Stokeclimsland: an overcrowded family and a lone drifter

Like Stithians, the subject of the previous blog, Stokeclimsland was a mining parish in 1861. It was also roughly the same size in terms of population. Unlike Stithians, Stokeclimsland, north of Callington on the banks of the River Tamar, saw fewer leave for overseas. But that didn’t mean that people stayed put in the parish. In fact, Stokeclimsland lost about the same proportion – a quarter – of its population over the generation from 1851 to 1881 as did Stithians. Only three of the 22 children in our database from Stokeclimsland who were still around in 1891 were alive and well in the parish itself. The rest were widely dispersed.

The Whittlefield area of Burnley in 1905, where Edward was living

By the time he was eleven years old Edward Joll had joined his father as a surface worker at a local mine. But he didn’t stay in mining, instead leaving to learn the blacksmith’s trade at nearby South Petherwin. During the 1870s Edward moved to the north of England, to Burnley, as did many from east Cornwall. Marrying a local woman who worked as a cotton weaver, Edward put down roots in Lancashire. In 1891 two of their teenaged children were also weavers. The family income must have been above the 21 shillings a week (about £140 now) that was deemed necessary to keep a family of five off the breadline.

Padiham Road, Edward’s address in 1911, surrounded by rows of terraced housing. Note Redruth Street and Cornwall Terrace, evidence for the considerable number of Cornish who had moved to the town. A lot of this district made way for the M65 around 1980.

Yet Edward’s family were living in very overcrowded conditions in 1911. He and Sophia, his wife, shared their four-roomed house in Burnley with their three adult children, two of them cotton weavers. The third was a shunter with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. He was married and his wife and their two infants below the age of two were also sharing the family home. As if that wasn’t enough, a collier was also boarding with the Jolls. That makes seven adults and two infants or over two persons per room. It had been reported in 1850 that the small towns of Cornwall were ‘crowded to a degree perilous to morals and disastrous to health’. Overcrowding in Cornwall may have been eased by depopulation but it clearly remained an issue for some Cornish migrants.

Overcrowding does not appear ever to have been a problem for John Gartrell, also living in Stokeclimsland in 1861. If anything the reverse. The son of a shoemaker, he’d been born in the neighbouring parish of Lezant. John became a mason but, unmarried, had been forced into the workhouse at Launceston by the time he was 60. In 1891 he’d been living with Jemima Pascoe at Trevalga churchtown, the pair recorded as man and wife. But it doesn’t seem they were actually married. Jemima married William Pascoe in 1875. Two years after their marriage William was sentenced to a few months in Bodmin Jail after being found guilty of neglecting to maintain his wife and child who had become chargeable to the poor law authorities. William Pascoe eventually died in Tavistock workhouse in 1888. The arrangement with John Gartrell seems not to have lasted for long and the two had gone their separate ways by 1901.

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