Category Archives: Penzance

Cecilia Paynter Stevens, later Alder later Rowe

Cecilia Paynter Stevens is the second wife of my distant cousin John Rowe, she had a family of her own and the two step families seem to have had close ties over the years.


St Ives, by Chris, ScubaBeer, Flickr, Creative Commons

Cecilia had been born in Salcombe, Devon, c1817, the daughter of a Cornish master mariner from St Ives, Cornwall, called Henry Pearce Stevens and his wife Cecilia, who happened to be in Salcombe when Cecilia arrived, her brothers were born home in St Ives.  In the second half of the 1830s Henry moved his family to Swansea, Glamorganshire, where they were living on Mariner’s Row in June 1841.

Cecilia was living with her parents at that time, aged 24. A young man named Samuel Alder, aged 21, a Northumberland mariner’s son working as a carver and gilder, was also living in Swansea with his parents. In January 1842, although still living in Swansea, he and Cecilia called banns in Islington, Middlesex, before marrying in St James’ Church, Swansea. Three months later they emigrated to New Zealand.


Nelson, New Zealand; photo by Phillip Capper, Flickr Creative Commons license

I’ve found information on their life together via Ancestry and FindAGrave to the effect that: On 29 April 1842 the young couple embarked on the Sir John Forbes and after a voyage of 96 days arrived in New Zealand, arriving 23 August 1842.  Together they appear to have had four children in Nelson, New Zealand: Cecilia c1844, James Dees c1845, Sarah who died in infancy in 1846 and Elizabeth  who died in infancy in 1848.

In July 1848 Samuel was working with a plumber called Mr Stallard in Trafalgar Street; together they were advertising in the Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle for an apprentice for their business.

On 9 September 1848, and 21 April 1849 Samuel was one of the many names on a letter published in the Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle campaigning to receive what they perceived as a fairer share of the expenditure paid for by their taxes.

However later in 1849 Samuel became ill and on 30 December 1849 died of consumption [tuberculosis]. Cecilia was pregnant at the time with their fifth child, son Samuel, so at the age of 33 was a widow with three children under the age of 7 and the far side of the world from her family.

It was reported in the Examiner and Chronicle that on 14 May 1851 Cecilia set sail with her young family for Sydney on a brigantine called the Comet.

In don’t know yet how the rest of her journey progressed but by April 1861 she was living in Chapel Street, Penzance, with her parents and three surviving children.


Madron Parish Church by GrassRootsGroundswell, Flickr

On 17 December 1865 Cecilia married her second husband, John Rowe, in Madron parish.   John was recorded as being a stone cutter at that time. In July 1864 John’s daughter Catharine had married a carpenter called George John Miller.  One of her witnesses has the surname Alder so either John and Cecilia were in touch at that point or maybe met at the wedding.

In 1866 her oldest daughter Cecilia, married.  Her groom, James Flett, was a ship’s carpenter who’d been born in Orkney but grew up in Tynemouth, Northumberland. Cecilia had been working as a corset-maker in 1861.  Cecilia and James moved away to live in Tynemouth but in both the 1871 and 1881 census James wasn’t home with her; Celia was visiting local friends in 71 and had her niece staying in 81.

In April 1871 stone mason John and Cecilia were living in Leskinnick Place, Penzance. Making up their household were John’s son John, his young orphan grandchildren Annie and Samuel Tripp and Cecilia’s son James Dees Alder. They also had a boarder to bring in some extra money.

15 August 1874 saw her son James’ marriage to Elizabeth Reynolds in Penzance St Mary’s church. By 1881 they had settled in Chapel Street, Penzance, where they lived together for several decades.  They had their first daughter, Elizabeth ‘Annie’ c1877 and their second Alice Margaret ‘Hettie’ in summer 1880.

In 1875 Cecilia’s son Samuel married Elizabeth Richards Jones, a Welsh woman from Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire.  They became parents c Feb 1877 with the arrival of Mary Berryman Alder. Samuel and  Elizabeth went on to have three more children: Cecilia ‘Cissie’ Flett c May 1879, Fanny Stevens c August 1882 and Samuel James Dees.

