Occupations 1800s

In 1838 an Ashburton tradesman was said to have the following occupations:
clockmaker, watchmaker, tinner, plumber, brazier, gun smith, lock smith, white smith, blacksmith, glazier, printer, carpenter, joiner, mason, hellier, plasterer, wool sorter, wool comber, mill wright, machine maker, worsted spinner, weaver, farmer, civil engineer.....and dentist.
North Devon Journal, 4 January 1838, p3 col6

Above: The Umber Works tower, Chuley Road (now demolished)

My thanks to the Peggy Wakeham and Robert Wakeham for the above drawing.



Names and occupations from documents connected to the Palk family of Haldon, in the Devon Heritage Centre. Ref Z10:


Peter Wotton, cordwainer


John Furneaux, malster


 John Furneaux, victualler, eldest son of John Furneaux late of Ashburton, malster, dec'd.


Margaret Pears (wife of Edward), formerly the widow of George Monday of Ashburton, cordwainer, dec'd.



27th July 1812 Richard Widdicombe was bound apprentice by the churchwardens to William Widdicombe of Ashburton

Stated in the case of The churchwardens and overseers of the parish of Staverton against the churchwardens and overseers of the parish of Ashburton January 17th 1855

On 29th February 1820 John Waldron, aged 12, was apprenticed to Stephen Yolland of Ashburton, yeoman 

Stated in the case of The Queen v the inhabitants of Ashburton, April 29th, 1846


From English Reports, http://www.commonlii.org/uk/cases/EngR




'Some of the women in the vicinities of Ivy Bridge and Ashburton employ themselves in collecting sedge upon the moor, and convey it afoot on their backs to Plymouth, a distance from the former place of more than twelve miles, and from the latter of twenty five miles or upwards, to be made into mattresses.'
Dartmoor, a Descriptive Poem, N T Carrington, London 1826, p152


In 1827 The following businesses were mentioned in a report of a fire (for details see the Fire and Flood section under Ashburton in Peril):

Mr. Caunter's factory

Mr Mann's tan-yard 

Mr Hern's tan-yard

Exeter Alfred, reported in Palmer's Index to The Times, 5 July 1827, p2 col6



In 1828 Mr Hern's tan-yard, outhouses and offices in St Lawrence Lane were put up for sale, together with a dwelling house.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 29 March 1828 p1 col2

This might be the same tan-yard, cottage, garden and premises, described as being in the centre of Ashburton, that was for sale 2 years later. The yard had a stable, leather-house, barn and outhouses for keeping bark and equipment included:

36 handlers under cover

9 troughs,

13 letches

A beam house, covered with soaks

watering pits

large drying lofts

A pound house for grinding bark

There was a stream running through the property which kept the yard supplied with water.

Western Times 31 July 1830 p1 col4


A tan-yard for sale in 1854, known as The Old Mill, had been occupied by Mr Evans.

It was described as having

A water pit

5 lime and 83 tan pits

Drying lofts sufficient for 300 hides

An improved bark mill and lifting pumps

Extensive bark barn

Exeter Flying Post 20 April 1854 p1 col1


According to Pigot and Co., in 1838 Ashburton had:
6 academies
5 attorneys
3 auctioneers
7 bakers
1 bank
5 boot and shoe makers
4 cabinet makers
3 carpenters
1 carver and gilder
1 confectioner
2 coopers
1 corn dealer
2 curriers
5 drapers
2 druggists
7 fire offices
13 dealers in groceries
1 hatter

2 inns
2 ironmongers
3 maltsters

2 painters etc.
1 printer
3 saddlers
5 surgeons
5 tailors
3 tanners
15 taverns
1 turner
3 watch and clockmakers
4 wheelwrights
4 woollen manufacturers
1 woolstapler
Pigot and Co.'s Pocket Atlas, Topography and Gazetteer of England, 1838, p92


May 1848 A large number of trees were about to be felled for 'the barking season'.
Western Times 6 May 1848 p6 col5


1851 Thomas Gillard was a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain
Pharmaceutical Journal, vol 10, 1850-51, Ed Jacob Bell, London, 1851, p374



                                                                 Ashburton Museum

1891 census Ashburton, West Street shows John I Lamason, a widower, a brush maker.


In 1911 John Isaac Lamason is living with his wife Lavinia at 1 West Street.


In an article on Ashburton Museum in 1976, W R Hatch (joint curator at the time) wrote about the present building at 1 West Street: ' ...was the property of Lord Cranstoun and passed through Margaret Macleod, Baroness de Virte de Rathsamhausen to John Isaac Lamason in 1893.......John Lamason was a brush manufacturer and his name still shows through the paint on the facia. In the attic (access to which has now gone....) there was a window and perhaps family or apprentices' sleeping quarters behind oak panel doors'

The Devon Historian, October 1976, no 13, W R Hatch p 27


                                                                    G H Andrews

When George Henry Andrews died in January 1939 he was described as one of the oldest tradesmen in the town. Aged 75, he had been a baker and confectioner up until three years before he died. He had been a member of both the Freemasons and the Constitutional Club.

When the amount of his estate was published in March (£1717 gross), his address was Roscoe in North Street - No 5 according to English Heritage.

But earlier, around the turn of the century, a postcard shows him trading at No 2 North Street - see below.

