Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for DEVONSHIRE, or Devon

DEVONSHIRE, or Devon, a maritime county; bounded, on the N, by the Bristol channel; on the NE, by Somerset; on the E, by Dorset; on the SE and S, by the English channel; on the W, by Cornwall. Its length, southward, is 72 miles; its greatest breadth, 68 miles; its aggregate of coast line, about 144 miles; its total circuit, about 280 miles; its area, 1, 657, 180 acres. The only English counties which exceed it in size are Yorkshire and Lincoln.

The surface is exceedingly diversified, and exhibits a vast amount of picturesque scenery. The coasts, for the most part, are rocky, and abound in striking scenes. North Devon, comprising one-fourth or more of all the area, has moorish mountainous grounds on the east, and some moors and heights on the west, but presents, over the most part, a rich display of varied contour, fertility, and beauty. West Devon, a much smaller tract in the south-west, is characterized by narrow vales, deep valleys, and steep flanking banks. Dartmoor, immediately east of this, is a wondrous region of mixed grandeur, ruggedness, desolation, and romance. The South Hams, extending from Devonport to Torbay, blends with the finest skirts of Dartmoor, and spreads away to the sea in bold swells, winding coombes, and rich vales. East Devon, lying between Dartmoor and Dorset, is prevailingly champaign in the centre and south, billowy or hilly in the east, sweetly beautiful in many parts, and moorish and mountainous in the north-east. The chief rivers, all more or less esturial and navigable, are the Taw, the Torridge, the Tamar, the Tavy, the Plym, the Yealme, the Erme, the Avon, the Dart, the Teign, the Exe, the Otter, and the Axe. The chief bays, in the north, are Morte and Bideford; in the south, Plymouth, Start, and Tor. Springs, brooks, and rivulets abound more than in any other English county; and chalybeate spas are at Bellamarsh, Bampton, Brixham, Cleaves, and Ilsington.

Granitic rocks occupy Dartmoor; old red sandstone or Devonian rocks form the northern part of North Devon, and most part of West Devon and South Hams; lower carboniferous rocks, limestone and shale, form a belt along the north side of Dartmoor, and a broader band thence to the western boundary; upper carboniferous rocks, chiefly millstone grit, occupy most of the western, central and southern parts of North Devon, and extend thence to Chudleigh, the neighbourhood of Exeter, Tiverton, and the boundary near Wellington; new red sand-stone rocks occupy the southern and central parts of East Devon, and form a belt westward, past Crediton, to the vicinity of Hatherleigh; has rocks form a small tract on the eastern border round Axminster; and upper greensand and gault rocks form considerable tracts, interspersed with the new red sandstone, in the eastern parts of East Devon. Granite, building-stone, paving-stone, slate, and limestone are extensively quarried. Marble, of good quality, is found in some places, and worked into numerous articles. Porcelain clay, pipe clay, and gypsum largely occur; and the first is sent to the Worcester and Stafford potteries. Tin, copper, lead, and iron ores are worked. Silver exists largely in the lead ores; and some gold, cobalt, manganese, and antimony are found. Bituminous coal has been vainly searched for; but lignite coal and anthracite are found and worked.

The soils include little alluvium; and derive their character generally from the underlying rocks. Those of Dartmoor are very poor; those of North Devon are mainly pure yellow or white clays, and partly a clayey loam; those of South Hams vary, in frequent changes, from a heavy clay to a light calcareous earth, and are so fertile as to have occasioned the region to be called the garden of Devonshire; those of the tracts round Crediton, Exeter, and Honiton, are chiefly rich loams, either sandy or dark hazel; and those of other tracts are, for the most part, good, indifferent, or bad, according to the nature of the subjacent rocks. About one-fifth of the entire area is waste; fully one-half of the other four-fifths is pasture or dairy land; and the rest, with deductions for woods, orchards, and other matters, is under the plough. The farms range mostly from 100 to 200 acres; and leases run from 6 to 10 years. Wheat is much grown; and the other ordinary crops, both white and green, are cultivated; but butter, cheese, cider, and live stock are the chief produce for exportation. The bovine cattle are a wide-horned light-brown breed, excellent both for working and for fattening, but not much esteemed for the dairy; the sheep are of many kinds, but largely a middle-wooled small breed, very similar to the Dorsets; and the native horses are small animals, resembling the Welsh and the Highland breeds.

Manufactures in woollens, worsteds, carpets, silks, linens, cottons, lace, gloves, shoes, and earthenware, employ about 7, 000 hands. Mackerel, herrings, and other fish are largely caught. The Western canal, to the extent of 10 miles, goes to Tiverton; and the Bude canal, to the extent of 20 miles, goes up the Tamar, and sends off a branch of 8 miles to Thornbury. Tram railways run 18 miles from Dartmoor to Plymouth, and 10 from Hayter to the Teign. One great railway, the Bristol and Exeter, comes in from Somerset, sends off a branch to Tiverton, and proceeds by Collumpton to Exeter; another, the Yeovil and Exeter, comes in from Dorset, and goes by Honiton to Exeter; another, the North Devon, goes north-west by northward from Exeter to Barnstaple, and sends off a branch thence to Bideford; another, the South Devon, goes southward to Newton-Abbot, sends off there a branch to Torquay and Dartmouth, and proceeds thence west-south-westward to Plymouth; another, the South Devon and Tavistock, goes from Plymouth northward to Tavistock; another, the Cornwall, goes from Plymouth, past Devonport, into Cornwall; and another, the Okehampton, was authorized in 1862, to be formed from the North Devon at Colebrook to Okehampton and Lydford. The turnpike roads and paved streets amount to about 800 miles; and other highways for wheeled carriages, to fully 6, 000 miles. The revenue from tolls in 1856 was £41, 327: the total income of turnpike trusts, £45, 239.

