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"DOWN, (EAST) a small village, in a picturesque valley, 6½ miles N.N.E. of Barnstaple, has in its parish 473 souls, and 3643 acres of land, rising in bold hills on the north, and including the hamlets of Churchill, Brockham, and Shortacombe. The manor belonged to the ancient family of Downe, till the reign of Edward III., when it passed to an ancestor of the Coffin family. The late Rev. Chas. Pine Coffin, who died in January, 1850, was lord of the manor and rector of the parish, and his relict resides at the Manor House. C.J.S.P. Coffin, Esq., is lord of the manor of East Down, and Sir J.P.B. Chichester, Bart., is lord of the manor of Churchill, formerly held by the St. Aubin and Ley families. Mr. James Harris, John and Rd. Richards, and several smaller owners have estates in the parish. The Church (St. John,) is an ancient structure, in the perpendicular style, with a tower and four bells. It has undergone many repairs, and the windows are modern insertions." [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)]

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


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


A local census of East Down, of 18881-88, listing all inhabitants, is held at the North Devon Record Office (NDRO 2006A/PR 5).
Snetzler, M.F. North Devon Surname Index to the Census. Microfiche: M.F. Snetzler, Barcott, Buckland Brewer, Bideford, Devon EX39 5LN. [Covers 1881 census records for this parish]

Church Records

Parish Registers going back to 1538 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 1538 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): Marriages 1754-1839, Burials 1813-1852 - for details see their book list.

Entered into the IGI (as of Jan 1993): Parish Church Christenings 1538-1837 and Marriages 1539-1837.

Chanter, J. Frederick. The fyftie dole. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 3:3, (1904) pp.82-85. [See also vol.3, p.103.]


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.


Pyne, Frederick Wallace. The John Pyne family in America being the comprehensive genealogical record of the descendants of John Pyne (1766-1813) of Charleston. Baltimore: Gateway Press (1992) xx, 204p: ill. ISBN 0963253905.


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

Names, Personal

East Down contributors to a 1678 brief for the rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral.

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Last updated: 14 Jul 2015 - Brian Randell

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