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Exeter 1850 Contents & Search
The Municipal Limits of the City and County of the City of Exeter, comprise an area of about 4000 acres, divided into the 23 parishes, &c., enumerated in the following list; but the Parliamentary Limits were extended by the Reform Act of 1832, so as to comprise all the suburbs in the three adjacent parishes of St. Thomas, St. Leonard, and Heavitree; - thus encreasing the County of the City to about 6000 acres, which entitle the owners to vote only for the city members, and not for the parliamentary representatives of the county of Devon. Within these limits there are now about 40,000 inhabitants, many houses having been built in the city and suburbs since 1841, when their total POPULATION was 37,231, consisting of 16,167 males, and 21,064 females, living in about 6000 houses, besides which there were about 600 empty and 130 building, when the census was taken in that year. The population within the Municipal Limits in 1841 amounted to 31,312 souls, consisting of 13,836 males and 17,476 females, living in 5122 houses, besides which there were 450 empty houses and 67 building. Of this population, 7608 males and 10,793 females were upwards of 20 years of age; and 4548 of the inhabitants were returned as not having been born in the city, or in Devonshire. Exeter has more than doubled its population during the last fifty years. Its total number of inhabitants at four decennial periods of the parliamentary census was, - 17,398 in 1801; 18,896 in 3811; 23,479 in 1821; and 28,201 in 1831. The following enumeration of the 23 parishes, &c., within the Municipal Limits of the City and County of the City of Exeter, shews the Population of each, in 1841. These 23 parishes, &c., have been incorporated for the support of their poor since 1699, as noticed at a subsequent page. For the election of Aldermen they are divided into East, West, North and South Wards; and for the election of Councillors, into SIX WARDS, called St. Davids, St. Mary Major's, St. Paul's, St. Petrock's, St. Sidwell's, and Trinity.
|2 Allhallows, Goldsmith st.||parish||360|
|4 Allhallows on the Walls||parish||866|
|1 Bedford Circus||(precinct & chap.)||119|
|2 Castle Yard, %||(extra-parochial)||7|
|1 Cathedral Close||(precinct)||684|
|2 St. David,*||parish||3508|
|3 St. Edmund||parish||1595|
|3 St. George the Martyr||parish||685|
|3 St. John||parish||500|
|2 St. Kerrian||parish||401|
|2 St. Lawrence, *||parish||641|
|1 St. Martin||parish||254|
|4 St. Mary Arches||parish||651|
|1 St. Mary Major||parish||3429|
|3 St. Mary Steps||parish||1256|
|4 St. Olave||parish||912|
|2 St. Pancras||parish||364|
|2 St. Paul||parish||1337|
|1 St. Petrock||parish||261|
|1 St. Sidwell,*||parish||9154|
|1 St. Stephen||parish||477|
|1 Trinity (Holy)*||parish||3796|
* The return of St. David's parish included 110 persons in Devon County Gaol; 155 in Devon County House of Correction; 62 in Exeter City Prison; and 81 in the Cavalry Barracks. That of St. Lawrence included 40 persons in St. John's Hospital. That of St. Sidwell included 315 persons in Exeter Workhouse. The return of Holy Trinity parish included 196 persons in Devon and Exeter Hospital; five houses and 12 persons in an extra-parochial place called No Man's Land; and 35 persons in the Female Penitentiary. The Parochial District of St. James has been taken out of St. Sidwell's parish.
% The Castle is in the jurisdiction of the County of Devon.
** The PARLIAMENTARY LIMITS OF EXETER include also large portions of the suburban parishes of St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Leonard, and Heavitree, in Wonford Hundred; and their total population, in 1841, amounted to 37,231 souls, embracing 5919 of the 8478 inhabitants of these three parishes. The return of Heavitree parish included 234 soldiers in the Artillery Barracks. St. Leonard's parish includes the pleasant modern suburbs of Mount Radford, &c., where many houses have been built since 1831, and are chiefly occupied by the families of naval and military men. The return of the parish of St. Thomas included 225 persons in St. Thomas's Union Workhouse; 59 in the Lunatic Asylum; and 47 in the Sheriff's Ward, or Debtors' Prison for the County. The returns of the parishes of Holy Trinity and St. Thomas, included 70 persons in boats and barges.
The Annual Value of the lands and buildings in Exeter was assessed to the property tax, in 1815, at £54,330; but they are now rated to the poor at the yearly value of £130,246.
