"INSTOW (ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST), a parish, in the union of BARNSTAPLE, hundred of FREMINGTON, Braunton and N. divisions of DEVON, 3 miles (N. N. E.) from Bideford; containing 557 inhabitants. The parish is bounded on the north by the navigable river Taw, and on the west by the Torridge, and comprises by measurement 1605 acres. The village is pleasantly situated at the confluence of the rivers, and on the new road from Barnstaple to Bideford, which affords some picturesque views of the bay, with Lundy Island, and the lighthouses. . . The church is an ancient structure, in good repair. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans; and a national school is supported by subscription. Here are several springs of chalybeate water." [From Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of England (1844)]

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




Harpley, Rev. W. Richard White, [Obituary] Trans. Devon. Assoc., 1884, Vol XVI, p. 68. [Transcript]




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



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


Church Records

Parish Registers going back to 1717 are held in the Devon Record Office.

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.

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 c1807-37 - see Barnstaple Circuit, Bideford (PRO RG 4/954, 955)

As of Jan 1993 no Instow records had been been entered into the IGI.

Deanery of Barnstaple - Baptisms 1813-1839, Marriages 1754-1837 and Burials 1813-1837 - CD-ROM, Exeter, Devon FHS (2005). [Index of Atherington: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1800-1837), Barnstaple: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Bishops Tawton: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Chittlehampton: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Filleigh: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Fremington: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), High Bickington: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Horwood: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1654-1837), Burials (1675-1837), Huntshaw: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Instow: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Landkey: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Newton Tracey: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1570-1837), Burials (1725-1837), Pilton: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Swimbridge: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Tawstock: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Westleigh: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1838)


Description & Travel

Instow resort web-site - comprehensive guide.

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

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

Lauder, Rosemary Anne. A guide to Instow and its neighbours, Fremington, Yelland and Westleigh. Barnstaple: Aycliffe Press (1981) 36p : ill, map. [Westcountry Studies Library - pB/INS/1981/LAU]

Lauder, Rosemary Anne. Bideford, Appledore, Instow & Westward Hol!: a guide, Bideford, North Devon Books (1996) 48p: ill. [ISBN: 0952864509]

You can see pictures of Instow which are provided by:



Transcript of an extract from an 1857 Directory 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.



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



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.



Blackwell, A.E. The Charm and History of Instow (with Lundy Island) (rev. ed.) Bideford: Polypress (1959) 48p,plates: map. [Westcountry Studies Library -]B/INS/0001/BLA]

Grant, Alison. Instow: A History, Honeytone Promotions (2002). [ISBN 0952792435] [DFHS Library - 942.35/INS]


Land & Property

Glebe Terrier for Instow Parish 1613, transcribed by David Carter.

Glebe Terrier for Instow Parish 1727, transcribed by David Carter.

Elliot, John. Homes and gardens - Tapeley Park, Instow. Devon Life vol. 10 no. 83 (1973) pp.22-24; ill.



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

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SS473305 (Lat/Lon: 51.053488, -4.180084), Instow which are provided by:


Military History

Cantle, Pam. Instow's WW1 Commonwealth War Graves: Daniel Marsh Hankin, Private William Bankwill & Private Richard Ridd, Devon Family Historian, vol. 167, (2018) pp.30-31.


Probate Records

Transcript of the will of George Blake (1741), provided by Elizabeth Kipp.

Benson, John. Down Family. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries 20 (1938-39) pp.283-285. [Will of Rev. John Down of Instow.]