On the 16th July 1632, Thomas Guy of Trebetherick married Constance Hendra in the parish church of St Minver. At that date he was a copyhold tenant, and held a dwelling house and land “in the village, fields, waste and commons of Trebethericke”. He owed manorial service to the lord of the manor, who was Charles Roscarrock of Roscarrock, in the parish of St Endellion. Thomas Guy had to provide a capon or 12 pence at Christmas, to make a harvest journey or pay 6 pence, and the lord could take his best beast in the event of his death. He had a son Francis who was baptized in the church on December 14th 1634, and there was also a daughter of this marriage called Grace. But this was a short lived marriage, for by June 2nd 1638, the inventory of all his goods and chattels was taken following his death. He owned “one bed, furnished, one cubberd, one table and one chair2, and he had “one pan, one crock, six pewter dishes and one cauldron”, and other implements about the house valued at £5 – 15s. His wearing apparel and purse girdle were valued at £3. He had 2 cows, and some barley, 35 sheep and 14 lambs, one sow and 4 little pigs, 6 geese, 2 hens and a cock, a field and the lease on his house and land. Someone owed him £6 and in all his total wealth was set at £48 – 10s – 8d. It would appear from this that the parents and 2 children all slept in the same bed, that he probably lived in a single room house, with the minimum of kitchen utensils, and that his main farming occupation was sheep rearing. He had barley for his bread, poultry for the eggs, a cow for milk and pigs for the bacon to last through the winter. His life style was simple, but he was by money values of the time a relatively wealthy man. His wife Constance continued the lease and tending the animals as well as caring for 2 young children, and then disaster struck again, for on the 20th of February 1643 she died an unexpected and possibly violent death. The coroner was paid 12 pence to investigate the cause of her death. This left the children, who were taken into the care of their 2 uncles, Richard Hendra of Bodmin, and John Guy of St Minver. Francis was then 9 years old, and grace probably younger. The accounts presented to the court a year later show how they spent the money from the estate of Constance Guy. They paid the Coroner, and for the administration of the estate, and clearing of debts. For the care of the children they paid for “shoes, gloves and wormseed, a hat and for the schooling of Francis Guy” which cost 14s 8d. His food for one year cost them £3. Grace Guy needed 2 pairs of shoes, costing 2s 2d, a pair of stockings for 10d and her food for a year. Most surprisingly she too had schooling, paid for 3 quarters of the year for 3s. At this date there were no hard roads, all travel had to be on foot or by wagon, or possibly horse back, and one wonders where the children received their schooling. There was no compulsory schooling for children, and while there was the Bodmin Grammar School at this date to which perhaps Francis was sent, schooling for girls was relatively rare and very much dependent on who was available for teaching, and whether the family felt it was worth the money it cost. But this family felt the money was worth it, despite the very simple life they had lived in Trebetherick. It has been possible to follow something of the life of these 2 children, for the St Minver parish register shows a marriage between Francis Guy of Trebetherick and Mary Farrowe on June 1st, 1657, and on 13th July 1658 Grace Guy married Henry Grey. Francis Guy leased land a house from the manor of Trewornan, and died in the 1680’s. His widow Mary Guy made her will on January 5th 1690, leaving her money to her sons William and Humphrey, and her daughter Elizabeth. The inventory of Henry Grey’s possessions was taken on 2nd February 1669 and was valued at £117 – 14s, and his widow Grace was his executor. When it came for her to sign the document, she made her mark and did not sign her name. After 25 years, perhaps she had forgotten the schooling she had as a little girl, or perhaps it had not included learning to write, but had been concerned with reading. It is interesting that although their uncle lived in Bodmin, both the children remained in St Minver parish, and Francis within the village of Trebetherick.
In 1662 Thomas Morrishe, a husbandman of Trebetherick married Susanna Mably. In 1681, Thomas Morrishe leased from the manor of Trewornan his dwelling house, which consisted of “2 rooms and one other little house adjoining, with a convenient place for a wood ricke, and a place to make dung”. The manorial lord took from the household all the dung, leaving enough for Thomas Morrishe to dress his herb garden. He could also keep pigs, as the other tenants in Trebetherick could. On 23rd September 1717, Thomas Morrishe (senior) made his will. He had 6 children and numerous grandchildren, amongst whom he distributed money and his brewing pans. His possessions indicate an old man living by himself, for her had just enough for one person, and 2 brandy bottles for company.
