General history: Etymology and historical events

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

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Daniel Lysons. Samuel Lysons, 'General history: Etymology and historical events', Magna Britannia: Volume 6, Devonshire, (London, 1822), pp. v-xx. British History Online [accessed 24 June 2024].

Daniel Lysons. Samuel Lysons. "General history: Etymology and historical events", in Magna Britannia: Volume 6, Devonshire, (London, 1822) v-xx. British History Online, accessed June 24, 2024,

Lysons, Daniel. Lysons, Samuel. "General history: Etymology and historical events", Magna Britannia: Volume 6, Devonshire, (London, 1822). v-xx. British History Online. Web. 24 June 2024,

In this section


Name and Etymology.

THIS county was called, by the Cornish Britons, Dunan; by the Welsh, Deuffneynt; by the Saxons, Devenascyre, Devnascyre, and Devenschire. Ptolomy, and Richard of Cirencester call it [Greek: Damnonion], Danmonium, or Dunmonium. Sammes supposes Danmonium to be derived from two Phœnician words, dan or dun, a hill; and moina, mines; Camden defines the Welsh, Deuffneynt, deep vallies; both, names sufficiently appropriate to the county.

Ancient Inhabitants, Language, and Government.

It is supposed that Devonshire was inhabited from a very remote period; and that its inhabitants had commercial transactions with the Phœnicians, Greeks, and other foreign nations. (fn. n1) Mr. Polwhele says, that these aboriginal Britons were the Danmonii. The late Mr. Whitaker, on the contrary, supposes, and of this opinion are some of the most eminent antiquaries of the present day, that the Danmonii were the Belgic invaders; and that the aboriginal inhabitants of Devonshire were the Cimbri, some of whom, in consequence of these invasions, emigrated to Ireland, whilst others continued to occupy the north-west of Devon.

Exeter and another fortified town; but, on the approach of Alfred's army, fled to their ships. (fn. n2) In or about the year 926, Athelstan is supposed to have vanquished Howell, King of Cornwall, near Exeter, and to have expelled the Britons, who then inhabited that town jointly with the Saxons, beyond the Tamar. It was probably about this time, that Athelstan kept his Christmas at Exeter, which he appears to have done when he made his celebrated laws at that place. (fn. n3) In 937 is said to have happened, near Axminster, the most bloody conflict which had ever been known in England, between King Athelstan, accompanied by his brother Edmund, against the Kings of Ireland and Scotland confederated with the Danes, in which Athelstan was victorious. The relation so exactly corresponds with that of a battle, said by the historians to have taken place in 937, or 938, in Northumberland, that it must have been one and the same event, whatever may be decided as to its locality. In part of an old French chronicle, printed in Leland's Collectanea, it is said that the enemy landed at Seaton, and that the battle began at Brunedune, near Colyton, and continued to Axminster, then called Bronebury. (fn. n4) The cartulary of Newenham Abbey, in Axminster, relates also that the battle began near Colyton, (Kaletyne,) and continued to Colecroft, under Axminster; and that Athelstan founded a collegiate minster of priests to pray for the souls of the earls and others, slain in the battle. In the old chronicle above mentioned, the slaughter is described as immense: five of the leaders slain are there called Kings; these with eight earls, and others, are said to have been buried in the cemetery at Axminster.

William of Malmsbury speaks of the Danes having laid waste Devonshire, and burnt Exeter, in the reign of King Ethelred. (fn. n5) In the year 997, (during the same reign,) they came up the Tamar, and ravaged the country as far as Lidford. (fn. n6) Tavistock abbey was burnt by them during this inroad. (fn. n7) In 1001, the Danes, having landed at Exmouth, marched to Exeter, which they besieged, but being disappointed in their attempt to gain possession of it, they laid waste the surrounding country. (fn. n8) At Pinhoe, they were encountered by Cola, the King's commander-in-chief, with such forces as he could hastily collect: the Danes were victorious; and the day after the battle burnt Pinhoe, Broad Clist, and other neighbouring villages. (fn. n9) They then returned with a great spoil to their ships. In the year 1003, the Danes again landed at Exmouth, and besieging Exeter, took it through the treachery or negligence of the governor, and nearly destroyed the town. (fn. n10)

In 1067, Exeter held out against King William, but was yielded on the approach of the monarch with his army. (fn. n11) The next year, Godwin and Edmund, sons of Harold, having landed in Somersetshire, committed great spoil in Devon and Cornwall. (fn. n12) In 1069, the disaffected Saxons having taken up arms in Devonshire, attempted to possess themselves of Exeter, but the citizens, mindful of what had happened in 1067, refused to admit them: the King sent some forces to their relief, by whom the Saxons were defeated with great slaughter. (fn. n13)

