Life stories from Kilkhampton

Kilkhampton is a farming parish situated in the far north of Cornwall, about as far as you can go and still be in Cornwall in fact. Not that the border between Cornwall and Devon acted as much of a barrier in those parts, The majority of the Kilkhampton children in our database who married chose partners from parishes across the boundary, while the one who did not was farming in 1891 in Virginstow, just across the border.

Those with resources, from farming families or families of tradesmen – were more likely to stay put. Those without – labourers – were more likely to move or get lost in the historical record. As an example of the former we can take Mary Ann Dayman.

Mary’s father was a grocer and draper in the village, doing well enough to employ a domestic servant in the 1850s. Mary left home in 1871 to marry Edwin Thomas Hurford from Hatherleigh in Devon. Edwin was a master tailor and came to live in Kilkhampton. By 1891 he was also being described as a draper, presumably benefitting from his father in law’s business connections. The couple, with 11 children by this time, remained in the village, still there with three adult children in 1911.

Kilkhampton Band of Hope on the march in the early 1900s (,

An exception to the other Kilkhampton children of 1861 is provided by Albert Baker. Albert was the son of a farm labourer from Somerset who had moved to Kilkhampton sometime after 1858 to take up work as a gamekeeper. When old enough to look for work Albert became a farm servant in nearby Poughill, at a farm where a younger sister was also employed as a general servant.

However, not long after that Albert turned up far to the east in Hertfordshire, marrying local girl Emily King. From south east England around 1874/75 the pair moved north to Wakefield in Yorkshire, where Albert found work as a grocer’s labourer. Albert’s parents were also living in Wakefield in 1881. Whether their presence persuaded Albert and Emily to move north or whether Albert’s move there encouraged theirs is unknown. Within a decade the footloose Albert and Emily and their family were on the move again, emigrating to York, Ontario, where Albert died of a broken neck in an accident in 1913.

The Baker family on the 1883 passenger list

One thought on “Life stories from Kilkhampton

  1. I love all the old photographs, and it is interesting to consider that your person of the week (or people) may be actually on the photo!

    Sad end to Albert who had been so entrepreneurial and seen much of the world!


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