Manuscripts relating to Crediton and Barnstaple (Dodderidge) parish libraries

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 29 EUL MS 245
  • Dates of Creation
      Late 17th/early 18th century-1966
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      One box

Scope and Content

This small collection comprises manuscript library catalogues of the parish book collections of forming part of the book collections of Crediton and Barnstaple (Dodderidge) parishes. Contained: 'Mr Ley's Catalogue of Crediton Church Library', [late 17th/early 18th c., with annotations throughout, and with later entries in a different late 17th/early 18th c. hand]; Index of the library of Crediton, with an alphabetical appendix, 1854; Crediton church library catalogue (A-C only) (2 copies), 1966 (compiled by Symes and Robinson solicitors, Manor Office, Crediton); Catalogue of Barnstaple (Dodderidge) parish library, compiled in 1943 by Miss Daphne Drake, FLA (with later handwritten annotations, including of stock take 1982) (with one facsimile photocopy).

Administrative / Biographical History

The book collections of four Devon parish libraries are held at Exeter University Library: Crediton, Ottery St. Mary, Totnes and Barnstaple ('Dodderidge').

The Crediton Parish Library is the largest of the libraries (about 2474 volumes) and was deposited at the University in 1968. The Library was originally founded by the Reverend Thomas Ley, Vicar of Crediton 1689-1721, and was for many years housed in the Parvise Chamber over the South Porch of Crediton Church. The earliest catalogue for the collection, thought to date to c1700, was produced by Ley, and many books in the Library carry his signature. Comparison of Ley's catalogue with the books which survive today suggests that the original library has survived well over the years; very few items have been lost and many still retain their original binding.

The Dodderidge Library (354 items) was founded by John Dodderidge of Barnstaple, Devon (1610-1666), who donated his book collection to the town of Barnstaple in 1664. John Dodderidge, son of Penecost Dodderidge, was the nephew of Sir John Dodderidge, Lord Chief Justice of England, and it was the library of Sir John Dodderidge that formed the nucleus of the library later donated to the parish of Barnstaple in 1664. The library originally consisted of 112 volumes, chiefly of theology in Latin, and the Parish built a special building, partly in the churchyard and partly outside of it, to house the collection. The Dodderidge collection represents one of the earliest town libraries in the country and has continued in existence since its foundation in the later seventeenth-century. In 1888 the library was moved from Barnstaple Church to the North Devon Athenaeum, where it remained until transfer on permanent loan to Exeter University Library in 1957.

Access Information

Usual EUL arrangements apply.


Description compiled by Charlotte Berry, Archivist, 22 April 2004, and encoded into EAD 2 June 2004.

Other Finding Aids

Currently unlisted.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL restrictions apply.

Custodial History

Transferred from the parish book collections held at Special Collections which are held on permanent loan.

Related Material

The historic parochial records of the parishes of Crediton and Barnstaple, Devon, are held at the Devon Record Office and at the North Devon Record Office. The parish book collections of those parishes are held on permanent loan at the Exeter University Library (Special Collections).


For an account of the parish book collections, see: D. Wyn Evans, 'Devon Parish Libraries at Exeter University', Devon Historian, 24, April 1982. Publications pertaining to the history of the Barnstaple (Dodderidge) parish collection include: The Dodderidges of Devon : with an account of the Bibliotheca Doddridgiana by Sidney Dodderidge and H.G. Shaddick (Exeter: Pollard, 1909).

Geographical Names