Samuel was a mariner and on 4 May 1883 their three daughters were all baptised together in Penzance St John after Fanny’s birth so perhaps he’d been away at sea, or perhaps they’d just never got round to it.  Samuel James Dees was baptised in 1888, again in St John’s church.

John and Cecilia were in living at 11 Taroveor Terrace, Penzance, in April 1881. That evening two Rowe grand-children – 11-year-old Thomas and 9-year-old Sarah, John’s son Thomas and Phyllis’ oldest children – had run along and up the road from Alma Place to see them and were recorded in both households’ census returns.

That night her step-granddaughter Annie Tripp was visiting James and Elizabeth Alder and Annie and Hettie their baby daughters, so links between the step-families seem to have been strong.

The 3 April 1881 census is the last record I have for John and he had died before the 2 April 1891 census.

In 1882 John’s daughter Annie Blewett and family had moved back to Penzance, where they suffered the deaths of several children in infancy, including twins.  In spring 1884 they had another son, who they named James Dees Alder Blewett, after Cecilia’s son, Annie’s step brother, another link between the two families.

In 1886 Cecilia’s oldest daughter Cecilia Flett died in Tynemouth aged approx 42. Her widower James was living with his brother Alexander there in 1901, I think he was the James Flett who died at sea in January 1904.

In 1891 Cecilia herself was living with her son and daughter-in-law James and Elizabeth Alder, and their daughters Annie and Hettie.  She died in early 1894 aged approx 77.

James Dees Alder lived until 1903 when he died and was buried in Penzance Cemetery. His daughter Elizabeth ‘Annie’ Anne married tailor Joseph Pascoe in 1907 and both the newly-weds and younger sister Alice ‘Hettie’ Margaret were still living with James’ widow Elizabeth in 1911. Hettie married a man called Norman and moved to the USA, not necessarily in that order. Elizabeth Alder lived on until January 1937, leaving her money to daughter Elizabeth Pasco. A few months after the funeral her family auctioned off the contents of her house – named “Crewe Nelson” after the birth places of Elizabeth and James – including a walnut cheffonier, bird in case, much mahogany furniture and a mangle. [Info from the BNA collection on FMP.]

Cecilia’s youngest son Samuel Alder died in 1913.  A wonderful family biography on Find-A-Grave tells me that after being widowed Samuel’s wife Elizabeth moved to the United States for six years; I don’t have access to the passenger lists but I suspect if her children Fanny and Sam didn’t travel with her they would have followed soon afterwards as they both married and lived in the US.

Samuel and Elizabeth’s oldest surviving child Cecilia ‘Cissie’ had married a 5’9″ 120lb Newlyn-born mason called Henry James in 1905 and lived in Tolcarne (now part of Newlyn).  He became a sapper in the war but was invalided out in 1918.  They had two boys and two girls together by 1915. By 1939 Henry was a Master Builder, still living in Newlyn.

Samuel’s widow Elizabeth Alder came back to Penzance/Madron in 1919 and died there in 1936.

Thanks to Marj Hickman and Kate Cunningham of the Ancestry UK group on Facebook for their help with Cecilia’s story.

Text © Lynne Black, 15 May 2016;
Sources, Ancestry, FindMyPast, Cornwall OPCs, Find-A-Grave, Flickr
Nelson photo by Phillip Capper on Flickr, Creative Commons license
Madron Parish Church picture by GrassRootsGroundswell on Flickr, Creative Commons license
St Ives photo by Chris, ScubaBeer, Flickr, Creative Commons license
First published:


Alice Rowe, the Workhouse and the Venerable Blacksmith


Penzance Harbour by Liz Pycock, Flickr, Creative Commons

Alice was the fifth child of mason John Rowe and his wife Sarah Sampson, a butcher’s daughter. Born in late 1859 she grew up in Penzance but when she was about seven the family moved, probably for work, to Whitchurch in Pembrokeshire, South Wales.

She was her parents’ fourth daughter and would have grown up in a largely female household with siblings Elizabeth, Catharine, Sarah, Thomas and Annie. After the family moved to Whichurch a new baby was born: John Daniel.

