Saturday, 13 June 2015

Richard Henry Champion Clemo (1876-1918)

Richard Henry Champion Clemo was born on the 11th May 1876 and baptised at Phillack Church in Hayle on the 3rd of August of that same year. His parents were William John Clemo, one of Harveys of Hayle’s Master Mariners and Elizabeth Richards Clemo (nee Champion).
Her parents Thomas and Mary lived on Penpol Terrace in Hayle and took in boarders. The 1861 Census records that Elizabeth was aged 22, living at home with her parents and her 20 year old sister Ann. At that time they had two Irish sailors boarding with the family, and it seems certain that William Clemo and his brother Charles may also have boarded there, because on 22nd August 1865 William and Elizabeth were married. The witnesses were Elizabeth’s younger siblings Richard Henry and Ann.
Not to be outdone, Charles Clemo married Ann on the 21st November 1871. The witnesses were her father Thomas and her sister Elizabeth.
William and Elizabeth had seven children in all. Richard was the fifth to be born. The family lived in Hayle and in 1881 Richard is aged 4 and a scholar. In 1891 he is employed as an engineering apprentice aged 15, probably at Harveys.
I’m still investigating his later story, but when he died he was married to Matilda Clemo. Her address was given as “Cliff Close, Ayr, St Ives”. I do not know if they had children.
At the time of his death he was age 41 and the First Engineer aboard SS Treveal, a 4,160 GRT steam cargo ship completed in 1909 by J. Readhead & Sons Ltd. for Hain Steamship Co. Ltd. and managed by E. Hain & Son. She was sunk on 4 February 1918 by torpedo fired by German submarine U-53 off the Skerries, Anglesey. She was en route from Algiers to Barrow with a cargo of iron ore.
According to Charles Hocking – (Hocking, Charles. Dictionary of Disasters at Sea During the Age of Steam 1824-1962. London: The London Stamp Exchange, 1989. ISBN 0 948130 72 5.) “..... Thirty-three men, including the Captain lost their lives, the Treveal sinking so rapidly that there was no time to launch the boats. Three men managed to cling to a raft, from which they were rescued 8 hours afterwards by the steamship Agnes Allen which brought them to Newry.”
He is commemorated in a number of places. He is interred in Penzance Cemetery, and his name appears on the Newquay War Memorial. I’m rather surprised by this as his wife lived in St Ives.
He is also commemorated on his parents grave in Phillack churchyard and the crew of the S S Trevail (but not RHC Clemo!) are named on the memorial on Tower Hill.
His Mercantile Marine and British medals were sent to his widow Mrs M (Matilda) Clemo at “Trabyn”, British Road, St Agnes on March 14th 1922
.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Graveyard Tales- John Whitebread

Graveyard Tales- John Whitebread.
 I was born in Cornwall and lived there until 1962. My earliest memories are of living in a chalet on Hayle Towans in the early 1950s. We moved into our brand new council house on Trevithick Estate in 1954 and I attended Penpol Primary School, taking and passing my 11 plus exam. I spent two terms at Humphrey Davy Grammar School in Penzance before my family moved to London. 
 I now live in Northamptonshire and journey back a couple of times a year with my wife Sue to look at the sea, eat some pasties and refresh my Cornish accent. 
I’ve been researching my family history and with it, the history of Hayle and of the Harvey family. 

 My great great grandmother was a Prussian and worked in Nicholas Harvey’s household as a nurse/governess. Nicholas Harvey died in 1861 and in 1863 Anna Fredericke Wilhelmina Henrietta Vollmer married James Henry Hayes in St Erth church. I’m descended from their daughter Henrietta known as Hettie, who married Charles Clemo in 1895. 

 Fredericke was not the only Prussian in Hayle. Those familiar with the Harvey story will know that Nicholas Harvey spent a lot of time in Holland and the Ruhr. He married twice- first of all to Clementina Jacobi in 1830. She died childless in 1847. He later married another Prussian- Juliana Leug in 1848 and she bore him two daughters who died as infants in 1852 and are buried in the family grave in St Erth, followed by a further four sons and a daughter. It was these children that Fredericke was employed to look after, both at the home in Millpond Avenue and at their London home in Notting Hill.

