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Help and advice for Ilfracombe

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"ILFRACOMBE, an ancient sea port and market town, and the most picturesque and fashionable bathing place on the north coast of Devon, is distant about 10 miles N. by W. of Barnstaple, 5 [sic] miles N.W. by N. of Exeter, and 200 miles W. by S. of London. It is built partly at the bottom and partly on the side and summit of a steep acclivity, and till about 30 years ago, it consisted chiefly of one long street, but since then it has risen to great celebrity as a watering place, and for the accommodation of the numerous visitors, many rows of neat houses and handsome marine villas have been built on the terraces; hot and cold baths and a commodious suit of public rooms have been erected; and tunnels have been cut through the rocky cliffs to the fine beach and coves of Crewkhorne, which affords better and more retired places for sea-bathing than Wildersmouth, the old bathing place. . . The parish of Ilfracombe comprises 5583 acres of land, rising in bold hills from the coast, and including many scattered farm-houses, and the small hamlets, &c., of Damage, Campscott, Slade, Warcombe, and Lincombe. Its population amounted in 1801 to 1838; in 1811 to 1934; in 1821 to 2622; in 1831 to 3201; and in 1841 to 3620, but it has now more than 4000 souls." [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)]

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


Archives and Libraries

Ilfracombe Museum information.



Chanter, John Mill. Wanderings in North Devon: being Records & Reminiscences in the life of John Mill Chanter, 51 years vicar of Ilfracombe. Illustrated & edited by his daughter, Ilfracombe, (1887).
Harpley, W. Obituary notices: Rt. Rev. Benjamin Price. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 28, (1896) pp.50-52. [1805-1896]
Parkinson, C. Northcote. Samuel Walters Lieutenant, R.N. His memoirs. Liverpool: University Press (1949) 255pp. [Walters Family of Ilfracombe]
Shepherd, W. Memoir of the Last Illness and Death of the Late William Tharp Buchanan, Esq. of Ilfracombe, Religious Tract Society (1837) viii + 112 pp. [Contents]
Tardif, Phillip. John Bowen's Hobart: the beginning of European settlement in Tasmania Tasmanian Historical Research Association Inc. PO Box 441, Sandy Bay, Tasmania 7006 (2003) 244p. [ISBN 0-909479-22-4] [Bowen's family came from Ilfracombe originally, though he was born in London]


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

The Ilfracombe Museum has a complete name index of the graves at Holy Trinity Church, together with a full MI for each marked grave, and also an index and plan of graves at the Score (Non-Conformist) Cemetery in Ilfracombe.

Nesbitt, F. [MIs - extracts]. In Ilfracombe Parish, pp.54-61, (1901).
Palmer, Mervyn G. (ed.) A Diarist in Devon, Part 3. Trans. Devon Assoc. 77 (1945) pp.199-223. [Includes MIs.]



Ships in port at the 1881 Census, in Barnstaple, Ilfracombe and Northam, by Bob Sanders.

Snetzler, M.F. North Devon Surname Index to the Census. Microfiche: M.F. Snetzler, Barcott, Buckland Brewer, Bideford, Devon EX39 5LN. [Covers 1841, 1861, 1871 and 1881 census records for this parish]


You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Ilfracombe area or see them printed on a map.


Church History

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

Everett, A W. The Chapel of Saint Nicholas, Ilfracombe. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 88 (1948) pp.47-51.
Griffin, C.R.J. A Golden Milestone: The Congregational Church, Ilfracombe, 1687-1955. Ilfracombe: Chronicle Press (1956) 90p.
Nesbitt, Frank. Ilfracombe Parish Church (2nd. ed.). Twiss Bros., Ilfracombe (1906) 91p. [Westcountry Studies Library, Exeter Cathedral Library, Torquay Library]
Wade, Z.E.A. The Very Ancient Church of Ilfracombe, Ilfracombe, (1891) 124 + iv pp.

Church Records

Parish Registers going back to 1567 are held in the Devon Record Office.

Transcripts of the Parish Registers going back to 1567 are held in a special collection in the Westcountry Studies Library.

