J is for John O’Groats

The village of John O’Groats, on the north-eastern tip of mainland Scotland, is 876 miles from Land’s End, on the western tip of Cornwall. Some of our ancestors lived at John O’Groats, some at Land’s End. Because they failed to bunch up for our convenience we will be obliged to drive from one end of the country to the other to take them all in.

One was Margaret Cudmore nee Budge (1845 – 1912), my great great grandmother, who was born on 22 October 1845 to Kenneth Budge (1813 – 1852) and Margaret Budge nee Gunn (1819 – 1863) in Wick, Caithness, 16 miles south of John O’Groats .


From a collection of 44 monochrome postcards showing fishing scenes around Scotland in the early 20th century. Monchrome photograph with the title ‘Herring Gutters at work, Wick’ showing three large trench style benchs full of herring with men and women on each side gutting herring. There are stacked fish barrels behind them with the masts of fishing vessels in the harbour in the background. Retrieved from Dornoch History Links image library http://www.historylinksarchive.org.uk/picture/number11794.asp


Margaret was baptized on 16 January 1846.

Margaret Budge baptism from ScotlandsPeople

16/01/1846 BUDGE, MARGARET (Old Parish Registers Births 043/ 40 493 Wick) Page 493 of 593 retrieved from ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk


Her father was a sailor, who died at sea of cholera in 1852, when Margaret was almost 7. In 1854 Margaret Budge nee Gunn remarried, to Ewan Rankin (born 1825).

Margaret was the fourth of five children. Her older sister Alexandrina died between 1845 and 1851. Her younger sister was also named Alexandrina.

Margaret, her two brothers Daniel and Kenneth and younger sister Alexandrina accompanied their mother and step-father to Adelaide, South Australia in 1854. Margaret was then 9 years old.

Margaret married James Francis Cudmore (1837 – 1912), a pastoralist. They had 13 children.

Cudmore Margaret nee Budge

Margaret Cudmore nee Budge. (I am not certain of the source of this photograph)


James Francis Cudmore was in business at various times with Margaret’s brothers Daniel and Kenneth and also James Mansfield Niall, the husband of Margaret’s younger sister Alexandrina.

Margaret, it appears, never returned to Wick. In honour of her home place however, Margaret did named their house at Mount Barker “Caithness”. Mount Barker is 33 kilometers from Adelaide. Margaret’s youngest child, Robert Milo Cudmore, was born there in 1889.

Cudmore birth Caithness Mount Barker 1889

Family Notices (1889, February 15). The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA : 1867 – 1922), p. 2 (Second Edition.). Retrieved April 9, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article208524891

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I is for inn

My step grandfather George William Symes was born 12 January 1896 at Minterne Magna, Dorset. He was the son of George Symes (1859 – 1920) and Eliza Symes nee Paulley (1870 – 1946).

George Symes senior was born in 1859 at Puncknowle Dorset, 6 miles east of Bridport. He was the oldest child of Daniel Symes (1834 – 1914), an agricultural labourer, and Sarah Symes nee Trevett (1836 – 1925).

Symes Daniel and Sarah

Daniel and Sarah Symes, Bridport, Dorset. Photograph from Rod Rumble who received it from Brian Jeans, a Symes descendant

On 2 October 1878, aged 19, George Symes, then a labourer, enlisted in the Royal Artillery. He signed his attestation papers at Bridport on 2 October and joined at Portsmouth on 14 October.

He first served as a gunner, was promoted to bombadier (equivalent rank of corporal) in 1884, and then to sergeant later that same year. He was promoted to Company Sergeant Major in 1892 and discharged at that rank in 1899. He served in India from 1884 to 1892, retiring in 1899 on a pension of 30 pence for life. He was formally discharged at the Tower of London, and became a Chelsea Pensioner (he would have been an out-pensioner as he did not live at the Royal Hospital Chelsea). His character on discharge was “exemplary”.

Symes George Tower of London

photograph of George Symes at the Tower of London from Rod Rumble who in turn got the photograph from Brian Jeans, a Symes descendant

George first married Rosa or Rose Guppy (1860 – 1892) at Milborne Port, Somerset, in 1886. They had two children: William Hensley Symes (1887 – 1888) and Edward Daniel Symes (1890 – 1950). William was born 27 November 1887 and baptised 1 January 1888 at Milborne Port Somerset. He died, only four months old, at Agra, India on 1 April 1888 and was buried there on 2 April. Edward was born in 1890 at Campbellpore, present day Attock, Pakistan. Rose died of cholera in 1892 at Ferozepore.

