"TOPSHAM (ST. MARGARET), a market-town and parish, in the union of ST. THOMAS, hundred of WONFORD, Wonford and S. divisions of DEVON, 3½ miles (S. E.) from Exeter, and 170 (W. S. W.) from London; containing 3733 inhabitants. . . This town, situated just above the influx of the river Clyst into the Exe, and about 6 miles from the sea, is so celebrated for the salubrity of its air that it is reported to have lost only one person when the plague was raging at Exeter and in the vicinity, in the reign of Charles II.; and during the desolation produced in the neighbourhood by the cholera, in 1832, it entirely escaped the contagion. The place is lighted with gas; and on the strand are some neat residences, fronted with gardens, extending to the water's edge, the view being justly admired for its variety and extent. . . The foreign TRADE was formerly very great, but has gradually fallen away, and at the present time its vessels are chiefly emploved in the coasting trade; in the time of William III., the number engaged in the Newfoundland fishery exceeded that of any port in the kingdom, with the exception of London, but these vessels were mostly taken in the American revolutionary war, and the little trade that remained was transferred to Teignmouth. . . Ship-building is carried on extensively; chain-cables, anchors, ropes, twine, and sacking, are manufactured; a large paper-manufactory is in operation, and there is a considerable trade in coal and timber. In 1275, an annual fair for three days was granted to the inhabitants, and, together with a market on Saturdays, confirmed to them by Edward I.; the market is still held on Saturday, and there is a small fair on the Thursday after the 20th of July." [From Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of England (1844)]
A parish in Wonford Hundred, a Peculiar of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter. Countess Wear is a modern parish (1844).
Topsham Museum web-site.
Bayer, Penny. The two Ann Colliers of Topsham. Topsham History Group (2014), 28pp, 6 ill. [Available from The Topsham Bookshop, 27 Fore Street, Topsham, Exeter, Devon, EX3 0HD]
Hawker, George. A Biographical Sketch of Francis James Blight, F.R.S.E. Publisher, Chairman and Managing Director from 1899 to 1927 of Charles Griffin and Company, Ltd., Publishers, (1931) 32, xxii + 176pp. [Includes details the familiy's origins in Devon from the16-18th century and Topsham]
Holman, H. Wilson. Edward Henry Hurdle, artist. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 13:1, (1924) pp.31. [1821-1857]
Morris, D.M. At your service Captain Burgess Sir!. Devon Life vol. 3 no. 27, (1967) pp.22-23; ill. [Richard Rundle Burgess, sailor, 1782-1842]
Neal, Lily. Dorothy Holman: A Life, Topsham Museum, 25 The Strand, Topsham, Exeter EX3 0AX (2006) 54 pp. [ISBN 09524591 3 2] [Names extracted from The Tiverton Gazette and East Devon Herald for the years 1914-1920]
Sainthill, R. Al Olla Podrida; or Scraps, Numismatic, Antiquarian, and Literary. London, Nichols and Son (1844) xv + 388 pp. [Includes a biographical memoir of Richard Sainthill] [Index to Memoir]
Selley, Richard. Sir Harry Selley: A Brick-Layer from Topsham, Devon, Petravin (2016).
Weedon, Kate. Crew Lists and Log Books, Devon Family Historian, vol. 116, (Dec 2005) pp.37-41. [Their use in researching career of William Bricknell (1836-69)]
White, Sylvia. Samuel Salter of Topsham, Devon Family Historian, vol. 143, (2012) pp.17-21. [b. 1779, cordwainer]
MIs for the parish church (St Margaret), for St Luke, Countess Wear, and for the Independent/Congregational Chapel, Victoria Road, are included in the Devon FHS index - see under Cemeteries on the main Devon page.
Exeter City Council's Bereavement Services Alphabetical Index Cards - relating to over 100,000 burials at Exwick, Higher and Topsham cemeteries.
Dallas, J. The Heraldry of Devonshire Churches. II: Topsham. Notes and Gleanings - Devon and Cornwall 4 (1891) pp.157-159.
Whitmore, J.B. Devonshire Monumental Inscriptions, MS at Society of Genealogists (1951). [Extracts]
Topsham - from J. Stabb. Some Old Devon Churches (London: 1908-16).
Listing of the Incumbents of the Parish of Saint Margaret, provided by John Williams.
