The Thomases go to town

Cury is a small, rural parish on the Lizard peninsula, four to five miles south of the market town of Helston. We might expect some of those growing up in Cury to be attracted to their nearby town.

And so they were. Ann Thomas for example grew up in a farm labourer’s family in Cury. She obtained work as a domestic servant at the farm of Henry Thomas, a farmer and small landowner at Tregidian in the parish. However, by 1881 she had exchanged the rural life for that of being a cook for a wine and spirits merchant and draper in Meneage Street, Helston. Marrying a mason, Charles Lewis, in 1882, the couple were still resident in the town in 1891.

Business comes to a halt in late 19th century Meneage Street, as people pause for the photographer

Sometimes more distant urban places exercised a pull. Loveday Thomas was born and brought up in Cury. Her grandfather farmed 50 acres in the parish but her father was just an agricultural labourer in 1861. Loveday’s whereabouts in 1871 are at present unknown. However, a Loveday Thomas, with birthplace given as Helston, was enumerated as a housemaid in Plymstock, Devon in 1871. This Loveday married Thomas Thomas, a Royal Navy leading stoker, in 1875 at Plymouth and by 1881 was living in Devonport. This time the birthplace was given as Cury, as was that of Thomas Thomas. Had Loveday followed him to the Plymouth area?

Herbert Place Devonport, where Loveday and Thomas were living in 1881, a few streets from the dockyard

Moreover, could the Loveday Thomas whose death was recorded back in the Helston Registration District in 1883 be this same Loveday? Census and registration data alone are insufficient to be certain about this case, given fluctuations in ages and cavalier recording of birthplaces, combined with the ubiquity of common surnames in Cornwall.

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