Mary Wright Victor: Royal Navy Chief Carpenter’s wife, Plymouth

In the summer of 1846 Mary Wright Victor was born in the small Cornish fishing village of Mousehole. She was the second child and oldest daughter of fisherman Bernard Victor and his wife Alice nee Rowe.

Photo of a cobbled street in Newlyn

Cobbled street in Street-An-Nowan area of Newlyn

In September 1867, when she was 21, she married a Newlyn man five years her senior called Edward Albert Kelynack in St Peter’s Church, Newlyn.  Edward was the son of a fisherman but was himself a carpenter; he turned out to be a very good one. He had joined the Royal Navy and by the time he was 20 in 1861 was away serving on the Algiers, a 91-gun ship under the command of George O’Callaghan. It looks like the Algiers was in Corfu although the census reads what looks like ‘Corfu Road’.

Their first child, Mary, was born in 1869 in Devonport [Plymouth] but their second child, son Edward, was born in spring 1870 back in Newlyn so perhaps father Edward was away at sea.

In April 1871 Edward was away at sea in the East Indies, this time working as a Carpenter 2nd Class on the Dryad sloop. The Dryad is reported to have caught five slave dhows in 1869 and was in the East Indies in 1870. The ship is recorded as being in Devonport in 1879,

In 1871 Mary’s unmarried Aunt Grace was staying with her in the Street-An-Nowan area of Newlyn, perhaps for company and support for Mary as a new mum. I’d be interested to know if Edward had been home for the 8 years in-between 1871 and 1879, otherwise it sounds like a really long posting, no wonder she wanted a companion.

Devonport, Stoke Damerel, 1892, from NLS collection

Map of Devonport, Stoke Damerel, 1892, from National Library of Scotland collection OS Six-inch England and Wales, 1842-1952

The 1881 census also finds him overseas, this time in Gibraltar on the iron-clad ship the Agincourt, Channel Squadron, as a carpenter. Mary was living with her two children in Devonport; they were living at 7 Martin Terrace which I think would be in this area shown on this c1892 National Library of Scotland map.  Again I find Aunt Grace staying with her, marked as a visitor, so hopefully Grace and Mary were close and got on well.

Edward must have been home in 1882 as their third and final child Lorina was born in summer 1883.

In April 1888 her 19-year-old older daughter Mary married an army schoolmaster called John Frederick Pearce in St James Parish Church, Devonport.  Their son Harold was born the following year. By November 1890 John had been posted to Scotland: South Leith (by Edinburgh), at Pirshill Barracks, ‘Jock’s Lodge’, again as an Army Schoolmaster. Their daughter Beatrice Sylvia was born on the morning of 18 November and registered on 1 December in South Leith by her father; he had also been present at their daughter’s birth. I suspect they may have used her middle name and known her as Sylvia as that’s how she’s listed in 1891 on the census at the barracks. Sylvia (as she was referred to in 1891 census) wasn’t baptised up in Leith, she was baptised in 1892 back in Devonport.

In 1891 Edward is again away at sea, and this time Mary, still down in Devonport, proudly describes him as Chief Carpenter, Royal Navy. Their son Edward was working locally as a newspaper reporter.

HMS Camperdown, pictured after 1883 collision with HMS Victoria, picture from Wikipedia

HMS Camperdown, pictured after 1893 collision with HMS Victoria, picture from Wikipedia

In June 1893 Edward Snr was serving on the flagship of the Channel Squadron: the Camperdown [boat spec here].  They were near Tripoli in the Lebanon but “Following an order by the admiral to carry out a dangerous and near impossible manoeuvre, taking into account the positions of the vessels” according to this ship index web page, it collided with HMS Victoria during manoeuvres which then sank with the loss of 358 men [see painting of the collision here]. No doubt Edward was extremely busy doing emergency repairs as the ship limped into port.

