St Dominick: two Georges, farmer and coal miner

Over the previous century or so four Georges had occupied the British throne. In St Dominick, a parish on the banks of the River Tamar in south-east Cornwall, two Georges were born around 1850. Although born within a couple miles of each other, they had very different life histories.

A lane in the parish. St Dominick has been described as a parish of ‘great scenic beauty’

The first, George Hugh Snell, was the son of Joseph Snell and his wife Amelia at Ashton in the parish. Unlike most farmers Joseph owned the land he farmed and George grew up helping his two elder brothers work the farm while his father luxuriated in the description of ‘landowner’.

In 1876 George married Elizabeth Bridgman, who was from Devon, although the couple were married in Cornwall. By this time, he was farming 80 acres on his own account in the neighbouring parish of St Mellion, where their three children were born. But 1891 saw George and Elizabeth back at Ashton Farm, where he and his family remained, running the farm and establishing a market garden. George left £3,740 (almost £200,000 nowadays) to his widow when he died at Ashton in 1921.

Our second George from St Dominick was much more mobile. George Dart was the son of a labourer who was working at Halton Quay on the Tamar in the 1850s. The family needed the extra help provided by George’s wages and at the age of 11 he was employed as a cattle boy at a local farm. Re-joining his family during the 1860s, George, like his father, was finding precarious work as a general labourer at Calstock in 1971.

In 1875 George married Mary Langsford. She was from Calstock but the pair were married in north-east Derbyshire, where George was working as a coal miner. At first, they lived in the rural parish of Barlow before moving to the edge of Chesterfield around 1880. George continued to make his living from the coal mines but by 1911 had become ‘permanently disabled’. By then he and his wife Mary were living with their eldest son, also a coal miner, and his family in a village just south of Chesterfield.

The brand-new Methodist chapel in St Dominick village, built in 1896, a very late date for a Cornish chapel. This photo must have been taken soon after its construction.