The Devon FHS publishes indexes covering (as of June 2004): Marriages 1754-1837, Burials 1813-1837, together with Ilfracombe Independent Chapel Marriages 1754-1837, and Burials 1827 - for details see their book list.

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

  • Presbyterian/Independent/Congregational Higher Chapel: Registers for 1729-1837 (ZB), 1821-37 (B) in PRO RG 4/1211, 1087; 1858-1911 (C), 1838-1911 (M), 1859-1881 (B) at NDRO
  • Wesleyan Chapel: Registers for c1807-37 - see Barnstaple Circuit, Bideford (PRO RG 4/954, 955)

Entered into the IGI (as of Jan 1993): Parish Church Christenings 1567-1837 and Marriages 1567-1837, and Independent Chapel Christenings 1729-1771.

Ilfracombe Wesleyan Baptisms 1850 - 1877. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Ilfracombe Wesleyan Baptisms 1878 - 1889. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
Ilfracombe Wesleyan Baptisms 1890 - 1913. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013).
An index of baptisms, marriages and burials in the parishes of Arlington, Ashford, Berrynarbor, Bittadon, Bratton Fleming, Braunton, Brendon, Challacombe, Charles, Combe Martin, Countisbury, East Buckland, East Down, Georgeham, Goodleigh, Heanton Punchardon, High Bray, Ilfracombe, Kentisbury, Loxhore, Lynton, Martinhoe, Marwood, Mortehoe, Parracombe, Shirwell, Stoke Rivers, Trentishoe, West Buckland and West Down. With photographs of the churches and extracts from White's Directory (1850) and Kelly's Directory of Devonshire (1902), CD-ROM, Exeter, Devon FHS (2015). [Arlington Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1755-1836, Bur: 1814-1837; Ashford Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1747-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Berrynarbor Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1755-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Bittadon Bapt: 1813-1843, Mar: 1754-1835, Bur: 1815-1843; Bratton Fleming Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1800-1837; Braunton Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Brendon Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Challacombe Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1822-1848; Charles Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Combe Martin Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Countisbury Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1755-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; East Buckland Bapt: 1813-1838, Mar: 1755-1836, Bur: 1813-1839; East Down Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1839, Bur: 1813-1852; Georgeham Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Goodleigh Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Heanton Punchardon Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1800-1837; High Bray Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1756-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Ilfracombe Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Kentisbury Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1841, Bur: 1813-1837; Loxhore Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Lynton Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1838; Martinhoe Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1839; Marwood Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Mortehoe Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1750-1837; Parracombe Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1598-1838, Bur: 1813-1838; Shirwell Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Stoke Rivers Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1839; Trentishoe Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; West Buckland Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1851; West Down Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1840.]

Description and Travel

Ilfracombe Community Web-Site (archived copy) contains general information and links, and many pictures and drawings of old Ilfracombe.

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

Lee Bay Web Site - incorporating Lee and Lincombe: Photographs, History, the Church, etc.

Ilfracombe, from Wikipedia.

George, Eric A. Ilfracombe, a resort to remember. Devon Life vol. 9 no. 71 (1972) pp.28-33; ill.
Lammas, Edwin, pub. Ilfracombe as it is, or the Stranger's Guide: with a Descriptive Arrangement of Excursions in the Vicinity, and a list of Roads, with their Distances to and from Ilfracombe, Edwn Lammas (1839) 76 pp.
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]
Pictorial and descriptive guide to Ilfracombe, Barnstaple, Bideford, Woolacombe, and North-West Devon (10th ed rev.), London, Ward, Lock & Co. Ltd. (1920), xxiii, 40, 24, 40 pp. [Index to Part 1: Pages iii to clxxxvi] [Index to Part 2: Pages 1 to 81]
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 (1919), xxxiv; 174 pp. [Index]
Walters, W. Ilfracombe: A health resort, Ilfracombe, John Tait (c1878) 103 pp.
The New Album of Ilfracombe. [SOG Library: Store A (DE/LOC)]
Guide to Ilfracombe, Lynton and Lynmouth, with Maps, London: Thomas Nelson & Sons (1908), illus, maps, 81 pp. [Index]

You can see pictures of Ilfracombe which are provided by:



Transcription of the description and name listing for Ilfracombe, from Pigot's London and Provincial New Commercial Directory of 1830.

