South Molton


"SOUTH MOLTON is a municipal borough, and well-built market town, pleasantly situated on the bold western acclivity of the valley of the river Mole, 11 miles E.S.E. of Barnstaple, 18 N.W. by W. of Tiverton, 16 miles W. by S. of Dulverton, 28 miles N.W. by N. of Exeter, and 181 W. by S. of London. It gives name to a deanery, hundred, union, county court district, petty sessional division, and polling district; and is the chief place of election for the parliamentary representatives of the Northern Division of Devon. It is well supplied with pure soft spring water, and has gas works, erected in 1836, at the cost of £2200, raised in £10 shares. The principal streets are spacious and well paved, and contain several good inns and neat public buildings, and many handsome and well stocked shops. Its Parish comprises 6264 acres of land, many scattered farm-houses, the hamlets of Shallowford, High Bray, and Stag's Head; and the estates of Bremridge, Freynstone, Hache, North-Aller, Honiton Barton, &c., extending more than two miles west, north, and south of the town. The soil is generally fertile and well cultivated, and rises in bold undulations from the river Mole on the east, and the Bray on the west. The Mole, from which the town has its name, gives motion to several woollen and corn mills, and is here crossed by a good bridge of one arch, erected after the old one had been destroyed by a flood, in 1841. The parish had 2753 inhabitants in 1801; 2739 in 1811; 3314 in 1821; 3826 in 1831; and 4274 in 1841; but they have since increased to about 4800." [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)]

According to Peskett, Queen's Nympton alias Queen's Nymet is an outlier of this parish with a chapel of ease (Holy Trinity) built 1730, long ruinous, and without separate registers.


Archives & Libraries



Adams, Maxwell (Ed.) Miss Helen Saunders [Obituary] Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. 47, (1915), pp. 55-56. [Transcript]

Bell, Jenny. Mary Ann Haskins 1841-1914: A Midwife of South Molton, Devon Family Historian, vol. 182, (2022) pp.46-48.

Brooking-Rowe, J. (Ed.). Thomas Sanders. [Obituary] Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. XXXVI, (1904), p. 39. [Transcript]

Brooking-Rowe, J. (Ed.). John Morris. [Obituary] Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. XXXVII, (1905), p. 35. [Transcript]

Russell, K.P. Memoirs of the Rev John Pyer. London: John Snow (1865). illus. pp. xvi, 336, advts, pp. 32 [Index]

Skinner, A.J.P. Wives of the Revd. John Coleridge. Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries vol. IX, (January 1916 to January 1917), p. 217. [Transcript]

Wheeler, Elizabeth Darracott. Sir John Dodderidge, celebrated barrister of Britain, 1555-1628. Lewiston: Mellen Research Unit (1992) iv, 238p: port. [Westcountry Studies Library - s920/DOD]



A transcription of the Memorial Inscriptions for the Parish Church is held in the Society of Genealogist's Library, in Vol. 9 of Devon Memorial inscriptions.

Down, J. H. County Devon, South Molton monumental inscriptions ..., SoG Library (1914). [LDS Film number #476206]

Parsons, John (comp.). South Molton Churchyard - Gravestones. South Molton & District Archive. 32p. [Available from South Molton Museum]



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

Chanter, Rev. J F. Third Report of the Committee on Church Plate - Deanery of South Molton. Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and the Arts. Vol. 42, 2nd Series, Plymouth: W Brendan & Son (1910). Paper read at Cullompton July 27th, illus. pp. 91-111. [Deanery of South Molton] [Index]

Hicks, C.E. Nonconformity in South Molton. Trans. Devon Assoc. 92 (1960) pp.239-247. [Raymond: Includes lists of Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist ministers.]

Oliver, J.K. The parish church of St. Mary Magdalene, South Molton. (1978) 7p: plan. [Westcountry Studies Library - p726.5/SOU/OLI ]

Roberts, J. A Group of Elizabethan Puritans. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 29, 11 (1964) pp.295-296; 30, 2 (1965) pp.61-63; 30, 3 (1966) p.95. [Raymond: List, with some genealogical details, of the 'Godly', in South Molton, c.1562.]

