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"COMBE MARTIN, or Combmartin, is a decayed market town, in one long, irregular street, in a deep and picturesque valley, about a mile from a fine cove of the north coast of Devon, and 4 miles E. of Ilfracombe. Its parish contains 1399 souls, and about 3900 acres of land, including 1837 acres of open commons and hilly moorlands. The manor was given by William the Conqueror to Martin de Tours, ancestor of the Lords Martin, from whom it passed to the Lords Audley. It was dismembered by the Pollards many years ago. The Barton, or Manor House, with a large estate, now belongs to Sir C.W. Watson, Bart, and the rest of the parish belongs to the Fursdon, Tregonwell, Cornish, Pyke, Gill, and other families. The market and fair, granted about 1264, were discontinued last century. Hemp was formerly grown in the neighbourhood, and shoemakers' thread was spun from it in the town. Coal vessels and fishing smacks resort to Combe Martin Cove, where pilots for the Bristol Channel are generally to be found. The houses extend more than a mile along the dale, amid woods and ridges of rocks, tufted with foliage down to the level of the sea. The scenery is magnificent, and the mines in the parish and neighbourhood have long been celebrated for their argentiferous lead ore. In the reign of Edward I., 337 men were brought here out of Derbyshire to work the silver mines, which are said to have furnished money for the wars in the reign of Edward III. They were again worked with success in the reign of Elizabeth, by Sir Beavis Bulmer. Unsuccessful attempts were made to work these mines with profit about 1800, 1813, and 1817; and they were reopened in 1837, and are now worked by a spirited company of adventurers, who have a smelting-house here." [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)]

A parish in Braunton Hundred, the Archdeaconry of Barnstaple, and the Diocese of Exeter.


Chanter, J.Frederick. Thomas Westcote in North Devon. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 4:6, (1907) pp.187-188. [Westcote family in Combe Martin register transcripts.] [Thomas Westcote, historian]
Parsons, E.D. Growing up in Shamwick (as told to Norah Gregory). Devon Historian 19, (1979) pp.23-27: ill. [1900-1910 period]


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

In the church there is a full index and plan of the gravestones in the churchyard.


Transcription by Fenella Rook of a local census of Combe Martin, of 1831, listing housholders and household numbers, that is held at the North Devon Record Office (NDRO B181 add/PO 28).
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

Combe Martin - from J. Stabb. Some Old Devon Churches (London: 1908-16).

Church Records

Parish Registers going back to 1671 are held in the Devon Record Office - for details see Parish Registers in the Devon Record Office.

The Devon FHS publishes indexes covering (as of June 2004): Baptisms 1813-1826, 1827-1840, Marriages 1754-1837 - for details see their book list.

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

Nothing transcribed into the IGI (as of Jan 1993).

Description and Travel

Bowen, David. Portrait of a village - Combe Martin. Devon Life vol. 5 no. 38, (1969) pp.22-25; ill.
Pearson, Cyril Arthur. Pearson's Gossipy Guide to Ilfracombe, Clovelly, Lynton, and Lynmouth, Combmartin, Barnstaple, Westward Ho!, Bideford and the North Devon coast, London, C.A. Pearson & Co. Ltd (c1901) 159 pp. [BM]


Transcript of complete entry in White's Devonshire Directory of 1850.


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


The Online Parish Clerk scheme's representative for this parish is Ann O'Toole, who invites queries and lookup requests. (Resources: PRs on fiche, indexed.)

This parish is one of the growing number of places for which the Devon Heritage website provides census or parish register transcriptions, articles, and/or illustrations, etc.


General historical and descriptive information, area map from 1765, details about administrative boundaries, etc., about Combe Martin from the Devon Library's Local Studies Service.

Uncle Tom Cobley - web-site devoted to annual celebration of this character.

Beaumont, G.F. The story of Combe Martin. (7th ed.) (1981) 52p: ill. [Westcountry Studies Library - pB/COM 3/0001/BEA]
Combe Martin Local History Group. Out of the world and into Combe Martin. Combe Martin: The Group (1989) [xii],175p. [ISBN 0 9509917 2 4] [Contents and Index]
Combe Martin Local History Group. Out of the World and Into Combe Martin. Engine House Series No. 4. Combe Martin: The Group, 4 Kingsley Terrace, Combe Martin, Devon EX34 0EW (1989) 175 pp., bibliog. ISBN-13: 978-0950991726.
Combe Martin Local History Group. Old Combmartin. Engine House Series No. 3. Combe Martin: The Group, 4 Kingsley Terrace, Combe Martin, Devon EX34 0EW (1994) 45 pp., bibliog. ISBN 0 9524092 0 8 [Index]
Combe Martin Local History Group. Combmartin Yesterday. Engine House Series No. 4. Combe Martin: The Group, 4 Kingsley Terrace, Combe Martin, Devon EX34 0EW (1997) 45 pp., bibliog. ISBN 0 9524092 1 6 [Index]
Toms, K.M. Notes on Combe Martin. Barnstaple: printed at the "Herald" Press, (1902). pp. 56. 22 cm. BL X.709/17587. e/
Times Past in Ilfracombe and Combe Martin. Ilfracombe Local History Group (1981) 76p: ill. [Westcountry Studies Library - pB/ILF/1800/ILF]

Names, Personal

Combe Martin contributors to a 1678 brief for the rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral.


Venn, Alexander. One of Devon's oldest crafts 50 years ago. Devon Life vol. 10 no. 79 (1973) pp.42-43; ill.
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Last updated: 13 Jul 2015 - Brian Randell

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