UK Trip 5 May 2005: Cornwall

Continued from Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.

We had breakfast at 7:00 am, and by 8:00 set off to explore the Bodmin Moor villages where some of my ancestors had lived. We went first to Cardinham, where William Growden and Elizabeth Sandercock had
got married in 1792, and the first of their children were born. Just over the road from the church was the village hall, where they were setting up the polling station for the general election.

Cardinham parish hall, Cornwall, being set up for use as a polling station in the General election, 5 May 2005

Cardinham parish hall, Cornwall, being set up for use as a polling station in the General election, 5 May 2005

Cardinham village on the edge of Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, where the Sandercock family had lived for several generations 5 May 2005

Cardinham village on the edge of Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, where the Sandercock family had lived for several generations 5 May 2005

The grass in the churchyard was dewy, but we found a number of tombstones of Sandercock and related families, and took photos of them with the digital camera and also of the interior of the church, where the pews were very ancient indeed, and it was quite a thought that ancestral bums had sat upon those pews.

St Meubred's Church, Cardinham, where William Growden and Elizabeth Sandercock were married in 1792.

St Meubred’s Church, Cardinham, where William Growden and Elizabeth Sandercock were married in 1792.

The Sandercock family went quite a way back in Cardinham, but William Growden appeared from nowhere, and we have not been able to find where he was born or who his parents were. You can see more about the church and these families here, and the gravestone of the earliest Sandercocks is here. The church is also known for its Celtic style wheel-headed crosses, which are said to be the oldest in the area.

Celtic-style Wheel-headed crowss in Cardinham churchyard

Celtic-style wheel-headed cross in Cardinham churchyard

If you are reading this because you are interested in family history, and would like to learn more about these families and discuss them with others, you can find a discussion forum for the Growden family here, and one for the Sandercock family here.

Carvings at the end of one of the pews in St Meubred's Church, Cardinham, where ancestral bums had sat. Each pew seemed to have a different carving.

Carvings at the end of one of the pews in St Meubred’s Church, Cardinham, where ancestral bums had sat. Each pew seemed to have a different carving.

From Cardinham we drove in to Bodmin, about 6 km away, and bought some more detailed Ordnance Survey maps, and then went to take some photos of the Growden family home at 3 Higher Bore Street, where the Growden family was living in 1861. My great grandfather, William Matthew Growden, was ten years old when they were living there. His father, Matthew Growden, was shown in the census as an agricultural labourer. His mother was Christiana Dyer, originally from Roche in Cornwall.


We also went to Scarlett’s Well, not far away, where my great grandfather, William Matthew Growden, was born in 1851. It was very interesting, as the well was a holy well, reputed to have healing powers.

Scarlett's Well, Bodmin, Cornwall. 5 May 2005

Scarlett’s Well, Bodmin, Cornwall. 5 May 2005

Next to it was a cottage that could well have been where the family lived, because it was the only dwelling in the vicinity. Though there had been some modern additions, the basic house looked very old, and it also made sense of Matthew Growden’s occupation as a “woodman”, someone who took care of the woods on the land. For more pictures of the area, including the cottage and William Matthew Growdon, see here.

We went on to Penpillick, near Tywardreath, whiere my grandfather, William George Growdon, had been born, and seeing an advertisement for cream teas went to a farmhouse and had some, but like so many other such places, the people were not Cornish, but had moved here from elsewhere a few years ago. They had a nice smooth dog, called Manic Mabel. We took some photos of the parish church in Tywardreath, but did not stay very long, because the family had not lived there very long either. We went to Par to look at the beach, and drove East along the the south Cornwall coast towards Fowey.

South Cornwall coast near Par. 5 May 2005

South Cornwall coast near Par. 5 May 2005

There was a footpath along the coast, but we did not walk along it, as we did not have enough time. If we ever win the Lotto and can afford to have a return visit it might be fun to do that. We turned inland at Fowey, and drove through Lostwithiel and St Neot. St Neot was where another Growden family had lived, though we have not found any link between it and ours. From there we went past the Dozmary Pool, where King Arthur’s sword was supposed to have been thrown after his death. It did not look much different from the Colliston Lake on the other side of the road.

Dozmary Pool, Cornwall, where King Arthur's sword is said to have been thrown after his death.

Dozmary Pool, Cornwall, where King Arthur’s sword is said to have been thrown after his death.

It was lunch time, and we went to Jamaica Inn nearby, but it looked too touristy, and very crowded. It was on the A30, the main road through the area, and it looked as if every passer-by had had the same idea. Instead we went to look at the parish of Temple, where Mary Ann Tilly had come from. She was my great great grandmother, and had married Richard Greenaway of St Breward, and their daughter Elizabeth Greenaway had married William Matthew Growdon.

