the Conqueror to Judhael, or Joel, who assumed the name of De Totneis. Having been banished the realm by William Rufus, that monarch gave his barony to Roger de Novant. Notwithstanding this grant, it appears, that, in the reign of King John, Henry Novant, and William de Braose, or Bruce, grandson of Joel de Totnes, held the barony in moieties. Novant's moiety descended to the Valletorts. Bruce's passed by marriage to Cantilupe, who eventually became possessed of the whole. The heiress of Cantilupe, brought it to the Lords Zouch, who possessed it for several generations. On the attainder of John Lord Zouch, in 1486, King Henry VII. gave it to Sir Richard Edgecumbe; whose grandson, of the same name, sold it to Lord Edward Seymour, son of the Duke of Somerset. The Seymours alienated it, in 1655, to William Bogan, Esq. In 1753, the heirs of Bogan sold it to Bartholomew Jeffery, Esq.: it was purchased of Mr. Jeffery, or his family, in 1764, by Edward Duke of Somerset; from whom it has descended to the present duke. Sir Richard Edgecumbe, in 1559, conveyed the manor of the borough to the corporation; in whom it is now vested. The lords of this barony and manor had formerly the power of inflicting capital punishment. (fn. n37)

The castle of Totnes, which is said to have been built by Joel, the Conqueror's grantee, was the seat of the barony. Leland, who visited this place in the reign of Henry VIII., says, "the castelle waul, and the stronge dungeon be maintained. The logginges of the castelle be clene in ruine." The outer walls of the castle are still standing.

Joel de Totneis founded a priory at Totnes, in the reign of William the Conqueror (fn. n38) : it was a cell to the Benedictine abbey of St. Sergius, and St. Bacchus, at Angiers. Having escaped being suppressed with other alien priories (fn. n39), it continued till the general dissolution of monasteries, in the reign of Henry VIII., when it contained six monks. The site, which was near the parish-church, was then granted to Catherine Champernowne, and others. It is now occupied by the grammar-school, guild-hall, and other buildings.

Bishop Tanner speaks of two convents of Trinitarian friers at or near Totnes. Leland mentions only one, founded by De la Bont, or De la Boate, and suppressed by Bishop Oldham, who gave the lands to the vicars of the cathedral church of Exeter. It appears, by Bishop Bronscombe's Register, that the chapel of the Holy Ghost, and St. Katherine, at Warland, near Totnes, had been built on the land of Walter de Bon, (no doubt the founder,) who surrendered it to the convent at the time of the dedication of the chapel, in 1270. (fn. n40) Some small remains of this priory are to be seen in a cottage and stable, at a place still called Warland, near the town, belonging to Mr. Bartlet Adams, who purchased the site of the vicars choral, under the land-tax redemption act.

The manor of Little Totnes belonged, in the reign of King John, to Robert de Harcourt, upon whose forfeiture the King gave it to Robert de Bikeley. In 1730, it belonged to Mr. Waltham Savery: it is now the property of Ayshford Wise, Esq., in whose family it has been for a considerable time. Foleton, in this parish, was given by Joel de Totnes to the prior and convent, that they might pray for the good estate and safety of the King whilst living, and for his soul when dead. It is now the property and seat of Edward Cary, Esq., who purchased it of Mr. Andrew Hilley.

It appears that the parish-church at Totnes was rebuilt in 1259 (fn. n41); and again, about 1432. (fn. n42) In this church are monuments of the families of Smith (fn. n43), or Smyth; and Wise (fn. n44); Richard Martin, 1663; Anthony Marker, M.D., 1670; Charles Taylor, 1735, &c. The church of Totnes, having been given, by Joel de Totneis, to the monastery of St. Sergius, at Angiers, was appropriated to the priory of Totnes. The great tithes are now vested in Ayshford Wise, Esq. The King is patron of the vicarage. The charter of Joel de Totneis, by which he gives the church of St. Mary to the monastery at Angiers, mentions a chapel of St. Peter (fn. n45), in or near Totnes. There was a chapel also at the west end of the bridge, dedicated to St. Edmund and St. Edward the Confessor, in which was a chantry, founded by William de Cantilupe, and endowed with lands valued, in 1547, at 7l. 13s. 11d. per annum. (fn. n46)

In 1715, the Presbyterians had two meeting houses at Totnes. The celebrated John Flavel was the first minister of one of these congregations, both of which still exist.

