Category Archives: Devon

John Ernest Victor, from Devon to the USA, to the Somme

John Ernest Victor was born in Devonport in 1890, the sixth child of John Victor and Eliza Crewes. His father was a Cornwall-born hammer-man in the docks and Eliza was the daughter of a carpenter. They’d already lost a son and daughter, and their next daughter also died young, they had a further daughter, Eliza May, so John would have grown up with four sisters about the house.

Blue-eyed, brown-haired John Ernest saw his older sisters settle down, and became an uncle. He became a plumber and gas fitter apprentice.  In 1907, aged 17, he attested into the Royal Garrison Artillery Territorial Force (Devonshire RGA unit); he still had 3 years and 9 months to complete on his apprenticeship at that point. He became a Gunner with the RGA and received annual training on the Maker Heights and the Staddon Heights.

In 1911 when he was 21 he joined the Royal Navy.  He served on the Vivid (the cadet ship I believe rather than the Naval base), but in November 1911 was invalided and spent four months in Plymouth Hospital.  I’m love to know the background to these intriguing remarks, perhaps about a gratuity: 10/- Grat. for raising/saving the Vivid” Nov 1911.


Naval discharge notes for John Ernest Victor, 1911

John left hospital in March 1912 and perhaps fancied a new start as in July he headed for New York on the White Star Line’s Majestic.

I had previously lost track of his story, but I was contacted in June 2016 by my distant cousin Chris.

In 1914 after the start of the First World War John returned to England.  He traveled to Glasgow via Londonderry on the Caledonia where he enlisted into the Essex Regiment. He served as a Lance Corporal in the 9th Battalion.

Exactly a hundred years ago today, on 3 July 1916, John Ernest Victor died in action on the third day of the Battle of the Somme.  He is commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial. There is a commemorative page here.

Grateful thanks to Chris for getting in touch and sharing John’s story.

Lynne Black, 3 July 2016


Four Cornishwomen: Portugal, Penzance & Scilly pt 3 – Jane and Emma

This is the 120-year story of a line of four Cornishwomen: Elizabeth, Rosanna, Jane and Emma. This time I’m featuring Jane and Emma.

Emma was the bride of a distant cousin of mine, John Wright Rowe Jnr, and grew up on a small island in the Isles of Scilly, off the south west of Cornwall. When I had a look at her story I found that not only did the family flit between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly, but that she had exotic genes from her great-grandfather Bernardo Peyshott.


St Martin’s Island, Isles of Scilly, by Jeremy Pearson, Flickr, Creative Commons license

Rosanna and William’s older daughter Jane Nance is Emma’s mother.

Jane Nance, George Payne and Edgar Wingate

Jane was born in late 1849 in Penzance, Cornwall but she, her mariner father, tailoress mother Rosanna and sister had moved to the Isles of Scilly in the late 1850s before she was 12, and in April 1861 she was living in small St Martins near her father’s family.

When she was 20 she married fair skinned hazel-eyed sailor George Payne on 5 June 1870 on the Isles of Scilly.

George had been born inland in Bovey Tracey on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon, in June 1837. After his father George died, his mother Amelia had re-married Henry Lowton in 1840 and they had a daughter together. After being widowed a second time she had married a John Davy/Davis and had two more children; she was working as a bonnet maker in 1851. George was mining at that time, aged 14.  He eventually made the change from mining in his late 20s and joined the Navy.  George was 12 years Jane’s senior and when they met he was half-way through his ten year Royal Navy service. He had a tattoo of a crucifix on his right arm and one of a man and a woman on his left arm and had served on the Achilles as his first posting. [Info from Navy records on Ancestry.]


Porth Conger, St Agnes, Isles of Scilly, by James Stringer, Flickr, Creative Commons

On 2 April 1871 George was working as a coastguard on neighbouring St Agnes island, although Jane, a tailoress like her mother, was on St Martins with her parents. This may be because she was blooming: their first child, son George, was born that spring and baptised on 9 July 1871. [Info from Cornwall OPC.]  He was followed by Rosanna ‘Rosa’ born on 14 September 1872 on St Agnes, Jane c1876 and Emma c1878, both back in St Martins.

Jane’s younger sister Rosanna married a farmer called Thomas Woodcock in 1874 (later described as a gentleman) and also had several children on St Martins, she lived up in Lower Town.

George died aged 42 in late April/early May 1880 and was buried on 5 May on the Isles.  A month later Jane gave birth to their fifth child, a girl named Georgina for the father she would never meet. Jane was now a 30 year-0ld widow and mother of five children.

By the following April [1881] she was working as a grocer in Higher Town on St Martins. Her mother Rosanna died in 1886.  Despite these losses her daughters did well for themselves as teachers, suggesting she was aware of the importance of hard work and making the most of what you’ve got.

Jane got re-married – to another Merchant Navy and coastguard man – in spring 1887. Her husband Edgar Wingate, who’d been born in Milton, Hampshire, was 21 years her senior and they didn’t have children.

Edgar was a widower. Eliza, his first wife, had been born in Epping, Essex, and after their 1857 marriage they’d lived in Sheppey (Kent), Bangor (Caernarvonshire) and St Agnes where she had died in early 1887. There are just a few months between Eliza’s death and Edgar’s remarriage, Jane must have snapped him up quickly! Perhaps she was the talk of the islands! Maybe they’d met years before through her first husband’s George’s coastguard work, it wasn’t that big a place.

Her father William died the following year, in late 1888.


Penzance Harbour by Liz Pycock, Flickr, Creative Commons

By April 1891 Edgar and Jane had moved to the mainland. Disconcertingly, for me on a personal level, they had moved to Newlyn (the next village to the west of Penzance) and were living in the Street-An-Nowan area of Newlyn in the road next to my Granny’s house, although they are absolutely no relation. My great-great-grandparents owned the bakery at the top of that lane.

