From White's Devonshire Directory of 1850

TOPSHAM is a small ancient market town, sea port, and fishing station, within the jurisdiction of the Port of Exeter, pleasantly situated about 4 miles S.E. of Exeter, on the east bank of the river Exe, which here receives the small river Clist, and suddenly expands into an estuary, about a mile broad and six in length, extending southward to the English Channel, at Exmouth. Its parish contains 3733 inhabitants and 1528A. 2P. of land, including the straggling village and chapelry district of COUNTESS-WEIR, or WEAR, on the east bank of the Exe, from 1 to 2 miles N.W. of the town. Topsham consists chiefly of one long street, extending north and south, and several short ones running east and west to the Exe and the Clist, which unite at the south end of the town, which projects into the broad estuary on the point of land called the Strand, whence the tides are seen rolling in majestic grandeur between a succession of the richest and most varied scenery, having the woods and Castle of Powderham on the west, and the pleasant village of Lympstone and many gentlemen's seats on the east. At the Strand the water flows near the houses, and the prospect is highly interesting, but a still more extensive view is commanded from the high cliff in the centre of the town, on which the church stands, and which is occupied as the churchyard. Before the construction of Exeter Ship Canal, and for some time afterwards, the business done at Topsham was very great, as noticed at page 64, where we have already noticed the erection of Countess-Weir across the bed of the Exe, and the long continued dispute between the corporation of Exeter and the former lords of the manor of Topsham. Exeter Ship Canal now falls into the estuary by a spacious lock on the opposite side, at Turf, near the South Devon Railway; but still Topsham enjoys a share of the coasting trade, and its merchants import timber and other produce from America and the Baltic. The quays and wharfs are spacious, and here are bonded warehouses for all foreign goods, except wine and spirits, East India goods, and tobacco. Here are three ship and boat building yards, a large paper mill, and several roperies and chain cable manufactories, &c. Topsham seemed doomed to decay, after the erection of the ship canal to Exeter, for which city it had previously been the shipping port. After languishing for a long period a new spirit came over it a few years ago, and the town and its trade and commerce have recently been much improved. Many new buildings have sprung up in the town and neighbourhood, many of the shops and old dwellings have been much improved, and it is becoming a favourite place of resort for the invalid, and the care worn citizen, seeking health or retirement. It has two good inns, several commodious taverns, many well stocked shops, and eleven fishing boats, employing about 100 men and boys in catching herrings, whitings, sprats, &c. Sprats are plentiful in the estuary, and no less than 100 tons of them were caught here from the 6th to the 13th of Nov. 1848. The market, held every Saturday, is well supplied with provisions, and here is a fair, for cattle, &c., on the Thursday after July 18th. Edward I. granted a charter for a market to Hugh de Courtenay Earl of Devon; and also confirmed a fair for three days at the festival of St. Margaret, which had been granted by Henry III., in 1257, to Baldwin de Redvers, the 8th Earl. The manor of Topsham was part of the ancient demesne of the Crown, and was held for a long period by the Earls of Devon. (See p. 61.) It was afterwards held by the De Courcy family, but the parish now belongs to various freeholders, some of whom have pleasant seats here. The fee-farm rent is vested in A.H. Hamilton, Esq., of the Retreat, a neat cemented villa, with tasteful grounds, formerly the residence of his late uncle, Sir Alex. Hamilton, Kt. The manor of Weir Park, or Wear, was anciently called Heneaton, Hineton, or Honiton Siege, and obtained its present name from the weir which was constructed by the Countess of Devon, as already noticed, and from which the hamlet is called Countess Weir. It belonged successively to the Bukenton, Bathonia, Medsted, and Holland families. It was a seat of a younger branch of the Hollands till the latter part of the 17th century. It was purchased in 1760, of the Rodds, by the Spicers, of Exeter, who sold it in 1804, to the late gallant admiral Sir John Thomas Duckworth, who greatly improved its handsome residence, called WEIR HOUSE, and was created a baronet in 1813. He died in 1817, and was succeeded by his son, the present Sir John Thos. Buller Duckworth, Bart., M.P., one of the parliamentary representatives of the city of Exeter. The mansion stands on an eminence commanding delightful views, and contains a fine bust of the late Admiral. The ruins of the old seat of the Hollands are to be seen about a mile from the present mansion. The other principal proprietors who have seats in the parish are J.B. Cresswell, Esq., Newcourt House; Henry Seymour, Esq., of Northbrook House; G.F. Travers, Esq., of Fairfield Lodge; and Mrs. Mitchell, of Newport House. When Exeter was besieged by the King's forces in 1643, the Earl of Warwick, the parliamentary admiral, is said to have battered down a fort at Topsham, and killed 70 or 80 men. Sir Thomas Fairfax, with the parliamentary army, was quartered here in October, 1645. (See page 67.) The Parish church (St. Margaret,) stands on the cliff overlooking the Exe, and is an old structure, containing two handsome monuments by Chantrey. One of them is in memory of the late Admiral Sir J.T. Duckworth, Bart., G.C.B. The bust of this monument is an excellent likeness of the deceased, and below is a representation, in bas relief, of the naval engagement in which the brave admiral defeated the French fleet, at St. Domingo. The other is in memory of the Admiral's son, Colonel George Duckworth, who fell at the battle of Albuera, in 1811. The Dean and Chapter of Exeter are appropriators of the tithes and patrons of the perpetual curacy, which is in their jurisdiction, and was valued in 1831 at £227. The Rev. Henry Thorp, M.A., is the incumbent. The glebe comprises 36 acres and several houses, but the Parsonage is a mean building not occupied by the incumbent. Several tenements, let for £10. 15s., have been long vested for the repairs of the church. The appropriate tithes were commuted in 1842 for £445 per annum. Countess Weir hamlet, forming the north side of the parish of Topsham, was constituted a chapelry district by Order in Council, in 1844, under the provisions of an act of the 59th of George III. Its Chapel (St. Luke,) was built and endowed by subscription in 1837-'8. The building cost about £900, and the sum of £1500 was invested in the funds as the endowment, which was augmented, in 1840, with £200 of Queen Anne's Bounty, £100 given by the Dean and Chapter of Exeter, and £200 given by the Rev. Chas. Burne, B.C.L., who was the first incumbent, and gave £300 towards the foundation of the chapel. The benefice is a perpetual curacy, and was further endowed in 1846, by the appropriators, with £30 out of tithes of the parish. It is now enjoyed by the Rev. Robert Bartholomew, and is in the patronage of the incumbent of Topsham. The chapel is a plain neat building, with a cupola and one bell, and has 340 sittings, all free, except a few private pews, the rents of which are applied in aid of the clerk's and organist's salaries.