The Rev. Edward Lye, the learned author of the Saxon Dictionary, was born at Totnes, where his father was a schoolmaster, in 1704. The late celebrated Hebraist, Dr. Kennicott, was born at this place, in 1718, being the son of Benjamin Kennicott, the parish-clerk, to whose memory he erected a tomb in the church-yard, with an inscription from his own pen. (fn. n47) Among early anecdotes of him, connected with this place, we are told, that he had composed some sacred music, and that he taught the choir to sing; that he was fond of bell-ringing, and drew up a set of rules for a society of ringers, at Totnes; which has been printed by Mr. Polwhele. He was educated at the grammar-school at this place, and was himself, for some time, master of the charity-school. Dr. Philip Furneaux, an eminent dissenting divine, who published Letters on Religious Liberty, addressed to Judge Blackstone, and an Essay on Toleration, was born at Totnes, in 1726.

The grammar-school at Totnes was founded in the year 1554, by the corporation, who purchased the ground on which it is built of the then possessors of the priory estate. It does not appear that it had any endowment before Sir John Maynard, as one of the executors of Elizæus Hele, appropriated out of the estates, given by him for charitable purposes, a tenement in the parish of Harberton, now producing about 65l. per annum. There are only two free scholars in this school.

There is a charity-school at Totnes endowed with lands given by Mr. John Philips, in 1741, and now let at 25l. per annum, aided by an annual subscription, and the interest of 250l. five per cent. funded property, accumulated by savings. This school was first established by subscription, under the patronage of Archdeacon Kendell, in 1732.

There is a school also on Dr. Bell's system, in which above 180 children are educated by subscription. There is a balance in hand of 150l. belonging to this charity.

The hospital of St. Mary Magdalen, at Totnes, was founded for eleven lazars, and endowed with lands valued, in 1547, at 5l. 15s. 8d. per annum. There were then only eight lazars in the house. Walter Dowse gave lands to this hospital in or about 1577. The allowance to the lazars was only 8d. a week each. There having been, for many years, no object of this charity, the buildings, except the walls of the chapel, which still remain, were taken down. The profits of the estate being reserved rents, not amounting to 20l. per annum, are applied to the repairs of the church.

John Norris, in the year 1635, gave the sum of 250l. for building an almshouse for two poor persons, who were to receive 3s. 4d. a week each, and a cloth gown, of 13s. 4d. value, at Easter. Nicholas Field, in 1678, gave 10s. per annum, to the higher and lower almshouse at Totness. One of these was the hospital near the church-yard, spoken of by Leland: this was pulled down about the year 1785. The other (Norris's) still remains, and is inhabited by paupers, men, women, and children, at least twenty in number. The pensions are given to poor persons, but not always to such as are resident in the almshouse.

In the year 1605, a medicinal spring was discovered at Totnes, which was said to cure all sorts of diseases. Such was its popularity for a few years, that the resort to it is said to have been incredible; and such quantities were sent away in bottles, that there was not water sufficient to supply the demand; but its virtues having been found to be over-rated, the character of the spring declined; and when Westcote wrote his Survey, about thirty years afterwards, it had grown into disuse.


TOWNSTALL, in the hundred of Coleridge and in the deanery of Totton, lies about half a mile from Dartmouth, nearly a third part of which town is still within this parish. The parish of St. Saviour, Dartmouth, was taken out of it.

The manor of Townstall, or Tunstall, belonged, in the reign of Henry II., to the Fitzstephens, who resided at Norton, in this parish. William Fitzstephen, the younger, gave some lands with the rectory to Tor abbey. The manor of Norton, called afterwards Norton Dawney, passed by successive female heirs to the families of Dawney and Courtenay, Earl of Devon. It continued for several generations in the latter. About the year 1679, the manor of Norton Dawney was purchased, under a decree of the Court of Chancery, by John Harris, Esq. It was sold by the Harris family a few years afterwards to the ancestor of John Seale, Esq., the present proprietor, who resides at Mount Boone, formerly the seat of the Boones, and purchased by Mr. Seale's ancestor, after the extinction of that family, towards the latter end of the seventeenth century.

Both Mount Boone and Townstall church were garrisoned for the King in the civil war: they were taken by storm, with the town of Dartmouth, by General Fairfax's army, on the 19th of January, 1646. Mount Boone, which was fortified with twenty-two pieces of ordnance, was taken by Colonel Pride, afterwards one of Cromwell's lords. Townstall church, which had ten guns and 100 men, was taken by Colonel Fortescue. (fn. n48) In this church are monuments, or other memorials, for Thomas Boone, Esq., 1679; William Roope, who died at Bilboa, 1667; Miss M. Roope, 1739; and Robert Hollond, 1611. The corporation of Dartmouth have the impropriation of the great tithes, which had been given to the abbey of Tor by William Fitzstephen, and are patrons of the vicarage.