Jane and George’s first child George Payne grew up on St Martins but by the age of 20 in 1891 after the family had moved to the mainland was working as a butcher in Newlyn. However by 1901 he was working as a stone mason. I can’t find confirmed records for him after that.

Jane’s daughter Rosanna ‘Rosa’ Payne married Trinity Service man John Williams  in 1894 and they settled down and raised a family in Penzance.

Middle child Jane Payne became a pupil teacher (1891) and by 1901 was a teacher in Penzance. I know of no marriage for her but in 1911 I find her a schoolmistress in Saltash, Cornwall, with her sister Emma and family visiting.

Youngest daughter Georgina Payne also became a schoolmistress. She married another teacher, Charles Hodge, in 1905 and together they moved to Cadeleigh in Devon where they were employed by the council. In April 1911 Charles was an Assistant Teacher, and Georgina a Head Teacher by the age of 31, which I think is great for over 100 years ago. Charles enlisted in 1917 and served in the Army Pay Corps where he was promoted to Corporal; after the war he went back to teaching.

By March 1901 Edgar and Jane had moved to Lescudjack Road, Penzance. Edgar died in Penzance on 29 April 1904, Jane died in early May 1925.

Jane’s fourth child (third daughter) was called Emma Payne.

Emma Payne and John Wright Rowe

The fourth child of George and Jane Payne, Emma, grew up in St Martin’s island in the Isles of Scilly, but was living on the mainland in Newlyn by the age of 13, where even at that young age was working as a dressmaker. After that she moved to Penzance but no occupation was recorded for her in 1901.


Market Jew Street, Penzance, postcard sent c1910

The following year she married  John Wright Rowe in Penzance. John, a couple of years older than her, had also started work young: at the age of 14 he had been an errand boy at the docks in Penzance. John’s father Thomas Henry Rowe may not have been around much when he was young, or may even have died, but his trade had been that of a mason. His mother Phyllis was a laundress and mother of four.

By 1902, when he was initiated into the Penzance Mount Sinai Lodge Masons, John was working as a builder and this continued to at least 1907, the last record I have of him.

Emma and John had two children: Emma Doreen in 1903 and George Raymond in autumn 1907, both registered in the Penzance area. In April 1911 on census night they were visiting Emma’s older sister teacher Jane in Saltash, Cornwall, which is just at the border with Devon, across the Tamar from Plymouth.

Main Sources:
Ancestry; FindMyPast; Cornwall Online Parish Clerks; Genuki, Flickr.

Text © Lynne Black,  13 March 2016
Isles of Scilly panorama and St Agnes photo by James Stringer, Flickr, Creative Commons license
St Martins sunset by Jeremy Pearson, Flickr, Creative Commons license
Penzance Harbour by Liz Pycock, Flickr, Creative Commons license
First published:

Albania Tremethick, the grocer’s assistant who married a Lemmon

Photo of Trinity Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Newlyn

Trinity Wesleyan Methodist Chapel with hall, Newlyn, Cornwall

Albania was born on 19 May 1865 and baptised on 19 July in Trinity Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Newlyn, Cornwall. She was the seventh child of fisherman Thomas Tonkin Tremethick and Patience Daniel Rowe, with 4 older brothers and 2 older sisters.

I have seen different listings of Albania over the years, notably Albina, but I understand her formal name was Albania, and she also had a couple of younger cousins called Albania. Goodness knows why her parents chose that name, a visiting fisherman friend, an Albanian sailor who saved someone’s life perhaps, one of those quirky unanswerable family history questions I suspect. Maybe she started using ‘Albina’ to avoid that question every time she met someone new.

By 1871 she was at school, as were Grace, Thomas, Ann and John.  Her two oldest brothers were working by then: Joe as a labourer and James as a message boy. By that time Albania had two more brothers, Samuel and William Rowe, so I’m sure the household would be keen for Joe’s and James’ contributions. Thomas and Patience’s final, tenth, child arrived in March 1872, a little girl named Patience for her mother.  By the time Albania was ten in 1875 her oldest brother Joe had moved away with Great Western Railway.


Chapel Street and Orchard Place, Street-an-Nowan, Newlyn

In February 1878, when  Albania was still only 12, her father Thomas died.

In September 1880 her oldest sister Grace married Royal Navy quartermaster James Richards, but in St Peter’s Church, Newlyn, rather than the Chapel.

By April 1881 Albania was also bringing in a wage, working as a grocer’s assistant in Newlyn.  By that time second-oldest brother James was working as a coachman in Devon. That summer her second-oldest sister Annie married a widowed lighthouse keeper called Thomas Crask.

Her brother Thomas joined the Navy and on May 1887 Albania was a witness to his marriage to Mary Badcock in St Mary’s Church in neighbouring Penzance.

Tragedy struck the family in April 1888 when her sister Annie Crask died; Annie was buried in Paul Cemetery on the hill above Newlyn.

Photo of St James Street, Penzance

St James Street, Penzance, with St Mary’s Church spire in the distance

A few weeks later, James, who was by now living in Kingsbridge, Devon, married Kate, a tailor’s daughter.

In April 1891 Albania was 25 and living in St James Street in Penzance. A young Cambridgeshire-born fishmonger’s son called Seth Harold Lemmon was living in the next street along, Belgravia Street, with his widowed sister Mary Bett. Seth and Mary were both drapers’ assistants and by then Albania was working as a boot warehouse assistant.

