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2 Penhalvean Cottages in 1980 we received a letter from an Alice Medlyn Gollmer in Lansing, Michigan, USA. She told us that she had learned from a cousin still living in Stithians, that we had moved into her Grandma Medlin's cottage. A series of letters then passed between us over the next couple of years and we decided to research who else had lived in the Cottage. This then is the result. It is pieced together from the information sent by granddaughter Alice and from our own research carried out at the Local Studies Library, Redruth. Although Alice Ann Medlyn, born 1881, was not related to me I never the less feel very close to her. You see she was born in the cottage in which I sit and write and there are times when I feel that, in a pleasant way, her spirit is still around her old home. I will always be grateful that her granddaughter Alice took the time to write to us.
The name of Penhalvean comes from the Cornish - Pennhal Vyghan. These words translate from the Cornish : Penn = 'end or head' : Hal = ‘moor’ and Vyghan = 'little'. So Penhalvean means head or end of the little moor. In the1840 Tythe it is written as Penhalven [Penn = head, Hal = moor, Ven = spring] changing its meaning somewhat to "Spring at the head of the moor" and with all the wells scattered around the various properties this would be a very appropriate name. The land from Bos Elvan down to and including Mill cottage was part of Tolgus Manor. Whose holdings also included the farm of Nanpean on the Four Lanes road. In the 16th century the Manor belonged to the Tregian family of Golden in Probus, who lost their lands through adherence to the Roman Catholic faith. The forfeited lands were purchased by a wealthy Camborne lawyer and money-lender, Ezechial Grosse whose great granddaughter carried the manor in marriage to Francis Buller Esq. of Shillingham in St Stephens in Saltash and this family held the manor at the beginning of the twentieth century. Early settlers in the area left their mark on the surrounding landscape with later field names such as Round field showing the site of a bronze 2
age dwelling. The above cross head, which has been dated as early Celtic (400AD), was dug up in the garden of “Bonython” house which now stands on part of the field shown as No.157 on the Tythe map. The cross would have originally marked the churchway or footpath to St Stythians Church that was taken by funeral parties, who sometimes walked many miles over difficult terrain to get to the church. At each cross they would rest and sing a hymn, before carrying on their way in procession to the burial in the churchyard. George Henwood in one of his nineteenth century studies of "Cornwall's Mines and Miners" gives the following description of one of these funeral processions in Stithians parish: ..."Hark ! What means that distant deep melody, wafting o'er this wild common?"..... exclaimed our tourists, one sultry Sunday afternoon, as they pursued their walk over the downs near Stithian's church-town; and "what means that black mass descending yonder hill side?" enquired they of some stalwart, neatly dressed youths who were winding their way at their utmost speed to join the approaching throng. "That! why that is a berrin - a miners berrin" Henwood goes on to give a full description of the funeral and explains in a footnote that: "the churches in Cornwall being far apart and no hearses obtainable by the humbler classes, these assemblages of miners are absolutely necessary. Their funerals therefore, if possible, take place on a Sunday. It should be observed that these men hold a peculiar sanctity for the dead." You can still trace the routes taken by these processions in the far west of Cornwall by studying the field names, and whilst putting the Sennen Tythe map on the internet I noticed that a large number of the fields were still referred to in the original Cornish, many bearing the name of "Park an Grouse", (park = field & grouse a corruption of crows = cross). It was therefore disappointing to find so many of the 3
old names had been lost by 1840 in Stithians and the field where the cross was found was known as Pool Field. The influence of the English language had been far more comprehensive in this part of Cornwall although only a distance of some 25 miles separates the two locations. The fields connected with Penhalvean Farm (West) and the first farmhouse, Penhalvean cottage’s are no exception. The Tythe map gives the names in English and below I give these with the numbers as shown on the Tythe map, which is reproduced below. Some of the field names did remain Cornish and I have translated these into English. No. Field name 1840 Little Lower Field Great Lower Field Middle Lower Field Cotter Penhalven Fore Field Meade Lane Field Name in Cornish Back Park Vyghan Gollas Park Bras Gollas Park Perveth Gollas Park Cotter Penhalven Forth Park Meade Park Ella Translation Field close to farmyard Vyghan + Small, Gollas = Lower, Park = Field Bras = Large, Gollas = Lower, Park = Field Perveth = Middle, Gollas = Lower, Park = Field Cotter = Short Pen = Head, Hal = Moor, Ven = Spring. i.e. Spring at the head of the moor. The field before the farmhouse door Meadow Ella = Lane, Park = Field
159 Back Close 155 126 127 128 141 161 160 142
In 1664 a survey was taken in order to collect a tax that had been placed on all hearths or chimneys in the land. Penhalvean was shown as having two properties with hearths, one belonged to William Jenken and the other to Renfrey Brown. William Jenken was the tenant of what we now know as Penhalvean Farm East and his fields abutted onto the farm of Penhalvear, which was farmed by his father.
Penhalvean cottage 1664 Renfrey Brown farmed the West farm with his dwelling being on the site of the present dwellings No’s 1 & 2 Penhalvean Cottages. Field number 161 (Park Forth) being at what was then the front of the building. The dwelling would have taken the form of a Cornish Longhouse and the artist impression shows a single story building, which was thatched. Although single storey the sleeping arrangements usually took the form of a talfat or bed-place. This was a boarded area within the roof space stretching over the spence (larder cupboard) and part of the living room and was reached by a steep stair-ladder. To the left hand side of the property was a barn for stabling the animals. This would probably have included a horse for transport and an ox for ploughing, a cow for milk and hens for eggs and eating. Outside he would have kept at least one pig and the surrounding fields 6
and moor would have been home to a flock of Heath Sheep (Cornish Sheep), which are known to be linked to the Bronze Age Soay type. Their descendents are the Dartmoor breed. Although before the 15th century the breed had a hair type wool, breeding had meant by the end of the 17th century the sheep were mainly being kept for their wool. The breed also produced an excellent tasting meat and a favourite dish was Muggetty pie, made from sheep's entrails (muggets), parsley, and cream. Renfrey would also have grown a cereal crop such as barley and maybe some roots. The one thing that has remained constant since the 17th century is the great granite hearth or fireplace. This massive structure has stood the test of time whilst the cottage around it has changed. It was the main means of cooking all the family’s meals and providing hot water and some form of heating during the cold days of winter. They would have used furze, and turf for cooking and heat, gathering them from the moor during the summer and putting them in ricks to dry. The ashes of the fire were an excellent manure; so good, indeed, that it’s value as manure is supposed to have paid for the trouble of cutting the fuel. When cooking, the women kept the furze fire going under a brandis (trivet). On this would be a good size crock with beef, mutton, chicken, or even a nice piece of streaky pork, cooking away. There would also be turnips, carrots or some other vegetables hung in separate kipps (net-bags) on hooks suspended in the water of the same crock When the vegetables were ready they were put to drain on bars called “kip sticks,” placed across the crock whilst the meat was dished up on a round pewter platter. If it was fowls, they would have had melted butter and parsley poured on them.
