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MARKET TOWNS OF DEVON (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Modbury in 1836

Modbury is in the hundred of Ermington, on a rivulet whose waters flow into the Erme : thirty-five miles south west of Exeter. The parish comprehends an area of 5,910 acres, and had, in 1831, 364 inhabited houses, with a population of 2,116 persons.

Besides the town the parish comprehends the villages of Brownston, Leigh, Caton, Penquit, part of Ludbrook, and others. Nearly half of the adult males are engaged in agriculture, scarcely any in manufacture. The town consists of an irregular assemblage of streets.

The church is spacious and handsome ; the tower is 134 feet high, built soon after the church in 1621. There are meeting-houses for Baptists, Independents, Quakers, and Methodists.

There are some ruins of the ancient mansion of the Champernounes, who held the manor of Modbury, and lived here in great splendour : a large deer-park which was at a small distance from the mansion, is now converted into a farm, which retains the name of Modbury Park.

Modbury is a borough, though without a charter of incorporation : it sent representatives to parliament in the reign of Edward I, but it is said soon to have got excused on the ground of the expense : whether this was the cause is, however, doubted by Messrs. Lyons. Modbury is now governed by a portreeve (usually styled mayor) two constables, and several other officers, chosen at a court-leet. Until the beginning of the eighteenth century the borough court took cognizance of debts under forty shillings.

There was an alien priory of Benedictines here as early as the reign of Stephen, but it was suppressed at the dissolution of alien priories, and its revenues, valued at £70 per annum, were given by Henry VI to Eton College.

The market is on Thursday, for corn, butchers’ meat, and other provisions : there is a great market for cattle on the second Tuesday in every month, and a great fair for cattle, cloth, and other merchandise, in the month of May. The living of Modbury is a vicarage of the annual value of £302, with a glebe-house, in the gift of Eton College.

There were at Modbury in 1833, two infant schools with 76 children, and a Lancasterian school with 70 boys, all partly supported by charitable contributions ; four other day-schools with 116 children, and three Sunday-schools with 287 children. A lending-library is attached to one of the Sunday-schools.