"AXMINSTER is a small ancient market town upon a pleasant acclivity on the south-eastern side of the river Axe, near the borders of Dorsetshire, 5 miles N.W. of Lyme Regis, 9 miles E. by S. of Honiton, 25 miles E. by N. of Exeter, and 147 W.S.W. of London. Its parish contains 2860 inhabitants, and 7637A. 2R. 29P. of land, generally fertile, and divided into ten tithings, of which the following are the names and their population in 1841: - Abbey, 76; Beerhall, 30; Shapwick, 26; Smallridge, 207; Axminster Town, 2139; Trill, 39; Uphay, 57; West-Water, 127; Weycroft, 56; and Wyke or Week, 103. . . . Axminster had formerly a share of the clothing trade, and, in 1755, the late Mr. Thomas Whitty, established here a manufactory of carpets, which was discontinued in 1835. . . . The manor of Axminster was part of the royal demesne until King John gave it to Lord Briwer or Brewer. . . . The manor is in dispute, but the soil belongs to many proprietors, the largest of whom are W. Gregson, H. Bilke, H. Knight, R. Mallock, J. Davidson, and W. Tucker, Esqrs.; Miss Shiles, and the representatives of the late W. Knight, Esq. . . . The Church (St. Mary,) is a large and venerable structure, displaying several kinds of architecture, with a massive tower arising from the centre. . . . The vicarage, with the curacies of Kilmington and Membury attached to it, valued in K.B. at £44. 6s. 8d., and in 1831 at £1042, is . . . now held by the Rev. Wm. J. Coneybeare, M.A. . . . Here is an Independent Chapel, built in 1826, in lieu of the old Presbyterian Meeting House, founded in 1698. Here is also a Wesleyan Chapel, built in 1798, and Roman Catholic Chapel, erected in 1830. . . ." [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)]. 

A parish in Axminster Hundred, the Archdeaconry and the Diocese of Exeter. A small part of Axminster is included in the modern parish of Chardstock All Saints.


Archives & Libraries

Information about the Axminster Museum can be found at the Devon Museums web-site.

Anon. Axminster Heritage Centre, Devon Family Historian, vol. 182, (2022) p.40.



Dutfield, Harry. Dutfield, Harry. The very abbreviated life story of Harry Dutfield, carpet manufacturer and fisherman, 1908-19??, [Axminster], [H. Dutfield] (1984) 40p. [Westcountry Studies Library: p920/DUT]

Editors. James Bridge Davidson [1824-1885], Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, vol. 2, no. 5, (1903) pp.129, plates: port.

Harpley, Rev. W. James Bridge Davidson.M.A., F.S.A. [Obituary] Trans. Devon. Assoc., 1886, Vol XVIII, p. 58-60. [Transcript]

Jones, Winslow. The author of the "Worthies of Devon" and the Prince family, Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 25, (1893) pp.416-430. [John Prince (1643-1723)] [Index]

Reynolds, Thomas. A sermon preach'd on the death of the Reverend Mr. John Ashwood, with an account of his life and character, London, J. Philips (1707) xvi, 3-178, [2] pp. [Westcountry Studies Library: s920/ASH]

Wilkin, W.H. Some Axminster worthies - Part 1, Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 65, (1933) pp.406-424.

Wilkin, W.H. Some Axminster worthies - Part 2, Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 66, (1934) pp.235-252.



MIs for this parish are included in the Devon FHS and Incledon indexes - see under Cemeteries on the main Devon page.

Matthews, A.W. Ye Old Mortality. vol. 8 (1909) pp. 868-893. [MS, Society of Genealogists]

Pulman, George P.R. The Book of the Axe: containing a Piscatorial Description of that stream, and a history of all the Parishes and remarkable spots upon its banks.]. (London, 1875.) [Index to Devon MIs] [Full text]

Pulman, George P.R. The Book of the Axe. Bath: Kingsmead Reprints (1969) pp. 868-893. (Reprint of 3rd edition, 1875.) [Lookups]

Pulman, George P.R. The Book of the Axe. CD-ROM, Historical Aspects, 23 Palmar Crescent, Bexleyheath, Kent DA7 4LQ (2004). (Reprint of 3rd edition, 1875.) [Lookups]



An 1821 census enumeration for this parish is held by the Devon Record Office giving the names of the heads of households, and the ages of the members - here is a transcription by Maurice Larcombe.

1851 Census for Lyme (DOR), Axminster and Charmouth (DOR) - HO1071862 (part 1, part 2part 3, part 4, part 5, and part 6) transcribed by John Ridout. (7.8Mbytes)


Church History

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

Allan, J.P. Newenham Abbey, Axminster, Proc. Devon Archaeol. Soc., vol. 39, (1981) pp.159-171: ill, maps, plans.