Temple Church, Cornwall, 5 May 2005.

Temple Church, Cornwall, 5 May 2005.

Temple was a tiny village, but there were lots of cars there, and at first we thought that the entire population had come to vote all at once, but then we saw strangely dressed people, looking like druids or something, though some were dressed as friars or knights in suits of armour. They seemed to be coming up from the church, and it turned out to be a medieval wedding, and we spoke to some of the guests.

Medieval wedding at Temple, Cornwall. 5 May 2005.

Medieval wedding at Temple, Cornwall. 5 May 2005.

We then drove to St Breward, thinking to have lunch at the pub there. We drove across Bodmin Moor from Temple, and the road was on the surface instead of in a sunken lane, so one could see the horizon, and there were ponies that appeared to be wild wandering about on the moor.

Ponies on Bodmin Moor

Ponies on Bodmin Moor

It was 2:30 by the time we got to St Breward, and they stopped serving food after 2:00 pm, so we went back to Bodmin, to Weaver’s tea room, over the road from the Weaver’s bar where we had eaten the previous evening, and there at last they did have Cornish pasties on the menu. The woman running the place was from North London, however. There don’t seem to be any Cornish people around. She said she worked part time, and lived in Blisland, near where we were staying, and she said there were still some Greenaway families in the village.

Bodmin, Cornwall, 5 May 2005

Bodmin, Cornwall, 5 May 2005

We walked around the churchyard of St Petroc’s, where all the tombstones had been placed around the
walls, but there were no Growden ones. The church was closed at 3:00 pm. Though it was supposed to be western Ascension Day, there didn’t seem to be any services at any of the churches we had visited. There was a museum with exibits showing the history of Bodmin, and and we went up to The Beacon, a hill with views all around, but the day wasn’t clear enough to see very much. There was also an obelisk, a  memorial to Sir Walter Raleigh, on top of the hill.

St Breward Church and pub. 5 May 2005

St Breward Church and pub. 5 May 2005

We returned to St Breward, and wandered round the churchyard, taking pictures of tombstones, as there were several Greenaway ones, some quite recent, and had supper of sausage egg and chips at the pub, which was quite good. The sausages were real, and not like the bread-filled Walls sausages that were all one could get in England 40 years before.

Val Hayes in St Breward churchyard, 5 May 2005

Val Hayes in St Breward churchyard, 5 May 2005

We went down to Blisland again, and went to the church there, and took more photos in the churchyard, where the old school was being used as a polling station. Then went to the pub which was quite crowded, and had a beer, and were joined by a couple who had been at the medieval wedding at Temple, Martin and Bemi Murphy, and chatted to them for a while. They were originally from Manchester, but now lived at St Ives, where they ran an ice cream van, and they had made most of the costumes for the wedding.

Blisland Parish Church, 5 May 2005

Blisland Parish Church, 5 May 2005

When we got back to Trewint farm we went to bed, and watched TV for a while, when the first election result was announced, which was Sunderland South, which Labour held with a reduced majority.

Continued at Cornwall to Morgannwg, 6 May 2005.


Three Agnes Ellwoods: Tombstone Tuesday

Anout four years ago someone sent us a descendant chart showing the descendants of Edmund Ellwood (1700-1789) and his wife Elizabeth Robinson (1700-?) of Dufton, Westmorland, England. It actually went back a few generations to an earlier Edmund, but the main descendants shown were those of Edmund and Elizabeth. It is mainly a list of names, with a few dates, but no places indicated.

Unfortunately we don’t seem to have kept a record of who sent it to us, but we were told that it originated with a Peter Ellwood, whom we haven’t managed to make contact with.

Since retiring last March, Val has been working her way through it, trying to flesh out the outline with dates, names and places, and trying to prove the various links. In the course of doing this she has discovered several errors and omissions in the list, and also several errors and omissions in various online family trees.

She has mainly been working on the descendants of Edmund and Elizabeth’s eldest son Samuel Ellwood (1726-1796), who married Hannah Barrow at Cartmel in Lancashire in 1752. Samuel was a shoemaker, as were some of his descendants. Samuel & Hannah’s eldest son John seems to have gone back to Wesmorland for a wife, and married Jane Coulthred at Underbarrow in Westmorland, and they then had four children at Cartmell in Lancashire, but we have only been able to trace the descendants of one of them, Timothy Ellwood (1769-1867), who married Mary Withers in 1801. We are not absolutely sure of these links, but on a balance of probabilities they seem to be correct. If anyone has any better information about any of them, please let us know.

