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Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 865 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PLYMPTON ST MARY and PLYMPTON MAURICE (or EARL'S), two small adjacent towns in the southern parliamentary division of Devonshire, England, 5 m. E.N.E. of Plymouth, on the Great Western railway. Pop. (1901), Plympton St Mary, 3587; Plympton Maurice, 1139. Plympton St Mary contains a fine Decorated and Perpendicular church, with a lofty tower of the later period. Near it are remains of the former rich Augustinian priory of Plympton, founded by William Warelwast, bishop of Exeter (I107–1136). They include an Early English refectory ra. 28with Norman undercroft, the kitchen and other fragments; but there are no remains of the great priory church. At Plympton Maurice are slight ruins of the castle built by Richard de Redvers, 1st earl of Devon (whence the variant of the name), in the time of Henry I. There are several picturesque old houses in the town, together with a guildhall dated 1696, and a grammar school founded in 1658, of which Sir Joshua Reynolds's father was master. Plympton (Plintona) bears traces of very ancient settlement, the earthworks on which in the 12th century Richard de Redvers reared his Norman castle being probably of British origin, while a Saxon document dated 904 records a grant by Edward the Elder to Asser, bishop of Sherborne, of twelve manors in exchange for the monastery of " Plymentun." According to the Domesday survey " Plintona " was a royal manor assessed at 21 hides, and the fact that the canons of Plympton held two hides apart from these shows the origin of the later division into the priory parish of Plympton St Mary and the secular borough of Plympton Erle. In the 12th century Plympton appears as a mesne borough under the lordship of the Redvers, earls of Devon, and in 1224 the burgesses claimed to have received a charter from William, the 6th earl, of which however nothing further is known, and the first charter of which a copy is extant was issued by Baldwin de Redvers in 1242, granting to the burgesses of Plympton the borough, with fairs and markets, and the liberties enjoyed by the citizens of Exeter, in consideration of a yearly payment of £24, 2S. 2d. In 1437 a charter from Edward IV. granted to the burgesses an eight-days' fair at the Feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, but at this period the growing importance of Plymouth was steadily robbing Plympton of its position as head of the district. In 1602, in response to a petition of the burgesses, Elizabeth issued a charter of incorporation, instituting a common council to consist of a mayor and 8 principal burgesses; a Saturday market, and fairs at the Feasts of the Ascension and the Annunciation. A code of by-laws dated 1623 mentions a fair on St Luke's Day in addition to the three above mentioned. The borough surrendered its charter to Charles II. in 1684, and in 1685 received a fresh charter from James II. instituting an additional market on Wednesday and a fair on the 1st of August. This charter was declared invalid in 1690, but its provisions were reaffirmed in 1692, with the addition of an eight-days' fair to begin on the 14th of February. The borough, which had returned two members to parliament since 1295, was disfranchised by the Reform Act of 1832 and from this date the municipal privileges gradually lapsed, and in 1859 were finally abolished. See Victoria County History: Devonshire; William Cotton, Some Account of the Ancient Borough Town of Plympton St Maurice (London, 1859); J. Brooking Rowe, Notes of Plympton Castle (Plymouth, 188o).
End of Article: PLYMPTON ST MARY

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