The Symonds Story Part 2

From Ladock to St Enoder 1770 to 1848

Francis Symons #2 Marries

The grandson of William Symons, Francis #2, had certainly moved from Ladock Parish where his father, Francis #1, had taken a lease on land in Fairmoor in 1748. For 17 years, no trace of Francis #2 had surfaced until his marriage to Elizabeth Murlin (or Morlen) was found in the records of St Columb Major Parish Church on 5 September, 1765. Elizabeth was living in St Columb Major Parish at that time and so no doubt was Francis #2.

An entry in Phillimore lists Elizabeth's maiden name as Martin. That was misleading enough as was the IGI entry for Murlin listed under Marlin. The track which led to the inspection of the real Parish Church marriage record was full of negative diversions but the final result led to a fascinating array of history - farming in mid-Cornwall, turnpikes, inn construction, involvements with John Wesley and Methodism and more. Let's stick to the Symonds story as a main line.

Turnpikes Enter Cornwall

Cornwall had been a difficult place for communications with the rest of England until the Turnpike Acts of the 18th Century had been passed through Parliament. The earliest in Cornwall were the Truro-Falmouth and the Truro-Grampound links. In 1759, a northern turnpike wound its rather circuitous way from Launceston, through Camelford, Wadebridge and St Columb Major to Truro. A more direct route was constructed by about 1769 from a spot close to Launceston, across Bodmin Moor to Bodmin and across Gossmoor to link with the northern turnpike near Fraddon.

A Posting House/Inn Required

At the end of a 'dreary journey' of an hour or more across Gossmoor, passengers would be delighted to find a place of refreshment and interchange with other means of transport where the turnpike met the northern one and the road to Newquay in the west. An enterprising person, with a knowledge of the inn-keeping business, would have seen the traffic on the northern route and decided on some definite action. That person turned out to be Francis Symons #2, yeoman. According to the WH file in the Cornwall Record Office, he took out a 99 year lease, dated 1 May 1775, from Dame Elizabeth St Aubyn of Clowance, widow and guardian of an infant son, on two thirds of a plot called White Splat, about six acres in extent located in Carworgey Common. However, the file entry indicated that Francis #2 had "at own expense lately enclosed and improved the plot of ground" prior to the signing of the lease, possibly even to the extent of having a building on it. How long before 1775 lately was has not been determined, but one could guess at some years, maybe even not long after the completion of the turnpike in 1769. This file entry also mentions Thomas and Elizabeth Ball whose descendants married into the Morlen family.

The Indian Queen(s) Inn

There are nineteen entries in the CRO WH File relating to the properties which were leased to the Symonds family over the period from 1775 to about 1857. They cover three generations; Francis #2, son John Symonds and a grandson Francis Spinks Symonds, all stated to be innkeepers. A combination of this file and the wills of Francis #2 and his wife Elizabeth nee Morlen make it evident that this plot on White Splat was the location of the Indian Queen Inn. Is it Queen or Queens? That will have to come later!

A 1784 entry relates to a 9 year lease from John Basset Jun of St Enoder, gentleman, to Francis #2 for a piece of ground, part of Halloon and Carworgey. The lease has three "lives" as the lessee's children, Francis (#3), John and Jane, whose names had been found to be related to Francis#2 from other sources. This entry goes further in identifying the location: Lessee is enclosing a piece of ground between the new turnpike and the hedge of Edm. Bullock's premises and a hedge to be erected at n.e. end as far as the pits within the boundstone of Halloon and Carworgey common;.

It should be explained here that a Cornish hedge is not a fence of bushes or low trees as in other parts of England. To Cornishmen, a hedge is a stone and earth bank, the construction of which is an ancient art in Cornwall and has its counterparts in those parts of Australia to which Cornish families emigrated. Two parallel, battered (sloping) walls are built to a height of four or five feet with pieces of rock arranged vertically, horizontally or in a diagonal herring bone pattern. The space between the walls is filled with earth and topped with turfs to shed the rain which falls on it. If there is any foliage involved, it purely by accident of the deposition of seeds on the turf topping.

The pits mentioned in the entry are also interesting as they would have been tin mining pits just south of the Inn and inside the boundary of St Columb Major Parish with St Enoder Parish. The remnants of these pits are shown on present day Ordnance Survey maps at this location. There would have been a sinkage depression formed at these pits which would have become the Indian Queens pit used by Wesleyan preachers after John Wesley's visits to Cornwall, just as the Gwennap pit was so used. The Indian Queens pit is still there and well kept. There is more to be said about Wesley's visits to this area in another page as the Symonds and Morlen families were very much involved.

By 1812, the file has a specific mention of the Inn as The India Queens, "being on the right hand side of the road from Blue Anchor to Bodmin (part of the manor of Trevetheleck)".

Another entry in 1815 is even more specific in relation to the lease to John Symonds (and as "lives" of sons John Spinks Symonds, Francis Symonds and Thomas Symonds, sons of the lessee):

1/6 part of messuage and dwelling-house called by the sign of the Indian Queens, with stable, barn, outhouses, backlets, mowhay and gdns; also of 5 plots of land formerly one field called White Close (6 acres), with right of common on Carworgey down.

The St Columb Major Tithe Apportionment List of 1841 and the corresponding Map were a remarkable source of information, giving the location of various sections of land which the Symonds family had leased. Sections marked 6, 7 and 8 are almost certainly the White Splat land. Section 6 was listed as the Indian Queen homestead and public house. Section 7 was Little Meadow, arable land, while Section 8 had a barn, house and an arable field. In all, there were about 6 acres in these sections. In addition, there was Section 2 called Ball Field, probably a reference back to Thomas Ball. The Tithe List showed that in 1841 the Symonds brothers, together with James Rowse, held Barn Close Section 9, House Close Section10, and a house and garden on Section11. All of these sections appear in the portion of the Tithe Map below.