In July 1893 her brother John married Sarah Williams up in Paul Church, Newlyn.  By that time Albania and Seth were likely to be  courting, as in early 1894 they married in the Penzance area.

It appears that they had twin boys in spring 1895 in Penzance area: Arthur Charles and Harold Tremethick Lemmon, although Arthur died at or just after birth.

By the census of 31 March 1901, Albania, Seth, by then a commercial traveller and local preacher, and Harold had moved to Plymouth, Devon.  Their third child, another son whom they called Arthur Tremethick Lemmon was born in early 1902, in the reign of the new King Edward VII.

Albania’s mother Patience and William Crask, Albania’s sister Annie’s widower, were visiting at that time.  Either they stayed as long-term house guests or found places of their own locally in Plymouth.

William died on 4 April 1908.  When his will went to probate on 5 May 1908 Seth received a legacy from William worth £14,763.80 in today’s money.

Later that year, in summer 1908 -Patience’s mother Patience Daniel Tremethick nee Rowe died, again in Plymouth.

By 1911 15-year-old Harold had joined the Navy; he was working as a boy artificer, engineer, which Wiki tells me is someone skilled at working on engines and boilers.  On 19 Aug 1920 Harold married Irene Garland in Mutley Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Plymouth.  Harold stayed in the Navy all his life, being listed in 1949 as a Naval Pensioner.

I think that Arthur may also have gone into the Navy.  I’ve found a passenger list on Ancestry for an Arthur T Lemmon, married to a Gertrude F, heading to Gibraltar from Liverpool on the Lancaster with their teenage daughter Elizabeth in 1950. This matches with info from the 1945 Navy List. Both sources refer to Chief Constructor and I understand this is part of the Constructor Corps. Maybe in a few years I’ll have access to the marriage record which would confirm this. Also someone’s family tree on Ancestry matches this with a 1928 marriage listed between Gertrude F Ball and Arthur Tremethick Lemmon.  So this is all tying up and looking very positive.

In 1923 Kelly’s Directory, private residents section, identifies Seth as living at 15 Coleridge Road in Plymouth; I have no reason to supposed Albania wasn’t there also.

Albania died in the first quarter of 1937, in Plymouth.

After a probate hearing of 13 June 1940 Seth received a second legacy from the Tremethick family: his sister-in-law Mary Tremethick (nee Badcock), widow of Albina’s brother Thomas.

On 8 May 1949 Seth checked into the Moorland Guest House in Wotter, Devon.  And then he disappeared.  His body was found later that month, on 25 May in Wotter Clay Pit, Shaugh Prior, Devon.  His date of death was noted as 8 May, and his probate was heard on 19 July that year. He left approx £4,107.89 in today’s money to his son Harold.

© Lynne Black, 19 December 2015
First published:


Naval Chief Bosun Thomas Rowe Tremethick 1858 – 1924: Smart, energetic and generally temperate

Thomas was the fourth of ten children of fisherman Thomas Tremethick and his wife Patience Daniel Rowe born 1858 and baptised in January 1859 at the local Paul Parish Church. He grew up in the fishing town of Newlyn, Cornwall, where they lived in the area called Street-an-Nowan.

Thomas must have preferred the idea of being a sailor to being a fisherman so he signed up for the Royal Navy.  By 1887 he was working as a seaman.

St Mary's Church, Penzance

St Mary’s Church, Penzance

Thomas met Newlyn fisherman’s daughter Mary Badcock, a domestic servant, and they married on Monday 16 May 1887.  For some reason he and Mary, both Newlyn folk, married in St Mary’s Church Penzance. It was quite unusual for my family not to marry in Paul Church or the new [1866] St Peter’s Church in Newlyn so I wonder why that was? His father had died before Thomas married and his younger sister Albania acted as a witness so at least one of his family members knew! Demands of the Navy, maybe or Mary’s day off from service.

By April 1891 he and Mary had moved to Devonport [now Plymouth, Devon] and they were living just round along Herbert Street from his married sister Grace and her husband James Richards.

In June and December 1892 Captains Brook and Chichester both recommended him as being “the stamp of man for Warrant Officer” and in July 1893 he was posted at Act Bos’n to the Himalaya under Captain Chichester, although was lent to the Conqueror for manoeuvres in his first month there. Captain Chichester noted after his time on the 3-mast Himalaya that he was  “VG [at] freehand drawing. A smart and energetic officer.”  Thomas was there until September 1894. The gospel according to Wikipedia tells me for HMS Himalaya that she was a former cruise ship purchased by the Navy:

The SS Himalaya was a 3,438 gross register ton iron steam screw passenger ship. When launched she was the largest ship in the P & O fleet and was not exceeded in size until the SS Australia of 1870

Photo of Malta

Malta, by Neil Howard on Flickr

And this World Naval Ships naval online forum post tells me that Thomas would have travelled extensively during those those months, round the Mediterranean, including Gibraltar, Malta and  and Capetown in 1893 and to Singapore in 1894,  So I’m very glad that back home in Devonport Mary would have had her sister-in-law handy just a few doors down!

Thomas served on various ships over the years, with a mostly good record, various captains noting him as diligent, smart, energetic, of excellent physique, hard working, could use a sextant and was a good officer. It was noted in 1901 by Comm. Hutchinson of the Lion that he was suspended from instructing as he didn’t have “that gift”, although “would no doubt perform his duties satisfactorily in a seagoing ship”.  At one point a captain did note he was “somewhat wanting in tact”!

The 1903 Naval lists indicates with an (S) that this ‘In the Seniority List denotes an officer who has passed in both Visual Signalling and Wireless Telegraphy.  In a ship, an officer qualified as above who is performing either or both of these duties.’