In 1894 George married again, to Eliza Paulley (1870 – 1946) at Minterne Magna, Dorset. They had one son, George William Symes, born 12 January 1896 at Minterne Magna.

At the time of the 1901 census the family was at Puncknowle. George Symes was 42, with occupation of ‘military pensioner’. His wife Eliza was 31 and they had two sons, Edward aged 11 and George aged 5.

G W Symes 1909 scout

George William Symes, boy scout, aged about 13 in 1909

In 1911, George Symes, a ‘military pensioner and publican’ was living at 61 South Street Bridport. In the same house were his sons Edward aged 21, a cabinet maker, George aged 15, at school. Also living at that address was George’s brother-in-law, Lewis Paulley, age 25, a harness-maker. On census night Eliza was away, with her parents in Minterne Magna.

61 South Street was the pub. The 1911 census states it had 9 rooms, not including the shop, office, warehouse or bathrooms.

George Symes died at Weymouth, Dorset, 18 May 1920.

The building at 61 South Street Bridport is still there and still operates as a pub; it is now called The Woodman Inn.

Woodman Inn Bridport geograph-5511774-by-Jaggery

Woodman Inn Bridport in 2017


  • Census records retrieved though ancestry.com
    • 1901: Class: RG13; Piece: 2012; Folio: 75; Page: 10.
    • 1911: Class: RG14; Piece: 12486; Schedule Number: 22
  • Wo 97 – Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760-1913 retrieved through FindMyPast: George Symes Birth year 1859 Birth parish Puncknoll, Bridport, Dorset, England Royal Artillery Attestation date 02 Oct 1878 Attestation age 19 years 6 months Attestation service number 5286 Attestation corps Royal Artillery Discharge corps Royal Artillery

D is for drama in Dunolly

Remembering my 3rd great grandfather Philip Chauncy on the anniversary of his death 9 April 1880 (with thanks to the Dunolly and District Historical Society for the reminder)

Anne's Family History

Philip Lamothe Snell Chauncy (1816-1880), a surveyor who came to Australia in 1839, was my great great great grandfather. He lived for fourteen years in South Australia and Western Australia before coming to Victoria in 1853.

Chauncy kept diaries and in 1873, based on these, he published the Memoirs of Mrs Chauncy, a brief life of his second wife, Susan Augusta née Mitchell (1828-1867). Chauncy’s account of his time in Dunolly (below) is taken from his Memoirs.

In 1853 Chauncy was appointed as Surveyor-in-Chief for the McIvor district. He and his family moved to Heathcote. While there he surveyed the town of Heathcote and selected and surveyed Echuca.

In 1860 he was put in charge of the Dunolly Survey District and moved to Dunolly.In 1861 Chauncy

… bought a substantial stone house, unfinished, which had been built for an inn, and was in a municipal street. [Chauncy’s emphasis]


View original post 627 more words

H is for Hastings

My husband was born on 14 October. On the same day in 1066, there was another great event in English history: a Norman Duke, William, won a decisive battle against the Anglo-Saxon King Harold and took the English throne.


Bayeaux tapestry: Duke William raises his helmet so as to be recognized on the battlefield of Hastings. Eustace II, Count of Boulogne points to him with his finger.


The previous King, Edward the Confessor, had died in January 1066. Both Harold and William claimed the crown.

On 28 September, to enforce his claim, William landed an invading force at Pevensey, near Hastings.

Harold was threatened on two fronts. Norwegian invaders under King Harald Hardrada, supported by Harold’s brother Tostig, were attacking in the north. On 20 September, at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, near York, Harold and his army defeated and killed Harald Hardrada and Tostig. Then, to confront the invading army of William Duke of Normandy, Harold was forced to march his army the 260 miles from Stamford Bridge south to Hastings.

By 13 October the two armies, William’s, with 10,000 men, and Harold’s, with 7,000, were camped within sight of each other. The invading force was half infantry, a quarter cavalry and the rest archers. Harold’s army was almost entirely infantry, with very few archers. Greg notes that none were wearing proper eye protection.

The battle began with Harold’s army lined up defensively along the ridge now occupied by the buildings of Battle Abbey. The English front, in the form of a shield-wall, stretched for almost half a mile. A shield-wall – soldiers in close formation with overlapping shields – was considered almost impervious to cavalry, but left little room for manoeuvre.

William’s army was south of the Anglo-Saxon force, on a hillside above the marshy valley bottom. His army was arranged in three ranks: archers in front, then infantry, and behind them mounted knights.

In the first exchanges, William’s cavalry made little impact on the Saxon defensive wall of shields. William’s army employed some tricky tactics: at least twice the Normans pretended to flee in mid-battle, to encourage the English to break ranks and pursue them. The turning point in the battle came when Harold was killed, according to legend shot in the eye by an arrow.

