In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Northam like this:
NORTHAM, a village, a parish, and a sub-district, in Bideford district, Devon. The village stands near the river Torridge, 1½ mile S S W of the joint influx of the Torridge and the Taw to Bideford bay, and 1¾ N by W of Bideford r. station; and has a post-office under Bideford. The parish contains also the hamlet of Northam-Ridge, and the village and chapelry of Appledore; and adopted the local government act in 1867. Acres, 4, 190; of which 1, 690 are foreshore-water. Real property, £10,096. ...
Pop., 3, 687. Houses, 798. The property is much subdivided. The parish has great attractions as a place of residence, and contains numerous gentlemen's seats and villas. Northam Burrows is an alluvial common of about 700 acres, protected from the waves by a remarkable barrier, called the Pebble Ridge, about 1½mile long, 50 feet wide, and 20 feet high, and consisting of millstone-grit pebbles from 6 to 24 inches in diameter. The Burrows is used for the game of golf, by a young but prosperous club, with the Prince of Wales as patron; and is likely to become the most notable golfing-ground in England. A new watering-place was founded, shortly before 1867, to the westward of the Burrows, and adjoining the sea; took the name of Westward Ho! from thecircumstance that the scene of Professor Kingsley's well-known work of that name is laid chiefly in the parish; and, in 1867, had already a hotel, a bath establishment, and several villas for the accommodation of lodgers. A submarine forest, in which flint-instruments and reindeer bones were lately found, is on the shore, near the hotel; excellent sections of a raised beach also are near; and zoophytes abound in both the rocks and the pools. The Danes, under Hubba, landed here in the time of King Alfred, and suffered a disastrous repulse. A considerable import trade in timber, an extensive coasting trade, and fishing, are carried on at Appledore; and 166 of the parishioners were absent at sea when the census was taken in 1861. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Exeter. Value, £275.* Patrons, the Dean and Canons of Windsor. The church is early decorated, and later English; comprises nave, N aisle, S transept, chancel, chancel-aisle, and S porch; has a W tower, ofthree stages, battlemented, and 96 feet high; and was recently restored. The vicarage of Appledore is a separate benefice. There are in the several parts of the parish two Independent chapels, one Baptist, three Methodist, one Brethren, and one Bethel. There are also national school, an endowed infant schools, and charities £120.The sub-district contains likewise two other parishes. Acres, 7, 198. Pop., 4, 460. Houses, 944.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Northam has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Torridge. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Northam and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Northam, in Torridge and Devon | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 20th May 2013
Click here for more detailed advice on finding places within A Vision of Britain through Time, and maybe some references to other places called "Northam".