Two William Tremethicks and a fair bit of bewilderment

William Rowe Tremethick was born in August 1870, in the south-west corner of England, in a busy Cornish fishing village called Newlyn.

Photo of Florence Place, Newlyn

Florence Place, Tolcarne, Newlyn

The ninth of ten children of Thomas Tremethick and Patience Daniel Rowe, William saw his older brothers and sister make their way out into the world: railway clerk, coachmen, naval wife, bosun, a light-keeper’s wife, but most didn’t go any further than neighbouring Devon.

William chose – or had chosen for him – the printing compositor trade.  By the time he was 20 he was based in Camberwell, Surrey, lodging in a street where many other compositors were based.  At some point I’ll perhaps ask for a search of members from the London Society of Compositors.

Ten years later William was again lodging with a fellow-compositor Lewis Jones, this time in Westminster in the home of his parents, grocers Lewis and Ellen Jones.


Old 1837 map of Southwark and the Thames (east of Westminster) from Flickr Internet Book archive stream

The April 1911 census finds him living with a wife called Ellen in Gabriel Street, Newington, London [Surrey]. Also present are Maud and Grace Staerck, his step-children.  It states they have been married 6 years with no children born as a couple, but I can’t find any record of a c1905 marriage.

Banns for Ellen Naomi Staerck and William were later called in August and September of 1910. This was confusing – it had me hunting for a marriage certificate in 1910, but it appears they may not have married until 30 May 1915 in Christ’s Church, Southwark, London.


Deacon Saintey’s name from Naomi’s marriage certificate with William Tremethick

Ellen was a widow; her first husband, William Staerck [such variation in the transcriptions…!] was the blacksmith son of a Lambeth file cutter. She was born Ellen Naomi Saintey in Newington, London, the daughter of Deacon Saintey who was described on both her marriage registers as Gentleman but in his 1861 and 1871 census as packer. Deacon was a farmer’s son from Cambridgeshire so perhaps being a gentleman farmer is in his distant family story somehow. Ellen and William Staerck had four children together, William Deacon, Ida Kate S, Maude Victoria and Grace before William Snr died in early 1906.

This has been a really, really, confusing family to trace.  Ellen and both her Williams have unusual surnames, so it’s more than a case of wishful linking, I think that the family were either deliberately being bit vague, or perhaps being a bit dozy and disorganised.  I think they could all read and write.  So I’m going to write down what I know and what I think is the most likely scenario in grey areas, and if I’m wrong, fine, I’ll update their story in a new blog post.

Ellen Naomi’s son William Deacon Staerck [spelt as Sturk on his army paperwork] fought in World War One with the Royal Welsh (Welch) Fusiliers.  He had married Ethel Carter before heading to war.

William died in 1917 and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais.  He was only 17 when he died.

It looks like his sister, Ellen Naomi’s daughter Grace, married John Dixon on 26 December 1921 in Stoke Newington, Hackney and I’m confident the signature is that of William R Tremethick.


There is a record of a William J Tremethick who died in 1925 in Southwark, London, I believe this is William recorded with an incorrect middle initial as this would be typical of this family, I’m just grateful they have an unusual name.  I can find no record of him after that (although I was confused for a while as his cousin William Bone Tremethick also emigrated to the USA, see below).

I find Naomi Tremethick heading from Southampton to New York with a 10-year-old child called Ruby Staerck on 31 August 1927; the two of them travelled on the White Star Line’s Homeric.

So who is Ruby Staerck?  She was born after Ellen Naomi’s first husband William Staerck died.  Maybe she was the child of Naomi and William Tremethick born c 1917, but they were definitely married by then so why take the Staerck name?

What I think has happened is that Ellen’s daughter Ida met a Jack Smith (itself possibly a made-up name?) and they had an illegitimate daughter together called Ruby.  In 1911 Ida had been working in Aston, Warwickshire, as a domestic maid for an older lady of private means.  Later marriage paperwork for a Ruby Victoria Staerck gave her parents’ names as Jack W Staerck and Ida Katherine Smith.  So I think either deliberately or accidentally her parents’ surnames have been incorrectly recorded.

There are also online travel records for an Ida K Staerck entering the US via Canada and then later as an Ida Katherine Gabarino living, naturlizing and later dying in California.

I think that Naomi is the Ellen Tremethick who ended her days in California in 1935.

On 7 October 1935 Chas I Cole (son of Claude D Cole and Pearl Russell) married a Ruby Victoria Staerck; this is where Ruby stated her parents’ names were Jack W Staerck and Ida Katherine Smith.

Chas Cole is married but alone in 1940 and I think that Ruby have have married again, to a Mr Kelley.  Or perhaps someone just mis-heard Cole as Kelly.

A Ruby Victoria Cole and a Ruby Victoria Kelley died in California on the same day, 20 August 1943, and I’m confident they are the same person.

A HUGE THANK YOU to Paulene Bonello, Dee Davis, Laura Bale, Traci Eames-O’Leary and Jo Riley for their invaluable help with this story, all responding to a  request I made in the Facebook group Ancestry UK [no relation to the Ancestry company].  Paulene is also a friend who makes fine chocolates as Bonello Chocolatier , shameless plug there.

William Bone Tremethick

In looking up the documents from William Rowe Tremethick they discovered a William Bone Tremethick living with his wife Ruth Anderson, a lady with a Swedish father and an American mother.

William B, who was 5’2″ tall and of fair physical appearance, had emigrated in the early 1920s.  In December 1919 he had received a Protection Certificate and Certificate of Identity after being injured fighting in France, where he had served with the Inland Water Transport Corps Royal Engineers. By 1922 when his medals were shipped to him, he was living in Orange, Massachusetts.

William was a Primitive Methodist.  Born in early 1898, he was the son of fisherman Samuel Cotton Tremethick and Sarah Tregutha nee Bone, whose maiden name helped identify William as a cousin.  His father’s younger brother John Tremethick was very active in this faith.  According to the Cornishman newspaper report, published 3 February 1926 upon John’s death, “Deceased was one of the best known Mount’s Bay fisherman.  Prominently identified with the Primitive Methodist Church, he held for several years the position of Sunday School superintendent and society class leader, and was a member of the Board of Trustees and a lay preacher of the Penzance Primitive Methodist Circuit.”

In 1947 William B is found arriving in Southampton on the Marine Marlin from the USA, heading back to Newlyn.

What few William Tremethicks there must be for the ‘wrong person’ suggested in search results to turn out to be a cousin after all! Such a distinctive name.

© Lynne Black, 21 December 2015
First published: Worldwide Genealogy Collaboration:

2 thoughts on “Two William Tremethicks and a fair bit of bewilderment

  1. Pingback: Patience Daniel Rowe later Tremethick, 1830-1908 | starryblackness

  2. Pingback: Joe and Bessie Tremethick, working their way round England with GWR | starryblackness

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