"BIGBURY, a small village on the west side of the Aven valley, about 1½; miles from Bigbury Bay, and 3½ miles S. of Modbury, has in its parish 652 souls, and 2302A. 2R. 29P. of land. It includes many scattered houses, and a hamlet called St. Ann's Chapel. The manor was held for nine generations by a family of its own name, and afterwards passed to the Champernownes, Willoughbys, and Pawlets. It now belongs to the Duke of Cleveland and the Countess Dowager of Sandwich, who are also patrons of the rectory, but part of the parish belongs to W.L. Prettejohn and several smaller owners. The rectory, valued in K.B. at £28. 7s. 11d., and in 1831 at £688, is in the incumbency of the Rev. Terence Livingston, who has 99A. 2R. 39P. of glebe. . . . The Church (St. Lawrence,) is an ancient structure, in the perpendicular style, with a tower containing five bells, and crowned by a spire. Its pulpit was formerly in Ashburton church and is finely carved. Here is a small Baptist Chapel. . . ." [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)]

A parish in Ermington Hundred, the Archdeaconry of Totnes and the Diocese of Exeter. Regarded as part of the South Hams area.



Name index to the 1841 census, from the Parishes of the South Hams website.


Church History

St Lawrence's Church Bigbury, by Graham Naylor.

A short history of St. Lawrence Church, Bigbury. [Bigbury?]: [The Church?] [1933?] 4p. [Westcountry Studies Library - p726.5/BIG/SHO]

Some notes and dates of interest in the long history of the church and parish of Bigbury. [Bigbury?]: [The Church?] [1970?] 4p. [Westcountry Studies Library - p726.5/BIG/SHO]


Church Records

Parish Registers going back to 1678 are held in the Devon Record Office.

The Devon FHS publishes indexes covering (as of June 2004): Baptisms 1813-1839, 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 Bigbury Baptisms, marriages and burials: 1678-1783, Baptisms and burials: 1783-1812, Baptisms: 1813-1861, Baptisms: 1861-1913, Marriages and Banns: 1755-1812, Marriages: 1813-1837, Marriages: 1838-1905, Marriages: 1906-1915, Banns: 1892-1915, Burials: 1813-1896.

Transcripts of Baptisms 1691-1812, Baptisms 1813-1849, Marriages 1679-1753, Marriages & banns 1754-1812, Marriages 1813-1837, Burials 1691-1753, Burials 1754-1812, and Burials 1813-1837, from the Parishes of the South Hams website.

Granville, Roger & Mugford, W.E. (eds.) Bigbury, 1613-1627. 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]

Deanery of Woodleigh Baptisms 1813-1839, Marriages 1754-1837 and Burials 1813-1988 - CD-ROM, Exeter, Devon FHS (2006). [Index of Aveton Gifford: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Bigbury: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837, Burials 1813-1837), Buckland-Tout-Saints: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1818-1822), Burials (1813-1988), Charleton: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1780-1812), Chivelstone: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1800-1837), Churchstow: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1848), Dodbrooke: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), East Allington: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), East Portlemouth: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Kingsbridge: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Kingsbridge Ind.: Burials (1793-1897), Loddiswell: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Malborough: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Moreleigh: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Ringmore: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1764-1814), Salcombe: Baptisms (1813-1839), Sherford: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1800-1837), Slapton: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), South Huish: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1856), South Milton: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1838), South Pool: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1838), Stokenham: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Stokenham Ind.: Burials (1795-1836), Thurlstone: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1838), West Alvington: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Woodleigh: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837)]


Description & Travel

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

Barber, Chips and Judy Chard. Burgh Island and Bigbury Bay. Exeter: Obelisk Publications (1993) 32p: ill, (some col) map. [ISBN 09466512566]

Barber, Chips. Around & About Burgh Island and Bigbury on Sea. Pinhoe, Exeter: Obelisk Publications. [ISBN 1899073655].

Breeze, A.D. Visitors' guide to Bigbury-on-Sea, (1913). [Westcountry Studies Library: Plymouth]

Lockley, E.M.G. Hope Cove. Devon Life vol. 2 no. 21, (1966) p.36; ill.

