Kenwyn and a man of all trades

We saw in the last blog that Edwin Pascoe had a number of different occupations from 1881 to 1911. Another example of a man with multiple occupations, this time with even greater contrasts, can be found in the Kenwyn database.

James Noble was born in 1849 in the heart of mining country at the Consols mine in Gwennap, the son of a miner also called James. James senior did not survive the early 1850s and his widow Mary took James and his three sisters to live at Chacewater in Kenwyn parish a few miles to the east. There, she ran a small grocery store and took in lodgers. In 1861 these were a mine clerk and a schoolmaster. Maybe the lodgers gave James junior ideas because for whatever reason he did not follow the usually predictable path into mining. Instead, he had a different occupation in each succeeding census.

The centre of Chacewater in 1911. Was Mary Noble’s shop one of those to be seen lining the road?

By the time of the 1871 census, James had moved to Callington in the far east of Cornwall, where he was keeping the Sun Inn in Fore Street at the precociously young age of 21, with his wife Elizabeth, who had given birth to their first child just 17 days before the census. The next census in 1881 saw James and Elizabeth and their six children at Chapel Street in the town, where he was employed by the Ordnance Survey, probably engaged in helping to survey the first series of OS maps of the district.

Ten years later the three eldest children had left home and the family was found at the wonderfully named Zaggy Lane in Callington. By now James had turned his hand to brickmaking. That didn’t last too long and James finally settled on becoming an auctioneer’s clerk in his early 50s. In 1901 he and Elizabeth were living at Back Lane in the town and by 1911 they and their youngest son Joseph had moved to Launceston Road.

The map of Callington that James Noble helped to survey in 1881, showing the location of some of the family’s homes in the town.

Obviously a man of some intelligence, James may not have moved too far after going to Callington but his occupational history from innkeeping to surveying to brickmaking to clerical work was fairly unusual for Victorian times. Moreover, his son Joseph didn’t follow his father into any of these occupations. Instead he joined the Royal Navy where he was a stoker, unfortunately becoming a casualty of war when his destroyer was sunk in the North Sea in 1917.

James’ wife Elizabeth died at Callington in 1921 and James followed in1928.

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