Tapisserie de Bayeux - Scène 57 : La mort d'Harold

Bayeux Tapestry – Scene 57: the death of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Titulus: HIC HAROLD REX INTERFECTUS EST (Here King Harold is slain)


Nearly a thousand years later it can be hard to say with certainty what happened and where. However, it seems likely that the Battle of Hastings was fought on the site where Battle Abbey now stands. An obituary of William the Conqueror in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and written before 1100 by an Englishman who describes himself as having lived at the king’s own court tells us:  ‘On the very spot where God granted him the conquest of England, he caused a great abbey to be built’.

On a trip to France in 2003, we saw the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts seventy-five scenes from the events leading up to the Norman conquest, culminating in the Battle of Hastings and Harold’s death: ‘Harold Rex interfectus est’ (Here King Harold is slain).

I can trace my genealogy back to William I of England who was one of my 28th grandfathers. Many millions of people are descended from William. My descent is through my Mainwaring forebears.


G is for Gainsborough

Gainsborough, Thomas, 1727-1788; Captain William Wade

Captain William Wade by Thomas Gainsborough. Image retrieved through https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/captain-william-wade-40008

William Wade, born about 1733, was the great nephew of Field-Marshal George Wade (1673 – 1748), best remembered as the builder of military roads in Scotland and as a long-time member of Parliament for Bath. William Wade, sometimes incorrectly stated to be one of the illegitimate sons of the Field Marshall, is named in George Wade’s 1747 will as the son of George Wade’s nephew Major Wade.

I am distantly related to William Wade: he was the father-in-law of my fifth great uncle Philip Champion Crespigny.

William Wade was educated at the Westminster School and then had a career in the army.

In December 1760 he married Catherine Gore, daughter of Henry Gore of Leatherhead, Surrey. William and Catherine had at least four children, three daughters and a son.

In April 1769, William Wade, at that time holding the rank of Captain, was elected Master of Ceremonies at Bath. Beau Nash (1674 – 1761) was his most notable predecessor in the position. Nash’s place there was unofficial but he met visitors to Bath, encouraged them to subscribe to the Assembly Rooms and kept the peace by enforcing the rules there. Nash made money by sharing in the receipts from the subscriptions and the benefit balls. By the time Wade was appointed, the position was by the election of subscribers of the Assembly Rooms and a salary was paid to the holder of the position from the proceeds of the benefit balls.

1769 cartoon King of Bath election

Female intrepidity, or the battle of the belles on ye election of a King of Bath. May 1769. Etching. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0. Image retrieved from https://wellcomecollection.org/works/qkyn4etc

The season at Bath ran from October to May. Patronised by the Prince of Wales, Brighton also became a fashionable summer resort, known for sea bathing. Since the social seasons of Bath and Brighton did not overlap, Wade was able to occupy positions in both places; he held the post of Master of Ceremonies at Brighton from 1767.

At Bath, the Lower Assembly Rooms were built in the early 1700s. The Upper Assembly Rooms, which had four rooms: the Ball Room, the Tea or Concert Room, the Octagon Room (which links the rooms together), and the Card Room, were built between 1769 and 1771. William Wade presided over the ball conducted to open the new Rooms.

The Octagon Room began life as a card room, where people gathered at tables to play whist and other games of chance. At the centre of the room is a particularly spectacular Whitefriars crystal chandelier, the largest in the building. It was made in 1771 and has 48 lights, originally candles.

Octagon Room

Octagon Room, Bath Assembly Rooms photographed by Glitzy queen00 at English Wikipedia (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Octagon_Room.jpg), CC BY-SA 3.0

Chandelier in the Octagon Room, Bath Assembly Rooms.

Chandelier in the Octagon Room, Bath Assembly Rooms. Photograph by Heather Cowper who blogs at www.heatheronhertravels.com/ retrieved from Wikimedia Commons, originally uploaded to https://www.flickr.com/photos/heatheronhertravels/4547807786 CC by 2.0

In 1771 Thomas Gainsborough, then living in the Circus at Bath, painted a portrait of Captain William Wade as a present to the new Assembly Rooms. This picture of the first Master of Ceremonies at the Assembly Rooms was hung in the Octagon Room, and hangs there again today. The portrait includes his badge of office, a gold medal enamelled blue worn on an indigo ribbon.

In 1777 Captain Wade was named in divorce proceedings between John Campbell Hooke Esq and Elizabeth Eustatia Campbell Hooke nee Bassett.

