1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dartmouth (England)

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DARTMOUTH, a seaport, market town, and municipal borough in the Torquay parliamentary division of Devonshire, England, 27 m. E. of Plymouth. Pop. (1901) 6579. It is beautifully situated on the west bank and near the mouth of the river Dart, which here forms an almost land-locked estuary. The town is connected by a steam ferry with Kingswear on the opposite bank, which is served by a branch of the Great Western railway. The houses of Dartmouth, many of which are ancient, rise in tiers from the shore, beneath a range of steep hills. An embankment planted with trees fronts the river. The cruciform church of St Saviour is of the 14th and 15th centuries, and contains a graceful rood-screen of the 16th century, an ancient stone pulpit and interesting monuments. Dartmouth Castle, in part of Tudor date, commands the river a little below the town. Portions of the cottage of Thomas Newcomen, one of the inventors of the steam-engine, are preserved. Dartmouth is a favourite yachting centre, and shipbuilding, brewing, engineering and paint-making are carried on. Coal is imported, and resold to ships calling at the harbour. The borough is under a mayor, four aldermen and twelve councillors. Area, 1924 acres.

History.—Probably owing its origin to Saxon invaders, Dartmouth (Darentamuthan, Dertemue) was a seaport of importance when Earl Beorn was buried in its church in 1049. From its sheltered harbour William II. embarked for the relief of Mans, and the crusading squadron set sail in 1190, while John landed here in 1214. The borough, first claimed as such in the reign of Henry I., was in existence by the middle of the 13th century, since a deed of Gilbert Fitz-Stephen, lord of the manor, mentions the services due from “his burgesses of Dertemue,” and a borough seal of 1280 is extant. The king in 1224 required the bailiffs and good men of Dartmouth to keep all ships in readiness for his service, and in 1302 they were to furnish two ships for the Scottish expedition, an obligation maintained throughout the century. The men of the vill were made quit of toll in 1337, and in 1342 the town was incorporated by a charter frequently confirmed by later sovereigns. Edward III. in 1372 granted that the burgesses should be sued only before the mayor and bailiffs, and Richard II. in 1393 granted extended jurisdiction and a coroner; further charters were obtained in 1604 and 1684. A French attack on the town was repulsed in 1404, and in 1485 the burgesses received a royal grant of £40 for walling the town and stretching a chain across the river mouth. Dartmouth fitted out two ships against the Armada, and was captured by both the royalists and parliamentarians in the Civil War. It returned two representatives to parliament in 1298, and from 1350 to 1832. In the latter year the representation was reduced to one, and was merged in that of the county in 1868. Manorial markets were granted for Dartmouth in 1231 and 1301. These were important since as early as 1225 the fleet resorted there for provisions. During the 14th and 15th centuries there was a regular trade with Bordeaux and Brittany, and complaints of piracies by Dartmouth men were frequent.