Then scandal hit the family and that same year [1859] 10-year-old Alice would have seen her oldest sister, 19-year-old Elizabeth, have a baby out of wedlock [she later married the baby’s father].  The family moved back to Penzance when Alice was 12 and her mother Sarah is likely to have died c 1863 when Alice would have been aged 12-13.  Her sister Catharine married in 1864 and their father got re-married, to a widow named Cecilia Alder, in December 1865 when she was 16.


Madron Church by grassrootsgroundswell, Flickr

By 1867 her oldest sister Elizabeth was located in Southsea, Hampshire with husband Philip Tripp and their four children. It looks like she may have been staying near Catharine who had her two eldest sons in Portsea, Hampshire, in 1866 and 1868.

Catharine had moved on to Alton by 1870 but Elizabeth was back in Penzance where she died in spring 1870. Her two older children Annie and Samuel moved in with their Rowe grandparents, but for some strange and horrible reason her two infant Tripp nephews left with their father Philip, and when he left for India he left them in Ashley Down Orphanage in North Bristol, Gloucestershire.

So all in all Alice had a pretty eventful home family life with loss and illegitimacy a big part of this.

By late 1870 she herself was pregnant outside of marriage, her baby was christened on 30 June 1871, and named Elizabeth ‘Lily’ for Alice’s late older sister.  Shockingly poor Alice had been living for at least the last three months of her pregnancy in the Union Workhouse, Penzance which housed 400 people had had been built in 1838. I think this especially shocked me as sister Elizabeth had had her illegitimate daughter looked after by grandparents, but perhaps Alice had fallen out with John and Cecilia or maybe  their household was full.

I don’t have information about how long Alice was in the workhouse, but I do know that in in 1873 she was pregnant again, this time with twin boys. They were christened William Henry and Thomas Edwin in 13 January 1874 in Madron Church. I believe their father would have been William Henry Jenkin, a blacksmith from Madron Churchtown. When the twins were born Alice was 24 and William a 54-year-old widower who had a previous family of six with his first wife Elizabeth who had died two decades earlier.  Of the twins, only William survived into adulthood, it appears Thomas died young.


Anvil, by Doctor_Bob

I don’t know how their day-to-day relationship worked, but Alice had another child called Sarah Jane Jenkin Rowe who was baptised in Madron on 7 March 1877 but with no father’s name recorded. However little Sarah had died by early 1878.  Alice would have been pregnant again with Janette Ann who was baptised on 25 July of that year. Janette was followed by Wilfred John who was baptised on 21 August 1879. Again they were baptised in Madron with no father named, again I believe both most have died in infancy.

On 4 April 1880 Alice, pregnant again, and William finally married, in Madron parish church where their children had been baptised.  Their final child, Edgar Nelson Jenkin, was born that summer and was baptised on 25 July 1881.


In 1891 William, Alice, and sons William and Edgar were living in Madron with 17-year-old William working with his father as a blacksmith.

In spring 1900 when  Alice was 50 and William 81 their youngest son Edgar married Beatrice Louise Paul, aged just 18. Within a year he was away, with the 1901 census listing his wife home alone at what looks like the Regent Bakery on Rosevean Place, Penzance.

Their older son Henry married sailor’s daughter Martha Jane Dennis on 6 April 1901 in Madron Church.

Two months later the family had tragic news: Edgar had died in Kronstad, South Africa. This explained why he wasn’t home for the census but was an unexpected location, although it was the time of the Boer war so perhaps he was a soldier, although I haven’t found military records for him.

In late 1902 Edgar’s widow Beatrice re-married; her second husband was Stanley Edyvean and he was a motor engineer. They had six children together, moving away for a time to St Austell [Cornwall], but later they moved away to Warwickshire where Beatrice died in 1860 in Bedworth.

Back in Madron, Henry and Martha had also become parents, although by 1911 only one of their three children, Meryyn, born 1908, had survived infancy. His 60-year-old mother Alice Jenkin nee Rowe, who had outlived all but one of her seven children, died in in late 1910 leaving her 91-year-old widower Henry living with Henry and Martha in 1911.  Old Henry died later that year.

