Category Archives: fisherman

Richard R Jaco, Catherine Richards, Job and the hapless Clifton Grove

Richard Richards Jaco [spellings vary] was the youngest of the 8 known children of Peter Jacka and his wife Catherine Noell Kelynack, a fishing family living in Newlyn, Paul parish, Cornwall.  He was baptised on 1st December 1830 in the first year of the reign of King William IV.  Like his father he became a fisherman.

Although the youngest of 8 brothers and sisters – Peter, Benjamin, Jane, Honor, William, Charles Kelynack and Matilda – Peter and Benjamin would have been away often in the merchant service, and his sister Jane had married and moved away to St Just when Richard was just three years old, so there wouldn’t often have been 10 people in the house.

paulchurchsep16w

Paul Parish Church

His future bride was Catherine Richards whom he would have seen round the village all his life, and they married at Paul Parish Church on 16 April 1850 when he was 19 and she 18 [assuming they were baptised soon after their births]. She must have been quite far gone, as by late summer they were parents of their first child, Richard Richards Jacka, handily named after both his parents. Dad Richard was perhaps at sea on 30 March 1851 when the census was taken as Catherine was staying with her son at her mother’s house in the Fradgan street in Street-An-Nowan [the lower part of Newlyn]. Sadly baby Richard died in infancy.

Their second child was baptised on 5 September 1852, another Richard Richards Jacka, and followed by Susan, baptised on 6 April 1855.  Sadly Susan died in infancy too, in November 1857.  Charles was born c 1857 and baptised on 31 October 1858, and fifth and final known child Job was born in early 1860 and baptised on 17 October 1860.

Richard’s father Peter Jacko had died in 1851, living in the Fradgan, and his mother Catherine in 1856. His brother Charles had emigrated to Australia c 1853.

newlyn-fradyen1

The Fradgan, Newlyn

The 7 April 1861 census finds Richard and Catherine, with sons Richard, Charles and Job, living in the Fradgan still,  which was almost entirely fishermen’s families, with a couple of carpenters/ shipwrights and dressmakers living there too; this included his married sister Honor and her fisherman husband Samuel Plomer before they moved up round the corner to Chapel Street. His brother William and his wife Grace lived two minutes away in Foundry Lane

In December 1864 there was more grief for Richard and Catherine when oldest surviving son Richard Richards died.  Catherine herself died five months later, in May 1865, aged only 33.

In April 1871 Richard and his two surviving sons Charles and Job were living in Upper Fradgan still, although Job was recorded as John. Charles, aged 14, was working as a labourer but this is the last record I can find for him.  Richard died in 1874, aged 43.

In 1881 Job was still living in the Fradgan, living with his Uncle John and Aunt Mary Richards and was working, aged 19, as a fisherman.  However soon after that he must have joined the Merchant Navy. On January 1884 he joined the crew of the coasting ship SS Clifton Grove.

In December 1885 the crew, including Job, appeared in court in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, for not paying duty on foreign tobacco which they had bought for themselves in London; the tobacco was confiscated from the men, no penalty inflicted, and they were set at liberty.  Job was in possession of only 4oz[1].

I lost track of Job after that, although if he stayed on the Clifton Grove I saw it mentioned a few times as it seemed to literally get in a lot of scrapes.

The Shields Daily Gazette of 09 August 1887 reported that en route from Llanelly [maybe via Newport] to Rochester with coals she arrived in Portland where she needed condenser and air pump repairs[2].

Late on the evening of 23 August 1887 the Clifton Grove was involved in a fatal collision on the River Avon with a stone-carrying barge called the Sarah Ann near the Port and Pier Railway Station; one of the barge men was drowned.[3][4]

27 July 1888 the SS Clifton Grove grounded on the flat of the Eish Strand and their re-float was ‘assisted’ by salvagers – whose authority to do this was hotly contested – and who were awarded £2 in Falmouth Borough Police Court in fees to be shared amongst them rather than the salvage fees they claimed of £200[5].

The year after that, in September 1889, she grounded in Trouville [Normandy, France] but was docked and found undamaged[6].

