The Symonds Story Part 5

Five Generations of Cornish Maternal Ancestors

Pride of Place for the Cornish Mothers

Having concentrated on the Symonds families and the male members in my family tree, it seemed only right to give pride of place on their own page to those ladies who were to be such key members in establishing a strong line with the Symonds surname. Of earlier members of the maternal ancestry, it has been difficult to find the full story of their birth and their lives. Be that as it may, there is no doubt that they played a crucial part in the continuing line with the first male name Francis among the subsequent husbands in the descendant line.

The descendant list given here is an inversion of the same list which appears in the Symonds Story Part 3, with the wives preceding the Symon(d)s husbands:

Mary TRAHER (bef.1670- ?) m. 30 Dec 1690 William Symons (bef.1670-c.1727)
Ann POWELL (1699- ?) m. 24 Sep 1726 Francis #1 Symons (1694- ?)
Elizabeth MORLEN (MURLAIN) (1744-1797) m. 5 Sep 1765 Francis #2 Symons (1734-1795)
Agnes GUMMOW (1766- ?) m. 5 Sep 1795 Francis #3 Symon(d)s (1773-1825)
Kitty FRANCIS (1798-1838) m.1 15 Oct 1827 Francis #4 Symonds (1796-1885)
Mrs. Thomasine COAD nee CROCKER (1808-1861) m.2 20 May 1839 Francis #4 Symonds (1796-1885)

We will tell what we know of this group of wives, starting with the earliest known Mary Traher. In the telling of their stories, their forebears will come into prominence on many occasions, giving some background to the way that their descendants have probably developed in personal character and stature in the societies where they lived. This family tree had not only strong branches but also a robust trunk.


It seems certain that the Traher family were living either at St Newlyn East or close by. Nevertheless, it has been difficult to locate them and their daughter Mary who would have been baptised in the St Newlyn Parish Church not long before 1670. Her marriage to William Symons was performed in that church on 30 December 1690. At the time of a visit to Cornwall in the early 1990s, the St Newlyn Parish Registers were not accessible. It seems from various searches that the name Traher is not a common one. With the gradual location of the parish registers at the Cornwall Record Office, it will be possible to do a good search for the family origins.

Mary and William went to live in Ladock and there is a four year gap in time between their marriage and the birth of Francis #1 as I numbered him because of the long direct line of family descendant sons who were named Francis. There is a possibility that there were other children before Francis and that the family lived perhaps in the St Newlyn East area or nearby before settling in Ladock. There are indications but not confirmed that a William Symons of Ladock was an innkeeper. Certainly some of his descendants followed this occupation. Searching through the Ladock Parish Burial Register and other listings, the death of Mary Symonds was recorded as on 25 September 1734.

In October 1998, I was informed of the find of an old bottle seal at Talskiddy near St Columb Major when the finder, Philip Ellery, was digging in the garden. He noticed that it had writing on it and on close inspection that was "R. TRAHER, Barley Sheaf, St Columb". It is likely to be over 100 years old because some papers were found about the Barley Sheaf. Richard Traher was living at the Barley Sheaf Inn as early as 1794 and was also mentioned as being there in 1815. In 1816, there is a mention in the records of the White Horse at St Columb that Richard Trehar (sic) died aged 53 so his birth would have been c1763. Luck can sometimes be a wonderful help in family history searches, making it worthwhile continuing the chase.

Francis, son of Mary & William

Francis #1 grew up in Ladock Parish. From the 1839 Tithe Apportionment, it is likely that Mary, William and their family occupied a section which was on the west side of the road running through Ladock Parish from Truro towards Brighton to the north. The east side of the road was named Ladock and the Parish Church stood up on the hill above the valley along which a stream and the road ran. The west side was known as Bissick. William, probably accompanied by Francis, went down to Truro and its environs, probably going to market places.

Norman Hicks† comments that trips to market, jogging behind the old grey mare, were the only journeys away from their scattered hamlets for these small yeoman farmers and their families. He goes on to write:

Market day meant much more than buying and selling livestock and farm produce. To the younger sons and daughters for whom there was no room on the family holding it was their labour exchange, for annual hiring fairs were unknown hereabouts. If father was ambitious it was at the market that he put the word around about renting a larger holding or a plot of accommodation land. And, of course, it was the marriage market, a function central to the popularity of today's Young Farmers Clubs! It is no coincidence that one of the most successful marriage bureaux in Britain started business at the tiny village of Jacobstow, in the heart of this sparsely populated district (an area north of Launceston). So, the family historian seeking to trace a marriage prior to 1837 in these parts, where the wedding invariably took place in the bride's parish, the first step is to consider the type of farming best suited to the bridegroom's father's holding and hence which market father customarily used ...
† Hicks, Norman, Reflections on using local knowledge to aid family history research; Cornwall Family History Society Journal, No. 22, Winter 1981, p.4-5


