Category Archives: Plymouth

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


Photo of boat entering Newlyn Harbour

Patience Daniel Rowe later Tremethick, 1830-1908

Patience, the daughter of shoemaker William Rowe and his wife Alice nee Daniel, was baptised on 15 March 1830 in Paul Parish Church, Cornwall, a few months before the death of King George IV, the former Prince Regent and builder of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton.

She was the seventh of their nine children, and spent her childhood in the Street-An-Nowan area of the Cornish fishing village Newlyn.

Photo of Foundry Lane, Newlyn

Foundry Lane, Street-an-Nowan, Newlyn

Her mother died in 1845 when Patience was only 14.  By 30 March 1851 she was living with her widowed cordwainer father and her two sisters in Foundry Lane, Street-An-Nowan. Her older sister Grace was a bonnet maker and Patience must have also been good with her fingers as later in life she became a seamstress; younger sister Elizabeth had no profession recorded.

Patience married a fisherman named Thomas Tremethick in January 1853 and the following year they had the first of their ten children, Joseph.

After their marriage they too lived in Foundry Lane. Soon after Joseph they had James and Grace, Thomas and Annie so within 7 years [by the April 1861 census] they had five children. Never a dull moment but a lot of sleepless nights?

Photo of Trinity Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Newlyn

Trinity Wesleyan Methodist Chapel with hall, Newlyn, Cornwall

Patience and Thomas’ first four children had been baptised in Paul Church, up on the hill above Newlyn, but Annie was baptised in the Trinity Wesleyan Methodist Chapel just 2 minutes walk up from Foundry Lane in Street-An-Nowan.

On 25 September 1862 their next child, son John, was born and was baptised a Methodist the following month again at Trinity.  Albania was born on 19 May 1865 and she too was baptised at Trinity, two months later.

However when Samuel was born in spring 1867 the family chose St Peter’s Church, Newlyn, for his baptism that May.

In December 1869 her father died, he was still living in the Foundry Lane.  By April 1871 the family were living a minute away in Chapel Street Road, still in Street-An-Nowan.

Patience and Thomas’ sixth son and ninth child William Rowe Tremethick was born c August 1870 and was baptised that September, again in St Peter’s Church, Newlyn. On 6 March 1872 her last child, daughter Patience, was born in Newlyn but for Patience’s baptism the family returned to the Trinity Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. I wonder why this ‘church-hopping’?  Maybe they didn’t like one of the ministers…

Patience Jnr was to be their last child, for in February 1878 Thomas died and was buried on 27 February in Paul Cemetery.

The first of their children to marry was Grace who married James Richards in St Peter’s Church, Newlyn on 8 Sep 1880. James was a Royal Navy Quartermaster who had been born in Newlyn but spent part of his youth on the Isles of Scilly.

Photo of Florence Place, Newlyn

Florence Place, Newlyn

By April 1881 Patience had moved to what was technically the next parish (Madron) although the house was actually only 5 minutes walk away. She had six of her children living with her, four of whom were bringing in a wage, and was herself working as a ‘steampstress’. Joe (25) was employed by the Great Western Railway, John (18) was a printer and Albania (15) and Samuel (13) were grocer’s assistants. Annie (20) and William (10), a scholar, were also living at home.

By then Patience’s second child James was working as as a domestic groom at Charleton Rectory, Devon. Oldest daughter Grace was married and living in Devonport, Devon and youngest daughter Patience (aged 9) was away visiting her sister Grace on that night in April 1881.  I suspect 23-year old Thomas was a sailor away at sea but haven’t tracked down that record yet.

That summer her daughter Annie married William Crask, a widowed Norfolk-born light-house keeper who was living locally.

In spring 1882 Patience became a grandmother when Grace and James Richards had their first son, Albert Morris Tremethick Richards; sadly the baby only lived about a year, dying in spring 1883.

In April 1883 oldest son Joe married Bessie in Devonport.  In January 1884 Patience again became a grandmother when Joe and Bessie had their first child, daughter Ethel, far away in Aston [now Birmingham], Warwickshire, where Joe’s job with GWR had taken him.  They also had their son, Percy, there in 1887.

Around May 1885 James married Kate Edwards in Kingsbridge.  Between 1890 and 1898 they had five children there: John (1890), Patience (1892) Margaret (1895), William (1896) and Lena (1898).

Tragedy struct the family in November 1885 when Patience’s sixth child John died aged 28; he was buried in Paul Cemetery.

On 16 May 1887 her sailor son Thomas married Mary Badcock in St Mary’s Church, Penzance, with his younger sister Albania as witness.  That July Thomas’ oldest sister Grace Richards had her second son, Stanley, still in Devonport.  She and James had three further children there: Mabel (c1889), Gladys (1890)and Wilbert J (c1898).

In April 1888 Patience’s daughter Annie Crask died, aged 28, and was buried in Paul Cemetery like her younger brother John.  Also that year her eighth child Samuel emigrated to Australia and as far as I’m aware stayed there all his life.