Bird, Stuart. The Stained Glass Windows of St. Margaret's Church Topsham, Dr Stuart Bird (2018) 32 pp. [Tree House Library]
St. Nicholas Methodist Church Topsham: the church of sea-going men: centenary 1867-1967. [Topsham?]: [The Church?] (1967) 15p: ill. [Torquay Library]
Parish Registers going back to 1600 are held in the Devon Record Office.
Transcripts of the Parish Registers going back to 1600 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.
Other churches and chapels (with pre-1840 records):
- Independent/Congregational Chapel, Victoria Road: Registers for 1808-37 (ZC) in PRO RG 4/4473
- Unity Presbyterian/Unitarian Chapel: Registers, including Gulliford, Woodbury entries, for 1774-1837 (ZC), 1771-1837 (B) in PRO RG 4/1220; 1774-1883 (C), 1844-1870 (M), 1771-1887 (B) at DRO
- Wesleyan Chapel: Registers for c1809-37 - see Axminster, Exeter Mint (PRO RG 4/512, 1207, 1208)
- Society of Friends: Registers for 1642-1708 (Z), 1665-1706 (M), 1658-1708 (B) in PRO RG 6/1374
Entered into the IGI (as of Jan 1993): Parish Church Christenings 1610-1875, Marriages 1600-1875;Independent Chapel Christenings 1809-1837; Presbyterian Chapel 1744-1755, 1771-1837.
Parish Church Marriages for 1876-1914 are in the 5-CDROM LDS British Vital Records Index (1538-1888), (Item #50028).
Roy Parkhouse provides an index to Topsham Burials, 1714-1837 (archived copy).
Tapley-Soper, H. Parish of Topsham, co. Devon: Marriages, baptisms and burials A.D. 1600 to 1837, from the parochial register, the register of the independent meeting, the register of the Presbyterians, the register of the Quakers, together with copies of memorial inscriptions , Devon & Cornwall Record Soc. (Old Series) A21 (1938).
Widgery, Tony. Excerpts from the Presbyterian Burial Register at Topsham, Devon, Devon Family Historian, No. 71 (Aug. 1994) pp. 22.
Extracts from non-parochial registers Exeter, Topsham & Woodbury, Manuscript (1890?). [Westcountry Studies Library: ms929.3/DEV/JON]
The Deanery of Aylesbeare: An index of baptisms, marriages and burials in the parishes of Aylesbeare, Bicton, Branscombe, Broadclyst, Clyst Honiton, Clyst St.George, Clyst St.Mary, Colaton Raleigh, East Budleigh, Farringdon, Harpford, Huxham, Littleham, Lympstone, Otterton, Ottery St. Mary, Pinhoe, Poltimore, Rockbeare, Salcombe Regis, Sidbury, Sidmouth, Sowton, Stoke Canon, Topsham, Venn Ottery, Whimple, Withycombe Raleigh and Woodbury. 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 (2012). [Aylesbeare Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Bicton Bapt: 1813-1843, Mar: 1755-1835, Bur: 1813-1852, Bur: 1725-1845 (BTs); Branscombe Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1545-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Broadclyst Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Clyst Honiton Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Clyst St. George Bapt: 1813-1837, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Clyst St. Mary Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1756-1840, Bur: 1813-1837; Colaton Raleigh Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; East Budleigh Bapt: 1813-1841, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; East Budleigh Salem Chapel, Bur: 1832-1837; Farringdon Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1836, Bur: 1813-1852; Glenorchy Independent Exmouth, Bur: 1784-1818; Harpford Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1755-1837, Bur: 1809-1837; Huxham Bapt: 1813-1852, Mar: 1758-1836, Bur: 1813-1864; Littleham (near Exmouth) Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Lympstone Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Otterton Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Ottery St. Mary Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Pinhoe Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1844, Bur: 1813-1838; Poltimore Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1800-1837; Rockbeare Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Salcombe Regis Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Sidbury Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1830, Bur: 1813-1837; Sidmouth Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Sowton Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1800-1837; Stoke Canon Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Topsham Bapt: 1813-1840, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Venn Ottery Bapt: 1813-1841, Mar: 1755-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Whimple Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1836, Bur: 1813-1837; Withycombe Raleigh Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1755-1837, Bur: 1813-1837; Woodbury Bapt: 1813-1839, Mar: 1754-1837, Bur: 1813-1837.]