On 21 February 1891 it was reported about the SS Clifton Grove that on Thursday [12th February] “A Dangerous Reef in the Solway – The master of the SS Clifton Grove, bound from Llanelly to Workington, reports that whilst proceeding up the Solway Firth on Thursday morning at seven o’clock, engines dead slow, tide six hours ebb, his vessel suddenly took the ground on Mossbay Bank, a dangerous ridge of rocks running north and south of the Firth for a considerable distance, and remained stranded one hour and a half, the vessel making a quantity of water. This reef is very dangerous and misleading to mariners; more especially on very high spring tides, when the tide ebbs for a considerable distance, thereby leaving very little water on the ridge. It is suggested that a buoy should be fixed to indicate the position of the reef, which should also be marked on the chart with the correct soundings at high and low water during spring and neap tides.” [7]

On 27 and 28 February the Board of Trade held an inquiry “into the circumstances attending the stranding of the British Steamship “CLIFTON GROVE,” of Bristol, on or near Moss Bay Patch, near Workington, on or about the 12th February 1891.” And found “the stranding was caused by the negligent navigation of Mr. Edward Morgans, the master of the “Clifton Grove,” in that he allowed the vessel to proceed in thick weather in close proximity to the land without taking proper means to ascertain from time to time the exact position of the vessel, by taking soundings and by verifying the distance she had run. The Court finds the master in default, and suspend his certificate, No. 97,914, for six calendar months from this date. The Court also finds the managing owner, Mr. W. H. Butler, to blame, for the undermanning of the ship.”[8]

In October 1895 it was reported that the “Clifton Grove of Bristol, bound for Chatham with a cargo of coals has been detained in the entrance channel in consequence of something having gone wrong with the propeller. The steamer dried on the mud, effected repairs and proceeded to her destination on yesterday morning’s tide.” [9]

Despite searching several sites I have no idea where Job ended up, but I hope he had more luck than the SS Clifton Grove.

Words and photos © Lynne Black
First published 17 April 2017 at https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/richard-r-jaco/

[1] Gloucester Citizen 11 December 1885, P4, BNA via FMP http://search.findmypast.co.uk/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0000325%2f18851211%2f018

[2] The Shields Daily Gazette 09 August 1887, P4, BNA via FMP http://search.findmypast.co.uk/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0000287%2f18870809%2f058

[3] Cardiff Times 27 August 1887, P5, BNA via FMP: http://search.findmypast.co.uk/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0000921%2f18870827%2f086

[4] Western Daily Press 24 August 1887, P5, BNA via FMP: http://search.findmypast.co.uk/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0000264%2f18870824%2f019

[5] Cornishman 09 August 1888, P5, BNA via FMP http://search.findmypast.co.uk/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0000331%2f18880809%2f052

[6] Shields Daily Gazette 26 September 1889, P4, BNA via FMP http://search.findmypast.co.uk/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0000287%2f18890926%2f035

[7] Carlisle Express and Examiner 21 February 1891, P5, BNA via FMP: http://search.findmypast.co.uk/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0001875%2f18910221%2f083

[8] Wreck Report for Clifton Grove, PortCities, http://www.plimsoll.org/resources/SCCLibraries/WreckReports/15967.asp?view=text

[9] South Wales Daily News 12 October 1895 , P7, BNA via FMP: http://search.findmypast.co.uk/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0000919%2f18951012%2f160

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#52Ancestors #33 Margaret Muir McVicar, from farm to fish

1881 Census extract, Archibald and Peggy McVicar

1881 Census extract, Archibald and Peggy McVicar

Margaret ‘Peggy’ Muir was born in 1813 in the Glassary parish of Argyll, to farmer John Muir and his wife Mary McVane/Bain.  Peggy was the fifth out of six known children, although John and Mary’s oldest child was also called Margret so I suspect died young.

Mary has been hard to confirm as her surname seems to meandered from McVane to Bain over the years.  The family spoke Gaelic as their first language. Perhaps her Gaelic accent confused the census enumerators – and years later her family when they identified her on official documents – or possibly it was a deliberate attempt to move from one pronunciation to another.  But I am confident that Mary McVane and Mary Bain are one and the same person.

Peggy’s next 20 years are rather empty in my records but I do know that she had married a fisherman called Archibald McVicar by 1838 and they were living together in Kames, on the shores of Lochgair. If she was known as Peggy I suspect he wouldn’t have been known all the time as ‘Archibald’ but possibly Archie, but it seems a bit cheeky to just assume that!

