Peter was born at the end of the 18th century in the Cornish fishing village of Street-an-Nowan (Newlyn), 7 miles from Land’s End. He was baptised on 11 November 1787, in the years before the kept census returns and a time when it suddenly becomes a lot harder for a family historian to piece together their life stories remotely, being largely dependent on the transcriptions of kind devotees to history and the local area.
His father was a fisherman named Benjamin Jaco and his mother was Mary Downing. Benjamin was 10 years older than his wife and married aged 34, with their honeymoon baby Elizabeth being baptised on 15 November 1785. Peter was baptised on 11 November 1787. Little Elizabeth must have died infancy for their third (and final known) child was also named Elizabeth, baptised on 12 December 1790.
The family were comfortably off, with Benjamin’s will, written in November 1793, leaving property to his son Peter and a sum of £40 [£3,000 2018 equivalent] to daughter Elizabeth with his ‘dear wife Mary’ to live in their house until death or remarriage as long as she kept it in good repair.
Peter was born in the reign of George III, with the Colony of New South Wales being established when he was a babe in arms, the French Revolution breaking out when he was just a toddler, and his teens and twenties were the times of the Napoleonic Wars. However he had family battles to fight until he was about 30 years old when he finally claimed his inheritance.
Benjamin died within a couple of years of making his will when his family was still young but for reasons unknown they were not able to prove his will for many years. Therefore it appears that instead of staying in the house they lived with Benjamin [possibly Lyndale in Orchard Place, Street-an-nowan?] Mary needed to take her children and live nearby, down the hill nearer the harbour, in Fradgan [street], Newlyn. On 7 January 1796 she signed a 99-year lease on behalf of her and her son, for some land held by George Blewett Esq of Helston to build a fence or buttress to protect her house against the sea.
Peter was recorded as a fisherman, and signed his wedding register on 20 March 1807 when he, aged ~20 years, and local girl Catherine Noall Kelynack, married in Paul Parish Church; Catherine marked the register and her father was one of the witnesses. She had been baptised in Paul Parish Church in August 1786. Her parents were Charles Kelynack and Elizabeth Richards. I have no record of Charles’ profession but given it was a fishing village it is likely to have been on the sea, or in some linked profession (one of Catherine’s brothers was a shipwright).
Catherine is described on most documents as being from Paul parish, but the 1851 census described her as having been born in Madron, the adjacent parish. I suspect she was born in Tolcarne which is immediately next to Street-an-Nowan so her parents chose to worship at Paul Parish Church. She had five known brothers and sisters.
The first of Peter and Catherine’s eight known children born over the next 23 years was baptised on 12 August 1807, named Peter for his father, and after him came Benjamin after Peter’s father, baptised on 1 November 1810. Next came two daughters, Jane (bpt 15 August 1813) and Honour (bpt 28 August 1816). William was baptised on 4 August 1819, Charles Kelynack (for Catherine’s father) on 1 February 1822, Matilda on 19 September 1826 and Richard Richards (for Catherine’s mother’s family) on 1 December 1830. All were baptised up the hill in Paul Parish Church.
Finally in 1816 Peter was able to inherit the land and property left to him in his father’s 1793 will. Both the Executors Francis Hitchens Jacka, John Jaco, and Charles Jacka having all died before it was proved and on 20 September 1816 Peter swore a canonical oath and affidavit and was able to inherit, providing he carried out a complete inventory for the court by the end of December 1816.
Words and photos © Lynne Black
First published 11 November 2018 on https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/
 Archdeaconry of Cornwall, Probate Court, Cornwall County Archives ref AP/J/2241
 Cornwall County Archives ref X573/114