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Help and advice for Great Torrington

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Great Torrington

"TORRINGTON, (GREAT) is an ancient borough, and clean and well-built market town, pleasantly seated on a bold eminence, on the north-east side of the picturesque valley of the Torridge river and canal, 34 miles N.W. by W. of Exeter; 6 miles S.S.E. of Bideford; 10 miles S.S.W. of Barnstaple; and 196 miles W. by S. of London. It is the head of a large union, and its parish contains 3419 souls, and about 3640 acres of land, including Moortown, Norwood, Staple Vale, Beam, many scattered farm-houses, and some extensive commons, the enclosure of which is opposed by the inhabitants. The Trustees of the late Lord Rolle are lords of the manor. and barony, and owners of most of the soil; and the rest belongs to J.H. Furse, Esq., Archdeacon Stevens, Mrs. Stevens, and a few smaller owners. . . . Torrington was visited by the plague in 1591, and in the 17th century it was the scene of some of the most important actions of the civil war. . . . There was formerly a considerable manufacture of woollens carried on at Torrington, and here are still many glove makers. . . . The PARISH CHURCH (St. Michael,) which was mostly rebuilt in 1651, after being nearly destroyed during the civil wars, is a large and handsome structure, with a lofty tower, containing six bells, and crowned by an octagonal spire, the latter of which was erected in 1830, when the curious old spire was taken down. . . ." [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)]

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

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Biography

John McKay has produced an account of the life and work of Thomas Fowler of Great Torrington, inventor of a precursor to modern central heating, and of an early calculating machine. (See Glusker et al under History below.)

The Corn Laws - article from the North Devon Journal (2 Apr 1840) containing James Vicary's testimony to members of the Anti-Corn Law League.

Colby, F.T. Torrington worthies. Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. 31, (1899) pp.170-179. [Index]
Doe, George M. An Unofficial Diary 1751-1797. Trans. Devon Assoc. 69 (1937) pp.345-351. [Raymond: Lists the names of many municipal officials of Great Torrington.]
Fowler, Rev. Hugh. Biographical notice of the Late Mr Thomas Fowler, of Torrington, with Some Account of His Inventions, Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 7, (1875) pp.171-178. [Index]
Fowler, R.H. Biographical sketch of Thomas Fowler (b. 1777), North Devon Journal, (August 1875).
Hooper, W.R. Some Chief Burgesses of Great Torrington. Trans. Devon Assoc. 76 (1944) pp.167-185.
Karkeek, Paul Q. Thomas Benet: A Biographical Sketch. Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. 7, (1875), pp. 75-78. [Index]
Norman, Neville. The 1847 Tragic Accident at Bideford: The Friendship-Norman Connection, Devon Family Historian, vol. 128, (2008) pp.37-38. [Concerning Charles Friendship, many of whose family were killed in the 1847 horse taxi accident, who deserted his wife Sarah Chambers and eloped to Australia with Elizabeth Norman, as Charles Norman in 1879.]
Radcliffe, Susan M., (Ed.). Sir Joshua's Nephew. Being Letters Written, 1769-1778, by a Young Man to His Sisters, London, John Murray (1930) xvi + 244 pp. [Rev. Samuel Johnson, b. Torrington 1754]
Ridd, Jenny. What Your Churchyard Can Tell You: The Story of the Bishopteignton Admirals, Devon Family Historian, vol. 163, (2017) pp.38-40.
Vass, Pamela. Rediscovering Thomas Fowler (1777-1843): Mathematician and Inventor, Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 131, (1999) pp.11-25.
Vass, Pamela. The Power of Three: Thomas Fowler Devon's Forgotten Genius, Boundstone Books (2016) 243pp. [ISBN-13: 978-0956870957]
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Cemeteries

Torrington Cemetery - searchable burials database.

Torrington Cemetery Burials 1856 - 1860. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Torrington Cemetery Burials 1861 - 1865. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Torrington Cemetery Burials 1866 - 1870. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Torrington Cemetery Burials 1871 - 1876. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Torrington Cemetery Burials 1877 - 1880. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Torrington Cemetery Burials 1881 - 1886. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Torrington Cemetery Burials 1887 - 1891. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Torrington Cemetery Burials 1891 - 1896. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Torrington Cemetery Burials 1897 - 1903. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).