Photo of rum label

Photo of Rum label, Mary K Baird on MorgueFiles

In 1908 on the Suffolk Thomas obviously didn’t have his finest posting, getting an usual bad report from Captain Eyre.  The next year he again blotted his copybook when he was discovered drunk on board the Mars, was court-marshalled off the ship and lost a year’s seniority. So that’s what you do with a drunken sailor! But he seems to have recovered form and his conduct was entirely to the satisfaction of Captain Besson of the Hull in September 1909.

Again in December 1911 Thomas’ drinking was commented on, by Cpt Halsay of the Donegal:  “Zealous and hard working. Although generally temperate, I am of opinion that he has on one or two occasions drunk more alcohol than is good for him and I have warned him accordingly. Physically VG. Rec’d for advancement.

Thomas was pensioned as a Chief Boatswain in 1912, he lived on until September 1924 when he died in Durban Road, Plymouth, aged 66. The April 1911 census records them as having no children born alive,

Mary lived on for another 15+ years until spring 1940, also dying in Plymouth.  In her will she left her effects to Seth Lemmon, the widower of Thomas’ sister Albania; Albania who had witnessed her wedding to Thomas in Penzance over 50 years before.

© Lynne Black, 6 December 2015
First published:

Grace Daniel Tremethick later Richards 19th Century Navy wife

Photo of the Foundry Lane well.

Foundry Lane Well, Street-an-Nowan, Newlyn in 2015

Grace was baptised on 17 May 1857 in Paul Church up on the hill above Newlyn where her father Thomas Tremethick worked as a mariner. Thomas and wife Patience Daniel Rowe lived in the east Street-an-Nowan area of Newlyn.

Grace was the eldest daughter with two older brothers Joseph and James, and seven younger brothers and sisters: Thomas, Annie, John, Albania, Samuel, William and Patience.

By April 1861 they were living in a small street with its own water pump called Foundry Lane; her widowed grandfather William Rowe was living in the same small street with her dressmaker Aunt Grace Rowe there with him.

1869 her grandfather William Rowe died; she had never known her grandmother Alice Daniel (later Rowe) who died before she was born but whose name she bore.

1871 the family were living round the corner in Chapel Street and Grace was still at school. Her father Thomas Tremethick died c February 1878

St Peter's Church, Newlyn

St Peter’s Church, Newlyn

On 1 September 1880 Grace married sailor James Richards in the new St Peter’s Church in Newlyn.  James was the son of a coastguard John Richards and his wife Elizabeth. Although born in Newlyn James had lived for much of his youth in Tresco on the Isles of Scilly. [Tresco is justly famous for its beautiful gardens, but I went there on my honeymoon and still feel haunted by one small section of their gardens which they had filled of the figureheads of wrecked ships, staring forever sightlessly.]

James had joined the navy and at the time of their marriage was working as a quartermaster on HMS Frolic [the least intimidating name for a naval ship I’ve ever heard!]. Grace was the first of her brothers and sisters to marry and given her father had died two years previously, her older bother Joseph, a GWR clerk, was her witness.

By April 1881 the young couple were living in Herbert Place, Stoke Damerel [Plymouth, Devon] where James was again quartermaster.  Grace’s youngest sister, 8-year-old schoolgirl Patience was visiting at the time.  They had neighbours on both sides with the surname Davey who worked in the Dockyards, one Cornish and one from Devon.

In spring 1882 their first son, Albert Morris Tremethick Richards was born, but died the following April.  They did have more children: their next son, Stanley, was born in 1887, followed by Mabel c1889, Gladys c October 1890 and Wilbert J c1898.

In April 1891 Frederick Richards was visiting, he was a 13-year-old boy who’d been born in the Isles of Scilly; his precise family connection is still escaping me.  Grace’s younger brother Thomas Tremethick and his wife Mary were living a couple of houses along Herbert Street.

Grace’s widowed mother Patience Daniel Tremethick (nee Rowe) had moved to Plymouth from Newlyn by 1901, probably to be near her four children, and was living at 4 Maybank Road with Grace’s younger married sister, Albania Lemmon.

In 1902 Grace’s oldest surviving son Stanley began military service with the Royal Navy; he was based on the Vivid training ship, where his second cousin John Victor would also serve a few years later.  Stanley worked as a ship-wright.

Grace’s mother Patience Daniel Tremethick (nee Rowe) died in August 1908.

The family continued to live in Herbert Place as I find them living there in April 1911, they had Edith Woodfield, James’ married younger sister, visiting.  Like Grace she had also had 5 children, one of whom had died, and she was noted to be of independent means.  James was by now working as a canvasser for the Great Western Railway, son John as a shipwright, and 2nd daughter Gladys as a clerk in a draper’s shop.

There are many more Richards than Tremethicks about and I can’t follow their story after that. However it I find their elder daughter Mabel married Herbert J Davy c November 1914; I can’t access info as to whether he’s related to their neighbours on Herbert Place but it’s definitely a possibility.

© Lynne Black, 29 November 2015
First published:

Photo of Kingsbridge

James Rowe Tremethick, Coachman, and family with attitude

Foundry Lane, Street-an-Nowan, Newlyn

Foundry Lane, Street-an-Nowan, Newlyn

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.]

Kingsbridge Church, by LittleStar on Flickr, creative commons license

Kingsbridge Church, by LittleStar on Flickr, creative commons license

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.

Photo of river at Kingsbridge

Kingsbridge, by Paul Englefield, Flickr Creative Commons license

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:

Joe and Bessie Tremethick, working their way round England with GWR

On Thursday 8 December 1853, Joseph ‘Joe’ Tremethick was born in the Cornish fishing village of Newlyn. He was the oldest child of mariner Thomas Tonkin Tremethick and his wife Patience Daniel Rowe [Patience is my link to the family], and would eventually have 9 younger brothers and sisters over the course of the next 2 decades: James, Grace, Thomas, Annie, John, Albania, Samuel, William and Patience.