In Topsham are three chapels, one of which is an old Presbyterian Meeting House, now belonging to Unitarians. The Independent Chapel, in Victoria place, was erected in 1838-'9, in lieu of the old chapel, in High street, at the cost of about £1100. The Wesleyan Chapel is a small building, erected in 1818, at the cost of about £400. The Unitarian minister has about £10 year from several tenements left by John Greenfield, in 1734. The NATIONAL SCHOOL, in Monmouth street, is attended by about 150 children, of whom about 20 are taught entirely free, in consideration of a legacy of £300 left by Joseph Somaster, in 1767, and several small benefactions. The endowment arising from these sources now consists of Rushmore field, let for £12, and the dividends of £640 three per cent. consols. There is also a National School at Countess Weir. Elliott's Free School, for 13 poor children, was founded in 1768, by Saml. Elliott, who left £400 for that purpose, and the yearly sum of £1. 11s. 6d., to the minister of the Presbyterian Chapel, for preaching two sermons on education. The Infant School, connected with the Independent Chapel, but open to all denominations, was established in 1847. John Watkins, about 1600, left for the poor of Topsham a house in Exeter, now the King's Head Inn. It is worth about £60 a year, but was let in 1796, for 99 years, at £12 per annum, in consideration of a fine of £80, which was laid out in the purchase of £150 four per cent. stock. The rent and dividends are divided among the poor parishioners, at Christmas. In 1636, John Shere left three houses in trust to pay £4 yearly to the perpetual curate, and to divide the residue of the clear rents among the poor. They are now let for about £40 per annum. For apprenticing poor children, Ann Collier, in 1777, left £500 three per cent. consol. To this stock £25 was added in 1801, by gift of Mr. S. Dorrington. For distribution in bread the poor parishioners have the interest of £100 left by Wm. Kennaway, in 1792; the dividends of £83. 1s. 8d. three per cent. consols, left by Wm. Short, in 1801; and a yearly rent charge of £4 left by Wm. Townson, in 1810, out of several houses. Among the eminent men who were born at Topsham, are Capt. Burgess, R.N., who was killed at the battle of Camperdown,, and Sir Wm. W. Follett, the late Attorney General. In memory of the former there is a monument in St. Paul's Cathedral, erected at the national expense. Under the port of Exeter, a custom house officer and six river pilots are stationed here.