It appears by the Domesday survey, that, not long before that survey was taken, Thurlestone, Portlemouth, West Allington, Collaton-Prawle, East Sewer, and other manors on the southern coast, were laid waste by the Irish. Upon the accession of William Rufus, the favourers of Robert, Duke of Normandy, took up arms, and Exeter was then laid waste by Robert Fitz-Baldwin. (fn. n14) Soon after Stephen came to the crown, in 1137, Exeter Castle being held against him by Baldwin de Rivers, Earl of Devon, underwent a long siege, and was at length surrendered to the King, the garrison having been reduced to the greatest distress for want of water. Some knights, who held Plympton Castle for the Earl, entered in the mean time into treaty with the King for the surrender of that fortress; and a party of 200 men being sent to take possession of it, destroyed the castle, and laid waste all the Earl's extensive manors. (fn. n15)

Until the middle of the fiftenth century we find few events relating to this county, and those connected with the sea-coast. The French made several attacks upon the maritime towns, burning and plundering Teignmouth, Plymouth, and others. (fn. n16) During one of these attacks in 1404, they were repulsed by the country people near Dartmouth; Monsieur Castell, their commander, with several others, being slain, and many prisoners of rank taken. (fn. n17) The Lord of Pomiers burnt several towns in Devon, in 1457. (fn. n18) It might be mentioned also that the Black Prince, returning from his victorious expedition into France, in 1356, landed at Plymouth with his illustrious prisoners, King John, and the Dauphin of France. (fn. n19)

During the civil wars between the houses of York and Lancaster, this county was much divided; and although we have no record of any battle fought in it, yet it appears that bloodshed sometimes ensued between the partisans of the two houses. The roll of parliament, of the year 1455, speaks of several riots and murders committed in the west by the Earl of Devon and Lord Bonville, who were near neighbours, the former being a Lancastrian, and the latter a Yorkist. Some writers mention a duel which took place that year between these noblemen on Clist Heath: it was rather a combat, for they fought attended by numerous retainers, who engaged in the conflict; and several persons were killed on either side. Lord Bonville was victorious, and the gates of Exeter were opened to him and his party. (fn. n20)

In the year 1469, Lord Fitzwarren, Lord Dinham, and Lord Carew, being assembled with a great force at Exeter, where the Duchess of Clarence also then was, they were besieged by Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon. The siége was raised by the mediation of the members of the church. Shortly afterwards, happened the battle of Loosecote, in which the Lancastrians were worsted. The Duke of Clarence and the Earl of Warwick, retiring into Devonshire, sailed from Dartmouth to Calais: about four months afterwards, returning to England with reinforcements, they landed at Exmouth, Dartmouth, and Plymouth. A short time before the battle of Tewksbury, in 1472, the Lancastrian forces from Cornwall and Devonshire, under the command of Sir John Arundell and Sir Hugh Courtenay (fn. n21), mustered at Exeter, whence they marched to the fatal field.

In 1497, the Cornish rebels appeared before Exeter, but being repulsed by the citizens, marched forwards towards Somersetshire. The same year Exeter was besieged by Perkin Warbeck: the siege was raised by Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon, attended by several Devonshire knights, with the posse comitatus: Warbeck and his followers marched towards Taunton. (fn. n22)

