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Matilda Jacca, John Ellis Nicholls and the story of Mary Kelynack

Matilda was the sixth of seven children, and the youngest daughter, of fisherman Peter Jacka and his wife Catherine Noall nee Kelynack.  Born c1827, she grew up in the first half of the 19th century in the Cornish fishing village of Newlyn, 9 miles from Land’s End. Her brothers and sisters were Peter, Benjamin, Jane, Honor, William, Charles Kelynack and Richard.

Matilda married in July 1845 when she was 18 and working as a servant; her bridegroom was John Ellis Nicholls, a tailor, and they spoke their vows at Paul Parish Church.

Their first son, Richard, was born early the following year and William Curnow was baptised two years later in January 1847.  Andrew was born c1850.

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The Fradgan, Newlyn, with drain in the middle of the street

In 1851 they were living in the Fradgan in the area of lower Newlyn known as Street-an-Nowan and the street on which Matilda had grown up and on which various family members were still living.

At that point in time Newlyn was in the parish of Paul parish, the main villages in which were Newlyn (both Street-An-Nowan and Newlyn Town), Mousehole and Paul itself. “The population [of the parish], in 1851, was 5,408; and the acreage is 3,433.”[1]

1851 was the year of Queen Victoria’s and Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition in Crystal Palace, London, and the name of local woman Mary Kelynack would have been on everyone’s lips in Paul parish:  “On Tuesday, September 24th, among the visitors of the Mansion House was Mary Callinack, eighty-four years of age, who had travelled on foot from Penzance, carrying a basket on her head, with the object of visiting the Exhibition and of paying her respects personally to the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress.” [2]

She was later presented to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

”Our portrait of the Cornish fish-wife has been sketched from life at her abode, Homer Place, Crawford Street, Mary-le-bone. She was born in the parish of Paul, by Penzance, on Christmas Day, 1766, so that she has nearly completed her eighty-fifth year. To visit the present Exhibition, she walked the entire distance from Penzance, nearly three hundred miles; she having ‘registered a vow’ before she left home, that she would not accept assistance in any shape, except as regarded her finances.
“She possesses her faculties unimpaired; is very cheerful, has a considerable amount of humour in her composition; and is withal a woman of strong common sense, and frequently makes remarks that are very shrewd, when her great age and defective education are taken into account. She is fully aware that she has made herself somewhat famous; and among other things which she contemplates, is her return to Cornwall, to end her days in ‘Paul parish,’ where she wishes to be interred by the side of old Dolly Pentreath, who was also a native of Paul, and died at the age of 102 years.”[3]

Back in Newlyn, sadly Matilda and John’s second son William died and was buried on 5 October 1852 up in Paul, aged approx. 5 years old.

They had their first daughter in late 1852 and baby Elizabeth was baptised on 2 January 1853.  While doing this they caught up with the baptism of Andrew – he was baptised the same day, aged 3 years old.  Their next child, a second William was baptised on 5 April 1855.  He was followed by Anne, who was baptised on 27 November 1859.

At the time of the 1861 census the family were living at 5 Fradgan.  Their next child, Matilda, was born c November 1861 and baptised on 24 May 1863.  Sadly young Matilda died later that year, in in November 1863.  Her mother Matilda must have been pregnant again at the time, for when she had her next child in early 1864 she named her new daughter Matilda after herself and her lost daughter.

Time passed, prime-ministers changed with frequency, but by 1871 they were still living in the Fradgan with John still a tailor.

It appears their son Richard married a woman called Mary c 1872 and they had 3 children together of whom two survived infancy: Richard in February 1873, a second Richard in July 1875 and Mary in November 1877.  There was a Mary Nicholls of Paul who died aged 31 in January 1881 who would match.  After that, details on Richard’s family and life (including probable second marriage to Elizabeth and children John, Elizabeth and Thomas together) remain confusing as there were a few Richard Nicholls born around 1875 & 1876.

In summer 1873 their eldest daughter, net-maker Elizabeth Mary, married.  Her groom was fisherman Francis Curnow Badcock and the first of their four known children, Catherine Kelynack Badcock, arrived in 1874, followed by Richard, Bessie and John.

Matilda and John’s youngest daughter Matilda hadn’t been baptised when she was a baby, I discovered it as she was baptised age 14 on 25 April 1878.  Horrifyingly there was a reason: it must have been a death-bed baptism for she died that same day and was buried 3 days later up at Paul, Matilda and John losing their second Matilda.

