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BOROUGH OF DEVONPORT

From White's Devonshire Directory of 1850

DEVONPORT, the most western of the three towns which form the port of Plymouth, is bounded on the east by Stonehouse Pool and Creek, on the north by Morice Town, and on the south and west by the spacious harbour of Hamoaze, to which Mount Wise, the great Naval Dockyard, the Gun Wharf, and the Government Steam Yard present their extensive sea walls and fortifications, as noticed at pages 643 to 647. Devonport is in the parish of Stoke Damerel, and owes its origin as a town to the foundation of the Naval Dockyard, in the reign of William III., about 1690. So late as 1700, not a house was to be seen here, except the Barton of Mount Wise, which stood on the spot now occupied by the Semaphore, and was built by Sir Thomas Wise, whose descendant, Sir Edward Wise, sold the manor of Stoke Damerel, in 1667, to Sir Wm. Moris, for £11,000. On the death of Sir Wm. Moris, Bart., in 1749, this now valuable estate passed to his nephew, the late Sir John St. Aubyn, Bart., whose devisees now own it, and are lords of the manor. The first house in the town is said to have been a wooden building, at the landing place called North Corner; and the seat of business and the principal residences were for some years confined to that locality; but during the late war, the town increased rapidly, and it now occupies all the extensive oblong space between the Dockyard and Gun Wharf on the west, and the lines of fortifications on the north, east, and south. The population within the lines comprises above 25,000 souls; but including the suburbs of Morice Town, and the rest of the parish of Stoke Damerel, the total population of the municipal borough of Devonport amounted to 33,820 in 1841, as noticed at page 633. The municipal borough comprises all Stoke Damerel parish, and was incorporated by royal charter in 1837; but the parliamentary borough includes also East Stonehouse, and was created by the Reform Act of 1832. and vested with the privilege of sending two members to Parliament. In the reign of George ll., immense barriers and fortifications around the town were raised, and in 1725, the town became the seat of the military, as well as the naval government of the port of Plymouth. The "King's Boundary Walls" constitute lines of fortifications, 12 feet high, on the north and south-east. The walls of the Dock Wharf are in some places 30 feet high; and those of the Gun Wharf protect the town on the north-west. The heavy batteries, on the delightful parade called Mount Wise, were designed to protect the entrance from the sea; and the redoubt and block house on Mount Pleasant, to command the capital of the lines, within which are extensive Barracks, the Government House, the Port Admiral's House, &c., as noticed at page 646. There are other fortifications, among which, without the walls, is a breastwork, with a ditch from 12 to 20 feet deep, excavated from the solid slate and limestone rock. About 1810, Government commenced the expensive work of remodelling and strengthening these fortifications, but, on being inspected by the Duke of Wellington, in 1816, he pronounced them to be useless as a means of defence, and they were consequently left in an unfinished state. In the lines are two barrier gates, one leading to Morice-Town, and the floating bridge which crosses the Tamar; and the other leading to Stoke. There are guard houses and draw-bridges at these gates, but the approach from Stonehouse, which is the principal thoroughfare, is without gates; being left unfinished when the works were relinquished, in 1816. The streets being all modern, are generally straight, spacious, and well-built. Fore street, St. Aubyn street, Duke street, and many other of the principal thoroughfares are lined with good houses and meat and well-stocked shops; and the footpaths being paved with limestone from the neighbouring quarries, the pedestrian literally walks on marble, which speedily becomes so much polished as to have a beautiful variegated appearance, when washed by heavy rain.