A Portion of the 1841 St Columb Major Tithe Apportionment Map
showing sections relating to The Indian Queen Inn

The Inn and its Innkeepers

In 1989, a fascinating insight into the Inn's history came from Mrs Yelland of Fraddon who, as Violet Dean was born in the Inn in 1890 where her father, Henry Dean had become the "innkeeper" of Dean's Temperance Inn, the alter ego of the Indian Queens Inn after it had lost its licence in September 1881. Mrs Yelland grew up at the inn and had fond memories of its nooks and crannies, the step down into the lounge area after entering the front door and the cupboards set into the walls. The Inn had been constructed with white cob walls and a relatively steep thatched roof. The cob walls would have been made of a mixture of clay, gravel and straw, placed in position wet as with concrete, a well known mixture in many parts of England, particularly in Cornwall.

The Indian Queens had remained as a licensed hostelry from around 1775 until 1881, but the Symonds family were the innkeepers only up to 1857 when Francis, the grandson of Francis #2, died. The termination of the licence came as a result the introduction of the Newquay railway, first with a goods service from Fowey to Newquay in 1869 and then with a passenger service on 20 June 1876. There were intermediate stops at Par, St Blazey, Bridges for Luxulyan, Bugle, Victoria for Roche and Halloon. There were several station name changes, the most important for the Indian Queens Inn being the change from Halloon to St Columb Road which became the significant pickup and setdown point. It seems that a bankruptcy proceeding overtook the innkeeper of the Inn and the licence was lost to The Queen and Railway Inn closer to the railway station. It had taken part of the old Inn's name. The Indian Queens became the Dean's Temperance Inn and it in turn became a private residence but was demolished later for the present housing estate, with one lane close to the main road named as Pocohontas Crescent. And that leads us to ask, "Now who was the Indian Queen and why the name Indian Queens?".

The main street of Indian Queens c.1950
The Inn is the two-storeyed building with a covered entrance.
Converted to a residence in the early 20th Century,
it was demolished in the 1960s.

Who was The Indian Queen?

It is not unusual that there are a number of stories which try to explain who The Indian Queen was. But the name became plural in the 19th Century to make interpretation much worse and has caused many contests about its origin. Cyril Noall, in his book A History of Cornish Mail- and Stage-Coaches, writes that:

Some of the most interesting coaching inns are those situated in remote country districts. A noteworthy example was the Indian Queen, which has given its name to the present day village of Indian Queens. This stood beside the road leading from the wild Goss Moor to Fraddon, just below the top of the hill ... The house possessed a small gable-roofed porch and displayed as a sign the portrait of an Indian queen. An inscription (later plastered over) on the porch told the story of a Portugese princess, who landed at Falmouth in packet days, and slept one night at this inn on her way to London. Her swarthy appearance gave the impression that was an Indian..

The small gable-roofed porch can be seen in the photographs taken in the 1950s. Then again, C.G. Vigurs, in Notes and Queries No.416, was reported by Noall as having provided another baseless fiction that the royal lady was Pocohontas, an American princess (1595-1617). She was the younger daughter of Powhatton, chief of the Indian tribes who lived along the Virginian seaboard, but how she could have stayed at the inn is a mystery unless it was her ghost! At least she has given her name to the small lane Pocohontas Crescent in Indian Queens.

Let us finish with a personal comment by H.L. Douch and information from his book, Old Cornish Inns and their place in the social history of the County. Mr Douch was the Curator of the County Museum in Truro at our first visit there in 1976, providing us with much helpful background about The Indian Queen and its history. When Francis Symonds first operated the Inn and certainly up to April 1780, it had the name The Queen's Head. Sometime thereafter and definitely by 1787, it had become The Indian Queen. It seems that the name became The Indian Queens around the end of the 18th Century.

Douch commented that the signboard displayed a Red Indian on one side and Victoria as Queen of India on the other. These displays were later painted over with the inglorious title Dean's Temperance Hotel which sign is shown as Plate Vb in Douch's book. The old sign resides in the Truro Museum. Careful removal of some of the paint by experts revealed two heads, one on each side. This gave Douch the photograph and the information he reported.

If the sign did show Queen Victoria on one side, it must surely have been painted over more than once because Victoria's accession to the throne was in 1836! In a way we can confirm the plural Queens from a family tombstone at St Enoder Churchyard which records that Agness Symonds was the wife of the third Symonds inkeeper, grandson Francis of Francis #2 and that she died at Indian Queens on 4 February 1855.

One of the fascinating aspects of chasing through local and parish records is that unexpected surname connections pop up. The best of these has come from inspecting names that others have placed in the Cornwall FHS Members' Interest lists as having direct family ancestral interest. Putting them all together has produced one of the best links to people living at the period when the Indian Queen Inn began its operation. Ron Clark (left) and I found we were fourth cousins from a sister and a brother, children of Francis #2 and Elizabeth nee Morlen. Where better to display who we are than on this page at our first meeting in England in 1992, as a token of the interest we developed together and the help he has given me.

The Symonds Family Tree has many branches but its main trunk can be seen on Page 3 of the Symonds story. Or you can return to Page 1 of the early Symonds story for another look.


Back to [Symonds Home Page][Symonds Story Part 1]
Forward to [Symonds Story Part 3 - Descendants Chart][Symonds Story Part 4]
The stories of the maternal ancestors of the Symonds Family can be reached at: [Five Generations of Cornish Maternal Ancestors]


This page is maintained by John L. Symonds. Last modified on 8 March 1998.