About us

About the Dartmouth History Research Group

The Dartmouth History Research Group began in 1991 when Ray Freeman, a local history teacher and author, first brought together people interested in exploring local history. Ray came to Devon in 1964. After retiring to Dartmouth, she published “Dartmouth and its Neighbours: A History of the Port and its People” in 1990 (updated in 2007). But there was still a lot left to discover. The group agreed to concentrate on research and making historical information about Dartmouth and the surrounding area available to everyone – that remains our focus today.

Under Ray’s leadership, progress was rapid – by the end of 1993 there were ten books in print. To help the growing number of people interested in local and family history, the Group began collecting and transcribing documents such as parish registers and census returns. In 2003, under new Chairman Irene O’Shea, and led by Wally Fleet, longstanding member and later the Group’s third Chairman, the Group began a new project, the development of a website, “The Dartmouth Archives”, bringing together an extensive collection of information and resources, and funded by a generous grant from the Local Heritage Initiative of the Heritage Lottery Fund (and others). The website went live in 2007, enabling people all over the world to discover the history of Dartmouth and the surrounding area. The present website aims to build on that very considerable and remarkable achievement.

Over the years we have made available much family history information including parish registers, census records and burial records. Other activities include transcribing and summarising original records such as property deeds which are a rich source of information on the history of the town. Oral history has also been an important theme and we have taped the memories of older residents and anyone with stories to tell about the past. We have produced many books and articles and contributed to many collaborative projects, working with Dartmouth Museum, Dartmouth Town Council, and other local groups and organisations. Our contribution to Dartmouth’s Mayflower 400 project in 2020 is one recent example.

Perhaps you have memories of life in this part of Devon locked in your head, or longstanding family links to the local area, or other local knowledge? If so, come and join us and help make history! We’re always delighted to welcome new members and value all skills and experience. You can learn as you go along and you don’t need any research qualifications – just enthusiasm, perseverance and an enquiring mind! Members pursue whatever aspects of local history they are interested in, support other members in their research, or get involved in wider DHRG projects. Everyone works in their own way and contributes in whatever way suits them best.

To find out more, come to one of our meetings (see the home page for details) or email us at enquiries@dartmouth-history.org.uk

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Thank you to everyone who came to our event, "A History of Dartmouth in Four Houses" at the Flavel last Saturday, and a special thank you to our speakers and to everyone who helped. Everyone welcome at "History & Cake" on Monday 4 December 2023, 10am-12noon, Baptist Church Hall, Carey Road, Townstal, to discuss history, and eat cake! More info ondartmouth-history.org.uk 🍰🏠📖#dartmouth #localhistory #historylovers ... See MoreSee Less
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Looking forward to our event this Saturday, 18 November, 1.30-4.30pm at the Flavel Centre, Dartmouth, "A History of Dartmouth in Four Houses", entry free, just come along. Find out about 500 years of our history and discover sources you can use to research the history of a house. We look forward to seeing you!#dartmouth #localhistory #flavel ... See MoreSee Less
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Rolling on rapidly from Halloween is Bonfire Night. Guy Fawkes' "Gunpowder Treason" against King James I in 1605 created a date in the calendar still with us over 400 years later. Dartmouth's historic town accounts regularly mark the ringing of the bells of St Saviours on November 5th. In 1636, 2s6d was "paid to the Ringers for beere"; by 1766 the payment had gone up to eighteen shillings! It seems likely that celebrations included bonfires although there's no mention of them in the accounts. In the 19th century newspapers reported many public events, though 1883 in Dartmouth was a damp squib, because it "rained in torrents" all night! If you're celebrating, stay safe and dry! #localhistory #dartmouth #guyfawkes ... See MoreSee Less
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"When shall we three meet again, in thunder, lightning or in rain?"Today Hallowe'en is a time for kids to have fun tricking and treating, but in Dartmouth 421 years ago, witchcraft was a serious matter. In 1601-2, Michael Trevisard, a fisherman, his wife Alice and his son Peter, who lived in Hardness, were all accused of witchcraft before Sir Thomas Ridgway, a Justice of the Peace. Their accusers were all people who lived in the vicinity, and their suspicions of the Trevisards were longstanding. Unpleasant, not to say awful, things had happened, and their neighbours thought Michael, Alice and Peter were responsible. Frustratingly, the surviving records don't tell us what happened. For more information, see our website:dartmouth-history.org.uk/dhrg_archive/102734_0.pdf ... See MoreSee Less
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Join us on a journey into the past at a special event, "A History of Dartmouth in Four Houses", on Saturday 18 November at the Flavel Centre, Flavel Place, Dartmouth, from 1.30-4.30pm.Discover 500 years of Dartmouth's history. Learn how to research the history of your home and the people who lived there. Short talks about four houses in Dartmouth; opportunities to ask questions and find out about sources of local information.Everyone welcome, admission free, light refreshments provided. No need to book, just turn up. For more information, see our website dartmouth-history.org.uk#localhistory #DartmouthPicture: embroidery, St Clement's church, Townstal, with kind permission. ... See MoreSee Less
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