The CITY rises with a bold aspect on the north-eastern side of the river Exe, and was formerly enclosed with Walls and Gates, but in modern times it extended itself far beyond these ancient limits, which now only circumscribe the central parts of it. The Gates and Towers in the City Walls were taken down at various periods for the improvement of the thoroughfares, but many large portions of the Walls still remain. North-Gate was taken down in 1769; East-Gate, in 1784; West-Gate and Quay-Gate, in 1815; South-Gate, in 1819; and Broad-Gate, in 1825. A statue of Henry VII., which graced the East-Gate, now decorates the front of a house in High street The space within the Walls is in the form of an irregular parallelogram, about 900 yards long and 500 broad, and having the Castle hill at the north-east angle, overlooking the city, which has from this point a declivity to every part of the Walls. The principal streets, - High street and Fore street, - run in a continuous line through the longest diameter, and are intersected by North street and South street, at right angles, thus dividing the old part of the city into four equal portions. To the north-east, the populous and handsome suburb of St. Sidwell extends nearly a mile from the Walls, and includes Longbrook street, St. Sidwell street, Paris street, Summerland, Blackboy road, Dix's field, &c. Beyond these, are suburbs in Heavitree parish. Beyond the south-eastern side of the Walls, are the suburbs of St. Leonard's, Holloway street, Magdalen street, Mount Radford, and many handsome villas and neat houses. Mount Radford was formerly the park and seat of John Baring, Esq. On the north-west, another suburb extends to St. David's hill and the Railway Station. On the south-west, below the Walls, are the suburbs of Exe Island, New Bridge street, Commercial road, &c. Beyond Exe Bridge, is the suburb of St. Thomas, including Cowick street, Okehampton road, Alphington street, the Canal Basin, &c. The length of the city and suburbs, taken from St. Thomas's, through Fore street, High street, and St. Sidwell's, to the Blackboy road, measures more than a mile and a half; and the breadth, taken from St David's Church to St. Leonard's, through North street and South street, is about a mile. Being situated on a hill among hills, Exeter has a high character for salubrity, cleanliness, and picturesque scenery. It is seen to great advantage from Exwick hill, on the north-west, where there is a beautiful prospect, - the low grounds through which winds the Exe in its sinuous course, are in front; with the rich foliage of the Northernhay elms crowning the ramparts of the Castle hill, whence, too, may be obtained a delightful view of the surrounding country;-tbe numerous churches and other buildings of the city spreading gradually from the river, till they are surmounted by the towers of the venerable Cathedral; - while the distant hills and the heights of Haldon, with their bold and swelling outlines, terminate the landscape.
Between the period of the death of Alfred and the reign of Athelstan, the Western Britons recovered possession of Exeter; but the latter monarch drove them beyond the Tamar, and they were never afterwards able successfully to oppose the Saxon arms. Athelstan, to secure his conquests, enclosed Exeter with a wall of hewn stone, defended by towers, and under his auspices, says Malmsbury, "It became such a place of trade, that it abounded with opulence." When Sweyne, king of Denmark, landed in England in 1003, to avenge the general massacre committed on his countrymen in the preceding year, by order of king Ethelred, Exeter became the first sacrifice to his vengeance. Though bravely defended during two months, the city was at last delivered up, through the treachery of Hugh, its Norman governor; and its inhabitants wore put to the sword without mercy, and most of its buildings destroyed by fire. It is said to have lain in ruins till the reign of Canute, who took it into his favour and protection. Edward the Confessor was at Exeter with his queen, Edith, in 1050. William the Conqueror was scarcely seated on his throne, when the citizens of Exeter, impatient of the Norman yoke, rebelled against him, and made every possible preparation for defence. The king, on receiving information of their proceedings, marched towards Exeter with his army, accompanied by some of the chief English nobility. Certain leading men of the city hastened to the king's camp, besought his pardon, and having promised fealty, and that they would receive him with open gates, gave such hostages its he required. Notwithstanding this, when they returned to their fellow citizens, they found them resolved upon an obstinate resistance. The king, hearing of this breach of promise, rode forward with 500 horse, and finding the gates shut and the walls and towers manned with a great force, he gave orders for his army to advance, and caused the eyes of one of the hostages to be put out before the city gates. The citizens defended the place with the utmost bravery for several days; but were at length obliged to capitulate, and throw themselves on the king's mercy. Having prostrated themselves before the Conqueror, they obtained a free pardon, with protection from plunder. To prevent future rebellion, the Conqueror ordered a strong Castle to be built, and left Baldwin de Moles and other select knights, in command of the city. Two years after this, the Saxons again attempted to possess themselves of the city, but the citizens, mindful of their opposition to the Norman Conqueror in 1067, shut the gates against them. The king sent forces to their relief, and the Saxons were defeated with great slaughter.