The town is well supplied with water, and lighted with gas, and was called Plymouth Dock till 1823, when the inhabitants sent a petition to George IV., praying that the name of the town might be changed to Devonport, or such other appellation as his Majesty might deem proper. In answer to this petition, the King directed that on and after the 1st of January, 1824, the town should be called Devonport, and on that day the inhabitants paraded the streets in triumphal procession, and proclaimed the new name in. all public places. A general subscription was also entered into, for the purpose of erecting a COLUMN, commemorative of the event. This handsome column cost £2750, and stands near the Town-Hall, upon a rock, which rises 22 feet above the pavement, and is ascended by a flight of steps. Including the plinths and foundation rock, the entire elevation of the column is 125 feet. On the upper plinth, which is nine feet high, are panels for inscriptions; and within the shaft, which is fluted, and of the Grecian Doric order, is a spiral staircase, leading to a balcony on the summit of the capital, which is surrounded by elegant iron railing, and commands extensive views over the town, the harbours, and the adjacent country. The whole is constructed of granite of a very superior quality, and was intended to have been crowned by a colossal statue of George IV., which would be a grand finish to the structure. The town is much higher than Stonehouse and Plymouth, but descends to the shore of the broad and extensive harbour of Hamoaze, through which the waters of the river Tamar fall into Plymouth Sound. (See pages 643-'4) Though generally considered clean and healthy, it suffered severely from cholera in 1849, as noticed at page 639. It is well supplied with water, in connexion with Stonehouse, Stoke, &c., by the Water Works Company, which was incorporated by Act of Parliament, in 1723. It had been previously attempted to obtain water from the Plymouth Leat, but this being refused, the Devonport Leat was formed, and may be occasionally seen in close companionship with that of Plymouth, as it pursues its winding course of 37 miles, from its source in the wild region of Dartmoor. The principal reservoir is at Higher Stoke, whence an abundant supply of water is sent in iron pipes to Devonport, Stonehouse, the Dockyard, Gun Wharf, &c. The Devonport Gas Plant Leasing Co. have their works at Keyham, and lease them to the Devonport Gas and Coke Company, who now hold them at the yearly rent of £650, which yields an annual dividend of six per cent. to the owners of the works. In the 21st of George III., an act was obtained for paving, cleansing, and watching the streets, and for removing nuisances, and regulating coaches, &c., in the town and suburbs. This act gave place to another act, obtained in 1814, which vested the paving, cleansing, and lighting; the regulation of coaches, porters, &c.;and also the maintenance of the poor of the parish of Stoke Damerel, in a body of 150 commissioners, to be chosen from amongst the inhabitants. The Market Place is in the heart of the town, and belongs to the lords of the manor, to whom it yields a considerable annual rent. It is abundantly supplied with butter, poultry, flesh, fish, fruit, vegetables, &c., especially on the three market days - Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday; but it is not a mart for either corn or cattle, though the Market Act, passed in 1835, has a clause for the establishment of a grain market. The poultry and butter market is in an extensive loft over the shambles. A pleasure fair is held in the town on Whit-Monday. The Customs' and Inland Revenue establishments here are branches of those at Plymouth. (See pages 648-'9.) The large Bonding Warehouses on the Quay at Mutton Cove were erected in 1846-7, by a company of merchants and traders, at the cost of about £1450. There are excellent Wharfs at Richmond walk, North corner, and Morice Town. A Coal Association has large stores here, and vessels are in constant communication with London, Wales, &c. The United General Bread and Flour Company has many members here, but its office is in Stonehouse. There are in the town three banks, a large ironfoundry, several breweries and malting-houses, boat yards, roperies, &c.; but the chief scene of bustle is the great Naval Dockyard, as noticed at pages 644-'5. The Rowing Regatta, in summer, is a source of great attraction, and a large number of finely built boats usually compete for the valuable prize cup, presented by her Majesty, as well as for the premium of £5, presented to the builder of the best rowing gig. The Royal Hotel and the London Hotel, in Fore street, are large and commodious establishments; and the former has a spacious Assembly Room, in which balls, concerts, and exhibitions are frequently held. Here are also several other large and well-conducted inns, and many respectable lodging-houses. The POST- OFFICE is a chaste and handsome building, erected in 1849, from the designs of that eminent architect, G. Wightwick, Esq., to whose skill the three towns are indebted for the beauty and convenience of several other public edifices. This Post Office belongs to a company of shareholders, and cost only about £1700, though it has an elegant semi-circular portico, or rotunda, after the Tivoli example of the Corinthian order, and forming a complete circle within.