Photo of Florence Place, Newlyn

Florence Place, Tolcarne, Newlyn

At the age of 15, c1868, Joe joined the West Cornwall Railway. The next (1871) census describes him as a labourer living in Foundry Lane in the Street An Nowan area of Newlyn, so perhaps he started that way with the Railway company. In 1878 Joseph is based in Hay and railway records identify GWR [Great Western Railway]; this is possibly Hay Lane near Swindon, Wiltshire, rather than Hay-On-Wye in Powys, Wales. His father Thomas Tremethick died in February 1878; his grandmother Sarah Tremethick died in May 1879, so maybe he received the letters with that sad news there. By April 1881 he was back in Newlyn, in the Tolcarne area (just the other side of the small River Coombe from Street An Nowan).

By 16 April 1883 Joe had moved on again, to Devonport [Plymouth, Devon], when he married Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Hutchings at St Stephen’s Church.  However by 13 January 1884 when Bessie gave birth to their daughter Ethel, they were in Birmingham, Warwickshire.  They were still in Aston [Birmingham] in November 1886 when their son Percy Gordon was born. In April 1891 the family were still in Warwickshire, with Joe working as a clerk at Bordesley Station; the family were living at Cooksey Road, Bordesley.

However, the 31 March 1901 census finds them living in Oxford. Their neighbours on Norreys Avenue were also various clerks and shop workers, a change from Newlyn where you would get whole streets of fishermen. Joe was still working as a clerk, with 17-year-old Ethel a pupil teacher.

On 27 March 1902 Joe and Bessie would have been proud when Percy joined GWR like his father; he started as a Lad Clerk in Exeter on a salary of 20 shillings a year. Maybe the whole family had moved to Exeter by then; they were certainly living there in 1911.

In March 1905 Joe would have heard that his brother James had died; James had also been living in Devon but about 40 miles away in Kingsbridge.  August 1908 saw Joe’s mother Patience Daniel Rowe later Tremethick also pass away, back home in Newlyn.

GWR Devon poster, Lampitt, 1936 from Flickr, Creative Commons Kitchener.Lord

GWR Devon poster, Lampitt, 1936 from Flickr, Creative Commons Kitchener.Lord

On 28 April 1909 Ethel married in Exeter.  Her husband was a Ireland-born bank clerk called John Foden.

Ethel and John would have been quite used to trailing round with their fathers’ work. The Fodens had also been a railway family; rather than being Irish, John’s parents Harcourt and Emma Foden were actually born in Lancashire (Harcourt) and Yorkshire (Emma). They too worked their way around, living at various times in Burnley and Blackpool before Ireland, then setting in Devon. Harcourt became a colliery agent and his probate record indicates that he appeared to do quite well for himself.

In April 1911 Percy was living with his parents still in Exeter; they had a visitor with them called Ida Passmore. Both Joe and Percy were railway clerks at that time, although Joseph was approaching retirement.

In September 1911 Joe and Bessie became grandparents, with the arrival of John Gordon Foden.

Percy got married later that year to Ida Passmore, the lady who had been visiting the family home back on census night. They married in St Thomas’ Church Exeter.

In March Joe was back in Newlyn for a family funeral; he is listed in the report as ‘Joe’ which is not something you always find out from a census.

Photo of Kingsbridge

Kingsbridge, by Paul Englefield, Flickr Creative Commons license

During World War One Joe came out of retirement and worked in Lloyds Bank in Kingsbridge, the town his late brother James had lived in.

Joe and Bessie celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on 15 April 1933, still living in Exeter. Joe seems by then to be very much a pillar of the community, being honorary secretary to the Women’s Committee of Plymouth Central Hospital, and honorary treasurer of Plymouth Dickens Fellowship.

In 1934 Percy and Ida moved to Barnstaple when Percy took post as stationmaster; he had previously worked at Kingswear and Langport. They lived there until 1943, Percy enjoying singing with various choirs and enjoying church life, I think he was also in the Barnstaple Masonic Lodge.

Bessie died two years later in February 1936. Joseph died on 17 January 1942 at the grand old age of 88.

© Lynne Black, 16 November 2015
First published:

John Victor, Boiler-maker and Hammerman, 1852-1934

Photo of Mousehole Harbour at low tide

Mousehole Harbour at low tide

On Boxing Day 1852, Bernard and Alice Victor (nee Rowe) stood in Paul Church, Cornwall, for the baptism of their son John.  Bernard was a fisherman, and Alice was a fisherman’s wife, formerly a domestic servant.

During John’s childhood the family lived in various streets in the small village of Mousehole.  A smart new granite pier was built in 1870-71 but he didn’t stay to become a fisherman, instead in the first half of the 1870s he moved east to Devon, and lived in Stoke Damarel, near Plymouth.  There was a smallpox epidemic in Plymouth in 1872 when hundreds died; hopefully John was still in Mousehole at that time or his parents would have been going frantic. Also in 1872 horse-drawn trams were introduced but I suspect labourer John, a fisherman’s son, would have walked around Devonport.  His married older sister Mary Wright Victor had by this time also moved away to Devonport but had come back for an extended stay with her young family when her husband Edward Kelynack was away at sea.

Photo of Plymouth Hoe by Robert Pitman

Plymouth Hoe, by Robert Pitman, Flickr bobchin1941 Creative Commons license

John met a girl called Eliza Jane Crews, a carpenter’s daughter, and they married around February 1877 and their first child, Alice, was born on 28 May of that year when John was 25 and Eliza only 18. They maybe had a concern for Alice’s health, as she was baptised two days later in St Stephen’s Church, Devonport. At this time new dad John was working as a labourer.