Soon after King Stephen's usurpation, Exeter was garrisoned for the Empress Matilda, by Baldwin de Rivers, Earl of Devon; but on the arrival of the King with a great army, he was joyfully received by the citizens. The Earl was obliged to shut himself up in the castle with his Countess, his children, and all his adherents; among whom were some of the most distinguished young men of the realm. In this stronghold they made a most obstinate defence, and held it, three months, though the besieging army availed themselves of all the military engines then in use, and suceeded so far as to take the barbican by assault, and to batter down the bridge which communicated with the city. They were at length obliged to capitulate for want of water, but the Earl esecaped to the Isle of Wight, where be was soon after taken, and banished. When Stephen left Exeter, he committed the custody of the castle, and the county to his brother, Henry de Blois, Bishop of Winchester. Henry II. granted the citizens several privileges, as a reward for their attachment to his mother, the Empress Matilda, and gave them the custody of the castle. During the reign of John, Robert de Courtenay was governor of Exeter, but Henry III. gave the government of the city and castle to Peter de Rivaux. Edward I. and his Queen kept their Christmas here in 1285, and were entertained fifteen days at the Black Friary. Izacke relates, that during their residence here the murder of the precentor, Walter de Lechlade, was investigated; and that the late mayor, who had borne that office eight years, and four others, were condemned to death. In 1357, Edward the Black Prince, having gained the memorable battle of Poictiers, landed on his return, at Plymouth, whence, coming to Exeter with his royal prisoners, (the King of France and his youngest son,) was received with great demonstrations of joy; and he and his two captives were sumptuously entertained for three days. Henry VI. was eight days at the Bishop's palace, in 1451, and in the contest between him and Edward IV. for the Crown, Exeter again became the scene of hostilities; but the dangers to which it was exposed were averted by the prudent conduct of the Mayor and other citizens, in 1469. At that period of the long continued wars between the Houses of York and Lancaster, the Duchess of Clarence, Lord Dinham, Lord FitzWarren, and other distinguished partizans of Henry VI., with many fighting men, were blockaded at Exeter, by the Yorkists under Sir Wm. Courtenay; but after twelve days, the blockade was discontinued, through the mediation of some of the canons of the cathedral, and the mayor. The battle of Losecote, in Lincolnshire, ensued in 1470, and the Duke of Clarence and the Earl of Warwick fled to Exeter, where they were entertained by the Bishop, till a ship was got ready at Dartmouth, to take them to Calais. They had only just escaped when the King arrived at Exeter with a numerous army. In 1471, previous to the battle of Tewksbury, the Lancasterians of Devon and Cornwall, under the command of Sir John Arundel and Sir Hugh Courtenay, mustered at Exeter, whence they marched to the fatal field. Some time after this, Edward IV., with his Queen and the infant Prince, visited Exeter, and at his departure, presented the Mayor with a sword, to be carried before him and his successors on all public occasions. A strong party was formed in the west of England, against the usurpation of Richard III., in 1483, but their hopes were for a time frustrated by the execution of the Duke of Buckingham; and a Special Commission was sent down to Torrington, under which the Marquis of Dorset, Bishop Courtenay, and others of the Courtenay family were outlawed. Sir Thos. St. Leger, the King's brother-in-law, and Thomas Rame, Esq., were condemned and beheaded at Exeter. Richard himself having made a progress into the west on this occasion, came to Exeter and was presented with a purse of 200 nobles.
The next siege of Exeter was in the time of Henry VII., when Perkin Warbeck, pretending to the Crown, and asserting himself to be Richard Duke of York, son of Edward IV., landed in Cornwall, and marched to this city, at the head of about 6000 men. He commenced a vigorous siege, but was repulsed in several assaults, and at last compelled to raise the siege. The conduct of the citizens during this siege, so conciliated the favour of Henry VII., that on his visit to the city, shortly after the flight of Perkin Warbeck, he bestowed on them great commendations, granted them a new charter, and gave them the sword he then wore, as a testimony of his goodwill. Some of the ringleaders of the rebellion were executed upon Southern Hay; and others received a free pardon, after being brought before the King with halters about their necks. The Princess Catherine of Arragon, having landed at Plymouth, in 1501, rested several days at Exeter, on her way to London. In 1536, Exeter was made a county of itself, as will be seen at a subsequent page. The Reformation in religion and the suppression of the Monasteries, in the reign of Henry VIII., and during the regency of his infant son and successor, Edward VI., caused much discontent among the poor; and insurrections broke out in various parts of the kingdom, especially during the year 1549, when the nobility and gentry began to enclose the monastic lands, which had been divided amongst them. The poor had long enjoyed considerable benefit from these estates, as well as the right of pasturage on the commons and wastes. The insurgents of Devon being assembled in considerable numbers, encompassed Exeter on the 2nd of July, 1549, but the city was bravely and successfully defended by the inhabitants. The assailants burned the gates, and after attempting to scale the walls, tried to destroy them by mining, but without success; they then attempted to starve the citizens by a blockade. The besieged, though reduced to great distress, and obliged to eat horse flesh, and other loathsome viands, held out till they were relieved by the forces under Lord John Russell, who completely routed the rebels at Clist Heath, on the 5th of August, and entered the city on the following day. The magistrates, in gratitude for their deliverance, appointed the 6th of August to be kept annually as a day of thanksgiving; and the Lord Protector sent a letter in the King's name, thanking the citizens for their courage and fidelity. As a more substantial reward, the King, with the advice of the Privy Council, granted the Corporation the valuable manor of Exe Island, for the better maintenance of the city, with license also to take out of the woods of Cotledge and Perridge, wood sufficient for repairing the mills belonging to the said manor. In January, 1554, Sir Peter and Sir Gawen Carew, Sir Thomas Dennis, and others, being up in arms to oppose King Philip's coming to England, are said to have taken possession of the city and castle of Exeter. Don Antonio, the deposed King of Portugal, was liberally entertained with his whole retinue in 1584, by Jno. Davy, Esq., the then mayor. A terrible sickness broke out at the Assizes, in 1586, when Sir B. Drake, one of the Judges, and several of the magistrates, and jurymen, died of the distemper. Queen Elizabeth sent the citizens a letter of thanks for their zealous exertions against the Spaniards, in 1588, and granted them the motto of semper fidelis, to be borne in the city arms. In 1531, the Rev. T. Bennett, M.A., was burnt to death at Liverydole, near Exeter, for heresy, though he was a learned and pious divine. In the last year of Queen Mary, (1557) Agnes Prest was burnt to death on Southernhay, for denying the real presence in the sacrament.
