Treneglos: women wave the farm goodbye

This parish, to the north of Bodmin moor, was possibly the Cornish parish most dominated by farming in the Victorian era. In 1861, fully 85 per cent of its adult men were farmers, farmers’ sons or farm labourers and virtually all of the adult women were married to farmers or their labourers or were servants working on farms. It comes as little surprise therefore to find that all three of the Treneglos children in our database were born into households dependent on farming. Nonetheless, only one of the three still remained part of a farming household in their 40s.

John Brown Gimblett was the life-long farmer of the trio. He was the son of William and Elizabeth who farmed at Kyrse. The amount of land they farmed seems to have varied from census to census, presumably as a result of renting more land for periods of time. In 1851 it was just 55 acres, increasing to 100 acres in 1861 and again to 160 acres in 1871 before being reduced in size to 93 acres in 1881.

Badgall in the 21st century

John, with his two brothers, both in their 20s, and three teenage sisters were still helping their parents run the farm in 1881. But in the 1880s their father died and John became the head of the household, helped by his mother, a widowed sister and two farm servants. He eventually married in 1893. His wife died in 1910 by which time John had left Kyrse to farm at Badgall, just over the parish border with Laneast to the east.

Grace May was the daughter of a farm labourer at Treneglos. Like John Gimblett, Grace did not move far.  She married William Rowe, a master blacksmith from Altarnun, in 1869 and the couple set up home at the village of Splatt in neighbouring Tresmeer. There they stayed into the new century bringing up a large family of at least ten children.

The third child was also the daughter of a farm labourer and his wife. Charlotte Herring’s parents (or the census enumerator) would appear to have had some trouble spelling her name which was recorded as Sharlot in 1851 and Sharleta in 1861: in 1871, when she was a farm servant at St Clether, in fact the parish in which she was born, she was Charlett. On getting married the spelling of her name settled down. She and her husband James Ruby had moved south of the moor to Crows Nest in St Cleer by the late 1870s, where John got work labouring in a copper mine, probably South Caradon. By 1891 South Caradon had closed but John was still managing to get a living from tin mining while the family had moved a mile or so to the village of Pensilva.

Phoenix Utd tin mine near Minions survived into the 1900s and may have been the mine where James Ruby was working in 1891