Their second daughter, Eliza Hutton, was born in March 1880; the young family were living at 12 Clowance Street where they were to stay for at least 13 years. A year later, at the time of the 1881 census, John was working as an assistant boiler maker, and in December 1882 when their third child Agnes Kate was baptised aged approx 10 months he was described on the record as ‘Hammer man’.

On 11 December 1884 their fourth child and first son, William Robert, was born.  Maybe William was in good health to begin with, as they weren’t in a hurry to get him baptised.  Sadly when they did get round to it; when he was 18 months old in June 1886, it was likely urgent as William died two weeks later and was buried in Stoke Damerel parish.

Mum Eliza must have been early on in another pregnancy at that time as she gave birth six months after that, on 28 December 1886, to a daughter called Harriett Ruby, who was always referred to after that as Ruby. When Ruby was born John was working as a boilerman in HM Dockyards. Working in the Dockyards was the dominant industry in Plymouth at that time. A later writer described how:

“It is impossible to convey any idea of the varied activities which are to be witnessed at the dock sides and in the many workshops. The visitor should not fail to visit the large Smithery, however much the smoke and soot may drive him to the open air. Here anchors and other heavy metal work are dealt with and the great Nasmyth steam hammer may be seen.”
From the Devonport Online transcription of ‘A pictorial and descriptive guide to Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport with excursions by river, road and sea’ [1] Ed. 5, rev. Published 1914 by Ward Lock & Co Ltd. London.

John’s father Bernard died in summer 1890. Unusually for my Cornish ancestors John didn’t choose his father’s name for either of his own sons. Maybe they weren’t close, or maybe someone just hated the name Bernard.  John and Eliza’s second son John Ernest was born later that year, on 13 November 1890.

Daughter Mary Ann was another winter baby, born on 22 December 1892.  I fear that Mary Ann also died young as I haven’t found a trace of her anywhere after that.

Their eighth and final child, Ethel May, was born on 1 December 1894.

At the end of the 19th century the family moved to Ker Street, Devonport. Around that time, in 1899, the horse-drawn trams being just so 19th century, were starting to be replaced with the introduction of electric trams.  The family were definitely in Ker Street for the 1901 census, a year which also saw their first of their children get married: 24-year-old Alice Victor, a tailoress, married Scottish shipwright James Mathie in autumn 1901 in Devonport. As far as I know they didn’t have any children.

By March 1901 their third daughter Agnes was working as a servant for Church of England clergyman William & Isabella Allin & their family. In the summer of 1902 Agnes, aged about 19, married skilled labourer William Avery (also working in HM Dockyards) , and that year John and Eliza became grandparents for the first time when Agnes had her first child, a boy called William.

In late 1902, second daughter Eliza married James Edwards.

The next few years weren’t very kind to John. In summer 1903, when he was 51, his mother Alice (nee Rowe), aged almost 80 and still living back in the Penzance area, probably Mousehole, died.  The following year in Stoke Damarel, John and Eliza would have been scared and horrified when their daughter Ruby, then aged 18, started having fits.

In spring 1904 Agnes had another baby, named Agnes Kate for her mother, but I think the baby must have died soon after birth.

In early 1904 their third grand-child was born, this time to Agnes’ sister Eliza and James Edwards; they named the baby Ruby for her aunty.  Three years after that, in summer 1907, the baby’s granny Eliza Snr died at around the time of her 49th birthday.  It also looks like James sailed for the USA in 1907.

On 13 August 1907 poor Agnes and William stood at St Mary’s Church, their newborn daughter Eliza Honor in their arms for Eliza’s baptism.  Eliza had been born that same day so can’t have been well; I don’t have the exact death date for Eliza but it was August/September that year. Agnes and William went on to have another lost child before the 1911 census.

Photo of Elizabeth, NJ, USA

Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA by Ron Coleman

In June 1908 their daughter Eliza and grand-daughter Ruby sailed from Southampton to New York on the SS Majestic.  She and Edward had had a son Wilfred, born c November 1909 in New Jersey; by 5 May 1910 they were living in Elizabeth City in Union County, with James working as a cabinet maker.

Back in Devonport, John’s daughter Agnes had her fifth child in August 1911; hopefully this baby was stronger as this time there was no rush to get little Samuel to be baptised.

That October, Agnes’ younger brother John, who was a plumber, joined the Royal Navy.  He served on the Vivid (the cadet ship I believe rather than the Naval base), but in November 1911 was invalided and spent four months in Plymouth Hospital.  I’m love to know the background to these intriguing remarks, perhaps about a gratuity: 10/- Grat. for raising/saving the Vivid” Nov 1911.

Naval discharge notes for John Victor, 1911

Naval discharge notes for John Victor, 1911-12, from FindMyPast

Blue-eyed, brown-haired John left hospital in March 1912 and perhaps fancied a new start as in July he headed for New York on the White Star Line’s Majestic. After that I lose track of his story.

17 June 1916 saw the marriage of his youngest daughter Ethel to a blacksmiths apprentice called Francis McCalley. Francis was the only child of a seamstress called Alice Rowlings who worked for the government in the dockyards, sewing flags.  Alice’s sister had also lived with them, so Francis lived in a female household, it was maybe a shock to go work in a blacksmith’s shop!

