"BUCKFASTLEIGH is large manufacturing village, in two parts, called Higher and Lower Towns, pleasantly seated on the western side of the river Dart, 2½ miles S.W. by S. of Ashburton. It has about 300 woolcombers, several corn mills, and four blanket and serge mills; but only two of the latter are at present occupied, and give employment to about 400 hands. Its parish had 1525 inhabitants, in 1801, 2445 in 1831, and 2576 in 1841; and comprises 4379A. 3R. 35P. of cultivated land, and 1072½ acres of open moorland, on the eastern side of Dartmoor Forest, whence two rivulets flow to the Dart . . . . The parish rises in bold hills from the village, and has quarries of limestone and a sort of black marble. It comprises the hamlets of Buckfast, Scorraton, and Runnaford Coombe; several neat mansions, commanding beautiful views; and a number of scattered farm-houses. . . . BUCKFAST ABBEY, in the Dart valley, about a mile north of Buckfastleigh. . . . The parish Church (Holy Trinity,) stands on an eminence, ascended by 144 steps, and is a large antique structure, which, after being long in a shamefully neglected state, has been restored and beautified since June, 1844, at the cost of more than £1400. . . ." [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)]

A parish in Stanborough Hundred, the Archdeaconry of Totnes and the Diocese of Exeter. Regarded as part of the Dartmoor area.



Adams, Maxwell (Ed.) John Fleming [Obituary]. Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol.  XLII, (1910), p. 43. [Transcript]

Djarbi, Susan Cabell. "Madam Betty": some glimpses of the life of Elizabeth Cabell of Buckfastleigh. Dartmoor Magazine no. 26, (1992) pp.4-7: ill, map. [Landowner]

Harpley, W. John Hamlyn [Obituary]. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 10, (1878) pp.55-56. [Transcript]

Harpley, W. William Beatty [Obituary]. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 26, (1884) p.43. [Transcript]

Harpley, W. Thomas Hewetson [Obituary]. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 29, (1897) p.43.[Gentleman, 1817-1896] [Transcript]

Harpley, W. John Hamlyn [Obituary]. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 31, (1899) pp.52-53. [Philanthropist, 1851-1898] [Transcript]



Brown, Mike. Buckfastleigh (Pre-1900 Survey). In Dartmoor Region Monumental Inscriptions Indexes, Vol. 18. Dartmoor Press, PO Box 132, Plymouth PL4 7YL.

Brown, Mike. Scorriton Chapel (Full Survey). In Dartmoor Region Monumental Inscriptions Indexes, Vol. 18. Dartmoor Press, PO Box 132, Plymouth PL4 7YL.

Djabri, Susan C. The Cabell tomb in Buckfastleigh churchyard. Devon Historian 39, (1989) pp.9-16: ill.

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



A 1698 census of Buckfastleigh, giving names and ages, is to be found in British Library (Harleian Mss 6832 ff. 132-44) - here is a transcription of this census.


Church History

Holy Trinity, Buckfastleigh, by Graham Naylor.

Buckfast Abbey's Web-site provides extensive information on the Abbey's history.

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

Buckfastleigh Church & Richard Cabell’s Tomb: The Inspiration for the Hound of the Baskervilles - an Escape to Britain blogpost.

Atkinson, W.B. The Petre charter. Devon Historian 3, (1971) pp.12-14. [Buckfast Abbey, 1555]

Chanter, J.F. Extracts from the Leger Book and Other Ancient Documents of the Abbey of Buckfast. Trans. Devon Assoc. 45 (1913) pp.152-168. [Index]

Clutterbuck, Robin. Buckfast Abbey: a history. [Great Britain]: Buckfast Abbey Trustees, 1994, 36 pp. ill. (some col), col. facsims., 1 map, ports. (some col.). [Copy in SoG Library - Devon Tracts Box]

D., J. Ancient Abbots of Buckfast Abbey. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 17 (1932-3) pp.48-51, 994-1535.

Davies, William. Buckfast Abbey and its relation to Kingsbridge. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 45, (1913) pp.143-151. [Index]

Graf, Dom Ernest. Anscar Vonier, Abbot of Buckfast, With Some Account of the Restoration of the Abbey and its Church, (1957) 154 pp.

Hamilton, Adam, O.S.B. History of St. Mary's Abbey of Buckfast: in the county of Devon: A.D. 760-1906. Devon: Buckfast Abbey, 1906, xvi, 272 pp., [16] leaves of plates: ill.

Hughes, T. Cann. Vicars of Buckfastleigh since the Commonwealth. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 13 (1924-25) pp.75-81.

