Brixham St Mary


"BRIXHAM, a flourishing market town, sea-port, and extensive fishing station, is delightfully situated on the southern projecting point of Torbay, and is in two parts, called Upper and Lower Brixham; the former of which extends in a long straggling street, more than 1½ mile south of Lower Brixham, or Brixham Quay, and most of it, (with the parish church,) is in a picturesque valley, opening to the Quay, and bounded on the east by the lofty sea cliffs, and Berryhead, - the most eastern part of the bay. . . . The Parish Church (Virgin Mary,) at Upper Brixham, is a large and ancient structure, in the perpendicular style, with a lofty embattled tower, containing six bells and a clock . . . . The vicarage, valued in K.B. at £25. 15s., and in 1831 at £494, with the curacy of Churston-Ferrers annexed to it, is in the patronage of the Lord Chancellor, and incumbency of the Rev. Robt. Holdsworth, M.A., who has held the living since 1809. . . ." [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)]

The ancient parish for the seaport town of Brixham, in Haytor Hundred, the Archdeaconry of Totnes and the Diocese of Exeter. The parish of All Saints was divided off from it in 1828. Brixham St Peter is a modern parish (1909).


Archives & Libraries

Brixham Heritage Museum web-site.



Pike, J.R. Brixham, Torbay: A bibliographical guide. (1973) [Devon & Exeter Inst., Exeter University Library, Plymouth Central Library, Torquay Central Library]



Hawkins, Anne. Nathaniel Thomas France and the Nore Mutiny, Devon Family Historian, vol. 155, (2015) pp.29-32.

Skinner, B.G. Henry Francis Lyte, Brixham's Poet and Priest, Exeter, (1974) x + 164 pp.



St Mary's Churchyard Memorial Inscriptions, produced by the ‘Cow Town’ St. Mary’s Higher Brixham 1850 -1900 Project.

Whitmore, J.B. Devonshire Monumental Inscriptions, MS at Society of Genealogists (1951). [Extracts]

[Monumental Inscriptions (church)], Gent. Mag., vol. II, (1830) pp.114-115.


Church History

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


Church Records

Transcripts of the Parish Registers going back to 1556 are held in a special collection in the Westcountry Studies Library - for details see Parish Registers in the Devon & Cornwall Record Society's Collection (archived copy).

Transcriptions of the Parish registers by Judith Smith and Marie Simkus, provided by the Brixham Heritage Museum:

Baptisms 1575-1631
Baptisms 1587-1646
Baptisms 1651-1698
Baptisms 1698-1739
Baptisms 1739-1765
Marriage Banns 1653-1662
Marriages 1556-1631
Marriages 1631-1646
Marriages 1653-1669
Marriages 1699-1742
Burials 1560-1631
Burials 1631-1647
Burials 1654-1697
Burials 1698-1738
Burials in Wool 1692-1730

The Devon FHS publishes indexes covering (as of June 2022): Marriages 1754-1837, Burials 1813-1837 and much else - for details see their book list.

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

  • Brixham Wesleyan Circuit: Registers for 1811-37 (C) in PRO RG 4/842; 1838-1933 (C) at DRO

Entered into the IGI (as of Jan 1993): Parish Church Christenings 1653-1705, 1693-1786, 1787-1837, Marriages 1556-1837, (entries based in part on Bishops' Transcripts); Wesleyan Chapel Christenings 1811-1837.

Harris, S.G. Churston Ferrers and Brixham records of briefs, 1722 - 1827, and 1706 - 1766. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 26, (1894) pp.230-236. [Church briefs] [Index]

Deanery of Ipplepen: Photographs of the churches and extracts from White's Devonshire Directory 1850. CD - Devon FHS (2012). [An index of baptisms, marriages and burials in the parishes of: Abbotskerswell Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1756-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Berry Pomeroy Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Brixham All Saints Baptisms (1826-1839), Marriages (1826-1837), Burials (1831-1832); Brixham St Mary Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Broadhempston Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1681-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Churston Ferrers Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1835), Burials (1800-1837); Cockington Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1780-1834); Coffinswell Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1857); Denbury Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1800-1837); Ipplepen Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1754-1843), Burials (1813-1837); Kingskerswell Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Kingswear Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1755-1837), Burials (1780-1837); Littlehempston Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1731-1837), Burials (1813-1840); Marldon Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Paignton Baptisms (1813-1841), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Paignton Independent Burials (1826-1836); Staverton Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Stoke Gabriel Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Torbryan Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1838), Burials (1813-1854); Tormohun Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Torquay St Marychurch Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837); Wolborough Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1754-1839), Burials (1813-1837); Woodland Baptisms (1813-1840), Marriages (1755-1835), Burials (1813-1838).]