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Census

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]

Transcription of the 1871 Census entries for Union Workhouse, by Betsy Rubel.

Churches

You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Great Torrington area or see them printed on a map.

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Church History

St Michael's Church history webpage.

Cresswell, Beatrix F. Some notes on the history of the Parish Church of Saint Michael, Great Torrington. 2nd ed.(1929). [Exeter Univ. Lib.]
Doe, George M. A little bit of Great Torrington church history in the time of Queen Elizabeth. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 44, (1912) pp.611-615. [Index]
Doe, George M. Great Torrington church troubles in Tudor times. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 62, (1930) pp.275-283.
Hughes, Thomas Cann. Some notes on the vicars of Great Torrington since the Commonwealth. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 32, (1900) pp.283-288. [Index]
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Church Records

Parish Registers going back to 1616 are held in the Devon Record Office.

Transcripts of the Parish Registers going back to 1597 are held in a special collection in the Westcountry Studies Library.

Transcriptions of Great Torrington Baptisms (1776-1812), Marriages (1733-1808), and Burials (1769-1812), by Betsey Rubel. (Note: See also the transcription of the Bastin volume of Great Torrington Parish Registers below.)

Transcription of Great Torrington Bible Christian Baptisms 1837-1841 by Elizabeth Howard.

Transcription of Burials 1616-1667 (368kbytes), by Betsey Rubel.

The Devon FHS publishes indexes covering (as of June 2004): Marriages 1754-1837, Burials 1813-1837 - for details see their book list.

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

  • Baptist Chapel, New Street: Registers for 1814-38 (Z) at NDRO
  • Wesleyan Chapel, Mill Street: Registers for c1818-37 - see Bideford (PRO RG 4/955)
  • Bible Christian Circuit: Registers for 1837-67 (C) at NDRO

Nothing entered into the IGI (as of Jan 1993).

Bastin, J.W. (transcr.) Great Torrington Parish Registers: Baptism Registers February 1702 to December 1835, Marriage Registers April 1616 to May 1808, Burial Registers March 1616 - May 1667. Appledore: M. Wickes (1997) [Barnstaple Library - 929.3/GRE/GRE] [Transcription]
Bastin, J.W. (transcr.) A Transcript of the Church Registers of Great Torrington: Baptisms - BTs 1597-1601, 1607, 1612 1613, PRs 1616-1703; Marriages - BTs 1597-1601, 1607, 1612, Burials - BTs 1597-1600, 1607, 1612-1613, PRs 1616-1617. Appledore: M. Wickes [Barnstaple Library - 929.3/GRE/GRE]
Darch, Barry. Register of births: in the possession of Torrington Baptist Church (mainly 1814-38, with a few earlier; ...) Beccles: B. Darch (n.d.) 17p. [Barnstaple Library - 929.3286/BT:GRE/DAR]
Hughes, Thomas Cann. Some Notes on the Vicars of Great Torrington since the Commonwealth. Trans. Devon Assoc. 32 (1900) pp.283-288.
Parsons, S.H. Records of Great Torrington. New England Historical and Genealogical Register 7 (1853) pp. 154. [Extracts]
The Deanery of Torrington - An index of baptisms, marriages and burials in the parishes of Ashreigny, Beaford, Buckland Filleigh, Dolton, Dowland, Great Torrington, Huish, Iddesleigh, Langtree, Little Torrington, Meeth, Merton, Newton St. Petrock, Peters Marland, Petrockstowe, Roborough, Shebbear, Sheepwash, St. Giles in the Wood and Winkleigh. With photographs of the churches and extracts from White's Devonshire Directory 1850. CD-ROM, Exeter, Devon FHS (2010) . [Ashreigny Bapt: 1813-1838, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Beaford Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Buckland Filleigh Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Dolton Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1838, Bur: 1813-1837; Dowland Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1840, Bur: 1742-1837; Great Torrington Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Huish Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1755-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Iddesleigh Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Langtree Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1755-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Little Torrington Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Meeth Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Merton Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Newton St. Petrock Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1755-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Peters Marland Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Petrockstowe Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Roborough Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1755-1837, Bur: 1813-1839; Shebbear Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Sheepwash Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1838, Bur: 1813-1837; St Giles in the Wood Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Winkleigh Bapt: 1813-1853, Mar: 1754-1836, Bur: 1813-1837.]
Torrington Bible Christian Baptisms 1837 - 1849. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Torrington Bible Christian Baptisms 1850 - 1858. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Torrington Bible Christian Baptisms 1859 - 1867. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Torrington Wesleyan Baptisms 1841 - 1848. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Torrington Wesleyan Baptisms 1849 - 1855. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Torrington Wesleyan Baptisms 1855 - 1870. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Torrington Wesleyan Baptisms 1870 - 1901. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
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Court Records