This was one of many experiences he had while Mary was home in Devon; others included a long spell in Vancouver and time on the east African coast, notably Natal “where he was favoured, at Natal, with the friendship of the late Bishop Colenso” [reported in The Cornishman].

At some point in the 1890s daughter Mary became ill; she died in early 1901 back in Devonport.

By March 1901 Edward had retired as Chief Carpenter and he was home in Devonport with Mary Snr, Edward and Lorina, still in Martin Terrace.  By then their son Edward was working as a political registration agent. The household also included their grand-daughter Beatrice.  I’d feared her brother may have died as he was not listed but I tracked him down in Rathmines, Dublin, where he was living with his father.

The following year widowed son-in-law John remarried back in Plymouth, his bride was Emma Cockram, another Devonport-born woman.

Edward Albert Kelnyak died on 23 April 1904 at the age of 63.

His obituary in the Cornishman newspaper refers to a fascinating career:

“Death of Mr E. A. Kelynack, of Plymouth.

On Saturday, less than a week after his brother’s decease, Mr. E. A. Kelynack died at his residence, at Trelawny Road, Plymouth.  Deceased was sixty-three years of age.  He had served a long period in the Royal Navy as carpenter, attaining to the rank of chief carpenter, and retiring with the rank of hon. Lieutenant.

Mr. Kelynack had seen a good deal of this world as a naval man.  He served commissions on the East African coast, where he was favoured, at Natal, with the friendship of the late Bishop Colenso.  He was in charge of the shipwright department of Vancouver dockyard for several years.  He had also served on the Northumberland in the Channel squadron, and was on the Camperdown in the fatal collision with the Victoria.  Mr. Kelynack was a very genial man, and had a large number of friends at Devonport, Plymouth, and Newlyn.  In politics he was a Conservative, and was an active worker for the cause in Devonport.  He leaves a widow, one son and daughter, unmarried,  Within recent years his eldest daughter, married, died after a long illness.  Mrs. Kelynack the widow, is from Mousehole, and was a Miss Victor before her marriage.’”

Mary had further sadness when her aunt and long-time companion Grace died in late 1905, still in Devonport.

In 1906 Edward married Eva Cheyne nee Beachey; by 1911 the were living in Paignton, Devon.

In April 1911 Mary was living alone in Plymouth and described herself as ‘housekeeper, formerly’.

I can’t find Lorina in the 1911 census; the only info I have about her after 1901 is from a news story in the Western Morning News in 1934 (via the British Newspaper Archive) which reported that she was trying to sort out an insurance policy for a man called Alfred Beckett with whom she’d been living as his wife in St Just-in-Roseland, near Truro in Cornwall.

I don’t know where Mary ended her days, but I found a reference to the death of a Mary Kelynack in 1834, in The Cornishman.

© Lynne Black, 31 August 2015
First published:

Image of Newlyn-related family history documents

Cornish Family History: Treasures of Penwith

I’m not long back from a family holiday in Newlyn, near Lands End in Cornwall, England.

During the holiday I did the holiday stuff like a family barbecue, meeting for meals, enjoying a day out at Land’s End and just spending a lot of time with my mum. However I also visited a cluster of ancestors I’ve spent the last few months getting to know.

This is my experience of the great resources and people that I came across that week……….

Please check my full blog post here on the Worldwide Genealogy Collaboration site! Thanks :)

Lynne Black
21 August 2015

Paul Church, Cornwall

Alice Rowe, 1824 – 1903: Coronations and potatoes

Photo of altar of Paul Parish Church

Paul Parish Church

Alice Rowe, daughter of William Rowe and Alice Daniel, was baptised on Sunday 31 October 1824 in Paul Church, Paul parish, Cornwall.  Her father was a shoemaker and she was still living at home aged 16 in 1841; she is an older sister of my great-great-great-grandfather James Rowe.  By the age of 16 she had lived under the reign of 3 different monarchs.

