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"HOLSWORTHY, a small market town, . . . is pleasantly situated near the small river Deer and the Bude Canal, 9 miles E. of Bude Haven; 10 miles W. by S. of Hatherleigh; and 42 miles W. by N. of Exeter. Its parish contains 1857 souls, and about 8800 acres of land, including a tract of hilly moorland; the hamlets of Staddon, Chilsworthy, Dunsteep,, and Chesty; and many scattered farms. . . . Earl Stanhope is lord of the manor, which anciently belonged to the baronial family of Brewer, and afterwards to the Chaworth, Paganell, Tracey, Holland, and other families. . . . A great part of the parish belongs to Sir N.R.F. Davie, W.H.B. Coham,, Esq., Mrs. Hart, and many smaller freeholders and leaseholders. . . . In the civil wars, Holsworthy was occupied for the King, till February, 1646, when Sir Thomas Fairfax sent a party to take possession, after the victory of Torrington. On the north-west side of the town is a curious plantation of beech, called the Labyrinth. It covers half an acre, and the puzzle consists in getting into the centre, where there is a tree, with a seat under it. The Church (St. Peter,) is a fine Gothic structure, with a tower and eight bells. There were formerly chapels at Chilsworthy and Thorne. . . ." [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)]

A parish in Black Torrington Hundred, the Archdeaconry of Totnes and the Diocese of Exeter.

Archives and Libraries

Holsworthy Museum.


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

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

History of the church, from the Holsworthy Parish Church web-site.

Smith, Joan. Holsworthy, Devon Family Historian, vol. 142, (2012) p.4. [Details of "memorial stones to be seen in the belfry", listed in The Westen Times of 14 Sep 1883]

Church Records

Parish Registers going back to 1563 are held in the Devon Record Office - for details see Parish Registers in the Devon Record Office.

Indexed transcripts of the Parish Registers going back to 1563, and of the Bishops' Transcripts going back to 1619, 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 1754-1837, Burials 1813-1837, together with Holsworthy Wesleyan Chapel Baptisms 1812-1837 - for details see their book list.

The members' area of the Devon FHS website makes available online images, not at present (Jan 2016) available elsewhere, of the Parish Registers covering Holsworthy Baptisms, Marriages and Burials: 1563-1705, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials: 1706-1785, Baptisms and Burials: 1786-1812, Baptisms: 1813-1884, Baptisms: 1885-1915, Marriages: 1754-1799, Marriages and Banns: 1799-1812, Marriages: 1813-1837, Marriages: 1837-1915, Marriages: 1920-1927, Marriages: 1928-1947, Marriages: 1947-1962, Marriages: 1962-1973, Marriages: 1974-1988, Banns: 1894-1915, Banns: 1937-1953, Banns: 1954-1968, Burials: 1813-1972, Burials: 1873-1901, Burials: 1902-1915, Confirmations: 1894-1975, Baptisms: 1941-1997, Marriages: 1988-2010.

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

Entered into the IGI (as of Jan 1993): Parish Church Christenings 1563-1837 (entries from Bishops' Transcripts), Marriages 1563-1837, Methodist Chapel Christenings 1812-1837.

Transcription of Holsworthy Bible Christian Baptisms 1837-39 by Elizabeth Howard.