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Advert from the Cornishman, 1895 via BNA collection on FMP

The family were living in Gwavas Quay by April 1878 and were still there in the 1881 census – with 3-year-old grand-daughter Bessie Badcock (Elizabeth’s daughter) having run down the hill from Orchard Place to see her grand-parents and be listed in two household census returns. They had a full household that day as in addition to John and Matilda, both now in their mid-50s, they had unmarried Andrew and widowed Richard (both fishermen) and Richard’s two children Richard and Mary living at home.

Matilda and John’s son William b 1855 wasn’t present in 1881, and neither was young Anne, who would have been 22 in 1881 and for both the trail has gone cold.

In late 1883 there was more loss for poor Matilda and John when their [probably] only remaining daughter Elizabeth Mary Badcock died aged only 31, leaving her husband and three surviving young children ranging from age 7 to 3.  Catherine had been followed by Richard, who was born early 1876 but died about a year later, Bessie c1878 and John Nicholls in March 1880.  Catherine went on to marry fish-hawker James Green, Bessie married a coach-body maker from Liverpool called Henry Warburton and moved away, and John married fisherman’s daughter Janie Pentreath.

Matilda and John were living in Gwavas Quay in April 1891.  Matilda died on 30 May 1898; John moved back to the Fradgan and lived on until [probably] spring 1907.

Words and photos © Lynne Black.
First published 1 April 2017 at https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/

[1] Kelly’s Directory 1856 via Cornwall OPC: http://west-penwith.org.uk/paul56.htm

[2] Illustrated London News, Illustrated London News, October 26th, 1851, via BNA

[3] Illustrated London News, Illustrated London News, October 26th, 1851, via BNA

William and Alice Rowe: flaming torches, stinky fish and older years in 19C Cornwall pt4

On 20 June 1837 Queen Victoria became queen after the death of her uncle William IV.  At that time shoemaker William and Alice Rowe were settled with a large family in Street-an-Nowan, Newlyn, Cornwall. You can read the earlier part of their story here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

That year their eldest son John, by then working as a mason, married Sarah Sampson in neighbouring Penzance; her father was a butcher with a shop and home on Market Jew Street.  In 1839 William and Alice became grandparents when Sarah and John had their first of eight children, Elizabeth.

On 6 June 1841 the census recorded shoemaker William and Alice living in Street-an-Nowan.  Grace and Alice were both at home and working as female servants; Patience (11) and Elizabeth (9-10) were still children.  Youngest child James wasn’t with his parents that evening.  I haven’t confirmed a location for eldest son John for that particular night but his family were living in neighbouring Penzance on Market Jew Street where his wife and daughter were living in her butcher father’s house.  Maybe he was away looking for work as a mason.

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Tolcarne Inn, Newlyn

In June 1841 their oldest daughter Mary Ann had been a servant in the Tolcarne Inn over the Combe; on 21 May 1843 she married a fisherman called Thomas Rowe (no relationship known) in Paul Church.

Pigot’s Directory 1841 reported about Newlyn that in addition to fishing pilchards and mackerel “A valuable lead mine is in the parish, as are several chalybeate springs.  There are two annual fairs held here—on the first Tuesday in October and 8th November”.

Early in spring 1844 Alice became ill with Phithesis: ‘pulmonary tuberculosis or a similar progressive wasting disease’.

However there was happiness in summer 1844 when their daughter Alice Daniel Rowe married fisherman Bernard Victor in Trinity Wesleyan Chapel, Newlyn on 10 June. She moved to neighbouring Mousehole where Bernard lived and fished. Their oldest child, Gamaliel ‘Gift of God’ Victor was baptised on 24 November 1844 in Paul Church.  Bernard had an interest in the Cornish language and spoke with local old people to record words for posterity as the language was dying out.

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Mousehole Harbour

Around about this time (c1844) William’s eldest son John and his young family moved to Wales for him to find work as a mason.

On 9 March 1845 Alice, William’s wife of 33 years and mother of his 9 children, died in Newlyn aged 51.  Their youngest son, James Daniel Rowe, was only 10 at that time.

In March 1851 William had his three daughters Grace, Patience and Elizabeth living with him in Foundry Lane, Street-an-Nowan. Grace had become a straw bonnet maker, so perhaps she’d enjoyed working with her father as a girl and/or preferred making bonnets to being a female servant as she had been ten years before. Patience and Elizabeth were still living at home but with no profession recorded.  Youngest son James was working on the Brittania fishing boat in neighbouring Mousehole.