Devonshire contains 465 parishes, parts of 3 others, and five extra-parochial places; and is divided into the boroughs of Barnstaple, Bideford, Dartmouth, Devonport, Exeter, Honiton, Plymouth, South Molton, Tiverton, Torrington, and Totnes, and the hundreds of Bampton, Black Torrington, Braunton, Crediton, Fremington, Halberton, Hartland, Hayridge, Hemyock, North Tawton, Shebbear, Sherwill, South Molton, Tiverton, Winkleigh, Witheridge, West Budleigh, Axminster, Cliston, Coleridge, Colyton, East Budleigh, Ermington, Exminster, Haytor, Lifton, Ottery-St. Mary, Plympton, Roborough, Stanborough, Tavistock, Teignbridge, and Wonford. It was further cut for parliamentary representation, by the reform act of 1832, into the divisions of North and South; and, by the reform act of 1867, into the divisions of North, South, and East. The registration county gives off seven parishes to Somerset, and two to Cornwall; takes in four from Dorset, one from Cornwall, and twelve and a parochial tract from Somerset; comprises 1, 709, 373 acres; and is divided into the districts of Axminster, Honiton, St. Thomas, Exeter, Newton-Abbot, Totnes, Kingsbridge, Plympton-St. Mary, Plymouth, East Stonehouse, Stoke-Damerel, Tavistock, Okehampton, Crediton, Tiverton, South Molton, Barnstaple, Torrington, Bideford, and Holsworthy. The leven boroughs already named, and Ashburton, Axminstcr, Bampton, Brixham, Chagford, Chudleigh, Chumleigh, Collumpton, Colyton, Crediton, Hatherleigh, Holsworthy, Ilfracomhe, Kingsbridge, Modbury, Moreton-Hampstead, Ottery, Plympton, Sidmouth, Stonehouse, Tavistock, Newton-Abbot, Okehampton, Teignmouth, and Topsham are market towns; and there are about 1, 700 smaller towns, villages, and hamlets. Some of the chief seats are Stover House, Endsleigh, Castle Hill, Mount Edgecumbe, Saltram, Powderham, Pixton, Bagtor, Bicton, Poltimore, Bishops-Court, Huish House, Canonleigh, Ugbrooke, Blatchford, Courtland, Creedy, Escott, Haldon House, Killerton, Mamhead, Manaton, Maristow, Netherton House, Shute House, Pound, Rowdens, Spring Lodge, Tor-Royal House, Dawstock, Youlston, Buckland Abbey, Buckland Filleigh, Coham, Barne, Dartington, Denbury, Dulford, Fallapit, Farringdon, Fleet House, Ford, Fowelscombe, Fulford, Hayne, Kelly, Killey, Langdon, Lifton, Lindridge, Lupton, New Place, Nethway, Newnham, Oxton, Pilton, Shapwick, Stockleigh, Tor Abbey, Whitway, and Wolford. Real property in 1815, £1, 924, 912; in 1843, £2, 589, 378; in 1851, £2, 736, 361; in 1860, £2, 820, 210, -of which £80, 533 were in mines, £8, 738 in quarries, £70, 015 in railways, and £5, 617 in canals.