East, Edward Hyde. The King v. The Inhabitants of Topsham. Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of Kings Bench, Vol. 4. Philadelphia, Lea and Blanchard (1845) pp. 219-221. [Concerns a pauper John Cotter, apprenticed as a mariner to D. Sweetland] [Full Text]
Transcript of entry (complete with name listing) in Pigot and Co.'s National Commercial Directory of Devon of 1830.
Transcript of entry (complete with name listing) in White's Devonshire Directory of 1850.
The transcription of the section for this parish from the National Gazetteer (1868), provided by Colin Hinson.
- Ask for a calculation of the distance from Topsham to another place.
This parish 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.
Holman, H. Wilson. Mungey or Mongey family, Topsham. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 4:2, (1906) pp.57-59, plates: ill.
Holman, H. Wilson, et al. Follett pedigree, Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 11, 1920-21, pp. 283. See also 306; 12, 1922-23, pp. 67-8; 13, 1924-5, pp. 15-16. [Index]
Jackson, Clare. The Jackson Family from Topsham, Devon Family Historian, no. 152, (2014) pp.7-8.
Ladd, James. Topsham saga: the Earls of Devon. Topsham: Apsam Books, 1993. [Courtenay family, Medieval.]
Morris, G.T. Windyer. Simon Morris of Topsham. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 13:6, (1925) pp.257-258. - Simon Morris d.1778, undertaker's account for burial given.
Morris, G.T. Windyer. Jackson family of Topsham. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 13:7, (1925) pp.325-326.
Neill, Elizabeth. Fragile Fortunes: The Origins of a Great British Merchant Family, Ryelands Publishing (2008) 448 pp. [The Gibbs Family, of Clyst St. George and Topsham]
Philllips, Peter. Edward William Mole 1849-1931, Devon Family Historian, vol. 161, (2017) pp.6-11.
St. Hill, Annabel. The History of the Sainthill Family, (1938) pp. x + 79.
Tapley-Soper, H. The Davy family of Ottery St Mary and Topsham, Devon, Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 23 (5), 1948, pp. 139-40.
Families of the name of Bartlett, Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica 3rd series 3, 1900, pp. 137-9.
You can see the administrative areas in which Topsham has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.
Barber, Chips. Topsham Past and Present. Obelisk (1994) 32 pp. ill. ISBN 0 946651 95 7 [Index]
Bartlett, L.E. A Story of Countess Wear. Manuscript [1915?] 5 vols. [Westcountry Studies Library]
Bhanji, Sadru. Topsham saga: armada and ship owners (Bk 6. AD 1580 to 1625). Topsham: Apsam (1994) 56 pp. ill.
Bhanji, Sadru. Topsham saga: Early Tudors. Topsham: Apsam Books (1994) 56p: ill, maps. [ISBN 187446104x]
Bhanji, Sadru. Topsham saga: Civil wars and new fabrics (Book 7: AD 1625-1700) Topsham: Apsam Books (1995) 56p: ill, maps. [ISBN 1874461066]
Bhanji, Sadru. Topsham in Old Picture Postcards (Back in time series), European Library, The Netherlands(2003) ISBN 90-288-37337
Bradbeer, Doris Mary. The story of the manor and town of Topsham in Devon. Bracknell, Town & Country P. (1969) 76 pp. illus., facsims. 25 cm. ISBN: 0900187093.
Braddick, Leonard E.. The Port of Topsham - Its Ships and Shipbuilding. Report and Transactions of The Devonshire Association Vol LXXXV (1953) Pages 18 - 34. 4 photos, 1 map, with list of Topsham-built ships 1782 -1879.
Delderfield, Eric R.. The Raleigh Country - A brief history of Exmouth, East Budleigh, Otterton, Bicton, Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Topsham and Lympstone, with a short life story of that great Englishman, Sir Walter Raleigh. Raleigh Press, Exmouth (1950) 146 p ill., 2 maps
Edwards, E. Devonshire - Containing Historical, Biographical and Descriptive Notices of Exmouth & its Neighbourhood, including the Exe, Littleham, Withycombe Raleigh, East Budleigh, Otterton and Bicton, Sidmouth and Sidbury, Gittisham, Ottery St. Mary, Lympstone, and Topsham; with Notices of the Pedigree of the Rolle, Raleigh, and Courtney Families, &c. Contains Notices of some Picturesque and Antiquarian Excursions in the neighbourhood of the Exe Estuary, and along the adjacent coast, including Budleigh Salterton, Dawlish, Teignmouth, Torquay, &c., Exeter, S. Drayton & Sons (1867) 362 pp.