Hughes, T. Cann. Vicars of Buckfastleigh. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries VII, (1912-1913), Exeter: James G. Commin. 1913, p. 120. [Transcript]

Risdon, John. Buckfast Abbey. Dartmoor Country Mag. no. 3, (1998) pp.18-20: ill.

Rowe, J. Brooking. On Recent Excavations at Buckfast Abbey. Trans. Devon. Assoc., 1884, Vol XVI, pp. 590-594, Plan.  [Index]

Staerk, A. Monuments de l'Abbaye Celtique de Bulfestra ou Buckfast Abbey and its fine arts. 2. Original deeds of Bulfestra or Buckfast. Norman Period. Kain lez Tournai. Belgique: Monastere des Benedictine (1914).

Stephan, D. John. Savigny and Buckfast Abbey. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 76, (1944) pp.133-139.

Stephan, J.D. Vicars of Buckfastleigh (1263-1943). Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 29, 3 (1962) pp.78-80.

Stephan, Dom John. Some artistic remains of Buckfast Abbey. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 56, (1924) pp.195-199.

Stephan, John. A history of Buckfast Abbey from 1018 to 1968. Bristol: Burleigh Press (1970) 372p,plates: ill.

Stephan, J. Buckfast Abbey: A short history and guide (19th ed.). (1977) [Devon FHS Library p942.35/BUC]

Tilbrook, Richard. Buckfast Abbey (Guide). Norwich: Jarrold Colour (1970).] 24]p: col.ill. [ISBN 0853061920]

Buckfast Abbey: An album of views, (n.d.). [SoG Library - DE/L 106]


Church Records

Parish Registers going back to 1602 are held in the Devon Record Office.

Transcripts of the Parish Registers going back to 1602, and of the Bishops' Transcripts going back to 1597w, 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).

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.

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

  • Higher Independent/Congregational Chapel: Registers for 1787-1837 (ZC) in PRO RG 4/1105; 1787-1969 (C), 1947-65 (B) at DRO
  • Wesleyan Chapel, Chapel Street: Registers for c1801-37 - see Ashburton Circuit (PRO RG 4/840, 1763)
  • Bible Christian Circuit: Registers for 1820-37 (ZC) in PRO RG 4/432

Entered into the IGI (as of Jan 1993): Parish Church Christenings 1597-1812 (incomplete), Marriages 1597-1812, (entries based in part on Bishops' Transcripts); Buckfastleigh Circuit: Bible Christian Chapel Christenings 1820-1837, The Higher Chapel, Independent: Christenings 1787-1837.

Buckfastleigh christenings 1701-1812 -  SoG Data Online DE/REG (SoG Members only).

The Deanery of Totnes: An index of baptisms, marriages and burials . . . with photographs of the churches and extracts from White's Devonshire Directory 1850, CD-ROM, Exeter, Devon FHS (2009). [Ashprington: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1754-1837), Bur (1813-1837), Blackawton: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1754-1837), Bur (1813-1837), Buckfastleigh: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1754-1837), Bur (1813-1837), Cornworthy: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1754-1837), Bur (1813-1840), Dartington: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1754-1837), Bur (1813-1837), Dartmouth St. Clement: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1754-1837), Bur (1813-1837), Dartmouth St. Petrox: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1754-1837), Bur (1813-1837), Dartmouth St. Saviour: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1754-1837), Bur (1813-1837), Dean Prior: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1755-1837), Bur (1790-1837), Diptford: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1754-1837), Bur (1813-1837), Dittisham: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1754-1837), Bur (1813-1837), Halwell: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1755-1837), Bur (1813-1837), Harberton: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1754-1837), Bur (1813-1837), Holne: Bapt (1813-1842), Mar (1754-1837), Bur (1813-1837), Rattery: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1754-1837), Bur (1800-1837), South Brent: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1754-1837), Bur (1813-1837), Stoke Fleming: Bapt (1813-1839), Mar (1754-1837), Bur (1813-1837), Totnes: Bapt (1813-1842), Mar (1754-1837), Bur: (1813-1837)]

McNaught, M.J. (transcr.). Totnes Deanery Marriages, Vol. 1 - Ashprington: M 1597-1649, 1657-1850, strays index & banns only index, Blackawton: M 1538-1850, strays index & banns only index 1758-73, 1785, 1796, Buckfastleigh: M 1597-1641, 1650-57, 1668-1850, strays index, Cornworthy: M 1568-1642, 1653-1850, strays index, Dartington: M 1538-55, 1569-83, 1589-1635, 1653-1850, strays index, (2006). [SoG Library, DE/R 98]


Court Records

Register of Freeholders - Stanborough & Tavistock c1816, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D134). [Foreword]


Description & Travel

Buckfastleigh Town Council website.