Just what William, accompanied by Francis, would have been doing at the Kenwyn Market, just NW of Truro, has not been discovered. Kenwyn Village is now a suburb of Truro. Norman Hicks' comments are very appropriate because it must have been the place where Francis met Anne Powell, the eldest child of Roger and Mary Powell, baptised at Kenwyn Parish Church on 14 January 1699. The actual discovery of this connection came about from an exchange of information with a CFHS member who turned out to be a descendant of one of Roger Powell's children. A copy of the Will of Roger Powell, signed in February 1732, showed that he was a man of some substance. A number of substantial properties, NW of Kenwyn, were mentioned in the Will. The text of the Will includes a bequest to Ann(e) Symons and to her two children at that time, Jane and Peter. Two others, William born November 1731 and Francis (#2) born May 1734, were not mentioned as the Will was probably prepared before the birth of William.

Ann, Francis and the family of four children moved from Bissick to the sub-tenancy of land known as part of Fairmoor, about 1 km north of Ladock. Francis #1 was given access to pasture a colt in Bedock Woods and allowed to travel through the woods on a right of way. At this time, we lose track of the family. It is possible that Ann, Francis and the family moved to some other parish nearby such as St Enoder or St Columb Major. We have no other records of Ann and Francis #1, no burial record nor any decipherable headstone. The family thread had to be picked in some other way.

Elizabeth MORLEN

Good Fortune smiled once again. In a marriage ceremony at St Columb Major Parish Church on 5 September 1765, Francis Symons wed Elizabeth Murlin but her father's name appeared to be Richard Morlen. Further confusion reigned when the Phillimore listing gave her maiden name as Martin and the IGI listed it as Marlin. Her father's marriage to Catherine Francis clearly lists his surname as Morlen but going back to his origins in the Parish of St Stephen in Brannel, variant spellings turned up - Marlyn, Merlin, Merlyn, Morlen, Morling, Morlyn, Murlen, Murlin and Murlain. And that is the basis of another complete family story because Richard Morlen's brother was John Murlin who eventually became one of John Wesley's 27 ordained Methodist Ministers in 1784 after becoming a Wesleyan local preacher in the St Austell circuit in 1749.

Richard Morlen had married Catherine Francis at St Enoder Parish Church in 1743. Richard appears to have been involved in operations of an Inn or Posting House, possibly in Roche. Contact with Methodist teachings and disciplines persuaded him to leave this work and, about the same time as his marriage, he took up farming, as he had done as a youth on his father's farm, leasing a property on Carworgey Estate, known as Trebudannon to the west of present-day Indian Queens. It is apparent that the Morlen family had accepted Wesleyan Methodism into their lives to the extent that their Society became the 'Queens Society' as part of the St Austell Circuit.

Elizabeth Morlen grew up in this Methodist background. A meeting house was constructed as part of their farmhouse and used as the Meeting House, later replaced by a larger Chapel at the other side of the farmhouse. The Trebudannon Chapel was built in 1818 with 92 sittings for the Society which had 21 registered members. Richard would have met John Wesley personally at St Columb Major through his own brother John, early in Wesley's visits to Cornwall. Many of the local preachers and the circuit ministers stayed at the Morlen house which had a room set aside solely for that purpose.

Elizabeth is likely to have met Francis #2 Symons either at a Methodist Meeting House at St Columb Major or in the Carworgey Estate area where Francis was acquiring land on which he was to build a posting house/inn, later called The Indian Queen. The land was only a short distance from Trebudannon and was on the south-east side of the junction of the new turnpike from Bodmin (opened about 1769) with the earlier main road from St Columb Major to Truro. Francis must have seen the prospects for the posting house around the time of his marriage in 1765 and it was in full operation when the turnpike was opened.

The lives of Elizabeth and Francis from that time on centered on their growing family and around the development of the Indian Queen Inn and its operation as a posting house. Mails were exchanged there from the coaches which travelled east to Bodmin, south to Truro, west to Newquay and north through St Columb Major. Seven children were born there: Ann (1767), William (1769), Peter (1771), Francis (#3) (1773), Elizabeth (1775), John (1778) and Jane (1780). William and Peter both died in their infancy so that Francis #3 became the elder living son. John was to become the innkeeper after the death of his father Francis #2 in 1795 and that of his mother Elizabeth in 1797.