Wade lost the position of Master of Ceremonies at Bath as a consequence of the scandal but continued as Master of Ceremonies at Brighton.

Henry Gore, the father of Catherine Wade nee Gore, died in 1777. He left his estates to his son-in-law William and daughter Catherine. These estates included the Mansion at Leatherhead, Surrey, 47 miles north of Brighton and close to one of the main routes from London to Brighton. William Wade would have found the residence conveniently close to Brighton for his duties there.

Following the death of Catherine Wade nee Gore on 26 April 1787 William Wade married Elizabeth Eustatia Bassett, a ‘single woman’, by licence on 30 June 1787. They had already had a daughter together, Georgina Dennison Bassett Wade, who was born in 1783 or possibly as early as 1777. (The index of her death in 1863 said she was 86 when she died and thus born 1777; the census of 1851 gives her age as 68 and thus born 1783.) Georgina was mentioned in her father’s will.

William Wade’s son, Henry Gore Wade, died at sea in 1814. William’s three daughters by Catherine Gore shared in the estate. One of the daughters, Emilia, married Philip Champion Crespigny (1765 – 1851). Philip and Emilia lived in the Mansion at Leatherhead after Henry Gore Wade’s death. Emilia died in 1832.

In his role of Master of Ceremonies at Bath he would possibly have met my 5th great grandfather Philip Champion Crespigny (1738 – 1803), who built his house there in 1786.

Related posts

Sources and further reading

F is for Flintshire

In 1985, Helen Hudson nee Hughes (1915 – 2005), my grandfather’s first cousin, published a family history with the rather lengthy title, ‘Cherry stones: adventures in genealogy of Taylor, Hutcheson, Hawkins of Scotland; Plaisted, Green, Hughes of England and Wales; Hale of Gloucestershire, Langford Sidebottom, Cheshire; Shorten of Cork, Ireland, and Slater of Hampshire, England who immigrated to Australia between 1822 and 1850, researched, compiled and written by Helen Lesley Hudson‘ (Berwick, Victoria: H.L. Hudson, 1985).


For me her book, based on papers, old letters, and paraphernalia she inherited from her father, is a researcher’s treasure-house. At the moment I’m preparing for a family-history trip to England, and I’m finding ‘Cherry stones‘ particularly useful, for it includes details of Helen’s travels to the “Old Country” visiting the places our forebears came from, and I’ll be doing something similar.

Helen and her husband Bill visited Holywell in Flintshire twice. She wrote about walking around the graveyard of the ancient church beside St Winifrede’s Well Sanctuary, where she found many graves of our Hughes family.


She also wrote about a visit she made to Trelawynydd, formerly known as Newmarket. My fourth great grandfather, Edward Hughes (1803 – 1876) was born at there. FindMyPast has the baptism records for Trelawnyd, Flintshire, and these include an Edward Hughes baptised 23 January 1803, the son of Edward and Ann Hughes. Helen gives Edward’s birth date as 17 January 1803. I am not sure what document she based this on. Edward Hughes is a common name – Hughes is the eighth most common Welsh surname – and there are plenty of other candidates for our Edward.

On 21 April 1821 Edward Hughes of Holywell, Flintshire married Elizabeth Jones of Ysgeifiog at Ysgeifiog. [Ysgeifiog pronounciation]. Ysgeifiog is less than five miles from Holywell. Helen’s tree had 1823 as the date of this marriage, but I have located a likely parish record at FindMyPast giving the date as 1821.

Samuel Hughes (1827 – 1896), their eldest surviving child and my third great grandfather, was baptised at the Great Crosshall Street Chapel of Welsh Congregationalists, Liverpool. The baptism record gives his birth date as 12 October 1827. Helen’s tree has 13 October 1827 and gives his place of birth as Liverpool. Edward Hughes was stated to be a joiner of Norris Street, Liverpool.

At the time of the 1841 census Edward, Elizabeth, four children (Samuel, Mary, Henry, and Eliza) and a child Goodman Jones, I assume a nephew of Elizabeth’s, were living at Drinkwater Gardens, Liverpool. Edward was a joiner. There were no live-in servants.

On 20 January 1849 Samuel Hughes arrived in South Australia on the Gunga, which had left Liverpool on 16 September 1848. Helen states that Edward, Elizabeth, Mary, and Henry also arrived on the Gunga but there seems no record on the passenger list of any other family member.

In 1851 I believe Edward and Elizabeth Hughes and one daughter, Mary, were living in Heathfield Street, Swansea, Glamorganshire, Wales. Edward was a builder, employing 30 men.