The hearth decorated for Christmas 2003 In this household there was always a good store of bread ready to be cut and placed on the board (table). To bake these, an iron plate was placed on the fire and covered with hot ashes. When very hot the ashes would be swept away and food placed on it and covered with a kettle or baker. This looked somewhat like an upturned iron pot with no handles. The hot ash and furze were then piled all over the kettle and left to cook. Cakes, pies and pasties were all baked in this way Sometimes the family would come in from the fields to find that mother had a rabbit-pie steaming on the chimney stool or a baked figgy (plum) puddin on the dresser. The pudding would have been turned on to a pewter platter, and powdered over with white sugar. On one end of the hearth, over a few embers, a little pot, the very model of the larger vessel but not more than a tenth of its size, would contain choice red-apply potatoes, steaming under a cloth, all the water having been poured off. When the cooking chores were finished the fire was scrapped into the left hand back corner and turves laid over the embers and left to gently smolder away all night. ( a close inspection of the fireplace reveals the blackening of the granite in this corner as a result of this practice.) Next morning a quick rake of the remains to the centre of the hearth, the adding of some grigglans (= tiny bits of gorse) and the flames would soon be jumping to life again.
The parish records do not record any births for children of Renfrey Brown and in the year 1684 the farm passed to new tenants. At the time, John Martin was the tenant of Penhalvean Farm East and the adjoining Penhalvear and his new neighbours were Thomas Knuckey and Jane Reed who had married at St Stythians. Jane's family lived at Nanpean Wartha (Wartha = Higher) whose fields are only separated from Penhalvean farm by the lane going to Four Lanes. Her family had come from Wendron where Phillip Reade, Jane's great grandfather, in his will dated the 8th of August 1605, had requested that he be buried in Wendron Church. He was a man of some standing and substance and made bequests to the poor of Wendron, Gwennap, Stithians and Redruth as well as to an apprentice who appears to be a carpenter. This last fact could mean that carpentry was his own trade. The inventory carried out after his death showed that he left property and goods to the value of £60. The Wendron Cornwall Reed (Reade) family information is based on Edward Martin's book "Reed of Stithians and Wendron", Edward Martin cites the pedigree recorded by J. P. Rogers, a lawyer who handled the Reed family affairs in Helston, in the early 20th Century, as the source of much of the information on the family. He says that the pedigrees are on file with the Society of Genealogists in London. Phillip's son, James Reed was named as executor of his father's will but was a minor at his death. He signed the Protestation return in Wendron 1641/2 and is shown as having paid 1s in the Poll Tax of Wendron 1660. He married an Elizabeth and they had six children and the eldest of these, John b1625, married a girl called Thomasine some time around 1645. This couple's first four children were born in Wendron parish but his fifth was born in Stithians in 1655, as were the next four. Jane was the sixth child and she was born at Nanpean Wartha in 1657. John paid tax on two hearths in Stithians in 1664 (these had belonged to Walter Pearse in 1662 and were probably at Nanpean Wartha).
In his will which was dated 14 Jan. 1687/8, John is shown as "A Yeoman of Stithians", he mentions his leasehold tenement of Nanpean Wartha and his lease of one third of Nanpean Whollas [ Whollas = Lower]. A George Brea occupied the other two thirds in 1646 and he was still there in 1687. The inventory totalled £40, including the land at Nanpean Wartha where he lived which was valued at £12. John’s daughter Jane married Thomas Knuckey at Stithians in November 1684. Thomas was the son of Aves Knuckey of Stithians and his grandfather had been a signatory to the Stithians Protestant Return in 1642. The couple took on the tenancy of West Penhalvean farm and their first child was baptised Jane at Stithians church on the 3rd of October 1685, a second child, whom they named Katherine, was baptised at Stithians on the 27th of May 1686. The first Jane must have died because on the 10th March 1687 a second Jane was baptised and two years later a third daughter Ann was baptised on the 11th October 1690. In 1693 the couples first son was born and baptised Hugh on the 25th of April 1693, however, he died shortly after just as their first daughter had. A second son who they also named Hugh was born in August 1696. The couple went on to have two further children, Sarah who was baptised on the 27th of February 1700 and John baptised 7th November 1702. As well as working his fields, it is believed that Thomas and his father in law worked a tin stream in the valley below Nanpean. This is the stream which now fills the Stithians reservoir.
Practically the whole of the merchandise of the country districts was carried on the backs of ponies in the absence of roads suitable for wheeled traffic. Polwhele writing in 1816, says, “Most Cornish horses 10
were therefore of no great size but were adapted to the country being strong and hardie, sure footed and protected by hoofs of peculiar hardness, fit to resist the rough roads over which they had to travel.” Celia Fiennes recorded life in Cornwall when she made a journey through the Duchy in 1698 on horseback. She recorded in her diary that there was a breed of pony known as the Goonhilly which she say's, "tripped along lightly on the stoniest roads and throve on grass or furze, loving not oats or hay because they knew not the taste of them" She further describes how she saw the harvest being brought in in this way, "the corn stacked up on the animals backs, till they looked like moving ricks, whilst by their side ran women and children with naked feet steadying the rocking burdens. Being some distance from the coast Thomas and Jane would not have had the benefit of seaweed, and the dung heap would have been the source of their fertilizer. They would have used contraptions known as dung jars to move it from the heap to the fields, and these fitted onto a wooden saddle on the pony’s back. The jars had swinging bottoms, which meant that the manure could be spread onto the field without having to remove the jars from the pony's back. Other type of wooden saddle known as long or short "crooks" were used for moving hay, faggots of fuel, wood etc. and these were arched shaped and had pegs protruding on either side. Thomas and Jane’s eldest son Hugh Knuckey married Elizabeth Dunstan on the 15th of June 1719. Life was hard at this time and their first son Thomas who was baptised on April 30th 1720 died. The couple had another son who they had baptised Thomas on March 31st 1727 This Thomas also died as did his mother Elizabeth. Thomas re-married around 1753, and his second wife was also called Jane (surname unknown). Their first-born was also baptised Thomas on the 17th October 1754, and they went on to have seven other children, John, 1759, Avis 1760, Jane 1763, Richard 1766 twins Hugh 11
and James 1769 and Elizabeth who was born in January 1775 but died in the April.