Doe, George M. Great Torrington quarter sessions, 1686-1836. Trans. Devon Assoc. vol 64 (1932) pp479-504.
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Description and Travel

The Great Torrington web-site has general information and links.

Great Torrington, from Wikipedia.

Extract from Murray's "Handbook for Travellers in Devonshire" (1879), for Great Torrington, with Monkleigh and Frithelstock.

Section on Great Torrington from Samuel Lewis: A Topographical Dictionary of England (1831), provided by Mel Lockie.

You can see pictures of Great Torrington which are provided by:

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Directories

Transcription of the description and name listing for Torrington, from Pigot's London and Provincial New Commercial Directory of 1830.

Transcription of entry in White's Devonshire Directory of 1850.

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Gazetteers

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

Ask for a calculation of the distance from Great Torrington to another place.

Click here for a list of nearby places.

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Genealogy

Alexander, J.J. Early barons of Torrington and Barnstaple. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 73, 1941, pp. 153-79. [Raymond: De Toriton family, 13th c.; De Braose and De Tracy families, 11-13th c.]
Colby, Frederic Thomas. Colby of Great Torrington, Devon: some account of that family & its alliances for five generations. [Exeter]: Pr. for private circ [1880?] viii,47p: ill . [Westcountry Studies Library - x929.2/COL]
Colby, F.T. An appendix to Colby of Great Torrington, containing an account of families of the same name in other counties, and additional notes to the former volume. [Exeter?]: privately printed 1880.
Colby, F.T. Pedigree of the Palmer family, formerly of South Molton and Great Torrington, Devon. Exeter: privately printed, 1892.
Doe, George M. Sir Richard Whittington and Torrington. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 1:5, (1900) pp.143-144. [See also vol.1, p.189.] [Fitzwarren Family] [Transcript]
Forsey, Jill. What Happened to Chance, Devon Family Historian, vol. 163, (2017) p.37. [See also Devon Family Historian 161 and 162.]
Morris, G.T. Windyer. Sir Richard Whittington and Torrington. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 2:5, (1903) pp.150-151. [See vol.1, p.144, par.3, and p.189, par.140.] [Fitzwarren Family]
Smith, Graham. Strays - Barrow, Devon Family Historian, vol. 147, (2013) pp.13-15. [amily of John Barrow, b. 1869]
Toms, Donald Leslie. The Toms families of Great Torrington 1778-1911. Dunstable: D.L.Toms (1985) 35p. [Westcountry Studies Library - px929.2/TOM]
Table showing the descent of Coplestone of Woodland, and of Colby of Great Torrington, Devon, and of the origin of the quarterings borne by Coplestone of Coplestone, Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica N. S., 2, 1877, pp. 73-6. [Raymond: Medieval-19th c.]
An old Devonshire house and family, Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 19, 1936-37, pp. 300-03. [Raymond: Palmer of Great Torrington, 18-19th c.]
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Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Great Torrington has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.

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History

A Little Local History - from the Great Torrington web-site.

The Rolle Canal - from Wikipedia.

Mark Glusker's The ternary calculating machine of Thomas Fowler.

