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The Dunn and Jenkin families

 

It is not possible to separate the narratives linking the Dunn and the Jenkin families since they lived for so long in close proximity.


See photos of Mylor and Baldhu


John Dunn and his children

John Dunn was born in Mylor, a village on a small creek opening onto Carrick Roads (at the mouth of the River Fal) just beyond Restronguet Creek and Feock. That was in or around 1815, but the Mylor parish baptismal records do not know of a “John Dunn” born in 1815, the date suggested by his Census ages. We do find a “John Hitchens Dunn” who was baptized on October 2, 1814, whose parents were William Dunn “school master” and Grace Hitchens (married December 20,1808). A few years later there is also “John Thomas Dunn” baptized on July 20, 1817, whose parents were a “mariner” William Dunn and his wife Phillippa Edwards Lelean (married December 5, 1811. I am inclined to identify our John Dunn with John Hitchens Dunn, having a vague memory of that name from stories heard at Grampound. Grace (Hitchens) Dunn was born in 1778 and died in 1845. There will probably have been other children born prior to John Hitchens, perhaps Samuel (1811). A daughter of "William Dunn school master," "Elizabeth," was married in St. Gluyias aged 20 on August 15, 1840. She might be the same as the Grace Elizabeth Dunn born in Mylor in 1821. The school master William Dunn’s mother’s name is given in a legal document as Elizabeth Dunn.

 

From Mylor, John Dunn presumably entered the coastguard service and although his first recorded posting dates from 1841, that is because the online list of British coastguards providing the information only begins from 1841, he might have been a coast guard before that date. That list shows that John Dunn served from 1841 (when he was 26) at Gurnard (Northwood) in the Isle of Wight; from 1851 at Crimond, Aberdeenshire in Scotland; from 1861 in Lilstock near Bridgewater in Somerset. The same web page lists their children: John Henry (born 1848); Bennet (1850), both born in Northwood, Isle of Wight; then Elizabeth (1852); Sarah (1854); Ellen (1858) and William (it says 1860, actually 1859) were born in Scotland. Crimond (where he was officially stationed) is a little to the north-east of Aberdeen and Bridge of Don, where John Dunn and his family were living in July 1859. The birth certificate of his son William Bennett Dunn reveals that John’s wife's maiden name had been Bourne. All the records indicate that she was called Mary Ann and had been born in Romney, Kent.

            There is no known record of John Dunn's marriage. At the 1841 Census he was boarding alone, aged 25, with 2 other coast guards in a farm cottage in the parish of Northwood on the Isle of Wight. The earliest record of John Dunn as a married man is the 1851 Scottish Census, when he was already settled (aged 36) in the Coast Guard Station at Crimond with his wife Mary Ann (aged 31), their first son John Henry (aged 3) and their second son Benet (aged 1). They were married at some point prior to 1848. During the following years their other children were born as listed above. Finally, on July 8, 1859, on a probably bright northern summer’s evening, at around 8 pm, their last child, a son, was born, to whom they gave the name William Bennett Dunn. At that moment they were living in the coastguard station in Bridge of Don, a suburb of Aberdeen, Scotland, located within the parish of Old Machar. John Dunn reported the birth to the Aberdeen Registrar a week later, on July 14, 1859. [Birth certificate PDF file]
           
Before the 1861 English Census, the family had moved to Somerset and on the day of the 1861 Census John Dunn (Coast Guard) was living in Lilistock (Somerset) together with his wife Mary Ann, John (13), Elizabeth (9), Sarah (7), Ellen (3) and William (1). It looks, then, as though little Bennet did not survive and his name was given to the last son as a memorial.

            At the 1871 Census, we see that John Dunn has retired back to his native Cornwall and is living at in Baldhu together with his wife and two of their children, engaged in farming. Sarah seems not to have survived. The death of a Sarah Dunn (no age given) was registered in Bridgewater in 1861:

 

Hugus,1,

John Dunn, 57, Farmer Of 7 Acres, born in Mylor Cornwall,

Mary Ann Dunn, 51, Farmers Wife, born in Romney Kent,

Elizabeth Ann Dunn, 19, Farmers Daughter born in Scotland,

Ellen Dunn, 13, Farmers Daughter, born in Scotland,


None of the boys was at home. John Dunn now set about marrying off his children. The first to go was Elizabeth Ann who, early in 1878, married the son of a Baldhu farmer. By the time of the 1891 Census, they were well established: in that 1891 listing we find James Collins, (39), farmer, born in Kea, Cornwall whose wife, Elizabeth A. Collins (39), the Census entry says, was born in Scotland. They had 2 sons living with them: William J Collins, (16, Blacksmith Apprentice), born in Kea, Cornwall and John H. Collins, (8, Scholar) born in Kenwyn Cornwall, they also had a daughter, Sarah Jane Collins, aged 12 who was staying with her grandmother on the day of the census.
            In mid-1880, Ellen married William Carbis, a tin and copper miner from Baldhu. (See below)
            Late in 1880, John Henry Dunn was married in Mylor to a woman named Mary Ann Tregenza, born in Mylor. (See below)

           Finally, William Bennett Dunn, "mariner," was married by the Vicar, John Symonds, in Baldhu parish church on August 31, 1881 with Mary Elizabeth Jenkin, who was born in Kea (i.e. Baldhu) in the same year as her husband, 1859. They were my great-grandparents. The witnesses were James Collins and Ellen Eliza Carbis.


