SOUTH MOLTON, a market town and municipal borough in the South Molton parliamentary division of Devonshire, England, on the river Mole, 197 m. W. by S. of London, by the Great Western railway. Pop. ( 1 901 ) , 2848. Besides the parish church of St Mary Magdalene, a fine and massive Perpendicular building with an ancient pulpit of carved stone, there are a guildhall and market house. Linen goods are manufactured; fairs are held twice yearly, and numerous flour mills are worked by the river. The town is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors. Area, 5910 acres.
South Molton (Sud Montana) was probably the site of a very early settlement, the remains of a British camp being visible 2 m. south of the town, but its authentic history begins with the Domesday survey, which relates that the manor had been royal demesne of Edward the Confessor and now paid 10 a year to the Conqueror. In the 13th century it was held by Nicholas Fitz Martin of the earl of Gloucester for the service of finding a bow with three arrows to attend the earl when he should hunt in Gower. In 1246 Nicholas obtained a grant of a Saturday market and a fair at the feast of the Assumption (both maintained up to the present day), and in 1275 South Molton appears for the first time as a mesne borough under his overlordship. The borough subsequently passed to the Audleys, the Hollands, and in 1487 was granted for life to Margaret, duchess of Richmond, who in 1490 obtained a grant of a fair (which is still held) at the nativity of St John the Baptist. It returned two members to parliament in 1302, but no charter of incorporation was issued until that of Elizabeth in 1590, instituting a common council of a mayor and eighteen burgesses, three of whom were to be elected capital burgesses, with a recorder, steward of the borough court, two sergeants-at-mace, and a court of record every three weeks on Monday. A fresh charter was issued by Charles II. in 1 684. This remained in force until the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835. The town formerly had a considerable manufacture of serges and shalloons, or light woollen linings, so called from Chalons-sur-Marne, France.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)