TRENTISHOE, in the hundred of Braunton and in the deanery of Shirwell, lies near the north coast, about 11 miles from Ilfracombe, and about the same distance from Barnstaple.

The two principal estates in this parish belonged, in the reigns of Henry III., Edward I. and II., to the families of Ralegh and De Trendilshoe, or Trentishoe. There are now two manors, or nominal manors, one of which belongs to J. P. Chichester, Esq., by descent from Ralegh; the other, which belonged to the Rogers's of Pilton, is now, together with the advowson of the rectory, vested in the representatives of that family.


TRUSHAM, in the hundred of Exminster and in the deanery of Kenne, lies about two miles and a half from Chudleigh, and eight from Exeter.

The manor (fn. n49) belonged, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, to the Southcotes. It is now the property of Sir L. V. Palk, Bart., having been purchased of the Southcote family by his grandfather.

In the parish-church is a monument for Hugh Staplehill and his two sons (fn. n50), (probably the last of the family,) who resided at Lower Bremell, in the neighbouring parish of Ashton, and a memorial of John Stooke and Mary his wife, with their portraits on board, within a gilt frame, with an account of their benefactions, 1697. Sir William Templer Pole, Bart., is patron of the rectory.

John Stooke, above mentioned, founded an almshouse for four poor widows, and endowed it with a rent-charge of 6l. 8s. per annum. There are now only three in the house, between whom this endowment is divided.

There is a charity-school, the founder unknown: a schoolmistress receives 3l. for teaching ten poor children, and 2l. is allowed for books out of lands in the parish, now let at 7l. per annum.


TWITCHEN, in the hundred and deanery of South Molton, lies about five miles and a half from that town, and about four from North Molton, of which it is a chapelry: it is esteemed nevertheless a separate parish. The landed property belongs to the Earl of Morley.


