Lanlivery: attempts at catering and hints of the coming century

Former tin streaming works on Redmoor, now a nature reserve (Mark Camp / Redmoor nature reserve / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Lanlivery in mid-Cornwall was a parish of contrasts. Its boundaries encompassed the granite Helman Tor capped by its neolithic enclosure and the elusive Redmoor, often preceded by the adjective ‘mysterious’. But it also contained wooded valleys leading down to Lostwithiel and the River Fowey. Indeed, Lostwithiel had been carved out of Lanlivery in the medieval period and Lanlivery parish in the 1800s included within its boundaries a part of that town that had overspilled its narrowly prescribed twelfth century limits.

Lanlivery’s children caught by our database also displayed considerable contrasts in their life-courses. Nowadays, tourism is a major sector of the Cornish economy – although despite media misrepresentation not the major sector, accounting for about a seventh of Cornwall’s GVA in 2019. Two Lanlivery children were early participants in catering, although not both of them in Cornwall.

Elizabeth Phillips was the daughter of a small farmer at Middle Greadow on the parish boundary with Luxulyan. In 1870 she did what many farmers’ daughters were prone to do and married another farmer – Thomas Jane. The pair farmed at Roselath. But by 1881 Thomas had given up farming and instead kept a temperance hotel in Lostwithiel. Perhaps there weren’t enough teetotallers in the town, as Thomas was forced to revert to farm labouring by 1891, when the couple were found at Pelean in Tywardreath. In 1901 Thomas was a teamster on another farm in Tywardreath but in his 60s he was able to start farming on his own account again.

If catering for teetotallers was unprofitable in Cornwall surely catering for drinkers in Liverpool would be. Louisa Jane Olver was born into a labouring family at Poltip in Lanlivery. She left home in the 1860s and, although not found in the 1871 census, was probably in service somewhere. In 1875 she turned up again, marrying William Peel in Liverpool.

William was a barman in 1881 but by 1891 had taken on the post of hotel manager at Birkenhead just across the Mersey. That unfortunately didn’t last long as William died in the 1890s. The widowed Louisa Jane returned to the city and in 1901 was living above a boot shop in Everton with her three children while getting some income from domestic service. She then moved with her son Robert to her ex-husband’s home county of Shropshire. There Robert made a living from selling bicycles, another hint of the future. When Louisa Jane died in 1926 she left the not inconsiderable sum of £464 to her eldest son William.

Louisa’s 1911 census entry

3 thoughts on “Lanlivery: attempts at catering and hints of the coming century

  1. What is GVA and what are the most important sectors in order? Also many ways to determine importance… income generated, employment seasonal and permanent, etc


    1. Gross value added. If you’re interested, for more on this see


  2. Poor Elizabeth Phillips, her father seems to have drawn the short straw. I have a Phillips family bible recording his birth, but his younger brother William (b. 1823) was luckier, moving to Trenovissick, Par, where there was a prosperous world of mining and later railway engineering. I knew three of William’s daughters: my great-grandmother, who married a successful local farmer-cum-entrepreneur in Par, Ada, who married a Cardell who successfully farmed the Duchy farm at Tretherras, and Emma, who topped the lot. She married a bright apprentice from the GWR works at St Blazey, Tom Bunt, who later took her out to Shanghai where he supervised the Imperial Naval Dockyard as part of China’s attempt to recover from foreign domination. He was made a mandarin of the order of the double dragon (Grace’s Guide). A fourth sister married the distinguished steam engineer Ezekiel Constantine, who as ‘Uncle Jim’ arranged for my grandfather and his brother to be the engineers of the newly-opened Blackpool Tower Ballroom, and later helped grandfather to get mining work in Spain and India.
    The bible places them simply at ‘Greadow’, of which there are Higher, Middle and Lower. I’m interested to have them placed at Middle, but Lower is the building with real archaeological interest.

    Liked by 1 person

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