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

Photo of fishing boat leaving Newlyn Harbour

Benjamin and Susan Rowe of Newlyn: from fishing to baking

My new blog for the Worldwide Genealogy Blog collaboration is out today, I write one every two months.

“Benjamin ‘Ben’ Jaco Rowe, my great-great-grandfather, was a Cornishman who was born, lived and died in Street-An-Nowan area of Newlyn, Cornwall, England. However as a fisherman he roamed much further afield.”

Full article here.  Photos on the original via creative commons licences on Flickr; this one is Newlyn Harbour, by Tim Green.

Thanks for reading :)

Lynne Black, 21 April 2015

Sweet Susie Rowe of Street-An-Nowan, Newlyn

Photo of Newlyn Harbour from Newlyn Beach, Cornwall

Newlyn Harbour from Newlyn Beach, Cornwall

Photo of Susan Rowe (later Richards)

Susan Rowe (later Richards), 1893 – 1920

I hadn’t really been aware of my Great-Great Aunt Susan, but a few years back my mum hung a framed photo of two teenage girls on her wall; she explained one was my great-grandmother Catherine and the other was Catherine’s younger sister Susan.  Lovely to see.

Three years ago I was starting out with computer-based genealogy and Catherine’s was one of the first census records I practised with so I could get the hang of using the search engines.

And straight away it raised two issues.  First of all it showed Susan was not actually the younger but the older sister.  Secondly, confusingly, it said the family lived in Street-An-Nowan, Newlyn.

My family were really surprised when I mentioned that Catherine was the younger sister; they’d ‘known’ the wrong thing for years.

And with over 200 years between them of living in Newlyn and Penzance, my mum, aunt and uncle couldn’t actually tell me where Street-An-Nowan actually was. We chatted  vaguely about how it might be that road down over there, or maybe where the car park behind some shop is now…  But we didn’t know for sure.

Well almost straight away I got called away from my Cornish ancestors to look first at my Yorkshire, Devon and Northumberland families, and it wasn’t until this March that I found my answer, thanks to Genuki and the British Newspaper Archive.

One upon a time Newlyn used to be two separate villages in the Parish of Paul. Newlyn was the part of the village higher up above where the old medieval harbour was, and Street-An-Nowan is the section further round by the Fisherman’s Mission and the post office, where the water roars up the Coombe – and occasionally floods away from it (as seen on pretty much every ‘The weather went mad in…’ programme a couple of winters back).

Well it was proposed to join these two areas up for the benefit of transport links, and after much protest from the local people it went ahead after they’d been told they wouldn’t have to fund it themselves.  So the census has helped me discover a new part of Newlyn I’d been walking through for years.

But it was the British Newspaper Archive which helped me discover Susan: I managed to find the report of her funeral in The Cornishman on the BNA site.

Her father had been a fisherman and later become a baker, with his own shop, so I think they must have known a lot of people; in addition she was a dress-maker so would have met a lot of people that way.

Susan had married a local man called Henry Richards in summer 1918.  Two years after that she died, aged just 27.  So I can understand why one of the hymns they chose for her funeral in the Methodist chapel was “Who fathoms the eternal thought?” The article lists all the various tributes and messages, including “…our darling Susie, from Stephen Catherine and baby” [baby being my grandmother], there was so many and they are all so genuinely loving it was very moving to see.

So this summer when I am up at Paul Cemetery, laying flowers on her younger sister Catherine’s grave, I’ll look for Susie’s wall grave and lay some extra summer flowers for her.

© Text and photos copyright Lynne Black, 6 April 2015

From north to south: looking to Cornwall

A new chapter, a new county, a new feeling of anticipation.

Recently I’ve been trying to tease out my Northumberland shepherd family.  I’ve been able to find several branches of the same few families, and I know from addresses and naming patterns that the links are there but proof is tantalisingly out of reach.  And I’ve managed to rule out some red herrings.  But I’ve decided to park my work there for that and other reasons, and look for my Cornish ancestors.

Photo of Mousehole Harbour, Cornwall

Mousehole Harbour, Cornwall

My mother still lives in Cornwall and it’s the land of my childhood holidays. A few years back my uncle’s mother-in-law did some work on the Cornish family, but I don’t have access to all of it.  To be honest I don’t mind, I’m quite happy to do it myself, it’s interesting, absorbing and a challenge, and I can picture and visit many of the places they lived and worked and I can put flowers on my great-grandparents’ grave.  And maybe if I get stuck her notes will be there to give me a pointer.

Looking forward to meeting the family!

© Text and photos copyright Lynne Black, 21 March 2015