When you hear facts like that about people’s life, often grim, it’s hard to get a sense of the person behind the stats.  Was Henry grim and hated his job?  A family man? Annoying? Obsessive and dull? Or jolly? Or something else entirely?

Well apparently Henry was venerable.  When Henry turned 91 in 1910 it was reported in The Cornishman that

“Mr W H Jenkin, the venerable blacksmith, of Madron, celebrated his 91st birthday on Tuesday.  As usual the respected old gentleman was the recipient of a large number of birthday greetingse [SIC]. Considerably over a hundred picture postcards conveyed happy wishes, whilst others showed their appreciation of the veteran by sending birthday presents as a kindly remembrance, some coming from Australia, Africa, America, and different counties to the home country.  Amongst others who called to shake hands and have a chat were Mrs Robins Bolitho and Mrs Fitzgerald, Rev W B Tremenheere, and Rev Darch. Although over ninety Mr Jenkin converses very freely, clearly remembering incidents of 70 and 80 years ago, and highly amused his callers with some interesting reminiscences of when he was a boy.  Mr Jenkin greatly appreciates all the kindness shown him by so many friends which, he says, makes him fell as if he may yet see the century.”

Well although he didn’t make his century, I’m so happy that Alice may have had good company and a social circle to see her through good times and bad.

Text © Lynne Black, 17 April 2016;
Anvil photo by Doctor_Bob on MorgueFiles,
Penzance Harbour photo by Liz Pycock, Flickr, Creative Commons
Photo of St Madron’s Church, by Grassrootsgroundswell Flickr, Creative Commons license
First published: 17 April 2016:

Anne Sampson Rowe later Blewett, Cornwall, Yorkshire & back again

Annie was born in Penzance, Cornwall, England in early 1852.  However her father John Rowe, a mason, had moved (probably for work) to Pembrokeshire in Wales, by the time she was seven.

She was the sixth of seven children of John and his wife Sarah Sampson, but Sarah is likely to have died while Annie was 9 or 10 as by the time Sarah was 13 her father was remarried (by then back in Penzance) to a widow with three children called Cecilia Paynter Adler. In that decade she saw her two older sisters Elizabeth and Catharine marry and move away, and older brother Thomas marry and settle down locally.

When Annie was 21 she married a Newlyn fisherman called John Pascoe Blewett, on 30 March 1873 in St Mary’s Church, Penzance.  They had their first of their nine children that summer, a son named John Pascoe for his father and grandfather, and he was baptised on 30 September in Penzance, St Paul’s church.  I’ve found no later records for him so he may have died in infancy.

Unexpectedly the two next children I found, William (1878) and Beatrice (1880), were both born in Killamarsh.  At that time the booming Killamarsh was recorded as Yorkshire, but appears now to be in Derbyshire, and it’s on the border between these two counties.

It’s extremely unlikely that John was working as a fisherman in land-locked Killamarsh, although it was on the River Rother, and from 1881 onwards John is described in sources as a labourer or a sawyer.

After Beatrice’s birth the family moved back to Penzance where twins Ethel and Edgar were baptised on 19 August 1882 in St John’s parish.  However they may have been sickly or impoverished, and Edgar died c August 1883 and Ethel in early 1884.  That spring they had another son, his name was James Dees Alder Blewett, named for Annie’s step-brother. Their next child, Sarah Jane, was born on 11 September 1885 but the family were bereaved again when she died the following spring.

During the 1880s and 1890s the family lived at several addresses in Penzance, many close to Penzance harbour, and I think times must have been hard for them.  In April 1891 John was still working as a labourer in a sawmill.


St Mary’s Church, Penzance

On 21 September 1887 Thomas Henry was born, and their final child, Catherine Anne was baptised on 6 December 1889 in St Mary’s Church.

Annie was widowed before the 31 March 1901 census. She was living with her married daughter Beatrice at that time; Annie’s son, grocer’s store boy Thomas and daughter Catherine, aged 9, were also in the household. I can find no confirmed date of her death.