From the remarkably comprehensive Will which Francis left on his death in 1795, he had expanded his activities beyond those at The Indian Queen. He had right and title to Tin Bounds and Stream Works in Gossmoor and elsewhere. Alluvial tin deposits were to be found on Gossmoor as in many other places in Cornwall. Listed among the bequests was one covering Right, Kind Goods and Chattels in, on on, the Estate of Tregowls in the Parish of St Wenn. Today the spelling is Tregolls. This bequest was made to his son Francis #3 who had taken up the role of yeoman farmer at St Wenn. This involvement is supported by the statement in his marriage lines to Agnes Gummow that they were both of St Wenn. There were other indications also that his father, Francis #2, had taken up a lease on this land sometime around 1770 so that Francis #3 must have been involved there from quite an early age.

Elizabeth took over the running of The Indian Queen after Francis #2 died in 1795 but she only lived on until 1797. She was buried at St Enoder Parish Church cemetery and the headstone to Francis and Elizabeth still stands there quite close to the church.


Agnes Gummow was the younger daughter of William Gummow and Elizabeth nee Hill. She was baptised at St Enoder Parish Church on 28 February 1766. Their first daughter was Elizabeth who was baptised on 22 July 1764, also at St Enoder Parish Church. William Gummow had married Elizabeth Hill on 29 August 1763 at St Colan Parish Church which is quite close to St Enoder Church. There is a possibility that Elizabeth was the daughter of the Rector of St Colan. As she grew up, Agnes was living in the St Wenn Parish, no doubt working at one of the farms thereabouts. That was clear from the occupation statement when she married Francis #3 Symons on 3 October 1795.

William Gummow was a yeoman farmer in the St Enoder Parish and had been born in that Parish though he was baptised on 9 July 1735 at St Newlyn East Parish Church. His parents were John Gummow and Elizabeth nee Henwood who were married at St Enoder Parish Church on 2 May 1730. His mother, Elizabeth, had been born in that parish and it was quite usual in Cornwall for a grandchild to be baptised in the parish of the grandparents. They had two other children at least, Agness and John. From the Will of John Gummow, it seems likely that there was another son, Richard, but that has not been confirmed. William was appointed as the executor of his father's Will, in the absence of any named executor in the Will. The administration document provided two other signatories - Francis Symons (undoubtedly our Francis #3) and John Hill, yeoman of the Parish of Blisland, likely to have been the brother of Elizabeth, William's wife.

William was well-established in St Enoder Parish and had been appointed as a Churchwarden to the Parish Vestry. The connection with the administration of the Parish was not the only one to be found later. Both Francis #3 and his son, Francis #4, were also Churchwardens in that Parish.

Agnes and Francis #3 Symons went to live at Tregolls Farm in St Wenn. The story behind their family life at Tregolls can be seen in the Symonds Story 4. That Agnes was part of the Symonds family ancestry is attested to by the memory of a silver dessert spoon, inscribed AG. Bessie Symonds Bagshaw, her great granddaughter who was over 100 years old in 1987, said that she had seen the spoon in the possession of her Aunt Amy at the turn of the twentieth century. Her son, Francis #4, would have inherited some household goods left to him by Agnes. Among them was probably a set of cutlery given her by her parents, William and Elizabeth Gummow, prior to her marriage.

Agnes and Francis had seven children, the eldest of whom was named Francis after his father, his grandfather and his great grandfather, so he became Francis #4 in our family history. The second child was a son named William Gomar. The surprising spelling can only be attributed to the fact that Agnes could only make her mark on documents. The prelate obviously wrote it the way he heard it - or thought he heard it! William G. was registered as William Gummow when he lived in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. To him it was clearly his mother's maiden name. Then there five girls born in the period 1799 to 1805. The children were all baptised at St Wenn Parish Church:
Francis (b.5 Nov 1796;bp. 12 Jan 1797): William Gomar (bp.27 Feb 1798): Elizabeth(bp.2 Jun 1799): Agness (bp.14 Feb 1800): Chatren (bp.14 Mar 1802): Julia (bp. 9 Jul 1803): Ann (bp.9 Jun 1805).
Chatren was actually named Catherine but probably for the same reason that was heard as Chatren. One of her descendants is now living in Cheshire, a quite recent discovery.

Agnes and Francis #3 were no longer the occupant of Tregolls farm by about 1808. With the death of her mother Elizabeth in 1808 and her father William in 1810, it is probable that there were legacies to Agnes, helping to expand their financial position. When William died, Francis Symonds (so spelt now) was one of the administrators and he was given as resident in the Parish of St Columb Major. Richard Morlen and his wife Elizabeth also died in the first decade of the 19th century so there were possible legacies from there also.