Description & Travel

Virtual Tour of Brixham - from Halien.

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

Barber, Chips. Brixham. Pinhoe, Exeter: Obelisk Publications. [ISBN 0946651604].

Evans, John, AM. (1799). An excursion into the West of England during the month of July 1799. In Four Letters to a Friend, Letter II, The Monthly Visitor and Entertaining Pocket Companion, Vol. 8, London: H D Symonds, pp. 140-157. [Index]

Gosling, Ted and Marshall, Lyn. Brixham (The Archive Photographs Series), Chalford Publishing Company (1996) 128 pp. [ISBN 0 7524 0144 0]

Poulton-Smith, Anthony. The English Riviera: Paignton, Brixham & Torquay Through Time. Amberley Publishing (2012) 96pp. [ISBN-10: 1445609479]

Brixham. Devon Life vol. 10 no. 88 (1973) pp.28-29; ill.

You can see pictures of Brixham St Mary which are provided by:



Transcript of entry for Brixham in White's Devonshire Directory of 1850.

Scanned images of the text of the entry for Brixham in Morris and Co's Commercial Directory and Gazetteer of Devon (1870), provided by Val Henderson.

Torbay Household and Business Directory. Torquay: Torquay Times (1910-11).



The transcription of the section for Brixham 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.

Hopkins, Glenda. The life and times of Captain Edward Snell, master mariner of Brixham, Devon 1825-1882. Brentwood: the author, 1955. [Raymond: Includes pedigree, 19-20th c.]

Hopkins, Glenda. The life and times of Captain Edwin Snell, master mariner of Brixham 1825-1882: a short family history. Hutton Mount: The Author. (1995) ii, 6, lviip: ill, ports. [Includes pedigree, 19-20th c.] [Westcountry Studies Library - px929.2/SNE]

A history of the Varwells of Brixham, Family History 7, 1973, pp. 9-13.

Upton: extracts from parish registers, Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica 2nd series 3, 1890, pp. 197-202 & 221-26. [Raymond: From registers of Brixham, Newton Ferrers, et al; also monumental inscriptions from Brixham.]



Barber, Chips and Barber, Sally. Brixham. Obelisk Publications (1992) 32 p. [ISBN 0946651604]

Barber, Chips and Barber, Sally. Brixham of Yesteryear, Part 1. Obelisk Publications (1995) 32 p. [ISBN 1899073140]

Barber, Chips. Brixham of Yesteryear, Part 2. Obelisk Publications (1995) 32 p. [ISBN-13:978-1899073252]

Barber, Chips. Brixham of Yesteryear, Part 3. Obelisk Publications (1995) 32 p. [ISBN-13:978-1899073269]

Barber, Chips. Torbay In Colour . Obelisk Publications (1998) 32 p. [ISBN-13:978-0946651313]

Born, Ann. The Torbay Towns. Chichester: Phillimore (1989) [ISBN 0850336945] xiii, 160p: ill, maps.

Ellis, Arthur C. Brixham: its history and people. Brixham Museum & Hist. Society (1992) 5 vols.

Frost, K.A. When the railway ran to Brixham. Devon Life vol. 4 no. 31, (1968) pp.28-29; ill.

Gregory, Charles. Brixham in Devonia: illustrated guide, with historical and descriptive sketch and handbook to Torbay and the neighboourhood. Totnes: Totnes Times (1896) 166p: ill,maps. [Index]

Horsley, John E. A short history of Brixham. Devon Books (1988) [32] pp. ISBN: 0861148274 (pbk).

