Tag Archives: history

Photo of Newlyn Beach, Cornwall

William Rowe, Cordwainer of Newlyn and Alice Daniel of Sancreed pt2

Shoemaker William Rowe of Street-an-Nowan [Newlyn], Cornwall, married Alice Daniel, a blacksmith’s daughter from neighbouring Sancreed parish, on Saturday 17 October 1812 in Paul Parish Church up above Newlyn.  See Part 1 of his story here.

Alice was expecting the first of their nine known children, Mary Ann Rowe.  They baptised Mary Ann on Sunday 17 January 1813 in Paul Church, and got on with settling in to life as a young family.


Sancreed Church exterior

On 19 January 1817 a hurricane raged which destroyed some of the foundation stones of neighbouring Penzance’s pier and injured much of its dry dock.  ‘It being a spring tide the water rose an unusual height; the green between Penzance and Newlyn was torn up, and the soil in several places washed away’ and ‘at Newlyn and Mousehole on the west, and at Marazion on the east, the effects were dreadfully felt’[1] [Some things do not change; the green between Penzance and Newlyn was torn up as recently as February 2014.]  ‘The sea rose mountains high and impelled by the wind, went up much further on land than ever remembered. The may-pole at Marazion, which had, for many years, braved the fury of the storm, was washed away, with the cliff whereon it stood.  The back premises of the Commercial Inn were through down, and a fine cow carried out to sea.’

Photo of Newlyn, Old Harbour, at low tide

Newlyn, Old Harbour, low tide

‘The greatest sufferers are the poor fisherman of Newlyn and Mousehole; the boats which were hauled up beyond high water mark, being dashed to pieces.  Many of the boats for the mackerel and ling fishery were fitted up: the loss to the poor fisherman will be almost irreparable, as the season will soon commence and they cannot provide new boats. At Street-Nowan [SIC] near Newlyn, many houses have been washed down.’[2] Street-an-Nowan, the lower part of Newlyn, is likely to have been the area in which William, Alice and baby Mary lived so they must have been terrified.

In 1811 Prince George had become Prince Regent and I’ve found a couple of intriguing references to his domestic situation and the reaction of the people of Newlyn; they seem to have favoured his wife, the colourful and popular Caroline of Brunswick.

On 28 Jan 1817 the Prince Regent was on his way to open Parliament when there was an assassination attempt.[3] On 2 August 1817 the Royal Cornwall Gazette published a letter to him with a long list of names of men across the area, swearing loyalty to him and repeating “assurances of our loyal and unalterable Attachment; and to express our Indignation at, and Abhorrence of, the late treasonable Attack on the Sacred Person of your Royal Highness…..”

However William and Alice’s would have been busy following the birth of their second child: their first son John Rowe was born in Newlyn and baptised 24 August 1817 in Paul Church.

On Tuesday 7 July there was a shocking event in Newlyn reported widely and “witnessed by several hundreds of spectators.  At Newlyn, near Penzance, a swarm of bees suddenly alighted on a boy’s head, and remained there for a considerable time.  The boy, almost terrified to death, was required to smoke tobacco, to preserve him from being injured.  In the mean time a hive was procured and held over his head for some time; when by degrees the bees all entered it, without inflicting the least injury on the boy.”

Later that year, in November 1817, there was mourning in the country when Princess Charlotte, popular only child of the Prince Regent and Princess Caroline died in labour, giving birth to a stillborn son.

William and Alice’s second daughter, Grace Daniel Rowe, was born on Tuesday 7 December 1819 in Newlyn.  She was the only family member to be baptised a Wesleyan Methodist; the baptism took place on 7 January 1821. This was the first time William’s trade was recorded: he was a shoemaker.

