William and Alice Rowe: shoemaking, family, storms and wrestling in 19C Cornwall pt3

William and Alice, both born c1793, grew up in West Penwith district, just a few miles from Lands End, Cornwall. You can read the story of Williams’ childhood in
William Rowe 1793 pt1: Boyhood in a poor Cornish fishing town and their early married life here in part 2: William Rowe, Cordwainer of Newlyn and Alice Daniel of Sancreed.

Photo of Foundry Lane, Newlyn

Foundry Lane, Street-an-Nowan, Newlyn

William and Alice’s son and fourth child James was baptised on 16 June 1822 but died young. Their daughter Alice was baptised on 31 October 1824 and sixth child Thomas was baptised 19 August 1827. Next came Patience Daniel who was baptised on 15 March 1830, all were baptised in Paul Church.

Times continued to be hard for the ordinary people; the summer of 1823 was a wet one with the rain delaying the gathering in of hay and beating down corn so it would not ripen.  However signs were good for the pilchard harvest.

In April 1827 there was the ‘melancholy circumstance’ when ‘A very fine and fast-sailing-fishing-smack, named the Blucher… manned by six men and a boy’ left Newlyn for Bristol but the weather worsened; they were heading for Padstow but the smack and her crew were lost when the boat ran onto the Dunbar Sands and “Five widows and eighteen children are left to lament the disastrous event that has deprived them of their natural protectors; the unfortunate deceased were all men of excellent character”.[1]

On Monday 24 September 1827 there was local excitement when a wrestling championship was held in a field on the Newlyn-Penzance road with two champion wrestlers “Mr [John] Polkinghorne, the champion of England, and Mr Richard Saundry, in his day the champion of the west, were the well-chosen umpires.”

The very enthusiastic Morning Chronicle reporter wrote that “At twelve o’clock the sight was very imposing – some thousands of the most athletic young men that the world can produce (each of whom would have honoured Leonidas at the Straits of Thermopylae, Bonaparte in passing the Bridge of Lodi, or even Wellington himself in the battle of Waterloo), seated or standing in perfect silence and order, and with intense interest, to witness and participate in a sport for which their ancestors were so justly renowned.  It was impossible for any man, deserving that name, to behold the spectacle of so many manly youths assembled on such an occasion, without emotions of admiration and delight, and without congratulating himself as belonging to the species.  It was a sight and occasion, as connected with the maintenance of strength, courage and agility, among the people, worthy the countenance, presence, encouragement, and support of Majesty itself.”[2]

Another heavy storm in Mounts Bay was reported in November 1828 and the Dove broke its moorings and made for Newlyn: “A boat was launched at Newlyn, but only three persons could be found to venture out; these were Mr Pearce, the agent for Lloyd’s at Penzance; Lieut. Hearle of the Preventive Service at Mousehole, and Mr Nicholas, carpenter of the Dove, who was on shore on duty.  This being the case, the boat could not be got off, and the spectators hastened to the beach, where the crew of the Dove strove to get a line on shore but were unable to do so, in consequence of the offset of the waves.

“The fisherman brought the ropes of their nets, and after great efforts, a rope was thrown on board by Mr Pearce, at the eminent risk of his life.  The connexion once secured, other ropes were got from the vessel to the shore, and in about half an hour the whole of the crew were rescued from their perilous situation.  Lieut. Stocker was the last person who left the vessel.  As it was supposed that one of the crew was missing, Mr Pearce volunteered to go on board to see for him, which hazardous enterprize he effected, having been twice washed from the gunwhale by the tremendous sea that was running.  No person being visible, he returned, and afterwards it was ascertained that all the crew were safe.”[3]

On 26 Jun 1830, in his gilded world, George IV died and his brother became William IV.

Meanwhile back in Newlyn, in December 1830, another storm pounded Newlyn and the Sherborne Mercury reported that “Gwavas Quay, the road of communication between Street-on-Nowan [SIC] and Newlyn Town [the two parts of what’s now Newlyn] is quite beaten down, and the road from Penzance to Tolcarne has been overflowed in such a manner as to be rendered totally impassable.”[4]

William and Alice’s daughter Elizabeth was baptised on 5 December 1832 and their ninth and final child, my ancestor James Daniel Rowe, was baptised on 30 March 1835 in Paul Church.

The final part of William and Alice’s story is written here.

Words and photos © Lynne Black, 14 August 2016

[1] Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle – Sunday 15 April 1827, P1, BNA

[2] Morning Chronicle – Tuesday 02 October 1827, P3, BNA

[3] North Devon Journal – Thursday 27 November 1828, P3, Col 4, BNA

[4] Morning Post – Thursday 09 December 1830, P4, Col 4, BNA

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One thought on “William and Alice Rowe: shoemaking, family, storms and wrestling in 19C Cornwall pt3

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

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