The story of Bigbury Bay. Plymouth: Westway [1983?] 24p: ill. [Westcountry Studies Library - pxB/BIG/0001/STO]

You can see pictures of Bigbury which are provided by:



Transcription of the entry in White's Devonshire Directory (1850) by Terry Partridge.

Transcription provided by Val Henderson of the entry (description and names) in Morris and Co's Commercial Directory and Gazetteer of Devonshire 1870.



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



The South Hams Genealogical Information Resource website offers lookups in their records concerning this parish.

Sullock, Jason. People of the South Hams Part 1 - Bigbury, [J.D.C. Sullock], jason.sullock[at]gmail[dot]com (2006?). ["Contains about 2000 names, full of facts about people of Bigbury from 1066 to 1942."] [Devon FHS Library]

Sullock, Jason. Devon Village History - Bigbury, Bigbury-on-Sea & Burgh Island, Lulu.com (2010) 148pp. [ISBN 978-1-4457-8464-9] ["The Village of Bigbury, from 1066 to 1942, with over 2,500 family names included, many with tax, land or militia status. All entries referenced wherever possible to allow family and local historians to further explore the historical records."] [Surnames]

Pearse, David. The Family of Pearse of Bigbury, Devon Family Historian, vol. 146, (2013) pp.20-21.



Barber, Chips and Chard, July. Burgh Island & Bigbury Bay of Yesteryear. Obelisk Publications (2009) 32 p. [ISBN-13:978-0946651252]

The Story of Bigbury Bay: An account of its coastline, smuggling, fishing, shipwrecks, and general places of interest. (1971) [Plymouth Central Library]


Land & Property

Spreadsheet transcription of the Tithe Apportionments.

Sullock, Jason, (Ed.). Farms of the South Hams, Part 1: Bigbury, Churchstow, Ringmore, Malborough, Stockton, [J.D.C. Sullock] [1992] 5 leaves. [Westcountry Studies Library px631/SOU/FAR]



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

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SX667466 (Lat/Lon: 50.304243, -3.873185), Bigbury which are provided by:


Merchant Marine

Shipwreck in Bigbury Bay - from the 'Right to Remain Silent' Quarter Sessions cataloguing project blog.

Clamp, Arthur L. Shipwrecks around Bigbury Bay, Plymouth, A.L.Clamp (1986) 16p: ill; [Westcountry Studies Library px623.8885/BIG/CLA]

Eliot, Edmund A.S. An original article on the pilchard fishery at Borrough Island by Colonel Montagu a hundred years ago, Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 35, (1903) pp.430-433.


Military History

Sullock, J.D.C. Militia of the South Hams - Part One: Bigbury, Ringmore, and Thurlestone (1677-1715). J.D.C. Sullock, Stockton, Cleveland (n.d.) 9p.

Sullock, J.D.C. Militia of the South Hams - Part Two: Ashprington, Portlemouth, Chivelstone, Thurlestone, Ugborough, Modbury, Aveton Giffard, Harford, Kingston, Holbeton, Ermington, Ringmore and Bigbury.(1569AD). J.D.C. Sullock, Stockton, Cleveland (n.d.) 9p.


Names, Personal

Bigbury contributors to a 1678 brief for the rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral.


Probate Records

Williams, H. Fulford. Will of John Cole, 1532. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries 29, (1962-64) pp.69-70. [Rector of Bigbury.]



Waterhouse, G. (ed.) Modbury Schools Looking Back, Including the History of Bigbury, Brownston, Kingston and Ringmore Scools, 1881-1981. [Modbury]: {Devon County Council?] (1891). [Raymond: Includes various lists of names, and many personal remiinscences.]



The Bigbury History Society has an archive that includes documents, personal recollections and photographs covering the people and landscape/buildings of Bigbury, together with census data 1841 - 1891, local Poor Law Books, Parish Rate Books, Clergy and Church records, Parish Tithe Map and Apportionment, and Manor of Bigbury papers. This archive is held by Roger Grimley, who welcomes queries from researchers.