Entwistle, Barbara. Around Topsham in Old Photographs: : Countess Wear to Lympstone Alan Sutton (1990) 160p. [ISBN 0862997178] [Devon FHS Library 942.35/TOP]
Granville, Roger. Topsham and the Duke of Monmouth. Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries vol. VI, (January 1910 to October 1911). pp. 163-164. [Transcript]
Guest, Dorothy M. Topsham: Notes and Nonsense? Or Facts and Fancies (1972). [Devon FHS Library p942.35/TOP]
Guest, Dorothy M. Topsham: history and mystery [1984?] : ill, map. [Westcountry Studies Library - pB/TOP/0001/GUE]
Ladd, James. Topsham saga: the priory and town quay. Topsham: Apsam (1994) 56 pp. ill., 1 map (Bk 4. AD 1300 to 1509).
Ladd, James. Topsham saga: the Earls of Devon. (Book 3: AD 1090-1300) Topsham: Apsam Books (1994) 56p: ill, maps. [ISBN 1874461023]
Ladd, James, Peter W. Melhuish and Janet M.Rogers. Topsham saga: the first settlers. (Book 1: BC 7000 to AD 937) Topsham: Apsam Books (1992) 56p: ill, maps. [ISBN 1874461007]
Ladd, James, Peter W. Melhuish and Janet M.Rogers. Topsham saga: Viking raiders and Norman conquest. (Book 2: AD 937-1090) Topsham: Apsam Books (1992) 56p: ill, maps. [ISBN 1874461015]
Little, B. Exeter, Crediton, Cullompton, Exmouth, Ottery St Mary, Tiverton and Topsham. (1953) [Westcountry Studies Library, Exeter Cathedral Library, Exeter University Library]
Mitchell, R.W. The history of Newport House, Topsham, Devon 1798-1980. Manuscript (1992) 69 leaves: ill, map. [Westcountry Studies Library - sx728.8/TOP/MIT]
Oboussier, Caroline. Topsham: A small scale History. Topsham Museum, Topsham (2002) 26pp.
Oboussier, Caroline. Topsham: A small scale History (rev. ed.). Topsham Museum, Topsham (2012) 26pp.
Piper, Colin (ed.) Topsham Faces 2000, I remember, Topsham: Topsham Museum (2000) 52 pp. [Memories from people who have lived in Topsham for 40+ years]
Piper, Colin. Topsham Burning: A Short History of the Topsham Fire And Rescue Service, Topsham: Topsham Museum (2001) 62 pp.
Piper, Colin. Topsham Inns, Topsham: Topsham Museum (2010) 89 pp.
Vernon, Sara. Talking about Topsham. Obelisk (1988) 32 pp. ISBN: 0946651248 (pbk).
Vernon, Sara. Talking about Topsham & Fairy Tales of Topsham. Privately published - available from Topsham Post Office and Joel Segal Books, Topsham (2007) 158 pp.
Willing, John. A History Little Known - A Topsham Childhood of Yesteryear. John Willing: 15 The Strand, Topsham (1984) 113p. ill.
Willing, John. A River at my Garden's End - Some Tales of Topsham. John Willing: 15 The Strand, Topsham (1987) 79p ill. [ISBN 0 9510843 1 3]
Topsham - an account of its streets and buildings. Topsham: The Topsham Society (1971) 38 p, ill, 9 photos, facsimile map c1840.
Topsham's Suffragettes 1911-1913, Topsham Museum Society. [DFHS Library p942.35/TOP]
Elliot, John. Homes and gardens - Shell House, Topsham. Devon Life vol. 7 no. 55 (1971) pp.28-31; ill.
Davy, Francis. Index to the map and survey of the parish of Topsham 1836. Owners names corrected to 1842 when the maps were copied. Typescript [1920?] 24p. [Westcountry Studies Library - s912/TOP/DAV]
View a map of the boundaries of this town/parish.
You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SX965880 (Lat/Lon: 50.682422, -3.466371), Topsham which are provided by:
- Google Maps
- StreetMap (Current Ordnance Survey maps)
- Bing (was Multimap)
- Old Maps Online (Other old maps.)
- National Library of Scotland (Old Ordnance Survey maps)
- Vision of Britain (Click "Historical units & statistics" for administrative areas.)