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

Twiss & Sons Pr. Illustrated Hand-Book and Guide to Ilfracombe and Neighbourhood. (c189-) 120pp.
1830 Directory of Ilfracombe Traders, Disk D31, Ibertek Computer History Education Services, 9 Prospect place, Church St, Whitby (2001).


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

Ask for a calculation of the distance from Ilfracombe to another place.

Click here for a list of nearby places.



The Online Parish Clerk scheme's representative for this parish is Maureen Carroll, who invites queries and lookup requests. (Resources: 1841-1881 census, PRs on fiche - indexed.)

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.


Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Ilfracombe has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.



A History of Hele Bay, by John Moore.

Alexander, J.J. The beginnings of Ilfracombe. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 65, (1933) pp.207-212.
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. (Illustrated with a map of the north of Devon and a plan of the town.) Ilfracombe, Printed by J. Banfield, (1830), vi, 54 pp. [Index]
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. [Full text]
Bartlett, Tom. Postcard Views of North Devon, Volume I, Berrynarbor, Tower Books (1990) 96p. [ISBN 0946 290 16 4] [Coastline in old pictures from Saunton to Lynton & Lynmouth, including Ilfracombe]
Bartlett, Tom. Ilfracombe Postcard Views, Berrynarbor, Tower Books (1995) 96p. [ISBN:1 900027 01 1]
Bowring, D.W. Ilfracombe Through the Ages. Exeter: A. Wheaton & Co (1931) 119p,plates: ill.
Christie, Peter and Hobbs, Graham. Ilfracombe Through Time. Amberley Publishing (2012) 96pp. [ISBN-10: 1445611899]
Cooper, T.H. Guide Containing a Short Historical Sketch of Lynton, Lynmouth, Ilfracombe, etc. (1853) [Westcountry Studies Library]
Down, Norman Cecil Sommers. Some old Ilfracombe families and their homes. Typescript (1976) 68p. [Barnstaple Library - 929.2/ILF/DOW]
Horridge, Glenn K. Ilfracombe: a pictorial record. Godalming: Ammonite Books,1986, [93] pp. ill., ports. ISBN: 1869866002 (pbk).
Ilfracombe Local History Group. Times past in Ilfracombe and Combe Martin. Exeter: Devon County Council (1981) 76p: ill.
King, Alice. The Strange Story of Lee, Ilfracombe, Twiss & Sons (1898) 224 pp.
Laithwaite, Michael. Victorian Ilfracombe: Origins and Architecture of a North Devon Holiday Resort. Devon Bks.,1992, 64 pp. ill. (some col), maps, plans. ISBN: 0861148746 (pbk).
Lamplugh, Lois. A history of Ilfracombe. Chichester, Sussex: Phillimore,1984, xi, 145 pp., [16] pp. of plates: ill. ISBN: 0850335256.
Lewes, G.H. Seaside Studies at Ilfracombe, Tenby, the Scilly Isles and Jersey. (1858) [Westcountry Studies Library, Plymouth Library, Torquay Library] [Index]
Longhurst, John. History of Ilfracombe. Ilfracombe Architectural Soc. [1976?] 19p.
May, Bruce. The rise of Ilfracombe as a seaside resort in the ninteenth and early twentieth century. Exeter Papers Economic Hist. 13, (1980) pp.137-159.
Olivant, Gill. Drowning of Edward Stephens, on the 20th August 1845 at Ilfracombe, taken from the North Devon Journal, Devon Family Historian, vol. 128, (2008) pp.23-24.
Pullen, Sue and Harding, Jane, (Comp.). Ilfracombe, Tempus Publishing (2003) 128 pp. [ISBN: 0752425382]
Rawle, Edwin John. The wreckers haunts - a legend of Chambercombe, Ilfracombe, Twiss & Sons (1898). [Bound with the Doones of Exmoor] [Westcountry Studies Library Tiverton]
Slade-King (Mrs). Notes on the older times of Ilfracombe. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 11, (1879), pp. 161-167. [Index]
Warrell Bowring, D. Ilfracombe Throughout the Ages, Exeter, (1931) 119 pp.
Walters, W., (Ed.). Illustrated Guide to Ilfracombe & North Devon, Twiss and Sons (189-) 191 pp.
Wilson, Lilian S. Way of life and memories of Ilfracombe and nearby district. [s.l.]: [s.n.] (1971) [Westcountry Studies Library - B/ILF/1900/WIL]
Wilson, Lilian. Ilfracombe's yesterdays: a personal record of our local way of life and history, with a guide to some places of interest in other parts of North Devon. Barnstaple, North Devon: Adrienne and Peter Oldale,1976, 96 pp.
Your Devon? Ilfracombe. Devon Family Historian (Aug. 1995) pp.13-17.
Great Fire at Ilfracombe (Gazette & Observer, July 29th 1896), Devon Family Historian, No. 82, May 1997, pp. 26-27.
West Briton Newspaper, 29 August 1845, Devon Family Historian, vol. 126, (2008) pp.17. [Reports of accidental deaths of a Mr Bundock of Paignton, on arrival in Australia, and of Edward Stevens of Ilfracome, who died saving a Miss Bailey from drowning]

