"CLOVELLY, or Clovelleigh, is a pleasant village and fishing station, occupying a singular and picturesque situation, on the side of a steep rock, adjoining Bideford Bay, about 4 miles E. Hartland, and 11 miles W.S.W. of Bideford. It is one of the most romantic places in Devon, and the houses being built on the precipitous side of the sea cliff, one above the other; the main street ascends in terraces and flights of steps from the beach and pier. Clovelly is celebrated for its herring fishery, besides which large quantities of conger, whiting, hake, pollack, and cod fish are caught in the winter; and turbot, sole, plaice, gurnet and mackerel in summer. Its parish had 950 inhabitants in July, 1841, besides 40 seamen who were then absent; and contains about 42000 acres of land, mostly the property of Sir James Hamlyn Williams, Bart., who is lord of the manor, and has a large and handsome seat, called CLOVELLY COURT, erected about 1780, on the site of the ancient mansion, which was destroyed by fire. The views from the house and grounds are extremely grand; and above the cliffs, to the south-east of the village, are the remains of an entrenchment, called Clovelly Dikes, of a square form, and unknown origin." [W. White. History, Gazeteer, and Directory of Devonshire, 1850]

A parish in Hartland Hundred, the Archdeaconry of Barnstaple, and the Diocese of Exeter.

Anyone researching ancestors from this village and parish is invited to contact the Clovelly Online Parish Clerk: Brian Randell.


Archives & Libraries

The Clovelly Community Archive Association is undertaking an oral history project and the digitisation of unique Clovelly records. Contributions of photographs, memories, Clovelly family trees and other data relating to the village are sought.

Clovelly Archive and History Group Facebook page  - "Anything anyone would like to share about Clovellys history will be most welcome."



Victorian artist Frank Belshaw (1855-1884) (archived copy), and his connection with Clovelly, by M.E.A. Lyons.

A Clovelly Mystery - newspaper account of the disappearance in 1829 of the wife of James Mills.

Fatal Accident at Dodnor - newspaper account of the death of William Pengilley, captain of the Queen of the South.

The Fatal Accident at Dodnor to a Master Mariner: Inquest - newspaper account of the inquest into the death of William Pengilley.

Quiller-Couch, Arthur. Sir. Memoir of Arthur John Butler, London, Smith, Elder & Co (1917) 261 pp. [Arthur John Butler, writer, biography 1866-1871][Westcountry Studies Library WSL: s920/BUT]

Blight, Raymond. A Remarkable Early Nineteenth Century Woman, Devon Family Historian, vol. 164, (2017) pp.6-8. [Joanna Prouse, b. Clovelly 1786, a leading member of the Bible Christian movement.]

Brooking.Rowe, J. Frederick Hamlyn, [Obituary] Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. XXXVI, (1904), pp. 36-37. [Transcript]

Obituary: Sir J.H. Williams, Bart. Gentleman's Magazine, (Jan 1830) p80.

Obituary: Rev. Orlando Hamlyn-Williams Gentleman's Magazine Vol 101, (1831) p649.


Business & Commerce Records

Listings of Licensed Victuallers for this parish are to be found here.

Transcript of 1803-1805 section of Mr Williams' Cash Book from the Clovelly Court Estate papers.



MIs for this parish are included in the NDA North Devon index - see under Cemeteries on the main Devon page.



Transcriptions by Kathy Miller of the 1841 and the 1871 census for Clovelly.

Snetzler, M.F. North Devon Surname Index to the Census. Microfiche: M.F. Snetzler. [Covers 1841, 1861, 1871 and 1881 census records for this parish]


Church History

Photograph of Clovelly Church, c. 1910.

Bell, L.E. All Saints Church Clovelly, Yelland, Taw-Vale Studio (1970) 8 pp. [WCSL p7265.5/CLO/BEL] [Includes listing of Rectors 1262-1959]

Chope, R.P. Proposed Religious Houses at Clovelly, Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, vol. 12, no. 7, (1923) pp.311-312.

Clement, H.C.. Clovelly Church and Its People, Merlin Books, 40 East St, Braunton, Devon EX33 2EA (1992) 95 pp. A quite detailed history of the church and many of the people associated with it, cross-referenced to well-known events elsewhere, and illustrated with a number of photographs of the church and its memorials. (Index)

Griggs, William. A guide to All Saints Church, Clovelly, Barnstaple, Aycliffe Press (n.d.) 8 pp.

Harding, T.J. Woolsery Church: The Parish Church of All Hallows, Woolfardisworthy West, Hartland, Devon, Jamaica Press (printer) (1995) 12 pp.