The well which still remains in the garden today with the water being used as recently as 1983 for a lovely cup of tea. The family got its water from a well that had been sunk to a depth of thirty feet. In the 17th century the water would have been used to make a type of barley beer, which made it safer to drink, but by the middle of the century there would be another small pot of water boiling on the hearth for the tea. There was no such thing as a tea kettle then in the parish, nor for many years afterwards, however, the table was laid with a tea-set of old India china brought into Falmouth by one of the East India Companies ships who carried many china items as ballast as this did not contaminate the cargoe of tea. The teapot was very small and the cup was a little larger than a thimble. The Times newspaper in an article printed on December the 6th 1787 tells us that it was not until 1666 that people started to drink tea in very small amounts as a herbal remedy. The Earls of Arlington and Offory
first imported it from Holland, but it was very expensive at £3 per pound and it stayed around that price until 1707. In 1715 Green Tea was introduced The Times article says, “as great quantities were imported and the price consequently lessened, the practice of drinking it descended to the lower classes.” As a producer of wool, Hugh Knuckey would have been very interested in tea. For years the Cornish farmers had been smuggling their wool over to France as it was long in nature whereas the French sheep produced a short fleece, which was difficult to spin and weave. When one English bale was added to four of the French the wool could then be spun and woven. Napoleon once claimed that without the Cornish smugglers his army would have had no greatcoats. The wool was exchange for goods such as spirits, tobacco silks and lace. However, in 1717 tea became an item that was bartered for English wool by the smugglers and tea took over from spirits as the favourite cargo. Between 1717 and 1726 around 700,000 lbs a year were smuggled in. An illustration of the vast proportions of the smuggling trade in tea was given in a pamphlet, which was put out by the East India Company in 1742. “Since an excise duty of 4s per lb. was laid on tea, it has brought an average of £130,000 a year into the exchequer, which is but for 650,000 pounds weight of tea. But that the real consumption is vastly greater a single fact will prove. Some years ago the treasurer of our East India company received a letter from Holland intimating that one person in the province of Zealand smuggled yearly for England no less than half a million pounds. Though this seemed incredible the directors upon inquiry, were convinced of the fact that such a person there was who, some few years before had been but an English sailor, 13
was now married to a woman who kept a china shop, and had so well managed affairs that he had four sloops of his own constantly employed in smuggling; that the quantity of tea which he was supposed to export had not at all been magnified, and that he had more guineas and English specie in his house than any banker in England.” The remedy proposed by the author was a tax of from 5s. to 20s. on all families that drank tea, which will bring a smile to the face of modern political economists. The consumption of tea in the whole of Great Britain was computed at 1,500,000 lbs a year, the price of which in bond was from 5s.9d to 6s.10d per lb. Thomas and Jane's son James Knuckey married Susanna Reed at Stithians Parish Church on the 10th of July 1794. This Susanna was descended from Thomas's great grandmother. Susanna's father, Richard Reed was the executor of his father's will and had taken over the tenancy of Nanpean Wartha in Stithians (22 acres), held of the manor of Perranarworthal in 1694. But as well as farming he was involved in tin mining and is shown as "a tinner of Stithians", when listed as a bondsman for the administration of the estate of a David Martin of Stithians in the same year. Richard was tin streaming in the valley leading down from Nanpean but by the time that he drew up his own will which was dated 30 Aug. 1740, the tin had been exhausted and he is shown as being a "Yeoman of Stithians". He was a Churchwarden of St Stithians in 1723 and I have often wondered why the Churchwarden clay pipe was named as such. But tobacco had long been another favourite cargo for the Cornish smugglers and Celia Fiennes wrote in her diary "Men women and children have all their pipes of tobacco in their mouths and sit around the fire smoking." Although a churchwarden it was not unknown for respectable gentlemen to be involved in smuggling including local magistrates and mayors.
Below are a selection of clay pipe bowls found by the author. The first two pipes on the top row date from the 1600's and the third and forth pipes are Churchwardens and date from the beginning of the 1700's. No. 5 on the top row is a late 1700's ladies pipe and the one next to it is a pipe bowl bearing bull or buffalo horns. This may have been made for the members of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes when the organisation was started in the early 1800's. The final two pipes date from the 19th century.
