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Holsworthy (St. Peter and St. Paul)

HOLSWORTHY (St. Peter and St. Paul), a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Black Torrington, Holsworthy and N. divisions of Devon, 42 miles (W. by N.) from Exeter, and 214 (W. by S.) from London; containing 1857 inhabitants. The parish comprises 9500 acres, whereof 3000 are common or waste land; and is nearly surrounded by the river Derril, or Dearle, famed for the number and quality of its trout. The town, which is neatly built, and approached on the south by a bridge erected in 1832, at an expense of £350, defrayed by the parishioners, is at present of little importance, except for its markets and fairs, chiefly for agricultural produce. Many of the inhabitants were formerly employed in spinning yarn for the manufacture of blankets and serges, which was performed by hand; but since the introduction of machinery, the manufacture has been discontinued. A branch of the Bude and Launceston canal passes about a mile to the north. The marketdays are Wednesday and Saturday. "St. Peter's fair," mentioned in a record of the reign of Edward I., is a large mart for cattle and various commodities, commencing on St. Peter's day (July 10th), unless that day falls later in the week than Thursday, in which case the fair begins on the Tuesday following; the other fairs are on April 27th and Oct. 2nd. There are also great markets for cattle on the first Wednesday after Candlemas-day, and the first Wednesday after the 1st of November; and a sheep-market on every alternate Wednesday following, till Christmas. A court leet and baron are held annually, at which a portreeve and other officers are elected; and the town is a polling-place for the northern division of the county. The powers of the county debt-court of Holsworthy, established in 1847, extend over the registration-districts of Holsworthy and Stratton. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £32. 0. 5.; net income, £478; patron, the Rev. Dr. Worthington: attached are 70 acres of glebe. The church is an ancient building, with a Norman doorway and some other portions in the same style; the tower, which is of great antiquity, forms a very conspicuous object, and has lately been supplied with eight new bells. Here are places of worship for Independents and Wesleyans; a national school, supported by subscription; and a diocesan commercial school, recently established. A farm in this parish, and two-thirds of another in that of Black Torrington, producing from £70 to 80 per annum, were bequeathed to the poor by an unknown benefactor. The union of Holsworthy comprises 23 parishes or places, 21 of which are in the county of Devon, and 2 in Cornwall; and contains a population of 12,333. There are some remains of a manorial-house that belonged to the Prideaux family.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.