 I was walking through Phillack churchyard whilst on holiday recently and came across the grave of John Whitebread. According to Edmund Vale’s 1966 book “The Harveys of Hayle” he was “a singularly deft craftsman whom Nicholas has brought with him from Germany and had apparently taken the precaution of anglicising his name on arrival.” We are not told when he came over, or even why he did so, as his skill lay in casting small toys and ornaments, which hardly fit in with Harveys manufacturing heavy cast iron implements, pumps and steam engines.
 The grave marker at Phillack simply records this- “In loving memory of John Whitebread, born 1804, died 1864. Also Blanche his wife, born 1825 died 1884.” Beneath that, almost hidden by the grass is also written “and their daughter Sophia Jacobi born 1844, died 1864.”
 It was the name Jacobi that caught my eye. Nicholas Harvey’s first wife was a Jacobi. John Whitebread and Nicholas Harvey were virtually the same age. Was Whitebread Nicholas Harvey’s brother in law?

 In my research I have discovered that the custom in West Cornwall at that time was to name one’s children as follows: The first son was named after the father's father; The second son after the mother's father; The third son after the father; The fourth son after the father's eldest brother. Then-The first daughter after the mother's mother, The second daughter after the father's mother. The third daughter after the mother. The fourth daughter after the mother's eldest sister.
 At the same time it became customary to include a descendant’s family name among the child’s names. So Nicholas Harvey’s second son by his wife Juliana was named William Leug Harvey when he was born in 1858. Likewise my great grandmother’s names are Elizabeth (after her grandmother) Henrietta (after her mother) Trevaskis (after her grandmother’s maiden name) Hayes. No wonder they called her Hettie. 

What do we know about John Whitebread from the parish records? Well, in 1841 we find that he is aged 40, single, an iron founder and living in a house with two female servants, Sophia and Elizabeth Chinn both aged 25. (Were they twins?). The census recorder merely notes that he is “foreign” 
 At the same time we find that Blanche Coombs is living nearby, the eldest daughter of John Coombs, an accountant and his wife Susan. She is said to be 17. The house would be crowded as they have seven children from 17 down to 1 years old, and also a lodger, a Jane Whitty, aged 20 and a tailor. 
 A search of the marriage records reveals that a John Vicebroadt, full bachelor, occupation-brass founder, resident in Phillack parish, father John Vicebroadt, occupation smelter, on 18-Jan married Blanch Coombs age19, spinster, occupation dressmaker resident in St Erth. Father Thomas Coombs, a waiter. The Banns were read and the witnesses were John Coombs and Samuel Trevaskis. Was her father a waiter or an accountant? It’s probably down to mis-reading the handwriting. 
A little over six months later Sophia Whitbread was baptised at Phillack Church, on July 31st 1842. John’s occupation is given as brassfounder. The choice of church for the ceremony was probably done to stop tongues wagging. 
When their second daughter Maria Susan was baptised in 1844 the ceremony was carried out at St Erth. At the time of the 1851 Census John was 51, a brass and iron founder. Blanch was 29 and they had four children namely Sophia aged 8, Maria aged 6, Clemantine aged 3 and John William aged 1. 
 By the 1861 Census the family had grown to nine children, all living at home. John was 60, described as a brassfounder. Sophia Jacoba was 18 with no occupation while her sister Marie was 16 and a dressmaker. The third daughter’s name was written down as Clemedeen, which may have been down to a mishearing of John’s German accent. There were seven daughters and two sons, the youngest son being Nicholas.
 Was he named after Nicholas Harvey? 

1864 saw two funerals. The Phillack register shows that “WEISBRAD Johann age 66 from Hayle was buried on 9-Jan 1864. (He was) commonly called John Whitebread”. There was also a burial at St Erth on 14th May 1864 of Sophia Jacobie Whitebread of Foundry Hill, in the parish of St Erth. She was 22. 
 By the time of the census of 1881 Blanch Whitbread was 54, living in Foundry Square with her 34 year old daughter Maria, a dressmaker and her son Nicholas, aged 23 and a moulder in the brass foundry. He was still carrying on his father’s trade. 
Blanch died in 1884 aged 60 and was buried in Phillack on November 19th. 

Was Johann Weisbrad/Vicebroadt/Whitebread related to Nicholas Harvey through his first marriage? 
Is it just coincide that his daughters took the names Sophia Jacobi, and Clementine (the names of Harvey’s first wife)? And was it coincidence that his youngest son was named Nicholas? 
Alas, we’ll never know. Unless of course, you know differently.
As a postscript I was reading through the Phillack registry of burials and came across this entry

WHITEBREAD     Nicholas Michael     56     Foundry Square St Erth     17-Dec     1912









Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Clemos in Devonport in 1911


Charles Clemo married Hettie Hayes in 1895 and soon after their son Charles Reginald was christened at St Elwyns Church in Hayle later that year moved to Devonport. Charles joined the Royal Navy where he attained the rank of Petty Officer and served on HMS Lion which fought at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.
According to Peter's Cornwall Genealogy Site, they were living at Charles Clemo in 5 Beatrice Avenue, Keyham, Devonport in 1911, so it's highly likely that my grandfather Richard James (Jim) Clemo (b. 1898) and his younger brother Leonard (b.1908) were also born there.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Helen Elizabeth (Nellie) Clemo 1918-2000

Helen Elizabeth (Nellie) Clemo 5-9-1919- 16-12-2000 Nellie was born in Bromley Kent to Richard James (Jim) and Rose Clemo. Jim was a despatch rider in the Army and was convalescing after his motorbike was hit by shrapnel. He received burns to his legs when the petrol tank exploded.

Jim returned to his unit and continued to serve in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Ireland before discharge in about 1922. They then moved to Devonport to live with his father Charles, an ex Royal Navy Petty Officer who had fought at the Battle of Jutland aboard HMS Lion in 1916. It had been almost the first great sea battle in over one hundred years, and the tactics adopted by Admiral Jellicoe were not far removed from the days of Trafalgar. The British fleet had major problems communicating with each other, and there were major tactical and operational errors that resulted in great loss of life. Three large warships were lost due to an elementary error of leaving the doors to the magazines open. One single salvo on target caused the battle cruisers Indefatigable and Queen Mary to blow up and later in the action HMS Invincible also blew up. Only an act of utmost bravery saved HMS Lion from a similar fate, when Major Francis Harvey, (no, not a Harvey from Hayle) although mortally wounded, ordered the flooding of one of the magazines, which had been set on fire following a direct hit on the ship’s Q turret. He died soon afterwards and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. That selfless action certainly saved my great grandfather’s life.

Charles wife Hettie erroneously received a telegram informing her of his death in battle. When this was followed by another letter telling her of the death of her eldest son Reginald Charles on August 14th 1917, it tipped her into insanity and she was sectioned and placed in the Asylum in Bodmin where she took her own life on 18th October 1917.
Charles mother Annie lived with the family in Devonport until her death in 1920, as did his brother in law Francis William Hayes, who worked in the dockyard and had lodged with his family. Francis died in 1930. Another brother in law Harry Vollmer Hayes also worked at the dockyard, so when Jim left the army he moved to Devonport with his wife and daughter and lodged with his father.
Life was hard in Devonport in the early 1920s. Jim managed to find work as a furniture van driver and as a chauffeur, but times were hard. Reginald Charles (Reg) Clemo was born on the 3rd September 1923, and his daughter Rose Davies recalls him speaking of being put into a home on more than one occasion because Jim and Rose could not feed him. Reg later vowed that his children would never be sent to bed hungry, as had happened to him on more than one occasion. Jim had a younger brother Leonard. He was born in 1908 and at the outbreak of war in 1914 he was sent to St Erth to live with his aunt Julia Hayes. In 1927 Leonard was married (for the first time) and the family posed for a photograph. Jim and Rose had a son called David who was stillborn in around 1925, followed by a son Richard James (Dick) in 1928 and another son Peter in 1932.