Alice became a servant until her marriage in 1844 in Newlyn’s Trinity Wesleyan Chapel to fisherman Bernard Victor of neighbouring village Mousehole.  They lived in Mousehole and later that year had their first child whom they christened Gamaliel, ‘reward of God’.

Sadly she wouldn’t have had her mother’s advice and support for long after Gamaliel’s birth: Alice senior died the following year when her daughter was only 20.  Bernard and Alice had their second child, a daughter called Mary Wright Victor, in summer 1846; their third child, another daughter, arrived in 1849 and was named Alice Daniel Victor after her late Grandmother Rowe.

Photo of Mousehole Harbour at low tide

Mousehole Harbour at low tide

Bernard was working as a ‘fisherman with nets’ on Capt William Ladner’s boat the Three Brothers for the 30 March 1851 census and Alice gave her occupation as a fisherman’s wife. They had three more children during the 1850s: John, Louise and Agnes and then Benjamin in 1861. Their final child Albert was born in 1867, the year their oldest daughter Mary married.

Their oldest child, Gamaliel, married another Alice, Alice Vincent, the following spring aged 23, but before the summer was out he was widowed and by 1871 had moved back in with his parents.

In 1881 they had three of their sons with them: Gamaliel the carpenter, Benjamin a boot & shoemaker and Albert, an apprentice carpenter.

Bernard had died in summer 1890 and April 1891 found Alice working as a laundress.  Gamaliel was by now a cobbler; he was still living with his mother.

Alice died in 1903, her son died two years later.

Although it wouldn’t perhaps have made much difference to her day-to-day life, Alice had lived in the reign of four different monarchs: George IV, William IV, Victoria and right at the end of her life Edward VII, something I find disconcerting, having lived under the reign of just one monarch all my life.  I’m not sure quite what difference, if any, all these remote people would have made to her life. The Cornishman included references to Edward VII’s 1902 coronation bunting in-between information in the same column about pilchard catches and the story of a ‘peculiar freak’ ‘Siamese triplets’ potato (3 joined together in a row) and asked ‘Have any farmers in West Cornwall made similar discoveries?’  This attitude tickles me more than it probably should but I do like the way that things are kept in perspective.

© Lynne Black, 16 August 2015
First published:

Starting out with a computer package: tips I wish I’d been given

Here’s Starting out with a computer package: tips I wish I’d been given – it’s my new post as part of the Worldwide Genealogy collaboration

Screengrab of a FamilyTreeMaker2012 web page

Starting out with your tree [Image from FamilyTreeMaker2012]

I thought I’d try a new type of blog post this time, rather than my previous posts which have been focusing on specific people.  Hope you like it!

Lynne Black, 21 June 2015

Catherine Rowe, strength in a small package

Photo of Catherine Rowe, later Jelbert

Catherine Rowe, later Jelbert

My great-grandmother Catherine Rowe was small in stature but mighty strong of body and character.

I’ve been asking family members for their recollections of Great-Granny and will write something a lot longer and more detailed eventually.  However it seemed mean to write about her sister Susan, parents, her Uncle Fred [published offline], Auntie Alice, grandparents James and Catherine Rowe, oldest child Mary but to miss out Catherine herself.

Catherine was born in 1896, the younger daughter of Susan Sullivan and Benjamin Jaco Rowe, “the finest man who ever lived!” in the Cornish fishing village of Newlyn.  Her father was originally a fisherman who co-owned and fished in a lugger called the Eleanor, but he was working as a baker dealer by the time she was 16 and she helped her parents in the shop.

They must have been reasonably comfortably off as Great-Granny could play the piano, and could pick up and play tunes easily, and was good at vamping on the piano.  All her life she loved music and it inspired and uplifted her.  She would go to choir practice in the Methodist Chapel just up the road leaving the house smelling divine from her baking, then everyone would come back to her home and keep singing while tucking into her baking!

