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Tiverton, Devon

Historical Description

Tiverton, a municipal borough, a market-town, and a parish in Devonshire. The town stands on elevated ground between the rivers Exe and Lowman, immediately above their confluence, with a station on the G.W.R., 184 miles from London, and 12 N by E of Exeter. There is a post, money order, and telegraph office at Tiverton, which was anciently called Two-ford-ton or Twy-ford-ton-a name derived from fords on the two neighbouring rivers. It was known as Twy-ford so early as 872, belonged to the Crown at Domesday, was given by Henry I. to the Earl of Devon, acquired then a baronial castle, a residence of the Earls of Devon, and is now represented by remains of towers and gateway; became a seat of the woollen trade about 1333, advanced that trade to a highly flourishing condition about 1500, witnessed a battle in its near neighbourhood between the King's troops and a body of insurgents in 1549, was held by the Parliamentarians at the commencement of the Civil Wars of Charles I., suffered forcible capture by the Royalists in 1644, and storming recapture by the Parliamentarians in 1645, was devastated by the plague in 1591, and by fire in 1598, 1612, and 1731, gave accommodation to the summer assizes in 1626 and in 1649 on account of the plague then raging in Exeter, was the birthplace of the theologian Rowe, who died in 1677,, and of the dramatic writer Mrs Cowley, who died in 1809. Tiverton is a borough by charter of James I., and is now governed by a mayor, 5 aldermen, and 18 councillors, who act as the urban district council. It sent two members to Parliament always from the time of James I. till 1885, when its representation was merged in that of the county. It had Viscount Palmerston as a representative for many years. Tiverton is a seat of sessions and county courts, publishes a weekly newspaper, presents a well-built, pleasant, and cleanly appearance, with many good shops, enjoys a plentiful supply of water by means of a stream diverted to it so early as 1256, and has a head post office, four banks, two chief inns, an ornamental town-hall, built in 1864 at a cost of about £8000, a police station, a commodious market-house, built in 1830 at a cost of about £9000, a small corn-exchange, reading and assembly rooms, and a literary and scientific institution. The grammar school, for which new buildings have been erected at a cost of £20,000, was founded by Peter Blundell in the 16th century. It has several scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge. There are other schools, three suites of almshouses with aggregately £331 a year, a bridge trust of £250, and a workhouse.

A weekly market is held on Tuesday. There are fairs on the first Thursdays in June and October, and there are markets for cattle on the second and last Tuesdays in each month. The woollen trade flourished so highly about 1700 as to employ 1500 looms, 56 fulling-mills, and more than 700 wool-combers, and it long occasioned Tiverton to be regarded as the chief manufacturing town in the West of England, but it is now extinct. Lace-making was introduced in 1816 by Mr Heathcote, the inventor of the bobbinet frame, and is carried on very extensively. There is also a large iron-foundry. The People's Park was formed in 1887 in commemoration of Her Majesty's Jubilee, and is a little over 6 acres in extent. The parish church of St Peter was originally a chapel, erected in 1073; the existing church is a structure in the Perpendicular style with a lofty embattled tower, and contains a number of interesting monuments and memorials. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Exeter; net value, £700 with residence. The church of St Paul at Westexe is a building of stone in the Decorated style. The living is a vicarage, gross value, £570 with residence. St George's Church is a plain building of stone in the modern Classic style. The living is a vicarage; net value, £430 with residence. There are Congregational, Baptist, Wesleyan, Plymouth Brethren, and Roman Catholic chapels. The municipal borough is conterminous with the parish; acreage, 17,680; population, 10,892; of the ecclesiastical parish of St George, 2233; of St Peter, 4031.

Tiverton or North-Eastern Division of Devonshire was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 62,763. The division includes the following:-Cullompton Bampton, Bickleigh, Bradninch, Broadhembury, Burlescombe, Butterleigh, Cadbury, Cadeleigh, Calverleigh, Clayhanger, Clayhidon, Cruwys Morchard, Cullompton, Culmstock, Halberton, Hemiock, Highley (St Mary), Hockworthy, Holcombe Rogus, Huntsham, Kentisbeare, Loxbeer, Morebath, Okeford, Payhembury, Plymtree, Sampford Peverell, Silverton, Stoodleigh, Templeton, Thorverton, Uffculme, Uplowman, Washfield, Willand; Wonford (outside the parliamentary borough of Exeter)-Alphington, Ashcombe, Ashton, Brampford Speke, Broadclyst, Christow, Clisthydon, Clist (St Lawrence), Doddiscombsleigh, Dunchideock, Exminster, Heavitree, Holcombe Burnell, Huxham, Ide, Kenn, Kenton, Mamhead, Netherexe, Pinhoe, Poltimore, Powderham, Rewe, St Leonard, St Thomas the Apostle, Shillingford (St George), Stoke Canon, Topsham, Upton Pyne, Whitstone; Tiverton, municipal borough.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyDevon 
Ecclesiastical parishTiverton St. Peter 
Poor Law unionTiverton 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

Findmypast, in association with the South West Heritage Trust, Parochial Church Council, and Devon Family History Society have the Baptisms, Banns, Marriages, and Burials online for Tiverton

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Tiverton from the following:


Online maps of Tiverton are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering Devon online:

Villages, Hamlets, &c


Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of the County of Devon in the year 1564, with additions from the earlier visitation of 1531, is online.

The Visitations of the County of Devon, comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564, & 1620, with additions by Lieutant-Colonel J.L. Vivian, published for the author by Henry S. Eland, Exeter 1895 is online.

DistrictMid Devon
RegionSouth West
Postal districtEX16
Post TownTiverton