In 1920 the census finds Eliza, James and Ruby Edwards renting a house in Elizabeth, NJ, but by that time James was working for the church as a sexton. That census suggests they naturalised in 1912 but the scrawl on a later census seems to contradict that.  Eliza and James had a daughter named Jean in 1923, when their son was 13, must have been a bit of a shock after a gap of several years! James was still a sexton in 1930; the census tells me that they not only owned a house by then but that they also had a radio.

This is of course the point in John’s family story where I run out of UK online registration resources to access. I do however know that despite what must have been very hard physical labour John lived until the age of 81, dying in Devonport in spring 1934, less than a year after the the death of his eldest daughter Alice.

Ruby didn’t marry, she lived on until 1855; Agnes died in 1961 and Ethel in 1973.

Back in Elizabeth, USA, in 1940, Eliza and sexton James’ family had grown following gas fitter Wilfred’s marriage to beautician Lillian; Wilfred’s younger sister Jean was an office worker.  How strange to get such recent online records; I wonder if Jean’s still over there in New Jersey.  Such a difference in the world since her grandfather John Victor’s birth in Cornish Mousehole, almost 90 years before.

© Lynne Black, 27 September 2015
First published:

Photo of Newlyn Beach, Cornwall

Grace D Rowe 1819 – 1905 – milliner and dear aunt

Photo of Foundry Lane, Newlyn

Foundry Lane, Street-an-Nowan, Newlyn

Grace arrived in the world on Tuesday 7 December 1819 and baptised into the Methodist faith on 7 January 1821 in the Penzance area, probably in the local Trinity Methodist Chapel in Newlyn.

Born in Newlyn, Penzance, she was the daughter of William Rowe, a shoe-maker, and his wife Alice nee Daniel.  She was the third of their 9 children and her middle name is likely to have been Daniel, after her mother.

In June 1841 her occupation was given as a female servant.  However by 30 March 1851 she was working as a straw bonnet maker. There are some lovely examples here on Pinterest, although perhaps she would more likely have produced ones like in this Stanhope Forbes painting Fish Sale on the Beach.  Although her occupation was given as 1861 as seamstress, in 1871 and 1881 her occupation was stated as milliner and 1891 as a retired milliner so presumably she had a flair for it, perhaps inherited from her shoemaker father, and maybe he got her started off with his local connections.

Photo of the Foundry Lane well.

Foundry Lane Well, Street-an-Nowan, Newlyn in 2015

Her mother Alice died in 1845, aged only 52, and by March 1851 Grace, sisters Patience and Elizabeth were still at home with father William. By 1861 Grace was was still living in Street-An-Nowan in Foundry Lane looking after her father, who was by then 73, and working as a dressmaker. Patience had married Thomas Tremethick in 1853 but was also living in Foundry Lane.

The 13 households of Foundry Lane – and others round-about, would have been served by the well at the top of the Lane (the semi-circle which can be seen in the top photo). Grace and her neighbours would have wound the handle to bring up the bucket.  This was in use until the early 1900s at which point the well was closed and a standpipe was connected, followed two years later by the addition of a tap. Users would still however had to carry the containers by hand back to their homes.  The pipe will still in use in the 1930s.

William died in 1869 and was buried in Paul Cemetery on 19 December.

Photo of Newlyn streets

Chapel Street and Orchard Place, Street-an-Nowan, Newlyn

In 1844 Grace’s younger sister Alice, 5 years younger than Grace, had married Mousehole man Bernard Victor and in 1846 their daughter Mary was born. Mary married a Newlyn naval carpenter called Edward Kelynack in 1867.

By 1871 they had a daughter Mary and a baby son Edward and Mary was staying in Newlyn; Grace was lodging with Mary (her great-niece) in Chapel Street, literally a minute away from Foundry Lane, while Edward was away at sea in the East Indies.

By April 1881 Grace had moved considerably further than a minute’s walk from home, she’d moved to Martin Street, Stoke Damerel [Plymouth] in Devon. Mary was living there with Mary Jnr and Edward Jnr; once again father Edward was away, this time in Gibraltar.

Grace and Mary were still in Martin Street in 1891, although Mary Jnr had flown the nest and married Army Schoolmaster John Pearce in 1888. Edward was still living at home and working as a newspaper reporter; the household now included youngest child Lorina, born in summer 1883.

Tragedy struck their family c February 1901 when oldest daughter Mary Pearce died after a long illness.

By 31 March 1901 Edward Snr had retired as the Royal Navy’s Chief Carpenter and was living at home with Mary, Edward Jnr, Lorina and Grace. Their household also included their grand-daughter Beatrice Pearce who had not long lost her mother.

Edward Snr died in summer 1904 aged 63; he was living in Trelawny Road, Plymouth at the time.

Grace died the following year, in late 1905, in the Stoke Damerel area at the grand old age of 85. I hope that she was buried in one of her own bonnets.

© Lynne Black, 20 September 2015
First published:

Mary Wright Victor: Royal Navy Chief Carpenter’s wife, Plymouth

In the summer of 1846 Mary Wright Victor was born in the small Cornish fishing village of Mousehole. She was the second child and oldest daughter of fisherman Bernard Victor and his wife Alice nee Rowe.

Photo of a cobbled street in Newlyn

Cobbled street in Street-An-Nowan area of Newlyn

In September 1867, when she was 21, she married a Newlyn man five years her senior called Edward Albert Kelynack in St Peter’s Church, Newlyn.  Edward was the son of a fisherman but was himself a carpenter; he turned out to be a very good one. He had joined the Royal Navy and by the time he was 20 in 1861 was away serving on the Algiers, a 91-gun ship under the command of George O’Callaghan. It looks like the Algiers was in Corfu although the census reads what looks like ‘Corfu Road’.

Their first child, Mary, was born in 1869 in Devonport [Plymouth] but their second child, son Edward, was born in spring 1870 back in Newlyn so perhaps father Edward was away at sea.