I have not been able to find the immigration record for Edward and Elizabeth Hughes. Elizabeth died in Brighton, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, and is buried in Brighton cemetery. Edward returned to England and died 4 May 1876 at South Norwood near London. A death notice in the Melbourne Argus  stated he was late of Sandhurst and the father of Samuel Hughes. He had been living with his daughter Mary Hewitt nee Hughes.

Helen Hudson wrote that there was a family story that Edward had lost a lot of money in Peruvian Bonds but she was not able to verify it. Nor can I. Helen also wrote that Edward was on the Bendigo diggings and that he and Elizabeth were living in View Street, Bendigo at the time of Elizabeth’s death.

I am glad that Helen wrote up her family researches in such detail. Much more information has become available since 1985 and online searching makes the task of finding and gathering information far easier than it was. I am sure she would have enjoyed researching today and verifying what she knew. I look forward to retracing her footsteps in Holywell during our visit to the United Kingdom in May.


St. Winifred’s Well or Holy Well, Flintshire, Wales. Line engraving by G. Hawkins, 1795 Image retrieved through Wikimedia Commons who obtained the file from the Wellcome trust.


  • Hudson, Helen Lesley Cherry stones : adventures in genealogy of Taylor, Hutcheson, Hawkins of Scotland, Plaisted, Green, Hughes of England and Wales … who immigrated to Australia between 1822 and 1850. H.L. Hudson, [Berwick] Vic, 1985.
  • “Liverpool: Churches.” A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4. Eds. William Farrer, and J Brownbill. London: Victoria County History, 1911. 43-52. British History Online. Web. 12 March 2019. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/lancs/vol4/pp43-52.
  • ancestry.com  – census records:
    • 1841 census : Class: HO107; Piece: 559; Book: 26; Civil Parish: Liverpool; County: Lancashire; Enumeration District: 35; Folio: 43; Page: 29; Line: 23; GSU roll: 306941
    • 1851 Wales census : Class: HO107; Piece: 2466; Folio: 145; Page: 57; GSU roll: 104215-104217


E is for enterprise

One of my fifth great grandfathers was Thomas Plaisted (1777 – 1832), who owned a wine bar in Deptford (I have written before about this, at Plaisteds Wine Bar). Deptford was a dockyard district on the south bank of the River Thames in south-east London.


The Coopers Arms, also known as Plaisteds Wine Bar, in 2008 (photograph from Wikimedia Commons taken by Ewan Munro and uploaded by Oxyman) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 ]

According to my cousin Helen Hudson in “Cherry Stones“, her history of her forebears, Thomas Plaisted was born in Newnham on Severn in west Gloucestershire. His Plaisted ancestors were connected with the village of Castle Combe in Wiltshire. Helen describes an excellent ploughman’s lunch she had there.

Helen’s research was largely based on the work of Arthur Plaisted, who published “The Plaisted Family of North Wilts” in 1939. With the benefit of direct access to many more records and with the power of indexes and digitisation, current family history researchers differ from some of Arthur Plaisted’s conclusions.

Two records of my fifth great grandfather I feel confident about are:

  • his marriage to Lydia Wilkes in June 1797 at St Bride’s Church Fleet Street
  • his will of 1832 and associated codicil, where he names his wife and children. In the codicil to his will he stated: “I Thomas Plaisted do hereby acknowledge that the house known as the sign of the Coopers Arms Woolwich Kent has been from the taking of the above house and is now the property of my son John Plaisted and I do hereby direct that the Licences be transferred to him or to whom he shall appoint witness my hand this twenty ninth day of May one thousand eight hundred and thirty two”. John Plaisted (1800 – 1858) was my fourth great grandfather who in 1849 emigrated to Australia.

The wine bar survived under different owners to about 2010. According to Google Street View in 2018, the building was is being used as a laundrette. Although it looks Georgian, the facade of the building apparently dates from a renovation in the 1920s. The distinctive lamp may date from the original building.

I don’t know why my 5th great grandfather migrated from Gloucestershire to London, or if in fact it was his parents who migrated. London’s population grew from about three-quarters of a million people in 1760 to 1.1 million people in 1801, when the first reliable census was taken. The Plaisted family were among those migrants to London. Some of London’s population growth was due to reduced infant mortality: by the 1840s children born in the capital were three times less likely to die in childhood than those born in the 1730s. However, population growth attributable to reduced infant mortality was outweighed by increased migration and rising fertility.

Thomas Plaisted ran a successful business, which survived and was run by his descendants for most of the nineteenth century. The building was bought in 1890 by a Mr E.J. Rose, who continued to use it as a wine shop and bar. It changed hands several times in the twentieth century and finally closed about 2010.