Together they also had six children: Niven ‘Sandy’, John, Jean, Peter, Mary and Archibald. There were many Muirs and McVicars in the immediate neighbourhood – with everyone related and/or knowing each other’s business it must have been hard for their kids to get away with any anonymous mischief.

The 1851 census entry confused me for a while – Peggy was living at home as usual and marked as married.  So where was Archibald?  I think I may have finally tracked him down (via Genes Reunited) miles away – he was at Torosay, Mull, Scotland: Cod or Ling Fisher, Fishing Station Smack Kelly Lochgan.  Not at all sure what that entry means – is a smack a type of boat or a place? Was the Kelly Lochgan a deep or shallow water craft? And how do I find out more about the boat and its owners?  I’ve tried searching but haven’t yet been able to find answers to that one so advice welcomed.

52ancestorsAt the time of the 1861 census they were both at home in Point House [the Castle] Lochgair; and again for the 1871 census.

In 1874 their daughter Mary, a domestic servant, married gardener John McKellar in the parish and moved away to Peebles.  Mary had a little boy called John in c1878, but then was widowed and they had moved back with her parents again by 1881. They were all living in the Castle at Point of Lochgair at that time; only two rooms had windows.

Peggy died of old age, aged 70, on 25 May 1884 in Lochgair. It was her brother Peter who registered her death which occurred after 2 days of weakness so perhaps Archibald was away at sea again.  Or perhaps he was grief stricken after losing his wife of almost 50 years so Peter offered.  Archibald died 5 years later, on 19 June 1889 of a stroke.  He was 78.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 17 August 2014
First published: https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/margaret-muir/

#52Ancestors #32 Sandy McVicar, fishing off the shores of Loch Fyne

Report of the 'Late Hurricane in the Glasgow Herald on 13 March 1846 British Newspaper Archive

Report of ‘The Late Hurricane’ in the Glasgow Herald on 13 March 1846 © British Newspaper Archive

Niven ‘Sandy’ McVicar, my husband’s great-great-grandfather , was born in Kames, Lochgair, to Archibald McVicar and Margaret Muir on 23 March 1838.

I found this report of a hurricane in the British Newspaper Archive.  When he was just 8 years old, a terrible storm hit the west of Scotland, uprooting trees and damaging buildings, including part of the spire of St Andrews Church in Glasgow.  In just-round-the-headland Ardrishaig it was particularly severe, with one poor boy having to be treated by leeches to help him recover from a head wound(!) so it must have been terrifying for the McVicar family, right on the shore. [I believe the Kames Bay the story refers to is a different one, on Bute.]

His future wife Jane was born on 11 December 1841 and christened on 19 January 1842.  She was born in Taysiloan, North Knapdale and her parents were Donald Dewar and Janet MacCallum.

Kames Bay, Argyll

Kames Bay, North Knapdale, Argyll

Sandy and Jane married at Bridgend, Glassery, on 18 January 1870 when he was a 30-year-old fisherman.   She was working as a domestic maid, and was living in Dunamuck.

Like his father Sandy worked as a fisherman in the tiny fishing community of West Kames.  They had a private house with one room with a window.  His father was nearby at the castle at the Point of Lochgair, and there were many other McVicar families in East, and West Kames.

'The Castle' - Point House, Kames, Lochgair

‘The Castle’ – Point House, Kames, Lochgair

They had nine children:  Janet, Margaret, Jane, Sarah, Archibald, Christina, Mary, John and Peter. By 1881 they had five schoolchildren at home.

In 1891 their second daughter Margaret and her baby daughter Elizabeth were living with them; Margaret was working as a general domestic servant.

In 1902 Sandy was still fishing, but very soon after that life as a fisherman must finally have proved too hard or unpredictable, for he started working as a road surfaceman, possibly for the Council.

52ancestorsSandy died on 13 December 1905 from a bowel problem at home at East Kames.  After Sandy died, Jane moved through to Greenock, possibly to be near their daughter Christina, and lived at 12 Chalmers Street, where she died of old age on 6 January 1926. I’m going to have to wait 7 years to find out where she was in 1921.  In the 1911 census I have an entry for a Janet McVicar of the correct age in an asylum in Lochgilphead, but there are discrepancies in her name and the maiden surname provided so I suspect it may not be Janet. Something still to track down.

© Text and photos copyright Lynne Black 11 August 2014
First published: https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/sandy-mcvicar/