James Rowe Tremethick was the second of the ten children of Thomas Tremethick and Patience Daniel Rowe. He was born in 1855 in the Cornish fishing village of Newlyn in Mount’s Bay, 7 miles from Land’s End.
His older brother Joseph worked on the railway, and his father worked on the sea as a merchant mariner, but James chose to drive out of Cornwall.
James was one of those family members you fear was another lost child, died in infancy, but then gives you a pleasant surprise when you find they’re actually alive and well, but just left home young.
Baptised on 5 January 1855 within his first year up the hill at Paul Parish Church, James was a scholar at the time of the April 1861 census. By 1871, aged 16 he was working as a domestic errand boy up at Rosehill, just by what’s now Penzance in Madron, the next parish.
James’ father Thomas Tremethick died in 1878 when James was only 23.
By 1881 he had become a groom (domestic) and was staying up in Charleton, Devon, (near Kingsbidge) near the Ashburton Arms. The innkeeper was Elizabeth Wills whose husband Ambrose was a farmer of 43 acres. Although there is no specific address marked on the census next to his residence in 1881, he appears to be the groom (domestic) of the elderly Rector of Charleton, the Rev Thomas Twysden, MA, and his wife Elizabeth. The local church was the ancient St Mary’s Church. Their son, also living in the Rectory, a “pleasant residence”, was James Stevenson Twysden, aged 52, County Magistrate.
Charleton was on the coach road between Dartmouth and Kingsbridge. Although at that time very much in decline, in the mid-18th century after a bridge was built Charleton ceased to be isolated and saw 10 coaches a day driving through, five in each direction, in those glory days of stagecoaches. [Info on Charleton from the census, Genuki, A Vision of Britain and Charleton Parish Council website., also this Historic UK stagecoach page]
Rev Twyden died on 15 October 1887, The will, which went to probate in February 1888, would indeed suggest it was a pleasant residence as he had a personal estate worth £90,252, 2s 9d. The National Archives currency converter tells me converting 1890 rates to 2005 this would be £5,405,200.51. Rev Twyden’s widow Elizabeth arranged for a stained glass east window in St Mary’s church as a memorial to him. The 1891 census finds Elizabeth and daughter both living on their own means, unsurprisingly, now living in Dodbrooke with their son John identified as head of the household, and now described as Retired Captain (Royal Navy). John Twyden was married by then, to Aileen Frances Mary nee Wilson-Todd two years previously. [On an unrelated note his wife’s family home was Halnaby Hall in Yorkshire where Byron spent his honeymoon in 1815. But theirs is a different story.]
James married Kate Edwards in spring 1888 in Kingsbridge. The first of their five children, John E Tremethick, was born about September 1890. The following spring I find them living in Church Street, Dodbrooke, Devon [which appears now to be part of modern Kingsbridge] and James is working as a coachman (domestic servant).
I don’t know who he would have been working for at that time – maybe it was still John Twyden’s household? Hmm, not sure how I’d find out? Maybe theirs is not such a different story after all? John’s 1891 residence’s staff included a groom but not a coachman…
Their eldest daughter, Patience Mary Tremethick, was born in 23 March 1892 in the Kingsbridge area (which covers Dodbrooke and I believe they were still at Church Street throughout the 1890s). Their second daughter Margaret Kate was born c August 1895, but sadly died at the end of 1895.
Their fourth child, son William James, was born in the autumn of 1896 but again sadly died before his first birthday, in spring 1897.
Their youngest child, daughter Lena Alice Grace Tremethick, arrived on 9 October 1898 (the register notes they live in Dodbridge and James is a coachman) and happily she, John and Patience all survived into adulthood.
The March 1901 census finds them still living in Church Street and James still working as a coachman. However, James didn’t live to see the 1911 census; he died in 1905, aged only 50 years old.
By the 2 April 1911 census Kate had moved to River View on Fore Street, Kingsbridge and had a female staying with her (probably one of her daughters, the census summary doesn’t specify).
In April 1916 Kate saw her son John marry Gertrude Alice Hansell up in London where he had been working in 1911 as a warehouseman.
In early 1917 Patience also got married, to a widowed book and stationery seller (dealer) called Ernest Marshman. Although born in Wiltshire, he seems to have been registered to vote in London (his first wife had been from Hackney) but working in Salcombe, Devon.
However it was back to tragedy for poor Kate as later in 1917 her only son John died in London where he’s been working in the Army as an inspector in the Army Clothing Department. He is listed in Kingsbridge War Memorial.
On 1 April 1922, aged 23, Lena set off from Liverpool to the port of St John in New Brunswick, Canada, on the SS Melita (Capt H L Twaite) of the Canadian Pacific line. She was off to Canada to marry her fiancé William H Mason, who was by then living in Edmonton, Alberta. She had been working as a book keeper and living in Kingsbridge and had paid for her own passage, which cost her £5 for a 3rd class ticket.
I love the attitude when filling in the paperwork with lots of exclamation marks: Object in going to Canada? Marriage. Do you intend to remain permanently in Canada? Yes! Are any of your or your family mentally defective? No! Tubercular? No! Physically defective? No! Otherwise debarred under Canadian Immigration Law? No!
Her mother Kate lived on until 1946 when she died aged 87 in the Plymouth registration area in Devon. Lena once again is travelling back to Canada in 1948 on the Cunard ship the SS Aquitania, this time on 1 November, this time travelling with her engineer husband William. Perhaps they’d been back to sort out family affairs.
Kate and James’ oldest daughter Patience also lived to a good old age, dying in 1974, aged 82, in the Plymouth area; her husband Ernest, who was 14 years older than her, had died in 1939.
© Lynne Black, 22 November 2015
First published: https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/james-rowe-tremethick/