"NORTHAM, a large and well-built village, is pleasantly seated on the peninsula between Barnstaple Bay and the river Torridge, from 1 ½ to 2½ miles N. of Bideford. Its parish contains 3578 inhabitants, and about 2700 acres of land, including the pretty little seaport of Appledore; Northam Ridge hamlet; many neat villas and scattered houses, and a large plain of turf common, called Northam Burrows, on which the inhabitants have common right." [From White's History, Gazetteer and Directory of Devon (1850)]

A parish in Shebbear Hundred, the Archdeaconry of Barnstaple, and the Diocese of Exeter. Includes Westward Ho! Appledore had a chapel of ease (1838) and became a separate parish in 1844.


Archives & Libraries

North Devon Maritime Museum.

The Northam Archives are located above the Registry Office in Northam. among their resources are copies of the Bideford Gazette, with an associated index, and local census records - for further infomation contact Una Ash.

Grant, Alison and Mortimer, John, (Ed.). North Devon Maritime Museum - the first 21 years : a coming of age scrapbook, Appledore, N.D. Museum Trust [iv],36p: ill. [Westcountry Studies Library: p623.8074/APP/GRA]



Thomas Benson (1708-1772) - "[A] ship-owner and merchant who was Sheriff of Devon in 1746-7 and MP for Barnstaple between 1747 and 1754. In 1753 he fled to Portugal from British justice, having been accused of customs duty evasion and maritime insurance fraud." [Wikipedia]

Thomas Benson and the Nightingale - "An account of the events leading up to the scuttling of the Nightingale and their aftermath" (on the Devon Perspectives website).

Appledore biographies, provided by David Carter:

Documents relating to Thomas Benson, provided by David Carter:

Adams, Maxwell. Rev. Preb. Marcus Dimond Dimond- Churchward [Obituary] Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 49, (1917), p. 22.  [Transcript]

Bather, James. Account of the Life of James Bather, Late Boatswain on the Brig ‘Nightingale’, written by himself. R. Griffiths in Pater-Noster Row, London (1755)   [Transcript]

Boyle, Vernon C. R.T. Blackmore, shipwright, Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 85, (1953) pp.139-144, plates: ill.

Carter, E.R. Appledore - Boyhoood Memories from 1920. (1989) [ISBN 095075686X] [DFHS LOC 206]

Cotton, Richard W. Steven Borough the Navigator, Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol. 12, (1880), pp. 332-360. [Index]

Heaton, P.M., Tatems of Cardiff, (Starling Press, Risca, 1987) 67p. ill. [W.J. Tatem, of Appledore, later Lord Glanely (1868-1942), Cardiff ship-owner]

Lancy, John. Account of John Lancey, Late Captain on the Brig ‘Nightingale’. Written by himself . H. Slater in Drury Lane, London (1754).  [Transcript]

McFarling, Janet. The Lost Years of Edward Diamond, Devon Family Historian, vol. 161, (2017) p.11.

Pengelly, W. (ed.). Centenarian? In Second Report of the Committee on Scientific Memoranda: Trans. Devon. Assoc., 1877, Vol IX, pp.74-75. [Transcript]

Radford, John H. Edward Calvert, artist. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 1:3, (1900) pp.82-87. [Artist, 1799-1883] [Index]

Stanton, Muriel. Looking back, Bideford, Muriel Stanton (1991) 41 pp. [Westcountry Studies Library: p920/STA] [Author lived in Appledore and Plymouth]


Business & Commerce Records

Listings of Licensed Victuallers for this parish are to be found here.



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

Northam Memorial Inscriptions, with name index and listing of full inscriptions, by David Gale.

Carter, B & C. Appledore Memorial Inscriptions. Swindon (1986). [SoG Library DE/M17] [Lookups]



Transcription of the 1871 Census entries for Northam College, by Betsy Rubel. Northam Census Returns for 1871:Name Index, Transcription - part 1, Transcription - part 2, and Transcription - part 3, by David Gale.

Transcriptions by David Carter, of the Appledore census for 1841 (300 kbytes), 1851 (400 kbytes), 1861 (396 kbytes), 1871 (420 kbytes), 1881 (384 kbytes) 1891 (440 kbytes) and 1901 (440 kbytes).

Transcriptions by David Carter, of the 1831 Census - Population Return.

