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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John Pryor and Liddy Dossey -1800 Halifax County, VA

Transcription of complaint in Chancery court case filed in 1800 This is possibly the same John and Lydia Pryor who migrated to GA.

To the Worshipful Court of Halifax County Sitting in Chancery
Humbly Complaining shewith to your worships your Orators & Oratrixes William Dossey, Guy Wallace & Charity his wife, Ben Riden & Clarissa his wife, George Wren and Alathea his wife, John Pryor & Liddy his wife, Jarred Dossey, Thomas B. Dossey and Wiley Dossey which said William, Charity, Clarissa, Alathea, Liddy, Jarred, Thomas and Wiley are all the children of a certain Nancy Dossey who will be hereafter mentioned. Also your orators William Brown, John Matthews, and Nancy his wife, James Brown, Lucy Brown, Becky Brown, Lydia Brown, Milly Brown, Elizabeth Brown, Jamima Brown, Russell Brown, Thomas Brown, & Mary Brown, which said last mentioned William, Nancy, James, Lucy, Becky, Lidia, Milly, Elizabeth, Jamina, Russell, Thomas, and Mary are all the children of a certain Lydia Brown hereafter mentioned. That on the 20th day of July 1799 a certain Thomas Beech late of this county made his will and then devised the whole of his estate except the negroes that are freed by his will to be equally divided among the children of his sisters Nancy Dossey and Lydia Brown. That the children of the said Nancy and Lydia sisters of the testator your orators & oratrixes as above described. That the said children are all of age except Lydia, Milly, Elizabeth, Jamima, Russell, Thomas, and Mary Brown that they being under age sue by their next friend Harvey Cook
and the complaint further shew that the estate of the said Thomas Beech so as aforesaid devised has been committed to the hands of a certain Beverly Barksdale of this county who is made defendant to this bill. That the said Beverly is administrator with the will annexed and has taken into his possession the slaves and personal property of the Testator, and has sold the perishable estate more than sufficient to pay the debts of the said estate. The complainant further shew that they have apprized the said administrator for a division and possession of the slaves and the residue of the personal estate after the payment of debts which the admin. has refused giving up, alledging that he will not be safe in so doing without the decree of this court for that purpose and for a division of said estate by commissioner. The complainant therefore pray that commissioners may be appointed to divide and deliver up to the complainants the slaves conveyed to them by the will of the said Thomas Beech together with the lands and residue of his personal estate after the payment of the debts of the said Thomas decd or that your worships would make such further or other decree in the promises as may be agreeable to equity may it please.

Jarred ad Thomas B Dossey are later mentioned in Wilkes Co GA. In “Early Records of Georgia Wilkes County” on Page 218

Jarrett Dossey decd est. Nancy and Thomas B Dossey exers. Returns for 1821 paid for land grant for wid and orphs. Returns for 1823, Nancy Lawson, exec formerly Nancy Dossey.

Frances Hooe wife of Samuel Pryor of Clarksville, TN

The answer to the identity of Frances Ann the wife of Samuel Pryor of Clarksville is in the obit for their son Bernard H. Pryor.

Bernard H Pryor obituary

I’ve seen countless family trees that speculate on a mother’s maiden name by picking out a child’s middle name and concluding that it’s the name of a near relative or the mother’s maiden name. I think I have evidence that Hooe is Frances’ maiden name.

A suit was filed by Samuel Pryor and wife, etc against the guardians of Eliza Hooe. An Interlocutory Degree was recorded in May 1816 distributing slaves named Lewis, Janetty, Helen, Phillie, and Anthony to Samuel and his wife.

To the worshipful the justices of King George County and sitting in Chancery
Humbly complaining shewith unto your worships your orators and oratrixes Fany Hooe who intermarried with Samuel Pryor, Harriet Hooe who intermarried with Gwyn Page, Ann Hooe, and Thomas B Hooe that your orators and oratrixes are heirs and distributees of Wm Hooe lately of King George county deceased and as such are entitled together to — their mother Susan the widow and relict of said William Hooe decd to their full and equal shall share and alike to about —- nine negroes males and females old and young lately belonging to then said William Hooe decd and for their natural benefit and advantage are — that the aforesaid negroes should be equally divided …

There’s a Gwynn Page on the 1810 Census in Prince William County, VA. Perhaps this was Samuel’s brother in law mentioned in the suit.

