"SWIMBRIDGE, a large village, 5 miles E.SE. of Barnstaple, has in its parish 1746 souls, and 7061 acres of land, including the hamlets of Accot and Newland, and many scattered farm-houses, &c., and several pleasant seat. The Duke of Bedford is lord of the manor; but John Nott, Esq., R. Chichester, Esq., the Trustees of the late Lord Rolle, and several smaller owners, have estates in the parish. In Risdon's time, there were some remains of the manor house of Ernsborough, where that eminent civilian, Dr. Cowell, was born, in 1554. The Church (St. James,) is a handsome structure, with a tower, containing five bells, and crowned by a spire. A rich screen, in fine preservation, divides the nave and chancel. . . There is a Baptist Chapel here." [From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)]

Gunn and Travellers Rest have modern chapels of ease.



Parson John (Jack) Russell - from the BBC's Discovering Devon web-site.

Adams, Maxwell. Rev. William Henry Thompson. [Obituary] Trans. Devon. Assoc., vol.  XL, (1908), p. 44. [Transcript]

Baker, Margaret Mitford. Jack Russell, hunting parson of old Devon. Devon Life vol. 7 no. 56 (1971) pp.37. [1796-1833]

Davies, E.W.L. A memoir of the Rev. John Russell and his out-of-door life. (New ed.) London: Richard Bentley & Son, (1883), portrait, xii, 397 pp. [Index]

Kerr, Eleanor. Hunting parson: the life and times of the Reverend John Russell. London: Herbert Jenkins (1963) 192p, plates: ill.

Lamplugh, Lois. Parson Jack Russell of Swimbridge. Swimbridge: Wellspring (1994) [ii], 27p: ill, ports [ISBN 0951534734]

Noon, C. Parson Jack Russell: The Hunting Legend 1995-1883, Halsgrove Press, Tiverton (2000) 144 pp. [ISBN 1841140503]

Pepper, Frank S. Parson Jack Russell. Swimbridge: Church Council (1981) 8p. [Westcountry Studies Library - p920/RUS]

Lifetime Passion for All Forms of Hunting: The Sporting Parson The Reverend John Russell. Devon Family Historian 84 (1997) pp. 2-3. [The Hunting Parson who bred the Jack Russell terrier]



MIs for this parish are included in the Incledon and NDA North Devon indexes - see under Cemeteries on the main Devon page.



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

Swymbridge - from J. Stabb. Some Old Devon Churches (London: 1908-16).

Methodist church, Swimbridge: jubilee, 1816-1966 [Swimbridge]: [The Church] [8]p: ill. (1966) [Westcountry Studies Library - p287.1/SWI/MET]


Church Records

Parish Registers going back to 1562 are held in the Devon Record Office.

Transcripts of the Parish Registers going back to 1562 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 Devon Parish List.

Other churches and chapels (with pre-1840 records):

  • Wesleyan Chapel: Registers for c1807-37 - see Barnstaple Circuit, Bideford, Landkey (PRO RG 4/954, 955, 1213)

Entered into the IGI (as of Jan 1993): Parish Church Christenings 1562-1850 and Marriages 1553-1850.

Deanery of Barnstaple - Baptisms 1813-1839, Marriages 1754-1837 and Burials 1813-1837 - CD-ROM, Exeter, Devon FHS (2005). [Index of Atherington: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1800-1837), Barnstaple: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Bishops Tawton: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Chittlehampton: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Filleigh: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Fremington: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), High Bickington: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Horwood: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1654-1837), Burials (1675-1837), Huntshaw: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Instow: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Landkey: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Newton Tracey: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1570-1837), Burials (1725-1837), Pilton: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Swimbridge: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Tawstock: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1837), Westleigh: Baptisms (1813-1839), Marriages (1754-1837), Burials (1813-1838)


Description & Travel

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

You can see pictures of Swimbridge which are provided by:



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

Transcription, by Jonathan Frayne of the Swimbridge section of Kelly's Directory of Barnstaple and Neighbourhood (1941).



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 Ann O'Toole, who invites queries and lookup requests. (Resources: PRs up to 1838 on fiche, indexed.)

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.]

Prideaux, E.K. A Devon farmer's account book in the eighteenth century. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 6:6, (1911) pp.178-187. [Covers generations of Berry family, Kerscott, poss. Swimbridge, 1794-1816.]

SPN. Alexander GAYDON  (1837-1900) - 'the leading saddler in Toowoomba'. The Gazette Journal of the Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society Inc., Vol 32 No 3 (November 2019) p. 15 [ISSN 1443-5381] [Alexander Gaydon was born in Swimbridge.]



Dalling, Mervyn C. The parish of Swymbridge in North Devon - compiled between 1962 and 1965. [Swimbridge]: [M.C.Dalling] (1976) 20p. [Westcountry Studies Library - pB/SWY/0001/DAL]

Lamplugh, Lois. Bydown, Kerscott and Dennington. Swimbridge: The author (1991) 18p. [Barnstaple Library - 720 /SWI/LAM]

Lamplugh, Lois. A look at the past of Swimbridge. Swimbridge: Wellspring,1993, 42 pp. ill., 1 map ; 21 cm. ISBN: 0951534726 (pbk) SUBJECT: Social conditions -- History



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

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SS620299 (Lat/Lon: 51.051819, -3.970257), Swimbridge which are provided by:


Names, Personal

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 Swimbridge, provided by Lindsey Withers.



Swimbridge Apprentice Register 1802-1843. [Devon]: Devon Family History Society (2013). [Foreword]


Probate Records

Transcript of the will of Hughe Handforde (1620), provided by Ian Hearder.

Transcript of the will of Will of Bartholomew Bery or Berry (1595), provided by Nancy Frey.

Transcripts of the wills of John Nott (1598) and Margaret Houle (1830), provided by Ros Dunning.

Will of Walter Blackmore (1589), transcribed by Elizabeth Kipp.

The wills of Hugh Frayne (1614), James Frayne (1619) and Hugh Frayne (1684) transcribed by Jonathan Frayne.

Will of John Hole (1848), transcribed by Art Ames.



Reed, G. (ed.). School heritage: 125 years of a Devon village school seen through the annals of the school log books. Swimbridge: The Primary Sch. (1991) 96p: ill. [Barnstaple Library -372 /SWI/SCH]




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.