From White's Devonshire Directory of 1850

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 point of the bay. Brixham Parish contains 5595A. 2R. 21 P. of land, and increased its population from 3671 in 1801, to 5684 in 1841, but it has now about 7000 inhabitants. It is within the jurisdiction of the port of Dartmouth, and is distant 4 miles N.E. of Dartmouth, 10 miles E. by S. of Totnes, 30 miles S. by E. of Exeter, 202 miles W.S.W. of London, and 9 miles S. by E. of Torquay, on the opposite side of the bay, by road, or 5 by water. The manor of Brixham belonged at an early period to the Novants, from whom it passed successively to the Valletort, Pomeroy, Corbet, Bonville, and Grey families. The manor is now divided into a great number of shares. One quarter of it is held by the Duke of Cleveland, and the Dowager Countess of Sandwich, as representatives of the Bolton family. The rest belongs to the representatives of the late Sir J. Seale, Sir. J.B.Y. Buller, W. Gillard, Esq., the Quay Lords, and a number of smaller proprietors. One quarter of the manor, which had belonged to P. Gilbert, was purchased many years ago by twelve fishermen of the Quay, and, though their shares have since been much subdivided, all the proprietors are styled the Quay Lords. The principal owners of land in the parish are J.F. Luttrell, Esq., Sir J.B.Y. Buller, G.H. Cutler, Esq., H.P. Pierrepoint, Esq., Wm. Gillard, Esq., and J. Clarke, Esq.; and here are many smaller freeholders. The parish includes the small hamlets of Woodhuish and Boohay; five small commons; many scattered farm-houses, and several handsome seats. Upton Lodge, at the north end of Brixham, is the seat of G.H. Cutler, Esq.; and Nethway House is occasionally visited by its owner, J.F. Luttrell, Esq., of Dunster Castle. Leywell House, the residence of Henry B. Pierrepoint, Esq., had its name from an ebbing and flowing spring, which was destroyed some years ago, when the high road was altered. LUPTON HOUSE, about a mile west of the church, is the pleasant seat of Sir J.B.Y. Buller, Bart. It is a large and handsome mansion, with well wooded grounds, and was rebuilt by Charles Hayne, Esq., who was sheriff in 1772. About 1788, Mr. Hayne sold it to the late Sir Fras. Buller, one of the justices of the King's Bench, who was created a baronet in 1789. IRON ORE has been discovered in the parish within the last ten years; and two mines are now working with considerable success, one at Upton, on G.H. Cutler's estate, and the other on Furzham Common. The latter is worked by R.W. Wolston, Esq , and is his property; and the former is worked by Mr. Edward Prior. The ore of the Upton mine is nearly equal in richness and colour to the Lancashire ore, yielding from 55 to 60 per cent. of metal. That of the Furzham mine yields about 45 per cent. of very superior metal, and is of a bright yellow colour. Great quantities of the ore are shipped from the Quay to be smelted in Wales, &c. The lode lies nearly north and south, and is about 35 feet broad. It is worked by open cutting, and the depth already attained is about 40 feet. The ore crops out within a few feet of the surface, and is surrounded by limestone, &c. Fine yellow ochre is got with the iron ore, and is manufactured here into an excellent pigment.