At that time the road from Penzance to Newlyn, hurricanes permitting, “was over a level green about a mile in length, passing through the village of Street-an-Nowan, which contains about 300 inhabitants; in it there is a respectable meeting-house belonging to the Methodists, where divine service is regularly performed; there is also in this village a Sunday School for poor children.”[4]

In November 1820 [now] Queen Caroline was found innocent of charges of infidelity brought against her by her husband, [now] King George IV and Newlyn erupted in joy:  “Last night’s mail having announced the joyful tidings of the Queen’s victory over her vile accusers, this morning was ushered in by the display of flags of almost every description at the mast heads of the different vessels in this port, and on poles in many parts of the town and the neighbouring villages of Newlyn and Mousehole.  Subscriptions have been entered into for defraying the expenses of bonfires, tar barrels, &c and at this moment there may be seen on the opposite hill, over Newlyn, a quantity of tar barrels, reflecting their vivid flames in the mirror of water below, whilst on the rocks, near the shore, bonfires innumerable blaze up and enliven the scene.
“Long live Queen Caroline,” – “Queen Caroline for ever,” – may be seen on almost every hat, and in every varied form and colour, whilst parties, preceded by music, parade the streets, and rend the air by their acclamations of “Long live Queen Caroline.”  A requisition has been made to the Mayor, to illuminate the town on Wednesday night, and several large dinner parties have already formed at the hotel, and the respectable Inns, to celebrate the glorious 10th of November, in a manner that may not be unworthy the great victory that day obtained by her most gracious Majesty Queen Caroline.”[5]
Queen Caroline died in August following year; she had been denied entry to Westminster Abbey for the Coronation held the month before on 19 July 1821.

Please see my next post for the next part of William and Alice’s story: William and Alice Rowe: shoemaking, family, storms and wrestling in 19C Cornwall pt3
Words and photos © Lynne Black, 7 August 2016

[1] The History of Mount’s Bay, comprising Saint Michael’s Mount, Marazion, Penzance, Mousehole and &c &cm 1820, pp48-50, Internet Archive

[2] Exeter Flying Post – Thursday 30 January 1817, P4, Col 3, via BNA

[3] Archontology.org  http://www.archontology.org/nations/uk/king_uk/george4.php

[4] The History of Mount’s Bay, comprising Saint Michael’s Mount, Marazion, Penzance, Mousehole and &c &cm 1820, P63, Internet Archive

[5] Morning Chronicle – Friday 17 November 1820, P3, Col 3, Accessed via BNA



#52Ancestors #42: Thomas Halliday 1st of the 2nd Royal Manx Fencibles

Last week I wrote about Thomas Halliday 3rd, commercial traveller and soap agent. I’d planned to write this week about his father, Thomas Halliday 2nd, but when I had a look at his information I realised it was a virtually identical story.  So let’s skip a generation to Thomas Halliday 1st, my 4GGrandfather.

With Thomas Halliday 1st we’re standing at the edge of easily-accessed facts, with the mists of time lapping round him.

I came across this Thomas when trying to find information about his son’s date of birth.  An additional challenge seems to be that at this point in time the names Halliday and Holliday start to be used interchangeably.  I have two sources for Thomas’ marriage, one spelt each way and I’m confident I’ve found the right man.

Lt Col Charles Small's seal, from FindMyPast

Lt Col Charles Small’s seal, from FindMyPast

Thomas was born in Chester-Le-Street, Durham county, in England in 1778, in the reign of George III and grew up working as a labourer [information obtained via FindMyPast].  This was a time of wars and rebellions, and in 1795 Thomas enlisted in His Majesty’s 2nd Regiment of Royal Manx Fencibles [based on the Isle of Man] and ended up fighting in Ireland.  Royal Manx Fencibles?  Great title but meant nothing to me.  So these two websites

tell me it was a regiment based in Ireland between 1795 and 1802 under the immediate command of Lt Col Charles Small, with the regiment in the the overall command of Colonel Lord Henry Murray [nephew of the Duke of Atholl].  Their uniforms included blue facings and fur-crested round hats. [From Osprey’s Google book Armies of the Irish Rebellion 1798]

Thomas “served well and faithfully in the abovenamed Regiment for two years” before being discharged with “his pay arrears of pay, clothing and all other just demands whatsover, from the time of his enlisting into said Regiment till the day of his discharge”.