In the year 1549, some serious commotions arose in Devonshire, occasioned by the change of religion. It first broke out at Sampford Courtenay on Whit-Monday, the day after the act for reforming the churchservice had been put in force. At first only some of the lower orders were engaged, and they compelled the priest to say mass as had been accustomed. By degrees the commotion began to assume a more serious aspect, and the disaffected assembled all over this county and Cornwall. Sir Peter and Sir Gawen Carew were then sent to quell the disturbances. The rebels who had assembled at Crediton made trenches at the town's end, and fortified some barns, which being set fire to by a servant of Sir Hugh Pollard, they quitted the town and fled. This served as a fresh cause for exasperating the people, who rose soon afterwards at St. Mary Clist, and fortified that village and the bridge. They stopped all the highways, and took several gentlemen of the country prisoners. Ere long they were joined by some of the discontented gentry of Devon and Cornwall, among whom were Sir Thomas Pomeroy, Mr. Berry, and Mr. Coffin, of Devonshire, and Mr. Humphrey Arundell, and Mr. Winslade of Cornwall. On the 2d of July, they began to besiege Exeter: previously to this they had sent up to the King certain articles to which they demanded his assent. An answer to these demands, discussing the subjects of complaint at considerable length, but refusing to comply with their demands, and exhorting them to return to their allegiance, was drawn up by the council on the 8th of July, and sent to the rebels, but without effect. (fn. n23) Lord Russell having been sent to suppress the rebellion, marched into Devonshire with a considerable force, by way of Honiton: here he was quartered for some time, during which he defeated a body of the Cornish rebels near Feniton bridge, in which action Sir Gawen Carew was wounded. Lord Russell being joined by some reinforcements under Lord Grey, on the 3d of August encamped on Woodbury down, and defeated a body of the rebels near the windmill. After this, the rebels mustered from all quarters at Bishop's Clist, where they entrenched themselves, and fortified the bridge. Lord Russell having attacked them in their trenches: the rebels were for a while successful; Sir William Francis was slain, and the waggons with the royal treasure and ammunition taken; but the success was of short duration. Clist town was set on fire by the King's forces, the bridge recovered, and the rebels repulsed with great slaughter. They mustered again, being reinforced from all quarters, upon Clist Heath, where they were totally defeated. The siege of Exeter was in consequence raised, after it had been reduced to the greatest distress. Lord Russell entered it, to the great joy of the inhabitants, on the 6th of August. Arundell, Winslade, Berry, and most of the ringleaders were taken and executed. Sir Thomas Pomeroy, who was also taken prisoner to London, appears to have made his peace. Sir Peter and Sir Gawen Carew and others were rewarded with the rebels' lands. (fn. n24) In 1554, Mary being then Queen, we find Sir Peter and Sir Gawen Carew up in arms to oppose the coming of Philip King of Spain, and we are told that they took possession of the city and castle of Exeter. (fn. n25) It does not appear what was the event of this insurrection, or whether the authors of it suffered any punishment. Sir Peter and Sir Gawen Carew were both living in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

At the commencement of the civil war, in the seventeenth century, the whole of the county of Devon was in the hands of the committees, and the majority of the inhabitants, particularly in the north part of the county, attached to the cause of the parliament. (fn. n26) The important post of Plymouth, during the absence of its governor, Sir Jacob Astley, whom the King had appointed his Major-General of foot, was seized by the townsmen and strongly fortified. The Earl of Ruthen was soon afterwards made governor. Exeter was garrisoned by the parliament in October, 1642, and was the head-quarters of their General, the Earl of Stamford. (fn. n27) The head-quarters of the small force which the royalists then had in Devon was at Plympton. (fn. n28) In the month of December, Modbury castle, then held by its owner, Mr. Champernowne, was taken by the Plymouth garrison. (fn. n29) About the beginning of the year 1643, we find Sir George Chudleigh, an active officer for the parliament, stationed at Tavistock with some troops of horse raised in the county. (fn. n30)

After the defeat of the parliamentary army at Bradock-down, near Liskeard, on the 19th of January, the royalists having taken Saltash, quartered themselves at Tavistock; and Sir John Berkeley made incursions into various parts of Devon, dispersing the parliamentarians in all directions. In one of these expeditions, Mr. Sidney Godolphin was killed at Chagford. (fn. n31) In the month of February, Sir Nicholas Slanning being entrenched at Modbury with 2000 men, was defeated by the Devonshire clubmen, and Sir Ralph Hopton, who had stationed himself before Plymouth, was driven from his quarters by the Earl of Stamford. (fn. n32) About this time a treaty of peace for the counties of Devon and Cornwall was set on foot, and a cessation of hostilities was agreed on. A general treaty was talked of not long afterwards, but all conciliatory efforts proved ineffectual.

On the 25th of April, Major-General James Chudleigh, son of Sir George, at that time an active officer for the parliament, and acting as commander-in-chief for the Earl of Stamford, then laid up with the gout, being on his return from an unsuccessful attempt upon Launceston, with a small force, fell in with Sir Ralph Hopton's army on a down near Bridestowe, which Vicars calls Reber-down, and Lord Clarendon, Bradockdown, and totally defeated them. Lord Clarendon, who speaks of this as a night-skirmish, says that it was the only interruption given to the victorious progress of the Cornish army. Vicars, who describes it as a brilliant action, proposes that a pyramid should be erected to commemorate it, and offers an inscription, in which he states that only 108 of the parliamentary soldiers were engaged in the action. About the middle of May, the Earl of Stamford marched into Cornwall, where the parliamentary army was defeated at the battle of Stratton, on the 16th. MajorGeneral Chudleigh, who was accused of treacherous conduct in this action, was taken prisoner. Induced, as it is said, by the kindness of his captors, and the unjust accusations of his own party, he went over to the royalists, and was killed at the siege of Dartmouth, under Prince Maurice, on the 30th of September in the same year.