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. [Covers 1841, 1861, 1871 and 1881 census records for this parish, the 1861 and 1871 records for Northam Ridge, and the 1891 records for Appledore]

Bond, Sue. Don't be Led Astray, Devon Family Historian, vol. 150, (2014) pp.11-12. [Transcription errors in 1851 census of two Northam schools]



Appledore Maritime Heritage Trust  - a charity which "aims to acquire and restore heritage assets in order to preserve the area's long and established maritime heritage".

Northam Charities Board, by David Carter.

Charity Plaque in Northam Parish Church (1839), transcribed by David Carter.

Northam Charities Report 1787, transcribed by David Carter.

Northam Charities Report c.1839, transcribed by David Carter.

Northam and Appledore Charity Account Book (1845-1846), transcribed by David Carter.

Northam Charities Report and Accounts c.1870, transcribed by David Carter.


Church History

Independent Chapel, Appledore - Legal Deeds, provided by David Carter.

List of Church Documents (1870), provided by David Carter.

Gale, David W. Northam Parish Church, Northam, The Church (1989) 48 pp. [Text]

Gibbs, N.M. Holy Trinity Church, Westward Ho!, (n.d.) 5p. [Westcountry Studies Library 726.5/WES/GIB]

Hart, Rev. Maurice. Celebrating a Century: The Interesting Story of the People called Methodists in a Place called Northam, Church Council, Northam Methodist Church (1978) 40 p.

Yeo, Fr. Lester. St Mary's Church, Appledore: 150 years of Anglican worship and witness 1838 to 1988, [Appledore], St Mary's Church (1988) 20 pp. [Barnstaple Library 726.5/APP/YEO]


Church Records

Parish Registers for the Church of St Margarets, Northam, going back to 1538, and of Appledore going back to 1844, are held in the Devon Record Office.

Transcripts of the Parish Registers going back to 1542 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 - for details see their book 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):

  • Ebenezer Baptist Chapel, Meeting Street, Appledore: Registers for 1811-37 (Z) in PRO RG 4/950; 1902-42 (M) at NDRO
  • Great Meeting Independent/Congregational Chapel, Meeting Street, Appledore: Registers for 1755-1994 (M), 1862-1991 (M), 1898-1961 (B) at NDRO
  • Wesleyan Chapel, Cross Street: Registers for c1819-37 - see Bideford (PRO RG 4/955)
  • Wesleyan Chapel, Appledore: Registers for c1819-37 - see Bideford (PRO RG 4/955)

Christenings (1538-1836) and marriages (1606-1836) have been entered into the IGI.

Index to Northam Marriages (1748-1812), by David Gale.

Detailed Extracts of Northam Marriages (1748-1812), covering marriages where the husband was apparently from elswehere originally, by David Gale.

Northam Baptisms 1538-1630, Northam Baptisms 1630-1699, Northam Baptisms 1699-1773Northam Baptisms 1774-1840 and Northam Baptisms 1841-1900 provided by David Carter. (These files include (and credit) all the previous work by David Gale and Elizabeth Howard, whose work has been checked and corrected where necessary. It also checks some pages from the hand-written transcript done about 70 years ago by W H Rogers in the Westcountry Studies Library, from which the IGI entries were taken.)

Northam Marriages 1605-1754, Northam Marriages 1754-1812, and Northam Marriages 1813-1837 provided by David Carter. (These files include (and credit) all the previous work by Elizabeth Howard, whose work has been checked and corrected where necessary. )

Northam Burials 1538-1649, Northam Burials 1650-1699, Northam Burials 1700-1749, Northam Burials 1750-1840, and Northam Burials 1841-1918 provided by David Carter. (These files include (and credit) all the previous work by Elizabeth Howard, whose work has been checked and corrected where necessary.

Appledore Baptisms, Marriages and Burials (276 kbytes), transcribed by David Carter.

Northam Pew Lists for 1650, 1674 and 1732, transcribed by David Carter.

Northam Churchwardens Account books of receipts and disbursements for (1718-1774) and  (1774-1813), transcribed by David Carter.

Transcription of an Obligation Bond, relating to the marriage of William Nicholls to Margaret Ellis (4 Sep 1746), by David Carter.

A list of people who gave money in 1593 to extend Northam church, transcribed by David Carter.

Northam Church Monuments, together with corresponding burial register entries, transcribed by David Carter.

Wickes, M.J.L. Appledore Independent Church (now United Reformed): baptisms 1755- 1860. Appledore: Michael Wickes (1994) 25p.