During a debate in the House of Lords on the protection of Customs officers it was said that: “If you intend that any of the officers should do their duty, within some of the counties of England: and this necessity proceeds from the great height smuggling has lately come to, and the vast numbers of men now engaged some way or other in that pernicious trade; insomuch that in some parts of our maritime counties, the whole people of the county are so generally engaged in it, that it is impossible to find a jury that 15
will upon a trial do justice to an officer of the revenue; therefore, unless you agree to this clause, an officer, in any such county, who faithfully performs the duty of his office, must expect to be assaulted, beaten, and bruised, every day of his life; because the people of the county know that he can never recover a verdict against them.” One of the routes taken by smugglers after landing their cargo at Gwithian passed through Penhalvean via Four Lanes. A gentleman then resident in Four Lanes made several trips across the Channel in the pursuit of this profitable trade. Sometimes it was necessary to resort to such stratagems as hiding liquor in coffins, or other unlikely hiding-places, to escape the vigilance of the preventive men, but often underground hiding-places were specially excavated. In the 1920's "The Cornubian" reported that "a smuggler’s bolt was discovered by the subsidence of a garden wall in Stithian’s Row, next to the Queen Victoria Pub in Four Lanes." Many of the farms of Stithians and the district around possess caves cut in the marl or pot-granite. These usually consist of a tunnel, extending in one case for fifty feet, with branches on either side. These branches are not usually more than ten or twelve feet in length, but one that branched from the main tunnel at Mount Wise, near Carnmenellis, took sixty cartloads of material to fill the gap it left after it had collapsed beneath the weight of a steam’ traction engine in the early 1900's. There are, or were, examples of these caves at Mount Wise, Filtrick, Gregwartha, Hendra, North Penhalurick, and Nanpean near Penhalvean. If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet, Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street, Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie. 16
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by! Five and twenty ponies trotting through the dark
Brandy for the Parson, 'Baccy for the Clerk; Laces for a lady, letters for a spy, Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by! The next generation to occupy Nanpean was the family of Richard’s son John who was named in his father's will. Richard married Mary Pearce on the 24th of April 1722 in Perranarworthal, when Richard was also recorded as being a "Tinner of Stithians". Mary came from a well-known mining family and her maternal grandfather was John Polzew [Polsue] of Gwennap who named her husband as a bondsman for the administration of his estate in 1739. John was also named in the will of her father John Pearce, gent. of St Cleer, Cornwall 1743. The couple had five children, and in order to feed them John also found time to carry on the two occupations of mining and farming. For centuries the Cornish had been taking tin from the streams and valley bottoms and the Reed family was one that had gained much wealth as a result. Although most of their living had come from tin streaming by the 18th century streaming was fast being replaced by underground mining and the Reed family are known to have invested in a number of ventures and the title of “Tinner in Stithians” did not necessarily mean that Richard dug for the tin but meant that he was what was known as an adventurer who put money into a mining venture. The couple had seven children and they named the forth one Susanna. This Susanna married her third cousin, James Knuckey of Penhalvean, at Stithians Parish Church on the 10th of July 1794
The marriage of Susanna Reed and James Knuckey seems to have coincided with the end of the three lives or 99 year lease. Whilst some land was let by the year, it was common to grant leases for 7,14, or 21 years. However, It was also usual to grant leases for three lives. All land let for buildings was let in this way. The tenant builds a house, and nominates three lives. When all these three people are dead, the house belongs to the owner of the land. But generally, when the lives get old, or one has died, the tenant makes a new agreement with the landlord, and puts up three new lives, on condition either of giving the landlord a sum of money, or of laying out an additional sum on the premises. Farmland is also let in the same way; If a man has a lease on a piece of land at a rent of say 40s a year and the lease was to expire at the termination of three lives, the tenant had a right to vote as a freeholder for a member of parliament for the county as long as he was named as one of the lives. But if the wording of the lease stated it was to expire at the termination of three lives, or at the termination of 99 years, then the tenant had no vote. It was usual to put in the deed this clause about 99 years, in order to prevent the tenant voting. With the new lease, James and Susanna seem to have agreed to build a new farmhouse to replace the small single story dwelling that had served the farms tenants for more than a 100 years. The site chosen for the new farmhouse was part of the Meade field and once the lease was agreed, the new house was erected along with other buildings and a new well was dug to serve the house. Today this building stands in the farmyard with the upstairs being used as a rest room for the workers and the downstairs as a butchery.
Penhalvean West Farmhouse C. 1795 A stable block and other outbuildings were erected at the same time and this then became the new dwelling and farmyard. Just three months after their wedding, James and Susanna were back in Stithians church for the baptism of their first child on the 8th Of October 1794. The child was a boy and they named him Thomas after James's father. Farming in Cornwall had changed little over the centuries and the following will give some idea of just what life was like for James and his young family in the first twenty years of the 19th century. The farm consisted of just over 18 acres of land divided into nine fields plus the new farmyard. These small farms were the norm in Cornwall and the farm across the road, Penhalvean East, was just 30 acres and the one belonging to Susanna’s father at Nanpean Wartha 15 acres. An acre of ground would produce around 6 Cornish bushels of wheat or 55 Cornish bushels of Potatoes. A Cornish bushel was equivalent to 3 Winchester or English Bushels A Cornish bushel of the best wheat weighed around thirty score (600 lbs). The Quaker corn-dealers would not buy it if it weighed less than 19
570 lbs. Red wheat weighed rather more than the white. When ground, a bushel of corn produced around 510 lbs. of flour, and 60 pounds of bran. A bushel of barley produced around 480 lbs., and from this they produced 420 lbs. of flour. The wheat bran was used for fattening fowls and pigs, whilst the barley bran was good for nothing, unless to burn. In 1811 the price of wheat was £1 2s. 8d. a Cornish bushel, and barley 16s. 0d. per bushel. This was considered a high price for barley in proportion to wheat; and is accounted for by the demand for barley to make malt. It was the custom for people to buy their corn from the farmer, and send it to the miller to be ground. The miller would then take as his toll, one twelfth of the quantity ground. Some people preferred paying in money, and then the charge for grinding a bushel of wheat was 6 shillings, and barley, 3 shilling. James like his father before him would have ploughed his fields with his own oxen; it was reckoned that two oxen were equal in pulling power to a horse. The ox was attached to the plough or cart by means of a wooden yoke round his neck as unlike a horse whose strength is in the shoulders, the chief strength of an ox is in his neck. The reason that James would have preferred an oxen was because they cost less to keep. In summer they lived on grass; whilst in winter they lived on wheat-straw—scarcely any hay. Secondly, the flesh of a working ox was better than the flesh of one which had not been worked. The reason for this was that when they intended to fatten an ox for killing, they fed him little until he was thin, then turned him into the pastures, to get fat. All his flesh was then new, and made excellent beef. Although it must have taken more time to plough a field, James unlike the larger farms did not have to pay a ploughmans wages or hire a contractor to do it for him. Contractors in the 1820’s charged the 20
following prices: For Ploughing: 4s. or 5s. an acre and a “handy” man could plough an acre a day. But he ‘would drink a gallon of beer during the day, which could cost him 2s. Reaping wheat: 5s. an acre, and, in some places, a lunch and beer besides. Mowing barley, oats, or hay: 4s. or 5s. an acre. In ordinary cases a man could mow an acre a day. James would have mown his oats and barley like hay, but then he would have bound up the sheaves, like the wheat. The oat and barley straw was used in the winter as fodder for the cattle, instead of hay which was fed to the horses and mules At this time most farms relied on sea-sand and ore-weed (a type of seaweed) to enrich the soil. There were very few wheeled vehicles in Cornwall and mules would have been used to transport sand and seaweed from the coast. Farmers kept large quantities of mules, which they let out to carry copper ore from the mines to the wharf’s on the Fal; and coals from the wharf’s to the mines. Twenty-one mules were called a pair of mules, and these would carry three tons of copper ore, 21 cwt. to the ton; that makes three cwt. to each mule. Each mule carried two sacks, thrown across a saddle; the upper part of which was wood, and came up in the middle to a point. The mules were also used to transport the smuggled goods from the coast. Whilst lime and salt were occasionally employed by some farmers, this was not generally the case, and the ore-weed, which was thrown on the shore at Gwithian and Portreath by a south west wind was highly valued. However, such was the demand, that if a farmer got two loads, he thought himself lucky.
