1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Crediton

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CREDITON, a market town in the South Molton parliamentary division of Devonshire, England, 8 m. N.W. of Exeter by the London & South-Western railway. Pop. of urban district (1901) 3974. It is situated in the narrow vale of the river Creedy near its junction with the Exe, between two steep hills, and is divided into two parts, the east or old town and the west or new town. The church of Holy Cross, formerly collegiate, is a noble Perpendicular building with Early English and other early portions, and a fine central tower. The grammar school, founded by Edward VI. and refounded by Elizabeth, has exhibitions to Oxford and Cambridge universities. Shoe-making, tanning, agricultural trade, tin-plating, and the manufacture of confectionery and cider have superseded the former large woollen and serge industries. In 1897 Crediton was made the seat of a suffragan bishopric in the diocese of Exeter.

The first indication of settlement at Crediton (Credington, Cryditon, Kirton) is the tradition that Winfrith or Boniface was born there in 680. Perhaps in his memory (for the great extent of the parish shows that it was thinly populated) it became in 909 the seat of the first bishopric in Devonshire. It was probably only a village in 1049, when Leofric, bishop of Crediton, requested Leo IX. to transfer the see to Exeter, as Crediton was “an open town and much exposed to the incursions of pirates.” At the Domesday Survey much of the land was still uncultivated, but its prosperity increased, and in 1269 each of the twelve prebends of the collegiate church had a house and farmland within the parish. The bishops, to whom the manor belonged until the Reformation, had difficulty in enforcing their warren and other rights; in 1351 Bishop Grandison obtained an exemplification of judgments of 1282 declaring that he had pleas of withernam, view of frank pledge, the gallows and assize of bread and ale. Two years later there was a serious riot against the increase of copyhold. Perhaps it was at this time that the prescriptive borough of Crediton arose. The jury of the borough are mentioned in 1275, and Crediton returned two members to parliament in 1306-1307, though never afterwards represented. A borough seal dated 1469 is extant, but the corporation is not mentioned in the grant made by Edward VI. of the church to twelve principal inhabitants. The borough and manor were granted by Elizabeth to William Killigrew in 1595, but there is no indication of town organization then or in 1630, and in the 18th century Crediton was governed by commissioners. In 1231 the bishop obtained a fair, still held, on the vigil, feast and morrow of St Lawrence. This was important as the wool trade was established by 1249 and certainly continued until 1630, when the market for kersies is mentioned in conjunction with a saying “as fine as Kirton spinning.”

See Rev. Preb. Smith, “Early History of Credition,” in Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art, Transactions, vol. xiv. (Plymouth, 1882); Richard J. King, “The Church of St Mary and of the Holy Cross, Credition,” in Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society, Transactions, vol. iv. (Exeter, 1878).