Spurr, David. Devon Churches, Vol 1: Bideford, Barnstaple and the Hartland Peninsula, Braunton, Merlin Books (1983) 79 pp. [ISBN 0 86303 122 6] [pp. 26-27 are on All Saint's Church, Clovelly]


Church Records

Parish Registers going back to 1686 are held in the Devon Record Office. The Society of Genealogists has a microfiche copy.

The Genogold search service  for Clovelly PRs is currently unavailable (August 2017).

The Devon FHS publishes indexes covering (as of June 2004): Baptisms 1813-1838, Marriages 1754-1837, Burials 1813-1837 - for details see their Devon Parish List.

Bideford Methodist Circuit baptisms (1819 -1870) transcribed by David Carter. (Contains entries from the following parishes: Abbotsham, Allington, Alverdiscott, Alwington, Appledore, Arlington, Barnstaple, Bideford, Buckland Brewer, Bucks Mills, Burrington, Chulmleigh, Clovelly, Fremington, Frithelstock, Great Torrington, Hatherleigh, Huntshaw, Ilfracombe, Instow, Landcross, Little Torrington, Littleham, Loxhore, Marystowe, Monkleigh, Newton Tracey, Northam, Parkham, South Molton, St Giles in the Wood, Wear Giffard, Westleigh, Woolfardisworthy.)

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

  • Wesleyan Chapel: Registers for 1807-37 in PRO RG 4/954, 955 (with Barnstaple Circuit, Bideford)

Nothing entered into the IGI (as of Jan 1993).

Clovelly Churchwarden's Rate (1768), transcribed by Brian Randell.

Elizabeth Howard offers look-ups of Devon strays among the Bible Christians' Kilkhampton (Cornwall) Circuit.

Wickes, Michael J.L. The Early Bishops' Transcripts and Church Registers of Clovelly in North Devon (1620-1730). Appledore: M.J.L. Wickes (1992) 25p. [Barnstaple Library - 929.3251/BT:CLO/WIC] [Transcription]

Wickes, Michael J.L. The Marriage Registers of Clovelly, Landcross and Welcombe in North Devon, pre 1838. Taunton, Somerset: Harry Galloway Publishing (1998) 44p. [Transcription of the Clovelly section]

An index of baptisms, marriages and burials in the parishes of Abbotsham, Alverdiscott, Alwington, Bideford, Buckland Brewer, Bulkworthy, Clovelly, East Putford, Frithelstock, Hartland, Landcross, Littleham, Monkleigh, Northam, Parkham, Wear Gifford, Welcombe and West Woolfardisworthy. With photographs of the churches and extracts from White's Devonshire Directory 1850 and Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of England 1844, CD-ROM, Exeter, Devon FHS (2009). [Abbotsham Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Alverdiscott Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1775-1837; Alwington Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Bideford Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Buckland Brewer Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Bulkworthy Bapt: 1813-1841, Mar: 1814-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Clovelly Bapt: 1813-1838, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; East Putford Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1797-1837, Bur: 1813-1839; Frithelstock Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Hartland Bapt: 1838-1839, Mar: 1558-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Landcross Bapt: 1814-1839, Mar: 1761-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Littleham Bapt: 1813-1841, Mar: 1755-1837, Bur: 1813-1851; Monkleigh Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Northam Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Parkham Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1537-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Wear Gifford Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1755-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Welcombe Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1757-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; West Woolfardisworthy Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837.]


Description & Travel

Here are two mid to late nineteenth century pictures of Clovelly from the Hobby Drive, and Clovelly, North Hill, obtained, with permission, from the SILS Art Image Project, University of Michigan School of Information and Library Studies (now School of Library and Information Science).

Clovelly Bay, by J M W Turner, with Clovelly in the background - another painting of Clovelly by Turner is reproduced in Ruthven (1926).

Watercolour painting of Clovelly dated 1860 from the journal of Grace Spence (1805-1870), provided by Julia Crawley.

Clovelly features extensively in the collection of mainly 18th and 19th century topographical prints (archived partial copy) of Devon places and buildings provided by the Devon Libraries Local Studies Service.

Extract from Daniell's Voyage Round Great Britain (1813).

Extract from an account of a tour in England and Wales, in the year 1819.

Extract from Wilkie Collins' account of "The Cruise of the Tomtit" (1855).

Section on Clovelly from Benjamin Pitts Capper: A Topographical Dictionary of the United Kingdom  (1808).

Section on Clovelly from Nicholas Carlisle: A Topographical Dictionary of England  (1808).

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

Extract from Murray's "Handbook for Travellers in Devonshire" (1879).

A late 19th century description and artist's impression of Clovelly.