Roper, W.L. The Parish Church of St Mary Magdalen, South Molton: A brief history. [SoG Library - DE tracts]

Saunders, Helen. Monuments in South Molton Church, Devon Notes & Queries, vol. I, (January 1900 to January 1901), p. 131. [Transcript]

South Molton Methodist Church: Centenary Year, 1982-1983. South Molton: Gospel Press (1982). [Raymond: Prints the treasurers accounts, 1882, giving names of contributors to the building fund.]

Chronicle of St Mary Magdalene, South Molton Methodist Church: A revised history of the church with extracts from the Rural Dean's book (1831-1900). [SoG Library: Devon tracts box]


Church Records

Parish Registers going back to 1601 are held in the Devon Record Office.

Transcripts of the Parish Registers going back to 1601 are held in a special collection in the Westcountry Studies Library.

South Molton Baptisms for 1791-1800, 1801-1810, 1811-1820, 1821-1830 and 1831-1837, transcribed by Lindsey Withers.

South Molton Marriages for 1811-1837, transcribed by Lindsey Withers.

South Molton Burials for 1790-1799, 1800-1809, 1810-1819, 1820-1829 and 1830-1837, transcribed by Lindsey Withers.

The Devon FHS publishes indexes covering (as of June 2004): 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, Teignmouth (PRO RG 4/954, 955, 1220)

Entered into the IGI (as of Jan 1993): Parish Church Christenings 1601-1812 and Marriages 1601-1795, Independent Chapel christenings 1758-1759, 1773-1837.

Saunders, Helen. Chappingtons of South Molton. Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries vol. VI, (January 1910 to October 1911), pp. 84-5.  [Transcript]

The Deanery of South Molton: An index of baptisms, marriages and burials in the parishes of Bishop's Nympton, Cheldon, Creacombe, Cruwys Morchard, East Anstey, East Woolfardisworthy, East Worlington, George Nympton, King's Nympton, Knowstone, Mariansleigh, Meshaw, Molland, North Molton, Oakford, Puddington, Rackenford, Romansleigh, Rose Ash, Satterleigh, South Molton, Stoodleigh, Templeton, Thelbridge, Twitchen, Warkleigh, Washford Pyne, West Anstey, West Worlington and Witheridge. With photographs of the churches and extracts from White's Directory (1850) and Kelly's Directory of Devonshire (1902). CD-ROM 062, Exeter, Devon FHS (2015). [Bishop's Nympton Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Cheldon Bapt: 1813-1843, Mar: 1755-1835, Bur: 1813-1841; Creacombe Bapt: 1814-1902, Mar: 1759-1835, Bur: 1813-1850; Cruwys Morchard Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; East Anstey Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1836, Bur: 1688-1839; East Woolfardisworthy Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1840, Bur: 1813-1837; East Worlington Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; George Nympton Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1755-1837, Bur: 1790-1837; King's Nympton Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Knowstone Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1740-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Mariansleigh Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1757-1837, Bur: 1813-1838; Meshaw Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1756-1836, Bur: 1813-1838; Molland Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1838; North Molton Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Oakford Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1840; Puddington Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1759-1836, Bur: 1740-1837; Rackenford Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1800-1837; Romansleigh Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1836, Bur: 1730-1837; Rose Ash Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1850; Satterleigh Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1755-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; South Molton Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Stoodleigh Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Templeton Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Thelbridge Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1853; Twitchen Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1755-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Warkleigh Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1851; Washford Pyne Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1756-1836, Bur: 1813-1840; West Anstey Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1836, Bur: 1745-1838; West Worlington Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1846, Bur: 1813-1851; Witheridge Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1835]


Court Records

Register of Freeholders - Shebbear, Sherwill And Southmolton c1816, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D133). [Foreword]


Description & Travel

The South Molton website (archived copy) - "for anyone with an interest in South Molton and its history".

