St Eval: a Scottish sojourn and some sad deaths

In 1938 St Eval’s churchtown was demolished to make way for an airfield as part of the re-armament programme. The church was left intact and used as a navigational aid. The airfield closed in 1959 but the church remains.

Of the 12 children in our database who were living in the parishes of St Ervan and St Eval in 1861, a half were still found in Cornwall in 1891. Two had emigrated to the United States but only one had moved elsewhere within the UK. That was Catherine Hellyar Axworthy who, rather unusually, spent some time in Scotland.

Her father Francis had been a carpenter at Engollan in St Eval who switched occupation to run a small farm of 12 acres in 1871. By that year Catherine was a draper’s assistant. Scotland was a noted source of travelling drapers at this time and the Scottish connections of the trade may help explain Catherine’s presence in Glasgow in 1881.

Tenement buildings in Glasgow’s Duke Street, where Catherine and Uriah lodged in 1881

In 1873 she had married Uriah Sellars. Uriah was not a Scot but from the English midlands in Derbyshire. But he was a commercial traveller, a calling that had presumably brought him to Cornwall and to Catherine. In 1881 in Glasgow he was a commercial traveller for asbestos goods and steam packing (rubber packing resistant to steam). Ten years later he was lodging in Glasgow while Catherine was living at the couple’s house in Ugglebarnby near Whitby in Yorkshire. She was recorded as an employer but the census failed to mention her trade. Within a year or so Uriah was dead and four years later in 1896 Catherine re-married, this time to Richard Bell, who was a local miller. The pair lived out the rest of their lives in north Yorkshire.

Contrasting with Catherine, another St Eval resident of 1861 – Henry Retallick – did not move far. Henry was actually born in neighbouring Padstow where his father was a farm labourer. By the time he was 11 Henry was working for his keep as a farm servant tasked with feeding the cattle at a farm in St Eval.

In 1871 he was boarding with a labouring family at Indian Queens in mid-Cornwall and a year later married Elizabeth Osborne from St Columb. The childless couple lived first at Summercourt and then in a two or three -roomed cottage on the bleak expanse of Goss Moor. Henry followed the path taken by many men of his generation in this district, turning from farm labouring to clay labouring in the 1870s. His wife died soon after 1911. Henry followed suit in 1917 but hopefully avoided the workhouse funeral of his father in 1891 or the fate of his mother who had died in Bodmin’s Lunatic Asylum in 1880.

One thought on “St Eval: a Scottish sojourn and some sad deaths

  1. The detail of the lives is memorable .
    Reading your other posts as well
    -no such thing as a settled life – hand to mouth.
    The couple from StErvan who went to Peckham / Camberwell – what a journey . ( went to school there……)


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