Richard Mably of Trebetherick died in 1724, and on his inventory he was described as a yeoman, and the total value was £532 – 13s – 2d, which was a very large sum for those days. He left corn and hay, 8 bullocks, one cow and 23 sheep together valued at £25 – 5s, household goods valued at £10 and all the remaining £500 or so was on loan to some 35 different people. He also had £20 in cash in the house. All this indicates a farming man, who is also a money lender, acting like a bank in the days before the joint stock banks. This was probably a very important service to maintain a flow of cash around the country districts enabling the buying and selling of stock and crops. When he made his will, Richard Mably rented from the manor of Trewornan 2 dwelling houses and 12 or more fields all in and around the village of Trebetherick. After his death this collection of property was divided into 4 parts of 4 more tenants, and 100 years later this division of this property was still referred to in the leases. He must have been a man of significance in the community. He left his money to many cousins and kinsmen, and to his sister Dorothy Guy and her children, but he does not mention a wife or his own children. Amongst his kinsmen occur the names of Hambly, Guy, Morrishe and Mabley, all names which are very common in the St Minver parish records. But for all his successful financial dealings, Richard Mabley made his mark at the end of his will, and did not sign his name. Perhaps he did not need to. His mark was as well known as his name.
Some of the field names mentioned in 1724 are Skippers Close, Polpry, Newparke, Mean Ground, Tristrams Bed, the Dales, Bullworks, Boroughfield, Coombe Park and Polseath Fields. Many of these field boundaries can be traced on the ground today, and their names perpetuated in some house names.
William Glyddon took on one quarter part of the Richard Mabley tenure in 1724, and died in 1741. His wife Catherine gave the responsibility for administering the estate to their son John. William left 2 beds, one brass pan and 2 brass pots, 2 pewter dishes, 2 basins and 4 plates, 3 chairs, some old wool, a dresser and a silver spoon. Living standards appear to have risen a little since Constance and Thomas Guy lived in the village a 100 years earlier.
In 1761 Thomas Edyvean leased a dwelling house and land in Trebetherick from Darrell Crabbe of Trewornan. The lease contains clauses reflecting the changes in agricultural practice that were taking place all over England during this century. Thomas Edyvean had to put on every acre of his land “4 score sacks of salt water sand or 4 score horse loads of good black well rotted dung”. He was then to take 2 successive corn crops, and then the fields were to lie fallow for 2 years. There is no mention of sown meadow suitable for grazing, probably because in these western parts of England the grass naturally grows rich and lush. The cottages in Trebetherick had thatched roofs at this time for Thomas Edyvean had also “to provide 100 nitches or bundles of good reed well combed for Darrell Crabbe’s thatch of the houses”. He made his will in 1773, and in this he left to his grand- daughter Elizabeth Mably “2 plots of ground lying in the village of Trebetherick called by the name of the Dales”. She was also to receive “five pounds of lawful money of England and my third best Brass crock to be paid and delivered to her at the day of her marriage or at the age of twenty one”. He left to his “housekeeper Mary Guy ten shillings and sixpence, and his second best brass crock”, and all his remaining property he left “to his beloved son Thomas”. This son took on the lease of the house and land in 1773. There is a gravestone close by the porch of St Enodoc church on which the carving is partly obscured, but it is possible to see …… Edyvean of this parish who departed this life …. April 1776 in the 66th year of …. This is almost certainly our Thomas Edyvean (senior) for his will was proved on April 27th 1776.
At the end of the 18th century some land a house in Trebetherick was leased to James Hawke of Padstow, who described himself in 1793 as a hairdresser. By 1815 he had become James Hawke a peruke maker of St Austell. He would appear not to be a working farmer.
James Hawke’s property was next leased to David Arthur in 1825. In 1835 it was written that David Arthur was tenant and had occupied it for many years. The land holding was 50 acres, and the lease contains a number of specific instructions as to the care of the land. The tenant farmer was required to maintain the land in good heart, and return it to the landlord in as good a condition as he had taken it on, and the clauses in this lease show how requirements were changing. In 1825 he was to take “not more than 2 crops of corn or grain successively, and the last crop to be of barley or oats, then sow, harvest and brush in at least 3lbs weight of good clover and 12 gallons of good ever seeds to every acre, and not till part until same has been in grass and untilled the preceding years, and shall carry and make all this corn and grain which shall grow in this into the mowhay there and thresh out the same in the barne there”. In 1835 David Arthur was “to perform parish offices and take parish apprentices and inhabit the dwelling house – – the land was to be dressed per acre with 12 carts of sea sand well mixed with earth and dung on the premises, then only 2 successive crops of corn to be taken – he could have a crop of turnips between 2 corn crops, but then ground to be dressed with 30 cart loads of stall dung and 8 cart loads of sand per acre.