Holsworthy Bible Christian Baptisms 1837 - 1846. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Holsworthy Bible Christian Baptisms 1847 - 1852. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Holsworthy Bible Christian Baptisms 1853 - 1859. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Holsworthy Bible Christian Baptisms 1876 - 1880. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Holsworthy Bible Christian Baptisms 1880 - 1886. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Holsworthy Bible Christian Baptisms 1886 - 1890. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Holsworthy Bible Christian Baptisms 1891 - 1897. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Holsworthy Bible Christian Baptisms 1898 - 1911. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
An index of baptisms, marriages and burials in the parishes of Abbots Bickington, Ashwater, Black Torrington, Bradford, Bradworthy, Bridgerule, Clawton, Cookbury, Halwill, Hollacombe, Holsworthy, Luffincott, Milton Damerel, Pancrasweek, Pyworthy, Sutcombe, Tetcott, Thornbury, West Putford and Holsworthy Weslyan Burials. With photographs of the churches and extracts from White's Directory (1850), Kelly's Directory of Devonshire (1902) and A Topographical Dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis (1831), CD-ROM, Exeter, Devon FHS (2014). [Abbots Bickington Bapt: 1813-1840 Mar: 1770-1833 Bur: 1813-1837; Ashwater Bapt: 1813-1841 Mar: 1754-1837 Bur: 1813-1837; Black Torrington Bapt: 1813-1839 Mar: 1754-1837 Bur: 1813-1837; Bradford Bapt: 1813-1839 Mar: 1754-1837 Bur: 1705-1837; Bradworthy Bapt: 1813-1838 Mar: 1755-1837 Bur: 1813-1837; Bridgerule Bapt: 1813-1839 Mar: 1755-1837 Bur: 1813-1837; Clawton Bapt: 1813-1839 Mar: 1754-1837 Bur: 1800-1837; Cookbury Bapt: 1813-1839 Mar: 1756-1837 Bur: 1813-1841; Halwill Bapt: 1813-1839 Mar: 1754-1837 Bur: 1813-1843; Hollacombe Bapt: 1813-1898 Mar: 1757-1837 Bur: 1813-1852; Holsworthy Bapt: 1813-1839 Mar: 1754-1860 Bur: 1813-1837; Holsworthy Weslyan Bapt: 1812-1831; Luffincott Bapt: 1813-1839 Mar: 1756-1837 Bur: 1814-1840; Milton Damerel Bapt: 1813-1840 Mar: 1761-1837 Bur: 1813-1837; Pancrasweek Bapt: 1813-1840 Mar: 1756-1837 Bur: 1813-1837; Pyworthy Bapt: 1813-1839 Mar: 1755-1837 Bur: 1813-1838; Sutcombe Bapt: 1813-1840 Mar: 1754-1837 Bur: 1800-1837; Tetcott Bapt: 1813-1839 Mar: 1755-1836 Bur: 1813-1837; Thornbury Bapt: 1813-1839 Mar: 1756-1837 Bur: 1813-1837; West Putford Bapt: 1813-1840 Mar: 1754-1837 Bur: 1813-1838.]

Description and Travel

Holsworthy Information Centre website.

Holsworthy rural district official guide. Gloucester: British Publishing [1967] 40p: ill. [Westcountry Studies Library - sB/HOL 9/1967/HO]


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


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.

Dodderidge, Sidney E. Streton or Storton, Devon. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, vol. 11, (1920-21), p. 194. [Wescombe Family] [Index]
Edgcumbe, Sir Edward Robert Pearce. Family records relating to the families of Pearce of Holsworthy, Edgcumbe of Laneast, Eliot of Lostwithiel, Livingstone of Calendar, Reynolds of Exeter, Gayer of Liskeard, and others. Exeter: Wm. Pollard & Co,, 1895.
Hill, Barry. Francis Thorne Honey of Holsworthy, Devonshire, Devon Family Historian, vol. 103, (2002) pp.12-13.


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

Notes from Parish Records on Oath-takers from Ashwater, Broadwoodwidger, Hollacombe, Holsworthy and St Giles in the Heath by Pat Williams, provided by the Friends of Devon Archives.

Axtell, David. West of Windmill Hill, Arthur H. Stockwell Ltd. (2008) 150 pp. [ISBN 978-0-7223-3921-3] [Former times in Holsworthy]
Day, W.I. Leeson. Devonshire Association Parochial Histories of Devonshire No. 2: Holsworthy. (1934) [10],82p,pl: ill,map.
Lauder, R.A. Market Towns of North Devon, Bideford, Badger (1983) 60 pp.
Piper, Menor. Snapshots. Holsworthy: Menor Piper (1994) x,331p: ill. [Westcountry Studies Library - sB/HOL 9/1900/PIP]
Holsworthy: the passing years. Holsworthy Local History Centre (1989) 49p: ill,ports. [Westcountry Studies Library - pxB/HOL 9/0001/HOL]
Reflections of Holsworthy. Holsworthy Local History Centre (1988) [34]p: chiefly ill. [Westcountry Studies Library - pxB/HOL 9/1870/HOL]
Photographic view album of Holsworthy and neighbourhood. Holsworthy: F.Slee [1905?] 15p of ill. [Westcountry Studies Library - sB/HOL 9/1905/PHO]


Map of the area from OldeMaps (circa 1950).

Names, Personal

Names from an 1822-23 edition of Pigot's Directory.


Harris, Helen. Farms, Farmers and Farming in the Holsworthy District in the 1950s. Trans. Dev. Assoc, vol. 142, (2010). [SoG Library DE/PER]

Probate Records

Transcription of the will of Stephen Ward (1841) provided by Sheila Howard.

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Last updated: 1 Feb 2016 - Brian Randell

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