Related posts


D is for Domesday

It’s hard to answer the question `Where is your family from?’. People move, which part of the family are we talking about?, and how far back do you want to go?

However, one line of my descent that goes back a long way very definitely has had an enduring association with a particular place for many centuries. The place is Whitmore, a Staffordshire manor. Where am I from? I can say that my family is from Whitmore.

Whitmore watercolour from St Barbary

A watercolour painting of Whitmore Hall which was probably owned by Kathleen Cudmore nee Cavenagh-Mainwaring, my great grandmother. My father now has the picture.


My paternal grandmother’s mother’s side of the family have lived at Whitmore for nearly a thousand years. The estate has remained in the family since the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086, in the reign of William the Conqueror. The inheritance has sometimes passed through the female line, most recently to my great great grandmother Ellen Cavenagh nee Mainwaring (1845 – 1920). My father’s first cousin is now the 34th Hereditary Lord of Whitmore. Thirty-four generations have inherited Whitmore since a Saxon called Ulfac owned Whitmore and was usurped after the Battle of Hastings by a Norman knight who had supported William.

The Domesday Book was a survey of England answering the questions:

How many hundreds of hides were in the shire, what land belonged to the
king himself and what stock upon the land? What dues did the king have
by the year from the shire?

Domesday Staffordshire page 10

Whitmore is the second entry of Staffordshire page 10. The tenant in chief was Richard the forester.

The Open Domesday Project has transcribed the information about Whitmore:

Whitmore Domesday

  • Hundred: Pirehill
  • County: Staffordshire
  • Total population: 5 households (very small).
  • Total tax assessed: 0.5 geld units (dry small).
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 0.5 geld units.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1086 £0.5.
  • Households: 3 villagers. 2 smallholders.
  • Ploughland: 3 ploughlands (land for). 1 lord’s plough teams. 1 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 1 acres. Woodland 1 * 0.5 leagues.
  • Lord in 1066: Ulfac or alternatively spelt  Wulfheah.
  • Lord in 1086: Nigel (of Stafford).
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086: Richard the forester.
  • Phillimore reference: 13,2

The name Richard the forester, the tenant in chief was associated with no places before the Conquest and 21 after the Conquest. There may have been more than one man who bore that title but all the places associated with the name are either in Staffordshire or neighbouring Warwickshire.

In 1212 during the reign of King John there was a Great Inquest of Service. Randolph de Knutton held Whitmore with other land and paid £4. 11s. 6d. of “antient right”, that is, from the Conquest of England. It is thought that Ralph de Knutton was the lineal heir or co-heir of Richard the forester.

In the 1930s my great great uncle James Gordon Cavenagh-Mainwaring (1865-1938) wrote a family history of Whitmore, supported by the citations of original deeds and documents. These he later deposited in the Staffordshire archives



My much read copy of “The Mainwarings of Whitmore and Biddulph in the County of Stafford. An account of the family, and its connections by marriage and descent; with special reference to the Manor of Whitmore. ” This copy had been owned by my grandmother. The book was written by her uncle James Gordon Cavenagh-Mainwaring and published about 1935.



Whitmore is one of very few properties in England that have not been sold in the last 933 years. One of my cousins wrote to me, “I was told some time ago that there are only nine estates in the same family since the Domesday book, that have never been sold. I read since then that one of them had been sold, so I suppose there are only eight.”

I look forward to visiting Whitmore again in May and seeing my cousins there.

Related posts


  • Cavenagh-Mainwaring, James Gordon The Mainwarings of Whitmore and Biddulph in the County of Stafford. An account of the family, and its connections by marriage and descent; with special reference to the Manor of Whitmore. J.G. Cavenagh-Mainwaring, about 1935
  • Cavenagh-Mainwaring, Christine and Britton, Heather, (editor.) Whitmore Hall : from 1066 to Waltzing Matilda. Adelaide Peacock Publications, 2013.
  • https://opendomesday.org/place/SJ8140/whitmore/


C is for copper

My husband’s fourth great grandfather John Gilbart, born about 1760, was a Cornish Copper Company (CCC) employee, promoted from Copperhouse near Hayle in West Cornwall to manager at the Rolling Mills at St Erth.

Cornish copper mining was at its most productive in the nineteenth century, declining as copper prices fell, from the mid-nineteenth century on. The Cornish Copper Company commenced smelting at Camborne in 1754. From 1758 it was located on the Hayle estuary, ten miles to the southwest. The mills at St Erth used water power to roll copper into thin sheets.