  • n1. Cart. Rot. 28 Edw. I. No. 15
  • n2. Cart. Rot. 42 Hen. III. m. 4.
  • n3. History of Bidefora.
  • n4. For the account of the trade of this port, see Exeter.
  • n5. It was generally so called about that time.
  • n6. Letter from Exeter by I. S. 1643. See also Lord Clarendon, ii. 376.
  • n7. Sprigge's England's Recovery, p. 147.
  • n8. Hundred Roll.
  • n9. A handsome monument by Chantry, with the bust of the deceased, esteemed a most striking likeness; and the representation, in bas relief, of a naval engagement, meant most probably for the memorable action in which the brave admiral defeated the French fleet, at St. Domingo; which word is on a scroll on one side the bust. Underneath the bust is the following inscription: — "Near this place are deposited the mortal remains of Sir John Thomas Duckworth, Bart., Knight Grand Cross of the most Honourable Order of the Bath; Admiral of the White Squadron of his Majesty's Fleet, who died in the chief command of his Majesty's ships at Plymouth, on the 31st of August, 1817, aged 69 years. His private life was marked by benevolence too extensive and too effectual to be forgotten. To his country's service he was devoted with a zeal that only death subdued; and his achievements are recorded in the annals of his country's glory."
  • n10. This monument is also by Chantry.
  • n11. At the time of the Domesday survey, the Countess Godeva held a manor of Tor in demesne; and William, the King's Ostiarius, another manor of that name: it would be difficult to determine which was Tor Bryan and which Tor Mohun.
  • n12. Hundred Roll.
  • n13. Register of Newenham Abbey.
  • n14. Hundred Roll.
  • n15. The words of the charter are "Locum ad abbatiam construendam ubi ecclesia Sancti Salvatoris fundata est." Dug. Mon. ii. 652.
  • n16. Westcote speaks of Tor Abbey House, as built by the Ridgways. MS. Survey.
  • n17. Wilmota, wife of George Cary, Esq., of Cockington, daughter and heiress of Gifford of Yeo, 1581; Sir George Cary, Knt., 1678; and George Cary, Esq., 1758.
  • n18. In the church, for Ann, daughter of John Graham, 1806; Mary Jane, daughter of Robert Mascall, Esq., 1810; Kitty Gray Pattinson, of Congleton, 1816; Harriet, daughter of John Brooke, Esq., of Awsthorpe, Yorkshire, and grand-daughter of Smeaton, the engineer, 1816; Thomas Kingsley, Esq., 1817; and George Williamson, Esq., Commander in the East India Company's service, 1817; Charlotte Spry, daughter of Sir John Jackson, of Arsley House, Bedfordshire, 1819; Henry Couchman Penrice, of Abbots Salford, Warwickshire, 1820; Eliz., wife of Donald Grant, of the Ordnance-office, 1820; and Mary, wife of James Lambert, Esq., of Bedford-row, London, 1820. In the church-yard, Catharine, daughter of Lieut.Colonel E. Strachan, 1809; Sarah, wife of John Cotton Worthington, Esq., and widow of Richard Tickell, Esq., of Hampton Court, 1811; Margaret, daughter of Sir John Stuart, Bart., of Allan Bank, 1812; Georgina Wolfe, daughter of Augustus Rogers, Esq., of Stanage Park, in the county of Radnor, 1814; James Sidney Smith, of Langford, Essex, 1819; and Miss Abrams, so well known to the world by her eminent musical talents and compositions. 1821.
  • n19. Cart. Rot. 11 Henry III.
  • n20. Westcote speaks of Torrington as a much frequented market; and says, that few were better supplied. MS. Survey, in the British Museum.
  • n21. See Browne Willis's Notitia Parliamentaria.
  • n22. Clarendon.
  • n23. Sprigge's England's Recovery, p. 186.
  • n24. Whitelocke.
  • n25. Sprigge.
  • n26. The barons of Torrington had the power of life and death within this manor.
  • n27. See Pat. Rot. 14 Edw. III.
  • n28. Leland speaks of the chapel as the only part of the building remaining in his time.
  • n29. He married 1. Eliz. daughter of Sir Nicholas Hooper; 2. Margaret, daughter of John Ham, Esq.; 3. Honor, daughter of Sir Thomas Bury, Knight.
  • n30. He married a sister of Sir Joshua Reynolds.
  • n31. If so, he must have possessed it himself by grant from King Henry VIII. The barony of Torrington was then in the crown.
  • n32. See Magna Britannia, of 1720.
  • n33. Chantry Roll, in the Augmentation-office.
  • n34. See Camden and Browne Willis.
  • n35. Sprigge's England's Recovery.
  • n36. Ibid.
  • n37. Hundred Roll.
  • n38. Dug. Mon. i. 1023.
  • n39. It appears, after the suppression of alien priories, to have been made subordinate to the prior and convent of Christ Church, Canterbury, who nominated the prior of Totnes. See Tanner's Notitia (Nasmith's edition).
  • n40. Mr. Oliver's Historic Collections.
  • n41. Mr. Oliver's Notes from Bishop Bronscombe's Register.
  • n42. This is the date of Bishop Lacey's indulgence to the contributors. Mr. Oliver's Notes.
  • n43. Walter Smyth, Esq., 1555; Barnard Smyth, Esq. (no date).
  • n44. John Wise, Esq., 1670; William Wise, Esq., 1693; John Wise, Esq., 1702; Samuel Wise, Gent., 1730; John Wise, Gent., 1743; Lewis Wise, Gent., 1744, (all sons of John); Samuel Wise, Gent., (son of Samuel,) 1746; Frederick Wise, Esq., 1814. Westcote mentions the tomb of John Giles, Esq., 1552.
  • n45. A record of 1422 speaks of the chapel of St. Peter, near Totnes, as founded by John Thomas, his wife Jane, and Stephen de la Fowril. Probably they endowed a chantry in it.
  • n46. Chantry Roll, in the Augmentation-office.
  • n47. "As virtue should be of good report, sacred be this humble monument to the memory of Benjamin Kennicott, parish-clerk of Totnes, and Elizabeth his wife: the latter an example of every Christian virtue; the former animated with the warmest zeal, regulated by the best good sense, and both constantly exerted for the salvation of himself and others. Reader, soon shalt thou die also; and, as a candidate for immortality, strike thy breast and say, Let me live the life of the righteous, that my latter end may be like his. Trifling are the dates of time when the subject is eternity. Erected by their son, Benjamin Kennicott, D.D., Canon of Christ Church, Oxford."
  • n48. Sprigge's England's Recovery, p. 169.
  • n49. Probably this was the manor of Trisma, one of those which belonged to Buckfast abbey at the time of the Domesday survey.
  • n50. Hugh Staplehill died in 1583; Thomas, his elder son, in 1599; John, his younger son, in 1604.