Barnstaple Poor Law Union, Devon

Barnstaple Poor Law union comprised of the following parishes:

  • Arlington, Devon

  • Ashford, Devon

  • Atherington, Devon

  • Barnstaple, Devon

  • Barnstaple Holy Trinity, Devon

  • Barnstaple St Mary Magdalene, Devon

  • Berrynarbor, Devon

  • Bishop’s Tawton, Devon

  • Bittadon, Devon

  • Bratton Fleming, Devon

  • Braunton with Saunton and Knowle, Devon

  • Brendon, Devon

  • Challcombe, Devon

  • Combe Martin, Devon

  • Countisbury, Devon

  • East Down, Devon

  • Fremington, Devon

  • Georgeham, Devon

  • Goodleigh, Devon

  • Heanton Punchardon, Devon

  • High Bray, Devon

  • Horwood, Devon

  • Ilfracombe, Devon

  • Instow, Devon

  • Kentisbury, Devon

  • Landkey, Devon

  • Loxhore, Devon

  • Lynton, Devon

  • Martinhoe, Devon

  • Marwood, Devon

  • Mortehoe, Devon

  • Newport, Devon

  • Newton Tracey, Devon

  • Parracombe, Devon

  • Pilton, Devon

  • Shirwell, Devon

  • Stoke Rivers, Devon

  • Swimbridge, Devon

  • Tawstock, Devon

  • Trentishoe, Devon

  • West Down, Devon

  • Westleigh, Devon

Health and Housing with the Barnstaple Union

In 1842 the quality of health and housing of the inhabitants of the Barnstaple Union was described as follows:

Mr Joce, medical officer of Chittlehampton district:

“This district consists of three parishes, Swymbridge, Bishop’s Tawton, and Landkey. Typhus fever occasionally prevails here; but by far the most prevalent is synochus. During the last ten years, I have in numerous instances clearly traced the origin of this disease to miasm, arising from the putrefaction of vegetable and animal substances. And it is with great satisfaction I am enabled to state that such causes might readily be removed by the interference of proper authorities: at present however they are never attended to. But the most frequent cause of disease is the manure pit, which is generally, for the sake of convenience, made as near to the door of the dwelling as possible. To the poor man it is of some importance in the cultivation of potatoes; and into it every species of filth is thrown. The manure is generally allowed to collect for 12 months, at the expiration of that time is carted away for the garden or the potato field, when fever generally appears in our villages.”

Mr Peyton Pick, medical officer of the Braunton district:

“Nos 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 (in his Medical Return) were cases of fever occurring in people living close to a marsh which is occasionally covered by the tide. Immediately behind the houses there are several manure pits, which are generally filled with very putrid water and filth. Besides the above cases, there were at the same time several others in the adjoining houses, principally in children a little removed above the pauper. This neighbourhood might be easily improved by filling up the pits and draining. The cases 10, 11, 12, (1 typhus 2 synochus) were in children whose residence has two pigsties in front of it. The inhabitants of these houses are very often ill, and are too poor to remove the nuisance. I have noticed that fever is not the only disease which is induced indirectly by the decomposition of animal and vegetable substances near the residences of the poor; but that the inmates of houses so situated are less capable of resisting injurious physical causes from their constitutions being wakened by the malaria.”