Dartmouth Devon Family History Guide

Dartmouth St Petrox is an Ecclesiastical Parish and a market town in the county of Devon, created in 1748 probably from a chapelry in Townstall Ancient Parish.

Alternative names: St Petrox

Parish church: St. Petrox

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1652
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1610

Nonconformists include: Independent/Congregational, Particular Baptist, Plymouth Brethren, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic.

Adjacent Parishes

  • St Saviour
  • Kingswear
  • Brixham
  • Stoke Fleming

Historical Descriptions

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

DARTMOUTH, a town, three parishes, and a sub-district in Totnes district, Devon. The town stands on the west side of the estuary of the river Dart, 1 mile above the estuary's mouth, and 5 SW of Brixham; and was recently connected by railway northward with the Torquay branch of the South Devon railway. It was known to the Saxons as Ludhill; it afterwards comprised three villages, called Clifton, Dartmouth, and Hardness: and it is still known, in legal documents, as Clifton-Dartmouth-Hardness. It was burnt by the French in the times of Richard I. and Henry IV.; it repelled an invasion of the French in 1404; it was taken, in 1643, after a siege of four weeks, by Prince Maurice, and retaken by storm, in 1646, by Fairfax; it was the embarking port of the Crusaders in 1190; it contributed 31 ships, in the time of Edward III., for the siege of Calais; and it sent forth some of the earliest adventurers who achieved exploits and made discoveries in the Arctic seas. It forms terraced streets on an acclivity, overlooking a lake-like expanse of estuary, encompassed by steep shelving hills from 300 to 400 feet high, and, together with its environs, presents a picturesque appearance. Two narrow streets of it run parallel with the shore and with each other on such a steep that the pavement of the upper is nearly on a level with the roofs of the lower; and they communicate by flights of steps. Many of the houses, both in these streets and elsewhere, are old and grotesque: and a modern house, built by Mr. Holdsworth, the governor of Dartmouth Castle, in imitation of the old ones, is richly adorned with carving, and curiously cased with slates. A project was formed, toward the end of 1861, for opening a new main street through the town, of spacious width, with sites for a town hall and public offices. The present town hall is an ancient edifice, with some good carving. The subscription-rooms, on the New-Road, and the assembly-rooms, at the extreme end-of Duke-street, are modern. The castle, situated on the point of the promontory at the entrance of the harbour, consists of a round tower of the time of Henry VII., a square tower of later date, and three platforms for guns. A steamer maintains communication across the harbour with the railway at Kingswear. St. Saviour's church is a fine cruciform structure of 1372; has a south door of curiously-ornate character; and contains a carved stone pulpit, an exquisitely handsome screen, a very fine altar-piece, and a piscina and sedilia. St. Petrox church, situated close to the castle, is very ancient; consists of nave, aisles, and sanctuary, with western embattled tower; and had formerly a chantry. St. Petrox new church, in the town, consists of nave, chancel, aisles, and sanctuary. Townstall church, situated on a high hill about a mile to the north-west, is very ancient; consists of nave, north aisle, and north and south transepts with a tower; and commands a magnificent view. An Independent chapel is in Fosse-street; a Baptist chapel, in Atkin's lane; and a Wesleyan chapel, in Market-square. The town has a head post office, a telegraph office, a banking office, and two chief inns; is a bonding port, a coast-guard station, and a seat of petty sessions; and publishes a fortnightly newspaper. A weekly market is held on Friday; and a good export trade is carried on in barley, potatoes, cider, and iron ore. The harbour is landlocked; contains good anchorage for 300 sail; and is now the station for a navy training-ship. Much improvement in both it and the town was progressing in 1864-5. A steamer plies regularly to Totnes. Sub-ports are Brixham, Torquay, and Salcombe. The vessels registered at the beginning of 1863 were 171 small sailing-vessels, of aggregately 5,658 tons, 256 large sailing-vessels, of aggregately 34,193 tons, and 6 steam-vessels, of aggregately 154 tons; and those which entered, in 1862, from British colonies, were 18 sailing-vessels, of aggregately 1,459 tons, from foreign countries, 33 sailing-vessels, of aggregately 4,192 tons, and coastwise, 651 sailing-vessels, of aggregately 37,446 tons, and 86 steam-vessels, of aggregately 3,698 tons. The amount of customs in 1867 was £3,718. The town was incorporated in 1342; is governed by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors; and sent two members to parliament prior to the reform act of 1832; but was half disfranchised by that act, and wholly disfranchised by the act of 1868 for increasing the representation of Scotland. The borough limits include the entire three parishes of the town, and part of Stoke-fleming parish. Pop. in 1861, 4,444. Houses, 825. The family of Legge take from the town the title of Earl; and Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who took possession of Newfoundland, Davis, who penetrated to the Arctic sea which bears his name, and Newcomen, the famous mechanician, were natives of the town or its neighbourhood.

The three parishes are St. Saviour, St. Petrox, and Townstall. Acres of St. Saviour, 40 of land and 45 of water; of St. Petrox, 40 of land and 35 of water; of Townstall, 1,688 of land and 70 of water. Real property of the three, £13,223. Pop. of St. Saviour, 2,171; of St. Petrox, 885; of Townstall, 1,337. Houses, 409, 158, 247. The parish of Townstall includes the hamlets of Norton, Old-Mill, Warfleet, and Ford. The livings of St. Saviour and St. Petrox are p. curacies, and that of Townstall a vicarage, in the diocese of Exeter; and those of St. Saviour and Townstall are united. Value of St. S. with T., £135; of St. P., £120. Patron of St. S. with T., Sir H. P. Seale, Bart.; of St. P., the Rector of Stoke-fleming. The sub-district contains also the parishes of Dittisham and Kingswear. Acres, 5,508. Pop., 5,429. Houses, 1,045.

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

Parish Records

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Birth Marriage and Death Records

England, Devon Bishop's Transcripts, 1558-1887

England, Devon and Cornwall Marriages, 1660-1912

England, Devon, Parish Registers, 1538-1912


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