Alexander, J. J., and Hooper, W. R. The history of Great Torrington in the County of Devon. Sutton [Eng.] Advance Studio (1948) xiii, 261 pp. plates (part col.)
Colby, Rev F.D. The History of Great Torrington. Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. 7, (1875), pp. 89-101. [Index]
Doe, G.M. A Few Pages of Great Torrington History, 1642-1646. Plymouth: W.Brendon & Son (1896) 59p: ill.
Doe, George M. Some bits of an old borough. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 35, (1903) pp.646-653.
Doe, G.M. Some More Bits of an Old Borough. Trans. Devonshire Assoc. 55, (1923) 7p. [Westcountry Studies Library - s739.228/GRE/DOE]
Doe, George, M. Some more bits of an old borough (third paper). Trans. Devon. Assoc. 56, (1924) pp.249-261.
Doe, G.M. Some Great Torrington Sticks and Stones. Bideford: Bideford Gazette (1928) 41p. [Westcountry Studies Library - B/GRE/0001/DOE]
Doe, G.M. Great Torrington Commons, Together with the "Great Torrington Commons Act, 1894", and the map therein referred to. Bideford: Bideford Gazette (1929) 53p: map [Westcountry Studies Library - 332/GRE/DOE]
Doe, G.M. Great Torrington Commons. Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. 31 (1899), pp. 156-169. [Index]
Doe, G.M. Old Torrington Landmarks. Bideford: Bideford Gazette (1931) 36 leaves,plate: ill. [Westcountry Studies Library - B/GRE/0001/DOE
Doe, G.M. The Story of Great Torrington Commons. Devonian Yearbook (1935) 18p [Westcountry Studies Library - 333/GRE/DOE]
Doe, G.M. Did Sir Richard Whittington Ever Come to Torrington? Ealing: Perry & Routledge (1936) [Westcountry Studies Library - s920/WHI]
Doe, George M. Some notes on the woollen and glove manufacturers at Great Torrington. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 70, (1938) pp.223-229.
Doe, G.M. An ancient North Devon borough; its surroundings and associations in the past (Presidential address). Trans. Devon. Assoc. 71, (1939) pp.45-65.
Glusker, Mark, Hogan, David M. and Vass, Pamela. The Ternary Calculating Machine of Thomas Fowler, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 27, no. 3, (2005) pp.4-22.
Lauder, R.A. Market Towns of North Devon, Bideford, Badger (1983) 60 pp.
Great Torrington Memorial - Police Petition - 1870, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D111). [Foreword]
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Land and Property

Elliot, John. Homes and gardens - Palmer House, Torrington. Devon Life vol. 9 no. 78 (1972) pp.18-20; ill.
Elliot, John. Homes and gardens - Stanlea house, Torrington. Devon Life vol. 10 no. 81 (1973) pp.18-20; ill.
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Manors

Alexander, J.J. Early barons of Torrington and Barnstaple, Trans. Devon. Assoc. (1941) [Westcountry Studies Library: p929.7/GRE/ALE U] [Lords of the manor]
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Military History

Torrington 1646 - a Civil War heritage centre.

Doe, G. Mark. The blowing up of Great Torrington Church, February 16th, 1645. Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. 26, (1894) pp.313-321: ill. [Index]
Doe, G.M. "The blowing-up of Great Torrington church", in Memorials of old Devonshire (ed. Snell, Frederick John), London: Bemrose and sons, limited, (1904) xi, 305 pp.
Rushworth, J. A True Relation Concerning the late fight at Torrington, Between the Forces under the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax, and the Forces under the command of the Lord Hopton and others, Printed for Edward Husband, Printer to the Honorable House of Commons (1645) 6 pp.
Wardman, John. The forgotten battle: Torrington 1646. Great Torrington: Fire & Steel (1996) xv,203,5p: ill,maps. [ISBN 095267260x] [Lookups]
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Names, Personal

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

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Newspapers

The Crier - online News and Community Diary for the Torrington area.

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Occupations

Register Of Tramps Carrying Insurance Cards - Torrington - 1914-1915. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013). [Foreword]
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Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

See above for 1871 census of Great Torrington Union Workhouse.

Doe, G M. A municipal charity. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 63 (1931). [Account of the Town and Alms Lands Charity of Great Torrington]
The Public Charities of Great Torrington. Torrington: C. Fowler (1872). [Raymond: Includes a rental of the townlands.]
Stockland Apprentices Register - 1803-1830, Exeter, Devon Family History Society N035.
Torrington Workhouse Births 1872-1910. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
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Probate Records

Transcript of the will of Hannah Squance (1828) by Deborah O'Brien.

Wills of Rebecca Barnard (1769) and Gilbert Knill (1808), transcribed by Ros Dunning.