The TOWN-HALL was erected in 1821-'2, at the cost of nearly £3000, raised by subscription, in shares, which have been nearly all paid off by a sinking fund. It was designed by Mr. John Foulston, after the style of the Parthenon at Athens. The. portico exhibits four massive columns, of fine Doric order; and on the entablature, over the entrance, has been placed a fine figure of Britannia. In the recess is flight of steps, leading to the hall, which is 75 feet long, 45 broad, and 31 in height; and is finished by a handsome cornice, and provided with suitable benches, &c., for the magistrates, all of which can be removed when the room is required for any large public meeting. It is decorated with several fine portraits, including those of George I., II., and III.; Queens Charlotte and Caroline, Wm IV., and Sir Edw. Codrington. The building also contains the overseers' office, the council chamber, police station and prison, committee rooms, apartments for the town-sergeant, &c. The Quarter and Petty Sessions for the borough are held here, and the Town-Council are about to erect a large new Prison, at the cost of about £11,000, with cells, &c., for 44 male offenders, 12 females, and 14 debtors. Prisoners from Stonehouse will also be sent to it by the magistrates of Roborough Division, who hold petty sessions here, and to whom Mr. A.B. Bone is clerk. As already noticed, the Municipal Borough of Devonport was incorporated by royal charter in 1837, and divided into six wards, and placed under the control of a mayor, 12 aldermen, and 36 councillors, with a recorder, town clerk, and other officers, of whom the following is the present list, together with the Borough Magistrates:

MAYOR, Edward St. Aubyn, Esq.; RECORDER, John Greenwood, Esq.

BOROUGH MAGISTRATES: Edward St. Aubyn, John Beer, jun., Wm. Hodge, Wm. Hancock, Jonth. Ramsey, sen , Cornls. Tripe, G. F. Somerville, Edw. Abbott, Thos. Sanders, Timothy Carew, Geo. Glasson, Saml. Kerswill, and Jno. Williams, Esqrs.

ALDERMEN.

Edw. St Aubyn. Uriah Row Wm Chapman. James Willing.
Robert Rundle Matthew Scott. Henry T. Smith J.W.W. Ryder.
John Beer, sen. Thos. Husband. John Beer, jun. Peter Best.

COUNCILLORS.

Morice Ward. John Symons. Clowance Ward. Frederick Row.
Thomas Rutter. Samuel Cram. James Halse. Richard B. Oram
W. Greenwood, jun. Wm. Richards. Joseph Arnold. Samuel Brooking.
Thomas W. Ryder.   Thomas Rundle.  
Joseph C. Gill. St John's Ward. Henry V. Harris. Stoke Ward.
Albert Smith. Cornelius Tripe. Saml. P. Jackson. John Williams.
Geo. Reuben Bush. Henry K Bamber. Alex. Haldane. Wm. Hole Evans.
St. Aubyn Ward. Edward Abbott. Tamar Ward. Timothy Carew.
M.W. Jeffrey, sen. John Little. Wm. O. Cox. Edward W. Foster
John C. Hancock. John Weary. Abm. Beard. Wm. Hancock.
Thos. H. Hawker. Robert Bridgeland. Rd. E. Knowling. T. W. Liscombe.

Town Clerk, Thomas Woollcombe. Esq.
Clerk of the Peace, George Henry Ellery Rundle, Esq.
Coroner and Clerk to the Magistrates, Allan Belfield Bone, Esq.
Treasurer, A.C. Bone 11 Sergeant-at-Mace, James Day.
Police Superintendent, Wm. Brockington.

The Municipal Borough comprises only the Parish of Stoke Damerel, but the PARLIAMENTARY BOROUGH includes also the Parish of East Stonehouse, and is one of the new boroughs created by the Reform Act of 1832. The number of parliamentary voters is about 2000, and their present representatives are Sir Jno. Romilly and Hy. Tuffnell, Esq.