Samuel Pryor of Clarksville (b. 1771-1780)

Looking at the Samuel Pryor d. 1811 has caused me to look again at the Samuel Pryor in Montgomery County, TN to see if I could sift through and make better sense of him.

Samuel’s Wife Ann Frances or Frances Ann

Frances’s grave is located in Cadiz, Trigg County, KY. The grave marker helps to establish her birth was in about 1775 (or at least in the 1700’s).

The Mortal remains of
Mrs. Frances Ann Pryor relict of Samuel Pryor Esq.
Obit A. D. Dec. 23, 1847
Aged 62
Entombed beneath this sacred urn,
She lies whom many children mourn
Not for her loss but theirs.
She’s gone
To praise her saviour
at his throne,
Where scenes of joy
and peach and love
Ever delight the blest above.

Estate Settlement in Hardeman County (1836)

When Samuel died in about 1830-1837, he died intestate. His estate was settled in Hardeman County, TN. The division of property, namely the slaves, provided the names of his heirs: widow Ann F., and Richard H. , Frances A., Bernard H., Attaway E., and Samuel B.

Estate of Samuel Pryor, decd 1836
State of Tennessee
Hardeman County
We the undersigned commissioners (after being duly sworn) by leave to present to your worships the following schedule of settlement made in pursuance of the above order
Mr. E. L. Pryor Dr.
For the hire of Sam for 1834 & 1835 at one hundred Dollars each year $200
Hire of Sally 2 years at $50 — $100
Hire of Hellen 2 years at $50 — $100
Cr for keeping 5 negro children $50… $350.00
And the hire of Mary, Ellen, and Spencer (about 9 years old) to be included in the support of the other file unto with the fifty dollars
To present 2 negores sy Saml & Sally sold at Bolivar 19th December 1835. —- $997
Sold at Jackson a negro boy sold at public auction in the Town of Bolivar on 4th Jany 1836 — $305
Hire of Isaac $50
1 cart steer & a cow $60— $110

No. 2 Estate of Saml Pror decd
To E. L. Pryor Dr.
Sudry Duty
Voucher No. 1 paid to Joel L Jones shff Fayette County $198.89
No. 2 ” ” ” $200.00
Int on do 14 monthly $14.00
No. 3 “” $10
No. 4 “” $179.97
Interest & cost on Do $255.23
No. 5 “” $9.62
Interest 2.38
No. 6 ” ” $2.13
No. 7 $116.50
No. 8 $5.88
No. 9 $96.44
No. 10 $14.97
No. 11 $26.00
No. 12 $25.05
No. 13. $18.75
No. 14 is missing a number in the column.
[total] $1788.42

Page 2
Six Legatees Divided $375 each
Mrs. Ann F Pryor widow takes Hellen $475.00
Richard H. Pryor takes Spencer $400.00
Miss Frances A Pryor ” Mary Ellen 400.00
Bernard H Pryor ‘ ‘ Turner 350.00
Miss Attaway E Pryor ‘ ‘ Louisa $250.00
Samuel B. Pryor ‘ ‘ Beverly & Sydney 375.00
Mrs. A. F. Pryor pay to Attaway E Pryor $100
Miss Frances A Pryor to Attaway E Pryor $25
Richard H Pryor to Attaway E Pryor $25 to make equal
This 31st May 1836
Sworn before me in open court June 6th 1836 by J. W. Haden, Wm. Irious? . [additional witness Jas. R. Houston]
My note: John W. Haden, William Irious? and James R. Houston appear near one another on the 1836 Tax list for Hardeman county.

Guardian Bond in Montgomery County (1837)

A guardian bond was filed in Montgomery County in 1837 naming Ann F. Pryor and three minor children: Bernard, Bolen, and a daughter named Attway.