At the commencement of the CIVIL WARS of the 17th century, when brother fought against brother, and father against son, the Earl of Bedford, being Lord Lieutenant of the county of Devon, and attached to the cause of the Parliament, repaired to Exeter, disarmed the loyal citizens, garrisoned the city, and planted ordnance upon the walls. When he quitted Exeter, he gave the government of it to the Earl of Stamford. After the loss of the battle of Stratton, in which the latter Earl had the chief command, he hastened to Exeter, with the news of his defeat, and, expecting a siege, destroyed all the houses in the suburbs, and ordered the trees on the walls and in the Northern and Southern Hays to be cut down. After the capture of Bristol, (July 24th, 1643) Sir John Berkeley was sent by Charles I. to take the command in Devonshire, and to take measures for blockading Exeter. About the middle of the following month, Prince Maurice came with his army before Exeter, and found Sir John Berkeley besieging the city, with his guards close to the gates. The siege continued till after the loss of the Parliamentary garrisons upon the north coast, when the Earl of Stamford was induced to surrender. Sir John Berkeley was then made governor of Exeter, to the great joy of the major part of the citizens, who are said to have been zealous royalists. Exeter being regarded as a place of great security, the Queen, then far advanced in pregnancy, was sent there, and was joyfully received by the citizens, who conducted her to Bedford House, which had been fitted for her reception, and where she gave birth to the Princess Henrietta Maria, afterwards Duchess of Orleans. Tho Corporation voted the Queen a present of £200. On the approach of the Earl of Essex with his army, on his march weestward, her Majesty left Exeter for Falmouth, and embarked for France. The Earl, however, made no attempt on this city, which was visited by the King, and the Prince of Wales, on the 26th of July, 1644, and the former was entertained at Bedford House, and the latter at the Deanery. On their arrival, the Corporation presented the King with £500, and the Prince with £100. After his successful expedition into Cornwall, the King returned to Exeter for one night, (September 17th) and then proceeded to Oxford. The Prince was in Exeter in August and September, 1645. After the battle of Naseby, Sir Thomas Fairfax was sent as general into the west. Although the reduction of Exeter was one of the chief objects of the expedition, the general did not immediately besiege it, but placed garrisons in several of the neighbouring villages and gentlemen's seats, by which the city was greatly distressed. In the spring of 1646, Exeter was closely invested; and after a struggle of some weeks duration, Sir John Berkeley, the governor, was obliged to surrender the city on the 9th. of April. One of the articles of capitulation was that the infant, Princess Henrietta Maria, and her household, should have liberty to remove to any part of England or Wales. Most of these articles are said to have been shamefully violated. The cathedral was defaced by the parliamentary soldiers, the painted glass destroyed, and the fabric divided into two places of worship, one for Presbyterians and the other for Independents; the chapter-house was turned into a stable; and the Bishop's Palace, the Deanery, and the Canon's houses, into barracks. Sir Thomas Fairfax, at the head of his army, entered Exeter on the 14th of April, and stayed till the 18th, when he. left it in charge of Colonel Hammond, and one of the regiments raised by Col. Shapeote, Col. Weare, and Col. Frye. The unfortunate king surrendered in the same year, and was beheaded in 1649, when 0liver Cromwell began to give the reins to his ambition, and lost his early principles of liberty in the unbounded stretch of power which lay before him. In 1655, John Penruddock and Hugh Grove, Esq., were beheaded at Exeter Castle for having taken arms against the Commonwealth; and several gentlemen were hanged. for the same offence at the common place of execution. The restoration of Charles II. was hailed at Exeter with much enthusiasm, and when he was proclaimed on the 11th of May, 1660, the three conduits of the city were supplied with claret. The Corporation presented a piece of plate, of the value of £500, to the King; one of £300 to the Queen-Mother; and one of £200 to the Princess Henrietta Maria, who was born in the city. In 1670, Charles II., having been to see the new citadel at Plymouth, visited this city on his return, and lodged at the Deanery. On this occasion he promised the Corporation a portrait of his sister, Henrietta Maria, then Duchess of Orleans. This valuable picture was sent down the next year, and now hangs in the Guildhall. At the GLORIOUS REVOLUTION of 1688, Exeter was the scene of some interesting transactions. William Prince of Orange, having landed at Torbay on the 5th of November, rode on the 7th to Ford House, near Newton-Abbot. On the 8th, Lord Mordaunt, with Dr. Burnet, (afterwards Bishop of Salisbury,) came to Exeter with a troop of horse. The mayor, Sir Thos. Jefford, who had recently been knighted and elected to that office by the mandate of King James, ordered the gates to be closed against them; but the porter not being able to resist, reluctantly opened them, and soldiers continued to enter the city nearly all the day. On the 9th, the Prince of Orange entered the city with a most magnificent cavalcade, followed by the remainder of his army. The Prince was welcomed with loud acclamations, and conducted to the Deanery, where he kept his court, after offering up thanksgivings in the Cathedral for his safe arrival. Dr. Burnet read the Prince's declaration. At first, the neigbbouring gentry, intimidated by the recent cruelties of Judge Jefferies, and the fate of the rash followers of the late Duke of Monmouth, showed much reluctance in declaring in his favour; and it is said he had some thoughts of abandoning his designs; but being emboldened by the arrival of Lord Colchester with some of the king's troops, the gentlemen of Devon joined the Prince's standard, and entered into an association for the defence of the Protestant religion, and for the maintenance of government and the liberties of the people, as established by Magna Charta. This instrument was signed in the Cathedral on the 17th; and on the 21st the Prince of Orange left Exeter on his march to London; leaving Sir Edward Seymour governor of the city. In the Prince's cavalcade, when he entered Exeter, were "the Earl of Macclesfield, with 200 horsemen, most of them English nobles and gentlemen, on Flanders' steeds, in bright armour; 200 negroes attendant, wearing embroidered caps, with white fur and plumes of feathers; 200 Finlanders, clothed in beavers' skins, with black armour and broad swords; 50 gentlemen and as many pages, to support the Prince's standard; 50 led horses, with two grooms to each; two state coaches; the Prince on a milk-white horse, in a complete suit of bright armour, a plume of white ostrich feathers on his head; 42 running footmen by his side; 200 gentlemen and pages on horseback; 300 Swiss guards; 500 volunteers, with two led horses each; the Prince's guards, 600 armed cap-a-pie; the remainder of the army, with 50 waggons laden with cash; and 120 pieces of cannon."
