Seven Years of War

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In 1754, competition over trade between Britain, France, and Spain erupted into the Seven Year’s War, during which Bideford hosted French prisoners of war. Bideford was a parole depot, so the French officers were reasonably accommodated, often with their families and in private lodgings. The remainder were held in close…

From Fishermen to Middlemen

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By the time of Defoe’s account, deep sea fishing was already in decline, American enterprise, piracy and conflicts all having taken their toll. Bideford’s shipmasters ceased fishing themselves and became middlemen, providing transport of prepared fish, much of which ended up in the Mediterranean, from whence the ships could return…

Another Map

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On Donne’s 1756 one inch to the mile survey, East-the-Water still shows as little more than a ribbon of development. In Torrington Street this extends southward to a point due east of Ford House, at which point a street, with accompanying properties, runs directly inland for a short distance. Adjacent…

Defoe’s Account

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Published in 1724, Daniel Defoe’s account of his visit to the SW peninsular reported that the Port of Bideford’s trade was, by then, mostly in fish, but that rock salt, for preserving the local Herring catch, was also being shipped into the town from Liverpool. Defoe noted “There is indeed,…

Two Mathematicians

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1718 saw the birth in Bideford of Abraham Donn, the first of two brothers, the other being Benjamin Donne (b. 1729). Both would prove to be eminent mathematicians, though Abraham died quite young. Benjamin, who survived him, reverted the family name to its original form of Donne, but only after…

Trade and Transportation

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Sailing an empty ship was unprofitable, so most merchants favoured routes that allowed both outward and return cargos. For example John Davie liked to export earthenware and import tobacco in a single round trip. Newfoundland fishermen had less room for outward commercial cargos as they needed to carry provisions and…

Sudden Death and the Granville Lands

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After the 1st Earl of Bath, succeeding generations of Granvilles seem to have had a habit of dying just as they came to the point of power and influence, for John’s eldest son, and heir, Charles Granville (-1701) shot himself shortly after his father died, an incident alleged by some…

Early Plans

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In 1700 one Joel Gascoyne was busy systematically mapping all the Granville’s West-country properties for the Earl of Bath (John Granville, 1628-1701). The project was eventually abandoned, but not before it produced a plan of Bideford Grange. The grange lands extended east-north-eastward from Grange Road, to about the current location…

Cod and ’backy

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Sir John Berry’s census of 1675 lists 19 Bideford boats fishing for Cod off Newfoundland. With them were 34 boats from other West Country ports, but only one from London and one from Topsham. In 1678 there were some 25 Bideford vessels, but by 1699 a change was becoming apparent,…

Buttering the American Expansion

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As the colonies expanded, Bideford’s potteries found a ready market for their pots. In the 17th C. this pottery was produced rapidly and in large volumes, so as to keep the cost down. In particularly great demand were vessels used to ship butter, it having been salted to preserve it….