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England and Wales.
DEVONSHIRE. WHETHER the primitive colonists of Britain emigrated from the neighbouring continent of Gaul, or from the more distant regions of the east, is a question that has been frequently discussed by historians; but however the arguments adduced in support of either opinion may be thought conclusive, both tradition and history furnish evidence of the first settlements having been established on the coasts of Devon. The original name of this district, though it was afterwards included with Cornwall, under the general appellation, Danmonium, was Dvynaint; and by this term it is frequently mentioned in ancient Welsh manuscripts. Its import is descriptive of the country, and implies Deeps or Hollows; and hence the people might be called Dyvni, Dytniaid, DyvNONI, Dyononwyr, Dyononwys, and Dyrnwys; all implying the inhabitants of the glens, or deep valleys."
Before the arrival of the Romans, the Belgæ, who had invaded this island from Gaul, made inroads into Devonshire, and forced great numbers of the Danmonii to emigrate to Ireland : the remainder united with the natives of the adjacent coasts to oppose the common enemy; and it appears from Richard, that, prior to the coming of Cæsar, the war against the Belga was carried on by the Britons under Cassibelinus, whose second son, Theomantuis, was at that period Duke of Danmonium. Under the Roman domination, Devon was included in the district named BRITANNIA Prima: by the Saxons it was made part of the
kingdom Cambrian Register, Vol. II. p. 7.
kingdom of Wessex, and so continued till the incorporation of the various Saxon states into one monarchy, in the time of Egbert.
The county of Devon is one of the most valuable in England, and in point of size, is only exceeded by that of York. On the north, and north-west, it is bounded by the Bristol Channel; on the west, by the river Tamar, and a small rivulet called Marslandwater; on the south, and south-east, it is skirted by the British Channel; on the east, and north-cast, it borders on the counties of Dorset and Somerset, the dividing limits being artificial. Its greatest extent, from south to north, is nearly seventy-one miles ; and from east to west, seventy-two: its circumference is about 287. The area contains about 1,633,280 acres, thirty-three hundreds, 39+ parishes, forty market-towns, 61,190 houses, and 313,001 inhabitants.
The external aspect of Devonshire is exceedingly varied and irregular: and the heights in many parts, but particularly in Dartmoor, and its vicinity, swell into mountains; the altitudes of the principal eminences being from 1500 to 1800 feet. On approaching this tract from the south and south-east, the eye is bewildered by an extensive waste, exhibiting gigantic tors, large surfaces covered with vast masses of scattered granite, and immense rocks, which seem to have been precipitated from the steep declivities into the vallies. These huge and craggy fragments are spread confusedly over the ground, and have been compared to the ponderous masses ejected by volcanoes, to the enormous ruins of formidable castles, and to the wrecks of mountains torn piecemeal by the raging elements.
Dartmoor, and the waste called the Forest of Dartmoor, occupy the greatest portion of the western district, which, extending from the Vale of Exeter, nearly reaches to the banks of the Tamar, and includes between two and three hundred thousand acres of open and uncultivated lands ; of these Dartmoor alone is supposed to comprise upwards of cighty thousand. These extensive tracts, though capable of considerable improvement, at present scarcely afford more than a scanty pasturage to a few thousand sheep and cattle. The right of depasture belongs to different interests; the
Forest itself, being the property of the Prince of Wales, as parcel of the Duchy of Cornwall; but the outskirts, and parts of the hills, are appendant to the surrounding manors, many of which have likewise a prescriptive right of common on the Forest, on pay. ing an inconsiderable sum annually to the Duchy, under the name of Venville (fen-field) money.* The Duchy, however, possesses the right of stocking the Forest by agistment ; and for this purpose it is leased in districts to various persons, who pasture the stock of the neighbouring townships at a very low rate.
In the higher parts of the moor, to the north and west, are vast tracts of wet swampy ground, which prove exceedingly dangerous to the pasturing cattle, but supply the bordering inhabitants with peat for fuel; the use of it, as a manure, being little attended to. Many of the peat bogs are of great depth, and in dry summers are covered with a strong succulent grass. Besides the common peat, they furnish what the natives call Blackwood, an intricate combination of earth, fibres of the roots of heath, and other plants, rotten leaves, and various vegetable substances : this, when cut into pieces about twelve inches long, six or seven wide, and two thick, is dried and charred, and afterwards used by the smiths in tempering edge tools. In those parts where the peaty soil is not prevalent, the upper mould is thin, black, and light; the substratum, a pale red or yellow clay, mixed with sand and gravel : the soil on some of the higher grounds is a good ioam, of sufficient
The sum paid by the Venville tenants is about three-pence for as many sheep as they choose to send, and two-pence a head for cattle. Those who pasture stock on the moor, and are not Venville tenants, are charged by the lessees, about two shillings and six-pence per score for sheep, and two shillings a head for cattle for the summer run. . The ancient Venville tenements on the Forest are thirty-seven, or thirty-eight; of these thirty-five are entitled, on descent or alienation, to an additional part of the waste for inclosures. This portion is called a New take, and amounts to twenty-five or thirty acres, os more, if the ground be rocky or boggy; being deemed equivalent to eight acres of good land. The New-take is on application set out by the homage jury, to whom the fec is four guineas; with a quit-rent to the Prince, of one shilling, sighteen-pence, or two shillings yearly.
History and Description of the City of Exeter, 83c, by Thomas BRICE.