On October 18th, 1738, the Duke of Mailborough. came to review the troops at Exeter, and was entertained by the Corporation. In 1779, the combined fleet appeared off Plymouth, and the numerous French prisoners then at that port were marched to Exeter, and guarded in the County Bridewell by a volunteer regiment, raised at this alarming period. In August, 1789, this city was honoured with a visit by George III., his Queen, and three Princesses. This royal visit was lampooned by Dr. Walcot, in his usual Pindaric humour, and in the dialect of Devonshire, his native county. The present Queen Dowager visited Exeter August 16th, 1845. During the alarms of French invasion, in 1798 and 1803, active measures were taken for securing and fortifying Exeter. In the early part of the late wars, large Cavalry and Artillery Barracks were erected here by Government; the former occupying an extensive oblong area on the north side of the city, and the latter pleasantly situated in the south-eastern suburbs, within the bounds of Heavitree parish. In the latter part of last, and early part of the present century, Exeter displayed its royalty and patriotism by forming several companies of Volunteers, both horse and foot. Many of the citizens at the same time joined the three regiments of the Devonshire Militia, who were sent to various parts of the kingdom for internal defence, at the time when nearly all the troops of the line were abroad. For more than a year, in 1812-13, the South Devonshire Militia were stationed at Sheffield, where they were much esteemed for their orderly conduct, and proficiency in military tactics.
In 1796 and 1800-1, the high price of bread caused several riots in Exeter; and the ringleader of the mob in the former year was afterwards hung. Owing to the scarcity and dearness of provisions, there was a serious food riot in the city, on May 14th, 1847, when nine of the ringleaders were captured. The coronation and marriage of her present Majesty, Queen Victoria, were severally observed here with great demonstrations of loyalty, and the poor were regaled with old English fare. The opening of the Bristol and Exeter Railway, on May lst, 1844, was kept as a general holiday, and a splendid dejeuner-a-la-fourchette took place at the Railway Station, where assembled thousands witnessed the arrival of the first train. This line has cost about £2,000,000. The South Devon Railway was opened to Laira on May 5th, 1848, and to Plymouth in April, 1849. It cost about £1,900,000. The atmospheric principle was tried for a short time on part of this line, at a loss to the proprietors of about £350,000. Other Railways have recently been opened from Exeter to Crediton, Topsham, Exmouth, &c. The Railway Stations for passengers and goods are very commodious, and are noticed at a subsequent page, with the public conveyances. The Dowager Queen Adelaide, accompanied by her sister, the Duchess of Leiningen, Prince Edward, and the two Princesses of Saxe Weimar, the Earl of Derby, Earl Howe, &c., arrived in Exeter, at the Clarence Hotel, August 16th, 1845, and stayed till the Monday following, when they proceeded to Powderhan, Mamhead, Torquay, &c.
Though the locality of Exeter is peculiarly healthy, it has at various periods suffered severely from plagues and other fatal epidemics. It is said to have increased greatly in population in the reign of Athelstan, by the influx of strangers; but in the Domesday Survey, 48 houses which had paid taxes are stated to have been then in ruins. The city was visited by famine and pestilence in 1234, and the two following years. Fatal pestilences are recorded to have happened in 1378, 1438, 1479, 1503, 1546, 1551, 1569, and 1586. The plague was very fatal here in 1590, 1603, and 1625, but the city appears to have escaped the great plague in 1665. The small pox was very prevalent here in 1777, when, out of 1850 cases, there were 285 deaths. That dreadful scourge, Asiatic Cholera, visited this city in July, 1832, but was much less virulent here than at many other places, the number of deaths resulting from it being only 40. The same awful malady made dreadful ravages at Plymouth, Devonport, and many other parts of the kingdom in 1849, but was only slightly felt in this city, where many sanatory improvements have been effected since 1832, as appears from the recent Report of the Health of Towns Commission, and from a History of the Cholera of 1832, published by Dr. Shapter, in 1849. In 1832, the city was very badly drained, and scantily supplied with water, but now, as Dr. Shapter says in his valuable work, "the drainage is comprehensive and efficient; water gushing at all points yields its ample supply; those attending the markets have covered buildings; in St. Sidwell's a new church and schools cover the ground where the clothes of those dying of the pestilence were destroyed, and a new parish has been created in obedience to the wants of the people; a pleasure park occupies the ground which was first devoted to the burial of those dying of the Cholera; a spacious cemetery without the walls has relieved the former overcrowded grounds, which are now closed and planted; while in one of them a monument, erected over the last Cholera patient there buried, is a church - a parish church, the advantages of which had been denied to the inhabitants for nearly two hundred years."