The King's forces, under Sir Ralph Hopton, called the Cornish army, after the battle of Stratton marched into Devonshire, established some small garrisons near Exeter, as a check upon that city, and advanced to Tiverton, whence they dispossessed Colonel Weare. (fn. n33)

Later in the summer, we are told, that the King had no force in this county, except a small garrison at Columbjohn, the seat of Sir John Acland, which was some check upon the garrison at Exeter. (fn. n34) Sir John Berkeley was then sent into Devonshire with a regiment of horse, to take the command of the King's forces, to recruit their numbers, and take measures for blockading Exeter. After the capture of Bristol, Prince Maurice was sent down into the west as commander-in-chief. He found Sir John Berkeley's forces, much augmented by new levies from the country, straitly besieging Exeter, with his guards close to the gates. (fn. n35) The parliamentary Admiral, the Earl of Warwick, attempting to relieve the city, took a fort of the King's at Apsham, (Topsham,) and brought some ships up the river, but the attempt was unsuccessful; three of the ships being left by the falling of the tide, two of them were taken, and one burnt. (fn. n36) About the same time the parliament, who had a strong fort at Appledore, garrisoned Barnstaple and Bideford; their power being thus strengthened in the north of the county, Colonel John Digby was sent thither by the King with a regiment of horse. He fixed his quarters at Torrington, where he soon procured reinforcements from Cornwall. While stationed there, he was attacked by a considerable force from the above-mentioned garrisons, under the command of Colonel Bennet. Colonel Digby, whose force was much inferior, taking advantage of a sudden panic which had seized the parliamentary soldiers at the commencement of the skirmish, obtained an easy victory, and within a few days, in the beginning of September, Appledore fort, Barnstaple, and Bideford, were surrendered. (fn. n37)

The tide of success now ran high for the King in the west. Exeter was surrendered on the 4th. (fn. n38) Colonel Digby was sent with a considerable force to block up Plymouth, and it was supposed that if Prince Maurice had then marched thither with his army, it would have surrendered. About this time Sir Alexander Carew, who commanded the fort and island of St. Nicholas at this port, formed a design of betraying it to the royalists, but his intentions having been discovered, he was taken prisoner, sent to London, and beheaded on Tower Hill. Prince Maurice having been advised to attack Dartmouth, which was esteemed an easy conquest, marched thither, but found himself so far deceived in his expectation, that it was not till after a month's siege, during which he lost great numbers of his men by sickness (fn. n39), that this garrison was surrendered (on the 4th of October (fn. n40) ). The Prince then proceeded to Plymouth, which in the mean time had received great reinforcements, whilst his own army had been so much diminished. After a short time, Prince Maurice left Colonel Digby in the command of the besieging army. The siege or blockade of Plymouth was carried on for many months with various success. Mount Stamford was taken by the royalists on the 6th of November, two assaults were made in the month of December with little success, and the siege was then for a while abandoned. (fn. n41) Sir Richard Grenville made several attempts upon Plymouth in the spring of 1644. About the beginning of April he was defeated by Colonel Martin, the governor of St. Budeaux, and two companies were taken prisoners in the church. (fn. n42)

No military transaction took place in Devonshire this year, except before Plymouth, till the arrival of the Earl of Essex with his army in July. About this time, Barnstaple being left with a small garrison, the townsmen rose and took possession of it. Prince Maurice sent Colonel Digby to the relief of the garrison, but his party was repulsed by Lord Roberts and Sir R. Stapleton, sent by the Earl of Essex to support the townsmen. (fn. n43) The Earl of Essex fixed his quarters for a considerable time at Tiverton: soon after his arrival, the Queen, who had been at at Exeter since the month of April, and had lain in there, quitted that city, and retired to France. Prince Maurice was with his army at Oakhampton in the beginning of July: thence he marched to Crediton, but quitted it on the approach of the Earl of Essex, and removed to Heavitree (fn. n44), near Exeter, then the chief royal garrison in the west. Soon afterwards he appeared before Plymouth, but after a short stay he raised the siege, and left the charge of the blockade to Sir Richard Grenville. About the end of this month, Lord Henry Percy, who held Colyton for the King, was dispossessed by the parliamentary garrison from Lyme. (fn. n45) About this time Whitelocke speaks of a skirmish between a party of Lord Essex's horse and Lord Pawlet, at Cheriton, in which Lord Pawlet having suffered much loss retreated to Exeter. (fn. n46) About this time also the Earl of Essex, by the advice of Lord Roberts, determined to march with his army into Cornwall: upon his approach Sir Richard Grenville retired from before Plymouth; the Earl re-captured Mount Stamford, took the royal garrison at Plympton, and Sir Richard Grenville's house at Tavistock. (fn. n47) The King having determined to follow Essex into the west, fixed his quarters on the 25th of July at Honiton; on the 26th he came to Exeter, where he first saw his daughter Henrietta Maria; on the 27th, he reviewed Prince Maurice's forces at Crediton; on the 30th, he was with his army at Oakhampton; on the 31st at Lifton: thence he marched into Cornwall, by way of Polston bridge. (fn. n48)