In the following DIRECTORY OF TOPSHAM, those marked * are at COUNTESS WEIR; 2, in Fore street; 3, High street; 4, Monmouth street; 5, at the Quay; 6, in Passage lane; 7, in Shapter street; 8on the Strand and 9, in White street.

The POST-OFFICE is at the Globe Inn. Letters are despatched, via Exeter, at 10½ mng. and 7½ evening. There is a sub-post office at Wm. Ford's, Countess Weir.

Adams Mrs Elizabeth, Fore street
* Bartholomew Rev Robt., B.A., incbt
2 Bonkern John, china & glass dlr
3 Bowden Misses Eliz. and Mary
Bradley Mr Wm., Mount House
Brand Mr Nicholas, Broadway House
Breakspear Mrs Eliz., High street
Bristow Rev Jph. B. (Unitn.) Vic. pl
Brown John, parish clerk, Tract, &c. Depot, High street
Carrington Mrs Eliz., Monmouth st
2 Carlile Wm. tax collector
7 Carter Lieut. Thos. Gilbert, R.N.
Clarke Miss Barbara, High street
Cocke Rev Fdk. and Mrs, Bridge hill
Cresswell John Bowden, Esq. Newcourt House
Cridland Rd., sexton, Church yard
Davy Francis, iron merchant, &c.
* Davy Robt. and Samuel, merchants
8 Dewdney Wm. Sweetland, gent.
Drew Mrs Hannah, Grove House
* Duckworth Sir John Thos. Buller, Bart., M.P., Weir House
3 Eales Mrs Ann, High street
* Englefield James, butler
Fletcher Rev Richard, (Indpt.) Rose Cottage, Victoria place
8 Foster Mr Wm.
2 Francis Mrs
3 Gale Geo. sen., income tax collector
2 Gale Geo. wine and spirit mercht
Goodrich Mrs Sarah, Fore street
Hamilton Alx. Hamilton, Esq., Retreat
Hannaford Mrs Elizabeth, Strand
* Harris Chas. paper manfr. Countess Weir Mills
2 Hemer Mrs Fras.
3 Hill Mrs G.
4 Hewson Capt. George, R.N.
2 Hodder Samuel, tallow chandler
Holman John, sen., surveyor to Lloyd's, and sec. of Exeter Shipping Company
Hooper Isaac, gent. Victoria place
2 Hoare Mrs Sar.
3 Hoskins Miss
Hoskins Capt. Saml., R.N., Strand
Hurdle Mrs Mary, High street
Kemp Mr Edw. Lewis, Strand
4 Lambert Lieut. Charles, R.N.
Lang Mr Wm., Upper Shapter street
Langworthy Lieut. Jno., R.N., Strand
Lewin Lieut. Elisha, R.N., Strand
Lodge Mrs Judith, Strand
* McAdam Cphr., Esq., (road surveyor,) Mount Weir House
Mitchell Mrs My., Newport House
8 Owen Mr Thos.
7 Markwell Mrs
8 Paine Mr Thos.
5 Parker Mrs
Parkhouse John, cooper, High street
8 Paul Henry, traveller
4 Peters Misses Sarah and Lucinda
8 Plumb Curtis, gent.
8 Pope Jno. Woodford, solr. (& Exeter)
8 Popham Mr Thos.
Rodd Mr T.
8 Pyle Rev Saml., M.A., asst. curate
7 Quarry Mrs Mary Ann
Ross Francis Wm. L., gent. High st
Row John, town crier, Fore street
8 Salmon Miss
4 Salisbury Mrs J.
Seymour Hy., Esq. Northbrook Hs
7 Shepherd Mr Sml.
* Smart Jno. gent
Skinner John, wharfinger, Quay
4 Southcott Edward, relieving officer
Stephens Wm. saddler, High street
Stephens James, gent. Shapter street
Sweeting Rd. inland revenue officer
Thorn Wm. carrier, High street
8 Thorp Rev Hy., M.A., incumbent
Thorp Ths. R. gent.
* Templeton Jno.
* Travers Geo. Fras. gent Fairfld. Lodge
Troake Hy. accountant, High street
8 Trout Miss My. & Tucker Mrs Ann
Wallis Robt. private tutor, Strand
Wilcocks Mrs, Upper Shapter street
6 Willicott Edward, clerk
8 Wright Capt. Philip, R.N.

