Category Archives: England

Samuel Prior Under Sentence of Transportation from England (1748)

I get pretty excited when I find Pryor and Prior men who went afoul of the law in Great Britain. Executions reveal death dates. Lesser offenses… TRANSPORTATION. Before the Revolutionary War transportation meant a ride to the American Colonies. Wikipedia states transportation to Australia didn’t begin until 1787 (after the American Revolution and the American colonies were no longer an option). I’ve been trying to figure out from this 1748 newspaper article if any of these Priors were transported– it sounds like brothers John Prior and Thomas Prior were put in jail, thus rescuing their brother Samuel from transportation.

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John Pryer Transported in 1750

A Pryer/Pryor who was transported for life (probably to the American colonies) about 20+ years before the Revolutionary War…

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Richard Pryor Escapes to America? (1819)

This news article about a Pryor who ran to America may be one of the few stories to confirm a Pryor’s journey from the old world to the new world. Did he go to the United States or Canada? I wonder if the US was extraditing many suspected felons back to the UK? Did he continue to use the Pryor surname? Oh, so many questions.

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Pryors In The Cornish Mines

I’ve been binge-watching Poldark on Amazon Prime. The stories include glimpses into 18th century Cornish mining. It reminded me of a dark tale that involved a Pryor that appeared in British newspapers in 1821.

On Tuesday the 20the inst. a man named James Matthews, who resides at St. Agnes, Cornwall, was apprehended on the information of a person named Simon Pryor, who resides at Redruth, and who charges Matthews with the murder of a man named John James, who was his (Matthews’s) brother-in-law, sixteen years since. The following circumstances have been stated by Pryor on oath, before the Rev. Hugh Rogers, once of the county Magistrates. In 1804, Pryor was employed as an assistant labourer, by Matthews and James, at a min called Crown Dale Mine, near Tavistock. One night Pryor and James descended by a windlass into a shaft of the mine, which was about 22 fathoms in depth. Whilst there, they bored a hole for blasting, and Pryor was drawn up by Matthews. James then laid the match to the train, and called out to his comrades to pull him up, as is usual with miners on such occasions. Matthews and Pryor wound up about five fathoms of rope, when Matthews let go the windlass and desired Pryor to do the same. Pryor refused, on which Matthews threatened to knock his brains out if he did not.–Pryor again refused, when Matthews struck him on the right arm with a pick hilt, which forced him to quit his hold, and James was precipitated to the bottom, and had his skull so dreadfully fractured that he died two days after. Pryor told the facts to his brother, who was a smith on the mine, and to some other men, but they contrived to keep him in small room behind the smith’s shop until a coroner’s jury had returned a verdict of Accidental Death. He as then induced to conceal the affair, on the ground that Matthews had a large family. Pryor had never seen Matthews from that time to the present, but he said he was so distressed on account of the concealment, that he could suppress the circumstance no longer. Matthews was committed to Bodmin Gaol, in order to be transmitted to the Devon County Goal for trial at the ensuing Assizes.

The Mines

If you want to get a feeling of how narrow, how deep and how scary these mine shafts were, there’s a photo online of one of the actual entrances to the Crowndale Mine. (view photo offsite). I have no clue of distance in fathoms so I had to open up a conversion app– the shaft was 132 feet down.

Simon Pryor of Redruth, Cornwall and Location of the Crowndale Mine in Tavistock

Simon Pryor(s)

There were two Simon Pryors counted on the 1841 Census: one in Breage and one in Wendron. Both towns were south of Redruth. Both Simons stated their occupation as copper miners. One was age 53 and the other was 55. If one of them is the Simon Pryor named in the newspaper story, then the miner was 16 to 18 years old at the time of the murder in 1804.

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Pryor Line in Devon and Cornwall, England

I came upon a Richard Pryor who immigrated from England and lived in the US. His biography includes a photograph– cool! (see bio in Google books). Richard H Pryor gave a pretty nice… and complete… account of where he came from and who he was related to. He states he was from Devon, yet I found an Ancestry family tree for him that uses Cornwall census records as sources. We all have some red-faced mistakes in our family trees. I only found this Richard Pryor in Devon– very close to Cornwall, but definitely not in Cornwall.

richard h pryor

The beauty of genealogy blogging is that it’s a journey where ideas evolve over time. As new information is developed it can be pieced together and change how we view a family line. Cool beans!

1861 Census Devon, England
Tavistock, Devon, Brook St., 53, John PRYOR married 35 bonnet and fancy draper, born Tavistock. Kezia wife 27 bonnet maker born Inwardleigh. Mary C Pryor daughter 12 scholar born Tavistock. Richard Pryor son 7 scholar born Tavistock. Francis Pryor son 3 born Tavistock.

1851 Census, Devon, England
Tavistock, Pepper Street John PRYOR married 25 miner and straw dealer born Tavistock. Ann L. Pryor wife 24 milliner born Tavistock. Mary G. Pryor daughter 1 born Tavistock. William A son month born Tavistock. Keziah Pryor sister in law unmarried 17 (this is Keziah Hawking who was in William Hawking’s household in 1841) assistant milliner born Ingwardleigh.
Next household…
Tavistock, Pepper Street #120 Anthony PRYOR married 47 miner grocer and tea dealer born Helston Cornwall, Grace Pryor wife 43 born Laneast. Thomas Pryor son 6 scholar born Tavistock. Elizabeth Pryor daughter 1 month born Tavistock.

1841 Census, Devon, England
Page 20 Pepper St., Anthony Pryor 35 minor tin and copper not born in county, John Pryor 15 miner born in county. Thomas Pryor 13 born in county. Richard Pryor 11 born in county. Grace Easter 65 housekeeper born in county. Mary Ann Hunting 15 not born in county.

The bio of Richard H Pryor states his grandfather was William Hawkins an accomplished wheelwright. I found his grandfather on the 1841 and 1871 Census — on both records he is a Hawking not a Hawkins. Ooops.

1841 Census, Devon
Inwardleigh, The Field Cottage, William Hawking 40 wheelwright born in county, Grace Hawking 35 born in county, Elizabeth Hawking 12 born in county,
Mary Hawking 10 born in county, Kezia Hawking 7 born in county, Sarah Hawking 4 born in county, John Hawking 2 born in county

1871 Census, Devon
Inwardleigh, #23, Elmead, William Hawking 75 married 75 farming 270 acres employing 1 man Devon Buckland, Grace Hawking 65 wife b. devon Hasherleigh, Richard PRYOR grandson 17 born Tavistock, Francis PRYOR grandson 13 born Tavistock

 

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