Colan is a small parish wedged between Newquay to the west and St Columb to the east. Now in the path of Newquay as it sprawls eastwards, gobbling up the countryside as it goes, Colan in the mid-1800s was a quiet, out of the way place.
It contributes just two children to the Victorian Lives database. George Wareham was one. Born in the parish at Mountjoy around Christmas 1850, he was the second child of Joseph, a shoemaker, and his wife Ann. Unlike many if not most of his contemporaries, George did not follow his father’s occupation. Instead, we find him in 1871 working as a farm labourer and lodging at Trevarrian near the coast at Mawgan Porth. And there he stayed, single and gaining a living from labouring. By the end of the 1870s he was lodging with his sister-in-law Matilda and her three children. George’s brother had apparently also rejected life as a shoemaker and become a seaman. He died in the 1880s, leaving Matilda a widow.
Less than a mile away from George, at Lower Town near Colan churchtown, was Mary Stephens Benney. Mary’s father farmed 140-150 acres, employing one or two male farm servants and a female house servant. In the 1850s it looks as if Mary’s mother Ann remarried, although she was absent from both 1861 and 1871 censuses. This may have meant that Mary became responsible for the domestic business of the farm. If so, she was helped by a housekeeper. Whatever situation the ambiguous census entries hide, the death of Mary Benney was recorded in 1873.