That was the year of the Great Exhibition at Chrystal Palace London.  A local woman, 84-year-old Mary Kelynack of Tolcarne, became famous nationally by walking nearly 300 miles to London to see the Exhibition, carrying a basket on her head.  There she met the Lord Mayor and took tea – preferring that to wine – with the Lady Mayoress; she was presented with a sovereign.   She was also presented to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

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Paul Church

Two years later William’s daughter Patience Daniel Rowe married mariner Thomas Tonkin Tremethick on 23 January 1853 in Paul Church; William’s first Tremethick grand-child Joe was born on 8 December 1853.

A curious midsummer custom went on in Mount’s Bay in June[1]. On 23 and 28 June tar barrels were lit and flaming torches swung in the streets.  Bonfires were lit in Marazion, the Mount, Newlyn and Mousehole so the Bay “glows with a girdle of flame”.  Young people played ‘Thread-the-needle’ along the streets:  “Lads and lasses join hands, and run furiously through the streets, vociferating “An eye – an eye – an eye!” at length they suddenly stop, and the two last of the string, elevating their clasped hands, form an eye to this enormous needed, through which the thread of populace runs, and thus they continue to repeat the game until weariness dissolves the union.” Unsurprisingly the following day was a lot quieter, with people idling with music on the water (called ‘having a pen’orth of sea’).”

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Boase Street, Newlyn, with mid-path drain

Newlyn at the time may have been scenic but smelt rather overwhelming[2]:  “They are a colony of fisherman, with narrow paved lanes, glistening with pilchard scales in the season – with external staircases and picturesque interiors, of which glimpses are obtained through an open doorway or window.”   However they “may call to mind the semi-barbarous habitations of some foreign countries – such as Spain. The perfume of garlic fills the air, and other odours not so sweet hasten the step of the traveller. These arise from little enclosures which front every cottage door. They are neatly bordered with stones or shells, and consist – not of a flower-bed, but of a dunghill, formed chiefly of the refuse of fish, in which the process of decay is hastened by the activity of many unhappy-looking fowls and pigs.”

On 7 October 1859 William’s youngest son James Daniel married Catherine Jaco. She was a Newlyn girl and the daughter of Master Mariner Benjamin Jaco.  They had the first of their 8 children in January 1860, Benjamin Jaco Rowe [my ancestor].

A few weeks later William became a great-grandfather when John’s oldest daughter Elizabeth had a daughter out of wedlock in Wales – she and the baby’s father Phillip Tripp later married in Madron on 20 March 1862.

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Looking up Foundry Lane

On 2 April 1861 William, still working as a shoemaker, was living at 2 Foundry Lane, in the Street-an-Nowan area of what is now Newlyn. His dressmaker daughter Grace was still living at home with him.  Another daughter, Patience D Tremethick, was living next door at number 3 with her merchant mariner husband Thomas and their five young children; the oldest being 7 and the youngest just 10 months old.

Oldest son John had been widowed in the early 1860s and he remarried on 17 December 1865 in Madron; his wife was a widow called Cecilia Paynter Stevens who had children of her own and lived for a few years in New Zealand.  Around 1866 John’s daughter Elizabeth and her husband Philip Tripp moved away; she died, he put two youngest boys in an orphanage where they lived for many years until the family tracked down the surviving son.

In 18 Sep 1867 his grand-daughter Mary Wright Victor [Alice and Bernard’s oldest daughter] married naval carpenter Edward Albert Kelynack in Newlyn St Peter. Mary stayed in Newlyn for the first years of her marriage while Edward was away at sea, living with her aunt, bonnet-maker Grace Daniel Rowe, William’s second daughter.

William saw his grandson Joe Tremethick start with the West Cornwall Railway in Penzance in 1868; Joe ended up working his way round England with the Great Western Railway.

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Paul Cemetery

William died on 15 December 1869 of old age and exhaustion. His caring eldest child Mary Ann Rowe was present at his death and she registered his death the following day.[3]  He was recorded as 81, although on balance of the evidence of baptisms and the 1841 census he was probably only 76.  William was buried on 19 December in Paul Cemetery up above Newlyn.

Words and photos © Lynne Black, 1 October 2016

[1] Murray’s Handbook for Devon and Cornwall 1859, P185

[2] Murray’s Handbook for Devon and Cornwall 1859, P189

[3] Death certificate 1869, Penzance registration district, Cornwall, entry 494.

Photo of Newlyn Harbour from Newlyn Beach, Cornwall

William Rowe 1793 pt1: Boyhood in a poor Cornish fishing town

photo of Paul Church

Paul Church

William Rowe was born c1793 in Newlyn, Paul Parish, in the West Penwith area of Cornwall.  He was the second son of labourer James Rowe and his wife Patience (nee Rodda).[1]  William was baptised aged 2-3 on 29 Mar 1795 in Paul Parish Church[2].  His was the first generation to be born in Paul Parish; his parents were from St Buryan parish.