Brixham is said to have the largest fishery in England. More than 270 sail of vessels, comprising 20,000 tons of shipping, and employing about 1000 seamen, belong to the port, and a large number of them are engaged in the fishing trade. They comprise six brigs of about 170 tons, 140 schooners of from 60 to 180 tons, and 130 fishing smacks of from 30 to 50 tons; and here are also about 80 open boats, carrying two men each, employed in hook fishing. The average weekly amount received here for fish is about £600, and sometimes as much as 350 tons weight is brought to the Quay in a week, but the average weekly quantity is about 150 tons. The Quay is a most interesting sight in the evening after a large catch, when heaps of fish, comprising turbot, soles, whiting, plaice, mullet, mackerel, gurnet, flounders, herrings, &c., are piled up, and a sort of Dutch auction takes place; after which, all the prime lots are sent to Exeter, Bath, Bristol, London, and other markets. Many vessels are employed here in the coasting, and the Spanish and Mediterranean trades. The harbour being well protected by the bold high promontory of Berry-head, is a great place of refuge for shipping in stormy weather; and during westerly winds, great numbers of vessels may be seen riding at anchor here and in other parts of Torbay. The old pier was built under the powers of the Haven and Market Improvement Act, passed in 1799. It was finished in 1804; but enclosing an haven not sufficiently large for the increased size of the vessels and trade of the port, a plan was formed, about ten years ago, for the construction of a new pier and breakwater, sufficient to shelter a great number of large class merchantmen and frigates of war. This important work was commenced in 1843, by the Commissioners of the above-named act, who are also proprietors of the Market House, near the beach, and derive an income of about £900 per annum. from the harbour and market estate. The markets, held every Tuesday and Saturday, are well supplied with provisions; and here is a pleasure fair on Whit-Tuesday. Gas Works were constructed about eight years ago, by a company of proprietors, in £5 shares. A large Steam Corn Mill has just been erected, about half-a-mile from the Quay, at the cost of about £6000, raised by a numerous company, in £10 shares. The old workhouse has been converted into a Court House, parish vestry, &c.; and petty sessions are held here every alternate Monday, for part of Paignton Division. The office of the Custom-house Officers is on the beach; and there is a Coast Guard Station near Queen's Quay, and another on the Man Sands Cliff, two miles from the town. Torbay, of which Brixham is the principal port, is a beautiful lake-like expanse of water, having a semicircular coast line of about twelve miles, though only four miles across from its two eastern promontories. William Prince of Orange, afterwards King Wm. III., landed here Nov. 5th, 1688, to effect the ever memorable Revolution, as noticed at page 58. The identical stone on which he first set foot on landing, lay neglected till 1823, when it was placed as the landing stone of the late Duke of Clarence, afterwards Wm. IV., visited Brixham as Lord High Admiral in that year. This interesting stone was then sawn in two halves, one of which was placed in a neat obelisk in the fish market, with an inscription upon it, recording the memorable event of 1688. This obelisk has since been removed, and re-erected on the pier, near the spot where the Prince of Orange landed. The other half of the stone now forms a tablet at the pier end, inscribed in commemoration of the visit of the Duke of Clarence, July 21st, 1823, at which time, an address from the inhabitants was enclosed with a bit of the above stone, in a box of heart of oak 800 years old, and presented to the Royal Duke. During the late wars, Torbay was the general rendezvous of the Channel Fleet, affording at all times a safe and easy accessible roadstead for all descriptions of vessels; and having here a complete watering wharf, supplied from a large reservoir. constructed by Government in 1801. The fortifications on the bold promontory of Berry-head, and the barracks which then existed here, are dismantled, and the Military Hospital is now a private residence. In 1815, the Bellerophon (Captain Maitland,) anchored in the roadstead here, after receiving on board the fallen Emperor Napoleon, and remained several days before sailing for St. Helena.