The particulars of the success of this expedition, and the dispersion of the army of the Earl of Essex, have been spoken of in the History of Cornwall. The Earl of Essex and Lord Roberts escaped to Plymouth, and the latter was made governor of that garrison. A few days before the capitulation of Essex's army, Colonel Middleton had arrived at Tiverton. (August 29.) Sir William Balfour, with the fugitive horse, was quartered at Egg Buckland (fn. n49), on his route from Cornwall; and we soon afterwards find him skirmishing with Sir John Berkeley at Tiverton, of which town Sir John had then possession. The King was at Tavistock with his army, on his return from Cornwall, on the 8th of September; and thence he sent a message to parliament on the 9th. Accompanied by his nephew, Prince Maurice, he then invested Plymouth, and summoned the town. On its refusing to surrender, after holding a council of war, it was determined not to attempt an assault, and the blockade was again committed to the charge of Sir Richard Grenville. The King returned with his army to Tavistock on the 14th, and marched thence to Oakhampton on the 16th; on the 17th they arrived at Exeter, and the army was quartered about Bradninch, Crediton, &c. On the 23d they halted at Honiton, on their route eastward. (fn. n50) During the month of October, Ilfracombe was taken for the King by Sir Francis Doddington; Barnstaple surrendered to General Goring on the 17th. (fn. n51) Sir Richard Cholmondeley, who had been left at Axminster with a party of horse, was attacked by some parliamentary forces, and slain in the skirmish. (fn. n52)

In the month of January, 1645, Sir Richard Grenville made an assault on Plymouth, in which some of the outworks were taken, but recovered afterwards by the garrison, and the royalists repulsed with great loss. About the same time, Sydenham House, a garrison of the King's, in the parish of Maristow, was taken by Colonel Holborn. (fn. n53) In February, the garrison at Plymouth gained fresh advantages; Mount Stamford was retaken on the 18th, and Sir Richard Grenville defeated on the 24th. (fn. n54) Sir Richard was superseded in his command, and the blockade entrusted to Sir John Berkeley, in the month of June. In the same month, Prince Charles was resident for a while at Barnstaple, and there heard the tidings of the fatal battle of Naseby. (fn. n55) Whitelocke relates, that, in September, 1645, the clubmen of Devon declared for the parliament.

From this time, nothing but a series of disastrous events happened to the royal party in Devonshire: nor is it to be wondered at, that these disasters should have been hastened by the cruelties and oppressions of Sir Richard Grenville, the licentious conduct of Lord Goring, and the dissensions between all the King's generals. (fn. n56)

Lord Goring having been defeated by Sir Thomas Fairfax, in Somersetshire, had retired to Barnstaple in the month of July. The Prince was at Exeter in August and September. In the latter month the blockade of Plymouth was again entrusted to General Digby.

In the midst of the various dissensions which prevailed among the royal generals in the west, Sir Thomas Fairfax, commander-in-chief of the parliamentary army, entered Devonshire, and pursued his victorious career, till he had reduced every town and fortress in the county. Lord Goring, who had been quartered at Poltimore, with 1500 horse, retired into Exeter: he afterwards removed to Newton Bushell, Totnes, and Dartmouth. From the latter place, having quitted his command, he sailed to France. (fn. n57)

Sir Thomas Fairfax having entered Devon, halted at Honiton on the 14th of October. The King's forces, which were stationed at Ottery St. Mary, Collumpton, &c., retreated. On the 15th, General Massey was sent forwards to besiege Tiverton. Fairfax advanced with his army to Bradninch on the 16th; and on the 18th, he advanced in person to the siege of Tiverton. The next day, the church and castle were stormed and taken. After the reduction of Tiverton, the General and his army removed to Silverton, which they reached on the 20th; on the 22d, they marched to Newton St. Cyres. They removed to Crediton on the 23d; on Sunday the 26th, again to Silverton; and on the 27th, to Topsham.

