The history of Tiverton, in the county of Devon, England

Volume I

The motives which originally induced me to undertake the following History, and the fear of my inability to do justice to a work that ought to possess more than common interest, render it impossible for me to place before the public the following pages without experiencing much more than the ordinary anxiety of an Author.

The original history of Tiverton, published by Mr. Martin Dunsford in 1790, evidently requires to be extended, and in many instances corrected; and a new edition commenced by the late Mr. George Boyce, although possessing considerable interest, did not present all the advantages which might be derived from the valuable information it has been my good fortune to obtain, both from public and private sources. These considerations, added to a just tribute due from every author to the public, induced me to forego the benefits, and disregard the great reduction of expense which would have resulted from continuing the numbers prepared by Mr, Boyce: if I have failed in my object, it has not been occasioned by want of exertion.

Whether we regard the Town of Tiverton as having been the chief residence of a long line of powerful Nobles, whose rank and influence placed them high in the counsels and honors of the land ; or regard the station of great commercial importance it long held ; or take a general survey of its chequered History, the result must be the same, that of extreme interest.

The records which mark the events of past years, can only be acquired after a long and tedious search, either among the various depositions of public documents, or amid the still wider Archives of private memorials; and these have not been sparingly regarded in the following pages. To the many kind friends and influential persons who hare lent me their valuable and ready aid, I am bound by every tie of gratitude. Neither am I unmindful of those among the less opulent ranks of life, who have kindly and disinterestedly afforded me their assistance, and contributed much valuable information. To all and each I here convey my unfeigned thanks; and if the work thus offered to the public should attain its object, I feel how much will be due to others rather than myself.


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Of its history previous to the Conquest, little is known. It derived its appellation of Tiverton, by contraction from Twiford, or Two-ford Town, being formerly approached by two fords over the river Exe and Loman. As the Country between the Exe and Tamar was not wholly conquered by the Saxons until the time of Athelstan, the termination ton, from Tun on Tune British, or the Roman termination dunum, rendered in English, ton, bespeaks its existence at an earlier date, and it may be presumed that during the reign of Alfred, (A. D. 872,) Twiford, in Terra Regis, was a village on a little bill, and Capital of its hundred of the same name. It was governed by a Portreeve,* and had 12 tythings, and it is very probable to have been one of the many villages or small towns, either built or enlarged by Alfred after the establishment of peace by the Conquest of the Danes, "for which purpose," say Hume "he set aside a seventh portion of his own revenue for maintaining a number of Workmen, whom be constantly employed in re-building the ruined Cities, Castles, Palaces, and Monasteries."