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DEVONSHIRE

From

London and Provincial New Commercial Directory,

London, J. Pigot & Co. (1830)

A MARITIME county, is one of the most valuable in England, and in size only exceeded by Yorkshire: it is bounded on the west and north-west by the Bristol channel, on the west by the river Tamar and a small rivulet called Marsland water; on the south and south-east by the British channel, and on the east and south-east by the counties of Dorset and Somerset, the dividing limits here being artificial. The greatest length of the county from north to south is nearly 71 miles, and from east to west about the same extent. Camden, in speaking of its name, says- "The hithermost part of the county of the Damonii is now commonly called Devonshire; by the Cornish Britons, Deunon; by the Welch, Deusney (the deep valleys), because the lower parts of it are chiefly inhabited; by the Saxons, Deuonschire, whence comes the Latin name Devona, and the common contraction Denshire, and not from the Danes, as the sciolists warmly maintain."

SOIL, PRODUCE. and CLIMATE:- The external aspect of Devonshire is extremely varied and irregular; and the heights in many parts, but particularly in Dartmoor and its vicinity, swell into mountains; the altitudes of the principal eminences being from 1,500 to 1,800 feet. On approaching this tract from the south and south-east, the eye is bewildered by an extensive vale, exhibiting gigantic 'tors,' large surfaces covered with vast masses of scattered granite and immense rocks, which seem to have been precipitated from the steep declivities into the vallies. Dartmoor, and the waste called the forest of Dartmoor, occupy a great portion of the western district, which, extending from the Vale of Exeter, nearly reaches to the banks of the Tamar, and includes between two and three hundred thousand acres of open and uncultivated lands; of these, Dartmoor alone is supposed to comprise 80,000. These extensive tracts, though capable of considerable improvement, at present scarcely afford more than a scanty pasturage to a few thousand sheep and cattle. The right of depasture belongs to different interests; the forest itself being the property of the king's eldest son, as parcel of the duchy of Cornwall. The vale of Exeter differs widely in appearance from Dartmoor; the soils in this district vary exceedingly, but the most prevalent are strong red loam, shillet or foliated clay, intersected with numerous veins of iron-stone, and a mixture of sand and gravel. Wheat, barley, beans and pease are the most general productions of the arable lands; flax is also cultivated, but in no great quantity. The pasture lands are chiefly appropriated to the supply of the dairy, but in some parts considerable attention is given to the breeding of sheep and cattle: the produce of the dairy is fine butter and the poorest skim-milk cheese. Peculiar to the dairies of Devon is that delicious and rich lacteous production, 'clotted' or 'clouted' cream; the consistence of this article is in proportion to the richness of the farm-land; instances are not infrequent that a pan of cream, when become cold, has supported upon its surface a weight equal to two ounces, without breaking what may be called the crust; it is from this cream that the butter is made, by the hand, and not by the churn as in other counties. Where the cream is produced, its price is generally regulated by that of butter; what butter is per pound, so is cream per pint: but it is also sent to all parts of England, especially to London, where it obtains a very high price, although much reduced in value, richness and consistence by its dilution with milk. The district called 'the south hams' is frequently termed the garden of Devonshire, from its fertility; its area, including the rich vale of the Dart, which extends towards Ashburton, includes nearly 250 square acres; the principal kind of soil is a strong red loam, with a substratum of clay; the common crops, on the arable lands, are wheat, barley, oats, turnips and potatoes - the last-named root is cultivated in many parts of Devonshire with great success. Great quantities of cider are made in this district; and as every farm has its orchard, the general produce affords a considerable surplus for exportation, even after large deductions have been made for home consumption. The district of West Devon is beyond the Dartmoor mountains; the soil is a portion of loamy mould, mixed, in various degrees of quality, with perished slate-stone rubble, reduced by the action of the atmosphere to its original silt or mud. Nearly two-thirds of the enclosed lands of this district are employed alternately in the cultivation of grasses and raising corn; the remainder is either in tillage, or occupied by orchard-grounds. North Devon, in its most extended sense, comprehends the whole district situated between Dartmoor and the British channel; but more generally is limited to the country around Bideford, Barnstaple, South Molton, and the north coast. In this tract, the ground is greatly diversified, and the scenery beautiful. The land is chiefly appropriated to the growth of wheat and oats; and the soil is generally productive, except, perhaps, on the summits of the highest hills. The established breed of sheep in this county is the middled wool class, bearing a strong resemblance to the Dorsets; the native breed of horses is very small, resembling the Welsh and Highland breeds; the pack-horses used in the inclosed country are of a similar nature, but larger. Among the products of Devonshire should be noticed the great variety of fish which abound in its rivers, and on its beautiful coasts; the which, in addition to the home consumption, supply a very considerable quantity of food for the Bath and even London markets. - The CLIMATE of Devonshire is remarkably mild, particularly on the southern part of the county, where its genial influence is every where visible; vegetation suffers but little interruption here during the winter season, and the earth seems to wear a perpetual verdure; the myrtle flourishes here unsheltered. It is only on the northern coast, and north-east corner of the county, that the severity of the winter is experienced; on the higher parts of Dartmoor the air is bleak and piercing, but it is also invigorating and salubrious; and even in these elevated regions the snow seldom continues, in the most severe winters, more than ten days or a fortnight. Medical men have been long so well convinced of the advantages resulting from the mildness of the climate of the south of Devon, that they recommend it to their consumptive patients in preference to Lisbon or the south of France.