It’s been hard following the lives of their children and I fear that grimly up to 8 of her 9 children may not have survived childhood. The only one I can find who married was Killamarsh-born Beatrice (others may hopefully also have had their own families, I haven’t been able to account for them all).  They were poor so the only records I’m likely to find for them are census, registration and possibly at some point school records.

Beatrice married Archibald Thomas in late 1896 in Penzance, aged 16; he was a fisherman’s son from neighbouring Newlyn. They had a son called John D c1898 and a daughter c1900 whom they called Dorothy T. In 1901 the young family were living in an end-terrace house in 48 Leskinnick Terrace, just five minutes walk down to Penzance Train Station and [at that time] the harbour, with Beatrice’s mother, brother and sister plus two borders living with them.

Their next child Beatrice Annie was born on 8 January 1903, by July 1904 they are living in Churchtown, in adjoining Madron parish and unexpectedly Archibald is working as a miller. I can’t currently find any 1911 census entries for any of them, so hopefully they’re living together in a mill somewhere…

I would love to find out the end of Annie’s and Beatrice’s stories.

Text © Lynne Black, 20 March 2016; Logs image from MorgueFiles
First published:

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:

Four strong Cornishwomen: Portugal, Penzance & Scilly – pt 2 – Rosanna Peychott


Market House and Humphry Davy statue, Penzance by Tim Green

This is Rosanna Peychott’s story; the second part of a 120-year story of Cornishwomen Elizabeth, Rosanna, 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 her ancestors flit between Penzance and the isles of Scilly, but that she had exotic genes from her great-grandfather Bernardo Peyshott.

Rosanna Peychott and William Nance, Emma’s grandparents

Rosanna, born in Penzance c 1822 and half Portuguese, lost her mother Elizabeth Peychott nee Hessell when she was only 14, and her father Bernardo Peyshott, a mariner, is likely to have been away at sea much of the time. In her teens she was working as a tailoress and living near the harbour in Penzance.

NanceWilliamMastersCert1851sigWilliam was a pilot from Higher Town on little St Martin’s island in the Isles of Scilly, his father Matthias Nance was also a pilot, and in later life Matthias farmed 5 acres at the age of 71. William’s grandfather had also lived on St Martins, which in 1851 had 181 inhabitants.

He is likely to have met Rosanna when off island and they married in Madron Church (up above Penzance) on Thursday 2 September 1847.  Their first child, named Matthias for his grandfather, was born in May 1848 but up in St Peter’s parish, Liverpool, which made me quite glad their unusual combination of names had let me search a broad area easily.

They must have moved back to Cornwall soon after as sadly the death of their son is registered in the Penzance area early in 1849.

They went on to have two daughters: Jane (late 1849) and Roseanna (early 1854) both registered in Penzance.  In 1851 Rosanna Snr and Jane were living in Quay Street in what is now Penzance, but William wasn’t home that night.


British Council for Trade stamp on Master’s certificate

It turns out that he was either in, or on his way to, Liverpool where on 31 March 1851 he was presented with his Master’s Certificate of Service, British Coasting and Foreign Trade; Seaman, Mate, Master, in the merchant service in which he’d been for 10 years.

By April 1861 William had moved the family back to St Martin’s and they were living in Higher Town near his father and widowed sister Jane.

On 17 October 1866 William sailed from Liverpool on the SS Olinda as an Able Seaman, a ship of 516 tonnage.  He is reported to be very good in both conduct and his ability in seamanship. The Liverpool and Pernambuco [Brasil] vis Lisbon [Portugal] line had a fleet of four ships which departed every 3 weeks, so presumably he was away about 11 weeks at a time. [Info from advert on FMP’s BNA collection.]

The family were still living in Higher Town in April 1871 and April 1881; the 1881 census indicates they were very near the public house [can’t see one there in the present day]. Rosanna was recorded as a tailoress for both censuses; William had retired as a mariner/boatman by April 1881.  On 8 January 1874 when his daughter Rosanna married his occupation had been recorded as a carpenter so perhaps the sea was too rough to go out at that time, or he was between jobs, and he was making money that way.