Atlas, Henry Troake, High street
Western Life, Wm. Carlile, High st
Widows' Life, John Ford, High st

Bridge Inn, Philip Pyle, Bridge hill
Commercial, Wm. Parr, High street
* Countess Weir Inn, (empty)
* Country House, Wm. Ford, (post)
Globe Hotel, Mrs Harrison, (post office,) Fore street
4 Duke of Monmouth, George Henry P. Westcott
Half Moon, (empty,) High street
7 King's Head, John Please
8 Lighter Inn, Thos. Stancombe
Lord Nelson, Jas. Snell, High street
6 Passage House, Charles Hall
Salutation, Wm. Lake, Fore-street
Ship, Susan Gullock, Quay
Steam Packet, John Ellis, Quay

(+ Boarding, and ! National Schls.)
8 Barrett Eliz.
! Boult Julia
2 Fare Wm.
4 ! Halfyard Hy.
2 Hart Mary
+ Hill Ann, Vic. pl
8 + Hookins Hy.
* ! Hooper John
2 + Walters Hart. and Louisa
White My. (Infnt)
Willicott Thomas (Charity) Vic. p

2 Ford John
7 Giles James
3 Melhuish Wm.
5 Mugford Wm.
2 Osborn Saml. (& confectioner)
2 Pridham John
4 Salisbury Jno. H.
2 Scoble W. & Geo.
3 Toogood Hy.
3 Wilcocks John

3 Bass Samuel
9 Crocker Thos.
3 Mann Thos.

3 Heales John
9 Pearce Henry
* Potter Robert

Marked + are Chain Mkrs. & Shipsmiths
Harris John
Harris Wm.
6 + Holman and Walters
5 + Jackson Hy.
8 + Lock Thos. & Rd
5 + Moore Ananias
3 Tapper John
6 + Toby Samuel
3 Westcott Jph.

2 Ford John
2 Pope George

2 Burgess Rd.
3 Francis Edwd.
3 Francis Wm.
* Hooper John
2 Hooper Wm.
2 Marks Wm.
4 Powell John
8 Redman John
9 Rich Edward
2 Swain Robert
3 Underhill Wm.
2 Willicott Edwd.