In 1934 Charles Clemo died in Plymouth Hospital. He was buried with his wife Hettie in St Erth cemetery. Jim and Rose must have made the decision to move to Cornwall soon afterwards because Jim used some of his inheritance to buy a Morris car which had two dickie seats in the boot. Nellie and Reg sat in the dickie seats and with Rose, the infant Peter and 6 year old Dick plus all their belongings inside the car drove down to St Erth and lodged with Aunt Julia. Nellie was now 15 and had left school, so a job was found for her as a telegram girl at the local Post Office, which was owned by Mr Trevaskis, a relative. (James Hayes married Betsy Trevaskis in 1822. Jim’s mother Hettie’s middle name was Trevaskis).
At around this time there was a row over Charles Clemo’s legacy. Jim believed that he had been cheated out of a significant sum of money by Leonard and they fell out, never to be reconciled.
After some months Jim and Rose found a cottage in Goldsithney and they lived there until Jim’s death in 1960 While living in Devonport Jim had had a dramatic conversion and was a member of the Plymouth Brethren Christian sect, and soon after moving to Goldsithney Jim called on the Vicar of St Hilary, Father Walker, (who had married Jim’s brother in 1927) and arranged for Nellie to work at the Vicarage as a scullery maid. However, Jim insisted that Nellie continue to live at home.
In around 1937 or so, Nellie had a sweetheart. He worked for Trinity House, who looked after the lighthouses and buoys that guarded the many rocks and reefs off the coast. When her mother Rose discovered that he had TB which was at that time incurable, she forbade Nellie from continuing the relationship. So Nellie married Albert Bond on the rebound.
Albert Bond was working as a lampman with a gang laying cables through Goldsithney. She would chat to him over the back gate and her father Jim did not approve. They married at Penzance Registry Office in 1937. Nellie was eighteen and needed her parent’s permission to wed. Even as they travelled from Goldsithney to Penzance for the ceremony, Jim begged her not to go ahead with the wedding but she was adamant she would marry.
Albert and Nellie Bond moved to the Scilly Isles when they were married. William was a labourer on a flower farm. Their first child William was conceived there but before he was born they moved back to the mainland, where they lived with Albert’s parents next to the old chapel in Kelynack, St Just. William Bond was born in 2 Church Square St Just in November 1939.
For the next few years Albert worked as a farm labourer throughout Penwith, and the family lived in tied cottages. Albert was blessed with charisma but at the same time was cursed with a devil may care attitude and a quick temper. Many’s the time he would walk out of a job without thinking about where his family would live and Nellie was more often than not penniless.
Stephen Bond was born in 1947 and Bernard Bond in 1949, but it was apparent even then that the marriage was failing. They lived in Boscrage in 1952 and Carnegwidden near Chysauster in 1956 in a house without electricity, drainage, running water or services of any kind. Water was obtained from a nearby stream, or if that ran dry in summer, it was a long walk to find another source.
Winter 1956 was spent in a cottage in Lesingey, just outside Penzance once again without running water or electricity. In May 1962 they moved to the old Army camp at Ponsondane where they lived in an old Army hut. In October they moved to a council house on the Gwavas estate in Newlyn.
By 1967 the marriage was over. Nellie was 48. Nellie went to live with Jack Matthews at 6 Little Trethewey Estate Porthcurno, later moving to St Erth.
She divorced Albert and married Jack. Stephen and Bernard stayed with Albert at Gwavas. In 1968 Stephen Bond married Mary Hayes and moved to Relubbus. They had three children.

Nellie Clemo was the black sheep of our family. She had a very hard life, was often penniless and had to live off her wits. She was rarely mentioned in our household and I never met her. I never met any of her family before 2011 when I met Bernard at Peter Clemo’s funeral.
Bernard Bond was estranged from his mother for 30 years until 1997 when he saw her at a Salvation Army lunch. He was persuaded to speak to her and they made peace. He discovered that Jack had died in about 1987 and that her brother Peter Clemo and their family had been keeping an eye on her.
Helen Elizabeth (Nellie) Matthews nee Clemo died in 2000 aged 81. She was buried with her parents in Perranuthenoe churchyard.

Parallel Lines

I've spent an age looking at various website pages checking out the Hayes family line. I managed to find a Hayes in a neighbouring parish of Uny Lelant in the late 1680s and through that link managed to find a host of Hayes births deaths and marriages. It seems that the Hayes family only ever called their sons William, James, Richard or John, so it's confusing to find so many James Hayes down the years, especially as we find that a James Hayes died in infancy and the parents went on to have another son and called him James as well! No sooner had I compiled a huge list of names and was beginning to tie the family tree together when I stumbled on this site!
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~peterscornishfamily/Hayes/Hayes-Family.htm

My good friend and fellow geneologist Peter had found a lot of what I'd discovered and set it out in table form as you can see. I contacted him and offered him the information I had found and he has been able to extend the Hayes family line and include the Clemo Family Tree as well.
Please check it out. I was staggered to see how many Cornish families we are related to by marriage.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Interesting link...

We've been away on holiday in Cornwall and visited a few relatives. One of my cousins told me something that set me off investigating as soon as I returned. People often ask me if I'm related to the blind Cornish poet Jack Clemo. I've always said no as he was from St Austell at the other end of the county. However, Rose told me that she was told by her father that Jack Clemo was our grandfather Jim's cousin, and that he came down to Goldsithney to visit on several occasions. This got me thinking and investigating. The first thing I was able to establish was that Jack's full name was Reginald John Clemo. He was born in 1916 and his father died at sea soon afterwards. This got me thinking. There are two Clemos on the Navy Memorial at Plymouth. One is grandfather Jim's older brother Reginald Charles, who went down with HMS Prize, and the other in Stoker Reginald Clemo who was on HMS Tornado when is was hit by a mine in 1917. Could this be Jack's father? If so, then we must work backwards to find the family link.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Trevithick Estate


We moved into this house in 1953. Both my sister Shirley and my brother Richard were born there. We moved to London in 1962.
Since then the house has undergone an upgrade. The windows have been replaced (the old ones were single glazed metal frames and were very draughty, and the building has been clad to improve the insulation.
I'm going down to Hayle soon. Should I knock on the door?