The sand was only taken from places over which the sea had rolled when the tide was in. The farmers never touched the dunes, because they said that dune sand was not so productive. In 1820, Dr. Paris, a physician of Penzance, wrote a paper in which he mentioned this circumstance as a proof of the utility of salt as manure. He said that the virtue was not in the sand, but in the salt. Ore-weed may well have owed part of its virtue to the same cause, but it is of a fat oily nature, and was adapted admirably for potatoes. It was used in great quantities in order to produce early potatoes, which were selling in the 1820’s at a high price, sometimes as high as 2s. 6d. a gallon. But the potatoes were said to always taste of ore-weed. It was also claimed that when cows were fed on turnips, their milk, butter, and flesh always tasted of turnips. Manure was called dressing and it was customary to have piles of dressing on the fields. James, would bring the dung and straw out of the stable to create a number of heaps in the field. He would then spread sand on top of the heaps and having done this he then ploughed several furrows (called here voors) across the field and taking up the earth from these furrows, he would throw it over the heaps. The longer these heaps stood the better as the stronger it got. Then when the field was sown he scattered the dressing over the seed. It was customary for farmers, the year before they intended to sow a field with wheat, to allow miners and other people to plant (teel) potatoes in it. This was supposed to pay the farmer well; for the following wheat crop would be more abundant. But the increased crop arose not from any virtue in the potatoes, but from the quantities of manure brought by the people who planted the potatoes. It was the norm for miners to keep a pig in a sty in the garden and feed it on scraps plus the waste potatoes. As we said earlier, sheep would certainly have been kept and a bale of wool that would sell for £7 in England brought £18 in France which made it a profitable crop for farmers involved in the smuggling trade. 22
James would also have raised beef and It was the practice in Cornwall for the farmers of land to buy cows, and let cows and land together to dairymen, at so much per cow. At the time that James took over the farm it was eight guineas. The dairyman was obliged to rear as many calves as the cows produced, provided the farmer was inclined to rear them. Some years could be poor for the dairymen, for during the hot weather the cows gave little milk. The dairyman would also make Cornish cream and butter. This was done by scalding the milk by placing it in a broad pan over a dull fire for about half an hour, until it had a certain appearance, by which they could tell it is scalded enough. The milk remained in the pan for two or three days, and the cream rose to the top of the milk. The cream was of a thick consistence and covered with a thin yellow wrinkled skin. By this means the cream is much better, though the milk is not so good. So the Dairyman would feed it to pigs along with potatoes which, he like the miners, grew on land which the farmer was preparing to plant with wheat the following year. Part of the cream would then be put into a churn and made into butter. By the 1820’s so much common land was being enclosed that fuel was becoming scarce. The following letter was sent to the West Briton on the 21st of March 1823:“Sir…. I must remark on the very objectionable smoky taste our butter often acquires from the milk being scalded over a furze or turf fire; and though much of this taste goes off when the butter is salted, yet I believe it is more for the interest of the dairy-man to churn than scald. I will not pronounce absolutely that a greater quantity of butter is produced from the same milk by churning, though I am led to think so, and the dried pellicle on the surface of scalded cream, shewing there has been great exaporation, would seem to prove it; but churning would have other good effects, it would save fuel, now become very scarce, and butter will keep better than when made from scalded cream; but above all, by meeting the taste of customers, the dairy-man would get a better price.”
In the next few years a further four children were born to James and Susanna: James Knuckey baptised 2nd January 1797. Richard Knuckey Baptised 28th July 1799 John Knuckey Baptised 15th November 1802 Died November 1802 John Knuckey baptised 25th May 1805. James the eldest of these children married Ann Dunstan of Stithians on the 6th of November 1824 and he and Ann took over the tenancy of the farm on his father’s death. His brother, John was to follow a career in mining and went to work at the local mine that was owned by the Buller family who also owned Penhalvean Farm and a large number of mineral rights in the Redruth area including those for Trewirgie Downs and Wheal Beauchamp, and in 1819 the first shaft was sunk for the Wheal Buller mine, which is situated about a mile to the north of Penhalvean. The mine commenced its working life with 11 tons of copper ore being brought to the surface in the first year, and had access to what were believed to be one of the richest copper grounds in Cornwall and by 1825 over a mile of tunnels had been created and 6,230 tons of ore recovered. John Knuckey worked at the mine from the age of ten, first on the surface but then underground as a miner. He worked alongside three brothers who came from Stithians and they became the best of friends. As a result of this friendship John met their sister Elizabeth Odger and the couple got married on the 30th of June 1836 at Illogan by special licence. The register gives the following details: Knuckey John, sojourner, and Elizabeth Odgers of the Parish of Stithians, spinster. Both signed by mark.
Witnesses were Elizabeth Williams and John Willoughby. The old farmhouse was converted to a two-storey dwelling and on the 1841 census John and Elizabeth are living in it with their son John who was born in 1840. They are also sharing the property with Elizabeth’s brothers Thomas, John and William. However the good times were not to last and later that year production at Wheal Buller had fallen so low that the mine was abandoned.
