With each record you will find a transcript and an image of the borough document. The detail found in each record can vary depending on the type of event. Most transcripts will include a combination of the following.

  • Name
  • Event date
  • Event type
  • Years
  • Father’s name
  • Mother’s name – parents’ names are generally only available in the bastardy case records.
  • Justice of Peace
  • Parish and county
  • Archive and reference


The image will reveal even more about your ancestor and give you more context about the event and why your ancestor has been discovered in these records.

Types of events

  • Bastardy (1844-1852) – These are applications by an unwed mother to state that she will be giving birth to a child and the father is unknown. The parish would then investigate and try to determine the father responsible for the child. The records are listed by surname since they were created before the mothers gave birth.

  • Cases (1850-1860) – These are records of cases brought before the court for infractions such as not paying the toll at the turnpike bridge. You will find the date of the case and the reason for the hearing.

  • Convictions (1839-1896) – The register will show the date of conviction, the name of the informant (or complainant), name of the defendant, the offence and the conviction terms.

  • Informations (1845-1847) – These records are similar to witness depositions. You will be able to read the full account as written by the Justice of the Peace.

  • Lunacy (1855) – The lunacy records are reports from doctors after examining a patient. The report testifies to the patient’s state of mind.

  • Recognizances (1849) – These were issued to a person awaiting trial. If the person did not appear in court they would be fined.

  • Summonses (1853-1855) – A court summons recorded the person’s name, date of court appearance and offence.

  • Warrants (1853-1855) – The warrant will give you the name of both the defendant and the plaintiff, the offence which has led to an arrest and the date the warrant was issued.

  • Witness depositions (1852-1855) – A witness deposition will give you a full account of an event. It will include the names of other parties involved in the event and the date.

The Tavistock Borough Court Luxton Manuscripts are court papers from the Tavistock borough court collected by Robert Luxton of Tavistock, clerk to the magistrates. The original documents can be found at the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office. The borough was integral to daily community life. They were responsible for the administration of poor relief and law enforcement.

The market town of Tavistock, formerly known as Tavistoke, is in West Devon. The town became a borough in 1159. In the mid-eighteenth century, the area was flourishing from copper mining.