I’ve found two brothers and a sister for William: James was baptised on 3 October 1790 and Ann was baptised on 23 September 1792.  However she died in infancy and was buried on 8 June 1793. Younger brother Thomas Rodda Rowe was baptised on 13 January 1802, all in Paul Parish Church.

William’s childhood years were those of the French Revolution, of war with France and the Regency. During those wars a battery was located on the road between Newlyn and Mousehole “forming a great security to the Bay, from enemy’s ships, or privateers, should any of them be induced to visit any part of it.  Adjoining to this battery stands a furnace for the purpose of making shot red hot.  During the war, this battery was governed by a small party of the royal artillery.”[3]

Times were hard in West Penwith and when he was about 7 in 1801 the family would have been hungry as a result of the high price of wheat.  It was reported in the London Courier and Evening Gazette on 20 April 1801 that in St Austell, 40 miles away, the tinners had tried forcing farmers to sell it at an affordable price by threatening to put nooses round farmers’ necks until they signed a document promising to sell it at an affordable rate; but they were taken into custody at St Mawes. In Helston the Volunteer Cavalry found it hard to keep order until most of the local farmers came forward and promised to sell wheat the following Saturday at ‘two guineas, and barley at one guinea the bushel’.

In Penzance two Newlyn men petitioned the Mayor that he reduce the prices in Newlyn; but when he chose not to listen they ‘assembled on their own authority’.  The constables and military were called out and further ‘mischief was prevented’ but the disturbances kept many country people away from selling their goods at the markets.[4]

In 1806 there was a call for designs for a bridge across the small river Coombe in Newlyn which divided the Paul and Madron parishes. The bridge was to ‘to contain in length about seventy feet and in breadth about eighteen feet ’. Designs were due to be considered at the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace in January 1807 with the target for completion 6 October 1807.

In October 1809 there was a huge gale, and the ‘L’Eole, a French prize to the Surveillante and Medusa frigates, laden with salt, &c, arrived in the Mount’s Bay a few days ago, and being driven by the gale from Gwavas Lake, ran for Newlyn Pier, but got upon the rocks, where she now lies’ and it was doubtful she could be rescued as the gale still continued.

Photo of altar of Paul Parish Church

Paul Parish Church

In August 1812 a good crop of potatoes, was reported, which coupled with a good haul of pilchards and hake, ‘greatly relieved the poor in Cornwall from the pressure occasioned by the high price of corn’.[5]

So it would have been on a slightly fuller stomach that William married Alice Daniel, a blacksmith’s daughter from neighbouring Sancreed parish, on Saturday 17 October 1812 in Paul Parish Church up above Newlyn.

Their story continues here: William Rowe, Cordwainer of Newlyn and Alice Daniel of Sancreed

Words and photos © Lynne Black, 31 July 2016

 

[1] A DOB for William of c1788 DOB is indicated by his death certificate and the 1851 & 1861 censuses. However even though they match, I believe that William was the third child and not the first, given his baptism year 1795 and the fact he was stated on the 1841 census as being 50. Age at marriage isn’t indicated in the record.

[2] Paul Baptism registers accessed via Cornwall OPC website and FindMyPast

[3] The History of Mount’s Bay, comprising Saint Michael’s Mount, Marazion, Penzance, Mousehole and &c &cm 1820, pp75-76, Printed and sold by J Thomas, via Internet Archive http://archive.org/stream/historyofmountsb00penz#page/n0/mode/2up

[4] London Courier and Evening Gazette – Monday 20 April 1801, P3, Col 2, via BNA

[5] Caledonian Mercury – Saturday 09 February 1811, p2, col 1, Lloyds’ Marine List, Feb 5th

Catharine A S Rowe b1843, mason’s daughter, carpenter’s wife

Catharine, the second child of mason John Rowe and his wife Sarah Sampson, was born in late 1843 in Penzance, Cornwall, with Queen Victoria on the throne and Robert Peel Prime Minister. It was the year which saw  Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol sell out in six days after its launch on 31 December, although I’m sure not bought by anyone in her poor family.  She had an sister three years older than her called Elizabeth, and a younger sister, Sarah, born when Catharine was only about a year old.