Penhalvean Cottage 1836 Just when John and his family left Penhalvean we do not know but a daughter Susan Ann was born in 1852 at Wendron. She went on to marry a Mr RICHARDS [?] in December quarter of 1871 at Redruth and on the 1881 census she is shown as a widow living at 7 Stray Park Road, Camborne with her two children and her mother Elizabeth Knuckey, who is also shown as being a widow. The 1851 Census for Penhalvean shows that John’s father James Knuckey was now a widower and was still working the farm. Two sons and two daughters were still living at home, with the eldest, James (23) shown on the census as being an innkeeper. The census does not give any clue as to were the inn was. 25
This son married Emma Odgers the daughter of William Odgers and Mary Bath of Stithians on the12th July 1851 and a daughter Susan Jane was born on the 13 Sep 1851. The second son Richard (20) is shown as a miner and may have been working at the Buller mine as in 1848 a decision was taken to re-open it in the hope of finding tin. The new workings were to the north and west of those closed in 1840. In 1851, the shaft was being sunk deeper in order to reach the lode, and because it was no longer profitable to raise the ore by the use of a horse powered whim the mine owners decided to order a steam powered winding engine. The mine now needed someone to drive the new engine and William Medlyn, who had gained experience as an mine engine driver in the mines of the Breage / Sithney district, was employed. He brought his new wife who was pregnant with their first child to live in the old farmhouse, which was now let as a cottage, separate from the farm. By 1853 the mines monthly profit had risen to £5,170 and two more engines were ordered one of them from Harvey's of Hayle. The shareholders soon started to do well and in 1855 they received £53,760 in dividends, representing 72% of the gross value of the ore, and the mine paid the highest dividend to its shareholders of any mine in Cornwall in 1856. Although William and Alice saw none of these payouts life in Penhalvean was looking up with William having steady employment at the mine. His job was an important one, with Wheal Buller being one of the few mines at the time which was fitted with both skips and kibbles, he had the responsibility for hauling both the ore in kibbles and men in skips from underground. The photograph is of a skip in use at Cook's Kitchen shaft at South Crofty. The skips were fitted with four wheels, which ran between four guides two on each side of the skip compartment in the shaft. Iron bars bolted to the sides of the skip restrained any lateral movement. 26
Before the introduction of skips men would have had to climb ladders down into the mine and then done a days work before climbing all the way up again. When I worked underground at South Crofty some years ago I would have to climb the ladders between levels in Cooks Kitchen shaft in order to carry out maintenance on electrical equipment. The shaft was used to carry ore to the surface so had a kibble rather than a skip in place most of the time. Climbing around 200 feet of ladders at a time in temperatures of around one hundred degrees. I found exhausting. However to have to face the prospect of climbing a thousand feet after spending eight hours hand drilling the blasting holes in granite must have been terrible. William the engine driver would have been a popular man amongst the miners, who knew he had the power to give them either a smooth or a bumpy ride up or down the shaft, By 1856, Kellys Directory of Cornwall, shows that James Jnr. had ceased trading as an innkeeper and was now just a Beer Retailer in 27
Penhalvean. Smuggling had by this time almost ended and it may have been that he no longer had access to cheap spirits. Nine years later in 1864 James died The 1861 census shows that William and Alice Medlyn had come from outside the parish but that their children had all been born within it. 1861 Census
Relation MEDLYN, WM MEDLYN, ALICE MEDLYN, ELIZ MEDLYN, WM MEDLYN, JOHN Status Head Wife Daughter Son Son Gender Age M M U U U 37 30 9 7 5 Miner Birthplace born Constantine born Sithney born Stithians born Stithians born Stithians
Shortly after this census was taken Alice Ann Medlyn was born and at her baptism when the time came for the clergyman to ask for the name of the child, her father replied "Alice Ann, Sir”. The minister then proceeded to baptise her “Alexander”, and although this is the name shown in the register it was ignored for the rest of her life. 1865 must have been exciting for the young Alice as a baby brother was brought into the world. Alice loved little Joseph and enjoyed helping to look after him and the knowledge gained would be put to good use later. The year also saw the building of a new chapel in Penhalvean the land being given by the Buller Estate and the cost of the building was £120. At the same time another much larger chapel was being built just down the road at Penmennor which was to cost £1,200. These chapels were the result of splits amongst the local Wesleyan families following a falling out over of all things the tea treat.
I wonder what the preacher took as his text on that first Sunday morning at Penhalvean where the majority of the families earned their living from mining? Maybe he took it from Job chapter 28 :"Truly there is a mine for the silver, and a place for the gold so fine; Iron is dug up from the earth, and the earth pours forth its copper. Man digs into darkness and explores to the utmost bound." Surely a text written for the Cornish. And was the first hymn to be sung one that was suited to a mining community whose homes are at the head of the moor?
O Lord! we mining children raise A grateful song to Thee; Thou wilt accept the feeblest praise From all that bend their knee Here on the broad and rocky moor We utter all our hearts, And all our supplications pour In simple, tuneful parts.
