Luidgvan, one of Cornwall’s larger parishes, situated to the east of Penzance, survived the difficult times following the late 1860s rather better than many other rural parishes. This was despite the fact that over half of the men in the parish worked as miners in the 1850s. Its population declined by a third between the 1860s and 1901 but it remained far higher than it had been in the early 1800s and the fall was much less than that experienced by some more remote rural parishes heavily dependent on mining. Ludgvan was cushioned by opportunities in the new business of market gardening and the proximity of the growing town of Penzance.
As a result, more than half of the 37 Ludgvan children in the database who were alive in 1891 were still living in the parish and its neighbours overlooking Mount’s Bay. Not all of Ludgvan’s children were stay at homes however.
Alfred Curnow was the youngest son of Sampson and Jane and was born in 1851 at Trenowin. The farm at this hamlet was recently advertised for sale, having ‘enormous holiday letting potential’. Holidays for Alfred and his family were limited to feast days and festivals such as Christmas and Easter and there wouldn’t have been much holidaymaking when his father died in 1855 at the age of 59. Alfred had little choice but to work on the dressing floors of a mine to boost the family income.
Some of Alfred’s siblings left for South Australia in 1866, his sister Mary Jane sadly passing away during the long voyage. Alfred, and possibly other family members, left in the other direction west across the Atlantic in 1870 when he was 19. In 1873 he married Mary Trythall and was living in Pennsylvania in 1875. He seems to have made a trip halfway around the world to Australia in the late 1870s but he and Mary and their son Alfred were back in the US at Calumet on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 1880, where his death was recorded in 1906.
In the US Census of 1880 Alfred was described as a miner, although the Cornish Global Migration database states he was (also?) a ‘teacher or preacher’. Whichever, the experience of Alfred and his family contrasted markedly with most of his peers in Ludgvan who were much less mobile. Take James Davy Hicks, who was born in the same month as Alfred Curnow. James’ father was a farm labourer who then became a market gardener at Ludgvan’s churchtown. James followed his father into market gardening. By 1891 he had moved only a short distance from the churchtown to Long Rock, near the coast, where he continued to profit from the demand for vegetables.