Plympton in 1836
Plympton St. Maurice, commonly called Plympton Maurice, or Plympton Earl, is in the hundred of Plympton, not far from the south bank of the Tory brook, which flows into the Plym, and is on the road from Modbury to Plymouth, about thirty-nine miles south-west of Exeter.
The parish contains only 170 acres : it had, in 1831, 123 inhabited houses, and a population of 804 persons. It was, up to the passing of the Reform Bill, a parliamentary borough, and had still a municipal corporation : the borough limits comprehend part of the adjacent parishes of Plympton St. Mary, and Brixton, and some extra-parochial ground. It is one of the stannary towns.
There was formerly a castle here, belonging to the family of De Redvers, or Rivers, who had the earldom of Devonshire before the Courtenays. This castle was on the north side of the town ; there are only some scanty remains of the walls of the keep, but the earth-works show it to have been a place of great strength.
The town has two principal streets : the town-hall contains a portrait of Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was a native of the place, painted by himself. There is an Independent meeting-house. The market is on Friday for corn and provisions, and there are five cattle fairs in the year. The borough revenue has been insufficient to meet the expenditure ; and as the supply afforded to the corporation funds by the patron of the borough has been withdrawn since the passing of the Reform Act, it is probable the corporation will fall into desuetude.
The living of Plympton Earl is a perpetual curacy, of the yearly value of £100, in the gift of the dean and chapter of Windsor. The grammar-school, though endowed with estates producing upwards of £200 a year, has been useless for twenty years or more, the office of master having been converted into a complete sinecure. There were, in 1833, six day-schools with 111 children, one boarding school with 17 girls, and one Sunday-school with 50 children.