Poltimore, Bishop's Clist, and Stoke Canon, were made garrisons for the parliament. From the 19th of November to the 6th of December, Fairfax's army was quartered at Ottery St. Mary. During this time, a great sickness prevailed there, to which, among others, Colonel Pickering, a distinguished officer, fell a sacrifice. When Fairfax stationed his army at Ottery, Sir Richard Grenville was with the King's forces at Oakhampton, and had thrown up some entrenchments to secure himself in that town, but about the end of November he retired into Cornwall. (fn. n58)

Sir Thomas Fairfax removed his army to Tiverton on the 6th of December. A council of war was held at that place on Sunday the 7th. On the 8th, he took possession of Crediton, where Sir Hardress Waller was left with some regiments of foot. During the month of December, Sir Thomas Fairfax took three strong garrisons of the King's; Fulford House, Canon Teign, and Callyntyn House. (fn. n59) The command of Fulford and Canon Teign was given to Colonel Okey. Powderham was attempted, but at first without success: a temporary garrison was formed by the besiegers in the church, and victualled from Nutwell House, a garrison of the parliament, but soon evacuated. During the same month, Colonel Okey had a skirmish with some of the King's forces near Chulmleigh, and took Lord Chichester's house at Eggesford. Sir Thomas Fairfax held a rendezvous of his army at Cadbury fort, on the 26th of December. Ashburton was taken on the 29th, and garrisoned for the parliament.

On the 1st or 2d of January, 1646, Canterbury (fn. n60) fort, near Plymouth, and St. Budeaux church and church-yard, both strongly fortified, were taken by the garrison at Plymouth. (fn. n61) Tiverton continued to be the headquarters of the parliamentary army till the 8th of January. About this time, the principal strength of the King's forces in the west, except the garrison at Exeter, was under the command of Lord Wentworth, and stationed in the neighbourhood of Ashburton. On the 8th of January, Fairfax marched with his army to Moreton; the same day there was a skirmish at Bow, in which Sir Hardress Waller took several prisoners. In the evening of the 9th, Cromwell, with a detachment of the parliamentary army, fell in with part of Lord Wentworth's brigade stationed at Bovey Tracey, and dispersed them. Ilsington (fn. n62) church was for a while occupied as a place of retreat by some of the fugitives, but quitted on Cromwell's approach. On the 10th, Fairfax was with his army at Ashburton. Prince Charles, who had been residing for some time at Tavistock, now withdrew into Cornwall; and about the same time the blockade of Plymouth was wholly abandoned. (fn. n63)

On the 15th of January, when the King's cause was almost hopeless, Lord Hopton was made commander-in-chief in the west. Totnes was quitted on the approach of Sir Thomas Fairfax, who halted there on his march to Dartmouth. On the 12th, he sent two regiments to besiege that town, which was stormed by him in person on the 18th, when it was taken with the castle, Townstall church, Mount Boone, and King's Weare fort, assisted by the fleet under Admiral Batten. The army moved onwards on the 19th. Charles fort, at Salcombe, was summoned on the 23d, but held out some months longer. The army returned to Totnes on the 21st, marched to Newton Bushell on the 24th, and to Chudleigh on the 25th. On that day, Powderham Castle was taken by Colonel Hamond; but it seems to have been retaken, and again garrisoned for the King, since Vicars relates the surrender of that castle to Sir Hardress Waller, about the end of March, and gives the particulars. Soon after Colonel Hamond took Powderham, the royalists are said to have abandoned a garrison at St. Peter Byme's. (fn. n64) Sir Thomas Fairfax summoned Exeter on the 27th of January, without effect: after this he was diverted to the north of Devon. Sir Hardress Waller began the blockade of Exeter on the 9th of February. Barley House was garrisoned by him during this month, and Reymouth House (fn. n65), (within a mile of Exeter). Colonel Shapcote began to blockade Exmouth fort. Alphington was the head-quarters of the besieging army. (fn. n66)

Sir Thomas Fairfax was with his army at Crediton, from the 10th to the 14th of February; from thence he advanced, by way of Chulmleigh, towards Torrington, in which town Lord Hopton had just established his head-quarters. Having held a rendezvous of his army at Ash Reigny on the morning of the 16th, and on his march taken Mr. Rolle's house at Stevenstone, then occupied by a party of the King's dragoons, on the same night he attacked Lord Hopton in his quarters, and totally defeated his army. Lord Hopton and Lord Capel were both wounded in the action. About 200 prisoners were the next day blown up in the the church. (fn. n67) A thanksgiving was appointed for this victory, which indeed seems to have been the death-blow of the power of the royalists in the west.

