Totnes, Devon Family History Guide

Totnes is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Devon.

Other places in the parish include: Totnes St John the Evangelist, Bridgetown, Bridgetown Pomeroy, and Little Totnes.

Parish church:

Parish registers begin: 1556. Separate registers exist for Totnes St John the Evangelist: 1844

Nonconformists include: Baptist, Independent/Congregational, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Society of Friends/Quaker, and Wesleyan Methodist.

Parishes adjacent to Totnes

  • Dartington
  • Harberton
  • Ashprington
  • Littlehempston
  • Berry Pomeroy

Historical Descriptions

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

TOTNES, a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Devon. The town stands on the river Dart and on the South Devon railway, 22¼ miles SSW of Exeter; was anciently called Totneis, Totonese, Toutaness, and Dodonese; is supposed to have got these names from words signifying “a rocky or projecting place;” dates from very ancient times; may, not improbably, have been a place of trade with the Phœnicians; is thought, by some, to have been the Roman Ad Durium Amnem, at the terminus of the Fosse way; was held at Domesday by Judhael de Totneis, and had then 110 burgesses; acquired from Judhael a castle, the keep of which still stands: acquired also a Benedictine priory from Judhael, and a Trinitarian house from Bishop Warlewast; was once surrounded with walls, some fragments of which still exist; numbers among its natives the Saxon scholar Lye, who died in 1769, the Hebrew scholar Kennicott, 1783, the theologian Furneaux, 1726, and the Australian explorer Wills, 1860; gave the title of Earl, in the time of James I., to G. Carew; is a borough by prescription, governed, under the new act, by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors; sent two members to parliament from the time of Edward I. till 1867, and was then disfranchised; is a seat of petty-sessions and county courts; occupies the acclivity and the brow of a steep hill, sheltered by higher grounds, yet commanding a fine view; is connected by a handsome bridge of 1828 with the suburb of Bridgetown, in Berry-Pomeroy parish; exhibits aspects of antiquity in some houses with slated fronts, with piazzas, and with projecting gables; and has a head post-office, a r. station with telegraph, two banking offices, two chief inns, a guildhall, an assembly-room, recreation grounds around the castle, a public walk along the river, a granite obelisk of 1864 to Wills, a fine later English church, three dissenting chapels, a mechanics institute, an endowed grammar-school with £70 a year, another endowed school with £40, a workhouse built in 1839 at a cost of £6,000, and charities £105 A weekly market is held on Saturday; a cattle market on the first Tuesday of every month; fairs on 12 May and 28 Oct.; and a considerable coasting trade, in vessels of 100 tons and under, is carried on. The borough limits include all T. parish and part of Berry-Pomeroy. Pop. in 1851, 4,419; in 1861, 4,001. Houses, 793.

The parish comprises 1,043 acres. Real property, £15,545; of which £137 are in gasworks. Pop. in 1851, 3,828; in 1861, 3,409. Houses, 652. The manor passed from Judhael to successively the De Braoses, the Zouches, the Valletorts, and the Edgcumbes; and belongs now to the Duke of Somerset. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Exeter. Value, £170. Patron, the Lord Chancellor.—The sub-district contains 5 parishes. Acres, 12,876. Pop. in 1851, 6,394; in 1861, 5,881. Houses, 1,172.—The district includes also Buckfastleigh, Ugborough, Harberton, Dartmouth, Brixham, and Paignton sub-districts; and comprises 98,342 acres. Poor rates in 1863, £12,052. Pop. in 1851, 34,022; in 1861, 32,942. Houses, 6,701. Marriages in 1863, 258; births, 1,022,-of which 56 were illegitimate; deaths, 649,-of which 205 were at ages under 5 years, and 23 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 2,274; births, 9,313; deaths, 6,245. The places of worship, in 1851, were 31 of the Church of England, with 14,382 sittings; 12 of Independents, with 3,420 s.; 7 of Baptists, with 1,600 s.; 14 of Wesleyans, with 3,072 s.; 1 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 150 s.; 1 of Brethren, with 100 s.; 4 undefined, with 1,110 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 40 s. The schools were 27 public day-schools, with 2,209 scholars; 98 private day-schools, with 2,326 s.; 54 Sunday schools, with 4,315 s; and 3 evening schools for adults, with 82 s.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].


Below is a list of people that were declared bankrupt between 1820 and 1843

Adams Henry, Totness. Devon, merchant, Sept. 20, 1842.

Source: The Bankrupt Directory; George Elwick; London; Simpkin, Marshall and Co.; 1843


  • County: Devon
  • Civil Registration District: Totnes
  • Probate Court: Court of the Bishop (Consistory) of the Archdeaconry of Totnes
  • Diocese: Exeter
  • Rural Deanery: Totnes
  • Poor Law Union: Totnes
  • Hundred: Coleridge
  • Province: Canterbury

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