The Jenkin family

 

The Jenkin family had already been living in Baldhu at the time of the 1861 Census, when Baldhu was a significant region for mining, centred on the Wheal Jane mines. (These began to collapse in 1885 and Wheal Jane finally closed in 1895). It is significant that in 1861 a boy of 10 was already working at the mine. Neither of the Jenkin parents was born in Baldhu, however.

 

Saveock Water, 1,

William Jenkin, 46 (born in c1815), Copper & Tin Miner, born in Kenwyn Cornwall,

Harriet Jenkin, 39 (born in c1822), born in Gwennap Cornwall,

William Jenkin, 19, Copper & Tin Miner, born in Kea Cornwall,

Joseph Jenkin, 16, Copper & Tin Miner, born in Kea Cornwall,

Eliza Jane Jenkin, 14, Copper & Tin Mine Girl, born in Kea Cornwall,

Harriet Ann Jenkin, 12, Copper & Tin Mine Girl, born in Kea Cornwall,

John Jenkin, 10, Copper & Tin Miner, born in Kea Cornwall,

Alfred Jenkin, 8, Scholar, born in Kea Cornwall,

Mary Elizabeth Jenkin, 1, born in Kea Cornwall,

By 1871, 2 more children had been born:

Emily Jenkin, 8, Scholar, born in Kea Cornwall,

Laura Jenkin, 5, Scholar, born in Kea Cornwall,

 

In the 1881 Census, William Jenkin is now listed as being 65, a “former” miner, while the only child still living at home is Mary Elizabeth, who is 21 and working as a Board School Teacher. She was about to marry William Bennett Dunn, my great-grandfather. In view of the teaching career chosen by her children Owen and Ellen, this is significant. In a family entirely dominated by the harsh life of mining, one daughter was able to receive an education then become a teacher. The books she accumulated during her life, that I saw in their home in Grampound, suggest that she was a rather religious woman with some interest in the Second Coming. But she also liked history and had a copy of The Last Days of Pompeii by Bulwer Lytton.


At the 1881 Census, the last-born Jenkin daughter, Laura Jenkin, aged 15), was working as a servant in the home of John Dunn, her sister's father-in-law, who now has a grocer’s shop in the village. Staying with John Dunn is his daughter Ellen Carbis, who has just had a baby:

 

[Address: Hugus 1]

John Dunn, 66, Greenwich Pensioner, Grocer, born in Mylor Cornwall,

Maryann Dunn, 61, born in Romney Kent,

Ellen Eliza Carbis, (married) 23, Grocers Assistant, born in Scotland,

Florence Mary Carbis, Grandaughter 7m, born in Kea Cornwall,

Laura Jenkin, Servant, 15, General Servant Domestic, born in Kenwyn Cornwall,


The Carbis family


The absent husband of John Dunn's daughter Ellen Carbis was William Carbis.
William Carbis was born in Kea in 1853,  the son of the miner William Carbis who died February 21, 1901, aged 73, and was buried in Baldhu. This older William Carbis was a tin miner living in "Crop Lanes" in Kea but in the ecclesiastical parish of Chacewater at the 1861 Census, with his wife Harriet (Barrett) aged 33, his son William aged 8, and another son, John, aged 1. At the 1871 Census, William (18) was listed as "tin & copper miner." Given the lengthy period he seems to have spent in Australia (judging from the obituary below) it seems very likely that he left Cornwall, as many miners did, during the 1870s, to begin a career in the mines there. Copper mines at Moonta on the coast in Southern Australia were especially popular and the town is still known as "Little Cornwall" but William's main career seems to have been in the gold mines of Charters Towers in Queensland. It is possible that he then returned to Cornwall in order to get married (in 1880) and then, once his wife was pregnant, left again. He must have returned again in that case, since Edwin was born in Baldhu in 1883. Then the whole family seems to have moved to Australia since Albert was born in Moonta (Southern Australia) in 1885.
            Alas, tragedy struck, William Carbis contracted TB, took the boat for home alone, hoping the sea air would cure him, and died (see below) in his parents' home in Chacewater parish on November 11, 1891, aged 38.
His family had been summoned and were at sea when he died. At the 1901 Census (PDF file) the widowed Ellen Eliza Carbis was living in Daniel Street, Truro, with her children Florence, Edwin and Albert, and also the widowed Mary Ann Dunn, her mother. By the 1911 Census, only Edwin John, still single at 27, was living in 1a Harrison Terrace, Truro, with his mother and a servant. He was working as a Grocer. Albert (27, single) was boarding.in Devonport, working as a shop assistant, a "House Furnisher".and here his Southern Australian birthplace is given as Moonta. Ellen Eliza Carbis died suddenly of a stroke ('apoplexy') in Truro on January 3, 1914, aged only 56, and was buried with her husband in Baldhu churchyard. Commemorated by a plaque on their grave is their son Edwin John Carbis (born 1883, see his separate page) who died in action at Beaumont Hamel in France on November 13, 1916.