After last crop of corn, the ground was to remain in grass seed and untilled for 3 years. With last crop of corn 8lbs of good clover seed and 12 gallons of good ever seed per acre to be sown, and then grass not to be cut more than once” Ever, or eaver, seed is a west country word for rye grass. Clearly the land around Trebetherick was increasingly used for crop raising, and the need seen for improving the grass, probably really necessary after many centuries of sheep grazing. The sand on the north coast of Cornwall was highly prized for its excellent quality and materially affected the values of the estates according to the nearness or distance from the beaches. It was frequently carried as much as 15 miles inland. In 1811 it was written that Cornwall can now boast of fine flocks of sheep as in any county, whether considering form, weight of fleece or hardiness of constitution. They fattened quickly and so produced good flavoured meat and had a heavy fleece for the wool markets.
In 1851 there were 55 people living in the village of Trebetherick, 32 adults, and 13 children ranging in age from 10 years down to 9 months. They were grouped in 14 households and all of them gave as their place of origin the parish of St Minver. In England generally people moved around a great deal, sometimes settling hundreds of miles away from where they were born, but it would seem that the people of Trebetherick were different. Perhaps they wanted to stay near home, or perhaps they had no choice. It may have been their attachment to the land and their work, or it may have been the close family ties within the parish that kept them from wandering. Amongst the occupations given was a carpenter, a tailor, a mason’s labourer and miner. Three had been lead mines, now showing as hillocks beside the road of Polzeath, but in 1838 they were described as disused. Perhaps George Tucker mined for himself finding what minerals he could, or perhaps he worked away from the village. There were 10 agricultural labourers, some living as servants in a farmer’s house, the youngest of which was 15 years, and 5 were head of their own households. William Hitt had in his household his wife Elizabeth and daughter Ann who was 1 year old. He also had his mother-in-law and 2 brothers-in-law living with him; a lot to look after when he was only 22 years old. But in 1872 there was a Mr Hitt who was farming Fishing Cove field with turnips, and he had 2 horses, and a herd of 9 cattle, so perhaps William did well as a labourer and became a farmer in his own right. Three were 5 men in 1851 described as farmers or living on income from the land. John Mabley was a widower farming 40 acres for which he needed 2 labourers. His unmarried daughter Caroline lived with him, and he had a 17 year old girl servant and a 19 year old male labourer living in his household. He lived in and owned the house now called “Elm Cottage”, surrounded then by farm buildings with a well in the corner of the “courtlage” or farmyard. William Mably was another farmer who owned his own house and land, and he lived with his wife, 5 adult children and 2 grandsons in the house now called “Old Farm”. He was 61 years old and farmed 94 acres with the help of 1 labourer. His eldest son Robert, who was living with him, was aged 36 and widowed and perhaps he had gone back to his old home so that grandmother could help to look after his two sons William and Gregory, then aged 8 and 6. At “Lower Farm” lived Thomas Arthur aged 61. He farmed 90 acres, and had 2 labourers and a domestic servant living in the house, as well as his wife and 3 sons, one of whom was sadly deaf and dumb. Thomas Arthur rented his house and land, and he also rented 2 other properties in Trebetherick, described as dwelling houses, but which by 1838 had ceased to be farm houses, although still surrounded by what had been their farmyards. Perhaps he sub-let them to his farm labourers. One has now completely disappeared under the Fore Door Garage site. In the farmyard had been a well, some 50 yards from the road, and there were a few farm buildings left. The other dwelling house still stands today, in the triangular patch of waste ground opposite Old Farm and behind the bus shelter. In 1838 it was described as “dwelling house and waste”, and a close look today suggests a style of house and animal shed called a “long house”. This as its name implies was a long building which housed both humans and animals, and was common in Cornwall, as well as Yorkshire and Wales. The animal shed was at one end, if on a slope then at the lower end to help with drainage, and separated by a covered transverse passage from the dwelling house, which may have been 1 or 2 roomed. Both humans and animals entered the building by a common entrance into the passage, and then turned either left or right into their part of the long house. Today, this may seem extremely primitive, but when warmth and shelter were so important, it was a very practical arrangement. One can imagine that perhaps Thomas Guy and his bride Constance came home to such a house in Trebetherick after their marriage that summer day in 1632.
There were 2 households in 1851 which had just one person. There was John Mabley (another of the same name) who was 50, and an unmarried tailor, living in a cottage amongst where “Upper Farm” is today was Joice Guy, an unmarried woman of 74: who had been there since 1838. Perhaps it had been her home all her life, since her father was farming in the 18th century.