She married dairyman Stephen Jelbert, who would walk 5 miles each way after working on his farm to come to Newlyn to court her.  One night he stepped over a boulder in the dark, only to discover it was a goat; unsurprisingly it also got a huge fright and ran off. After they married Catherine and Stephen lived on the farm, but after she was injured they decided to move into Newlyn.

Photo of Catherine Jelbert nee Rowe

Catherine Jelbert nee Rowe, 1963

They had four children, Mary, Stephen, Benjamin and Anne; there was a gap of 10 years between Stephen and Benjamin and I just recently found out what I’d wondered, that Catherine had been pregnant during that time but had lost twins.

The family made ice-cream from a churn in their back yard and Catherine would turn it for hours; she also ran the house and sometimes served in the family shop.

I remember her from when I was young; when we went down to stay with my grandparents in school holidays we would see them almost daily. Also during the holiday we would always go for a meal at their house, sitting in the living room round a table while she and my great-grandfather wandered around with heaped plates of food for us, never sitting down themselves.  I also remember they had a yard with an outside toilet; that must have been quite a novelty for me, to have been etched in my mind – I never have liked spiders…

Great-Granny died in 1979.  I was too young to go to her funeral but every visit we make the pilgrimage up the hill to Paul Cemetery where she and Stephen lie.

Thanks to family who’ve started giving me stories – keep them coming, all welcome!

Lynne Black, June 2015

Newlyn Harbour by Phil Richards, Flickr

James Rowe and Catherine Jaco; fishing, family and faith in 19th century Newlyn

James and Catherine were my great-great-great grandparents and lived together in West Penwith area of Cornwall near Land’s End: Newlyn, Penzance and Mousehole.

James was born c1833 in the reign of William IV but by the time Catherine was born in 1839 Queen Victoria was on the throne.

Photo of Mousehole Harbour, Cornwall

Mousehole Harbour, Cornwall

James was the son of a William Rowe, a shoemaker, later cordwainer, and Alice Daniel.  Born in the small fishing village of Mousehole, he was the youngest of their nine children and his mother was 42 when he was born; sadly she died aged only 51, when James was still only 9 years old.

Within the Rowe family I’ve found that men become either sailors or shoemakers, and James chose the sea over shoes.  By the time he was 17, in March 1851, he was working as a boy on the Brittania, a fishing boat owned by Richard Tonkin and crewed by 7 Mousehole men.

He married Catherine, a girl from neighbouring village Newlyn, just round the corner along the shore.  She was the daughter of master mariner Benjamin Jaco and his wife Priscilla Tonkin, and they married in October 1859 in Paul parish church, she was 20 and he 24.  As far as I’m aware she was one of six children; I’m still to explore her family line.

Their first child Benjamin arrived on 22 January 1860. Despite the hurry to get married, from what I know of his character it was hopefully a marriage of at least affection, and they went on to have seven more children together. Curiously it was Catherine who registered Benjamin’s birth when he was a month old, maybe James was working away as a merchant mariner. They were living in Street-an-nowan area at the east, lower, end of Newlyn.

In 1861 James was definitely away as the census finds him working as an Able Seaman on the Beryl, captained by Scillonian Charles Ellis and found in Neath, Glamorgan, Wales.

James and Catherine’s second child was a daughter, Alice, born on 9 July 1862. Catherine was baptised in the Trinity Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, in Newlyn, into a faith James practised for the rest of his life.

Baby James arrived in April 1865, followed by Frederick in October 1866.  Sadly baby James died in early 1870 after Catherine had just become pregnant with their fifth child; the new baby was born in late September 1870 and as it was a boy he was again named James for his father and late brother.

For once the census, in 1871, found James home from the sea, he, Catherine and sons Ben, Fred and James were living with her parents Benjamin and Priscilla Jaco in Chapel Street, Newlyn. Daughter Alice was living/staying with her aunt and uncle so maybe the house was very full…

Two years later in August 1873 the house got even fuller with the arrival of baby Edwin.  In early 1876 Catherine gave birth to their sixth son (7th child), but sadly baby John died within a month.