In the 1891 Census report for the parish of Kea, William Bennett Dunn’s wife, Mary E. Dunn (31), was living in Baldhu, acting as family head in the absence of her husband. Together with her she had 3 of their children: “Asineth F E Dunn, Daughter, 6, Scholar; Adolphus B Dunn, Son, 5, Scholar; Owen H(enry) B(ennett) Dunn, Son, 6 months;” and also living in the same house was Harriet Jenkin, Mother (of Mary Elizabeth), Widow, 69, born at Gwennap, Cornwall. The daughter here named Asineth F E was born in September 1884 and at birth her name was registered as Arsenath Frances E(llen); she was my grandmother. The strange first name comes from Genesis 41:45 where Pharaoh gives Asenath, the daughter of the priest Potipherah, to Joseph to be his wife. For most of her life she was always referred to as “Ellen” or, more usually, “Nell.”


John Dunn had died of a stomach cancer on 3 September 1888, attended by William Benett's wife and in the 1891 Census we find, living in the house in Baldhu next to William Bennett's family, his widow, Mary Ann Dunn, 71, and Sarah Jane Collins, her Grandaughter, 12, Scholar, who was born in Kea Cornwall. Mary Ann Dunn died aged 84 in December 1903.

            In the Census reports for both 1891 and 1901, after John Dunn had died, we find living at Hugus and working in his place as a grocer John H. Dunn (52 in 1901), John Dunn's first child, born at Ryde on the Isle of Wight in 1848, his wife Mary A Dunn aged 50, born in Mylor, and their son William B. Dunn age 18, born in Mylor and also working as a grocer. This latter was still alive in my childhood, known as "Will Dunn" and living in a house at the foot of the hill on which Devoran stands. Ruby would take me to visit him.
            John Henry Dunn and his wife Mary Ann (both aged 33) were living at Mylor Bridge at the 1881 Census, in the house of Amelia Tregenza (60, unmarried), listed as her nephew and niece. John's occupation then was "ship carpenter" and his wife's "Grocer." Amelia's father had been Thomas Tregenza, a Mylor-born farmer who was already 79 in the 1871 Census. Mary Ann Tregenza, born October 16, 1844, was the daughter of the farmer Thomas Tregenza who was 52 at the 1871 Census and his wife Mary A Tregenza. This Thomas would have been Amelia's brother, son of the elder Thomas. Tregenza was a very common Mylor name at that time.
 

William Bennett Dunn was not at home for the 1891 Census. He had returned home by the 1901 Census. On the 1901 Census day, March 31, he was living with his family in 3 Montpellier Terrace, Antony, Torpoint, on the Cornish shore of the River Tamar. They had several more children by then: the Census list mentions Ellen (16), Adolphus (15), Owen (10), Ruby (7), and William L(eo) (3). Owen was born at Kea in December 1890, and with the exception of Leo, all the children were born in Kea (near Truro), the birthplace of their mother. Leo was born at Torpoint. William Bennett Dunn’s job is here listed as “Shipwright.”

             At the birth of Ruby, who was born on January 6, 1894, and was registered as “Ruby Jenkin Dunn,” a snippet from the births column of a local paper available online gives the following information: “At Belmont Villas, Baldhu, Jan. 6, the wife of William Bennett Dunn, CM. (H.M.S. Defiance, Devonport), of a daughter (Ruby).” Now H.M.S. Defiance (built 1861) was the last wooden line-of-battle ship launched for the Royal Navy. She never saw service as a fighting ship. On 26 November, 1884 Defiance became the Devonport torpedo and mining schoolship.


William Bennett Dunn's full naval record is outlined on a separate page.