Conservation Area Appraisal for Buckfastleigh - an interesting account of the area, with numerous photographs and maps.

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

You can see pictures of Buckfastleigh 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.

Brown, Mike. Trade Directory for Buckfastleigh & Holne 1850, 1870, 1878, Dartmoor Press (2001).



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



Dartmoor Press Online Magazine's page for this parish (archived copy), with articles, transcriptions, publication details, etc. - highly recommended.

Brain, Charles M. Ashburton or Buckfastleigh, Devon Family Historian, vol. 182, (2022) pp.42-45. [On the Milton and Coleman families, and emigration to Lawrence, Massachusetts]

Djabri, Susan Cabell. The story of the sepulchre, the Cabells of Buckfastleigh and the Conan Doyle connection. Shamrock Press (1990).BL YK.1991.a.5704 [16-17th c.]

Horwill, David. Parallel Lives, Devon Family Historian, vol. 138, (2011) pp.21-23. [Family of George Horwill, b. abt1744 Buckfastleigh]

Lega-Weekes, Ethel. The Freemans of Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, Bovey Tracey etc. Trans Devonshire Assoc; v.45 (1913) pp450-454. [Index]

Pedigree of the Family of Furneaux, of Paignton and Buckfastleigh, Devon; afterwards of Swilly, near Plymouth. A.D. 1550-1875. With pedigrees of other families connected with it, and notes. pp. 20. Privately printed (1876) 4o. BL 9915.dd.19.(1.) [16th-19th c.]



Beard, Hilary. Buckfast in Bygone Days. Devon Books (1991) ISBN 086114872x

Beer, Edward J. Buckfastleigh remembered. Plymouth: P.D.S.Printers (1981) 24p: chiefly ill.

Coleman, Sandra. Buckfastleigh: a town in the making. Plymouth: P.D.S.Printers (1982) 32p: ill.

Coleman, Sandra. The Book of Buckfastleigh: A time for remembering 1930-2002, Halsgrove (2003). [ISBN 1841142336] [Devon FHS Library 942.35/BUC]

Harris, Helen., The Church on the Hill: An account of the church, people & parish of Buckfastleigh. [SoG Library DE/L 185]

Mann , Bobi Buckfast & Buckfastleigh. Exeter, Obelisk Publications (1994) ISBN: 1899073043

Reichel, O J. Hundred of Stanborough or Dippeforda in the time of Testa de Nevil, 1243. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 45 (1913). [Index]

Thomas, Alexander. Dart Valley railway. Devon Life vol. 8 no. 61 (1971) pp.20-22; ill. [1872-1971]


Land & Property

Brown, Mike. Buckfastleigh. In "Dartmoor Tithe Apportionments, Vol. 5". The Dartmoor Press (c1997) 16p.

Chanter, J.F. Extracts from the Ledger Book and other Ancient Documents of the Abbey of Buckfast. Devonshire Association Trans., vol. 45 (1913) pp. 152-168.

The Valiant Soldier Buckfastleigh: the pub where time stood still. [SoG Library: Devon Tracts Box]



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

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SX738660 (Lat/Lon: 50.48019, -3.780058), Buckfastleigh which are provided by:


Names, Personal

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

Gray, Todd, (Ed.). Harvest Failure in Devon and Cornwall [1623 and 1630-1]: The Book of Orders and the Corn Surveys, Redruth, (1992). [ISBN 0903686651] [Contains detailed household listings, covering grain-producing households, for Coldridge and Stanborough Hundreds.]

Knowling, E. Buckfastleigh Families, 1698. Devon Family Historian, vol. 32 (1984) pp. 5-6.

Knowling, Elizabeth. The Inhabitants of Buckfastleigh in 1698. Devon Family Historian 31 (July 1984) pp. 5-6.

Worth, R.N. Some Devonian Items. Trans. Devon Assoc., vol. XXVIII, (1896), pp. 323- 337. [Index]

Buckfastleigh Apprentices Register - 1833-1843, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF A071). [Foreword]


Probate Records

Transcript of the will of Elizabeth Windeatt (1855) by Pam Jackson, provided by Sandra Windeatt.

Transcripts of the will of Richard Waycott (1813), Richard Waycott (1818) and William Waycott (1843) by Maureen Kenchington.

Transcripts by Ros Dunning of the wills of John Michelmore (1752) and William Michelmore (1784), provided by Michael Mitchelmore.