In April 1871 Edward was away at sea in the East Indies, this time working as a Carpenter 2nd Class on the Dryad sloop. The Dryad is reported to have caught five slave dhows in 1869 and was in the East Indies in 1870. The ship is recorded as being in Devonport in 1879,

In 1871 Mary’s unmarried Aunt Grace was staying with her in the Street-An-Nowan area of Newlyn, perhaps for company and support for Mary as a new mum. I’d be interested to know if Edward had been home for the 8 years in-between 1871 and 1879, otherwise it sounds like a really long posting, no wonder she wanted a companion.

Devonport, Stoke Damerel, 1892, from NLS collection

Map of Devonport, Stoke Damerel, 1892, from National Library of Scotland collection OS Six-inch England and Wales, 1842-1952

The 1881 census also finds him overseas, this time in Gibraltar on the iron-clad ship the Agincourt, Channel Squadron, as a carpenter. Mary was living with her two children in Devonport; they were living at 7 Martin Terrace which I think would be in this area shown on this c1892 National Library of Scotland map.  Again I find Aunt Grace staying with her, marked as a visitor, so hopefully Grace and Mary were close and got on well.

Edward must have been home in 1882 as their third and final child Lorina was born in summer 1883.

In April 1888 her 19-year-old older daughter Mary married an army schoolmaster called John Frederick Pearce in St James Parish Church, Devonport.  Their son Harold was born the following year. By November 1890 John had been posted to Scotland: South Leith (by Edinburgh), at Pirshill Barracks, ‘Jock’s Lodge’, again as an Army Schoolmaster. Their daughter Beatrice Sylvia was born on the morning of 18 November and registered on 1 December in South Leith by her father; he had also been present at their daughter’s birth. I suspect they may have used her middle name and known her as Sylvia as that’s how she’s listed in 1891 on the census at the barracks. Sylvia (as she was referred to in 1891 census) wasn’t baptised up in Leith, she was baptised in 1892 back in Devonport.

In 1891 Edward is again away at sea, and this time Mary, still down in Devonport, proudly describes him as Chief Carpenter, Royal Navy. Their son Edward was working locally as a newspaper reporter.

HMS Camperdown, pictured after 1883 collision with HMS Victoria, picture from Wikipedia

HMS Camperdown, pictured after 1893 collision with HMS Victoria, picture from Wikipedia

In June 1893 Edward Snr was serving on the flagship of the Channel Squadron: the Camperdown [boat spec here].  They were near Tripoli in the Lebanon but “Following an order by the admiral to carry out a dangerous and near impossible manoeuvre, taking into account the positions of the vessels” according to this ship index web page, it collided with HMS Victoria during manoeuvres which then sank with the loss of 358 men [see painting of the collision here]. No doubt Edward was extremely busy doing emergency repairs as the ship limped into port.

This was one of many experiences he had while Mary was home in Devon; others included a long spell in Vancouver and time on the east African coast, notably Natal “where he was favoured, at Natal, with the friendship of the late Bishop Colenso” [reported in The Cornishman].

At some point in the 1890s daughter Mary became ill; she died in early 1901 back in Devonport.

By March 1901 Edward had retired as Chief Carpenter and he was home in Devonport with Mary Snr, Edward and Lorina, still in Martin Terrace.  By then their son Edward was working as a political registration agent. The household also included their grand-daughter Beatrice.  I’d feared her brother may have died as he was not listed but I tracked him down in Rathmines, Dublin, where he was living with his father.

The following year widowed son-in-law John remarried back in Plymouth, his bride was Emma Cockram, another Devonport-born woman.

Edward Albert Kelnyak died on 23 April 1904 at the age of 63.

His obituary in the Cornishman newspaper refers to a fascinating career:

“Death of Mr E. A. Kelynack, of Plymouth.

On Saturday, less than a week after his brother’s decease, Mr. E. A. Kelynack died at his residence, at Trelawny Road, Plymouth.  Deceased was sixty-three years of age.  He had served a long period in the Royal Navy as carpenter, attaining to the rank of chief carpenter, and retiring with the rank of hon. Lieutenant.

Mr. Kelynack had seen a good deal of this world as a naval man.  He served commissions on the East African coast, where he was favoured, at Natal, with the friendship of the late Bishop Colenso.  He was in charge of the shipwright department of Vancouver dockyard for several years.  He had also served on the Northumberland in the Channel squadron, and was on the Camperdown in the fatal collision with the Victoria.  Mr. Kelynack was a very genial man, and had a large number of friends at Devonport, Plymouth, and Newlyn.  In politics he was a Conservative, and was an active worker for the cause in Devonport.  He leaves a widow, one son and daughter, unmarried,  Within recent years his eldest daughter, married, died after a long illness.  Mrs. Kelynack the widow, is from Mousehole, and was a Miss Victor before her marriage.’”

Mary had further sadness when her aunt and long-time companion Grace died in late 1905, still in Devonport.

In 1906 Edward married Eva Cheyne nee Beachey; by 1911 the were living in Paignton, Devon.

In April 1911 Mary was living alone in Plymouth and described herself as ‘housekeeper, formerly’.

I can’t find Lorina in the 1911 census; the only info I have about her after 1901 is from a news story in the Western Morning News in 1934 (via the British Newspaper Archive) which reported that she was trying to sort out an insurance policy for a man called Alfred Beckett with whom she’d been living as his wife in St Just-in-Roseland, near Truro in Cornwall.

I don’t know where Mary ended her days, but I found a reference to the death of a Mary Kelynack in 1834, in The Cornishman.

© Lynne Black, 31 August 2015
First published: