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Family of

THOMAS AND NANCY TREVETHAN

26-Mar-2014

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Thomas Trevethan, 1828 - 1901.

Thomas Trevethan was also descended from the Porthcothan Trevethans. He married Nancy Udy and of their eleven children six were to emmigrate to Australia including their only sons, Thomas, James, William and Henry and their two of their daughters Elisha and Ellen.

Thomas was arrogant and opinionated and bore the nickname “Rumbumptious”. He was a farmer whose philandering was well known in St Issey Parish. He had a long and scandalous relationship with Elizabeth Veale who it was said he seduced by climbing in through the dairy window of Trevear Farm where his son in law Joseph later farmed.

It was as a result of this very public scandal all of Nancy’s sons emigrated to Australia but they never lost touch with their mother and sisters. One of them, William, who became a prison Governor in Australia, returned to England on a visit in 1924 when he had a Cornish granite cross erected in St Issey Churchyard “In memory of Thomas and Nancy Trevethan” bearing the words “erected to all Trevethans and Udys resting in foreign parts and at Home”!

The principal sufferer of Thomas’s wayward relationship was his gentle and long suffering wife Nancy who didn’t deserve such a randy husband. Nancy was a devout Bible Christian, a ticket holder of Burgois Chapel. Nancy was a member of the Udy Family. The Udy’s were typical products of the Evangelical awakening brought to Cornwall by John Wesley. They were hardworking, sincere, warm and anxious for others to share with them “in the saving power of Christ”. Their faith was no cant or humbug. Lydia had a great respect for cousin James Udy, the blacksmith evangelist who was born at Pleasant Streams St Issey, later moving to St Erth where he had the village forge and blacksmiths. The Udys were of mining and farming stock. James Udy like John Wesley felt he was a “brand plucked out of the fire”. As he watched the fire in his smithy he felt the call to preach to others. He earnestly desired that others might have the same joy he found in his deep faith. The Udys were always of a missionary nature. James numbers among his descendants a number of Methodist Ministers and Anglican Clergy.

The Trevethans and Udys were two of the oldest families in St Issey Parish. The Trevethans living in the parish from the beginning of the 1800 century and the Udys since at least late Medieval times when there was a Udy as Vicar of St Issey. The Trevethans came from St Merryn and Padstow parish originally.

Their first child was Mary Wood Trevethan who was born in the spring of 1850, two years after their marriage.

Mary Wood Trevethan, 1850 - 1925.

Mary Wood Trevethan who was a cousin of the Trevethan’s that came to New Zealand and a sister of some of those who eventually emigrated to Australia, married Joseph Hooper at the Wesleyan Church at St. Mabyn in Cornwall on the 14th of September 1875. At the time Joseph was a farm labourer of Worthel Crantock and later bought Trevear Farm which you can read about in the section on Cornwall.

Before her marriage Mary lived at St. Minver in 1871 with her brothers and sisters and kept house for her grandfather on his 127 acre farm. Is this the present Trevathan Farm at St. Minver and did they move here as a result of the Veall scandal? At any rate shortly afterwards Mary’s brothers left for Australia.

They had nine children and the one that is of interest to us is their second child, Laura who came to New Zealand on the “Rimutaka” arriving on the thirteenth of March 1908.

Laura B. Hooper, 1877 - 1937.

Laura had married a miller and corn-factor by the name of William Biddick and to understand why she came to New Zealand a bit of Biddick history is necessary. William was born in St. Issey the fourth son of John Biddick and Mary Udy. His christening is recorded 30 December 1840. William became a miller at Egloshayle and he first married Dorcas Ann Wood whose father was a miller at Woolfardisworthy (pronounced Wolsery). Wolsery is just across the border (by about a mile) into Devon almost due south of Clovelley.

Approximately 1890 William took over a new mill at Camelford and the following year three of his sons William, John and Octavius Biddick emigrated to New Zealand. They left behind their brother Claud who was profoundly deaf and as a result backward. In 1896 William’s wife Dorcas (nee Wood) died at Treveighan Cottage, a small hospital at Michaelstow, at the age of 54. Soon after William and his two remaining sons shifted to the Wood’s mill at Woolfardisworthy. Just why this occurred is intriguing but presumably Dorcas had inherited it before her death.


William had difficulty running the mill and farm and his business as a corn- factor and must have felt that his sons were suffering. He therefore sent back to St. Issey for help and a cousin of his wife’s, Laura Hooper, was sent to keep house for him. Despite the difference in their ages they married.

In 1899 William’s youngest son, Heber, followed his elder brothers to New Zealand. The same year William and Laura’s first child, Joseph Biddick was born. They had two other children, Mabel who died while still a small child, and Edgar.

In 1904 William sold Leworthy mill and moved to another at Newton Abbot, Devon. Shortly after this move he had an accident and was admitted to hospital where he died aged 63. This left Laura to run the mill for her deaf stepson Claud would have been of little help. Nevertheless it must have been another blow to Laura when he died in September of 1904, aged 25, only a few months after his father’s death.

Nothing has been able to be discovered about the finances relating to the mill but Laura must have been hard pressed for she placed her children in the care of the local Dr. Barnardo Home while she arranged for the disposal of the mill.

It was 1907 when Laura sold the mill and decided against returning to Cornwall and instead followed her step-sons to New Zealand. Her finances were so strained that she paid only for her own fare to New Zealand, taking Edgar who was still young enough to travel for nothing. Her other son Joseph, who would have had to pay half fare, was placed in a home for destitute boys in Huntingdon - a long way from Cornwall.

They arrived on the thirteenth of March 1908. This made a total of five Biddick boys living in New Zealand. When Laura had established herself in Maxwell, New Zealand she sent for Joseph. His Uncle Arnold who was working in London at the time, went to Huntingdon and brought him down to London and placed him in the care of the purser of the SS Athenic. The ship sailed late in 1909 and Joseph arrived in Wellington where his mother met him. It was almost two years after her own arrival.

It seems strange that in the time between leaving Leworthy Mill to the disposal of the Newton Abbot mill, there was so little money remaining that Laura could not afford to take both her sons with her to New Zealand. These two sons, Joseph and Edgar, are the only ones of interest to us as they are direct Trevethan descendants.

Joseph became a farmer. He never married, instead became a rather lovable if crusty old bachelor. When in his 80’s he used to regularly tramp the Heaphy track to Milford Sound. He used to take a helicopter ride into the Urewera country and tramp out. Now that he is in his 90’s he seems to have decided to take life a bit easier.

Edgar was a bit of a rover in his early days, working on farms doing casual labour. Finally he settled into motor engineering and was an early service car driver between Hamilton and New Plymouth. He married Edna Steel and took a steadier position as maintenance engineer at Buses Limited at Hamilton. His final position was with Tidd Transport. He built the first mobile crane in New Zealand and specialised in steering geometry on multi-axled trucks. He died in 1988.

Interesting isn’t it to think that we have another line of Trevethan descendants in New Zealand even if they never had the Trevethan name.

Lydia Hooper, born 1880.

Laura Hooper’s younger sister Lydia, who remarried in Cornwall, is also of interest to me as it was her who married William Charles (Charlie) Kinsmen the eldest son of Jack and Harriet’s Kinsmen. He was a well built man, broad shouldered with a tendency in middle age towards plumpness. His demeanour was quiet and kind but he could on rare occasions show a very fiery temper. He, like his father was a farm labourer for most of his early life. He was only 19 when he married his wife Lydia Jane (nee Hooper) who was four years his senior. It was a happy marriage although Lydia was undoubtedly the boss. One of the occasions when the family saw his anger was when he returned from work to find that one of his daughters had been kept in at school by Miss Angove. The other members of the family had returned home without her. He did not stop to eat his tea but strode off in high dudgeon to Padstow School. He entered the classroom without knocking, picked up his daughter, telling Miss Angove that he, Mr. Charles Kinsmen was taking his daughter home. The normally strict teacher was totally nonplussed and in his words as related to the family after “she couldn’t blow nor strike”. This true story is a reminder that quietly spoken and apparently gentle people can be very angry and determined when really upset.

The Hooper family were not too pleased when Lydia the daughter of a farmer married Charlie who was a farm labourer. The Hoopers were proud with a certain degree of pretension. They would have been even more disturbed to learn that Charlie’s grandmother Mary Champion (nee Crocker) had been of gypsy stock. They were married at Bodmin Registry Office and lived with the Kinsmens at Coombe for the early months of their marriage. Dorothy, their eldest daughter was born there. Soon after her birth they moved and for the next seven years moved often to places such as the Lizard, St. Merryn, Tregingey in Little Petherick Parish and finally to Hawkers Cove in 1910.

Lydia was the third child of Joseph and Mary Wood Hooper (nee Trevethan) and was born at Trevance, St Issey in March 1880. Her father had a small shop at that time. His occupation is described as shopkeeper on her birth certificate and “Huckster” in the Baptism Register of St Issey Church.

