With the 2021 census just completed, lets look at how Great Torrington appeared in previous censuses. The FreeCEN website gives free access to 1841, 1861 and 1891 censuses of Great Torrington. White's Devonshire Directory from 1850 can fill in some gaps. How would your life look to future historians, if they could only read a few lines every 10 years?

Three traces of past lives, 

  • William Brown, Inn Keeper
  • Alfred Robert Hole, Magistrate
  • Mary Ann Doe, Draper



St Michael & All Angels: Roger A Smith https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/6370904 
Pannier Market: Steve Daniels https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1508382 
Taddiport Bridge: Guy Wareham https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/5145581 
Black Horse Inn: Dr Duncan Pepper https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/888057 


William Brown, Inn Keeper

1841, Devon, Fremington, Great Torrington, High Street
BROWN, William, 40, Inn Keeper
BROWN, Frances, 35
BROWN, William, 20
BROWN, Susan, 18
BROWN, Therasa, 10
BESLEY, Eliza, 23
BESLEY, Mary, 2
SERGENT, Mary, 20, Female Servant
MURPHY, John, 25, Licensed Hawker, Ireland

White's Devonshire Directory 1850
Page 753. INNS & TAVERNS. Black Horse, Wm. Brown

1861, Devon, Great Torrington, High Street, Black House Inn
BROWN, William, Head, 68, Inn Keeper, Black Torrington
BROWN, Frances, Wife, 66, Buckland Filleigh
BROWN, Frances, Dau, Unmarried, 30, Buckland Filleigh
SPEARMAN, Elizabeth, Servnt, Unmarried, 18, Dairymaid, Alverdiscott
PARKHOUSE, Fanny, Servnt, 12, House Servant, Weare Giffard
NANCEKEVILL, Hubert, Servnt, Unmarried, 28, Carter, Langtree, deaf/bumb from birth


Alfred Robert Hole, Magistrate

1841 Devon, Fremington, Great Torrington, Beam House
HOLE, Alfred Robert, 26, Of Independent Means
HOLE, Eliza, 22
HOLE, Fanny, 2 months
MAY, Ann, 50, Female Servant
HARRIS, Elizabeth, 25, Female Servant
HARRIS, Mary, 21, Female Servant
BALSON, William, 40, Male Servant

White's Devonshire Directory 1850
Page 749 Beam House, which was formerly a seat of the Rolles, is now occupied by A. R. Hole, Esq.

1861 Devon, Great Torrington, Beam House
HOLE, Alfred R, Head, 45, Magistrate For Devon, Iddesleigh
HOLE, Elizabeth, Wife, 42, Maidstone, Kent
HELE, John, Servnt, 36, Hind, Marland
HELE, Hannah, Servnt, 38, Cook, Bridgerule
DAVEY, Thomas, Servnt, 25, Footman, Bishops Tawton
GAY, Ann, Servnt, 23, Housemaid, Northlew
PALMER, Thirza, Servnt, 21, Kitchen Maid, Weare Giffard

1891 Devon, Torrington, Great Torrington, Beam House
HOLE, Alfred R, Head, 75, J P For Devon, Heavitree
HOLE, Elizabeth, Wife, 72, Maidstone, Kent
BRAY, Susan, Servnt, 45 Parlour Maid, Iddesleigh
NETHERCOTT, Eliza, Servnt, 45, Cook, Gamaton Moor
JOHNS, Ellen, Servnt, 22, House Maid, Frithelstock
DRAKE, William, Servnt, 28, Groom, Otterton


Mary Ann Doe, Draper

1841 Devon, Fremington, Great Torrington, South Street
DOE, Mary, 40, Shopkeeper
DOE, Mary, 25
DOE, Kitty, 30
DOE, Catharine, 23
DOWN, James, 3

1841 Devon, Fremington, Great Torrington, South Street
DOE, George, 53 Draper
DOE, Maryann, 58
DOE, Elizabeth, 21
DOE, Charles, 15
HARPER, John, 13
BENNETT, Grace, 25, Female Servant

White's Devonshire Directory 1850
Page 754 DRAPERS, Doe Mary Ann

1861, Devon, Great Torrington 1501 2 47 18 124 Calf Street
DOE, Mary Ann, Head, Widow, 79, Ret. Draper, Gt. Torrington
DOE, Catherine, Dau, Unmarried, 43, Teacher Of Drawing, Gt. Torrington
HOYTEN, Elizabeth, Sister, Widow, 85, Gentlewoman, Gt. Torrington


General Information on Great Torrington

GENUKI provides a virtual reference library of genealogical information of particular relevance to the UK and Ireland. It is a non-commercial service, maintained by a charitable trust and a group of volunteers.



Welcome to the Devon Heritage website where you will find information and articles about the people and places of this County, both past and present. 



British History Online has copies of the late 19th Century Ordnance Survey maps.



Census 2021 The census is a survey about all the households in England and Wales. The last census took place on Sunday 21 March 2021. Everyone must complete the census and provide accurate information. It helps decide how services are funded in your area.



A Vision of Britain Since 1801 the Census has created a uniquely detailed record of our changing communities. For data on your chosen town or village, search by place from our main home page. 

Great Torrington https://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/place/1010 


Extract of the Bideford entry from William White's Devonshire Directory of 1850



FreeCEN The aim of FreeCEN is to provide free internet searches of the 19th century UK census returns. The first UK census to include names and other details of UK residents took place in 1841. Since then, a census has been held every ten years.

The FreeCEN project was begun in July, 1999, with a pilot transcription for Devon, coordinated by Brian Randell. Since then, the project has moved on, outgrowing its original database and website: we are now based on this site and have plans to improve the database and the ways you can search it.


Coverage for Great Torrington on FreeCEN is for the years 1841 (census district Fremington), 1861 (Great Torrington), and 1891 (Torrington)



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