In spring 1889 her youngest daughter and namesake Patience died.  She was aged only 17.

In April 1891 Patience was living on her own means in St James Street, Penzance, Albania was living with her and working as an assistant in a boot warehouse. They had taken a milliner called Annie as a lodger.

They were the only two family members left locally.  At that time her son William was living in Camberwell, London, and working as a compositor; perhaps he had moved away from Newlyn after the death of his older brother John, also a printer. Joe was living in Warwickshire and James in Kingsbridge, with Grace and also Thomas’ wife Mary in the Plymouth area (Thomas was away on board the Himalaya for that census), and Samuel was in Australia, where it appears he married later that year.

In early 1894 Albania married Seth Lemmon who lived in the next street with his sister and worked as a draper’s assistant. The following year she gave birth to twins, but while Harold survived baby Arthur died at or soon after birth.

In 1900 it appears that Samuel got re-married to a lady called Margaret Lewis in Australia and that they travelled round in south-east Australia, having their children: a daughter and five sons – including an Albania, a Thomas Rowe and an Arthur Harold.


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

By 1901 Patience and Albania were themselves found in Plymouth, with Seth named as head of the household and 5-year-old Harold with them.  Although I can’t check whether Patience was living there or visiting, as she was 76 I suspect she would have been living close to her family as three of her surviving children: Grace and James Richards, Thomas (when not at sea) and Mary Tremethick, and of course Albania and Seth Lemmon, were now living in and around Plymouth.  James and Kate were also in Devon (Kingsbridge). At some point in the 1900s Joe and Bessie also moved back to Devon (to Exeter and later Colebrook) – although at the time of the 1901 census they were living in Oxford.

In addition her older sister Grace D Rowe and also many nephews and nieces from the Victor and Rowe branches of the Rowe family were living close by, moved up from Newlyn and Mousehole.  Patience was also still in touch with retired lighthouse keeper William Crask, her daughter Annie‘s widower, and he was also listed in Albania and Seth’s household on the night of the 1901 census.

In 1902 Albania and Seth had another son, who they again named Arthur.

There was sad news in 1905 when her coachman son James died and was buried in Kingsbridge, leaving Kate with her three surviving children John, Patience and Lena.

Patience died in summer 1908 in Plymouth, three years after her older sister milliner Grace D Rowe who also died in Plymouth.

© Lynne Black, 31 December 2015
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:

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

Photo of Mousehole Harbour at low tide

Mousehole Harbour at low tide

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

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

Photo of Plymouth Hoe by Robert Pitman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In late 1902, second daughter Eliza married James Edwards.

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

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

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

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

Photo of Elizabeth, NJ, USA

Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA by Ron Coleman

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

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

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

Naval discharge notes for John Victor, 1911

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Lynne Black, 27 September 2015
First published:

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

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

Photo of a cobbled street in Newlyn

Cobbled street in Street-An-Nowan area of Newlyn

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

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

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

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

Devonport, Stoke Damerel, 1892, from NLS collection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Lynne Black, 31 August 2015
First published:

#52Ancestors #26 James E Glover, Customs Man AKA Grandad

Jim Glover, Penzance Magpies AFC, 1938

Jim Glover, Penzance Magpies AFC, 1936

James ‘Jim’ Glover, my grandfather, was a Customs man. He was born in 1909 and grew up in Cattedown, Plymouth, Devon.  The second of the five children of Henry Alfred Glover and Florence Selina Dolton, he joined the Navy in his teens.  He was in the last group of men who trained on HMS Impregnable, the navy training ship and was promoted to be a writer on HMS Lucia fairly quickly. By 1931 he was working in Newlyn, Cornwall, as a Customs Officer.  There he met my grandmother, Mary Jelbert.

One year they went to the Helston Furry Dance with friends, and they saw a man with a stall selling cheap stockings – roll up, roll up!

London Man's Adventure, The Cornishman, 31 August 1939, from the BNA

London Man’s Adventure, The Cornishman, 31 August 1939, from the BNA

They bought a couple of packs, but when they opened them in the pub later they fell about laughing when they found their bargain stockings were full of holes. Grandad, however, was not impressed. What, he said, if an old lady had bought them to save her money and then found she’d been ripped off?  So they all headed back to the stall where Grandad stood at the back of the crowd, waving the holey stockings, shouting “Got any more of these mate?”  The trader was not happy, tried to shush Grandad and gave them their money back; he made a lot fewer sales that day…

That same day Granny paid for something and the seller counted accurately the change into his own hand then tipped it into Granny’s hand. Grandad, sharp-eyed customs man, immediately slapped the back of the seller’s hand and said “That one too!” and the final coin fell out from where the hawker had carefully slipped it between his fingers.

Grandad had a tattoo on his arm.  Once I asked him what it said and they both laughed; Granny said it was the name of ‘a bit of stuff’ he knew before her so he had scribbled it out.  They married in Newlyn and lived together for his work at various times in Plymouth, Grimsby , Poole and Newlyn.  Together they had three children.