Timothy and Mary had 12 children, and it is mainly their descendants that we have been trying to follow.

The two eldest sons, John and Thomas, each had a daughter Agnes Ellwood, and each Agnes married in the 1850s, and emigrated to the USA soon afterwards.

Gravestone of John Turner and Agnes Ellwood in Towanda, Kansas, USA

Gravestone of John Turner and Agnes Ellwood in Towanda, Kansas, USA

We’ve been able to find out what happened to these descendants mainly through the very useful Find-a-Grave web site. Agnes Ellwood (1831-1908), daughter of Thomas Ellwood and Elizabeth Taylor, married John Turner in 1852, and emigrated to the USA in about 1857, living first in Illonois, and then in Towanda, Kansas. You can find their details on the Find-a-Grave site here. They seem to have several children, some of whom are also buried in the same cemetery, and they can also be found on the Find-a-Grave site.

Agnes Turner had a cousin, 15 months younger, Agnes Ellwood (1833-1896), the daughter of John Ellwood and Agnes Harrison, who married John Jackson Tallon in 1855, and almost immediately afterwards emigrated to Illinois in the USA. Unlike the Turner family, the Tallons seem to have stayed in Illinois a while longer, at least long enough for Agnes to be buried there. And again, Find-a-Grave comes up with the most useful information.

It was at this point that we discovered a lot of online family trees for Agnes Ellwood Tallon, on the soon-to-be-closed Mundia site (no links, as they won’t work after September). And every one that we looked at linked to the wrong Agnes!

They all linked to a third, unrelated Agnes, the daughter of John Ellwood and Mary Shepherd, who was born about 1835 in Oddendale, Westmorland, England. The “real” Agnes Ellwood married John Tallon in 1855, and was living in Illinois in 1860. In the 1861 English census the “false” Agnes Ellwood was still unmarried, still living with her parents, working as a dairymaid. In 1868 she married James Coulthwaite in Casterton, Westmorland, and they had a son John Henry Coulthwaite, who had a large family, and his mother Agnes was still living with them on the farm in Westmorland in 1911.

The Ellwood family seems to be a good one for showing the danger of online family trees, and of copying them without checking. We gave another example of this in our blog post on Jane Ellwood and the perils of online family trees.

Gravestone of Agnes Ellwood who married John Jackson Tallon. Hieronymus Cemetery, Armington, Illinois, USA

Gravestone of Agnes Ellwood who married John Jackson Tallon. Hieronymus Cemetery, Armington, Illinois, USA

But the truth about the “real” Agnes Ellwood who married John Jackson Tallon was there on her gravestone all along. She was born in 1833, not 1835, and so is much more likely to be the Agnes Ellwood, daughter of John Ellwood and Agnes Harrison, who was baptised in Colton, Lancashire on 10 February 1833 than she is to be the Agnes Ellwood who was born in Oddendale and baptised on 14 June 1835 in Crosby Ravensworth, Westmorland, daughter of John Ellwood and Mary Shepherd.

We have gathered quite a lot of information on this branch of the Ellwood family, and would gladly share it with other researchers, as a lot of other researchers have helped us. If you would like to have more information please ask, letting us know how you are linked to this family. Unfortunately, while there are many helpful family historians out there who are willing to exchange information, there are also a few “data leeches” who take whatever they can get and give nothing, so we will only give full information to those who can demonstrate their own link to the family. You can ask either in the comments, or on the Ellwood family forum here, or by using the form below:


Tombstone Tuesday: Vause family of Durban

On our holiday in Durban last month we visited St Thomas’s Cemetery in Durban, high up on the Berea, where my great great grandfather Richard Vause is buried.

I’d visited his grave earlier, with my grandmother, in 1968, and she had told me that she wanted to be buried there too, though whether she ever was buried there I don’t know. I’d visited a few years later and had some photos of the grave, but we thought it would be nice to have some digital photos as well, so we went to look for it, and could not find it after looking at almost every other grave in the place. Had I imagined it? Had it been moved?

No, it was still there, but it was so big that we hadn’t seen it for looking. It was just about the most prominent grave in the place. In this picture you can see it, the one with the pillar and the urn on top. The Vodapine behind it is bigger — it is actually a cellphone mast owned by Vodacom, disguised as a pine tree. There are also Vodapalms and various other varieties of Vodadendrons.

The Vause family grave in St Thomas’s Cemetery, with an urn on top, dwarfed only by a Vodapine

The current St Thomas’s Church is a bit further down the hill. The original one on the cemetery site was a wood and iron affair, replaced in the 1920s by the stone chapel that is there today, but is not used much. Richard Vause was one of the first, if not the first, churchwarden of the old St Thomas’s, and he lived a little way down the hill in what may still be called Vause Road with his wife Matilda (nee Park) and their eight children.

