Minster: coast, customers and Canada

Minster includes the northern side of the village of Boscastle within its boundaries. Now a tourist honey-pot, Boscastle was a quiet and remote village in 1861. Although the parish of Minster had 500 inhabitants in that year it only gives us three cases for the Victorian Lives database.

The first, William Force (a spelling variant of Furse or Furze) was the son of a shoemaker in the village of Boscastle. William was already apprenticed to his father by the age of 11. By 1881 he was running his own shoemaking business and employing a journeyman and an apprentice. William found enough customers to stay in Boscastle throughout his life.

The second Minster resident of 1861 was John Tanner Richards. John’s father had also been a shoemaker, but at Port Isaac, down the coast. By 1871 John – still at school – was lodging with a slate quarrier, probably a relation, at Boscastle. But John took up neither shoemaking nor slate quarrying. Instead, he went to sea. In 1881 he was a mate on the ‘Lily’ working off Pembrokeshire and by 1901 master of his own vessel, the ‘Snow Flake’, while still working the Welsh coastal trade. In the meantime, he had married, with his wife and children living at his home village of Port Isaac.

John Richards’ stay in Boscastle was much more fleeting than the final Minster resident – William Henry Elford. William was the son of a farmer at Pendavey in the parish, where he spent his childhood years. However, when William moved, he moved for good in 1863, along with his father, mother and six siblings. All the family packed up to make a new life in Ontario in Canada, at Northumberland on the shores of Lake Ontario.

In 1890 John married Selena Kendall. No great surprise there except that the marriage took place back in Camelford. John must have made the trip back to Cornwall to marry Selena but it’s not known how long he had been back for. Had the courting been conducted long-distance by letter? Or had John spent some time back in the home country searching for a bride? Whichever the case, John and Selena were soon back in Ontario, settled at Renfrew in eastern Ontario by 1891.

3 thoughts on “Minster: coast, customers and Canada

  1. Much less fleeting?

    It would be very interesting to know how long it took to sail to the US and Canada (and Australia) and approx cost of these voyages. People seem to have gone back and forth quite a lot.

    As ever, tremendous appreciation for these lives and also the images and maps – you must spend a colossal amount of time compiling it all.


    1. Sometimes it can seem like ‘colossal’ but it isn’t really. Most of the the research was done years ago.

      Sailing ships would have taken from 6-14 weeks to cross the Atlantic depending on the weather. The basic cost was 3 guineas per head. Steamships were introduced on the Atlantic route from the 1850s. These were a lot quicker (around 2 weeks) but more expensive – double the rate. As for Australia, it would take from 2 to 4 months by sail. Steamships were slower to be used because of the lack of coaling ports on the way but by the 1880s had displaced sail. This is an excellent site to read about the sometimes appalling condiitons early emigrants had to endure – https://museumsvictoria.com.au/immigrationmuseum/resources/journeys-to-australia/


  2. Very interesting stories Bernard as all your “parish snippets” are, thanks for your research and for letting us share it


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