On the 17th of February, Sir Thomas Fairfax sent a party to take possession of Holsworthy, then occupied by some of the King's forces: on the 19th, he placed a garrison in Tawstock House, and returned to Stevenstone, the quarters at Torrington being inconvenient, on account of the accident which had happened to the church.

On the 15th of March, Exmouth fort was surrendered. (fn. n68) On the 25th, Sir Thomas Fairfax visited the garrison at Plymouth, and went thence to Oakhampton: there he was met by the army from Launceston, which halted in that town on the 28th. The next day the general advanced with the army to Crediton, which he quitted on the 30th. At this time Heavitree was occupied by the besieging army. On the 31st, Sir Thomas Fairfax was at Columbjohn, the army being quartered at Silverton. (fn. n69) A treaty, relative to the surrender of Exeter, was begun at Poltimore, on the 3d of April. Previously to the commencement of this treaty, three forts had been delivered into the General's hands: St. Downes (fn. n70), on the north side of Exeter, Mount Radford, and a very large house in St. Thomas's parish. The treaty was carried on till the 9th, on which day the city was surrendered on articles, by Sir John Berkeley, the governor.

On the 10th of April, Sir Thomas Fairfax appeared before Barnstaple; and on the following day, that town and the castle were surrendered on nearly the same terms as Exeter. (fn. n71) Sir Thomas Fairfax marched thence to Exeter, which city he entered with his victorious army, on the 14th: here he stayed till the 18th, when having incorporated the men raised by Colonel Shapcote, Colonel Were, and Colonel Frye, into one regiment, he left it to garrison the city, under the command of Colonel Hamond. Mount Edgecumbe surrendered to Colonel Hamond on the 21st of April. (fn. n72) This was the last garrison in Devonshire which held out for the King, except Charles fort, at Salcombe Regis, which was defended by its gallant governor, Sir Edmund Fortescue, till the beginning of June, when it surrendered on honourable terms to Colonel Welden, the governor of Plymouth. (fn. n73)

This county became memorable, in 1688, as having witnessed the first scenes of the happy revolution of that year. The Prince of Orange landed at Torbay, on the 5th of November, and immediately rode to Ford, the house of Sir William Courtenay, near Newton Abbot, where he stayed till the 8th. (fn. n74) On that day he made a public entry into Exeter (fn. n75) : the next day he went to the cathedral, where he returned thanks for his safe arrival. After Te Deum had been sung, the Prince's declaration was read by his chaplain, Dr. Burnet, afterwards Bishop of Salisbury. The Prince remained several days at Exeter, before any of the principal persons of the county came in to him. An association is said to have been signed in the cathedral on the 17th. On the 21st, the Prince quitted Exeter, accompanied by several gentlemen of Somersetshire and Devonshire; and having dined that day at Ottery, proceeded to Axminster, where he remained four days. (fn. n76) A small garrison was placed at Exeter, under the command of Sir Edward Seymour.

Teignmouth was burnt by the French in the year 1690. (fn. n77) It may be here mentioned, that the great military hero of that day, the Duke of Marlborough, was a native of Devonshire, having been born at Ash, in the parish of Musbury, the seat of his maternal grandfather, Sir John Drake.

In the year 1719, in consequence of the great preparations made by the French, for the invasion of England, several regiments of horse and foot were sent into Devonshire, and there was an encampment on Clist heath. (fn. n78)

In the year 1779, the combined fleets having appeared off Plymouth caused a great alarm, especially on account of the dock-yard, and the numerous prisoners of war then collected at that port. The prisoners were removed to Exeter; and William Bastard, Esq., of Kitley, who had, with great spirit, on the first appearance of danger, raised a corps of volunteers, commanded them on their march. For his active and prompt exertions upon this occasion, the King, without any previous communication of his design, ordered a baronet's patent to be made out for him. The citizens of Exeter also raised a corps of volunteers to guard the prisoners, who were confined in the county Bridewell, given up by the justices for that purpose. Several regiments of volunteers were raised in Devon during the expectation of a French invasion, in 1798; and the following year, cannon were brought from Plymouth for the defence of Exeter, and a camp was formed on Woodbury down, the park of artillery being stationed within the ancient entrenchment. These preparations were repeated in 1803, and a camp again formed on Woodbury down, Lieut.-General Simcoe having the chief command of the district.