In 1232, Exeter Castle, as well as many others, was seized by Henry III, who gave it to his younger brother, Richard, Earl of Cornwall. In 1286, Edward I. granted it to Matthew Fitzjohn for life; but it continued nevertheless, chiefly in the Earls of Cornwall; and, in 1337, when Edward, the eldest son of King Edward III. was created Duke of Cornwall, this castle, with a small district adjoining, was made part of the duchy, which has been ever since vested in the heir apparent to the Crown, who becomes Duke of Cornwall immediately after his birth, and who has always been created Prince of Wales. In 1397, there being then no Duke of Cornwall, Richard II. made John Holland, the first Duke of Exeter, governor of this Castle, in which he is said to have had a fine mansion. In 1711, an act of parliament was passed, enabling Queen Anne to grant a lease of Exeter Castle for 99 years, for the use of the county of Devon. It is probable that the castle had been used for county purposes long before that period; indeed the gaol is said to have been removed there from Bicton, in 1518.
Danes' Castle, is a small circular earth work, in the northern suburbs of the city, near the County Gaol. Mr. Shortt pronounces it to have been an out-post of the Roman garrison of Exeter, and in corroboration of this opinion he evidences the number of broken urns, coins, &c., found near it, a few years ago, in cutting a road. The aggar or vallum of this little earth work is now very imperfect, but on one side of it there is still a fosse 28 feet wide and 4½ deep.
The PORT OF EXETER extends about 26 miles along the coast of the English Channel, from Axmouth to Teignmoutb, and includes the navigations of the rivers Exe, Teign, Otter, Sid, and Axe. The RIVER EXE, from which the city takes its name, has its sources in the forest of Exmoor, in Somersetshire, within six miles of the Bristol Channel, and about 36 miles N. by W. of Exeter. It fiows in a very sinuous course, eastward to Dulverton, and thence southward to Tiverton, Exeter, Topsham, and the English Channel. Its principal tributary streams are the small rivers Barle, Batherm, Loman, Culme, Creedy, and Clist. At Topsham, about four miles below Exeter, it suddenly widens its stream to more than a mile in breadth, and becomes navigable for ships of considerable burthen. Anciently, vessels of good size had been accustomed to pass up the river to Exeter Bridge, and the tide flowed beyond the city; but in 1284, Isabella de Redvers, Countess of Devon, erected a lofty wear across the bed of the river, near Topsham, which from her is called Countess Wear. This obstruction stopped both the shipping and the fish, to the great damage of the city and neighbourhood. It was satisfactorily shewn, by an inquisition taken at Exeter, in 1290, in a complaint preferred by the citizens, that the course of the river Exe, from the Checkstone at its mouth, to Exeter Bridge, was originally the property of the Crown; that the city of Exeter was also an appurtenance of the Crown; that Henry III. had granted the same to his brother, Richard, Earl of Cornwall; that the citizens held the fee-farm of the said city of Richard aforesaid, as they had holden it formerly of the Crown, by the yearly payment of £39. 15s. 3d.; that in virtue of such grant, and of ancient custom, the Exe water belongs to the said city as far down as the port of Exmouth; and that the right of fishing and using the water is common to all. A verdict was recorded in favour of the city; but, notwithstanding this triumph of reason and justice, the navigation to Exeter was further impeded by the Countess's heir and successor, Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon. He built a quay at Topsham, the general receiving place of the city's customs, and his bailiffs obstructed the city's sergeants in the execution of their right of searching vessels. The citizens very frequently preferred complaints against these encroachments; but owing to the confusion of the times, and the overwhelming influence of the Courtenay family, they could not accomplish the removal of the wear, though they maintained their right to the tolls. The tides, therefore, only reached Topsham, which belonged to the Earl of Devon, and became exceedingly flourishing. To provide a remedy for these ancient grievances, an act of parliament was obtained in the reign of Henry VIII., to cut a water-course or CANAL, from Topsham. to Exeter. This "new work or haven," imperfect and inefficient as it was, still ranks its designer, John Trewe, an engineer of Glamorganshire, amongst the very first projectors of inland navigation. The expense of the undertaking amounted to about £5000. Charles II. made Exeter a royal port; and in 1675, an act was obtained, to enable the Corporation to widen and improve the canal. In 1699, they had expended nearly £20,000 in this work; but further improvements were suggested and adopted till 1725, when the port was considered to be finished, though only comparatively small vessels could get up to Exeter. In 1825, the Corporation, deeming further improvements necessary, employed Mr. James Green, an able engineer, to considerably deepen the channel of the canal, and to extend it down to Turf, a deeper part of the tideway, where there is now a sea-lock 120 feet long, and 30 wide. The canal is now more than five miles in length, and 15 feet in depth, and runs along the western side of the river. The entrance is deep enough to admit vessels drawing ten feet water, even at neap tides, when there is not water enough for them to proceed to Topsham. Any vessels (except steam packets,) which can pass the bar at Exmouth - that is, any drawing from 12 to 14 feet water - are enabled to proceed at once to Exeter. Two of the larger sailing vessels are also now enabled to pass easily abreast along the canal. Vessels which draw