Magna Britannia:

Being a concise topographical account of the several counties of Great Britain


Rev Daniel Lysons, AM, FRS, FALS, & Samuel Lysons Esq, FRS, FAS.

Vol VI, Devonshire. London: Thomas Cadell (1822).

Moretonhampstead section (pp. 357-358)

Prepared by Michael Steer

Unlike similar works in the 17th and 18th centuries, this series of volumes remains valuable today because its authors included content on such topics as population, manufacture and commerce. They were also less preoccupied than many antiquarians with coats of arms and pedigrees, and did not overstate the grandeur of the counties, as local topographers were apt to do. This rare and much sought-after book was produced digitally from a copy in the Bayerische Staatsbilothek Munchen collection and can be downloaded from Google Books. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers

MORETON HAMPSTEAD, a market town in the hundred of Teignbridge and in the deanery of Moreton, is 12 miles from Exeter and 185 miles from London.

A market on Saturdays at this place and two fairs each for six days at the festival of St Andrew and St Margaret, were granted in 1335 to Hugh de Courtenay. The market is still held on Saturday for corn and various provisions. There are two cattle fairs, the first Thursday in July, and the last Thursday in November, and there is a great market for cattle on the Saturday before Whitsun-week. There was formerly a considerable manufacture of serges at this place, which has long since very much declined.

The number of inhabitants in the town and parish of Moreton Hampstead in 1801 was 1768; in 1811, 1653 according to the returns made to parliament at those periods. The villages of Daccombe (or Dockham) and Houghton are in this parish.

Sir Thomas Fairfax was at Moreton with his army on the 8th of January 1646.

The manor of Moreton, to which belonged the third penny of the hundred of Teignbridge, was in the Crown at the time of taking the Domesday survey. In the reign of Edward I it belonged to the Earl of Ulster, who held it by the render of a sparrow hawk. It was afterwards in the Courtenay family, some of whom had formerly a seat here. It is still the property of Lord Viscount Courtenay, who is patron of the rectory. The lords of this manor had formerly the power of inflicting capital punishment.

The manor of Daccombe in this parish, held under the dean and chapter of Canterbury by the Rev George Gregory, of Dunsford, has the custom of free bench, and the lord of the manor is obliged to keep a cucking-stool for the punishment of scolding women. Wray in this parish was successively in the families of Chiverstone, Abbot, Wray, Laford, and Corslet.; the heiress of the last mentioned family brought it to the Southmeads, who have possessed it for several generations. This barton and the manor of High Hayne, are now the property of John Rowe Southmead Esq. Moor-barton belongs to Sir L V Palk Bart.

In the parish church is a monument of the Rev James Fynes, alias Clinton, aged 38 years rector, 1774.

There are meeting houses of the Unitarians, (formerly Presbyterians), Particular Baptists, Wesleyan Methodists, and Independent Calvinists at Moreton Hampstead. The congregations of Presbyterians and Baptists existed in 1715. Micaiah Towgood, the late eminent Presbyterian divine, was paster of the congregation at Moreton Hampstead from 1722 to 1736.

The sum of 10l. per annum was allotted by Sir John Maynard, out of the estates given for charitable uses by Elize Hele, for the support of a charity school at this place. It has no other endowment.