Rosanna died in spring 1886 aged about 64; William died in late 1888 aged about 74.


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

Rosanna and William’s older daughter is Jane Nance and I’ll tell her story next.

Text © Lynne Black,  5 March 2016
St Martins sunset by Jeremy Pearson, Flickr, Creative Commons license
Market House & Humphry Davy Statue, Penzance by Tim Green, Flickr, Creative Commons license
First published:

Four Cornishwomen: Portugal, Penzance & Scilly. Pt1: Elizabeth Hessell

This is the 120-year story of a line of four Cornishwomen: Elizabeth, Rosanna, 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 her ancestors flit between Penzance and the isles of Scilly, but that she had exotic genes from her great-grandfather Bernardo Peyshott.

Bernardo Peyshott and Elizabeth Hessell


St Madron’s Church, by Grassrootsgroundswell on Flickr

Elizabeth was born around the time of the French Revolution, c1789 in the reign of King George III and as a teenager would have cheered Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar.

Bernardo was a Portuguese mariner from the city of Porto. Over the decades and generations there have been several spellings of Peyshott, and the most modern one I’ve come across is Peychot.

On 2 November 1811 he and Elizabeth stood together to marry in Madron Parish Church and over the next 12 years they had (at least) 3 daughters and a son in that parish: first of all Amelia who was baptised in February 1814; this was the year before Wellington defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.

Their second child Katharine was baptised in August 1819 and William Henry was born c 1819.  Soon after his birth King George III died and so Rosanna, born c 1822 and baptised in March 1823, grew up in the reign of George IV, the former Prince Regent, after he acceded in January 1820.  By the time oldest daughter Amelia married she had lived in the reigns of four monarchs: George III, George IV, William IV and Victoria.

Victoria, who had considerable German ancestry, married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha on 10 February 1840 in the Chapel Royal of St James’ Palace, London. Half-Portuguese Amelia Peyshott married shoemaker Michael Perryman of Penzance on 16 February 1840 in Madron Parish Church. He was a custom man’s son, and her brother William was a witness at their marriage.

William himself married Mary Richards in Madron Church and became a cordwainer [fine shoemaker]. Mary, a miner’s daughter, was recorded in 1861 as helping in the business. Before their  marriage in 1846 William had been witness both to his sister Amelia’s marriage, and at a further shoemaker’s wedding (probably a friend or workmate). Together William and Mary had four daughters and a son; their son, born in 1856, was named Bernardo Peychot after William’s father.

Grandson Bernardo Jnr, also based in Penzance, was a ship’s carpenter and later shipwright who also drove the tugboat the Merlin. In December 1891 towing the Torbay Lass, full of coal from Penzance, he and the owners were accused of stranding the Torbay Lass on the Cressar rocks between Penzance and neighbouring Marazion. She was floated but then sank in deep water, with wreckage such as canvas and spars washing up in Marazion. Trinity House invited bids for the wreckage (spars etc) of this and also from the Viceroy which had sank off Godrevy Lighthouse to be sold off; tenders were invited by 26 December 1891.  The case went to court in June 1892 with the court finding for the plaintiff.

Bernardo Jnr married Mary Bennetts; their eldest child Mary was the first baby to be baptised in the new font at Penzance St John’s Church, on 17 April 1885. They also had a daughter called Emily Jane the following year.

Elizabeth Peyshott died in 1836 and was buried in Madron Chapelry; I can’t find information about Bernardo’s death, which may even have been back in Portugal.

Thank you…
Thanks to Gwen Attridge of Cornwall Online Parish Clerks for her patient answers to my confused questions this week.

Text © Lynne Black, 3 March 2016
Image of Madron Chapelry from History of Penzance by P.A.S.Pool
Photo of St Madron’s Church, by Grassrootsgroundswell Flickr, Creative Commons license
First published:


Aisle of Paul Church, Cornwall

Thomas Henry Rowe, wherever he went, and Phillis Harry Wright


St Mary’s Church, Penzance

Thomas was the son of a Penzance-based mason called John Rowe and his wife Sarah. Although born for some reason in Devonport, Devon [Plymouth] in early 1848, he spent his infancy in Penzance where he was baptised in Madron, Penzance Chapelry [later St Mary’s Church] at the age of 2.