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Market Jew Street, old postcard posted c1915

The first of her brothers, Thomas, arrived when Catharine was aged about five, but as her brother was born in Devonport [Plymouth] in neighbouring county Devon in early 1848 I suspect that the three girls would perhaps have stayed with their grandparents Sampson in Penzance; grandfather Robert Sampson was a butcher on central Market Jew Street. Catherine’s parents were back in Penzance for baby Thomas’ baptism in November 1849 and the census of March 1851 finds John, Sarah and their five children (by then baby Alice had come along) living in Market Jew Street. The following year Anne Sampson was born in early 1852.

Around 1857-58 their parents moved to Wales: Whitchurch in Pembrokeshire. There her father worked as a stone mason in Lower Solva, Prendagast.  Her younger brother John Daniel was born in summer 1859.  However there was scandal for the family when Catharine’s older sister Elizabeth had a daughter, Annie, out of wedlock by a local labourer, Philip Tripp, in late 1859. The family were still in Lower Solva in April 1861.

So where was 17-year-old Catharine for the 1861 census? The only record I can found is that she’s a servant in St Peter’s Port, Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, but I think that’s unlikely.

By 1862 Elizabeth was back in Penzance to get married to Philip and they had two sons before moving away and disappearing.

Their mother Sarah also died at around this time.

In July 1864 in Catharine herself got married in Madron, her bridegroom was a carpenter from neighbouring Marazion (by St Michael’s Mount) called George John Miller.  One of her witnesses has the surname Alder which was her future step-mother Cecilia’s surname, so it appears by then her father at least knew his future wife and her family; John and Cecilia married in December 1865 in Penzance.

Catherine and George’s first two children George (c1867) and John (c1868) were born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, before Albert was born in early 1870 in Alton, Hampshire.

Then the family must have headed to Wales and travelled around for work for William was born (early 1875) in Pontypridd, Glamorgan (12 miles north of Cardiff), Sarah Ann (cMay 1877) in nearby Caerphilly, Glamorgan, Elizabeth c June 1880 east in Newport, Monmouthshire and Edgar (c1884) back in Glamorgan.  Their final identified child, Alice, was born in late 1885, also in Glamorgan.

In April 1891 the family were living north in Vaynor, Breconshire, with George working as a carpenter and their oldest son, 15 year old William, as a carpenter’s labourer, perhaps for his father.

I haven’t found a record of George after that point – Catharine is alone for both the 1901 and 1911 census entries, yet marked as married rather than a widow. Also according to the 1911 census Catharine had 10 children, eight of whom were still alive, but I haven’t been able to find two of them, whom I suspect died young.

Her eldest child, son George, met and settled down with Somerset girl Matilda Stoaling in the Cardiff area, having 10 children together; here is Martha’s family story – a triumph of hope over experience and the desire to keep family together. Two years after that his brother John Daniel married Jane Turnbull in Penarth, Glamorgan.

In 1901 Catharine is living in Cheddar, Somerset, with three daughters who, as well as two lodgers, are working as shirt machinists.  In 1911 she is visiting her eldest daughter Sarah and Sarah’s husband George Pavey – as he’s marked as Shirt Factory Manager it looks like Sarah married her boss.  Sarah’s census entry indicates she’d had four children, two of whom were home: Wilfred and Lena, one who was elsewhere that night, and one had died young.

Catharine died four years later, c November 1915, back in the Cardiff area of Glamorgan, so maybe George was still based around there somewhere. It looks like their sons George and John had settled in Newport, Monmouthshire, with George and his wife Matilda having several children of their own there.

Text © Lynne Black, 31 January 2016
First published: https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/

In memory of the 306 men shot at dawn

A fantastic blog post; the injustice screams through the years.

The Lives of my Ancestors

For 90 years their names were blighted with shame and history tried to forget them.

The Shot at Dawn Memorial is a British Monument at the National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas, in Staffordshire, UK. It memorialises the 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers executed after courts-martial for cowardice or desertion during World War I Source: https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7146/6432814907_01a610dfc8_z.jpg The Shot at Dawn Memorial is a British Monument at the National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas, in Staffordshire, UK. It memorialises the 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers executed after courts-martial for cowardice or desertion during World War I
Source: https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7146/6432814907_01a610dfc8_z.jpg

Their names were never remembered on memorials and family’s often hid the truth, shame was too much off a burden when so many had died with honour.

Their crime was cowardice and 306 young men – four of them just 17 – were shot at dawn during the First World War.

For most of these young men, cowardice was far from the truth, it was the traumas of war, break downs amidst the unspeakable horrors they endured in the trenches.

In 2006 all 306 men received a posthumous pardon, some names went onto being inscribed…

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