South Molton, Devon Family History Guide

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

Other places in the parish include: Queen’s Nympton and Queen’s Nymet.

Alternative names:

Parish church: St. Mary Magdalene

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1601
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1602

Nonconformists include: Bible Christian Methodist, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Independent/Congregational, Particular Baptist, Plymouth Brethren, Presbyterian, Society of Friends/Quaker, and Wesleyan Methodist.

Adjacent Parishes

Parish History

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

MOLTON, SOUTH (St. Mary Magdalene), an incorporated market-town, a parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of South Molton, South Molton and N. divisions of Devon, 28 miles (N. W. by N.) from Exeter, and 181 (W. by S.) from London; containing 4274 inhabitants. This town derives its name from the river Mole, on the western bank of which it is situated, having Exmoor on the north, and Dartmoor faintly perceptible on the south; the streets are well paved, flagged, and lighted with gas, and the inhabitants are supplied with water from wells. The principal branch of manufacture is that of woollen goods, which are occasionally furnished to the East India Company; shalloons, serges, and coarse woollencloth, are the articles chiefly made. The manufacture of lace has been lately introduced. The general market is on Saturday, and others are held on Tuesday and Thursday: there are cattle-fairs on the Wednesday before June 22nd, and the Wednesday after Aug. 26th; and great markets, also for cattle, on the Saturday after February 13th (noted for its fine show of North Devon cattle), and the Saturdays before May 1st, October 11th, and December 12th. For several successive weeks in the spring, there are large markets for sheep.

The town received two charters, one in 1590, granted by Queen Elizabeth, and another in 1684, bestowed by Charles II.; but the government is now vested in a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors, under the act of the 5th and 6th of William IV., cap. 76. The mayor and late mayor are justices of the peace, possessing jurisdiction concurrently with the county magistrates, who hold petty-sessions in a building over the cornmarket. The powers of the county debt-court of South Molton, established in 1847, extend over the greater part of the registration-district of South Molton. The borough sent representatives to parliament once in the reign of Edward I. The town-hall is a handsome stone building; the prison was erected at an expense of £2000. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £200; patrons and appropriators, the Dean and Canons of Windsor, whose tithes have been commuted for £840, and who have a glebe of 233 acres. The church is a very spacious structure in the ancient English style, repaired in 1829, at a cost of £2000, and contains a richly carved pulpit of stone. There are places of worship for Independents and Wesleyans. A free school was founded in 1684, by Hugh Squire, who endowed it with an annuity of £40; a Blue school was established in 1711; a Diocesan commercial school has been instituted, and a national school is supported by subscription. The union of South Molton comprises 29 parishes or places, containing a population of 20,978. Some vestiges of ancient encampments are visible at Cadbury and other places near the town. The late Mr. Justice Buller received the early part of his education at the free school here; and the Rev. Samuel Badcock, who distinguished himself in a controversy with Dr. Priestley, and assisted Dr. White in writing his celebrated Bampton Lectures, was born at South Molton in 1747.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848

Parish Records


England, Devon Bishop’s Transcripts, 1558-1887

England, Devon and Cornwall Marriages, 1660-1912

England, Devon, Parish Registers, 1538-1912

England, Devon, Plymouth Prison Records, 1821-1919

Exeter Marriage Licenses 1523-1631

Exeter Burial Records

Devon Cemetery Photos

South Hams Memorial Inscriptions

Appledore Burials 1844-1970

Devon Calendars of Prisoners

Devon Convicts Transported to Australia 1782-1821

Records for England

Births and Baptism Records

England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975

Great Britain, Births and Baptisms, 1571-1977

England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

Marriage Records

England Marriages, 1538–1973

Great Britain Marriages, 1797-1988

England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

Death Records

England Death Records, 1998-2015

England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991

Great Britain Deaths and Burials, 1778-1988

England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

England and Wales, National Index of Wills and Administrations, 1858-1957

England and Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1640-1660

Non-Conformist Records

England and Wales Non-Conformist Record Indexes (RG4-8), 1588-1977


England and Wales Census, 1841

England and Wales Census, 1851

England and Wales Census, 1861

England and Wales Census, 1871

England and Wales Census, 1881

England and Wales Census, 1891

England and Wales Census, 1901

England and Wales Census, 1911


United Kingdom, Merchant Navy Seamen Records, 1835-1941

War and Conflict

Great Britain, War Office Registers, 1772-1935

United Kingdom, Chelsea Pensioners’ Service Records, 1760-1913

United Kingdom, Royal Hospital Chelsea: Discharge Documents of Pensioners 1760-1887 (WO 122)

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

United Kingdom, Militia Service Records, 1806-1915

United Kingdom, World War I Service Records, 1914-1920

United Kingdom, World War I Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Records, 1917-1920

Newspaper Archives

British Newspaper Archive, Family Notices

British Newspaper Archives, Obituaries


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