Forrabury: a tale of migrating blacksmiths

Forrabury in the nineteenth century was a small parish which supplied just three entries for our database. Two thirds of parishioners lived in the village of Boscastle, which it shared with the slightly bigger parish of Minster.

On the clifftop near Boscastle is Forrabury Stitches, a surviving open field. Similar open fields would have been found near many Cornish settlements in the 16th/17th centuries.

Ann Tippet, also called Fanny, was born into a family of blacksmiths at Padstow, further down the coast. Her father was a blacksmith, as was her grandfather. Sometime before 1854 Ann’s parents – Robert and Fanny – left Padstow with their family for Boscastle, where they were living in 1861.

That may have been for a temporary contract as they did not stay long, returning to Padstow by the time of the 1871 census. By that date Robert was specifically described as a ship’s blacksmith. Fanny sometimes earned money as a laundress but when her father died in the 1870s she had to take on the responsibility of assisting her widowed mother, who was a staymaker, and help look after three nephews who were living with them. In 1881 Fanny married Percy James but then disappeared from the historical record.

Houses at St Philip Street, Battersea in the 1970s. This was where the Picards lived in 1881.

Near to the Tippets in Boscastle in 1861 we find James Pickard, a general labourer and his family, including his 11-year old son John. John had been born up the coast and across the border in Clovelly. John trained as a blacksmith and at some point before 1873 broke away from the coastwise emigration that was the family’s previous pattern and headed for London. Settling in Battersea, he carried on his trade as a blacksmith, while marrying Julia, another migrant to London, but from Suffolk. John died in 1906, still in Battersea and still a blacksmith.

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