In late 1879 their youngest child Catherine ‘Katie’ was born; they were still living on Chapel Street at that time.

Newlyn Harbour by Phil Richards, Flickr

Newlyn Harbour by Phil Richards, Flickr

The 1880s and 1890s were a busy time for family matches, hatches and despatches.  Oldest son, fisherman Ben, was the first to get married; in summer 1884 he married Mousehole girl Martha Quick.  Sadly they didn’t have much time together.  James and Catherine became grandparents for the first time with the arrival of Mary Martha who was baptised in 1885, Ben and Martha may have had another daughter, Martha, in 1885, but Ben’s wife Martha died in 1887, aged just 22.

Seven years after the birth of their younger daughter, their older one got married. Alice married Jabez Ash in January 1887 and they lived together in Street-an-Nowan.

In May 1889 fisherman son Fred married Mary Ann Stephenson and Minnie was born c1890. Sadly Minnie’s younger sister Bertha, born c 1894 died in infancy, as did their brother Frederick Jnr, born c1896. They were followed by Edwin and by Phylip.

In April 1891 the census found James and Catherine still in Chapel Street, Newlyn.  Edwin and Catherine were still at home; their 6-year-old scholar grand-daughter [Ben’s daughter] Mary Martha was also living with them.  I have lost track of young Mary Martha after that, can’t find her in any records…

On 20 December 1891 Ben married his second wife, Susan Sullivan [my G-G-Grandmother], and they had their first child together in spring 1893, Susan, then my great-grandmother Catherine in summer 1896.

Another fisherman son, Edwin, married Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Harvey Moon in 1894; they had Catherine, the first of their six children c1896 followed eventually by Anne Cotton, Bessie Harvey, James, Alice and Lizzie Cotton.

I believe their youngest daughter Katie married ‘Billy’ King and they had two children.

James and Catherine’s son James was a shoemaker.  I have seen an unconfirmed suggestion that he married Elizabeth Johns but I can’t’ find any evidence online.  This James died on 6 June 1897, aged only 26.

One day, around 1897, when James Senior was up in Bristol he was in an accident: he was knocked down by a cab and broke his collar bone, becoming quite frail for a few years.

In around 1898 James and Catherine’s daughter Alice Ash was bereaved; she mended fishing nets to pay the bills.

Photo of lugger by Steve Parkes, Flickr

Photo of lugger by Steve Parkes, Flickr

James started recovering, and four years later was fishing in his son Ben’s boat, a lugger of 18 tonnage called the Eleanor, although he was only able to carry out light duties, doing only what was usually done by boys.

On Thursday 7 December 1905 the Eleanor was tied up in Newlyn Harbour, the fourth ship from the North Pier. The crew hadn’t finally decided whether or not to go out to sea, but James decided to go on board and prepare, to light the fire in readiness in case they went out.

At about 2pm James was standing on the ladder down into the cabin, leaning on the companion, as witnessed by to George Kelynack from the next ship out, the El Dorado. Minutes later George was crossing the Eleanor to get to his ship when he heard the noise of someone falling; he looked down into the Eleanor and saw James lying on the floor.  George called for help and was assisted by Edward Cotton; Ben was sent for but James died in Edward and George’s arms before he could get there. They sent for Dr Wilson, who arrived between 4-5pm, after that James was taken home to Chapel Street.

At the inquest the next day, held at the Wesleyan vestry, it was learned that James had consulted Dr Wilson for pains in his head and stomach.  Although James had struck a nut on the boiler and fallen and struck his head the skull was not fractured and there was nothing to suggest anything other than natural causes: the death was attributed to heart disease.

Even though the boat was tied up in the harbour, James’ death counted as a death at sea and was recorded as such; the record tells me the Eleanor fished from Newlyn, was registered in Penzance and was a sailing ship of 18 tonnage.