CHURCHES, &c.-The Parish of Stoke Damerel comprises about 1810 acres of land, mostly belonging to the devisees of the late Sir John St. Aubyn, and let on liberal building leases, as noticed at page 696. It had 23,747 inhabitants in 1801, and 33,820 in 1841, and comprises the town of Devonport, and the handsome and populous suburbs of LOWER and HIGHER STOKE, on the north-east, and that of MORICE TOWN on the north, near the extensive Government Steam Yard. (See page 646.) These suburbs are only separated from Devonport by the lines of fortifications, and the government ground in front; and they comprise many streets, rows, fine terraces of neat houses and villas, as well as some large mansions, of more than ordinary architectural character. Higher Stoke occupies an elevated site, and both it and Lower Stoke have greatly increased in buildings and population during the last ten years. Many of the inhabitants in these pleasant adjoining suburbs are naval and military officers, on retired or half-pay, and others are retired merchants and tradesmen. Morice Town derived its name from the Morice family, who were formerly lords of the manor of Stoke, which at Domesday Survey belonged to the Damerels, and afterwards passed to the Courtenay, Wise, and Morice families. From the latter it passed to the St Aubyns, its present owners. The PARISH CHURCH is at Lower Stoke, near the Military Hospital, about three-quarters of a mile from Devonport. It is an ancient structure, which seems to have originally consisted only of one aisle, with a tower of handsome workmanship. The increase of population occasioned a second aisle to be erected in the early part of last century; and a third aisle was added about 1750. By these additions, what was at first the breadth has now become the length of the building. The interior is conveniently fitted up for a large congregation, and on the west side is a spacious gallery, furnished with an organ. On the walls are many neat monuments, and the churchyard is crowded with grave stones, &c., though it is very spacious, and was considerably enlarged about 30 years ago. The rectory, valued in K.B. at £18. 8s. 9d., is in the patronage of the Devisees of the late Sir John St. Aubyn, and incumbency of the Rev. W.J. St. Aubyn, who has a good residence. The tithes were commuted, in 1840, for £628 per annum. The advowson was granted by Charles II. to Sir Wm. Morice, from whom it passed to the St. Aubyns. ST. MICHAEL'S CHAPEL OF EASE stands near the junction of Stoke and Morice Town, at Navy row, and is a handsome structure, in the lancet Gothic style, erected in 1843, at the cost of £4000, raised by subscription. The stone was given by Government. The interior is neatly fitted up with 1200 sittings, many of which are free. The curacy is in the patronage of the Rector, and incumbency of the Rev. R. Gardner, M.A. St. James's in Morice Town is a new district church, now building at the west end of Navy row. The first stone was laid July 25th, 1849, and the building will cost about £6000, of which £4000 has been contributed by the Lords of the Admiralty, in consideration of a great number of sittings being free for the use of the numerous workmen employed in the Government Steam Yard, &c. It will consist of a nave, two aisles, and a porch, with a handsome tower and spire on the south side; and will be in the decorated pointed style, from designs by James Piers St. Aubyn, Esq., the architect. The perpetual curacy was established by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1846, and is in the patronage of the Crown and Bishop alternately, and in the incumbency of the Rev. W.B. Killpack, M.A. The following five churches are in Devonport, and the three last-named are district churches. ST. AUBYN CHAPEL, in Chapel street, is a large and handsome building, which was erected under the powers of an act of Parliament, in 1771, at the cost of £7000, raised by subscription. It forms an oblong square, and contains three aisles, with galleries at the sides and west end. The entrance is beneath a well-designed portico, above which rises an octagonal spire. The interior is neatly fitted up, and most of the pews are private property. The benefice is a perpetual curacy, valued at £117, in the patronage of the Rector of Stoke Damerel, and incumbency of the Rev. S. Rundle, M.A. ST. JOHN'S CHAPEL is a large fabric, in Duke street, and ranks as the second episcopal place of worship erected in Devonport. It was built under the authority of an act of Parliament, in 1779, at the cost of about £7700, raised by subscription. The tower, which is surmounted by a cupola on granite pillars, is heavy and disproportioned; but the neatness and elegance of the interior in a great measure compensate for these defects. It has about 1500 sittings, mostly private property. The ceiling, 90 feet long and 70 broad, is remarkable for its ingenious construction, being unsupported by a single pillar. The Rector of Stoke Damerel. is patron of the perpetual curacy, which is now held by the Rev. James Lampen, M.A. St. Paul's District Church is now building in Morice square, by subscription and grants, and will be smaller than St. James', but in the same style. The first stone was laid July 25th, 1849, and the building will have sittings for about 400 adults and 320 children. The perpetual curacy is in the alternate patronage of the Crown and Bishop, and the Rev. John Adams, M.A., was inducted as the first incumbent in 1846. St. Mary's District Church, now building by subscription and grants, in James street, will have about 800 sittings, and will be in the decorated pointed style, with a tower and spire, rising at the west end of the south aisle, to the height of 122 feet. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Crown and Bishop alternately, and now in the incumbency of the Rev. T.C. Childs, B.A. St. Stephen's District now occupies a licensed room in Clowance street, and is the fourth ecclesiastical district formed in the parish of Stoke Damerel in 1846, under the statute 6 and 7 Vic., cap. 37; and it is hoped that it will not be long without a church, since the pressing appeals which the Bishop and Clergy have lately made to the public in behalf of the "spiritual destitution of Devonport," have been so liberally answered in the other districts. St. Stephen's District has about 3000 inhabitants, half of whom are too poor to pay for church accommodation. The Crown and Bishop have the alternate patronage of the perpetual curacy, now enjoyed by the Rev. G.W. Proctor, M.A. There is a handsome Chapel in the Dock Yard, as noticed at pages 644-5. There are in Devonport and the rest of the parish of Stoke, seventeen DISSENTING CHAPELS, viz., four belonging to the Wesleyans, in Morice street, Monument street, Morice Town, and Higher Stoke; two to Independents, in Princess street and Mount street; three to Calvinists, in Ker street, Granby street, and South street; two to Baptists, in Morice square and Pembroke street; the Unitarian Chapel, in Granby street; the Moravian Chapel, in James street; Tabernacle Chapel, in Gloucester street; Providence Chapel, at Stoke; the Bible Christian Chapel, in King street; and Salem Chapel, in Navy row. Sunday Schools, and Bible, Tract, Missionary, and other Religious Institutions, are supported by the congregations of the churches and chapels.