Little, Samantha. Keep Smiling Through!: The Brixham Home Front 1939-1945, 2011. Brixham Heritage Museum (2011) 82 pp. [ISBN-10: 0954545966]

Murchison, Charles. On the Ossiferous Cave of Brixham near Torquay, pp. 486-497. In Palaeontological Memoires and Notes of the Late Hugh Falconer, AM, MD. Volume II, XVIII, London: Robert Hardwicke (1868), illus. 679 pp. [Index]

Pearce, Frank.The Book of Torbay. Halsgrove Press, Tiverton (1999). ISBN 1841140295.

Pearce, Frank. The Book of Brixham - Portrait of a Harbour Town, Tiverton: Halsgrove Community History Series (2000) 160 pp., over 200 photographs. [ISBN: 1-84114093-7] [Index]

Pike, John. The landing of William of Orange at Brixham in 1688: fact and fiction. Devon Historian 36, (1988) pp.3-9.

Pike, John R. Brixham. Torbay Borough Council (1993) [2], 71,[8]p, plates: ill.

Russell, Percy. Some historical notes on the Brixham fisheries. Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. 83, (1951) pp.278-297, plate; ill, map.

Saxton, W.A. Brixham History, 2nd. ed. Brixham Civic Fund (1962) 29p: ill,map. [Westcountry Studies Library - B/BRI 7/0001/SAX]

Varwell, P. Notes on the Ancient Parish of Brixham, Devon, and on some of its Ancient People. Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 18 (1886), maps, pp. 197-214. [Index]

Windeatt, T.W. The landing of the Prince of Orange at Brixham, 1688. Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. 12 (1880), pp. 204-225. [Index]

A Brixham album. Exeter: Obelisk (1994) 48 pp.: chiefly ill ; ports: 15 x 21 cm. ISBN: 0946651906 (pbk).


Land & Property

Brixham Town Design Statement - detailed description of the present town and its facilities, and of its history.

Freeman, Ray. Brownstone: a Devon farm through seven centuries. Dartmouth Hist Research Group (1992) 24p.



Horsley, J.E. The Descent of the Manor of Brixham. (n.d.) [Torquay Central Library]

Johnson, D.R. Brixham Manor and People. Brixham: D.R. Johnson (1989).



Map of the area from OldeMaps (circa 1950).

OS 1:500 1888 Town Plan of Brixham, provided by the National Library of Scotland. (The plan consists of 11 sheets - to examine an individual sheet select the appropriate extent in the little grid covering Brixham and click on "Zoom to selected map extent.)"

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

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SX921551 (Lat/Lon: 50.385858, -3.519097), Brixham St Mary which are provided by:


Merchant Marine

Brixham sailing trawlers (archived copy) and their owners, builders and crew.

Transcription by Julia Mosman of an 1887 newspaper article about the drowning of Captain Harnden.

Chope, R. Pearse. The Brixham Fishing Fleet Disaster. The Devonian Year Book, London: The Devonian Asociation, pp. 21-22. [Index]

Corin, John. Provident and the story of the Brixham smacks. Reading: Tops'l Books (1980) 66p: ill.

Potts, Chris and Wilson, Derek. Voyaging over Life's sea: A history of the British Seaman's Boy's Home, Brixham [1859-1988], Brixham Heritage Museum (2006) 77 pp. [ISBN 0954545923]

Wright, M. Brixham in the days of sail. Devon Life vol. 3 no. 28, (1967) pp.38-40; ill.

Brixham Trawler Apprentice Register - 1891-1895, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D027). [Foreword]

Brixham Trawler Apprentice Register - 1896-1901, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D028). [Foreword]


Names, Personal

Brixham Heritage Museum, in the Services section of its web-site, provides a large number of surname indexes, from 15th to 19th century sources, including the 1568 muster roll, gravestones, non-conformist burial registers, tithe registers, directories and other documents.

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

Johnson, D.R. Brixham Names. Brixham: Brixham Museum (1989).

Brixham Vaccination Register - 1875, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D047). [Foreword]

Brixham Vaccination Register - 1876, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D048). [Foreword]

Brixham Vaccination Register - 1901, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D154). [Foreword]

Brixham Vaccinator Register - 1899 - 1900, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D162). [Foreword]

Brixham Vaccinator Register - 1901 - 1902, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D163). [Foreword]



Brixham Museum & History Society web-site.

Brixham Freemasons - Our History (archived copy).