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George Facey Stevens was born in 1790, baptised on 20 October in Illogan, Cornwall. He was the son of Andrew Stevens and Honor Facey. He had five siblings that I know of (two brothers and three sisters).

Illogan

I can’t find much of interest about Illogan. It was named after an obscure Cornish saint. The population in 1801 was 2895 (compared to 5404 in 2011, the population rising to 10304 in the 1970s before falling again), so never a large town, but a centre of mining.

George married Honour Langdon on 20 April 1814 in Illogan. Honor was born about 1792, possibly baptised on 22 October in Illogan, daughter of Nicholas and Elizabeth.

The couple had 11 children over 19 years. The first three were girls: Elanora Penrose (born about 1815, possibly named after George’s paternal grandmother), Mary (1821), and Elizabeth Langdon (1822). The family moved to Redruth at some stage where John Knill was born in about 1823 (probably named after George’s maternal grandmother), baptised on the same day as Lavinia Penrose (1823) who died the following year. Next were Ellen Francis (1826), William (1827), Edwin Vivian (1828), and another Lavinia born between 1829 and 1832. Finally there was Vivian (1830), then George Frederick (1834).

In 1841 the family were still living in Redruth. George was a parish clerk. All ten children were there, the three oldest boys working as copper miner and masons.

George had a short life, dying in 1844 at the age of 54. He was buried on 19 March.

In 1851 Honour was a widow living in Trevingay with six of her children and a granddaughter, Emma, age 8. Emma was possibly John’s daughter. I found a baptism for 1845, daughter of John and Martha in Redruth. Elizabeth was a dressmaker, Ellen a milliner, and Lavinia a tailoress. Edwin, Vivian and George were copper miners. Missing from the list were Elenora, Mary, John and William. I haven’t been able to find John or Elenora in the census. Searching for a Mary Stevens is nigh impossible for census, marriage, or death. Nor have I been able to find William.

Edwin married in 1854 and sailed to Australia with his wife, no doubt to try his hand at gold minning. I was told that John, Vivian, and George (all miners) also moved to Australia but I don’t know when. Any Australian descendants who can enlighten me, please get in touch!

Unfortunately, I don’t even know when Honour died. It’s a pain that the age at death is not given on the index so I could rule out some. She may have died in 1862. (The only other death I could find was Honour Maria in 1854.) How am I to know without an age?

So lots of missing information for this family.

Sources: findmypast; familysearch; genuki.org.uk; Google maps; Wikipedia; Cornwall OPC database; http://www.blaxland.com/ozships/

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Edwin Vivian Stevens was born in Redruth, Cornwall in 1828, baptised on 27 October of that year.  His parents were George Facey Stevens, a parish clerk, and Honour Langdon.  He was one of five boys out of a family of eleven children.  An older sister had died before he was born.

Redruth was a town in a tin and copper mining region.  In 1801 it had a population of close to 5,000.  Redruth’s boom period was said to be from the 1730s to the 1860s when the population had doubled to over 11,000, but then dropped when copper mining went into decline and a lot of miners emigrated.

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Marker indicates Trevingey

In 1841 the family of twelve were living in Trevingey, Redruth.  Edwin, at the tender age of 13, was listed as a miner, as was his older brother, John, age 15 (copper miner).  It must have been a tough life.  As you can see from the map, there were a lot of mines.  It would be hard to pinpoint which one they might have worked in.

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Below is a view from Camborne looking towards Redruth in 1890.  Not a pretty sight.

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By 1851, Edwin’s father had died.  Six of the children were still living with Honour in Trevingey, but the youngest was 16, so no great burden (by then anyway).  Two of Edwin’s brothers were no longer at home.  Edwin (age 22) and the remaining two brothers were listed as copper miners.  The sisters were involved in clothes-making.  Included in the 1851 census is Honour’s granddaughter, Emma Stephens, age 8.  I have not been able to find out who her parents were – the father either John or William (common names).

Edwin married Elizabeth Ann Dart on 20 February 1854 in Redruth.  About two weeks later they were headed for Australia.  Another researcher said that three of Edwin’s brothers also emigrated to Australia but I have been unable to find out when.  So it may be that John had already gone to Australia and invited Edwin to join him, or Edwin decided to join the many wanting to try their hand at finding gold in Australia’s south-east.  Either way, Edwin and Elizabeth left Plymouth on 6 March on board the “Trafalgar” and arrived at Port Adelaide on 28 June.

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Adelaide Times

From then I can only follow the couple’s movements from where the children were born.  The first, a daughter, was born in January 1855 at Spring Creek near Beechworth in Victoria, a long way from Adelaide.  A son was born in 1857 in Beechworth.  Beechworth was famed for its gold-mining.  Its heyday was shortlived, between 1852 and 1857.