MANUFACTURES and MINERAL PRODUCTIONS:- The manufacture of coarse woollen goods has long been carried on to a great extent in this county; they consist chiefly of articles but little consumed in England, as druggets, duroys, long ells and serges; the markets for these are Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland, Portugal and France; besides this, the East India Company takes off a quantity of long ells annually. About a fourth part of these articles are shipped at Exeter, the remainder at Dartmouth and Plymouth. Broad and narrow men's cloths are made in some parts, but this trade is now principally transferred to Yorkshire. Axminster stands pre-eminent in the manufacture of carpets; the most beautiful Turkey & Persian carpets being imitated with great success. The metallic substances of the county are the ores of tin, lead, iron and manganese; gold, silver, copper, bismuth, antimony and cobalt have also been found, but in small quantities. The tin works were anciently numerous and valuable, but have in a great measure been abandoned, the mines of Cornwall being considerably more productive. Not many years ago some very rich lead ore was discovered, near the surface, at Coombe-Martin. Iron-stone is found in various parts of the county, but not particularly rich in metal. Native silver has been found at Coombe-Martin; and, that there were formerly mines of gold, appears from various grants made in the reigns of Edward III. and Richard II. The most remarkable of the inflammable substance discovered in Devonshire is the Bovey coal, of which there are two species, the stone-coal and the wood-coal: the latter is said to make as strong a fire as oaken billets, especially if set on edge; but the heat of the former is accounted the most intense. According to Kirwan, this coal consists of wood penetrated with petrol or bitumen.

RIVERS and MINERAL SPRINGS:- This county is watered by many rivers; the principal are, the Exe, the Torridge, the Oke, the Dart, the Plym, the Teign, the Otter, the Axe and the Lyn; the Tamar is also considered as belonging to Devonshire. The Ish of the Britons, the Isca of the Romans, and the Ex or 'Exe' of the Saxons and of the moderns, rises in Exmoor, in Somersetshire; and, after receiving several streams in its progress to Topsham, where it meets the tide, falls into the British channel at Exmouth, after a course of sixty miles. The source of the Torridge is so near that of the Tamar, that its springs are supposed to be the same, and the difference in their course to arise from variation in the height of the ground where they issue; this river becomes navigable at Wear Giffard, and enters the Bristol channel at Barnstaple bay. The Taw rises in Dartmoor, and falls into the Torridge about five miles below Barnstaple. The river Dart has also its source in the mountains of Dartmoor, and from the velocity of its current is most appropriately named: it wanders through delightful vallies and between wood-capped eminences, disclosing new beauties at every curve, till it makes its exit in the British channel at Dartmouth. The Plym also arises in Dartmoor, and falls into the sound a little below Plymouth. The Teign rises among the moors on the east of Dartmoor, and falls into the sea at Teignmouth. The Otter and Sid enter the county from the borders of Somersetshire; the Axe runs out of Dorsetshire; and all of them flow into the British channel. The Lyn, which rises in the forest of Exmoor, is a small but rapid river, pursuing its impetuous course over rocks of immense size, and at length rushes into the British channel. The MINERAL WATERS are very numerous, and chiefly of the chalybeate kind: the strongest springs of this description arise at Grubb's Well, near Cleave; at Balla marsh, near King-steington; at Islington, in the vicinity of Totnes; at Brook, near Tavistock; and at Bampton.

Devonshire is in the province of Canterbury and diocese of Exeter, and included in the western circuit; it is divided into thirty-three hundreds, viz.

AXMINSTER
BAMPTON
BLACK TORRINGTON
BRAUNTON
BUDLEIGH EAST
BUDLEIGH WEST
CLISTON
COLERIDGE
COLYTON
CREDITON
ERMINGTON
EXMINSTER
FREMINGTON
HALBERTON
HARTLAND
HAYBRIDGE
HAYTON
HEMYOCK
LIFTON
MOLTON
OTTERY
PLYMPTON
ROBOROUGH
SHEBBEAR
SHERWILL
STANBOROUGH
TAVISTOCK
TAWTON-WITH-WINKLEY
TEIGNBRIDGE
TIVERTON
WITHERIDGE
WONFORD
AND THE
COUNTY AND CITY OF EXETER

These divisions contain collectively one city and county-town (Exeter), 40 market-towns, and 394 parishes. The whole county sends 26 members to parliament, viz. two each from the towns of ASHBURTON, BARNSTAPLE, BEER-ALSTON, DARTMOUTH, EXETER, HONITON, OAKHAMPTON, PLYMOUTH, PLYMPTON, TAVISTOCK, TIVERTON TOTNES; and two for the county; the present members for which are, Sir Thos. Dyke Acland, Bart. and Edmund P. Bastard, Esq.