Francis Frith picture postcard views of Clovelly harbour, and of the view downhill through the village, dating from the early 1900s.

The Harbour Pool, Clovelly - watercolour by Chatles Robertson, 1881.

Valentine picture postcard of Fish Street, c. 1912.

Web-site of the Clovelly Estate.

Britain Express Clovelly page - history, photographs, etc., by David Ross.

Those Clovelly Oaks - an anonymous humorous (presumably fictional) account of a visit to Clovelly and its aftermath, from the Pall Mall Gazette (1896).

Banfield, J., of Ilfracombe, Eng., pub. A guide to Ilfracombe, Lynton, Clovelly, and the neighbouring towns, comprehending a general sketch of the history & objects most worthy of remark in that part of the north of Devon. (A new ed. illustrated with a map of the north of Devon and a plan of the town.) Ilfracombe, Printed by J. Banfield, 1840, xvi, 106 pp. incl. tab. front. (fold. map) plan. 17 cm.

Hippisley Coxe, A. Concerning Clovelly, Clovelly, Clovelly Estate Company (1980) 20 pp. ill. [Westcountry Studies Library]

Lauder, Rosemary Anne. Westward Ho! to Welcombe, Bideford, North Devon, North Devon Books (1994) 70 pp.

Mais, Stuart Petre Brodie. Clovelly, Gem of North Devon, Sevenoaks, J. Salmon (1962) 18 pp. [BM 010058.t.50 Contains 11 coloured photographs, plus some accompanying text]

Pearson, Cyril Arthur. Pearson's Gossipy Guide to Ilfracombe, Clovelly, Lynton, and Lynmouth, Combmartin, Barnstaple, Westward Ho!, Bideford and the North Devon coast, London, C.A. Pearson & Co. Ltd (c1901) 159 pp. [BM 10358.cc.59]

Pollock, Frederick. Clovelly. The English Illustrated Magazine, vol II (1884) pp. 155-163. [Lavishly illustrated by L.R. O'Brien] [Full text]

Sinclair, A. Charming Clovelly. Devon Life vol. 6 no. 49 (1970) pp.28-29; ill.

Spinks, G. Stephens. Clovelly. Sevenoaks: J. Salmon Ltd. [1950?] [16]p: col ill. [Westcountry Studies Library - pB/CLO/1950/SPI]

Pictorial and descriptive guide to Barnstaple, Ilfracombe, Bideford, Clovelly, and North-West Devon (9th ed rev.), London, Ward, Lock & Co. Ltd. (1919). [Westcountry Studies Library: sB/BAR/1919/PIC]

Enoch Arden by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Devon Life vol. 2 no. 22, (1966) pp.9-48; ill. [The village described is said to be based on Clovelly.]

You can see pictures of Clovelly which are provided by:



Transcript of the Hartland and Clovelly entry in the Universal British Directory (1793-98).

Transcript of complete entry in White's Devonshire Directory of 1850.

Transcript of an extract from Billings' Directory and Gazetteer of the County of Devon of 1857, with a description of the parish, and a list of clergy, gentry, professions, trades, etc.

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

Transcription by Michael Steer of the Clovelly entry (description and names) in Kelly's 1902 Directory of Devon.



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



The Online Parish Clerk scheme's representative for this parish is Brian Randell, who invites queries and lookup requests.

Cantle, Pam. The Kingsley Connection - Charles Kingsley 1819-1875, Devon Family Historian, vol. 155, (2015) p.18.

Drummond, Francis Dudley Williams. Annals of Edwinsford, Clovelly and Hawthornden [Notes on the Wiliams family and its estates. With illustrations], Rhydedwyn, Privately printed (1924) 59 pp. [BM 9907.pp.28] [The most of the book is related to the Williams family of Edwinsford in Carmarthenshire, it does contain significant details of the branch of the family descended from Arabella Williams and Sir James Hamlyn, who owned Clovelly Court and was M.P. for Carmarthenshire in the Parliaments of April 1793 and June 1796, and transcriptions of a number of letters between Clovelly and Edwinsford from the period 1799-1805, mainly relating to estate matters.]

Harrison, F. The Devon Carys (2 vols), New York, Priv. print., The De Vinne Press (1920). [Chapters 8-10 (Vol. 1, pp. 144-190) relate to the Carys of Clovelly.] [Index]

Instow, Pam Cantle. Family History Finished, Devon Family Historian, vol. 144, (2012) pp.9-10. [Mentions of Exeter, Clovelly and elsewhere, of Bennett and other families]

Wilson, Annette. Sailing through time: The story of the Buckingham Family. Amazon Kindle (2016) 221pp. ["This book has been written as a sort of docudrama, using firstly and foremost the truth and recorded events of their lives and times. However, I have added imagined narratives and letters, plus descriptions of life and geography of the period to bring their story to life. All people, except two maids, Susanna and Polly and a childhood friend of Mary Buckingham in Orford, are real people that lived, and all dates and events are also true and correct to the best of my knowledge."]