These sheets were used mainly to plate the bottoms of wooden ships. Coppering helped to prevent barnacles growing. This increased a ship’s speed and its lifespan. It also prevented worms from burrowing into the wood and weakening it. Sheathing with copper significantly increased the time a ship could remain in service between overhauls. It was held copper sheathing could double the number of ships at sea at any time”. In 1779 each ship on average required 15 tonnes of copper applied on average as 300 plates. The 14 tons of metal required to copper a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line still cost £1500, compared to £262 for wood. The benefits of increased speed and time at sea were deemed to justify the costs involved.


The ‘Royal Caroline’ painted by John Cleveley and in the collection of National Maritime Museum Greenwich. HMS ‘Alderney’ (1757) was built to the same shape and dimensions. In 1784 the ‘Alderney’ was described on Lloyd’s Register as being copper sheathed.


The Battery Mill ceased in 1809 when the Cornish Copper Company closed.



Derelict rolling mill, Landore, Wales. This mill was in use until the 1980s. I don’t think anything remains of the rolling mill at St Erth. Photograph from https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/946514

SW5434 : Hayle River near St Erth

Hayle River near St Erth St Erth church can be seen behind the trees. The Hayle river reaches the sea about 3 miles north of here. Photograph from https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/182864


John Gilbart married Elizabeth Huthnance on 3 January 1798 at Gwinear. They had 13 children.

John Gilbart was a member of the first Copperhouse Methodist Society and the founder in 1783 of the St Erth Methodist Class. The first Methodist chapel was built in St Erth in 1796 and the present chapel was built in 1827.

SW5435 : St Erth Methodist Church

St Erth Methodist Church Photograph from https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4062405


The chapel includes a monument to Francis Tuckfield (1808-1865), who was one of the first of the few missionaries who attempted to convert Australian Aboriginals to Christian belief.

In 1837 Francis Tuckfield married Sarah Gilbart of Battery Mill, the daughter of John Gilbart. They departed for Australia less than a month later.


Picture of plaque kindly sent to me by the St Erth Methodist Church

The chapel also includes a monument to James Gilbart (1825 – 1923), grandson of John Gilbart. The plaque mentions John Gilbart “who built the first chapel at St Erth in 1783”.

John Gilbart died in 1837.


Row of houses in Battery Mill Lane The three houses were probably the count house and managers’ houses for the former Battery Mill (which used water power to roll copper). Image from https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3106054

In 1841 my husband Greg’s fourth great grandmother Elizabeth Gilbart nee Huthnance (1774-1847) was living in Battery Mill, St Erth. Her age was stated to be 65. Her occupation was given as ‘independent means’. In the same household were six of her 13 children, at the time all six unmarried:

  • John Gilbart aged 40.
  • Thomasine Gilbart aged 30.
  • Margerey Gilbart aged 25.
  • William Gilbart aged 25, iron factor.
  • Thomas Gilbart aged 25, farmer.
  • Jane Gilbart aged 20.

In the same household was Elizabeth Gilbart’s grand-daughter, Elizabeth Edwards, aged 9.  Elizabeth Edwards was the daughter of Mary Edwards nee Gilbart, Greg’s 3rd great grandmother. The Edwards family which included five other children lived in Bridge Terrace St Erth. Perhaps Elizabeth was just visiting her grandmother overnight.

The household also included a female servant, Elizabeth Davey, aged 15.

James Gilbart, an iron factor, the son of Elizabeth Gilbart, lived in the adjacent cottage with his wife Ann Gilbart nee Ellis, aged 50, and two daughters, Ann Gilbart aged 14 and Maria Gilbart aged 10.

(These ages may not be strictly correct. In the 1841 census the census takers were instructed to give the exact ages of children but to round the ages of those older than 15 down to a lower multiple of 5. For example, a 59-year-old person would be listed as 55.)

Elizabeth Gilbart died on 1 July 1847, leaving a will that was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 18 December 1847. Her will mentioned annuities to be provided for various children, specific books and furniture


  • Pascoe, W. H CCC, the history of the Cornish Copper Company. Truran, Redruth, Cornwall, 1982.
  • The history of St. Erth Methodist Church: https://www.sterthmethodists.co.uk/aboutus.htm
  • 1841 census viewed through ancestry.com: Elizabeth Gilbart:  Class: HO107; Piece: 144; Book: 1; Civil Parish: St Erth; County: Cornwall; Enumeration District: 5; Folio: 72; Page: 19; Line: 12; GSU roll: 241266 ; Mary Edwards Class: HO107; Piece: 144; Book: 1; Civil Parish: St  Erth; County: Cornwall; Enumeration District: 5; Folio: 69; Page: 13; Line: 1; GSU roll: 241266
  • Will of Elizabeth Gilbart proved 18 December 1847 viewed through ancestry.com The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 2066

B is for beacon

Not counting the Channel Islands, Lizard Point, Cornwall, is the  most southerly point of the British IslesLand’s End, the most westerly point of Cornwall and England is 40 miles to the south-west.