Davidson, James. The history of Newenham Abbey in the county of Devon, London, Longman & Co. (1843) vi, 250p, plates: ill. [Westcountry Studies Library: s271.2/AXM/DAV] [Index]

Davidson, James. The history of Axminster Church in the county of Devon. Exeter, W.C. Pollard, North Street, 1835, pp. 96, [1 v.] 1 plate. [Index]

Davidson, James. The history of Axminster Church in the county of Devon. With an additional chapter bringing the work up to. 1895. Axminister: Snell, 1895, [1 v.] 2 plates.

Howard, Ken (ed.). The Axminster Ecclesiastica 1600-1698. (1876) [ISBN 0904731030] [Devon FHS Library - 942.35/AXE]

Mistletoe. Killed by a bell in the church of Axminster [1664], Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, vol. 5, no. 4, (1908) pp.122-123.

Rowe, J. Brooking. The Cistercian House of Devon. IV. Newenham and V. Dunkeswell, Reprinted from the Transactions of the Devonshire Association (1877-1878).

Rowe, J. Brooking. The Cistercian House of Devon. IV. Newenham, Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 9, (1877), pp. 361-379. [Index]

Wilkin, W.H. Notes on Axminster Church and the Vicars since 1602. Axminster: The Church [c1932]

Wyatt, F.B. A Brief history of the Church of Christ of the Congregational Order in Axminster 1660-1907 A.D., Axminster, Edwin Snell (printer) (1907) 15p: ill. [Westcountry Studies Library: 285.8/AXM/WYA]

A Short History of Axminster Parish Church (nd). [SOG DE tracts box]


Church Records

Parish Registers going back to 1559 are held in the Devon Record Office.

Transcripts of the Parish Registers going back to 1598, and of the Bishops' Transcripts going back to 1606, are held in a special collection in the Westcountry Studies Library.

The Devon FHS publishes indexes covering (as of June 2004): Baptisms 1813-1840, Marriages 1754-1837, Burials 1813-1837 - for details see their Devon Parish 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 Axminster Baptisms and Burials: 1559-1580, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials: 1648-1707, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials: 1707-1724, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials: 1724-1743, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials: 1742-1776, Baptisms and Burials: 1776-1812, Baptisms: 1813-1834, Baptisms: 1834-1845, Baptisms: 1845-1871, Baptisms: 1871-1905, Marriages and Banns: 1754-1787, Marriages: 1787-1812, Marriages: 1813-1837, Marriages: 1837-1876, Marriages: 1876-1915, Banns: 1823-1846, Banns: 1846-1870, Banns: 1870-1910, Burials: 1813-1846, Burials: 1846-1889.

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

  • Hilary House, later St Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Lyme Road: Registers for 1829+ (C), 1833+ (M), 1830+ (Confirmations) with Incumbent
  • Congregational Chapel, Wykecroft and Chard Street: Registers for 1809-1837 (ZC) in PRO RG 4/511, 841
  • Wesleyan Chapel, Castle Street and Back Lane: Registers for 1786-1837 (C) in PRO RG 4/512 and with Holsworthy (PRO RG 4/1210)

Entered into the IGI (as of Jan 1993): Parish Church Christenings 1598-1812, and Marriages 1559-1812, (entries based in part on Bishops' transcripts), Chard Street Independent Chapel Christenings 1788-1837, Wesleyan Chapel Christenings 1809-1837.

Cornish, R. Axminster parish registers: baptisms, marriages, burials 1598-1812. Indexed Transcript, 2 vols. (1890) [LDS film of typescript at Exeter City Library (now WCSL?) Film 916807].

Cornish, R. Axminster Churchwardens' Accounts. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, vol. 16 (1931) pp. 283-288, 302-304, 330-336, 380-384.

Granville, Roger & Mugford, W.E. (eds.) Axminster, 1606-1636. Abstracts of the Existing Transcripts of the Lost Parish-Registers of Devon, 1596-1644, and short notes on the extant pre-reformation registers of all the parishes in the county, from particulars furnished by the several incumbents thereof. Vol. 1 A-Bra. Exeter: W. Pollard (1908). [Full text]

Sweetland, Carol. Historian Challenge 160 - Do You Have What It Takes, Devon Family Historian, vol. 161, (2017) pp.14-15. [Decipherment of page 3 of PRs Axminster Baptisms, Marriages and Burials 1648-1707.]

