"TOPSHAM (ST. MARGARET), a market-town and parish, in the union of ST. THOMAS, hundred of WONFORD, Wonford and S. divisions of DEVON, 3½ miles (S. E.) from Exeter, and 170 (W. S. W.) from London; containing 3733 inhabitants. . . This town, situated just above the influx of the river Clyst into the Exe, and about 6 miles from the sea, is so celebrated for the salubrity of its air that it is reported to have lost only one person when the plague was raging at Exeter and in the vicinity, in the reign of Charles II.; and during the desolation produced in the neighbourhood by the cholera, in 1832, it entirely escaped the contagion. The place is lighted with gas; and on the strand are some neat residences, fronted with gardens, extending to the water's edge, the view being justly admired for its variety and extent. . . The foreign TRADE was formerly very great, but has gradually fallen away, and at the present time its vessels are chiefly emploved in the coasting trade; in the time of William III., the number engaged in the Newfoundland fishery exceeded that of any port in the kingdom, with the exception of London, but these vessels were mostly taken in the American revolutionary war, and the little trade that remained was transferred to Teignmouth. . . Ship-building is carried on extensively; chain-cables, anchors, ropes, twine, and sacking, are manufactured; a large paper-manufactory is in operation, and there is a considerable trade in coal and timber. In 1275, an annual fair for three days was granted to the inhabitants, and, together with a market on Saturdays, confirmed to them by Edward I.; the market is still held on Saturday, and there is a small fair on the Thursday after the 20th of July." [From Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of England (1844)]
A parish in Wonford Hundred, a Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter. Countess Wear is a modern parish (1844).