Honiton, Devon Family History Guide

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

Parish church:

Parish registers begin: 1562

Nonconformists include: Baptist, Independent/Congregational, Particular Baptist, Presbyterian, Society of Friends/Quaker, Unitarian, and Wesleyan Methodist.

Parishes adjacent to Honiton

  • Combe Raleigh
  • Sidbury
  • Luppitt
  • Gittisham
  • Farway
  • Awliscombe
  • Buckerell
  • Monkton
  • Offwell

Historical Descriptions

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

HONITON, a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Devon. The town stands in a fine vale, on the Yeovil and Exeter railway, near the river Otter, 16½ miles ENE of Exeter. Its site was possibly a seat of population in the Roman times, or even in the ancient British times in connexion with the neighbouring camp of HEMBURY: which see. The manor was held by Drago, the Saxon; was given, by William the Conqueror, to his half-brother, Robert Earl of Mortaigne; passed to the Riverses and the Courtenays; and belongs now to F. Goldsmid, Esq., who was returned for the borough at the election in 1865. The assizes were adjourned hither from Exeter, in 1590, on account of the plague; and seventeen criminals were then executed here, chiefly for murder. Charles I., with his army, was here, in July 1644, on his route westward, and again, in Sept., on his return. Fairfax, with his army, also halted here, in Oct. 1645. Four great fires desolated the town in the 18th century; the first in 1747, when three-fourths of the houses were burnt down; the others in 1765, 1790, and 1797, when respectively 160, 37, and 30 houses were destroyed. The site is partly a rising ground, partly the course of a streamlet, on the S side of the river Otter, in a valley remarkable for its graceful lines and rich culture, and bordered by detached eminences pleasingly grouped; and it commands a fine view of the valley and its screens. The principal street is broad and handsome, runs from E to W, and is traversed by the streamlet, with clear water, and with dipping places opposite many of the doors. Another street crosses this at right angles. The houses are almost all modern and slated; and they aggregately present an appearance very superior to that of most old towns, -a difference occasioned by reconstruction after the four fires. The town has a head post office, a railway station with telegraph, two banking offices, two chief inns, a market house, two churches, four dissenting chapels, a grammar school, national schools, British schools, a literary and scientific institution, a dispensary, an alms house hospital with about £70 a year, other charities with about £250, and a workhouse. St. Michael's church stands on a rising ground, with a brilliant view, ½ a mile from the town; was originally a priory chapel, built in 1484 by Bishop Courtenay; is decorated English, in good repair; comprises nave, aisles, chancel, and transepts, with a tower; has an elaborately carved but disfigured screen; and contains some very good mural monuments, and a black marble tomb of Thomas Marwood, "who practised physic 75 years, died at the age of 105, and was physician to Queen Elizabeth." St. Paul's church stands in High street, partly on the site of an ancient chapel; was built in 1838, at a cost of £7,600, and repaired in 1849, at a cost of about £1,000; is in the Norman style; consists of nave, aisles, and chancel, with elegant, lofty, pinnacled tower; and, in terms of an act of 1835, was made the parish church. The grammar school is an old building in High street, with a good residence for the master; has an endowment of £12 a year; and is used as a classical boarding school. The national schools were erected in 1862, at a cost of £1,400. The almshouse hospital bears the name of St. Margaret's charity; was originally an hospital for lepers; and has an ancient chapel. The workhouse was erected in 1836, and contains accommodation for about 250 inmates. A tower, 80 feet high, called the Basket House, erected by the late Dr. Copleston, bishop of Llandaff, stands on the top of Honiton hill 1½ mile distant, and commands a bird's eye view of Honiton vale. A weekly market is held on Saturday; great cattle markets are held on the second Saturday of April, and the Saturday before 18 Oct.; and a fair for cattle and horses is held on the Wednesday and Thursday after 19 July. The manufacture of serge, introduced to England by the Flemish refugees in the time of Elizabeth, struck very early root in Honiton, but long ago declined. The manufacture of pillow lace, also introduced by the Flemish refugees, struck such root in Honiton, and has always been so flourishing here, as to take the name of Honiton lace; and continues to be carried on both here and in other parts of Devon; but has, of late years, been considerably supplanted by the cheaper and inferior fabric of bobbin net, worked by machinery. There are malting establishments, two breweries, flourmills, tanneries, and an iron foundry. The town is a borough by prescription; sent members to parliament in the time of Edward I.; underwent disfranchisement, on its own petition, on account of poverty; was re-enfranchised in 1640; was limited, as a borough, till the act of 1832, to the space occupied by the streets and the edificed outskirts; was then made conterminate with the parish; sent two members to parliament; was disfranchised as to the one member in 1867, as to the other in 1868; and is governed by a mayor, six aldermen, and eighteen councillors. It is a polling place for South Devon, and a seat of petty sessions and county courts. Borough income in 1855, £819. Acres of town or parish, 3,046. Real property in 1860, £14,394; of which £100 were in gas works. Electors in 1868, 288. Pop. in 1851, 3,427; in 1861, 3,301. Houses, 714. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Exeter. Value, £760. Patron, the Earl of Devon. The miniature painter, O. Humphrey, was a native. The sub-district contains also the parishes of Branscombe, South Leigh, North Leigh, Farway, Widworthy, Offwell, Cotleigh, Combrawleigh, Monkton, Upottery, Luppitt, Dunkeswell, Sheldon, Broadhembury, Awliscombe, Buckerell, and Gittisham. Acres, 48, 387. Pop., 10.783. Houses, 2,273. The district comprehends also the sub-district of Ottery-St. Mary, containing the parishes of Ottery-St. Mary, Venn-Ottery, Harpford, Sidbury, Salcombe-Regis, Sidmouth, Feniton, Payhembury, Plymtree, and Talaton. Acres of the district, 80,867. Poor rates in 1863, 13,494. Pop. in 1851, 23,824; in 1861, 22,729. Houses, 4,788. Marriages in 1862, 128; births, 689, of which 43 were illegitimate; deaths, 400, of which 124 were at ages under 5 years, and 18 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1,496; births, 6,794; deaths, 4,382. The places of worship, in 1851, were 32 of the Church of England, with 9,152 sittings; 12 of Independents, with 2,517 s.; 4 of Baptists, with 760 s.; 2 of Unitarians, with 391 s.; 8 of Wesleyans, with 1,455 s.; and 1 of Brethren, with 45 attendants. The schools were 28 public day schools, with 1,780 scholars; 33 private days schools, with 556 s.; 36 Sunday schools, with 2,532 s.; and 1 evening school for adults, with 35 s.

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

London Gazette

William Lee - Honiton Devon - London Gazette 1850

Declaration of Dividend under a Fiat, dated 8th day of March 1848, against William Lee, of Honiton, in the county of Devon, Builder. NOTICE is hereby given, that a First Dividend, at the rate of 2s. 3d. in the pound, is now payable, and that warrants for the same may be received by those legally entitled, at my office, Queen-street, Exeter, on any Tuesday after the 23rd day of April instant, between the hours of eleven and three o'clock. No warrants can be delivered unless the securities exhibited at the proof of the debt be produced, without the special direction of a Commissioner. Executors and administrators of de ceased creditors will be required to produce the probate of will or letters of administration.-April 13, 1850. HENRY LAKE HIRTZEL, Official Assignee.


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