An index of baptisms, marriages and burials in the parishes of Abbotsham, Alverdiscott, Alwington, Bideford, Buckland Brewer, Bulkworthy, Clovelly, East Putford, Frithelstock, Hartland, Landcross, Littleham, Monkleigh, Northam, Parkham, Wear Gifford, Welcombe and West Woolfardisworthy. With photographs of the churches and extracts from White's Devonshire Directory 1850 and Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of England 1844, CD-ROM, Exeter, Devon FHS (2009). [Abbotsham Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Alverdiscott Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1775-1837; Alwington Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Bideford Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Buckland Brewer Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Bulkworthy Bapt: 1813-1841, Mar: 1814-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Clovelly Bapt: 1813-1838, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; East Putford Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1797-1837, Bur: 1813-1839; Frithelstock Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Hartland Bapt: 1838-1839, Mar: 1558-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Landcross Bapt: 1814-1839, Mar: 1761-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Littleham Bapt: 1813-1841, Mar: 1755-1837, Bur: 1813-1851; Monkleigh Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Northam Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Parkham Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1537-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Wear Gifford Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1755-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Welcombe Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1757-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; West Woolfardisworthy Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837.]


Court Records

Transcript by David Carter of the witness statements in the Benson and Stafford Court case (1758), which includes list of all Benson family land holdings, and the Exchequer Court Pleadings (1760).

Northam entries, extracted from the 1723 Devon Oath Rolls by David Carter.

Exchequer: King's Remembrancer: Memoranda Rolls 1751-1753 (relating to investigations into Thomas Benson and others) - extractions by David Carter.

The Old Bailey Trial of John Lancey and John Lloyd - transcribed by David Carter.


Description & Travel

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

The Northam web-site (archived copy) provides general and historical information about the villages of Northam, Appledore and Westward Ho!

The Instow website - comprehensive guide to Instow and its history.

Extract from Murray's "Handbook for Travellers in Devonshire" (1879), describing Westward Ho! and Appledore.

Conservation Area Appraisal for Appledore.

Bowen, David. A Devonshire village - Appledore. Devon Life vol. 5 no. 40, (1969) pp.42-44; ill.

Emneth, Elmand. Round about the Kingsley country: Bideford, Northam, Westward Ho! and Appledore, London, (1927?) 24, xxxvp: ill, map. [Westcountry Studies Library: pB/BID/1927/EMN]

Lauder, Rosemary Anne. Westward Ho! to Welcombe, Bideford, North Devon, North Devon Books (1994) 70 pp.

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

Melville, Nigel. Tidal range: ebb and flow in Appledore, Appledore, Odun Books (1990) 79p: ill, maps [ISBN 1873129009] [Westcountry Studies Library pB/APP/1991/MEL]

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 (c1901) 159 pp. [BM 10358.cc.59]

You can see pictures of Northam which are provided by:



Transcription of an extract from Pigot's 1830 Nat. Commmercial Directory for Appledore and Neighbourhood.

Transcription of an extract from an 1857 Directory with a description of the parish and village of Northam, with East and West Appledore, and a list of clergy, gentry, professions, trades, etc.

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

Transcriptions provided by Val Henderson of the Northam, Westward Ho! and the Appledore entries (descriptions and names) in Morris and Co's Commercial Directory and Gazetteer of Devonshire 1870.

Wilson's Almanack & Directory of Bideford, Northam & Westward Ho, Bideford, Wilson Bros (1900) 106 pp. [Available on CD from JiGrah Resources, 85 Heythrop Drive, Acklam, Middlesborough, TS5 8QX]



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



Northam Persons - an extensive listing by David Gale of details from: Newspapers, Voters List, Deeds, Wills, Charities; etc.

Appledore 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.

Kelly, Mary. The Langdon family of Georgeham, Braunton, Northam and Heanton Punchardon, North Devon, England, Moggill, Queensland, M. Kelly (1994?) 1 vol: ill, maps. [Westcountry Studies Library px929.2/LAN]

Slawson, Daphne. Kelly Family, Devon Family Historian, vol. 134, (2010) p.13.


Historical Geography

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



About Appledore - provided by John Lerwill.