Their son Charles Reynolds Vause was the very first to be baptised at St Thomas’s, and is the fiorst entry in the baptism register, and was probably one of the first to be buried in the cemetery also. He and his sister Matilda, the two youngest of the Vause children, died young.

Memorial to Charles Reynolds Vause (1864-1866) and Mary Martin Vause (1866-1866), the youngest children of Richard and Matilda Vause

The second son of Richard and Matilda Vause, William John Vause, who died at the age of 41, is also buried in the plot. He married Jessie Cottam, but they had no children.

Grave of William John Vause (1855-1896) in St Thomas’s Cemetery


William John Vause’s elder brother, Richard Wyatt Vause (my great grandfather) married Maggie Cottam, Jessie Cottam’s sister, and Maggie Cottam also died young (but was buried in Pietermaritzburg). Jessie Vause, then remarried Gordon Parkes, but had no children by him either, and brought up her dead sister’s children. Richard Wyatt Vause, known as Wyatt to his friends, lived as a widower.

Memorial to Wyatt Vause (1854-1926), my great grandfather.

There are several other members of the Vause family buried in the same plot.

St Thomas’s Cemetery, showing the current chapel, and the Vause grave, with the urn on top of a pillar.

The cemetery also contains the grave of Julia, the daughter of nCaptain Allen Gardiner, RN. After retiring from the navy, Gardiner became a missionary, and went to Zululand. There he met a hostile reception from King Dingane and his people, so he returned to Durban, and established himself on a hill above the town. After finding the people there more receptive to his message he named the hill Berea, after the place where St Paul met a better reception than he did in Thessalonica (Acts 17:10-12). Allen Gardiner is not buried at St Thomas’s Cemetery, however. He went on to South America, where he died of starvation on Tierra del Fuego, and the South American Missionary Society was started in his memory.

Tombstone Tuesday: Pearson of Whitehaven

This Tombstone Tuesday I’m adding some pictures of tombstones of the Pearson and Ellwood families of Whitehaven, Cumberland. They relate to the Pearson and Ellwood families featured in the post immediately below this one.

Gravestone of Daniel William Pearson and Sarah Jane Walker in Whitehaven Cemetery

Daniel William Pearson (1855-1929) and his wife Sarah Jane Walker (1857-1959) are buried in Whitehaven Cemetery, Ward 1, Section O.

They were Val’s maternal great-grandparents.

Daniel William Pearson was the son of William Pearson, a butcher of Whitehaven, and his wife Sarah Johnson, who was born in King’s Lynn, Norfolk.

Sarah Jane Walker was born in Sylecroft, Whicham, in the south of Cumberland, and was the daughter of William Walker, a spirit merchant of Sylecroft, and his wife Agnes Duke, who was born in Ulverston, Lancashire (which is now part of the new county of Cumbria.

Daniel William Pearson started is career as a butcher, like his father, and then became Whitehaven’s Sanitary Inspector and Inspector of Nuisances (lovely title, that!) Two of ths brothers, Charles and Henry, were Anglican clergymen, while another brother, John Johnson Pearson, was an apothecary of sorts, and wrote books about his travels in the Middle East.

M Ellwood grave

Gravestone of Margaret Pearson (nee Ellwood), in Whitehaven, Cumberland, England

Our second tombstone is of Margaret Pearson, the daughter-in-law of Daniel William and Sarah Jane Pearson.

Ernest Pearson (1892-1975) was a plumber and electrician of Whitehaven, and married Margaret Ellwood (1892-1958), the daughter of Thomas Ellwood and Mary Carr.

They had three sons, Gilbert, Ralph and John, and a daughter, Edith Margaret Pearson.

Tombstone Tuesday: Hannan family in Girvan

In Girvan, on the west coast of Scotland, there are two tombstones for members of the Hannan family. They are made of sandstone, and relatively small compared with the surrounding tombstones.

The one on the left is the family of Thomas Hannan (c1830-1890) and his wife Janet McCartney (c1830-1915), my great great grandparents. I first saw it in May 1967, when my mother, Ella Hayes, and I visited her cousin Willie Hannan in Glasgow, and Willie took us to Girvan in Ayrshire, and showed us where the earlier generations of the family had lived. He said that they had had 9 children and the only one who didn’t die young was his and my mother’s grandfather, William Hannan (1856-1928). The names of the children who had died young were inscribed around the sides of the stone.

Thirty-eight years later we visited it again, and this time having a digital camera took more pictures of it.