POPULATION.- According to the census of 1821, there were houses inhabited in the county, 71,486; uninhabited, 3,082; and houses building, 756. The number of families then resident in the county was 90,714; comprising 208,229 males, and 230,811 females; total, 439,040; and by a calculation made by order of government, which included persons in the army and navy, for which was added after the ratio of about one to thirty prior to the year 1811, and one to fifty for that year and the census of 1821, to the returns made from the several districts; the population of the county, in round numbers, in the year 1700, was 218,200 - in 1750, 272,200 - in 1801, 354.400- in 1811, 396,100 - and in 1821, 417,900. The increased population in the fifty years, from the year 1700, was 24,000 - from 1750 to 1801, the increase was 82,200 - from 1801 to 1811, the increase was 41,700 - and from 1811 to 1821, the augmented number of persons was 51,800; the grand total increase in the population of the county from the year 1700 to the census of 1821, being about 199,700 persons.

Index of Distances from Town to Town in the County of Devon.

The names of the respective towns are on the top and side, and the square where both meet gives the distance.
                Ashburton.........................................................................................192
Axminster       44 Axminster......................................................................................147
Barnstaple      50 57 Barnstaple..................................................................................192
Bideford        47 64  9 Bideford.................................................................................201
Brixham         18 54 68 64 Brixham...............................................................................202
Chudleigh       10 31 47 44 24 Chudleigh..........................................................................180
Chumleigh       34 45 17 14 52 30 Chumleigh.......................................................................190
Collumpton      32 20 36 34 42 20 22 Collumpton...................................................................161
Crediton        21 33 30 28 38 17 14 14 Crediton..................................................................175
Dartmouth       18 56 68 65  4 22 52 42 40 Dartmouth..............................................................204
Exeter          19 25 39 36 30  9 22 12  8 31 Exeter..............................................................172
Exmouth         32 26 51 55 43 22 35 22 21 44 10 Exmouth..........................................................167
Hatherleigh     29 58 22 17 47 27 15 34 20 47 29 42 Hatherleigh...................................................201
Holsworthy      42 67 27 19 60 40 26 48 34 69 42 55 13 Holsworthy.................................................214
Honiton         35  9 46 49 46 25 35 10 24 47 16 18 45 58 Honiton.................................................156
Ilfracombe      60 66 10 18 78 57 26 46 40 78 48 61 32 37 56 Ilfracombe...........................................202
Kingsbridge     20 60 70 67 17 26 54 47 42 12 34 47 59 52 51 80 Kingsbridge.......................................207
Modbury         14 60 64 59 20 24 49 48 36 15 33 48 42 44 51 74  8 Modbury........................................206
M. Hampstead    12 37 39 36 30 12 23 24 12 29 12 25 19 32 28 49 31 26 Moreton-Hampstead...........................184
Newton Abbott    8 40 51 48 14  6 35 27 23 16 15 28 31 44 31 61 20 20 12 Newton Abbott & Newton Bushel............188
Oakhampton      22 47 29 24 40 20 18 34 18 40 22 35  8 20 38 39 43 35 12 24 Oakhampton............................195
Ottery St. Mary 31 15 46 48 42 21 34 10 20 43 12 12 41 54  6 56 46 47 24 27 34 Ottery St. Mary....................162
Plymouth        24 68 57 52 32 34 46 55 45 28 44 56 35 38 59 67 22 12 29 32 30 55 Plymouth........................216
Sidmouth        34 16 52 57 45 24 37 16 23 46 15 10 44 57  9 62 49 50 27 30 37  6 58 Sidmouth.....................158
South Molton    42 44 11 18 57 37  8 24 20 58 27 40 23 31 34 22 62 57 31 43 26 34 54 40 South Molton..............181
Tavistock       20 57 14 40 39 30 34 45 34 35 33 46 23 24 34 49 55 28 20 22 28 46 45 14 48 12 Tavistock...........206
Teignmouth      15 12 56 53 18  8 39 29 23 22 15 30 36 57 32 65 27 27 20  7 29 29 39 32 42 35 Teignmouth..........189
Tiverton        33 25 31 36 44 23 22  6 12 43 15 27 32 46 16 41 48 49 24 29 30 16 58 21 19 42 30 Tiverton.........168
Torquay         12 46 60 58  9 12 12 33 29 12 21 34 41 54 37 69 21 22 19  7 31 33 31 36 49 32  8 35 Torquay.......207
Torrington      40 59 10  6 58 38 14 39 28 58 36 49 12 16 49 21 61 53 28 10 18 48 16 51 16 34 47 34 49 Torrington.196
Totnes           8 48 58 55 10 14 42 35 30 10 24 36 37 50 39 68 12 12 19  8 30 35 24 38 50 30 15 37  9 48 Totnes..196

Transcribed - Brian Randell, 17 Jul 1999

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