too much water to cross the bar, lie in bight at Exmoutb, and discharge their cargoes into lighters, for Topsham, or Exeter. The BASIN, or floating dock, on the western side of the Exe, opposite the quay at Exeter, was opened in 1830, and is 917 feet long, and 18 deep. It is 110½ feet in width for more than two-thirds of its length, and the rest 90 feet. There are 18 pilots at Exmouth, who cruise at sea in four pilot boats. They are licensed by the Trinity Board at this port, as also are six river pilots, who reside at Topsham. The late Municipal Commissioners, in 1834, found that the old Corporation of Exeter bad incurred a debt of £100,000 in improving the canal, and that this enormous expenditure was a subject of much complaint on the part of the city merchants, who said that the excessive tolls then paid bore a large proportion to the freight; sometimes as much as a quarter part for the freight on a coasting voyage. Since the introduction of railway competition, these tolls have been much reduced. Steam packets do not often come up to Exeter, and the first that arrived there was the Alert, which came to the quay on Sept. 20th, 1840. Here are Bonding Warehouses for all foreign goods except tobacco; but the latter can be bonded here, if sent coastwise for home consumption or ships' stores. The RAILWAYS are noticed at page 59. The gross receipts of customs duty collected at this port, in 1838, was £84,496; and in 1839, £90,081. The excise duties collected in this district amounted in 1838 to £70,710; and in 1839, to £80,460. The CUSTOM HOUSE is on the Quay; and the Inland Revenue Office, formerly called the Excise Office, is in South street. The POST OFFICE, STAMP OFFICE, and Bankruptcy Court, occupy a commodious and elegant building in Queen street, erected in 1849, by Messrs. W.H. and W.W. Hooper. Mr. P. Measor is the postmaster; and M. Kennaway, Esq., is distributor of stamps for Devonshire and Exeter.
MARKETS AND FAIRS. - From the richness of the soil of the surrounding country, Exeter has long been noted for the cheapness and plentiful supply of its markets, which are held by prescription, and were formerly held on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The principal market is now held on Friday, and is esteemed the largest in the West of England for all kinds of provisions. It is well supplied with corn and cattle, and there are also provision markets on Tuesday and Saturday. A "Great Market," for cattle, &c., is held on the second Friday of every month; and here are four FAIRS for cattle and merchandise, held annually, on the third Wednesdays in February, May, and July, and the second Wednesday in December. The Corporation are owners of the markets, and have power to alter the fair-days, which they have done on several occasions. Henry I. granted to St. Nicholas's Priory, a fair to be held on St. Nicholas's day, (Dec. 1st.,) and the moiety of an ancient fair called Crollditch, now Lammas fair, which was held on Southernhay green till 1703. The latter is the fair which in Edward the First's time was said to be held by prescription, and continued four days. Both moieties of this fair were purchased by the Corporation some centuries ago. A fair at the feast of St. Mary Magdalen, which had belonged to the Leper's Hospital, was granted to the Corporation in 1463. They obtained an act of parliament in 1820, empowering them to remove the markets from the public streets, &c.; and to raise money by subscription, for the construction of two covered Market Places, which were not commenced till fifteen years afterwards, and are equal in design and accommodation to those in London. The WESTERN MARKET, in Fore street, was built in 1835, '6, and is open for all commodities, but is principally used for the sale of butchers' meat, corn, seed, leather, and wool. It has a central avenue, 71 feet long and 31½ broad; and a market hall, 157 feet by 91, comprising a nave and aisles, with arcades springing from piers of granite, The nave rises above the aisles by a second tier of minor arches, through which light and air are admitted; and the roof is formed with circular ribs, all exposed to view. Adjoining the hall is the Market House Inn, which has a large Exchange, with approaches from within and without the market. The walls are of stone and brick, and the use of timber is avoided as much as possible, by the substitution of iron. The EASTERN MARKET, in Queen street, was not opened till July, 1838, though the first stone was laid April 8th, 1835. It is a handsome and substantial building, of Cornish granite and Bath stone, in the Doric order, and is 230 feet long, and 165 broad, exclusive of the entrance from Paul street. Great attention has been paid to the free admission of light and air. The shops and stalls for the sale of various commodities, except fish, are distributed over the area of the general market. In the centre, is an avenue of granite pilasters, occupied by stalls for the sale of fruit and vegetables. The fish market is separated from the rest of the market by a covered colonnade round its four sides, and in its centre is a fountain, for keeping the temperature as cool as possible. The fish shops have marble slabs, with tubes for the distribution of water. The total cost of the Eastern and Western Markets was £88,220. Mr. Chas. Fowler was architect of the latter, and also superintended the erection of the former, from the design of the late Mr. George Dymond. The Cattle Market has been removed to Bonhay, on the banks of the river, near Exe Bridge, and is well supplied every Friday. In the city are five highly respectable Banking Houses, and many large and commodious Inns, Hotels, and Public-Houses, as well as many well furnished private Boarding and Lodging Houses. In the suburbs, many genteel houses are let furnished, at from $60 to £140 per annum.