Down Daymer Lane was Lower Trebetherick with cottages on the landward site, and there may have been some on the other side too, near where the car park is today. In 1838 Cob Cottage was standing as the end of a row of 6 cottages extending down the lane. There was a gap, and then 2 more cottages, which now are incorporated in “Torquil Cottage”. The row of 6 cottages all had their backs to the lane, and a path ran from the present Undertown drive serving all their entrance doors. They were turned to the south and away from the lane for maximum sun and warmth, and no doubt too to be away from the noise and the dirt of the horses pulling carts of sand up the lane from the beach. The sand at the top of the beach not covered by the tide, and the land now incorporated in the edge of the golf course was owned by William Mably of “Old Farm”, who perhaps used the sand on his own land, or sold it to other farmers. It is within living memory that Daymer Lane had much traffic of horses and carts, and then lorries, bringing up sand. Away from the lane too were the garden plots belonging to the cottages, giving good protection from the northerly winds. The centre cottage of the 6 was used in 1838 for housing the rocket apparatus used by the coastguards. Behind the block of 2 cottages were 5 or 6 plots of land, which could mean that there were more cottages there at an earlier date, for they were small garden sized plots laid out in a regular pattern.
Out on Bray Hill, Richard Thomas from Devon built for himself a house on the south side. He had been a mariner, and in 1851 he was aged 50 and had retired. It was a good spot for him to choose, protected from the strong winds but still within sight and sound of the sea. He was living with his housekeeper, Jane Bennett of St Merryn. Perhaps they felt outsiders in such a close knit community, for they were the only ones not to have been born in the parish of St Minver. When the ground was being dug for his house Saxon graves were uncovered, and he kept in his house a Bronze Age urn that had been dug from the barrow at the top of Bray Hill. The site of his house was in the midst of an old warren. This would have been a valuable source of meat for the villagers of Trebetherick, for rabbits were farmed for many centuries, rather as domestic animals in a farmyard. This meat was particularly useful at a time when it was difficult if not impossible to keep farm animals fed through the winters.
By the 1880’s 5 of the cottages in the row in Daymer Lane had gone, leaving Cob Cottage alone. It must have been a busy little community, when so many people were living closely together in Lower Trebetherick. In the main part of the village the farm buildings had gone from around the ‘long house’, and the farmhouse and buildings had gone, leaving only a well and a pond where now stands the Fore Door Garage. The rocket apparatus of the coastguard was housed where Hockings shop now stands, but “Elm Cottage”, “Old Farm” and “Lower Farm” were still active farms surrounded by their yards and buildings. On the site of “Upper Farm” there were 2 blocks of farm buildings, and no trace of Joice Guy’s cottage.
There has been a farming community forming the village of Trebetherick since 1630. Roscarrock, St Minver and probably Trewornan are all described in the Domesday Survey of 1086, and it seems probable that Trebetherick is much older than 350 years. The siting of the village with its 6 farmhouses on high ground, above the tree line and yet protected from the prevailing winds is a typical setting for a Celtic hamlet. These settlements of 6 or 8 farmsteads grouped together have in some cases been in continuous occupation in the South West of England since Pre-Roman times. There have been Roman coins uncovered in the vicinity of the village, there were Saxon graves on Bray Hill, and a Bronze Age barrow at the top of Bray. These all point to a long history of human occupation in the area. None of this research shows any sign of a fishing community, nor of an abandoned village at the head of Daymer Bay.
- The archivists and assistants at the Cornwall Record Office, Truro
- The Librarian at the Bodmin Public Library
- The Librarian at the Local History Library, Redruth
- The Director of the Institute of Cornish Studies, Redruth
- Mr R Hocking of Trebetherick
from all of whom I have received help and information which has made this research possible.
Cornwall Record Office
- Probate material – Wills, Inventories and Accounts.
- Deeds from the Manors of Pentire and Trewornan.
- Tithe map and apportionment schedule for St Minver 1838.
- Census return for Trebetherick 1851.
- Pages from a farm account book 1872.
Redruth Local History Library
- Bishops Transcripts of St Minver Parish Register. O.S. 25 inch map 1882.
- The History of the Hundred of Trigg Minor. Sir John Maclean 1879.
- Victoria County History of Cornwall.
- General Review of Cornwall, Board of Agriculture, A. Worgan. 1811.
- The Making of the English Landscape. W.G. Hoskins. 1955.
- O.S. 1 inch map 1813.