History of John Gregg and his family (robbers and murderers of Clovelly. Typescript [1916] 8p. [Westcountry Studies Library - s398.22/CLO/HIS] [Gregg Family; Legends]

Full text of Clovelly, and the Randell Family by Brian and David Randell.

The Princes of Clovelly, by Alan J. Brown. (Archived copy)



Timeline - The Owning Families of Clovelly, on the Clovelly Estate website.

Clovelly - Extract from the Devon Domesday.

The history of Clovelly is not very fully documented - something that is partly explained by the fact that the records of the Clovelly estate were destroyed by fire in 1789. However useful summary accounts can be found in the book by Clement (see Church History) and in the following booklets:

Clement, H.C. No Justice for the Poor: Four Tales of Death and Mystery of West Country Pauper Children, H.C. Clement (1996) 186 pp. [ISBN 09525924 1 X, CAM 1999.8.5652] [Includes story of Eliza Ann Lee, b. 1852, and Ellen Lee, b. 1860, found dead in woods near Clovelly]

Clement, H.C. No Time To Kiss Goodbye: Wartime Children Fleeing to the Countryside, (1995) 137 pp. [ISBN 0952592401, BL YK 1996.b.10836. At WCSL]

Ellis, S. Down a Cobbled Street: the story of Clovelly, Bideford, Badger Books, 1 Chinon Court, Lower Moor Way, Tiverton, Devon EX16 65S (1987) 64 pp. Discusses the (mainly but not solely late 19th and early 20th century) history of Clovelly in considerable anecdotal detail. Lavishly illustrated with historical photographs. (Index)

Few, Janet. Barefoot on the Cobbles: A Devon Tragedy, Blue Poppy Publishing (2018) 352 pp. [ISBN-13: 978-1911438540] [A novel based on actual people and events.]

Griggs, W. A guide to All Saints Church, Clovelly. Barnstaple, Aycliffe Press 8 pp.

Lees. J.E. A history of Clovelly. Donkey Shop, Clovelly (1985?) [DFHS LOC 302??]

Lewis, David T.R. A History of the Edwinsford and Clovelly Communities: The Williams, Drummond, Cary, Hamlyn, Fane, Manners, Asquity and Rous Family Owners. David TR Lewis (1 Sept. 2017) [ISBN-13 : 978-0957189621] 540pp.

Pengelly, W. Notes on Slips Connected with Devonshire. Trans. Dev. Assoc. Vol. 17 (1885) pp.313-323. [Contains a copy of an article  "Clovelly and the Domesday Book" from the English Illustrated Magazine.]

Randell, B. C is for Clovelly. Bideford Buzz (2011) [Text (archived copy)]

Ruthven, Angela. Clovelly: A Guide Book, Grenville St., Bideford, Gazette Printing Service (1926) 50 pp. [BM X.808/11023] [Index]

Ruthven, N. Clovelly and its Story, Barnstaple, Aycliffe Press (1981) 48 pp. (Revised version of original by Angela Ruthven, 1926. An informative well-illustrated little book summarizing the history of Clovelly.) [Index]

Shakespeare, Liz. The Turning of the Tide, Letterbox Books, The Old Post Office, Littleham, Bideford, Devon EX39 5HW (2010) 352 pp. [ISBN 9780951687925] [A novel set in nineteenth century Clovelly and Bideford and based on true events and real people. It incorporates C19 photographs, letters, newspaper articles, census returns and certificates, and tells the story of Selina Burman, confined in Bideford Workhouse, and Dr Ackland, friend of Charles Kingsley.]

Shackson, Anthony R. A Souvenir History of Clovelly - Jewel of North Devon. J. Salmon Ltd. 16pp.

Soulsby, L. H. M. Charles Kingsley's Clovelly. Overland monthly and Out West magazine.Vol 4, No 20, (Aug 1884), pp. 195-199.

A photographic record is provided by:

Bate, S. Glimpses of Clovelly of Yesterday. Bideford, Gazette Printing (1952) 24p. ill. [Westcountry Studies Library]

Clovelly played an interesting minor role in the flight from justice in 1829 of Mr Rowland Stephenson, a partner in a London banking house who absconded with a very considerable sum of money.

Descriptions of Clovelly Dykes, an Iron Age Hill Fort, provided by the North Devon Archeological Society, the North Devon Coast AONB and by Historic England.