Two years?  Surely that’s quite a short time to serve?  Unfortunately yes.  The surgeon’s letter (John Nelson Scott was an officer and surgeon) explained more fully that Thomas had needed to have his right leg amputated after suffering from scrofula (TB) of the leg and ankle which gave him extreme pain.

The mark of Thomas Halliday 1st

The mark of Thomas Halliday 1st

After returning home from Lifford, Thomas married Hannah Smith in 1810.  I think they may have had 3 children together: Thomas 2nd, Sarah Mary, and possibly Francis, all in Chester-le-Street.  From the limited records available I believe his wife died in 1838, and in the 1841 census Thomas was found in the workhouse.  A Thomas Halliday died in Gateshead in 1843.

52 ancestors logoNow his son did pretty well for himself: in 1841 Thomas the 2nd was a clerk in nearby Gateshead and ended up very comfortably off with a well-educated Methodist family.  It’s a pretty big leap for the son of an illiterate one-legged labourer, but perhaps that’s exactly what drove him.  Maybe Thomas 1st was in need of comfort and hope, and Methodism provided that, and the opportunity for him to make a better life for his family.  But even if further evidence comes to light, possibly from a non-conformist source, and he turns out not to be my ancestor, I thought I would share the experiences of this Thomas Halliday 1st anyway, to acknowledge all he went through.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 15 October 2014
First published: https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/thomas-halliday-1st/

New money for old!

We were on holiday earlier this year down in Northumberland then Shropshire, both beautiful, both entirely different landscapes.

Benefactors listed in St George's Church, Clun, Shropshire

Benefactors listed in St George’s Church, Clun, Shropshire

We were boring our long-suffering teenage son by looking round an(other) old church – this time St George’s Church in Clun, Shropshire – so he decided to wait in the church porch and play games on the phone.  Whilst watching swallows flying in and out to their nests he was totally unimpressed by the amount donated to the poor of the parish, listed on boards.  How many alms can £100 buy, after all?

Well apparently it could buy a lot more than he thought: in 2005 values it would be worth £5,603.

The site that converts is is on the National Archive site:  http://apps.nationalarchives.gov.uk/currency/

This is the first time I’ve used it, but I can see it being really useful when reading wills and looking at rents so thought I’d share it!

Kings & Tyrants in the Winter Sun

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

When I was young I loved all the colour & pageantry of the Tudors & Stuart courts. This love has never diminished, although on occasion I’ve found its legacy rather oppressive, for example when I had a tour of the Houses of Parliament a few years back I found the attitude very backward-looking compared with the modern light Scottish Parliament building.

When down visiting family and attending Who Do You Think You Are Live this year I was really happy to get the chance to visit Hampton Court Palace yesterday. And with my cousin C who loves history too, rather than a bored son!

It was a fine, clear, cold, winter day with the towering chimneys dark against the blue. I struck really lucky with the weather for all 3 days, C was amazed to see water in the moat for the first time.

Hampton Court Palace statue

Hampton Court Palace statue

It’s just as well for both our families that they weren’t with us to be mortified when we each wore a velvet Tudor coat!  They are a great idea as they really made a difference in the Tudor rooms. But later in the William rooms I felt distinctly old fashioned…

As a child I’d visited Hampton Court Palace and had been disappointed not to see the ghost of poor Katherine Howard. This time it was really strange and quite spooky.

I was standing opposite a huge portrait of Henry VIII and listening to the audio commentary about how she was screaming and struggling to reach him and I was feeling really cold with goosebumps. Suddenly I looked to my left and there’s Henry himself striding towards me. So strange. People were jumping out his way as he went past into the guardroom.

C & I crept back and hovered around for a bit before getting a photo with the actor, all thoughts of the original’s tyranny put aside.

