A Transcript of the Church Registers of Great Torrington
By Mr J W Bastin and edited by Michael Wickes
Transcribed by Betsy Rubel
The oldest volume of the Great Torrington Parish Registers covers the period 1616 to 1730. It consists of 582 pages; 12 inches by 16 inches and weighs about 16 lbs!
Apart from its value to the genealogist, it is a more than usually interesting volume from several points of view. The burials, for instance, contain several references to incidents in the Civil War, such as the following:
1642 December. Thomas Hollamore was buried the 27th day, slaine by the goeing off of a muckett by Cornish soldier Dec 1642
1645 Henry Boose a soldyer who was hanged att the pillory for mutuny, a lancashire man, was buried the 11th. August 1645
1645/46 February. There have bin buried the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th, 21st dayes 63 soldyers *
For the student of social history there are such items as:
1647 Nicholas Lovelais, gent., servant unto Mr Thomas Wellington, buried 7 Dec.
1658 John Hollamore dyed the last day of July & was buried the 9th day of August. His blind sonne stabd him with a knyfe whereof he dyed and was executed for the fact at Heavytree in Exon,. Munday, 16th day of August, 1658.
For a period of nearly ten years, 1698 to 1707, the Vicar recorded, with very few exceptions, the occupation of everyone buried, the occupation of the father of every child baptised and the occupation of the bridegroom in the marriages. It would thus be possible to compile what would be an almost complete Trade Directory of the town in that period.**
* The battle of Torrington and the blowing up of the Parish Church took place in February, 1645/46.
** [Handwritten (by Wickes?)] In the later half of the eighteenth century and again from 1813-33 ocupations are well recorded and there is plenty of material for the social historian. The registers bring out clearly the decline of the woolen industry in the town, for instance.
[The original Bastin Marriage Registers transcript covers 1613-1808. A one page extract from C.A.T. Fursdon's Exeter Marriage Licenses 1820-1837 which was for some reason also included by Bastin has been omitted.]