[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)]

"MODBURY, a parish, post and market town in the hundred of Ermington, county Devon, 7½ miles N.W. of Kingsbridge, and 12 E. of Plymouth. It is situated near the South Devon railway and river Erme, and contains the hamlets of Caton, Leigh, Brownston, or Brownstone, Ludbrook, and Penquit. This place, called in Latin records Motberia, was held by Wado in the Confessor's time, and came to the Legassickes through the Valletorts, Okestones, and Champernownes of Modbury Court, which was fortified by Richard Champernowne in 1334. During the civil war of Charles I. it was taken and garrisoned for the parliament in 1642, but is now in rums. The borough returned two members to parliament in the 34th of Edward I., but was afterwards relieved from making returns on the plea of poverty.

The town of Modbury is governed by a portreeve, two constables, and other subordinate officers, appointed at one of the courts-leet held at Michaelmas and Lady Day. It is well supplied with water from numerous and excellent springs, which are served by three conduits. Petty sessions are held every six weeks at the "White Hart Inn." The manufacture of woollen goods, which was formerly carried on to a large extent, has decayed, but a considerable trade in corn and malt is still carried on, and there is an extensive tannery and fellmonger's establishment. A literary and scientific institute was founded in 1840 by Richard King.

The town, which occupies the bottom and declivities of a valley, consists chiefly of four streets meeting at right angles near the lowest part of the town, where the roads leading to Plymouth, Kingsbridge, and Dartmouth form a junction. The new London road from Plymouth to Exeter passes about a mile from the town. A creek, navigable for barges, extends from the estuary of the river Erme, which bounds the parish on the W., to within 2 miles of the town, facilitating the export of agricultural produce and the import of coal, &c. The soil is rich and productive, and the land distributed betwixt orchard, arable, pasture, and woodland. The substratum abounds with limestone, which is quarried both for building and burning into lime, and there are some quarries of slate-stone.

The living is a vicarage* with the curacy of Brownstone annexed, in the diocese of Exeter, value £302, in the patronage of Eton College. The church, dedicated to St. George, is an ancient embattled structure with a tower rebuilt in 1622, and crowned by a spire. The interior of the church has monuments to the Champernowne and Prideaux families. The church has recently been thoroughly restored. The parochial charities produce about £18 per annum. The Baptists, Wesleyans, and Society of Friends have each a place of worship. There are traces of a Benedictine priory, founded in the reign of Stephen as a cell to St. Peter-sur-Dive, in Normandy. Lord Chief Justice Fortescue and Sir George Baker, President of the Royal College of Physicians, were natives.

Market day is Thursday, and a cattle market is held on the second Monday in every month. A stock fair is held on the 4th May."

"BROWNSTONE, a village in the parish of Modbury, hundred of Ermington, in the county of Devon, 3 miles to the N.E. of Modbury. The living is a perpetual curacy annexed to the vicarage of Modbury, in the diocese of Exeter. The church is a pretty Gothic edifice, erected in 1844."

Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003