From various documents made available by the Cornwall Record Office, Agnes and Francis #3 must have moved with their eldest son Francis #4, shortly after 1810, to Nankervis Farm in St Enoder Parish, close to the border with Ladock Parish. It is not apparent which of Agnes' family moved to Nankervis Farm. William Gomar Symonds is believed to have moved to Hayle in SW Cornwall. Many years later he and most of his sons moved to Ballarat in Victoria AUS. Some of the girls may have married soon after that move and one, Chatren, certainly had descendants, one of whom now lives in Cheshire ENG.


Kitty Francis was the daughter of Jacob and Catherine Francis who lived in St Enoder Parish. Jacob was a farmer with property in the neighbourhood of the Nankervis Farm. Kitty had been baptised at St Enoder Parish Church on 21 July 1798 and no doubt had met Francis #4 in the St Enoder area, possibly at the Parish Church or at a local Methodist meeting. She and Francis #4 Symonds were married at St Enoder Parish Church on 15 October 1827, two years after the death of Francis #3. It seems certain that they immediately went to live at Nankervis Farm.

Lavinia Frances, the first child and daughter of Kitty and Francis was born at Nankervis and baptised at the Parish Church on 30 April 1828. Their first son was born late in 1829, baptised as a New Year's child on 1 January 1830 and named Francis Francis; Francis, once for his father and again for his mother's maiden name - a pair of clues for later family historians! Three more children were born at Nankervis and baptised at St Enoder Parish Church - William Gummow (bp. 28 October 1831) with the maternal name reappearing, Thyrza (bp. 7 January 1834), later spelt Thurza, and Ellen (bp.10 August 1836).

The young family then suffered a tragedy with the death of Kitty on 7 February 1838, aged 35 years, buried at St Enoder churchyard where there remains a headstone to her memory. The inscription reads:
Sacred to the memory of Kitty Symonds, Wife of Francis Symonds of this parish, who departed this life, Feb. 7 1838, Aged 35 years.
For a good many years from 1975, the reason for her sudden death so young was sought. From the date of her death relative to the birth of Ellen, it was possible that it might have been somehow connected with childbirth. It was not until late in 1993, after the publication of the Symonds Family History book which made this surmise, that the detail came from a descendant of Francis Francis Symonds. The answer came from the records of the St Gluvias Parish where it seems Kitty and maybe the family were visiting friends or even her parents. She had given birth to twins there in September 1837. A boy was named Francis Edward Hockey Symonds and a girl was Kitty Smith Symonds. Both were baptised on 17 September 1837 and both died, possibly soon after birth. It is believed that they were buried at St Gluvias though this has not been confirmed. Kitty died sometime later at Nankervis Farm, probably from complications which developed from the childbirth.

Francis was left with five young children. His mother, Agnes, may have been able to help him through this difficult time although she would have been in her early seventies. The eldest daughter, Lavinia, was just over ten years old on her mother's death. From the stories handed down, Lavinia would have been expected to and did help with the little ones, as she did in later events in their lives. So a chapter in the story of the Symonds family finished and another began.

Thomasine Coad nee Crocker

Thomasine was the daughter of James Crocker, an itinerant carpenter in the Ladock parish, who had married Tomsin Jolly (also known as Thansin in some records) on 15 November 1796 at St Ladoca Parish Church in Ladock. Thomasine Crocker was born in July 1807 and baptised at the Parish Church on 13 July 1807. She married Thomas Coad (also spelt Coade) at Ladock on 26 January 1828. A son, James Crocker Coad named after his grandfather, was born in 1829. During a horse jumping event in 1831, Thomas Coad suffered a fall and was killed, leaving Thomasine with two year old James to bring up on her own.

Francis #4 Symonds was living at Nankervis Farm which is on the direct road south to Ladock, less than three miles away. He had family links in Bissick village across the road from Ladock village. In some circumstance, he met Mrs Thomasine Coad and it may have even been as a result of knowing her father James Coad as the itinerant carpenter. It was a closely knit world in those days. Thomasine and Francis were married at St Enoder Parish Church on 20 May 1839, with her father James as the witness at her marriage. Nankervis Farm remained the home for Francis, Thomasine and all the children, including young James whose age lay between that of Lavinia and Francis Francis. It is not surprising that James became one of the family, surrounded as he was by children of his own age.