James was buried in the cemetery at Paul following a service in the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel.  His  funeral was recorded in the Cornishman [from the British Newspaper Archive]:

“The late Mr J D Rowe was of a gentle nature, quiet disposition, and much esteemed by his townsmen, and for many years was a valued member of the Wesleyan Church.  Although latterly on the fishery, he was in the merchant service for a number of years, his long service being recognised by the election to a pension of the Royal Alfred [Aged?] Merchant Seamen’s Institution.”

James and his son Ben had worked together daily for many years.  After his father died Ben didn’t fish for much longer. By 1911 he owned a bakers shop in Newlyn.

Catherine continued to live in the Meadows, and her widowed daughter Alice was boarding with her in April 1911 for the census.  Catherine lived on until 1928, and died at the grand old age of 88. She was laid to rest in Paul Cemetery with her husband and their son James.

© Lynne Black, 30 May 2015
First published:

Photo of Newlyn Harbour from Newlyn Beach, Cornwall

Alice Daniel Rowe – mending fishing nets in Farmer’s Meadow

Photo of Newlyn from Newlyn beach

Newlyn from Newlyn beach

Alice Daniel Rowe was born on 9 July 1862, the second child and oldest daughter of a family of eight children of sailor James Daniel Rowe and Catherine Jaco. She was baptised at Trinity Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Newlyn, Cornwall, England. Benjamin was the oldest, then Alice, next came James in 1865 and Frederick in 1867. Sadly when she was 8, James died in early 1870; her next brother was born in September 1870 and was also given the name James after their father.

The 1871 census finds her a scholar; there was a Wesleyan Chapel school and when I start checking out school rolls that will be first on my list, for Alice, brothers and sisters and also many of her cousins.

By 1881 Alice had two more brothers and a sister and had moved out of the family home; at the age of 18 she was keeping house for her 71-year-old mariner grandfather Benjamin Jaco.

On 17 January 1887 Alice married a sailor and son of a fisherman Jabez Ash up at St Paul Church and they lived together in the Meadows, in Newlyn.

In 1892 Jabez was working on Captain Beckerleg’s crew on the Ormerod carrying coal from Gaston (Liverpool) back to Penzance; the weather started fine but worsened into a gale.  Another Penzance ship, a schooner called the Fenna and Wilhelmina, was flying signals of distress about 14 miles south west of the Smalls Lighthouse off Milford; she was almost a wreck with the men pumping and the ship washing badly.

Captain Beckerleg called for volunteers and got a ready response, but would only allow 3 men to go aboard in case the Fenna and Wilhelmina became overweighted; seaman Jabez Ash was one of the three.  They carried out a brave rescue and poured oil on troubled waters (literally) to ease the rescue, and took the survivors with them back to Penzance.  There was damage to the Ormerod which proved quite expensive, and Captain Beckerleg thought it a pity that compensation was not available for damage a boat incurred when rescuing another.

You wouldn’t have thought it would be easy to lose track of a man called Jabez, but I don’t know how it was that Alice was widowed c1898.  The 1911 census indicates they were married for 11 years so it appears he died around 1898.  In 1901 Alice was working on her own account mending fishing nets, in Farmer’s Meadow in the lower Street-An-Nowan area of Newlyn.

Her father James Rowe died in 1905, and in 1911 Alice was boarding with Catherine, her mother, still mending fishing nets in Farmer’s Meadows.  Catherine died in 1928.

Alice lived on until October 1941 when she died at Farmer’s Meadows.  Although she had no children of her own, the Rowes were a large and loving family and she seems to have been especially close to her niece Kitty, who placed a memoriam in the Cornishman a year after Alice’s death saying “Deep in my heart a memory’s kept, of one I loved dearly and will never forget.” Alice was buried at the cemetery up at Paul close to the church where she had married Jabez almost 55 years earlier.

© Text and photos copyright Lynne Black, 4 May 2015