South Molton Home Page - general information.

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

You can see pictures of South Molton which are provided by:



Transcript of the entry for South Molton in Pigot's Devonshire Directory of 1830.

Transcript of the entry for South and North Molton in Pigot's Devonshire Directory of 1844.

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



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



The Online Parish Clerk scheme's representative for this parish is Lyn Chapple, who invites queries and lookup requests. (Resources: Index to 1830 Pigot's; 1841, 1871 censuses; Ind. Chapel bapts., M.I's, Bapt. 1786-1872; Marriages 1786-1795; 1838-1854; Burials 1786-1875.)

The Stanthorpe Passmore Archive - documents relating to members of the Passmore and Maire families in the possession of Mr John Passmore of Stanthorpe, Queensland, Australia.

Chanter, J.Frederick. Chappyngtons, the South Molton organ makers. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 6:1, (1910) pp.31-32; 6:3, (1910) pp.86-87. [Transcript]

Colby, F.T. Pedigree of the Palmer family, formerly of South Molton and Great Torrington, Devon. Exeter: privately printed, 1892.

Conybeare, Frederick Cornwallis, ed. Letters and exercises of the Elizabethan schoolmaster, John Conybeare, schoolmaster at Molton, Devon, 1580, and at Swimbridge, 1594, with notes and a fragment of autobiography by William Daniel Conybeare. London: Henry Frowde, 1905. [Raymond: Includes pedigrees of Conybeare and Olivier.]

Dodderidge, Sidney E. Pedigree of Dudderigge alias Dodderidge, of Dotheridge, South Molton, and Barnstaple, Co. Devon, Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, vol. 3, no. 5, (1905) pp.166-169. [Index]

Ellen, Jo. The hammer and the anvil: a history of the Greenslade/Moore family. [Maldon, Victoria]: The Author (1992) xiv, 198p: ill, ports, tbs. [ISBN 0646101714]

Knapman, David. Multiple cousinshps, Devon Family Historian, vol. 142, (2012) pp.9-10. [The Webber and Greenslade families, in the Chulmleigh and South Molton area.]

Morris, R.Burnet. The Morris family of South Molton. Guildford: Privately printed (1908) [Westcountry Studies Library - ms929.2/MOR]

Wiley, Gill. Len on the beach, Devon Family Historian, vol. 186, no. (2023) p.9. [Leonard Cobley (b.1921, South Molton)]



Articles on William Cruwys and Maria Westacott and the Stolen Blankets of 1871-72 transcribed by Debbie Kennett.

Brief History of South Molton, from the Visit South Molton website.

Bartlett, Tom. Postcard Views of North Devon, Volume III - South Molton & Around, Bideford, Badger Books (1990) 92p of ill. [ISBN 0946290190]

Cock, John, (ed). Records of ye antient borough of South Molton, in ye county of Devon. South Molton, By the author (1893) 4 pp. l., 255 pp. front., illus., plates. [Index] [Republished in facsimile on CD, by Devon FHS, 2001]

Cresswell, Beatrix F. Notes from the local history of South Molton. South Molton: S.W.Lyddon [1932?] 24p, plates: ill. [Westcountry Studies Library - B/SOU 5/0001/CRE]

Edwards, Colin. 'having altogeather forgotten his hande wrytnge'; Two Early-Seventeenth-Century Letters and Clatworthy. In Devon Documents (ed. T. Gray). Tiverton: Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, Special Issue (1996) [ISBN 0925836203] pp.68-71.

Edmunds, Jon. History of South Molton. Barnstaple: J.Edmunds [1986] 81p. [Westcountry Studies Library - sB/SOU 5/0001/EDM]

Edmunds, Jonathan. The Book of South Molton: The Gateway to Exmoor, Tiverton, Halsgrove Press (2002) 160 pp. [ISBN: 1841141860] [Index]

Gentry, F.D. Take Care of your Fire and Candle [11 fires in Devon towns]. Devon Books (1985) 138p. [ISBN 0861147596] [Devon FHS Library 929.35]

Lambert, Sophia. A Devon By-Election: South Molton 1891. Trans. Dev. Assoc, vol. 142, (2010). [SoG Library DE/PER]

Lauder, R.A. Market Towns of North Devon, Bideford, Badger (1983) 60 pp.