Know all men by these presents that we Ann F Pryor & F H Badger are held and firmly bound unto Charles Baily Esq Chairman of the county court of Montgomery County his successor or successor, survivor or survivors, his administrators or assign in the sum of Twenty Eight Hundred Dollars in trust for the benefit of Burnard, Allaway & Bolen Pryor Infant heirs of Saml Pryor deceased for the payment of which we bind ourselves as his executors and administrators and assign jointly & severally firmly by these presents sealed with our seals and dated this 7th day of August 1837. The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas Ann F Pryor has been appointed guardian of the said Bernard Allaway & Bolen Pryor infant heirs as aforesaid. Now if the said Ann F. Pryor shall well and faithfully make — — and settlement make with the county court of Montgomery agreeable to laws during her said Guardianship and at the exparation thereof shall well and faithfully account with the justices of the county court of Montgomery and pay over to them order the pro–ssts of said Burnard, Allaway & Bolen Pryor that may come into her hands by virtue of said guardianship agreeably to law and then this obligation to be – else remain in full and virtue in law.
Acknowledged in open court this 7th day August Term 1837
Ann F. Pryor
Felix H Badger, by his attorney in fact Chas Baily
Harriet Pattison by her attorney in fact G. A Henry

The photo of Frances the widow of Samuel grave marker is magnificent, not just because her details are legible but also because it captures a small tombstone to the right. This smaller grave is Jesse Armistead, son of “R.A. and Atway E. Armistead.” Attway Pryor married Richard Armistead, a physician, on 27 Nov 1842 in Trigg County. There’s another child named Atway Armistead buried in the same cemetery, perhaps another child of Richard and Attway Pryor Armistead. This helps to confirm we have the right Samuel and Frances both in Montgomery County and Trigg County.

I think the children attributable to Samuel and Frances are:

  • Edward L. Pryor (b. 1805) in VA. He married Martha A. Ryburn. He was in Hardeman County, TN in 1840 and in Hempstead County, AR in 1850. He was security for the estate of Richard Pryor (b. 1798 in VA) in Hempstead County in 1864. See Ryburn v. Pryor that states Samuel Pryor was Edward’s father.
  • Harriet Pryor (b. 1801-1810) A Harriet Pryor married Joseph Hise in Christian County, KY in 1824. There is a Joseph Hise on the 1830 Census in Montgomery County, TN. I wonder if she’s the Harriet Pattison/Patterson on the guardian bond.
  • Richard H. Pryor (b. ?) Named in the estate settlement. There was a Richard H. Pryor who died in Vicksburg, MS about July 1836, after Samuel’s estate was settled. Richard died intestate and his business partner Samuel Gordon was appointed the administrator which may indicate he didn’t have any close kin in MS.
  • Mary Amanda Pryor (b. about 1813). A possible daughter. There are family trees online that show her as the wife of Felix H. Badger (a dentist and one of the parties in the guardian bond filed in 1837), however neither she nor her husband were named in the 1836 estate settlement. She is on the 1850 Census in Hickman county, TN.
  • William Pryor (b. abt. 1814). A possible son. On March 31, 1833 William Pryor was found murdered in Nashville with friend Michael Hoover after a night of gambling (reported in the Nashville Banner). He was a Navy midshipman from Clarksville, Montgomery Co., TN (The Military and Naval Magazine of the United States, Vol. 1,  from March to August 1833). He was deceased before Samuel’s estate was settled.
  • Bernard H. Pryor b. 1823. He was counted on the 1850 Census in Trigg Co., KY with a Frances A. Pryor who was a year younger. If this was a sister then it should be questioned why she wasn’t named on the guardian bond. Although there was a Miss Frances A Pryor noted as an heir of Samuel Pryor on the estate settlement. He married Laura Jane Cole and settled in McCracken County, KY.
  • Attway E. Pryor b. 1826 married Richard Armistead, a physician. They were in Trigg County in 1850 and by 1880 they were living in Vanderburgh County, IN.
  • Frances A Pryor may have been born about 1827 if she is the woman counted in Bernard’s household in 1850.
  • Samuel Bolen Pryor b. 1833. There are slim records for this Samuel. There’s a Samuel B. Pryor age 18 on the 1850 Census in Hickman County, TN. I think he’s the S. B. Pryor who enlisted in the US Army at age 30 in 1863 in Trigg County, KY. He is probably the Samuel B. Pryor in Vanderburgh County, IN who was counted on the 1880 Census and in city directories dating back to 1876. He died in 1884 in McCracken County, KY and in his will he gave his brother Bernard a town lot in Cadiz, Trigg County. I’m a bit concerned that Samuel was not a child born of Frances Ann Pryor because if her grave marker is correct, she was 57 in 1833!
Samuel B. Pryor counted in Hickman County (1850)