Land and Property

Abstract of an Indenture dated 30 Jan 1728 between Hugh Portbury of Hawkridge and Robert Cutcliffe of Ilfordcombe (Devon) regarding a tenement called Wayhouse in Withypool, Somerset. Surnames mentioned: Cutcliffe, Portbury, Frogwell, Hill, Richards, Hornby, Hawell, Greenslade. (Supplied by Linda Sanderson.)



Elliot, John. Homes and gardens - Chambercombe Manor, Ilfracombe. Devon Life vol. 7 no. 60 (1971) pp.22-24; ill.
Rawle, Edwin John. The wreckers haunts - a legend of Chambercombe, Ilfracombe, Twiss & Sons (1898) 124 pp. [Bound with the Doones of Exmoor] [Westcountry Studies Library Tiverton]
Warwick, C.H. The hidden room: the legend of Chambercombe Manor. Ilfracombe: Warwick (1987) 31p: ill. [ISBN 0722321376]
The Call of Chambercombe: A True Story of the North Devon Coast, Ilfracombe, The Chronicle Press (1959) 140 pp. [Summary]
Chambercombe Olde Manor Farm. its history and legend, Ilfracombe, (196-) 12 pp. [British Library YA.1998.a.10719]
History and legend of Chambercombe Olde Manor Farm, Ilfracombe, [1965?], 12 pp. [Westcountry Studies Library, Exeter s728.67/ILF/HIS]
The history and legend of Chambercombe Manor, Ilfracombe, Devon, Chambercombe Manor], [1973?], 19 pp. [Westcountry Studies Library, Exeter p728.67/ILF/HIS]

Merchant Marine

Dunstan, G.J.O. The seaborne trade of Barnstaple, Bideford and Ilfracombe 1660-1700, Thesis, Cambridge University (1972) 61p: ill, maps. [Westcountry Studies Library: sx380.1/DEV/DUN]
Goaman, Muriel. The story of Ilfracombe harbour. Devon Life vol. 5 no. 42, (1969) pp.16-17; ill.
Royal National Life-boat Institution. Ilfracombe lifeboats from 1828. Ilfracombe: RNLI (1988) 24p: ill.

Names, Personal

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

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

Transcription of Ilfracombe listing in White's Devonshire Directory of 1850.



Ilfracombe Apprentice Register 1802-1842. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013). [Foreword]

Probate Records

Will of William Blackmore (1920) transcribed by Jack Earnshaw.

Will of Susannah Yeo (1816) transcribed by Ros Dunning.



Roulstone, Colin. Knitting for Soldiers and Sailors, Devon Family Historian, no. 153, (2015) p.12. [With 1914 Church Boy's School photograph]