The county is governed by a lord-lieutenant, a vice-lieutenant, about 90 deputy lieutenants, and about 390 magistrates. It is in the western military district, and the western judicial circuit; and it contains the arch-deaconries of Exeter, Totnes, and Barnstaple, in the diocese of Exeter. The assizes and the quarter sessions are held at Exeter. The county jail and a city jail are at Exeter; and borough jails are at Plymouth, Devonport, Barnstaple, Tiverton, Bradninch, and South Molton. The police force, in 1862, for Exeter, comprised 29 men, at a cost of £1, 917; for Plymouth, 58 men, at £3, 349; for Devonport, 40 men, at £2, 318; for Barnstaple, Bideford, South Molton, Tiverton, Totnes, and Great Torrington, 45 men, at £1, 628; for the rest of the county, 323 men, at £23, 731. The crimes committed in Exeter were 62; in Plymouth, 53; in Devonport, 91; in the other towns named, 34; in the rest of the county, 529. The persons apprehended, in Exeter, were 51; in Plymouth, 73; in Devonport, 21; in the other towns, 31; in the rest of the county, 412. The depredators and suspected persons at large, in Exeter, were 406; in Plymouth, 1, 179; in Devonport, 244; in Barnstaple, Bideford, Tiverton, and South Molton, 198; in the other towns, not reported; in the rest of the county, 1, 427. The houses of bad character, in Exeter, were 69; in Plymouth, 226; in Devonport, 49: in the other towns, 41; in the rest of the county, 251. Twenty members were sent to parliament before the Reform act; and twenty-two are sent now. Okehampton, Plympton, Beer, and Alston, were disfranchised, and Devonport was enfranchised. Exeter. Barnstaple, Plymouth, Devonport, and Tiverton, send each two members; Tavistock sends one; and the rest of the county sends two from each of its three divisions, Northern, Eastern, and Southern; and it has South Molton, Barnstaple, Tiverton, Bideford, Crediton, Holsworthy, Torrington, Chumleigh, Collumpton, Hatherleigh, Ilfracombe, Exeter, Honiton, Tavistock, Kingsbridge, Newton-Abbot, Okehampton, and Plymouth for polling-places. The electors within the quondam Northern division, in 1868, were 8, 746; and within the quondam Southern division, 9, 592. The poor-rates of the registration county, in 1862, amounted to £248, 302. Marriages in 1860, 4, 983, -of which 1, 381 were not according to the rites of the Established Church; births, 17, 735, -of which 1, 038 were illegitimate; deaths, 11, 606, -of which 3, 560 were at ages under 5 years, and 449 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-1860, 46, 737; births, 171, 300; deaths, 114, 756. The places of worship in the county-proper, in 1851, were 549 of the Church of England, with 191, 710 sittings; 142 of Independents, with 38, 402 s.; 112 of Baptists, with 22, 206 s.; 8 of Quakers, with 2, 012 s.; 12 of Unitarians, with 3, 886 s.; 1 of Moravians, with 300 s.; 219 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 39, 839 s.; 146 of Bible Christians, with 17, 428 s.; 7 of the Wesleyan Association, with 1, 166 s.: 7 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 875 s.; 1 of the New Church, with 180 s.; 36 of Brethren, with 3, 390 s.; 43 of isolated congregations, with 10, 990 s.; 3 of Latter. Day Saints, with 300 s.; 1 of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, with 250 s.; 8 of Roman Catholics, with 1, 250 s.; and 2 of Jews, with 240 s. The schools were 503 public day schools, with 38, 418 scholars; 1, 111 private day schools, with 25, 848 s.; 772 Sunday schools, with 58, 408 s.; and 18 evening schools for adults, with 427 s. Pop. in 1801, 340, 308; in 1821, 438, 417; in 1841, 532, 959; in 1861, 584, 373. Inhabited houses, 101, 253; uninhabited, 5, 560; building, 678.

Devonshire was called Dyfnant by the ancient Welsh, and Dennan by the Cornish Britons; and is supposed to have got its name from a word signifying "deeps" or "glens. " It was originally inhabited by the Cimbri, who got here the designation of Damnonii or Danmonii; and it had ancient commercial transactions with the Phœnicians, the Greeks, and other nations. It was included, by the Romans, first in their Britannia Prima, then in their Flavia Cæsariensis; and it afterwards formed part of the kingdom of Wessex. Cynegilsus, king of the West Saxons, vanquished it in 614. The Danes made inroads into it, with various fortune, in 806, 876, 894, 1101, and 1003. William the Conqueror met stiff resistance from it in 1067 and 1069. William Rufus and Stephen also were resisted at Exeter. The French, till the middle of the 15th century, made attacks on the maritime towns, but elicited few events of any note. The wars between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians agitated the county, and caused several riots, but did not produce any battle. The Reformation caused an insurrection in 1549, leading to a number of armed engagements. The civil war, in the time of Charles I., involved general broils, many incursions, several skirmishes, and one sharp action; and came to an end in the taking of most of the towns by Fairfax. The Prince of Orange landed at Torbay in 1688; the French fleet cannonaded and plundered Teignmouth in 1690; the combined fleet of France and Spain appeared off Plymouth in 1779; and Napoleon Buonaparte was a prisoner in the Bellerophon and the Northumberland men-of-war in Plymouth sound in 1815. The county gives the title of Earl of Devon to the Courtenays, and that of Duke of Devonshire to the Cavendishes.-Icknield-street crosses the county from Dorset, through Exeter, into Cornwall; the Fosseway joined or crossed Icknield-street, near the eastern border of the county; and the Portway went from Exeter toward the centre of Somerset. Ancient British remains, variously cromlechs, Druidical circles, logan-stones, cairns, and vestiges of rude houses, are at Drews-Teignton, Withecombe, Haldon-Hill, and Grimpspound; ancient camps are at Woodbury and Hembury; ancient castles are at Compton, Okehampton, Plympton, Tiverton, Berry-Pomeroy, and Lydford; ancient abbeys or priories are or were at Tavistock, Ford, Newnham, Tor, Wear, Weycroft, Frithelstoke, Hartland, Buckfastleigh, and Ottery; and ancient churches are at Ashburton, Axminster, Chegford, Crediton, Exeter, and other places.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a maritime county"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 2nd order divisions")
Administrative units: Devon AncC
Place names: DEVON     |     DEVONSHIRE     |     DEVONSHIRE OR DEVON
Place: Devon

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