The 1830 Census, Montgomery County, TN

How do these children stack up against Samuel’s household on the 1830 census? Edward was probably still at home–the Ryburn lawsuit indicates he didn’t marry until 1836. Harriet (whether a daughter or not) would probably have been in Joseph Hise’ household. So a rough draft of matching possible children to the people counted in the household in 1830:

Males 11111001
1826-1830 Samuel B?
1821-1825 Bermard
1816-1820 William
1811-1815 Richard
1801-1810 Edward
1771-1780 Mr. Samuel

Females 1012001
1826-1830 Attway ?
1816-1820 Miss Frances?
1811-1815 Amanda
1781-1790 Mrs. Frances

If the 1830 Census is correct, Mrs. Frances Ann was younger than the age recorded on her tombstone and of an age to be the mother of Samuel B. in about 1833.

Attway Pryor Armistead was counted on the 1880 census and it was recorded her father was born in Virginia and her mother was born in Kentucky. If her mother was born in KY it should be considered that perhaps Samuel had a wife before Frances who was the mother of Edward. Edward was counted in 1880, stating both parents were born in Virginia.

Hopkinsville Kentuckian, January 7, 1908

Samuel Pryor Timeline

  • Samuel born 1771-1780 in Virginia
  • Frances Ann (maiden name unknown) born 1781-1790, possibly in KY
  • Edward L. born 1805 in Virginia
  • 1820 Census Samuel Pryor counted in Christian County, KY
  • 1823 Bernard H. Pryor born in Hopkinsville, Christian County, KY
  • 1830 Samuel Pryor counted in Montgomery County, TN
  • 1830 Writ of Attachment – 20 Jan 1830 writ returned to the Montgomery County Court of Please and Quarter Session, “commanding E.L. Pryor to be attached to answer the complaint of Saml. Pryor. (Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Law and Equity of the State of Arkansas, Volumes 13-14, pub. 1889)
  • 1830-1836 Samuel Died before his estate was settled in Hardeman County, TN in 1836
Cadiz – Hopkinsville – Clarksville (Google Maps)

Samuel Is Not…

There are a lot of Samuel Pryors. I found only one marriage of a Samuel Pryor to a Frances/Fannie/Ann (and all the variations of the name): Samuel Pryor who married Frances Ferguson in Prince Edward County (1789). The Samuel who was in Clarksville is not the Samuel who married Miss Ferguson. This other Samuel died before this Samuel (see post).

Category: Tennessee Pryors

Death of Jane Pryor Gilly (1852)

John B. Gilly’s name is found in connection with Nathaniel Pryor (of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (See ). I recently spotted a death notice for Jane Pryor, widow of John B. Gilly.

DIED: On Saturday, July 3, at Bay St. Louis, Hancock County, Miss., Mrs. JANE BUCHANAN PRYOR, aged 66 years. relict of the late John Baptiste Gilly, late of the City of New Orleans.
The New Orleans Crescent, July 6 1852

Oh goody, 1852! That means she may be on the 1850 census. Instead of finding a census record of Mrs. Gilly, I found a additional possible referencss to her husband in the press.

A “Scheme” or lottery was set up “for the erection of a college at the Bay of St. Louis. J. B. Gilly was one of the managers
Natchez Gazette, May 30, 1818

Up river, there was a letter held for John B. Gilly at Natchez, MS Post Office
Natchez Gazette, April 7 1821

Jane Pryor Gilly Signature
Signature of Jane B Gilly from her husband’s estate: 1830 New Orleans, LA