A clerk from Creed

Creed is another in a run of smaller parishes in mid-Cornwall that remind us that Cornwall in the mid-1800s was not all mining. Creed was a rural parish of 55 households in 1851 next to the small borough of Grampound with two thirds of those households dependent on farming or farm labouring for their livelihoods. Creed also shared in the depopulation common to Cornish rural  parishes, its numbers falling by a third between 1851 and 1961.

We saw in the previous blog about Crantock that it is not always easy to link people across the censuses. The name William Jenkin was relatively common in Cornwall so we cannot be certain that we have the right man, However, Creed, provides an example of a more unusual name, one which makes it much more likely, if not 100 per cent certain, that our identification is correct.

The countryside near Pennance

George Polkinghorne Drew gives us a glimpse into the life of a member of the Cornish clerical middle class. George was one of the, at least, eight children of William and his wife Elizabeth Truscott Drew. They were farming at Pennance in Creed when George was born. It was a large farm of 293 acres and the Drews could afford to employ a governess (also named Truscott and likely to have been related to Elizabeth) and two domestic servants.

George’s childhood was spent at Pennance, but in the later 1860s he left the family farm for the small town – little more than a village in fact – of Dodbrooke, just outside Kingsbridge in south Devon. There, he had found work as a commercial clerk while living in a lodging house. Presumably, George had received an education that enabled him to fill such clerking jobs, most likely at one of the small local private schools, or just possibly a grammar school such as that at nearby Truro.

Dodbrooke, now swallowed up by Kingsbridge, in the early 1900s.

In 1881 George was still single, still living in lodgings and still in Devon. But by this time he had moved to Fore Street in the centre of Kingsbridge and was working as a solicitor’s clerk. At some point soon after this George moved to London, where the death of a George Polkinghorne Drew was recorded at Islington in 1886, aged 36. The Victorian middle classes tended to marry at a later age than miners or agricultural labourers and this appears to be the case for George as there is also a record of the marriage of a George Polkinghorne Drew at Islington in 1882.