Land & Property

Spreadsheet transcription of the Tithe Apportionments.

Transcripts of some Clovelly Land Tax Assessments.

Transcript of the Land Tax Redemption (1799) record for Clovelly, by Colin Goddard.

Clovelly Indentures - Lease of land by William Cary to John Lyle (1690), and of property by Robert Cary to John Bryant (1719), transcribed by Elizabeth Howard.

Indenture - lease of House on Clovelly Key "alias Winkelbury Linch" by Zachary Hamlyn to Jasper Hawkins (1749), transcribed by Virginia Shemeliuk.

Transcription of References to the Plan of Clovelly Town 1815, providing a listing of lessees or occupiers of property in the "town" of Clovelly.



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

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SS317247 (Lat/Lon: 50.997017, -4.39977), Clovelly which are provided by:


Merchant Marine

Listing of Clovelly Entries in Cardiff Coastal Port Books (1630-1711).

Listing of Clovelly Entries in Padstow Coastal Port Books (1602-1719).

Listing of Clovelly Entries in Bideford Coastal Port Books (1565-1745).

Listing of voyages of Clovelly Ships from Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire (1770-1776).

Listing of Clovelly vessels registered at Bideford (1786-1823).

Transcript of the records of a 1727 dispute concerning Clovelly Fish Tithes.

Transcript, with listing of members' names, of the Articles of the Clovelly Mariners Union (1792).

Transcript of Clovelly entries from 18th Century Registers of Protection for Fishermen and Coasting Trade mariners from Being Pressed.

Fund for widows and orphans of fishermen from Clovelly and neighbourhood lost in the 1821 storm - extracts from Trewman's Exeter Flying Post.

The Great Storm of 1821, by Peter Christie.

Transcript of an 1838 newspaper account of a meeting held in Bideford that caled for the construction of a Breakwater and Safety Harbour at Clovelly.

Transcript of an 1858 newspaper account of the inquiry into the need for a Harbour of Refuge.

Ellacombe, H.T. Fishermen's Superstition, Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 8, (1876) pp.569-570. [Includes the Clovelly Fishermen's Prayer - from Devon Notes & Queries, 1st ser. xi 228 (1855)]

Lewis, A., "Petitions to Trinity House from Clovelly," The Devon Family Historian, no. 63, (August 1992), pp.26-28.
Summaries of a number of petitions for assistance, by Clovelly mariners or their widows. (Mariners' surnames mentioned: Beer, Bryant, Elliott, Evans, Harvey, Jennings, Richards, and Vine.)

Seden, Enid M. A Short History of Clovelly Life-Boat Station, 1870-1979, Devon, Jamaica Press (1970) 32 pp.


Military History

Clovelly Soldiers Died 1914 - 1919, a listing, with details of their military careers and of their families, compiled by Barry Johnson


Names, Geographical

Coates, Richard. Clovelly, Devon, English Place Name Society Journal, vol. 28, (1996) pp.36-44. [Concludes: "it can be proposed with some confidence that Clovelly is a Cornish name meaning 'earthworks associsated with Fele(c)', a person whose name may survive unadorned in the ancient farms and vanished chapel called Velly."]


Names, Personal

Clovelly Taypayers' Names, 1524-1581, compiled by Peter Burnard.

A petition (c. 1647) in support of Thomas Bushell listing 61 "Inhabitants of the Counties of Devon and Cornwall, & neerest borderers upon the Island of Lundy" - many apparently from Clovelly.

Names of Clovelly Victuallers (1660-64).

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

Clovelly names from the Oaths of Allegiance (1722).

Listing of Clovelly Church Choir (1820-1826), transcribed by Brian Randell.

Listing of Clovelly Choir (c1828), transcribed by Brian Randell and Sally Drage.

Listing of the members of the Clovelly branch of the Independent Order of the Rechabites (1926), provided by Janet Few.

Listing of Clovelly Customs Officers extracted from the (largely unvarying) Staff and Paylists for 1777-1787.

Clovelly is one of the parishes included in this seventeenth century petition, from North-West Devon.



Clovelly Archive and History Group Newsletter - Introduction


Poor Houses, Poor Law

Returns of Pauper Lunatics.


Probate Records

Transcript of the will of Zachary Hamlyn (1759) by J. M. Jolliffe.

Transcript of the will of Robert Pollard (1780) by Brian Randell.

Transcripts of the wills of Richard Ellis (1700), William Cary (1711) and Elizabeth Hammett (1787) by Ros Dunning.



Primrose League Fete at Clovelly, 30 June 1900, from Trewman's Exeter Flying Post.