- English Jurisdictions in 1851 (Unfortunately the LDS have removed the facility to enable us to specify a starting location, you will need to search yourself on their map.)
- Magic (Geographic information) (Click + on map if it doesn't show)
- GeoHack (Links to on-line maps and location specific services.)
The Exeter City Asylum – also known as Digby Hospital - from Exeter Memories website.
Bhanji, Sadrus. Some clues as to the identity of the privateer King George. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 37:08, (1995) pp.250-2.
Braddick, Leonard E. The port of Topsham: its ships and shipbuilding. Trans. Devon. Assoc. 85, (1953) pp.18-34, plates: ill, map. [Includes list of Topsham-built ships, 1782-1879.]
Clement, David B. Holman's - A Family Business of Shipbuilders, Shipowners and Insurers from 1832, Topsham Museum Society, 25 The Strand, Topsham, Exeter EX3 0AX (2006?). [ISBN 0 9524591 2 4]
Holman, H. Wilson. Topsham privateer, "King George", 1779. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 8:1, (1914) pp.17-22. [From P.R.O., Court of Admiralty Declarations.]
Piper, Colin. Topsham Ships and Shipbuilding: W. Trout & Son, The First Century, Topsham: Topsham Museum (2001) 40 pp.
Ponsford, C.N. (Ed.). Shipbuilding on the Exe : the memoranda book of Daniel Bishop Davy (1799-1874) of Topsham, Devon: with a biography of Robert Davy (1762-1862), Exeter, Devon and Cornwall Record Society (New series, vol 31) (1988) 105 pp.
"Davy provides detailed information about shipbuilding on the Exe and on other businesses in which the family were engaged, such as the timber trade, lime-burning and anchor chainmaking. He also records his coastal travels [including to Greenock, Bridport, and Newcastle]." Contains a detailed glossary of early 19th century shipbuilding terms.
Starkey, David J. A note on the privateering career of the King George, 1779. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 35:10, (1986) pp.365-368.
Names from an 1822-23 edition of Pigot's Directory.
Also see transcriptions listed under "Directories".
Topsham Vaccination Register - 1905, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D041). [Foreword]
Topsham Vaccination Register - 1906, Exeter, Devon Family History Society, (Booklet & PDF D116). [Foreword]
Transcription, by Linda Blum-Barton, of an Apprenticeship Indenture between Henry George & Alfred Holman and William Honey Cann 1862.
Transcription, by Michael Mallett, of an Apprenticeship Indenture between John Holman and Sons of Topsham Ship Builders and Frederick Lee Mallett 1868.
Irons in the fire: a record of the Matthews Wrightson Group of Companies 1901-1951. Matthew Wrightson (1951) 83p, plates: ill. [Westcountry Studies Library - s368.006/GEN/MAT] [Insurance Brokers]
Transcription of the bond of Katherine Mallett (1620) by Mike Mallett.
Transcription of the will of Richard Cridland (1855) by Cliff & Pauline Brown.
Transcription of the will of Samuel Traies (1841), provided by Sandra Pidduck.
Wills of Elizabeth Rodd (1704), John Ewings (1735), Margaret Knight (1791), Barnabas Lloyd (1807), Daniel Pennell (1801), William Townson (1810), Betty Pullman (1814), Mary Edsall (1818), Susanna Webber (1823), Mary Ranney (1838), and Susannah Sargent (1854), transcribed by Ros Dunning.
Dale, T. C. Washington family. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 12 (1922-23) pp.160-161.
Morris, G.T. Windyear. Will of George Hodder of Topsham, Mariner, 1692. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 13 (1924-25) pp.276-278.
Morris, G.T. Windyear. Will of George Morris, of Topsham, 1744. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 15 (1928-29) pp.88-91.
Morris, G.T. Windyear. Morris of Topsham. Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries 18 (1934-35) pp.123-125. [18th c. wills]
Bradbeer, Doris Mary. Joyful schooldays. Topsham, [20 Riverside Rd., Topsham, Exeter] The author (1973) , 312 pp.  pp. of plates. illus., coats of arms, ports. 25 cm. ISBN: 0950332305.
Rogers, B.G. Schooldays in Topsham, from Slates to Computers: A short history of the two schools. Topsham: Topsham Museum (1998) 36p. [DFHS Library 942.35/TOP]