BRIDGES. - The old bridge over the Exe had twelve arches, and was built about 1250, by subscription; but Walter Gerves, who was the largest contributor, and left lands for its maintenance, was considered its founder. It was nearly swept away by a great flood. in 1449, when an indulgence was granted by Bishop Lacy, in aid of its reparation. In 1769, an act of Parliament was obtained for building a new bridge, a little higher up the river, and for selling the bridgelands. The first stone was laid in 1770, and the work was in great forwardness in 1775, when it was destroyed by a flood. The work was recommenced, in 1776, by laying the first stone of the present EXE BRIDGE, which was opened in 1778, when the old one was pulled down. It is an elegant stone structure of three arches, and cost about £20,000, including the expense of the unfinished fabric, which was washed down in 1775. A smaller bridge crosses an arm of the river, to the little island of Shilhay, and beyond the north wall of the city is the IRON BRIDGE which crosses the small stream called Longbrook, and the deep hollow between North street and St. David's hill. This bridge, or viaduct, was erected by the Improvement Commissioners, at the cost of £3500. It was cast at Worcester, and has six arches, each 40 feet in span, with a roadway 24 feet wide. Its total length, including the masonry, is 800 feet.
IMPROVEMENTS. - From the period of the decline of the woollen manufacture in Exeter, may be dated the commencement of that spirit of improvement, in widening and making new streets, and removing those obstructions in the public thoroughfares, which, while it tended so much to make the city a place of genteel residence, opened new channels for the industry of the inhabitants. Four Acts of Parliament were obtained in the 1st, 46th, and 50th of George III., and the 2nd of Wm. IV., for better and more effectually paving, lighting, cleansing, watching, and otherwise improving the City and County of the City of Exeter. The Improvement Commissioners incorporated by these acts, comprise the Dean and Chapter, six members of the Town Council, and about sixty persons elected for the respective parishes, &c. These commissioners have expended large sums annually during the last half century in improving the city and suburbs; and they are empowered to raise money by levying rates upon the inhabitants. The following are their officers: - Mark Kennaway, Esq., clerk; Mr. Thos. Whitaker, surveyor; Messrs. Henry Vatcher and S.B. Hodgson, collectors; and Thomas Doble, messenger.
WATER WORKS were erected in Exeter many years ago, but the supply of the pure beverage of nature did not keep pace with the great increase in houses and population during the present century, till the construction of the present works, by the Water Company, which was formed in 1833, with a capital of £30,000, since increased to £45,750, in £25 shares, now selling at more than £10 premium. They completed their works in 1834-5, and by means of a powerful engine, worked by two water-wheels (equal to forty horses' power,) they propel an ample supply of good water from a clear and unpolluted part of the river Exe, about three miles above the city, into a large Reservoir, on the hill, near the County Gaol. This reservoir is at an elevation of 400 feet, and is about 200 feet square by 17 deep, and capable of holding 5000 hogsheads, or 315,000 gallons. Connected with it are more than twelve miles of iron pipes, branching out through every street, &c., in the city and suburbs, and supplying the inhabitants with about 7000 hogsheads of water daily. They also supply the public baths and several jets d'eau on the public promenades. The Company's offices are in Bedford circus, and Mr. Wm, Tompson is their clerk. Formerly the inhabitants were chiefly supplied with water by pumps and wells in the town, and from several springs on the hills about a mile distant, whence it was brought in leaden pipes to several fountains or conduits, erected in the principal streets. One of these, called the Great Conduit, or the Conduit at Quatrefois, or Carfois, was rebuilt in 1461, and stood in the centre of the city, at the junction of the four principal streets; but it was taken down in 1778, when a new conduit was erected in High street. Another was built in South street, in 1799, and there is one in Mary Arches street, erected in 1839, at the sole expense of J. Golsworthy, Esq. The Conduit in Mill street, which supplies the Western Market and the neighbourhood, has three cisterns, which will hold 100 hogsheads of water, enclosed in a brick building, and conveyed in pipes to an obelisk of granite.
The GAS WORKS on Exe Island, from which the city and suburbs are brilliantly illuminated, rank among the earliest provincial establishments of the kind in England. They are the property of the Exeter Gas Light and Coke Company, established in 1815, by Act of Parliament, with a capital of £45,000, raised in £25 Shares, now worth from £35 to £40 each. The city was first lit with gas in 1817, and since then the works have been considerably enlarged. Richard Williams, jun., is the clerk and manager. Though the charges to consumers are moderate, and the quality good, both the Water and Gas Works are lucrative investments, for the yearly profits on the laid-out capitals, generally amount to 10 per cent. on the former, and 8 per cent. on the latter.
Brian Randell, 24 Oct 1998
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