Great Torrington Devon Family History Guide

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

Other places in the parish include: Kingscott.

Alternative names: Torrington

Parish church: St. Michael

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1616
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1597

Nonconformists include:

  • Baptist
  • Bible Christian Methodist
  • Independent/Congregational
  • Presbyterian
  • Society of Friends/Quaker
  • Wesleyan Methodist 

Adjacent Parishes

  • Monkleigh
  • St Giles in the Wood
  • Little Torrington
  • Weare Giffard
  • Frithelstock
  • Huntshaw

Historical Descriptions

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

TORRINGTON, or Great T., a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Devon. The town stands on the river Torridge, and on the line of the projected Okehampton and Bideford railway, 5½ miles SSE of Bideford r. station; was anciently called Cheping-Toriton; belonged to Editha the mother of Harold; passed to Richard de Merton; acquired, in his time, about 1340, a castle which is now extinct; went, in the time of Mary, to the Bassets; was garrisoned, in 1643, for Charles I.; suffered capture by Fairfax, after a severe action, in 1646; sent members to parliament from the time of Edward I. till that of Henry VI.; was made a municipal borough by Mary; is governed, under the new act, by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors; gave the title of Earl, in 1660, to General Monk,-the same title, in 1669. to Admiral Herbert,-and the title of Viscount, in 1720, to George Byng; is situated on an eminence, commanding delightful views; contains many old-fashioned houses, and several genteel residences; is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, and a polling place; and has a head post-office, designated Torrington, North Devon, two banking offices, several inns, a recently restored guildhall, a market-hall of 1842, subscription reading rooms, a bowling-green on the site of the ancient castle, a column commemorative of the battle of Waterloo, a fine church restored in 1864, four dissenting chapels, a new cemetery of six acres with two mortuary chapels, an endowed school with £48 a year, a workhouse, with capacity for 220 inmates, and charities £186. A weekly market is held on Saturday; a great cattle market, on the 3d Saturday of March; cattle fairs on 4 May, 5 July, and 10 Oct.; and glove-making is largely carried on. A canal 5 miles long, connects the town with the navigable part of the Torridge; and, in one place, is carried across the valley by a lofty five-arched viaduct.

The parish is conterminate with the borough limits, and comprises 3,456 acres. Real property, £9,637; of which £200 are in gasworks, and £60 in the canal. Pop., 3,298. Houses, 707. The manor belongs to the Hon. Mark Rolle. The living is a p. curacy in the diocese of Exeter. Value, £162. Patron, Christchurch, Oxford. The sub-district contains 5 parishes. Acres, 14,355. Pop., 5,223. Houses, 1,101. The district includes also Shebbear, Dolton, Winkleigh, and High Bickington sub-districts; and comprises 81,472 acres. Poor rates in 1863, £7,491. Pop. in 1851, 17,491; in 1861, 16,876. Houses, 3,419. Marriages in 1863, 85; births, 512, of which 44 were illegitimate; deaths, 331,  of which 92 were at ages under 5 years, and 15 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1,221; births, 5,080; deaths, 3,005. The places of worship, in 1851, were 25 of the Church of England, with 5,691 sittings; 7 of Independents, with 494 s.; 9 of Baptists, with 1,120 s.; 10 of Wesleyans, with 1,346 s.; 16 of Bible Christians, with 2,161 s.; and 1 undefined, with 20 s. The schools were 24 public day-schools, with 1,164 scholars; 25 private day-schools, with 585 s.; and 43 Sunday schools, with 2,490 s.

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

Parish Records

FamilySearch - Birth Marriage & Death Census Migration & Naturalization Military Probate & Court

Historical Newspapers

Western Morning News

Western Times

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette

North Devon Journal

Express and Echo


Vision of Britain historical maps


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

Further Reading

Great Torrington & District Through Time by Julia Barnes, Anthony Barnes , et al.


Great Torrington Commons by George M Doe

Tracing Your West Country Ancestors (Family History (Pen & Sword)) by Kirsty Gray