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
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