Mills, John. A concise history of the borough town of South Molton, Devon: to which is added an account of Sir Robert de Basset's...aspiration. South Molton: G. Poole (1892) 48p: ill. [Westcountry Studies Library - B/SOU 5/0001/MIL]

Morgan, Mary-Jane. South Molton 1850-1870: the decline of a rural market town. Thesis for B.A. Hons. degree, School of Modern Hist. & Economics, Univ. of Manchester [1981] 60p. [Westcountry Studies Library - sxB/SOU 5/1850/MOR]

Nash, R.A. A brief history of the borough of South Molton (1943) [8]p. [Westcountry Studies Library - pB/SOU 5/0001/NAS]

Reichel, O.J. The Hundred of South Molton in Early Times, Trans. Devonshire Association (1940) pp.66-96.

Saunders, Helen. A Sketch of the History of the Church and Manor of South Molton. Trans. Devon Assoc. vol. 36 (1904) pp.226-256. [Raymond: Includes extracts from accounts, list of churchwardens, monumental inscriptions, etc.] [Index

Usmar, John. The parishes of the rural deanery of South Molton in 1916. Witheridge: J. Usmar (1990) 13p. [Barnstaple Library - BN:SOU 5/1916/USM]

Worth, R.N. Early days in South Molton. Trans. Devon. Assoc. vol. 26, (1894) pp.122-132. [Index]

Old South Molton. South Molton: The Archive (1989) 16p: ill. [ISBN 0951423606]

South Molton Heritage Trail. South Molton & District Archive Local History Society (2000) 40p. [ISBN: 0-9514236-5-4] [Available from the Tourist Information Centre, the Museum, and the Library, South Molton]


Land & Property

The Tracy Deed, a 12th century document in the collection of family papers held by the Cruwys family at Cruwys Morchard House, transcribed by Debbie Kennett.



Map of the area from OldeMaps (circa 1950).

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

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SS713259 (Lat/Lon: 51.01803, -3.836225), South Molton which are provided by:


Names, Personal

Names from an 1822-23 edition of Pigot's Directory.

Ryall, David. Lest We Forget, War memorials around South Molton. South Molton Archive, 68pp. [ISBN 0 951236 1 4] [Provides an indexed list of names]



Extracts from 18th and 19th Century newspapers relating to South Molton, provided by Lindsey Withers.



Chanter, J. Frederick. Chappyngtons, the South Molton organ builders, Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, vol. 6, no. 3, (1910) pp.85-86. [John Loosemore, 1633-1681]

Chope, R. Pearse. Chappyngtons, the South Molton organ builders, Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, vol. 6, no. 3, (1910) pp.86-87 [John Loosemore, 1633-1681]


Probate Records

Transcriptions of the wills of Henry Hearder (1656) and Sarah Herder (1650), provided by Ian Hearder.

Transcription of the will of Emm Halls (1712), part of the Stanthorpe Passmore Archive, by Desmond Painter.

Will of Nicholas Gould (1848), transcribed by Art Ames.



Jewell, Sheila. South Molton Charity School. Devon Historian 90 (May 1999) p. 6. [List of pupils in 1712, from N. Devon R.O. Ref B366 2/3.]

Joyce, Walter W. Hugh Squier's school, South Molton. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 60, (1928) pp.225-238.

Morey, Gertrude. Hugh Squier of South Molton, 1625-1710: a note of his founding of the Free School in South Molton his will and his benefactions. [1710]Devon Historian 23, (1981) pp.7-11.



South Molton and District Archive Local History Society web-site (archived copy) - provides details of archive holdings for the twenty-eight parishes in what used to be the South Molton Rural District, lists of publications, etc.