Place:Princetown, Devon, England

Coordinates50.55°N 3.983°W
Located inDevon, England
See alsoLifton Hundred, Devon, Englandhundred of which the parish was a part
Lydford, Devon, Englandparish of which it was a part until 1974
Tavistock Rural, Devon, Englandrural district in which it was located 1894-1974
West Devon District, Devon, Englanddistrict municipality covering the area since 1974
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Princetown is a village situated in the Dartmoor National Park in the English county of Devon. It is the principal settlement of the modern (established 1987) civil parish of Dartmoor Forest.

The village has its origins in 1785, when Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt, Secretary to the Prince of Wales, leased a large area of moorland from the Duchy of Cornwall estate, hoping to convert it into good farmland. He encouraged people to live in the area and suggested that a prison be built there. He called the settlement Princetown after the Prince of Wales.

Princetown is the site of Dartmoor Prison. At around 435 metres (1,430 feet) above sea level, it is the highest settlement on the moor, and one of the highest in the United Kingdom. It is also the largest settlement located on the high moor. The Princetown Railway, closed in 1956, was also the highest railway line in England, its Princetown terminus being 435 metres (1,427 ft) above sea level.

end of Wikipedia contribution

Princetown was a chapelry and a village within the parish of Lydford, and therefore was, from 1894 until 1974, located within the Tavistock Rural District. Since 1974 local administration is dealt with by the West Devon District.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

A nineteenth century description

A Vision of Britain through Time provides the following description of Princetown from John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales of 1870-72:

"PRINCETOWN, a village and a chapelry in Lidford parish, Devon. The village stands in Dartmoor-Forest Quarter, 6 miles N E of Horrabridge [railway] station, and 7½ E by S of Tavistock; and has a post-office, designated Princetown, Devon, and an inn.
"The chapelry contains also a great convict prison; and its limits, in some sense, are conterminate with those of Dartmoor Forest Quarter, which comprise 54,241 acres. The population of that quarter, in 1851, was 1,697, in 1861, 2,599; and, in the latter year, 1,089 were in the convict prison. The prison was erected in 1808-9, at a cost of £127,000, for French prisoners of war; was leased, for some time, to a company manufacturing naphtha from peat; was converted in 1850 into a convict prison; stands on a wild part of Dartmoor, at an elevation of about 1,400 feet above sea-level; occupies an area of about 30 acres, inclosed by a double line of lofty walls; and includes a governor's house, officers' residences, an hospital, and five buildings, each 300 feet long and 50 feet wide, for prisoners. Great georgic improvement has been made on much of the land near the village and the prison; and extensive granite quarries are on the W side of North Hessary tor, about 2 miles from the village. The living is a [perpetual] curacy in the diocese of Exeter. Value: not reported. Patron: the Prince of Wales."


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Research Tips

  • Ordnance Survey Maps of England and Wales - Revised: Devonshire Northand Devonshire South illustrate the parish boundaries of Devon when rural districts were still in existence. The maps publication year is 1931. The maps blow up to show all the parishes and many of the small villages and hamlets. These maps are now downloadable for personal use.
  • GENUKI has a new map feature on its individual Devon parish pages. Each parish page includes an outline map of parishes in the region of the one under inspection. By clicking on this map the user is taken to a blow-up of Historic Parishes of England and Wales: an Electronic Map of Boundaries before 1850 with a Gazetteer and Metadata [computer file] provided by R. J. P. Kain and R. R. Oliver of the History Data Service of Colchester, Essex (distributed by UK Data Archive).
  • Devon County Council's Record Offices and Local Studies Libraries are being reorganized and amalgamated to form the Devon Heritage Services, comprising the Devon Heritage Centre (Exeter) and the North Devon Record Office (Barnstaple). These developments, which are described in Historical Records: A New Future for Devon's Heritage, do not affect the other major Devon archive, the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office, or the Local Studies Library, which are located in Plymouth and come under the Plymouth City Council. (Devon FHS report that Plymouth Record Office has just aquired new premises.) There is a guide entitled Which heritage centre or record office should I visit? which is provided to explain the organization further.
  • Devon Family History Society Mailing address: PO Box 9, Exeter, EX2 6YP, United Kingdom. Specialized contacts for membership, publications, queries, etc. The society has branches in various parts of the county. It is the largest Family History Society in the United Kingdom.
  • Devon has a Online Parish Clerk (OPC) Project. Only about half of the parishes have a volunteer contributing local data. For more information, consult the website, especially the list at the bottom of the homepage.
  • GENUKI makes a great many suggestions as to other websites with worthwhile information about Devon as well as leading to a collection of 19th century descriptions of each of the ecclesiastical parishes. Devon is one of the counties on the GENUKI website that has recently (summer 2015) been updated. The maps described above are just one of the innovations.
  • The FamilySearch Wiki provides a similar information service to GENUKI which may be more up-to-date. An index of parishes leads to notes and references for each parish.
  • A Vision of Britain through Time has
  1. organization charts of the hierarchies of parishes within hundreds, registration districts and rural and urban districts of the 20th century
  2. excerpts from a gazetteer of circa 1870 outlining individual towns and parishes
  3. reviews of population through the time period 1800-1960
  • More local sources can often be found by referring to "What Links Here" in the column on the left.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Princetown. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.