Thomas’s family moved away before spring 1859 to Lower Solva, Whitchurch, Pembrokeshire in South Wales with his parents, brothers and sisters. Later baby niece Annie joined the household when Thomas was 11. However by the time he was 14 the whole family is likely to have been back in Penzance when his oldest sister Elizabeth, baby Annie’s mother, married the baby’s father there in 1862.

Soon after that Thomas lost three key females in his life. Firstly at around about that time his mother Sarah died.  Secondly on 30 July 1864 his second sister Catharine got married before moving away to Portsea, Hampshire, for a couple of years then on to south Wales. Eldest sister Elizabeth also left Penzance, in 1866, vanishing from his life.  However his father remarried that December.

Thomas married Phillis Harry Wright on 27 April 1968 at the Paul Parish Church (pictured at top).  His bride Phillis was a Mousehole girl, born 8 miles from Land’s End in Cornwall, whose fisherman father and his family lived in Mousehole, Post Office Square. John had his own nets and fished on the Nile fishing boat.

Photo of Mousehole Harbour, Cornwall

Mousehole Harbour, Cornwall

Although their first child, Thomas Henry, was born at the end of 1869 in Mousehole, there are registration records of a birth and infant death of a child also called Thomas Henry Rowe in their area in 1868-1869 so it may be that he was actually their second child.

The family were living in Belgrave Terrace, Penzance, in April 1871, but by 30 September 1873 they had moved to nearby 6 Alma Place, Penzance.  That was the date of the baptism of their next child, daughter Sarah Helena who had been had been born c1872 followed by A Maria c1873. Their final known child, John Wright Rowe was born on 13 December 1876 in Penzance and baptised the following October in Penzance St Mary’s.

That was the last record I can find of their father Thomas’s location.  Although the family were still in Alma Terrace on 3 April 1881 for the census, he was away from home on that date and Phillis is recorded as a mason’s wife, so that would suggest he’s still alive. It looks like that day young Thomas (11) and Sarah (9) went down the hill to visit their grandparents John and Cecilia Rowe as they are recorded at their house too!

Ten years later Phillis was working as a launderess and the family had moved up the hill within Penzance to Caldwells Road.  Living at home with her were 18-year-old Maria who is working as a tailoress and 16-year-old John who was an errand boy.

photo of Paul Church

Paul Church

In 1900 Sarah Helena married in Paul Church, just up the hill from her mother’s childhood home. She had been living in a tiny place called Trungle immediately next to Paul village. Her groom was Harry Burgess, a salesman and later an insurance agent, who’d been born in Sherborne, Dorset.

Strangely on the 2 April 1901, the 7 Leskinnick Terrace [Penzance] census return identifies Sarah H Rowe for the census as living with Phillis, describing Sarah as a single 29-year-old dressmaker.  I think that perhaps the enumerator had incorrectly recorded Sarah by assuming that because she was at home with her mother she was unmarried.

Sarah and Harry had four children together. Phyllis Frances (26 April 1903), a child who was possibly born c 1905 but died before 1911, Marie Doreen in summer 1907 and Dorothy Constance born before 2 February 1910, all in Penzance. The family were living at a different address in Penzance for each of these baptisms. Curiously Phyllis’ baptism was non-conformist whereas everything else in their lives was CoE.

In 1902 her son John Wright Rowe married Emma Payne, who’d grown up on a small island in the Isles of Scilly, her story will follow.  They had their children Doreen in 1903 and George in 1908, both registered in the Penzance area, but seemed to spend some time apart at one point.

In 1911 Phillis was living with Harry and Sarah Burgess and their three daughters in Dominic Street, Penzance, and this was the first time I’d see her described as a widow.

Phillis died in 1937 in the Penzance area. Sarah and her daughter Phyllis Frances were still in Penzance in 1939.

Text and photographs © Lynne Black, 22 February 2016
First published: