Elizabeth Rowe, c1840, whose life tripped up

Elizabeth was the oldest of seven children, and led an eventful life.


Market Jew Street, Penzance

Her father was a Cornish mason called John Rowe (a distant uncle of mine). He was from Newlyn and married Sarah Sampson from neighbouring Penzance so he and moved there. Elizabeth, who was born c1840, lived in Penzance for four years while her two sisters arrived, but when brother Thomas arrived in early 1848 her parents were along in Devonport in neighbouring county of Devon.  Perhaps they took their girls with them, but I suspect Sarah’s butcher parents Robert and Anne Sampson, who were based in Penzance’s central Market Jew Street took them in for a few months.  Certainly Elizabeth was living in  Market Jew Street with her parents, brother Thomas and by then three sisters – Catharine, Sarah and Alice,  in April 1851.

Sister Anne’s birth was registered in early 1852 in Penzance, but by the time of the next sibling I’ve tracked down, John Daniel, was born in 1859 the family had moved to Lower Solva, Whitchurch in Pembrokeshire, Wales, where her father found work as a mason.

Presumably the family would have lived in the same area with the other stone workers and spent time with them.  Certainly Elizabeth got to know a local stone cutter of her own age called Philip Kemp Tripp, as in late 1859, aged approx 18, she gave birth to a daughter whom she called Annie Tripp Rowe.

In April 1861 Elizabeth was working as a 21-year-old washerwoman, still in Lower Solva. An unmarried mother, she lived with her parents John and Sarah and siblings Sarah, Thomas, Alice, Anne and baby Thomas.  As Thomas at 22 months was only 7 months older than his niece Annie Tripp I suspect Sarah Rowe, Annie’s granny, took care of her with the other children while Elizabeth brought in a wage.


St Mary’s Church, Penzance

Oh, dear, I’m suspecting it must have been a stressful few years for Elizabeth!

However, less than a year later, she married Philip Kemp Tripp back in Penzance, on 20 March 1862 in Penzance, Madron Chapelry (which I understand was originally a daughter church of Madron and later became St Mary’s Church). Her father was one of her witnesses.

Their second child, Samuel, was born in early 1863 and George in 1865, both in Penzance.

In the first half of the 1860s her mother Sarah died, and on 17 December 1865 her father re-married. Her stepmother was called Cecilia Paynton Alder (nee Steven), and was a widow with a daughter and two sons of her own.

For some reason their final child, Philip, was born in Southsea, Hampshire, in about 1867.  Why Southsea?! Where were they doing there? Working or travelling?  These are questions I suspect I’ll not be able to answer given how poor the family was. I have found it hard tracing this branch of the Rowe family, but I know that Elizabeth died between 1867 and 1871.

In 1871 Annie and Samuel were living with John and Cecilia, and a collection of Rowe, Tripp and Alder children. I suspect that Annie must have got on reasonably well with her step-family, as 10 years later the 1881 census finds her visiting James Dees Alder, a Ship’s Steward in Penzance.  Frustratingly I lose track of her after that.

Given the family’s low income and status, when searching on Ancestry I nearly didn’t check out their search result suggestion of a probate hearing in Bodmin [the local registry] in January 1872. However I’m very glad I did as it unlocked an important chunk of the family’s story.

It turns out that Elizabeth’s widower Philip Tripp actually died at Wurdah in the East Indies. Information online about ‘Wurdah, East Indies’ is not bountiful [I found a couple of old reports on Google Books] , but it looks like Philip may have been working on/around the long Wurdah river in eastern India, I can’t see a town called Wurdah but perhaps back in his day there was a settlement where masons were required. It’s rather more drastic than moving to Wales for mason work, so maybe he wanted to get as far away from his home life as possible.

So what of his sons?

Philip’s probate says the effects: “…was granted at Bodmin under the usual Limitations John Rowe of Penzance Mason the Grandfather and Guardian of Annie Tripp Spinster and Samuel Tripp Minors and of George Tripp and Philip Tripp Infants the Children and only Next of Kin.  Effects under £100.”

Well something went wrong after his departure to India for I was shocked to find that in April 1871 6-year-old George and 4-year-old Philip were living in The New Orphan Houses at Ashley Down, in the north Bristol area in Gloucestershire, far away from everyone they knew.

It appears that George died aged 7 in the orphanage only about 3 months after his father’s probate hearing, in spring 1872.

The 1881 census records Philip as a scholar, still in the orphanage. However shortly after that his grand-parents must have tracked him down and brought him home to Penzance. Cruelly he didn’t have much time with them as he died in early 1884, when he must have been approx 17 years old.

To finish on a happier note, Elizabeth’s second child Samuel was not in Penzance for the 1881 census but I found that he’d joined the navy and was at sea, working as an Ordinary Seaman on the [fifth] HMS Invincible.

In 1889 he married Charlotte Maria Rabbeth in Penzance, but they settled in Grays Thurrock, in Essex, where he worked in the merchant service after leaving the navy. Charlotte’s dressmaker mother Grace was living with them in both 1901 and 1911, perhaps for company when Samuel was away at sea.  He died in 1934.


Text © Lynne Black, 17 January 2016; mangle image from MorgueFiles
First published: https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2016/01/17/elizabeth-rowe-tripp/

11 thoughts on “Elizabeth Rowe, c1840, whose life tripped up

    1. starryblackness Post author

      Very – one of Elizabeth’s sisters may have lived in a poorhouse back in Penzance at roughly the same time and when I was looking through the census book and a lot of names from my previous Rowe branches were leaping out at me, I’ll have to go back to those and see if I can fill any missing data.

      1. Su Leslie

        Good luck with your research; however sad the outcomes may be. I think it is really important to tell the sad stories from our past as well as the happy ones.

  1. Pingback: Catharine A S Rowe b1843, mason’s daughter, carpenter’s wife | starryblackness

  2. Pingback: Thomas Henry Rowe, wherever he went, and Phillis Harry Wright | starryblackness

  3. Pingback: Alice Rowe, the Workhouse and the Venerable Blacksmith | starryblackness

  4. Pingback: John Rowe, b1817 and his eventful family life | starryblackness

  5. Pingback: William and Alice Rowe: flaming torches, stinky fish and older years in 19C Cornwall pt4 | starryblackness

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s