Townshend Monckton Hall [Obituary]

Trans. Devon Assoc., vol. XXXI, (1899), pp. 50-51.


Rev. W. Harpley, M.A.

Prepared by Michael Steer

The obituary was read at the Association’s August 1899 Torrington meeting. TOWNSHEND HALL was a noted geologist. On leaving college he devoted himself to science. His paper on the distribution of fossils in the North Devon Series was printed in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society (1867, vol. xxiii, pp. 371-381); but his chief contributions to the geology and mineralogy of his native county are in the Trans. Devon Association (of which he was a member from the first), and include papers on mineral localities, raised beaches, submerged forests, concentric lamination, mineral oil, classification of North Devon rocks, and various matters of local geology. He also contributed to the Geological Magazine and the Mineralogical Magazine, and wrote several sketches of the Geology of Devonshire or parts thereof, and the "Mineralogists' Directory." He became well known as the Geological Society’s chief local authority on North Devon. The obituary, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. 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.

TOWNSHEND MONCKTON Hall, born at Torquay, March 22nd, 1845, was the only son of the late Rev. William Craddock Hall, who was presented to the living of Pilton in 1837, and resigned in 1843; again he was presented to the same living in 1850, and held it until his death in 1889. In due course Mr. T. M. Hall entered at Wadham College, but his health being delicate, he made only a short stay, and did not graduate. On leaving Oxford, he devoted himself to scientific study, especially geology, and he prosecuted his studies with so much enthusiasm and diligence that he became recognised as probably the leading authority on the Geology of North Devon, and in other scientific departments, such as antiquity and archaeology, he took a foremost place. He was a Fellow of the Geological Society. At the first meeting of the Association at Barnstaple, in 1867, Mr. Hall was elected a Life Member, and for many years he contributed papers at the Annual Meetings. He also read papers before the Geological Society, and the Mineralogical Magazine and the records of the British Association were enriched by his learning. The magnificent collection of local geological and mineralogical specimens in the North Devon Athenaeum was brought together by Mr. Hall, who had also a fine collection at his own residence, Orchard House.

Mr. Hall’s unsatisfactory state of health and retiring disposition debarred him from taking an active part in public life, but he had a passionate love for the ancient parish church, and he spent large sums upon it from time to time. A quarter of a century ago he personally timbered the roof of the grand old church, and in more recent years he placed in the church three stained-glass windows in memory of his father, mother, and wife. Only last year he acquired the fellmonger's yard which had stood at Ladywell for many years, and presented the ground (alienated from the Priory in the time of Henry VIII.) to the parish for inclusion in the churchyard after raising it to the churchyard level. He also erected a mortuary and coroner's room at his own cost, and it was owing to his liberality that a parish road from Bradiford to Braunton Road was opened up last year. He was full of information concerning the Priory and church, and was only delighted when able to impart some of his knowledge to visitors. He was one of the first members of Barnstaple School Board, but served only for one term. He acted as churchwarden of Pilton for some years, and was one of the feoffees of Pilton charities.

When years began to tell on his father, Mr. Townshend Hall purchased the advowson of the living, the patronage of which he passed over to the Bishop of the Diocese, and he then, in view of having to leave the vicarage at no very distant date, built Orchard House in the adjacent field. About twelve years ago he married his cousin; Miss Ryan, who died a year or so afterwards. His mother did not long survive her husband. Several other relatives were called away about the same time or shortly afterwards, and Mr. Hall, who had always led a somewhat solitary life, became naturally more secluded than beforetime. His health, too, began to fail, and he had several serious attacks of late, confining him to his room and culminating in the fatal illness which carried him off. He died on Saturday, July 1st, 1899, aged 54 years.