The ironic thing was that at the time these new chapels were being opened, the fortunes of Wheal Buller and other mines in the district had started to decline. Stithians population had reached its peak in 1841 with a population of 2530 which had more than doubled in 40 years. It then started to decline to 2385 persons in 1865 The Wheal Buller adventurers had concentrated on the mining of copper but the earth was now pouring forth its copper in the USA with the discovery of the great copper lodes around Lake Superior where mines were being worked by Cornishmen who had left during the previous slump in the 1840/50’s. Added to this was the increased production in Spain and prices were falling fast. The Cornishman newspaper reported on the 4th of November 1868 "In ten years our production of copper ore has decreased from 147,330 to 88,603". Most cornish mines had found the same so the adventurers at Wheal Buller decided to go for tin. 29
1840 Clomen Cat
There is an old Cornish saying "She’s as empty as a Clomen Cat" and when people started to use the phrase in relation to the lack of tin at Wheal Buller everyone knew what was meant. The Clomen cat was an ornament, which every cottage had on, their mantle shelf probably bought from some stall at Redruth Fair. Made of plaster of Paris they were hollow from head to toe, hence the saying in 1875 the Buller mine followed a lot of other mines in the Gwennap district and closed. Between 1819 and 1875 the miners and surface workers of Wheal Buller had produced 141,707 tons of copper ore and between 1859 and 1875, 1,373 tons of black tin. Thankfully whilst Wheal Buller failed in the change over to tin, other mines just over the hill such as Dolcoath, Tincroft, East Pool, Wheal Agar and South Crofty succeeded. Captain Taylor who had interest in many mines in the area had led the adventurers at the Buller mine, and with the closure William and his sons, William and John who had worked alongside their father would have gone to work in one of those. Other Stithian families made their minds up to move out of the area and the population fell by almost 200. The years up to 1875 saw two sisters Sarah Jane and Ethel Linda join the family brood. The1871 census shows the whole family 30
Name MEDLYN, WM MEDLYN, ALICE MEDLYN, ELIZ MEDLYN, WM MEDLYN, JOHN MEDLYN, ALICE MEDLYN, JOSEPH MEDLYN, SARAH JANE MEDLYN, ETHEL LINDA Relation Status Gender Age Head Wife Daughter Son Son Daughter Son Daughter Daughter M M U U U U U 47 40 19 17 15 10 6 3 1 Miner Birthplace
born Constantine born Sithney born Stithians Miner born Stithians Miner born Stithians Scholar born Stithians Scholar born Stithians Scholar born Stithians
They were all living together in what was then a 2 bedroomed cottage lit with whale oil lamps and candles. For water they relied on the well in the garden. Like most other mining families the Medlyns kept a few hens and a pig, and William and his two eldest sons grew vegetables to help feed the family. As Alice grew she helped her mother with the younger children and the 1881 census shows that Alice aged twenty had left home and was working as a children’s nurse for Arthur Evans Corin. a Flour and Provisions merchant at 36 Fore Street, Redruth. Her eldest brother William had married and was living with his wife Charlotte and two children Elizabeth and William at Davey’s Row in Tuckingmill, Illogan. This is now part of Camborne and he might well have worked at Dolcoath as he is shown on the census as a miner. However, a few years later, with the closure of the many mines in the area, William moved with his young family to London looking for better prospects than down a mineshaft. He eventually became the owner of a draper’s shop in the big city. Alice’s father and mother were still living in Penhalvean and the census shows the following. 31
Name William MEDLYN Alice MEDLYN John MEDLYN Joseph MEDLYN Sarah J. MEDLYN Relation Head Wife Son Son Daughter Status M M U U Gender Male Female Male Male Female Female Age 55 49 20 17 13 10 Birthplace Occupation Wendron Sithney Stithians Stithians Stithians Stithians Tin Miner Tin Miner Scholar Scholar Engine Driver
Ethel Linda MEDLYN Daughter
Whilst in Redruth, she had met and fallen in love with Bill Symonds (Simmonds) but in late 1881 the mine where he worked closed and he decided to join others who were leaving Cornwall for America. Bill left Cornwall in 1882 arriving in New York on the “Schiedam” on the 12th of April. The records at the immigration centre at Castle Island show that he was aged 22 and a carpenter. They also show that he could not read or write. Once he passed through immigration he made his way to Champion, Painesdale, Michigan, where a Cornish cousin had arranged a job for him. Because he was unable to read and write he would dictate his letters to a friend who was also slowly teaching him to read and write.
Alice wrote back along the following lines.
“Dear Bill: “Your letter written by your friend came yesterday. I am glad you are well and making friends. Mr. Cornish must be a good man. I hope to meet him some day. “And the money came, too. I shall be as careful as I can, and save some from each note you send. “It must be bitter cold there with so much snow. I try to fancy how it looks, so deep and white everywhere. How do women walk in it? “How do you live, so many in one house? What do they do on Sundays when all are at home? Does one woman cook for all of them? “I know you miss your Ma and Pa and I am glad Jake is with you. How far is Central from where you are? Give Jake my regards. When Grace hears from Tom she comes in and we talk. “Do you think you would like to live in America for good? You did not say. “Tell me about the work, Bill, if it is as hard there as it is here. I suppose mining is mining the world over. “I am glad you are going to school. It must be hard after a day’s work, or to get out of bed to study; but it will be like talking together when you can write. The schoolmaster must be a good man too. “I am well, Bill. Don’t worry about me, my love. My mother comes in every day. Your mother does almost every day. “Bill, it is good of your friend to write for you and he makes an interesting letter, but I can’t wait till you write yourself. “I was just thinking this might reach you for Christmas. I hope it does. “Here’s a whisper, my dear. We all send our love to you. “I love you, Bill. “Your wife, “Alice”
Within the year Alice went to join him. She booked through tickets from Redruth to Liverpool and as soon as she stepped on the platform at Liverpool, people were asking her to let them take her to this or that Hotel. However, Alice had already booked into a hotel, which was 33
used regularly by Cornish people and known as “Fairburn and Marrack”. Here she met people, from all parts of Cornwall, some were travelling to America, others recently landed, were bound for Cornwall, at the White Star Line office, she collected her ticket which she had booked in Redruth before leaving and was informed that the ship would not sail for a day or two. She was paid retaining money as compensation for waiting beyond the usual time for starting as advertised. Alice had travelled with some other Redruth people and they had time to look around Liverpool. She wrote later that it was a large town “much finer and bigger than Redruth”, with better streets and fine public building. On the Sunday while waiting for the ship, the group paid a visit to New Brighton on the other side of the River Mersey, in a steamboat. She wrote “There is a long stretch of sands, all along the shore it appeared to be a kind of holiday resort, all supplied with swings, Band of music, in fact full of attractions for the visitor.” Just before leaving Fairburn & Marrack’s to board the ship, some three or four women natives of Liverpool or residents begged money of some of the passengers, which they refused to give. They then fell on their knees in the street, and asked for all who should sail in the steamer to be lost at sea, which I am happy to say never happened. To get on board the ship was quite a scramble, with the dockside one crowded mass of living freight, each eager to get to their respective places on board, luggage pitched here and there, as if it were simply so much ballast, all confusion and anxiety for each individual self. In a short time the “Germanic” steamed slowly down the river, the open sea was soon gained, and Alice stood on the deck looking at the shores she had left behind. The Welsh cliffs could very clearly be seen, with their bold headlands dipping in the sea. Early the next morning the ship was off Queenstown, in Ireland and cast anchor, and lay there for some hours. Alice like other passengers wrote a postcard for home, and then viewed the landscape. After receiving a tugboat or two of Irish passengers, the ship steered right off Cape Clear and out into the open Atlantic. The cry a man overboard went thro the ship, the engines were immediately reversed, boat lowered, but failed to save the 34
drowned man. It turned out to be a steward, who jumped overboard under “the influence of drink.” The passage was a very good one and eyes were strained every now and then to catch a glimpse of land. On the tenth day land ahead was seen, and the ship was safely anchored in the Bay, directly opposite Manhattan Island on which New York is built. After a long delay, Alice was landed in Castle Gardens on the 16th of April 1883. The office she passed thro was a very large building, clerks or officers of United States government stood up in pulpits, -calling and asking for information respecting the fresh arrivals. Alice’s name was recorded, also what part of the States she was going too. There were friends awaiting the arrival of the expected ones and also a good supply of Hotel runners. Mr Blake a Cornishman from St Austell owned and ran the Miners Arms in Front Street close to the docks. This was soon reached, and accommodation for all of those who came from Cornwall was supplied. Bill had arrived to meet her the day before and they had a wonderful reunion. On the next day a start was made on the journey to Michigan. The railway carriages were packed with travellers, and Alice’s adventures in America had begun. Back home in Penhalvean, Alice’s father had become ill and a few weeks after arriving in America news came from home that he had died. Alice sat down and penned the following:
I left at home a parent dear, A father kind and true, And parted, yea from him I loved, My pleasure to pursue. My twenty-second birthday passed, My twenty-third not come, A letter in my hand was placed Bearing sad news from home. Sad news indeed it was to me To lose a father dear But when I think of by-gone days He is better off than here. Although his body in chapel yard lies His soul has passed away To dwell with him above the sky Who taught us how to pray. When turning to his wife and kin To take his last farewell Two wandering children of his own Were absent from his side. Two children from their home had gone Their duty to perform We little thought that death's cold sleep Had taken our father from home.
