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.
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.
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.
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: https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/