New Year – all quiet

In the nineteenth century the new year in Cornwall was as quiet as it was this year. Our forebears did little, if anything, to celebrate the new year, which was a working day like every other. The Royal Cornwall Gazette’s brief reports of the new year period in 1860/61 indicate little out of the ordinary.

On New Year’s Day, the Truro freemasons were celebrating the festival of St John by holding a banquet at a local hotel. Meanwhile, at St Agnes Institution, people sat down to a lecture on ‘The example of Admiral Lord Exmouth’.

Mevagissey harbour at the end of the 19th century

A bazaar was being held at the Wesleyan chapel at Mevagissey in aid of a fund for a harmonium and better lighting. This raised £40 (equal to £4,800 nowadays). Another bazaar at Penzance in aid of the Volunteer Corps did considerably better business, raising £212 (or over £25,000).

In various places, charity was doled out. At Fowey the ‘necessitous poor’ were ‘regaled with cakes and tea’ at Place, the home of Joseph Treffry. Each woman present also received a ‘garment of warm clothing’ from Mrs Treffry. Further east at St Neot, a major landowner in the parish, the Reverend Bewes of Plymouth, had sent £10 (almost £1,200) to be distributed among the ‘deserving poor’ of the parish.

At St Neot too there had been a heavy fall of snow before New Year’s Day and a ‘sharp frost’ on the day itself. Seasonal weather in those days did not prevent a cattle market at Wadebridge, where good bullocks were to be had for three guineas (£377) a hundredweight and fat sheep at seven pence (£2.40) a pound.

One thought on “New Year – all quiet

  1. Seems to me that the poplace were very busy doling out – for good causes or directly to individuals – or receiving charity in the 1860s. Not a quiet day at all, and the sums raised for good causes just on one day at local bazaars seem staggering to me (including the lower sum for a harmonium ). Not bad at all and interesting to consider the immense gulf between haves and have nots that these sums, and the account you give, portray.

    Liked by 1 person

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