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Marker indicates location of Beechworth

The family stuck around, the next child being born in Indigo in 1861.  Indigo appears to be a region which includes Beechworth, so hard to identify where exactly the boy was born (perhaps Indigo valley).  From there the family headed to Binalong, New South Wales, where the child died.

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Marker indicates location of Binalong, NSW

The following  year they were in Young, New South Wales, a day’s walk to the north-west of Binalong.  Here another daughter was born in 1863.  Gold had been discovered there in 1860, when it was known as Lambing Flat (known for the anti-Chinese riots).  It was renamed Young in 1863.

The family didn’t stop there.  They moved on to Cadia, New South Wales (about 20 km south of Orange), where a copper mine was opened.  The next two children were born there in 1865 and 1867.

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The next four children were born at Icely, another mining district close to Orange, from 1869 to 1875.

Edwin’s wife, Elizabeth, died 10 years later in 1885 at the age of 51.  Edwin remarried six years later, marrying Cecilia Dawson in Orange on 4 February 1891.  I have no information on her at all.

If Edwin and Elizabeth hadn’t had so many children (10 in total), I wouldn’t have been able to track their movements across the south-east of Australia from Adelaide to Orange.  The information is otherwise scant.

Edwin died in Orange on 29 November 1908, age 80 (although a brief death notice gave his age as 82) – a pretty good age for having worked in mines most of his life.

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National Advocate, 30 November 1908

 

Sources: Google maps; localhistories.org; findmypast; cornwallinfocus.co.uk; cornwallheritagetrust.org; Trove; theshipslist.com; wikipedia; bonzle.com;

Charles Kercher was born in 1830 in Overton, Hampshire.  He was baptised on 14 March, the baseborn son of Frances Kercher.  Frances Kercher married Joseph Beale just two months later, so I can only assume he is the father.  We’ll never really know.

Overton is a large village to the west of Basingstoke.  The region has been inhabited for thousands of years but the village developed about the 10th century.  The river Test runs through it.  Alongside the river were corn, fulling and silk mills.  The region was primarily agricultural.

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Overton was involved in the Swing Riots.  In November 1830 there was rioting in the village as agricultural labourers demanded money, food and higher wages, so it was not an easy time.  Joseph Beale, a labourer, may well have been one of the rioters.

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By 1841, Frances had had another six children, so she had seven children under the age of 12 by the time of the census.  Charles’ surname is listed as Beale, along with the other children (four boys and two girls).  The family lived next door to Frances’ brother, Charles, and his family in Bridge Street.  The street is full of agricultural labourers.

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Google streetview of Bridge Street

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Bridge Street in 1915

Charles’ mother died in 1844, so Joseph was left to bring up six children (another had been born in 1842).  Charles appears to have kept the Beale surname and in 1851 was listed as a railroad labourer in Southington.  In the same area lived widow, Sarah Grunsell, with her youngest son.  Sarah Grunsell’s daughter, Mary, must have met Charles several times.

They married on 5 June 1852 at the parish church in Overton.

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St Mary’s church, dating to the 12th century

Interestingly, on the marriage certificate, Charles now called himself Charles Kercher, but listed his father as Joseph Beale.  The witnesses are not family members.

Mary was heavily pregnant and gave birth to their first child, Elizabeth, in July 1852.  In 1854, a boy, Charles, was born, then in 1856 another boy, George.  George died as an infant.  In 1858 another boy, William, was born.

Mary’s brother, Thomas, had emigrated to Australia with his wife in 1853.  There must have been some correspondence, Thomas encouraging his sister and family to join them.  He paid £15 for their passage over.  So on 18 March 1859, Charles, Mary and their three children boarded the “Queen of England” at Liverpool and sailed for Sydney.  The passage took just under four months, but, sadly, William died on the journey.  He was one of four that died on the voyage.  The ship arrived in Sydney on 8 July 1859.

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Thomas Grunsell was living in the Goulburn/Tirrannaville area, so that’s where the family headed.

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Charles and Mary’s next child, Arthur, was born in Goulburn, NSW in 1860.  The next five children (one girl, four boys) born between 1861 and 1870, were born in Tirannaville just to the south of Goulburn.  Charles became a gardener to Mrs Gibson at Tiranna House.

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Tiranna House in 1865

I have no other information for Charles other than his tragic death on 25 March 1871.  He died of strychnine poisoning.  The verdict was suicide but there’s no evidence that he wished to kill himself.

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Sydney Morning Herald, 30 March 1871

What’s weird is that it seems to have been the way to end one’s life in Tiranna:

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Sydney Morning Herald, 1859

Strychnine was used for pest control, but it’s a horrible way to die.

That left Mary with six children under 12 to care for.  Her two eldest were near enough to adults so could help out.  I turn to Mary next.

 

 

Sources: wikipedia; family archives; overtonparishcouncil.gov.uk; Google; overtonpictures.com; powerhousemuseum.com; Trove