Brannan, James. Sad Boating Fatality at Appledore, Devon Family Historian, vol. 142, (2012) pp.4-5. [Drowning of Thomas Sharland Brannan and William Tyler in 1882]

Beara, John. Appledore: handmaid of the sea. Appledore: John Beara (1976) 52p: ill, map. (North Devon Museum Trust. Handbook 3)

Bradford, David Charles. The development of Westward Ho!, a small popular resort in North Devon, between the years 1860 and 1916. Southampton: Univ of Southampton (1977) 74p: maps, plans. [Westcountry Studies Library - sx305/WES/BRA]

Carter, David. Illustrated history of Appledore 1: (Including an account of one of its families) [Slade], 'Docton Court', 2 Myrtle Street, Appledore, Bideford, Devon, EX39 1PH, D. Carter (2000) 200 pp. [Description and Index]

Carter, David. Illustrated history of Appledore 2: (Its Life and People), 'Docton Court', 2 Myrtle Street, Appledore, Bideford, Devon, EX39 1PH, D. Carter (2009) 246 pp. [Description, Index and Notes]

Carter, David. Illustrated history of Appledore 3: (Its Place in History), 'Docton Court', 2 Myrtle Street, Appledore, Bideford, Devon, EX39 1PH, D. Carter (2017) 242 pp. [Description, Index and Notes]

Chanter, J.F. Borough, or Borrough, in Northam and its inhabitants. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 58, (1926) pp.193-208. [Borough, Leigh, Berry, Downe and Barton families]

Davis, Corinna, M. A Short History of Northam. Ilfracombe: A.H. Stockwell (1967) [Westcountry Studies Library - B/NOR 1/0001/DAV]

Grant, Alison. The history of Instow to mark the millennium, Honeytone Promotions (1999) 196 pp.

Haslett, SK and Bryant, EA, The AD 1607 coastal flood in the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary: Historical records from Devon and Cornwall (UK), Archaeology in the Severn Estuary, 15, 2004, 81-89. ["Damage included houses 'overthrown and sunk' at Appledore and a number destroyed at Barnstaple where there are three named fatalities."] [Full text]

Howlett, Neil M. Family and household in a nineteenth century Devon village, Local population studies, vol. 30, (Spring 1983) pp.42-48. [Westcountry Studies Library px301.32/APP/HOW]

Mayo, Ronald. The story of Westward Ho! - from fashionable watering-place to self-service resort. (2nd. ed.) Barnstaple: R.Mayo (1981) 43p: ill, map. [Westcountry Studies Library - pB/WES 7/0001/MAY]


Land & Property

Northam Tithe Apportionments (1838), and Land Tax Assessments (1780) indexed by David Gale.

Northam Land Tax Assessments for 1768, 1777, 1779, 1783, 17851789, 1795, 1800, 1805, 1810, 1815, 1820, 1824, 1828, and 1832 provided by David Carter. 

Purchase of Property in Northam, 16th October 1617: Bargain and Sale by Thomas Vallett gentleman of Northam, to Thomas Docton of Docton in Hartland esq. - transcribed by David Carter.

Purchase of Property in Northam, Appledore and Irsha, 10th December 1612: Bargain and Sale by George Willett gentleman of Bideford, to Thomas Docton gentleman of Hartland - transcribed by David Carter.

Property deeds relating to the Globe Inn, 23 Market Street, Appledore - transcribed by David Carter.

Property deeds relating to 25 Market Street, Appledore - transcribed by David Carter.

Property deeds relating to 46 Market Street, Appledore - transcribed by David Carter.

Property deeds relating to 97 Irsha Street, Appledore - transcribed by David Carter.

Property deeds relating to 107 Irsha Street, Appledore - transcribed by David Carter.

Chancery Court case pleadings: Bishop v Docken (1622) - transcribed by David Carter.

Chancery pleadings: Corye v Docken (1622) - transcribed by David Carter.

Chancery Court pleadings: Beaple v. Bowden (c.1580) - transcribed by David Carter.

Chancery Court pleadings: Upcott v. Whiston (1569) - transcribed by David Carter.

Assessment of the Lands of Thomas Benson (1753) - transcribed by David Carter

Star Chamber Court pleadings: 1622 (Docton v Docton) - transcribed by David Carter

Marriage Settlement (1732) between John Benson and Grace Melhuish (concerning property in Northam and Parkham) - transcribed by David Carter.

Bond for House at Appledore (1736) between John Benson and Edward Jeffery - transcribed by David Carter.