Although we have lost a father dear And missed him from our home We would not wish him back again What ever us betide. Alice Ann Medlyn
Alice and Bill moved to Calumet where a local newspaper reported in 1892, "Bill Symonds (family spelling Simmonds) has a 9 x 12 smile on his face. He has a young daughter Alice Medlyn weighing 10lbs." No mention of the mother, but that was the way back then. So Alice number three entered the world in which her father was to die within 5 years aged 38. Of the other Medlyn children, John joined the army and served in Africa where before returning home he purchased a monkey and a parrot, which he brought back to the cottage. The monkey soon died of the cold but the parrot lived for many years, but had to be covered up when visitors came around as the sailors on board the ship coming home had taught it to swear, or so trooper Medlyn told his mother. Joseph the last of the boys sailed for America and settled in Colorado. He did well and a few years later met and married a young girl who became pregnant. Unfortunately both mother and child died in childbirth and Joseph sent a letter to his mother in Penhalvean in which he wrote, " I'm crying, cursing God and dying of a broken heart." His mother never heard from him again. All attempts at trying to find what happened to him have so far been unsuccessful.
Ordinance Survey map 1888
By 1891 it was just Alice and her youngest daughter Ethel who were living in what was now number 2 Penhalvean.
The other half of the cottage had been let by the Buller Estate to a James Andrew and his family. The 1891 census has the following entry:
26,Penhalvean,1,James Andrew,Head,M,53,,Agricl. Labourer,Employed,Stithians Cornwall,, ,,,Grace Andrew,Wife,M,,46,,,Stithians Cornwall,, ,,,Jane B Andrew,Dau,S,,19,Dressmaker,Neither,Stithians Cornwall,, ,,,William Andrew,Son,,14,,Scholar,,Stithians Cornwall,, ,,,Gertrude Andrew,Dau,,,11,Scholar,,Stithians Cornwall,, ,,,James Andrew,Son,,8,,Scholar,,Stithians Cornwall,,
Penhalvean,1,John Medlin,Head,M,35,,Tin Miner,Employed,Stithians Cornwall,, ,,,Bessie Medlin,Wife,M,,27,,,Redruth Cornwall,, ,,,Ethel Medlin,Dau,,,5,Scholar,,Redruth Cornwall,, ,,,Beatrice A Medlin,Dau,,,3,,,Stithians Cornwall,,
Penhalvean Cottage 1901 Back in Penhalvean, the Census of 1901 shows that Alice is living alone in the Cottage, however John, his wife Bessie and their two children Ethel and Beatrice are living down the road in the cottage that is known as Mill Cottage.
Name Allard Vera
Electoral Roll for the Camborne Constituency 1948 Address Address 2006 Chaple bungalow Old Chapel Penhalvean Penhalvean
Andrew James Andrew Mary Bottrell Mary Downing Louisa Downing Stanley J Downing Louisa Downing Stanley J Downing Stanley Dunstan Barbara Dunstan Richard L Dunstan William H Eddy Albert E Eddy Mary E Harris Mary T Hicks Margaret A Johns Lucy M Johns Mary Johns Nicholas H Lawrence John C Lawrence Muriel Lenton William Lenton Edward Lenton Gwendolyn Manhire Mildred Manhire William J Nicholas Alfred P Nicholas E Jessie Phillips Charles H Phillips Dorothy Phillips Dorothy W Tregenza Elizabeth R Tregenza Norman Yoe John T
Penhalvean Penhalvean Penhalvean 3 Penhalvean 3 Penhalvean 3 Penhalvean 3 Penhalvean 3 Penhalvean Penhalvean Farm East Penhalvean Farm East Penhalvean Farm East Penhalvean Penhalvean Penhalvean Penhalvean Penhalvean Penhalvean Penhalvean Penhalvean Farm West Penhalvean Farm West 3 Penhalvean 3 Penhalvean 3 Penhalvean Penhalvean Penhalvean Penhalvean Cottage Penhalvean Cottage Penhalvean Penhalvean Penhalvean Penhalvean Penhalvean Penhalvean
1 Penhalvean Cottages 1 Penhalvean Cottages Bos Elvan Bos Elvan Bos Elvan Bos Elvan Bos Elvan Fransbrook Fransbrook Fransbrook
Same as Same as Bos Elvan Bos Elvan Bos Elvan
The Cottage The Cottage Mill Cottage Mill Cottage Mill Cottage 2 Penhalvean Cottages 2 Penhalvean Cottages
Alice Ann married Laughlin McClean in 1906 and little Alice gained a step dad. Our last letter from Alice came at Christmas in January 1989 when she was aged 97. We often talk about her and never forget that we are looking after Grandma Medlyn's Cottage. A place that in the past has seen much joy but also much sadness.
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