Devonport Mechanics' Institute was established in 1825, and had so prospered in 1843, that it erected a handsome building in Duke street, at the cost of about £1400; to which it added a larger building in 1849, at the cost of nearly £2500. The twin buildings are in the Italian style, and comprise a lecture hall which will hold 1000 persons; a large subscription news room, a number of class rooms, a museum, and a library of more than 3000 volumes. The institution has about 800 members, and has weekly lectures during eight months of the year, and various evening classes. One of its late vice-presidents, Mr. John Thomas Towson, has lately rendered essential service to navigation by his "Tables to facilitate the practice of Great Circle Sailing," published by the Admiralty in 1848; and by the means he afterwards devised of applying these Tables to the computation of azimuths. These valuable tables are now extensively used by most maritime nations, and the use of them has been the means of greatly shortening the voyages to Australia, New Zealand, "c. The Public Library and News-room occupy a handsome building in Ker street, erected in 1823, in the Egyptian style, at the cost of about £1500. The library comprises more than 4000 volumes of useful and valuable works; and the news room in spacious and well supplied. The institution has a valuable mineralogical collection, presented by the late Sir John St. Aubyn, Bart. There is a news room at Mr. Colman's, in Fore street; and there are in the town several circulating libraries. Three weekly newspapers are published here. The Assembly Rooms are at the Royal Hotel, and the Theatre is a large plain building in Cumberland street. The Royal Clarence Sea Baths, on the pleasant beach, near Richmond walk, were established many years ago by Mr. R.O. Backwell, but now belong to Mr. Applin. Hot, cold, shower, vapour and swimming baths, and also improved machines on the beautiful beach, in front of Mount Edgcumbe, are always ready. There are in the town and suburbs several highly respectable and ably-conducted Boarding and Day Schools, one of which is the Classical and Mathematical school, formerly supported on the proprietary system, and now conducted by J.G. Jonas, B.A., Esq.