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

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SS448291 (Lat/Lon: 51.040238, -4.215125), Northam which are provided by:


Merchant Marine

Port Books for 1595160616111616161716281640164716721680 and 1705, provided by David Carter.

Appledore Maritime Heritage Trust  - a charity which "aims to acquire and restore heritage assets in order to preserve the area's long and established maritime heritage". The website provides a detailed history of Appledore's  lifeboats.

Logbook (1920-1942) of the coasting schooner 'Haldon', provided by David Carter.

Letter of Marque – The Benson Galley (1744), transcribed by David Carter.

Entries relating to the loss of Merchant Ships (1744), transcribed by David Carter.

Dickinson, Michael. An Early Crew List From the Newfoundland Trade; The Prosperous of Appledore in 1739. In Devon Documents (ed. T. Gray). Tiverton: Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, Special Issue (1996) [ISBN 0925836203] pp.49-52.

Greenhill, Basil. A quayside camera 1845-1917, Newton Abbot, David & Charles (1975) 112 pp. [ISBN 0715368850] [Barnstaple Library 387.22/APP/GRE]

Greenhill, B. and Giffard, Ann. Women Under Sail (Contains: Two Sailors's wives of Appledore; sea-log written on a passage from Newport to Quebec in 1860 by Thomazene Williams; and My Mother - the story of Ann Slade, 1865-1964, told by W.J. Slade.) (1970) [Plymouth Library]

Harris, Len. A two hundred year history of Appledore shipyards. (Hargill Partners, Rotapress-Printers, 1992, vi, 117 p., 8 plates: ill. ISBN: 0950991732 (pbk).

Heaton, P.M. Reardon Smith line: the history of a South Wales shipping venture, Risca, Starling Press (1984) 133 p. [ISBN 0950771430] [Westcountry Studies Library s920/SMI]

Lowry, C.C. The story of R.N.L.I. Appledore 1825-1975: Braunton Burrows 1848-1919. Northam Burrows 1852-1897, Hartland, Jamaica Press (1975) 40 pp. [Barnstaple Library 363.12381/BT: APP/LOW]

Nix, M. A Maritime History of the Ports of Bideford and Barnstaple. Ph.D. Thesis, Univesity of Leicester (1991), 527p. [WCSL 387/BID/NIX] [Chap. 12 is mainly on Appledore.]

W.J. Slade. Out of Appledore: the autobiography of a coasting shipmaster and shipowner in the last days of the wooden coasting ships (Ed. and with a Preface by Basil Greenhill), London, Percival Marshall, 1959, 127 pp. [Index] ["The book is the life story of a British coasting seaman, shipmaster, and shipowner, in the last years of small wooden merchant sailing ships, written by himself. It is a unique record, a first-hand account of a very old way of life which has now completely vanished, and which is very much part of the history of Britain." (From the Preface)]

Action at Appledore. Devon Life vol. 1 no. 1, (1965) pp.16-23; ill. [Lifeboat Service]


Military History

Redstone, Harold John. US Servicemen in North Devon, Devon Family Historian, vol. 167, (2018) pp.9-10.


Names, Personal

Northam War Memorial Book List and Northam War Memorial Inscriptions, provided by David Gale.

Listing of names from various 19th Century Northam directories, compiled by David Gale.



Boyle, Vernon C. Arts and crafts of an old seaport. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 80, (1948) pp.137-145, 12p of plates.

Newcombe, John. A memorable landmark. Devon Life vol. 7 no. 56 (1971) pp.38-41; ill. [Shipbuilding]



Grant, Alison. A is for Appledore: education in a Devon maritime community. North Devon Museum Trust (1993) 66 pp. ill., facsims., maps. [Appledore County Primary School].

Beresford, George Charles. Schooldays with Kipling; with a preface by General Dunsterville (Stalky), London, Gollancz (1936) 319p, plates: ill. [Westcountry Studies Library 920/KIP]

Tapp, H.A. United Services College 1874-1911: A Short Account of Rudyard Kipling's School at Westward Ho!, [Devon FHS Library p942.35/WES] (1933).



Appledore Historical Society website.



House Tax records for Northam for 1781-82 are held by the North Devon Record Office.

House Tax for Northam (1779), provided by David Carter.

Window Tax for Northam (1779), provided by David Carter.

Window and House Tax for Northam (1780), provided by David Carter.

House Tax for Northam (1782), provided by David Carter.


Voting Registers

Electoral Register - Appledore Ward (1939), provided by David Carter.