Newlyn East: Pennsylvania, Liverpool and Newquay

Known as Newlyn East to distinguish it from the town of Newlyn in the west, Newlyn East in mid-Cornwall was the centre of Cornish lead mining from the 1830s. Mines at Chiverton and East Wheal Rose dominated lead production until challenged by the lead mines of Menheniot in the 1850s. That said, there were as many farmers and farm labourers in Newlyn East in 1861 as there were miners.

Newlyn East wasn’t just mines and farms. It’s also the location of Trerice, the Elizabethan house of the Protestant side of the Arundell family

Grace Jane Lavin came from a lead mining family, born in 1850 at Trevilson, just over a mile to the east of the churchtown of Newlyn East. Grace married at a young age in 1869 and predictably her husband Edwin Hawkey was a miner. The couple lived at St Kew for a while but before 1875 had taken off for the more promising lode of North America. Yet Grace’s stay at Luzerne, Pennsylvania was not long as the family was back in Britain by the late 1870s. They didn’t return to Cornwall however, Edwin taking a precarious job as a dock labourer at Bootle, not far from their port of return.

The anthracite mining centre of Luzerne County in Pennsylvania attracted many Cornish emigrants in the 1870s and 80s. Miners from eastern Europe also arrived
in the district, many as strike-breakers. By the late 1890s they too were joining the mineworkers’ union and protesting against their conditions. This photo captures a demonstration by striking miners in 1897 just before 19 of them were gunned down, murdered by a sheriff’s posse.

By 1891 Grace was widowed but still living near Liverpool at Birkenhead. In the new century she moved again, this time to London and was living with three of her surviving eight children (three others had died young) in Islington in 1901. Moreover, this wasn’t her final move, as she was back in Cornwall by 1911, staying with a married daughter at Bolingey in the coastal parish of Perranzabuloe.

Jane Lawer was also born at the hamlet of Trevilson but did not move as far as Grace Lavin. In contrast to Grace, Jane’s father was a farm labourer. She married Arthur Kent from St Stephen in Brannel in 1872 but Jane quickly found herself a widow when Arthur expired in 1875. After the death of her husband, Jane moved back to live with her widowed mother and siblings at Trevilson.

She never re-married and was working as a housekeeper to a farmer in Egloshayle parish at the 1891 and 1901 censuses. Then, in the 1900s, she became one of the pioneers of Cornwall’s infant catering sector, running a boarding house in the increasingly popular resort of Newquay.

One thought on “Newlyn East: Pennsylvania, Liverpool and Newquay

  1. As is often the case, your excellent posts lead me down other avenues of research. What an appalling event was the Lattimer Massacre and the awful (no doubt all too common at the time) conditions leading up to it.


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