SCHOOLS AND CHARITIES :- The National Schools in St. John street were built in 1809, and are now attended by about 200 boys and 80 girls, the latter of whom are partly clothed. In various parts of the town and suburbs are several other public schools, supported by members of the established church; and others supported by dissenters; and in Cornwall street are Ragged and Evening Schools. Devonport United Mathematical and Commercial School was established in 1830, by the artizans of the Dock Yard, and its pupils pay from 3d. to 7½d. each per week. The Royal Naval and Military Free Schools, for the education of the children of seamen and soldiers, are in King street, and are in three department for boys, girls, and infants. They are liberally supported by subscription, under the patronage of Her Majesty, who is also patroness of the Royal British Female Orphan Asylum, which now occupies a large building, lately erected for its use, at Stoke, at the cost of £3200. This excellent charity was established in 1839, and is supported by subscriptions and donations, for the instruction and maintenance of about 60 female orphan children of sailors, soldiers, or poor civilians. It receives and expends annually upwards of £1000, part of which is received for the board of children sent by the subscribers to the Dock Yard Orphan Fund, established in 1848. Devonport and Stonehouse General Dispensary, and Institution for Diseases of the Eye and Ear, was established in 1815, when a building was erected for its use in Chapel St., at the cost of £800, of which £100 was the gift of Ann Spearing. It is supported by subscriptions, donations, and the gratuitous services of two physicians and six surgeons. Here is a Lying-in-Charity, a Benevolent Society, a Humane Institution, and various other charities for relieving the distressed poor. In 1834, Mr. R.T. Spearman left £12,000 to be applied, after the death of certain parties, in founding an Almshouse for poor women above the age of 60, and members of the established church. Four poor widows of shipwrights have the dividends of £600 three per cent. consols, left by J. Chambers, in 1787. The poor parishioners have 10s. yearly from Rawlin's Charity, and also the dividends of £555 three per cent. consols, purchased with £500 left by John Williams, for a distribution of food and clothing at Christmas. In 1829 Mr. T. Crapp left £5000 to be vested in trust after, the death of certain persons, (some of whom are still living,) for the following uses, viz., the interest of £4000 to be divided yearly among six poor men and six poor women; the interest of £500 to be applied in aid of the Lancasterian School; and the interest of the other £500 to be applied at the discretion of the trustees. The Military Hospital, at Stoke, is noticed at page 648.

The UNION SAVINGS' BANK was established in 1818, and now occupies a handsome building in Chapel street. It is under the patronage of the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, and in November, 1849, had a surplus fund of £9345, and deposits amounting to £372,811, belonging to 11,601 depositors. It has also invested about £74,000 in the purchase of government life annuities. The Royal Naval Savings' Bank has about £40,700 belonging to 1048 depositors, 7 Charitable Societies, and 3 Friendly Societies. It is held in a large and elegant building in Ker street, belonging to the Royal Naval Annuitant Society, which was established in 1823, and has branches in Portsmouth, London, and Bath. Since its establishment this annuitant society has received £277,000, and has paid in annuities £118,740. Capt. G.F. Somerville is the actuary. There is a Savings' Bank in the Dock Yard, of which Mr. R. Scott is the actuary; and at 39, St. Aubyn st., is a Branch of the Western Provident Association, (noticed at page 119) of which Mr. W.R.D. Gilbert is secretary. Here are also two Investment and Building Societies; two Lodges of Freemasons; several Friendly Societies, &c.; and in Fore street is a Temperance Hall, erected in 1849.

The WORKHOUSE for the parish of Stoke Damerel, which includes Devonport, is under the control of the Commissioners of the local act of Parliament, as noticed at page 698. It is an old building, in the centre of the town, and has been enlarged at various periods; but being very inconvenient and too small for the present wants of the parish, it is about to give place to a commodious New Workhouse, now building on the Saltash road, nearly two miles from the town. This building will have room for 500 paupers; and attached to it will be a Lunatic Asylum, large enough for 35 inmates. There have been as many as 470 paupers crowded in the old workhouse. The expenditure of the parish for the maintenance of the poor was £10,358 in 1838, and £9841 in 1848. The Commissioners are numerous, as already stated, and Mr. John Beer, jun. is their clerk; Mr. James, and Mrs. Lancaster, are governor and matron of the Workhouse; James Babb, assistant overseer; James Lancaster, jun., relieving officer; and Miss A. C. Bone treasurer. Many of the inhabitants have recently petitioned to have the parish placed under the provisions of the New Poor Law. Mr. J. Elms is superintendent registrar; and W. Stonelake and J.T. Towson are registrars of marriages. The registrars of births and deaths are Messrs. J.T. Towson, F. Pascoe, J. Gedye, J. Bath, and W.M. Rickard.

Brian Randell, 23 Aug 1998