Carlile Edward
2 Carlile Wm.
4 Harswell Hy.
4 Havill Wm. Hy.
* Wills & Mitchell (and masons)

2 Hayward John
3 Toogood Hy.
2 Tozer Richard
2 Walling Samp.
2 Walters Henry
2 Walters Thos.

3 Boutcher John
3 Clapp George
2 Clapp Wm.
* Cloff Wm.
5 Ford Nelson
2 Francis John
2 Mitchell Ezekl.
3 Rowe John
4 Stamp Edw.
* Ugler Robert

2 Bussell Robert
* Davy and Son
5 Gullock Susan
3 Harvey Thos.
3 Hurdle George
4 Periam Gilbert

2 Trevor Edwill
2 Troake Marler

3 Bellamy Geo.
* Cleave Richard
3 Cole James
Tavendor John, Newcourt
* Wilcocks Wm.

5 Andrews Geo.
2 Baltiscombe Jp.

8 Caseley Wm.
3 Ireland James

4 Downey Wm.
Matthews James
Matthews Wm.
7 Westcott John

(+ Drapers also.)
2 + Brown Wm.
2 Carlile William, (& auctioneer)
3 + Elson George
2 Gould My. Ann
2 Holman Sarah
2 Ireland James
3 + Phillips Sus.
3 Pope George
2 + Parr Mary
2 Sweetland Jas.
3 White Edward

2 Rowe John
2 Tozer Wm.

3 Gubb William, (and currier)
3 Portbury Eliz.

3 Gale Geo. sen.
2 Harrison Jno. S.
Jackson John, 2 Victoria place
2 Lake Wm. brewer
Pyle Pp., Bdg. hill

4 Bartlett Edw.
2 Bence Wm. Hy.
2 Bence Wm.
4 Butt Wm.
5 Buttell Benj.
2 Croft Elias
2 Croft Wm.
4 Frost John
8 Holman Robt.
7 Hore James
7 Hore Richard
8 Periam Joseph
5 Salisbury Chas.
7 Salisbury Hy.
5 Symons John
3 Toogood Thos.

6 Holman and Walters
2 Row James
8 Row Wm. & John
5 Stamp Edm.

2 Bence Wm.
* Davy and Son
6 Davy Danl. Bp.
4 Davy Francis
4 Periam Gilbert

2 Adams Alice
6 Buttell and Cridland
3 Hallett Mary
3 Harris Eliz.
2 Madge Eliza
3 Maddicks Ann
2 Periam Sar. G.
2 Phillips Sus.
2 White Sally

3 Hodder Wm.
2 Ireland James
2 Pope Wm. H.
6 Williams Chas.

Luxton Wm.
Pym Daniel
Pym Joseph
Pym Wm.
Wannell George

2 Follett & Co.
3 Manley James
3 Moore Edw.
3 Paine Thos.

6 Holman and Walters
6 Holman Jno. jun
5 Mitchell John

8 Bowden Thos.
6 Holman and Walters
7 Please John

7 Bence Richard
2 Bence Wm.
* Davy and Son
8 Periam Joseph
8 Popham Thos.
4 Salisbury Jas.

3 Harris Richard
3 Harvey Thos.
2 Rew Susan
5 Sleep Jane
3 Underhill Wm.
* White Wm.
* Woodgate John

3 Fox Charles
5 McKee Alex.
3 Tothill Thomas Chas. (regr.)
2 Yarde Wm.

Baker Zach.
2 Bolster James
2 Brown Harriet
3 Francis Thos. (& hatter & draper)
* Goveyer Hphy.
8 Halfyard Hy.
8 Harvey Thos.
5 Heddon Thos.
3 Irwin John
2 Martin Rt. (and hatter & drapr)
5 Osborne Robt.
Westcott James

5 Cornish Robt.
6 Follett & Co.

2 Baker George
3 Portbury Eliz.
3 West John

2 Manley Wm.
2 Salter Robert
2 Trevor John

3 Harris Wm.
Westcott Joseph, Pound lane

To Exeter 3 times a day, from W m. Caseley's and Jas. Ireland's

Wm. Thorn, to Exeter daily, and others from the Inns

VESSELS to London, &c. wkly

Brian Randell, 3 Jul 1998