Three Early Descriptions of Moreton
1. Tristam Risdon, c1630:
Let us now look over to Moreton, that hath his name of his scite, so near the Dartmore side, with his adjunct Hamsted, which manor was the earls of Ulsters in King Edward the first's age, who held it of the king for one sparrow-hawke yearly to be yielded: since, sir Phillip Courtenays, brother to the earl of Devon, whose posterity dwelt here, and styled themselves De Moorton. In the reign of king Richard the first, William de Mandeville, earl of Essex, held inheritance here, who gave parcel thereof to Elias Ford, in whose posterity it remained for many generations....... This town hath a Saturday's market and three fairs, kept on the days of St Margaret, St Michael and St. Andrew.
(From his Chorographical Description or Survey of the County of Devon (2nd ed, 1811).)
2. The Universal British Directory, 1793:
Moretonhamstead, Devon, is situated on a small eminence surrounded by high hills except towards the west; and is a dry healthy situation. It is twelve miles from the city of Exeter, one hundred and eighty-five miles from London, and about four miles from the Prince of Wales's forest of Dartmoor, through which a good turnpike-road was made about twenty-years since, shortening the distance from Exeter to Tavistock and the southern parts of Cornwall more than eight miles; and on the said forest is a good inn lately erected by Judge Buller, where are good accommodations. Moretonhampstead is a populous town, supported chiefly by a very extensive woollen-trade. In it is a handsome church, and three meeting-houses for Protestant-dissenters; and it has a market on Saturday (noted for yarn,) as also three fairs, viz. first Saturday in June, third Thursday in July, and last Thursday in November.- Lord Viscount Courtenay, who is patron of the church, is the lord of this borough and a pretty large manor here, in respect of which he holds courts-leet, where a portreevve and other officers are annually sworn. In this town is a charity school endowed with a small yearly sum by the trustees of the will of E. Hele, Esq. of the county of Devon. It has a bye-post from Exeter every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. Travellers may be accommmodated here with good chaises, able horses, &c. &c. In this place are the vestiges of two castles or forts; and in its neighbourhood are a druidical temple, a cascade, a very large logan or rocking-stone (so nicely poised that it can be moved by a single person,) and a cromlech, all which are worthy the view of an antiquary.
(From The Universal British Directory (1793), iii, pp.974-6.)
3. Pigot's Directory, 1823-4:
Moretonhampstead, A town, beautifully situated upon a rising ground, surrounded on every side, but the west by by high hills; is governed by a portreeve and other officers, elected annually at the court-leet of the lord of the manor. A new road has been formed, leading to Exeter, for the space of several miles, by which means the hills have been cut off, and the town made more accessible to carriages. Near the Exeter road is Blackstone Rock, an immense pile of granite, the shape is conical, and it rises to the height of several hundred feet. The church is dedicated to St. Andrew; besides which, there are places of worship for methodists, baptyists, unitarians, and calvinists. A butchers shambles was built in 1820, it is commodious and conveniently situated. There is also a corn-markt held here. This is the birth place of George Bidder, the celebrated youthful calculator. Fairs are held on the Saturday before Whitsunday, third Thursday in July, and the last Thursday in November. Market day is Saturday. The population is 1,932.
Post Office, Market-place, John Treleaven, Post Master. The post to Exeter, leaves every afternoon at four, and arrives every morning at eight.