The move to Grampound

             Some time before the 1911 Census, probably soon after William Bennett's retirement from naval service in 1905, the Dunn family had moved to their final abode, taking charge of the Hollies Stores in Grampound. This grocery store was, and still is, located in a ground-floor room of a house belonging (in my childhood at least) to the Croggan family, who were the ancient “squires” of Grampound although their own house, standing next door and joined to it, was hardly majestic. The Croggans also owned another house, “Hillside,” evidently rather larger, since it is distinguished by its name, a little further up the hill. There can be no knowing what brought the Dunn family to this particular village, although the fact that John Dunn had opened a grocery store in Baldhu is suggestive.

             From the 1911 Census, we learn that William Bennett was now a “Naval Pensioner.” Listed as living with them on April 2, 1911, were Frances E(llen) (25) now a School Mistress, Ruby (17), already “assisting in the business” and William L(eo) (13) who was still at school. Frances Ellen, my grandmother, was at that moment preparing to marry Fred Teague and leave Grampound for Cirencester a few months later.


See photos of Grampound

 

Ruby was to remain in the house in Grampound, unmarried, running the store until she retired to live near us in Truro in about 1960. At the start of the War in 1939 she bought in exotic foodstuffs (I have no idea what) from places that she reckoned would soon be occupied and inaccessible. There were still cans of beef stew she opened for me in the early 1950s, an unimaginable luxury at that time. So she made a certain amount of money, with customers in the know coming from far away. This money was not declared for taxes or banked, instead it was converted into gold sovereigns and banknotes that were hidden up bedroom chimneys. On retiring she bought a new house just up the road from us in Truro, and went on quite a number of cruises with the money she had saved. Once, perhaps in about 1952, she asked my father to deposit 150 pounds of her money at the bank for some years, allowing him to keep the interest. In those days even that was a considerable help. We were poor, living from month to month with nothing in reserve.

Leo moved a couple of hundred yards down the hill in Grampound and built himself a simple house on waste land beside the bridge over the stream, with a few hand-cranked petrol pumps and a car-repair workshop opening onto the road. The stream in those times ran white from the china-clay workings further up. He filled the garden with dahlias, large and small, became a dahlia expert, and developed some new varieties. He married Evelyn Johns in 1928; they had no children.

             Owen, like his sister, attended teaching college (in Exeter?) and became headmaster of the Primary school in St. Stephen in Brannell not far from Grampound. His sons were Stanley and Bernard.

Adolphus Bennet (“Dolf”) married Daisy Alice Holliday in London in 1910 but  died young, in 1930; their son Jack (born July 10, 1911) grew up in London but ended up living in St Stephen, working as a hairdresser and active as churchwarden. His daughter Anne was only a few years older than myself, we were the only children at the winter family parties in Ruby’s or Leo’s homes; on marrying she lived for a time not far from us in Truro and I used to visit.

 

             The house in which the Dunns lived in Grampound had two large rooms fronting onto the street, that to the left being the shop and that on the right the dining room (now the post-office), which housed a bookshelf holding books which seem mostly to have been bought and read by Mrs. Dunn. Further in, to the right of the stairs was the kitchen and to the left the bathroom / toilet. Upstairs there were two small bedrooms, one in the back and one in the front, between the main bedroom above the dining room and the family parlor. The parlor was the room above the shop, made larger by extending over the passage-way which gave access to the garden from the street. The parlor held the piano, cabinets with curios from William Bennett’s travels, which seem to have included Palestine and China, ornaments, and a large oil-painting of a mysterious lady who always seemed to be staring at you. It was in this parlor, with its fireplace, sofa and armchairs, that family parties were still held during my childhood. Behind the house was a huge garden-orchard, with several outbuildings including a great laundry room with a copper for boiling linen, as well as two earth-closets.


See photos of Grampound



The life and death of William Carbis


The Australian career and early death of William Carbis junior are explained by
an obituary printed on page 13 of the Northern Mining Register dated Wednesday 18 November, 1891:

It is with regret that we have to record the fact of the decease of Mr William Carbis, the sad event having taken place late last week, at his parent's residence, near Chacewater, Cornwall. Mr. Carbis was, until declining health caused him to resign the appointment, the manager of the Mills' United Gold Mines. He had previously held the position of manager in other mines on the goldfield, and had also carried through many large contracts. In all his business relations he held the entire confidence of the directors of the companies he represented, and was popular with the miners under his control. When Mr Carbis left Charters Towers some months ago, in order to try the effect of a sea voyage; his intention was to return, so his wife and children remained here. His complaint, however, consumption, being in no wise abated, he wrote for his family to join him, and they accordingly left here about a fortnight ago, and. are passengers by the Orizaba. Poor Carbis had a host of friends, who lament his loss, and deeply sympathise with his widow in her sad bereavement.

The Northern Mining Register was the weekly edition of the daily Northern Miner, published in Charters Towers, Northern Queensland. There is a photo on that Wikipedia page of the mines in 1890.