  • n1. Numerous words of eastern origin, as well as Greek words, appear to have been incorporated in the ancient British language.
  • n2. Mat. West. and Sax. Chron.
  • n3. See Jo. Brompton, in Dec. Scrip. i. 850.
  • n4. The Saxon Chronicle describes the battle as fought at Brunanburh, which Camden supposes to be Ford, near Bromeridge, in Northumberland. Taking the whole into consideration, it seems most probable, that Axminster, of which Branbury is said to have been the ancient name, was the site of this great conflict. The name of Axminster evidently arose from the minster, founded in consequence of this battle near the river Axe.
  • n5. Scrip. post. Bedam. 35.
  • n6. Sax. Chron. Sim. Dunelm. J. Bromton. Mat. West.
  • n7. Sax. Chron. Mat. West.
  • n8. Sim. Dunelm. Mat. West.
  • n9. Sax. Chron.
  • n10. Sax. Chron. Sim. Dunelm.
  • n11. Ordericus Vitalis.
  • n12. Stowe.
  • n13. Ordericus Vitalis.
  • n14. Ralph de Diceto.
  • n15. Gesta Stephani, inter Norman. Scrip.
  • n16. Teignmouth, 1350 (Stowe). Plymouth in 1338, 1377, 1400, and 1403. Holinshed, &c.
  • n17. Walsingham.
  • n18. Stowe.
  • n19. Walsingham.
  • n20. Holinshed.
  • n21. Ibid.
  • n22. Holinshed.
  • n23. These papers are printed at full length in Fox's Acts and Monuments, and in Holinshed's Chronicle.
  • n24. These particulars are taken from Hoker, who was living at Exeter during the time of the siege.
  • n25. Stowe. I do not find this circumstance mentioned in any of the annals of Exeter.
  • n26. Clarendon's History, ii. 128.
  • n27. Vicars's Parliamentary Chronicle, i. 172.
  • n28. Vicars's Parliamentary Chronicle, 226.
  • n29. Ibid.
  • n30. Clarendon, ii. 130.
  • n31. Clarendon.
  • n32. Vicars, i. 271.
  • n33. John Were, Esq., of Halberton, who died in 1658.
  • n34. Clarendon, ii. 281.
  • n35. Clarendon.
  • n36. Printed letter.
  • n37. Clarendon, Heath, &c.
  • n38. Dugdale and Whitelocke.
  • n39. Clarendon.
  • n40. Dugdale and Whitelocke.
  • n41. Vicars, iii. 111.
  • n42. Vicars, iii. 215.
  • n43. Ibid. iii. 265, 266.
  • n44. Walker's Historical Discourses, p. 42
  • n45. Vicars, in. 296.
  • n46. Page 92.
  • n47. Vicars.
  • n48. Walker's Historical Discourses, p. 45—49.
  • n49. Walker.
  • n50. Walker's Historical Discourses, whence all the dates and facts relating to the King's progress are taken.
  • n51. Walker, p. 86.
  • n52. Ibid. 87.
  • n53. Vicars, iv. 96.
  • n54. Ibid. iv. 112.
  • n55. Clarendon.
  • n56. Ibid.
  • n57. Sprigge's England's Recovery, whence most of the events relating to the expedition of Sir Thomas Fairfax are taken.
  • n58. Clarendon.
  • n59. I have not met with any account of a house of this name, nor can I learn where it was: it is described in the Chronicles as situated on the river, west of Exeter.
  • n60. Kinterbury, in the parish of St. Budeaux.
  • n61. Sprigge; and Vicars, iv. 340.
  • n62. Erroneously called Ellington.
  • n63. Clarendon.
  • n64. Whitelocke. This must have been Mamhead, then Sir Peter Ball's.
  • n65. I have not been able to hear of any house of this name, or at all resembling it, near Exeter.
  • n66. Sprigge.
  • n67. Sprigge.
  • n68. Vicars, iv. 404.
  • n69. Sprigge.
  • n70. Vicars, iv. 407. The fort of Downes was in the parish of St. David.
  • n71. Sprigge.
  • n72. Whitelocke, 207.
  • n73. See Whitelocke, who says June 1., and Vicars (iv. 436.), who speaks of the surrender as having happened about the 3d.
  • n74. Tract printed in the Harleian Miscellany, vol. i. p. 438.
  • n75. The account of the procession, quoted in p. 188. of the Parochial History, was originally printed in this tract, in 1688.
  • n76. See the above-mentioned tract.
  • n77. See the account of that place.
  • n78. Jenkins.