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"BISHOP'S TAWTON, a small village on the east side of the fertile and picturesque valley of the river Taw, 2½ miles S. by E. of Barnstaple, has in its parish 4268 acres of land, and 1827 inhabitants, including Newport, a populous southern suburb of Barnstaple . . . Newport is said to have been anciently a borough town. It had formerly a market on Monday, and a fair on the festival of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, granted in 1294. The Duke of Bedford is lord of the manor of Bishop's Tawton, which belonged at an early period to the Bishops of Devonshire, and was the original Bishop's See; but Putta, the second bishop, removed the See to Crediton. The manor was conveyed by Bishop Veysey, in 1550, to Lord John Russell, afterwards Earl of Bedford, at the request of the King, together with other manors. The bishops had a Palace here many centuries after the See was removed, and traces of it are still to be seen. Robt. Chichester, Esq., owns Accot, Hall, Pill, and Halmeston estates, and is now building a large and handsome mansion, in the Elizabethan style, at Hall, the ancient seat of the Hall family, whose heiress brought the estate to the Chichesters. Sir B.P. Wrey, Bart., and several smaller owners, have estates in the parish. The Church (St. John,) is an ancient structure, consisting of a nave, chancel, and north aisle, with a tower and spire." [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)]

A parish in South Molton Hundred, under the Peculiar jurisdiction of the Bishop of Exeter.


MIs for this parish are included in the Incledon index - see under Cemeteries on the main Devon page.

A transcription of the Memorial Inscriptions for the Church, of St John the Baptist, Bishop's Tawton, is held in the Society of Genealogist's Library, in Vol. 2 of Devon Memorial inscriptions, DE/M15.


Snetzler, M.F. North Devon Surname Index to the Census. Microfiche: M.F. Snetzler, Barcott, Buckland Brewer, Bideford, Devon EX39 5LN. [Covers 1841, 1861, 1871 and 1881 census records for this parish]

Church History

Bishops Tawton - from J. Stabb. Some Old Devon Churches (London: 1908-16).

Photographs and description of the Parish Church, provided by Richard A. Derrick. -->
Chanter, J N. Tawton: The First Saxon Bishopric of Devon. Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. 7, (1875), pp. 89-101. [Index]

Church Records

Parish Registers going back to 1558 are held in the Devon Record Office - for details see Parish Registers in the Devon Record Office.

Transcripts of the Parish Registers going back to 1558 are held in a special collection in the Westcountry Studies Library - for details see Parish Registers in the Devon & Cornwall Record Society's Collection.

The Devon FHS publishes indexes covering (as of June 2004): Baptisms 1813-1839, Marriages 1754-1837, Burials 1813-1837 - for details see their book list.

Other churches and chapels (with pre-1840 records):

Entered into the IGI (as of Jan 1993): Parish Church Christenings 1558-1840 and Marriages 1587-1840.
Richards, W. Bishop's Tawton Church Registers. (1924) 22p. [Westcountry Studies Library 929.3/BIS/RIC]
Bishop's Tawton parish register of baptisms, 1558-1857, Manuscript (19--) 285 pp. [North Devon Athenaeum: D929.3/BIS]
Bishop's Tawton parish registers: marriages 1587-1857, Manuscript (1955) 90 pp. [North Devon Athenaeum: D929.3/BIS]
Bishop's Tawton parish register of burials, 1587-1866, Manuscript (19--) 242 pp. [North Devon Athenaeum: D929.3/BIS]
Deanery of Barnstaple - Baptisms 1813-1839, Marriages 1754-1837 and Burials 1813-1837 - CD-ROM, Exeter, Devon FHS (2005). [Index of Atherington: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1800-1837), Barnstaple: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Bishops Tawton: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Chittlehampton: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Filleigh: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Fremington: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), High Bickington: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Horwood: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1654-1837), Burials (1675-1837), Huntshaw: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Instow: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Landkey: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Newton Tracey: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1570-1837), Burials (1725-1837), Pilton: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Swimbridge: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Tawstock: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Westleigh: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1838)

Court Records

Invasion of the manor at Bishops Tawton in 1348, from the Calendar of the Patent Rolls, Edward III Volume 8 (1348-1350), transcribed by Debbie Kennett.

Tapley-Soper, H. Defaulters at Bishops Tawton, Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, vol. 8, no. 5, (1915) pp.154-155. [Document signed by Seth Ward, Bp of Exeter 1662-67]


Transcript of main entry for Bishop's Tawton in White's Devonshire Directory of 1850.

Transcript of complete name listing for Barnstaple, together with Pilton Parish and part of Bishop's Tawton, (34 kbytes) from White's Devonshire Directory of 1850.

Transcription, by Jonathan Frayne of the Bishops Tawton section of Kelly's Directory of Barnstaple and Neighbourhood (1941).

The Devon Family History Society has published a burials listing for this parish. (These listings normally cover the period 1813-1837.)


The transcription of the section for this parish from the National Gazetteer (1868), provided by Colin Hinson.


General historical and descriptive information, area map from 1765, details about administrative boundaries, etc., about Bishop's Tawton.

Layley, Charles G. A history of the parishes of Bishops Tawton and Newport, Barnstaple. Newport: Newport & Bishops Tawton PC (1985) 32p: ill.
Bishop's Tawton - Incomplete notes on parish origins, farms, reminiscences, events, Bishop's Tawton Women's Inst. (1985). [Barnstaple Library: BN:BIS 5/0001/BIS]

Names, Personal

Name listing from Kelly's Post Office Directory of Devonshire and Cornwall of 1856.


Bishops Tawton Apprentice Register 1804-1843. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013). [Foreword]

Probate Records

Will of William Westcott (1595) transcribed by Richard Pulley and Debbie Kennett.

Transcript of the will of Henry Venn (1855) by Ros Dunning.

Transcript of the will of Richard Frayne (1595) by Jonathan Frayne.

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Last updated: 12 Jul 2015 - Brian Randell

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