The Hooper family were proud and ambitious people who sought to advance themselves, very set in their ways and decidedly prickly in their relationships. Lydia brought up her seven children very strictly, perhaps she needed to. She was the mistress in her own household though devoted to her easy going husband who she dominated. There was in her make up an outward puritanism which did not reflect her gentle heart.

Joseph Hooper, 1844 - 1931.

Her father Joseph Hooper (1844-1931) was a tall man over six feet in height, as were his three brothers. He had decided views and a touch of hypocrisy in his outlook. He was born in St Minver Parish at Donathan, a farm next to St Enodoc Church now called Penmain. His father George (1806-60) was a farm labourer there. The Hoopers were an old St Minver family being in the parish at least the Seventeenth Century. Joseph’s mother, Sarah was a farmer’s daughter from St Winnow Parish (Lostwithiel) where her father John Brokenshire farmed the forty acres of Lower Hurtswell Farm. The Brokenshires had originated in Roche parish.

The photograph of Joseph shows him as an almost patriarchal figure with a flowing beard. His lips are thin and his eyes rather small but very determined. He was a dominant personality whose family lived in awe of him. Joseph the youngest of the family was only sixteen when his father died and he then worked as a shepherd. He later became a farm labourer possibly on the farm of Thomas Trevethan (1790-1878) who farmed Bennett’s Keiro at St Minver. Mary Wood Trevethan his eldest grand daughter kept house for her widower grand father and it was then Joseph Hooper met her. Joseph and Mary were married at St Mabyn Methodist Church in 1875.

Mary Wood Hooper was a little lady, meticulous in appearance, quiet of speech and very much under Joseph’s thumb. She had a gentle sense of humour and a warm loving heart. She would always find a word of encouragement for her family. Her childhood had been very difficult for she was the eldest of the thirteen children of Thomas Trevethan (1825-1901) and Nancy (nee Udy) (1825-1898).

William Kinsmen, born 1884.

William Kinsmen, the great grandfather of Barry Kinsmen, was the child of Elizabeth Kinsmen, conceived like so many out of wedlock and it would seem that his birth was never registered. Was it shame or ignorance which prevented this?

William Kinsmen moved to the St. Neot area where he met his wife Caroline (nee Trevethan) (1840-1880). He served his time as a journeyman mason and was a skilled and practical worker. Caroline and he were married at Liskeard Registry Office in 1863. His wife was the daughter of John and Joanna Trevethan. John was a miner who moved from Blackwater near Chacewater but then in the parish of Kenwyn to East Taphouse in St. Pinnock Parish. Many miners moved eastwards when copper and tin slumped in the 1850’s. He brought with him Joanna (nee Whitford) his young wife and at least two children. Caroline worked with him at the mine, for she was a bal maiden, one of the women who worked on the surface where the ores were refined. She, like so many who worked in the tin and copper mining industry contracted “Phitisis”(1). She was only 40 when she died of that dread disease. Her death certificate records this fact and states that she had been two years with it. There had been a tradition in the family that T.B. had been the cause of her death. Those last two years must have been tragic for she left William with six sons under the age of seventeen to bring up. Their only daughter had died in infancy. All we know of Caroline is that she had a fine singing voice which was in much demand at Tredinnick Methodist Church in St. Neot Parish where she sang solos. It was said that her voice could be heard at Ley a small hamlet some half a mile away as the crow flies. One can picture her struggling to sing as she has always done but being totally unable to do so as her lungs rotted away filled with the dust of the mines.

After her death, William travelled abroad and became a stranger to his own family. Older members of the family have said that on his return to Ley his own children failed to recognise him, even throwing stones at this apparent stranger. He returned to Cornwall before his death, dying in Plymouth Hospital of cancer of the gall bladder.

Ellen Trevethan, born 1859.

Thomas and Nancy’s seventh child Ellen Trevethan was born at Padstow in 1859 and like her older brothers and sisters before her she left Cornwall for a new life in Australia. Little is known of her but she journeyed to London to join the “Chyebassa” (2000 tons) which left on the 10th of August 1887. After only one month and twenty four days at sea Captain Wilson dropped anchor in the bay at Brisbane, Australia. The passengers had been well cared for by Surgeon Superintendent Dr Usher and Matron Mrs Turnbull.

Ellen was twenty one years of age when she arrived, a domestic servant who could read and write. Of her new life in Australia I know nothing.

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This site was last updated 26-Mar-2014