Thomasine and Francis added five more children to the family, all born at Nankervis Farm. The first child was a daughter, Amy, born on 10 March 1840. Four boys followed - John (b. 17 October 1841), Henry (b. 8 July 1843), Thomas (b. 25 December 1844) and Charles (b. 21 May 1846). Thomasine was apparently a good organiser so that, with the birth of Charles, she would have had eleven children to care for, ranging from 18 years down. Comments handed down through the years make it clear that Thomasine and Francis were given help by the older children and had expected that this would be so. It was apparent that Thomasine and Francis had had a background in local education and ensured that the children were given a sound education. All of them wrote well, with good spelling, and they were well versed in arithmetic as accounts they kept show.

A Big Decision to be Made

With the repeal of the Corn laws in 1846, farmers faced a period of uncertainty, enhanced by a series of bad harvests and a potato famine in Ireland and to some extent in Cornwall. Payton, in his book The Cornish Farmer in Australia, commented on the parallel emigration of agriculturalists and other 'non-miners' who were just as anxious to escape the dreadful effects of the 'Hungry Forties' [as the miners] and its potato blight which had all but destroyed the Cornish crop on several successive seasons.

Unfortunately, there are no written records of the Symonds' family's consideration of the prospect of emigration. Francis and Thomasine could have been impressed by material being circulated about the new colony in South Australia and by correspondence and information from those who had already emigrated. It is clear from the notebooks left by Francis in South Australia that they had been given the names of people toapproach in the new colony (some very Cornish, John Tregeagle for example). As a member of the St Enoder Vestry, Francis would almost certainly have seen sections of letters sent to people from areas around Ladock, St Enoder, Indian Queens, St Columb Major, St Stephen in Brannel and Roche. He may have even corresponded with some of the emigrants who had settled in South Australia.

With the depressing situation in Cornwall, Thomasine and Francis would have been concerned for their eleven children. The prospects of ensuring continuous employment on the land for seven young men and of settling four daughters in reasonable marriage conditions must have seemed daunting. Francis, at the age of 50 years in 1848, and Thomasine, at 41 years of age, had to face the fact that their youngest son would require support for another 15 years or more before he could achieve self-sufficiency. So the decision was made to emigrate to South Australia. The story of the voyage in the 'Navarino' and the the search and discovery of the right land in the new colony will have to be told separately. They arrived in South Australia on November 11, 1848.

The period of enquiries and exploration, while living in cramped conditions in their new location, young Henry, the five year old third child of Thomasine and Francis, became seriously ill and died on 10 December 1848. The sad occasion is not marked by any other record other than the official record stating that he succumbed to 'inflammation of the brain'.In modern terms, this was possibly some form of encephalitis or meningitis. An unhappy Christmas for them all followed.

Thomasine and Francis would have felt great pressure to find a place to settle. For Thomasine, the urge to have her own four walls and roof would certainly have been enhanced in the second half of 1849 by the knowledge that a South Australian member of the family was to be added at the end of the first quarter of 1850. Francis' little book indicates that he had found a property which was so like his Nankervis Farm site that his good fortune must have seemed rather wonderful. Lush grass, tall trees, a plentiful supply of water from permanently running springs, and a pleasant valley running away to the went must have been a sight for surprised eyes. Suffice to say that a house was built at location called Chain of Ponds, from local stone and local timber with help from his lusty sons and local people. The farm was given the name Rosedale, one that was well known to Francis just south of Ladock in Cornwall. That name stayed with the property until about 1975.

Meanwhile, Thomasine had been delivered of another son, Joseph, on 23 March 1850. We have little further information about Thomasine, except that she was a fine mother, an excellent housekeeper, a strong member of the Bible Christian Zion Chapel which Francis initiated in the mid-1850s. The older members of the family had assisted her and Francis until it was time for them to start to develop their own lives in the neighbourhood or elsewhere. The final end of her varied life is only recorded in the fly-leaf of the Zion Chapel Burial Register as Thomasine Symonds, wife of Francis Symonds, died on 17 December 1861, aged 53 years. She was probably buried at the Zion Chapel Cemetery which eventually became the Philp Town Cemetery and finally the Chain of Ponds Cemetery.

This ends our story of the five generations of Cornish Maternal Ancestors to whom we have given pride of place in the Symonds family history in our travel from Ladock to St Columb Major, Indian Queens, St Wenn and Nankervis Farm in St Enoder, Cornwall. What will remain with us is the treasured memories of these places where they had lived, produced and cared for their families, and saw to it that they grew up to be people of stature.

Earlier parts of the family history can be reached with these links:
[Symonds Story Part 1]
[Symonds Story Part 2]
[Symonds Story Part 3 - Descendant Charts]
[Symonds Story Part 4]
[Caust/Symonds Family Story]
There is also the [[Symonds OzEmail Home Page]

This page was produced by John L. Symonds on 29 November 1998 and modified on 3 April 2000.