I loved seeing the composite painting of Henry’s family after seeing the original in so many books, and also that of Edward. I’d felt the same awe in Windsor Palace a couple of years back, discovering a portrait of the young (Princess) Elizabeth I. It was also nice to have Alison Weir talking on the audio-commentary, bringing influences together for me.  Actually my favourite picture was one of an unknown Tudor child, it was really sweet & happy.

After the Henry rooms we went on to King William’s suite. It was such a marked contrast that it felt like a different day out. He seemed such a grumpy reserved man. Interesting to hear of his genuine grief for his wife but with no mention of his long-term mistress. Didn’t have time to check if she was one of the Hampton Court Beauties, will have to check online later. And speaking of beauties it was a lovely surprise to see a lovely luscious Titian hanging in William’s suite.

We think the Queen Mary rooms were being renovated so it’s a good reason to visit again 🙂

A lovely day, can’t wait to go back.

Family Roots

Work with Ochils Landscape Partnership today found me rolling back a carpet of grass to find this gorgeous headstone carving. Loving the way the root system has grown round the stonework.

From beneath the moss of time…

Miller & Hall gravestone before cleaning

Miller & Hall gravestone before cleaning

On Sunday I was back in Alva Old Kirkyard, by the ruins of the burnt St Serf’s Church, with Ochils Landscape Partnership.  I’ve been putting in some time – not much compared with some of the others involved – as part of their project to preserve and catalogue historic kirkyards across Clackmannanshire’s Hillfoot villages.  On this particular Sunday it was one of those Scottish autumn days where you go out worrying you’ll get rained on and come back sunburnt.

Miller & Hall grave after cleaning

Miller & Hall grave after cleaning

The local kirkyards were visited by the Mitchells a few decades back in their quest to catalogue the graves of Scotland.  While their records have proven invaluable as the sole record of since-damaged stones, there have been occasions where we’ve disagreed with their readings which was quite disconcerting – is it the done thing to disagree with the Mitchells!?

Recently I’ve been in touch with a lady who’s spent a great deal of time researching the families of a village close to Plymouth.  She took some trouble when visiting Devon last week to visit a cemetery where I’d discovered some of my ancestors are buried, but we were both disappointed that the graves were in a state of such poor repair that even finding specific headstones proved impossible. Further information lost in a city whose history has already been bombed and burnt.

So that’s why I believe this work in the Hillfoots is of such importance, to discover and record it while it’s still there, to share it with other historians before the stones crumble and weather away.  It’s such a great investment in the history of the area.

Fuelling Nancy: Lady Astor and my Great-grandmother

When I was a kid I never really knew my grandfather’s family, just met my aunt and uncle a couple of times over the years. My mum’s favourite story about my great-grandparents was about their time working with Lady Nancy Astor when seeking re-election in 1929. Although the house was busy with family, kids and dogs Lady Astor was invited to use the house as her campaign headquarters.

The campaign was successful, and Lady Astor returned to take her seat in the Houses of Parliament. My great-uncle actually met her, she made time to go through and say hello to the children and have tea with them. He recalls her with respect as a women with focus and an incredibly strong sense of purpose.

She seems to have been a woman who provoked extreme views in Plymouth. Whether you agree with her politics – which later on can definitely be viewed as At Best Dodgy – it’s trailblazers like her who have made it possible for strong women to step up to the world stage, and for that she will always have my thanks.

The Astors were important to the people of Plymouth, and used to operate rent-controlled properties for the poor. However I can’t think of one universally-loved politician and they did get a brick through the window for their support on the campaign!

There was an exhibition in Plymouth this summer which I didn’t find out about until I was leaving, but would have loved to have seen. Nancy: The Life and Times of Lady Astor is running at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery until October. I’ll get in touch with the archivist to see if he has any photos from that campaign, it would be so amazing if I saw my grandparents smiling out from the campaign trail.

Although I can’t claim to be as good a cook as my great-grandmother – or to have been steeled by times as tough as the first world war – there’s a part of me that is very proud that she helped fuel the campaign of a trail-blazer in history.