I was surprised to find that in the eighteenth century my Fonnereau forebears had owned Lizard Point and my that 7th great uncle Thomas Fonnereau (1699 – 1779) had built the lighthouse there.

Thomas Fonnereau was the brother of my 6th great grandmother Anne Champion de Crespigny nee Fonnereau (1704 – 1782). They were the children of Huguenot refugees, Claude Fonnereau (1677 – 1740) and Elizabeth Fonnereau nee Bureau (1670 – 1735). Both Claude and Elizabeth were born in La Rochelle and came to England as children; they married in London in 1698. Claude Fonnereau was a Hamburg merchant who made his fortune in the linen trade. He left large landed estates to Thomas, and considerable monetary legacies to him and the other children.

Fonnereau was a member of Parliament for the constituency of Sudbury, Suffolk, from 1741 to 1768 and for Aldeburgh, Suffolk, from 1773 to 1779. He had inherited the estate of Christchurch, Ipswich, Suffolk from his father.

A lighthouse was first built on Lizard Point in 1619. Sir John Killigrew of Arwenack obtained a patent from James I and built it the same year. Local people objected : “The inabytants neer by,” wrote Killigrew, “think they suffer by this erection. They affirme I take away God’s grace from them. Their English meaning is that now they shall receve no more benefitt by shipwreck, for this will prevent yt. They have been so long used to repe profitt by the calamyties of the ruin of shipping that they clayme it heredytarye, and heavely complayne on me.” Trinity House, which at that time was enabled to set up sea marks but did not have a monopoly on maintaining lighthouses, is said to have strenuously opposed the lighthouse, alleging it was both useless and objectionable. Trinity House’s concerns apparently included that “the light will be a Pilot to a forrayne enymie to carrye them to a place of safe landynge”. It may also be relevant that Killegrew had been accused of piracy.

The light was maintained by Sir John for a number of years with the assistance of some voluntary contributions. It appears his patent was not entered in the rolls and in 1623 the patent was questioned in the Star Chamber and probably failed. By 1631 the light had gone.

There were several petitions to erect lights on the Lizard in the 1660s. One, in 1664 by Sir John Coryton, was to erect lighthouses at the Isle of Wight, Portland Road, Rame Head, and the Lizard Point. Sir John was to “receive 6d. Per ton on all strangers’ vessels anchoring between the Isle of Wight and Mounts Bay.” His petition, as with many others, did not succeed.

Thomas Fonnereau was successful in being granted a patent to build a lighthouse at the Lizard. The patent is dated 22 May 1751 and the light was first shown on 22 August 1752.

Fonnereau erected the lighthouse and paid an annual lease. In return he received dues from shipping that benefitted from the lighthouse. The patent gave permission for the building of the lighthouse, set the lease and authorised the collection and remittance of dues. In this period, the erection of a lighthouse was purely a business proposition, not a generous gesture of disinterested help to passing vessels.

In his 1838 Parochial History of Cornwall Gilbert Davies wrote of Thomas Fonnereau: “Mr Fonnereau came into Cornwall as an adventurer chiefly for the purpose of constructing Lighthouses on the Lizard Point, under one of the improvident grants which were frequently made in those times.”

Fonnereau’s initial lease was for 61 years but Trinity House took over responsibility for the lighthouse in 1771.

To distinguish it from the Scilly light which had one tower  and later the Guernsey lighthouses which had three towers, the Lizard light had two towers These are 61 feet high, with bases 168 feet above sea level. In 1870 the lights could be seen at a distance of 21 miles.

Lizard Light House 1772 - 1827 by T Rowlandson

Lizard Light House 1772 – 1827 by Thomas Rowlandson. Watercolour in the collection of the British Museum retrieved from watercolourworld.org


Until 1813, the Lizard lights were coal fired. An overlooker from a vantage point between the two towers would supervise the brightness of the fires. His contribution was to remind the bellows workers of their duties by sounding a cow horn if the fires dimmed.

In 1813 oil replaced coal, and in 1878 coal in turn was replaced by electricity. Around 1902 the lights were reduced to one powerful revolving electric beam, said to be the strongest in the world, which was visible for twenty-three miles. It showed once in every three seconds. It is aided in foggy weather by foghorns, said to have a very dismal call. The Lizard lighthouse was automated in 1998 and now displays a flashing white light visible for 26 miles.