Western Morning News 30 January 1939 p3 col3

Western Morning News 27 March 1939 p4 col3

http://list.english-heritage.org.uk - Accessed 2-7-2014

Left: The Bull Ring, late 19th century to early 20th century - G H Andrews is at No 2. By 1911 James Fogden was occupying 2 North Street - see the 1911 census in People and properties, 1900s section.
From my own collection



In 1829 the Manor or Town Mills were put up for sale, together with a dwelling house, courtlage*, outhouses, garden and meadow. They were grist or flour mills in North St., occupied at that time by Mr Osmond, and were part of a 'three lives lease' of a maximum of 99 years - the ages of the people whose lives determined the length of the lease were 32, 16 and 2. There were various conditions to the sale, including rebuilding the mill and house within 5 years; the purchaser also had to pay an annual sum of £10 to the poor of Ashburton.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 9 May 1829 p1 col 2

*See Terms Used in Property Documents in the sub-menu of People and Properties

There is more on mills in The Mills, another sub-menu of this section (Banks and businesses)



In 1830 a quarter of a messuage or tenement was put up for sale, called Reeves's or Mardons. Situated near North St., and occupied by Mr Berry, it consisted of a bakehouse, 2 chambers and outhouses

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 24 July 1830 p1 col 5


In 1842 Lower Mead Farm was put up for sale, after the death of Mr Stephen Yolland. It consisted of a farm house and 86 acres of land, including an orchard. It was also sold with a lime kiln and lime rock, which were on the road from Ashburton to Mead, within half a mile of the farm house, and close to the turnpike road.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 8 October 1842 p1 col2


In 1842  Lurgecombe grist and flour mill was sold by Mr John Pearce, a selling point being that an 'excellent' corn market was held in Ashburton. The lease was for the remainder of 99 years, and the 'three healthy lives' were aged 53, 14 and 11. Included in the sale were 2 pairs of stones, a bolting mill, a smut machine and corn hutches.
Western Times 5 March 1842 p1 col2



The 1851 census shows Edward Coysh as a blacksmith in St. Lawrence Lane, where he is living with his wife Elizabeth and children Charlotte and Charles.

Census 1851 HO107, Piece: 1871, Folio: 271, p 24

1853. The Western Times reported that Mr E Coysh, blacksmith, had completed an order for 1600 horse shoes, to be sent to Melbourne, Australia.

Western Times 26 March 1853 p5 col4



Properties and businesses mentioned in an item in 1854, about a fire in Back, ie Stapledon Lane:

A property belonging to Mr Robert Bowden

A barn and dwelling of W F Down, tea dealer

The property of Mr Norrish, dairyman.  

For details of the fire, see the Fire and Flood section, under Ashburton in Peril


In July 1856 the Western Times reported that the town was improving 'steadily if not rapidly'. Several plate glass shopfronts had been added to houses.
Western Times 12 July  1856 p7 col3


In 1867 a price war broke out amongst the butchers. Charles Yolland began by lowering the price of mutton to 5 and a half pence per pound. Shortly afterwards the 'crier' announced that Mr T Pearce was selling mutton at 4 and a half pence. Mr Smerdon, who operated the adjacent stall to Mr Pearce in the market, then sold 'good joints' at a halfpenny lower still.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 27 November 1867 p7 col5


'Paint works, for the manufacture of paint without white lead, have been recently established on the banks of the Yeo* (tributary of the Dart), within the parish of Ashburton.'
History, Gazetteer and Directory of Devon, William White, Sheffield 1878-79, p37
*Now called the Ashburn

22nd December 1882 Mortgage of Thomas Pearse, baker of Ashburton, to Robert Francis of Newton Abbot, gent.
Ref. 2378/5/9 Held by the North Devon Record Office


Charles R Bryant, 'of long American and Canadian experience', opened the Clinton Wholesale and Retail Wine, Spirit and Beer Stores in East Street in 1888. Products ranged from the Working Man's beer to the Nobleman's sparkling champagne. He bottled his own ales and stouts using the latest bottling machinery.
Mr Bryant's business philosophy was to make small profits and quick returns. 
The Totnes Times and Devon News, 12 May 1888, p2 col4
By October a meeting of creditors was being held in Exeter. No statement of affairs had been filed because Mr Bryant had absconded. Mr W B Dawe of Ashburton was one of the two largest creditors, being owed £153 2s 6d. The Receiver pointed out that some creditors believed that they could just take goods in payment for money owed, but this was not only erroneous but also illegal. He had never, he said, seen 'so many instances of helping one's self in that form as in the present case'.
Western Times 16 October 1888, p 5 col 2      
John Sampson died in November 1889. A marble mason and tombstone engraver, he had been an active member of the Wesleyans and a member of the School Board. He was 71.
Western Times 8 November 1889, p7 col1
                                                    PCC Wills


The highest court for the south of England was the Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury - hence PCC wills

Copies of PCC wills are kept at the National Archives -

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/. You can find full references on the website, and order copies online. Alternatively you can visit the archives and view the wills for free

Occupations in Ashburton PCC wills (extracted from fuller list in the People and Properties section)

I have included 'Yeoman' as an occupation, but not 'Gentleman'


James Spark, butcher, October 1801

Thomas Searle, soap boiler, October 1809

George Maye otherwise, May, taylor, February 1812

Roger Maunder, cordwainer, November 1822

John Higgins, leather factor, May 1824

William Bowden, victualler, January 1839

Solomon Tozer, maltster, May 1844

George Casely, tailor, October 1846

Richard Perry, yeoman, February 1847

Robert Abraham, solicitor, April 1847

William Ferris Honywill, schoolmaster, July 1850

William Eales, clerk, January 1855





In a letter to the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette in April 1870, a correspondent signing himself (or herself) Shopkeeper, complained about the scavenger of the town.

Getting the streets swept was of importance to shopkeepers, the writer complained, yet the scavenger 'sweeps when he likes'. 'When he likes' that morning had been at ten o'clock, with dust flying about East Street and filling the shops.

The shopkeeper had tackled the Surveyor about the problem, and suggested the use of the water-cart, only to be informed that the cart was locked away.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 8 April 1870 p8 col5


In the 1911 census 78 year old William McDowell put down his occupation as 'Scavenger UDC.'