Hannan tombstone in Girvan Cemetery

The children who died young were:

  • Jane (1847-1847)
  • James (1848-1849)
  • William (1852-1854)
  • John (1854-1855)
  • Thomas (1859-1866)
  • Samuel (1860-1864)
  • James (1864-1887)

But we quite recently discovered that there were actually two children who survived to adulthood and had children of their own. There was a second Jane (1850-1917). She married Samuel Kay, and they had nine children. Janet Ewing of New Zealand wrote to us in 2008 and said

I have been looking through some old e-mails and have
found that you and I have a relation in common. My gt
grandmother was a Jane Hannan. She married Samuel Kay
6 September 1872 at Girvan Ayrshire. She was 22. He
was 20. Her parents were Thomas Hanan (could have
been transcribed as Heenan) and Janet McCartney. Her
surname on the marriage certificate could have been
transcribed as Keenan. This has all been most
confusing in the past. However her death Certificate
(d 19 February 1917) shows that her parents were
Thomas Hannan and Janet McCartney. Does all this fit
into your tree? Janet

So there are a whole lot more cousins on the Hannan side that we didn’t know about.

The second tombstone is larger, and a generation later:

Stanley Livingstone Hannan (1891-1917)

There are several interesting things about this. One is that Tom Hannan, Stanley Hannan’s older brother, was jailed as a conscientious objector during the First World War. For more on this see this earlier entry, and also the Hannan family pages on Wikispaces.

Tombstone Tuesday: football and vandalism

Yesterday I took my son to the Pretoria Showgrounds to write an exam, and while waiting for him I visited the Rebecca Street Cemetery nearby. I didn’t see any tombstones belonging to my family, though I did see one for Loftus Versveld, after whom our city’s biggest football stadium is named. I had sometimes wondered who Loftus Versveld was, and there was the answer — Robert Owen Loftus Versveld, 1862-1932. In addition to the tombstone, there was a stone from the Northern Transvaal Rugby Board, acknowledging his services to rugby. And Loftus Versveld Stadium is, of course, a bigger and more prominent memorial, the home of the Blue Bulls, the Northern Transvaal Rugby Team.

I wonder what Loftus Versveld would have thought of the World Cup Soccer tournament matches being played there next month. For a long time Loftus Versveld stadium was only used for rugby, and we went to the very first soccer match ever played there, on 12 October 1992, when local team Mamelodi Sundowns played Sheffield Wednesday. Actually that wasn’t the first soccer match, because there was a curtain raiser with a women’s team from Kaiser Chiefs playing against Sundowns, and the Chiefs won easily. So perhaps history was being made in more senses than one — it may have been the first time women had played in the Loftus Versveld stadium. The main match, between Sundowns and Sheffield Wednesday, was a draw. Just before the big match some people paraded around the field with a banner saying “Snor City welcomes soccer”, a reference to the fact that in those days Pretoria civil servants often sported moustaches.

Rebecca Street Cemetery, Pretoria, Tshwane, from the memorial garden on top of the hill at the northern side

I went up to the highest point of the cemetery, on the northern edge, where there was a memorial garden for cremated ashes. There were some modern ones, with memorial stones in neat rows. And then there was an older rockery, rather pleasant, except that many of the niches had been broken open, and the ashes stolen.

Rebecca Street Cemetery, Pretoria - vandalised niches and memorial tablets, from which cremated ashes had been stolen

I wondered who would do such a thing, and why.

It doesn’t seem to make any sense. What makes cremated ashes valuable to thieves?

More vandalised memorials in the memorial garden at the Rebecca Street Cemetery

Tombstone Tuesday: Hayes in North Curry

For over thirty years now I’ve been up against the proverbial brick wall in my Hayes family from Somerset.

My great great great grandfather Simon Hayes (or Hays) was born in North Curry, Somerset, England, about 1785, according to the 1851 and 1861 censuses. But I’ve not been able to find any record of who his parents or siblings (if any) were.

There are people with the Hayes surname buried in North Curry, like the following couple, may may be related to me, but there is no way of telling until we can get more information about the earlier generations. Until then, they are “maybe cousins”.

Hayes grave in North Curry churchyard

Hayes grave in North Curry churchyard

We visited the church about four years ago, and took the photo then. Our Simon Hayes moved to Winscombe, where he was an agricultural labourer,  and there he married Rachel Allen and had four sons: William Allen, John, Sander, and James Andrews. William Allen died young, and the others moved to Bristol where they married and had families. Sander was a vendor of milk and coal, while the other two were carpenters and builders.

I wonder if any of them knew James and Ellen, and if they regarded them as family or not.


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