Mary and James Glover with grand-daughter Lynne

Mary and James Glover with grand-daughter Lynne

Grandad was a keen sportsman, growing up in a sports-mad family.  He played football for various Cornish teams, and captained Penzance Magpies when they won the Penzance & District Charity Cup in 1938.  I found many match reports of his game in the Cornishman for that period in the British Newspaper Archive.  Sport is big in Cornwall!  All his life he would walk for miles a day, with his dogs Rusty, Bosun and Skipper.

When we used to visit when we were kids, Grandad would take my brother and I down to the beach in the mornings to play on the sand, or the rocks depending on the tide, to let Mum and Dad have a lie-in. In the evenings we liked it when he would take us down to the harbour and we would try to guess the registration ports of the fishing boats moored in Newlyn Harbour, sometimes four deep.  FY Fowey!  SS St Ives! GY – er Grimsby?  Yeah!

52 ancestors logoGrandad died in 1997 in Newlyn, Cornwall, leaving Mary, 3 children, 7 grand-children and 3 grand-dogs.

© Text and photos copyright Lynne Black, 25 June 2014

#52Ancestors #25: Henry Alfred Glover, docker and amateur vet

Henry Glover, census entry

Henry Glover, census entry

My Great-grandfather, Henry Glover, was born in April 1887 in Plymouth, Devon.  His father Walter Glover was a mason and his mother Emily Keast Glover was a housewife. Both had been married to other people before so in addition to his nine brothers and sisters he knew two half-brothers from Emily’s previous marriages.

He married Florence Selina Dolton in 1908 and they had five children of their own: Bill, Jim, Bertha, Walt and Harry.

When he was younger Henry worked as a horse driver in the draper industry, but later he worked as a docker.  He lost his job in 1925 with the fall of the ‘Geddes Axe‘ [Government cuts], but later found work again.  However, this was a mixed blessing as he was injured in an accident at the docks.

52 ancestors logoHenry had a reputation as an amateur vet so people would ask his advice about their animals.  The family bred racing dogs which needed a considerable number of long walks but the only dog allowed in the house was a lurcher called Toby.  They also had a cat called Smokey Joe – whenever the children stroked this bad-tempered cat their hands would come away filthy.

The family also had rabbits and pigeons.  Henry was the secretary of the local pigeon club and he had a special clock which worked off the pigeons race number for clocking the flying time of each pigeon  for races. Henry was also skilled at mending clocks and would fix other people’s clocks for them when they stopped working.

Their children were also keen sports fans, with success in boxing and in football.  He also encouraged their participation in the Scouting movement, a lifelong love for his youngest son Harry.

Grave of Henry A Glover and Florence S Dolton Glover, Efford Cemetery, Plymouth

Grave of Henry A Glover and Florence S Dolton Glover, Efford Cemetery, Plymouth

Other passions of the family were the Co-operative Movement and politics, and they hosted Lady Nancy Astor’s 1929 re-election campaign from their living room [see Fuelling Nancy].

Henry died in March 1949 and is buried in Efford Cemetary, Pymouth, with Florence.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 18 June 2014

#52Ancestors #22 – Mary Ann Tope, Mariner’s wife

Cullumpton Church c Google Maps

Cullumpton Church c Google Maps

Mary Ann Tope is my great-great-great-grandmother. Born in Cullumpton, Devon in 1844 to stone quarryman John Tope and Jane Courson, she was the second of their five children and grew up around Oreston, Plympton St Mary near (what’s now) Plymouth, Devon.

Before her marriage Mary Ann was living in Langdon and working as a general servant on John Coombe’s farm which employed 16 men and 3 boys.  I think this may be near Wembury village but advice welcomed!

She met Samuel Preece, a mariner from Somerset, and they had their first child, Bessie Ann, in 1865.  I’m still to actually track down their marriage certificate but I’ve not reason to think they weren’t married; a Mary Jane Tope married in Plymouth c February 1865, so that’s my best lead.

Extract from map of Plymouth, showing the Oreston Breakwater

Extract from map of Plymouth, showing the Oreston Breakwater

They had two more daughters, Sarah Jane (1868), Florence Elizabeth (1870) and sons Chas (1874) and Frank (1875) in Oreston.

I would love to know how Samuel and Mary Ann met.  I suspect it was because he was a sailor and had gone to Plymouth for work.  He wasn’t actually home the night of the 1871 census, maybe away on a ship. [Mary Ann was with the children at Breakwater in Oreston.] Perhaps when I eventually track down their marriage certificate it will show their addresses and professions and give me a clue.

52ancestorsI also have had trouble tracking down their death certificates, they maybe mumbled their words as I’ve seen various spellings of Preece (and indeed Tope) including some too obscure for even the wider search settings.  Maybe they sailed off into the sunset together after completing their 1891 census…

© Text copyright Lynne Black 28 May 2014