Mines of Copper , Maganese , Lead , Silver and tin were previously in the neighbourhood and the town played host to a considerble trade of cattle and corn and industries in brewing and iron-founding.

By the 17th Century tin was on the wane and the town relied more heavily on the cloth trade. Under the stewardship of the Russells the town remained prosperous, surviving the Black Death in 1625 were 52 people died. In the English civil war starting in 1642 the town was first held by the Parliamentrians before later hosting King Charles I and his royalist troops in 1643 after the defeat of the Parliamentary at Braddock Down.

The Woollen industry decayed at Tavistock and was attributed by the inhabitants in 1641 to the dread of the Turks at sea and at Popish Plots at home. In 1694 William Russell, 5th Earl of Bedford became the first Duke of Bedford.