Axminster Marriage Notice Book - 1838-1856, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D057). [Foreword]

Axminster Marriage Notice Book - 1857-1865, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D058). [Foreword]

Axminster Marriage Notice Book - 1866-1876, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D059). [Foreword]

The Deanery of Honiton: CD-ROM CD041, Exeter, Devon FHS (2013). [Axminster Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Axmouth Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1603-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Chardstock Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Colyton Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1538-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Combpyne Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1757-1836, Bur: 1796-1847; Cotleigh Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Dalwood Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Farway Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1800-1837; Gittisham Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1838, Bur: 1800-1837; Hawkchurch Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1838; Honiton Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Honiton Ind, Bur: 1774-1837; Kilmington Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Membury Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Monkton Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1814-1842; Musbury Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Northleigh Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1756-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Offwell Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1800-1837; Seaton & Beer Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1839, Bur: 1813-1837; Shute Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Southleigh Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1756-1837, Bur: 1800-1837; Stockland Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1640-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Thorncombe Bapt: 1813-1837, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1841; Uplyme Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1838, Bur: 1813-1837; Wambrook Bapt: 1813-1904, Mar: 1754-1836; Widworthy Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1954, Bur: 1790-1837.]

Axminster Baptisms Register 1871-1905, Devon Family Historian, vol. 172, (2019) p.38.[Sample, showing 29 baptisms on 5 Jan 1877]


Civil Registration

Sweetland, Carol. Lost Birth Registrations, Devon Family Historian, vol. 161, (2017) pp.41.


Court Records

Peskett, Hugh. Heresy in Axminster 1535, Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, vol. 33, no. 3, (1974) pp.68-70. [Lawsuit concerning Richard Worth, Surgeon]

Wigfield, W. MacDonald. Azariah Pinney, yeoman, of Axminster, Devon Historian, vol. 29, (1984) pp.17-21. [Trial of rebel in 1685]

Williams, H. Fulford. Three Devon examples of the law of deodand [1662-1788], Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 65, (1961) pp.329-333. [Animals & objects causing harm were forfeit to the crown to 1846]

Register of Freeholders - Axminster, Bampton & Black Torrington c1816, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D125). [Foreword]


Description & Travel

Section on Axminster (& Westwater & Wyke) from Samuel Lewis: A Topographical Dictionary of England (1831), provided by Mel Lockie.

Edwards, Rev Z.J. The Ferns of the Axe and its Tributaries. With an account of the Flower Lobella Urens, found wild near Axminster, and nowhere else in Great Britain. London: Adams and Co. (1862). illus., 131 pp. [Index]

Robertson, L.M. (comp.). Axminster, "The gateway to Devon", Yeovil, Edwin Snell & Sons (1947) 44 pp. [Westcountry Studies Library: pB/AXM 3/1947/ROB]

Axminster and district official guide, Bristol, Regional Publns. (1981) 88p: ill, maps. [Westcountry Studies Library: pB/AXM 3/1981/AXM]

You can see pictures of Axminster which are provided by:



Transcript of descriptive text in White's Devonshire Directory of 1850.



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.

Cima, B.M. The Knights of Cannington and Axminster. English Catholic Ancestor Journal 2 (2), 1986, pp. 35-37. [Includes pedigree, 17-20th c.]

Wendy, Morgan. Did my Farrance family come from Devon, Devon Family Historian, vol. 159, (2016) p.9. [Farrance/Farrant]

Skinner, A.J.P. Chichester Tomkins, Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 10, 1918-19, pp. 148-50. [Raymond: 18th c., includes will of Thomas Tomkins, 1688.]

Wykes-Finch, Rev. W. The Ancient Family of Wyke of North Wyke, Co. Devon, Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 35, (1903) pp.360-425. [Transcription]



Berry, Les and Gosling, Gerald. The Book of Axminster: Portrait of a Devon Market Town, Halsgrove (2003) 160p [ISBN: 1841142301] [Index]

Berry, Les and Gosling, Gerald. Around Axminster in old photographs, Stroud, Alan Sutton (1993) 128p: chiefly ill. [ISBN: 0750905492] [Westcountry Studies Library: sB/AXM 3/1880/BER]

Chapman, G.M. Charles II in two places at once, Devon Historian, vol. 34, (1987) pp.23-25. [Royal visit in 1671]

Chapman, Geoffrey. A History of Axminster to 1910, Wilmington, Marwood Publs (1998) x, 182p: ill, maps. [ISBN: 0952914921] [Westcountry Studies Library: sB/AXM/0001/CHA]

Davison, James. Axminster during the Civil War in the Seventeenth Century. (1851) [Westcountry Studies Library, Torquay Central Library]

Dudley, Angela M.W. The book of Axminster: the making of a town within its landscape. Buckingham: Barracuda (1988) 160p: ill, maps. [ISBN 0860232603]