CHURCHES, &c. - The Parish Church (Virgin Mary,) at Upper Brixham, is a large and ancient structure, in the perpendicular, with a lofty embattled tower, containing six bells and a clock. It has a richly carved font of the 14th century, two galleries, and a large organ. It is in contemplation to enlarge the churchyard, by the addition of 1¼ acre. 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. The Vicarage House is a neat residence; and the tithes were commuted in 1840, the vicarial for £463, and the rectorial for £538. 10s. Miss Knollis is impropriator of the latter. The Church Lands, &c., have been vested in trust since the reign of Elizabeth, for the repairs, &c., of the church. and comprise about 15A., and ten houses and cottages, worth upwards of £60, but let for only about £10 a year, in consideration of the fines paid when the leases were granted. The District Church at Lower Brixham was built by subscription, as a chapel of ease, about 1820. It is a plain cemented building, with galleries, an organ, and a turret, containing a bell and a clock. It has lately been constituted a perpetual curacy, valued at £107, in the patronage of the Vicar, and incumbency of the Rev. J.R. Hogg, B.A. Here is a Baptist Chapel, built in 1801, at the cost of about £1200; a Wesleyan Chapel, built in 1816, at the cost of £2000; and an Independent Chapel, erected in 1813, at the expense of about £1000. The Assembly Rooms, in Bolton street, were built in 1837, and are occasionally occupied as a theatre. The town has several Friendly Societies and other provident institutions; and a Freemasons' Lodge, built in 1801, at the cost of £450. Sunday Schools and Religious Institutions are supported by the congregations of the churches and chapels;; and near the beach is a large building, erected in 1848, by Messrs. Green and Vittery, and used as an auction mart, a sailors' school, &c. The CHARITIES of Brixham are as follows: -

Richard Kelly, in 1633, left a house and about 45A. of land, charged with the yearly payment of £6. 6s. 8d., for the poor of nine parishes, of which 10s. belongs to the poor of this parish; and also with the annual sum of £15 for the maintenance of a free school, at Brixham, for the poor children of Brixham, Churston-Ferrers and Kingswear. He directed the residue of the clear yearly income to be paid to the curate of St. Saviour's, Dartmouth, for preaching a sermon weekly. The property is now let for about £50 a year. A legacy of £40, left to the poor of Brixham, by Samuel Shardon, was expended in erecting a gallery in the church, but £2 a year, paid out of the pew rents, is distributed among, the poor parishioners, together with £2. 19s. 4d., derived from the benefactions of Richard Kelly, John Peter, John Lockram, Elizabeth Serle, and Arthur Luscombe. An annuity of 10s., left by John Croote, out of Blackhouse tenement, in 1640 is distributed among ten poor people. Several small charities formerly belonging to the parish are lost. In 1801, a Freemasons' Lodge was built on the site of a small ancient almshouse, subject to a yearly ground rent of 10s., which is carried to the pool rates.

ROBERT LANG, in 1685, left one-half of his estate to be vested in trust for the relief of the poor parishioners of Brixham. In satisfaction of this bequest £1,500 was obtained, persuant to a decree in Chancery, in 1690. This money was vested in the purchase of freehold farm of 88A. and a leasehold farm of 60A., in Dartmoor Forest, now let at rents amounting to about £70 per annum. Adjoining the charity estate is 66A. 3R. 6P. of land, which was enclosed from the forest in 1808, by the tenant of the last named farm, under a lease of 99 years, granted by the Duchy of Cornwall, at the yearly rent of 11s. 2d. The trustees of this charity can claim the benefit of this lease, by paying the enclosure expenses incurred by the tenant. The clear income derived from the charity estate is distributed among all the poor of the parish.

The FREE SCHOOL, now conducted on the national system, in two large rooms, built by subscription, about 1820, is attended by about 130 boys and 110 girls, part of whom pay 1d. each per week, but it is entirely free to all the poor children of Brixham and Churston-Ferrers, that are sent to it by the trustees of Kelly's and Kellond's Charities, the former of which is already noticed, and from it the master derives £15 per annum. In 1712, John Kellond left £2000 for charitable uses in Devonshire. Of this legacy £490 was laid out in the purchase of a farm of about 45 acres, at Ashburton, which was vested in trust for the support of a schoolmaster at Brixham, in consideration of his teaching reading writing, arithmetic and navigation to all the poor children sent to him by the trustees. This farm is now let for £42 per annum, and the master has also the dividends of about £800 three per cent. stock, derived from the sales of timber, formerly growing on the land.

Brian Randell, 31 Jan 1999