Gosling, Ted. Seaton, Axminster & Lyme Regis in Old Photographs. Sutton (1992). [Index]

Hine, J. The origin of Axminster carpets, Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 21, (1889) pp. 331-337. [Index]

Hutchinson, P.O. The site of Moridunum, Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 14, (1882) pp. [Index]

Jacobs, Bertram. Axminster carpets (hand-made) 1755-1957, Leigh-on-sea, F. Lewis (1970) 80p. [ISBN: 085317202] [Westcountry Studies Library: x677.643/AXM/JAC]

Knapman. David. Unsteady Progress: A history of Axminster from 1701 to 2000. Axminster Heritage Centre (220) 480pp. [ISBN 1916376606]

Marshall, Robert. On the carpet. Devon Life vol. 10 no. 79 (1973) pp.26-27; ill. [Carpet manufacture, 1755-1972]

Porter, Stephen. The destruction of Axminster in 1644, Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, vol. 35, no. 7, (1985) pp.243-246.

Reichel, Rev. Oswald. The Hundreds of Axminster and Axmouth in Early Times. The Devonshire Association. Extra Volume. Exeter: (1931) 53pp.

Sutton, C.M. Axminster Hospital 1886-1986, [Axminster?], [C.M. Sutton?] (1986) 31p: ill. [Westcountry Studies Library: p362.11/AXM/SUT]

Watts, H.C. Axminster Past and Present. (1902) [Westcountry Studies Library, Torquay Central Library]

Wilkin, W.H. Axminster notes, Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 67, (1935) pp.299-314.

Wilkin, W.H. Axminster notes (Part 2), Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 68, (1936) pp.359-379.

Wilkin, Walter Harold. Pamphlets from Pulman's Weekly news. (1933-1935) 120 pp. [Westcountry Studies Library: B/AXM 3/0001/WIL] [A bound collection of articles about Axminster & area]

Gems of the Axe valley and places near Axminster: a collection of permanent photographs with descriptive sketch, Axminster, Edwin Snell (1905). [Westcountry Studies Library: pxB/AXE/1905/GEM]


Land & Property

Transcriptions of a Bond of Indemnity re Hannah Dight (1785), an Indenture Tripartite, Chas Bull & Francis Dight to Saml. Gundry 1775, and an Indenture - J B Coles & T E Clarke to S Gundry 1827 provided by Elizabeth Howard.

Davidson, James (transcr.). Newenham Abbey [cartulary], Manuscript transcript (1827). [Westcountry Studies Library: s255.12/AXM/NEW]

Elliot, John. Homes and gardens - Shute Barton, Axminster [1292-1972], Devon Life, vol. 9, no. 75, (1972) pp.14-16; ill.

W., A.R. Ash House - birth place of John Churchill, Duke of Malborough, Devon Life, vol. 2, no. 23, (1966) pp.30-31; ill.



Dyson, Watson. The Chatton Estate Axminster, Devon and the families associated with it. (1973) 55p. [Westcountry Studies Library]



Map of the area from OldeMaps (circa 1950).

View a map of the boundaries of this town/parish.

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SY296984 (Lat/Lon: 50.780884, -2.999935), Axminster which are provided by:


Military History

Doe, George M. American prisoners of war at Ashburton [1814], Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, vol. 2, no. 5, (1903) pp.129-130. [American freemasons - Names and lodges cited.]

Prideaux, W. de Courcy. John Prince, constable of the hundred of Axminster, Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, vol. 5, no. 3, (1908) pp.73-76. [Prince's account for despatch of militia warrants by footpost, 1663.]

Prince, John. The account of John Prince, one of the constables of the hundred of Axminster for thirty originall warrants ... militia ... 1660-1663, Manuscript [1900?] 7 pp. [Westcountry Studies Library sx355.37/AXM/PRI]


Names, Personal

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

Listings of Private Residents and Commercial entries transcribed from the Aminster section of Kelly's Devon 1893 Directory by Jonathan Frayne.


Poor Houses, Poor Law

Axminster Poor Law Union, from the Workhouse website.


Probate Records

Will of Thomas Cooper (1832), trascribed by Teresa Lang.

Wills of Henry Sumption (1762), William Guise (1772), Henry Anning (1774), and Uriah Follett (1847) provided by Ros Dunning.



Edmonds, J.M. Patronage and privilege in education: a Devon boy goes to school, 1798, Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 110, (1978) pp.95-111. [William Buckland.]



Hemp and Flax Bounty papers (1785-1790), transcribed by Brian Brassett.

Hoskins, W.G. Axminster hundred: 16 Henry VIII: P.R.O Lay subsidy, E.179.96/152, Typescript (1936). [D&CRS Library, Exeter: P1524]