Tag Archives: cornwall

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.

Category: England | Tags: , ,

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

 

Category: England | Tags: , , , ,

Another Prior from Cornwall, England

Falmouth Cornwall I stumbled upon another Prior (or Pryor) from Cornwall. William Prior’s reads that he in North Carolina and his children Ann and Christiana were in the UK.  He named his brother Simon their guardian, yet I haven’t been able to confirm the existence of these Priors in UK records. Hope this helps someone ID the whereabouts of their missing kin.

1829 Will – Mecklenberg Co., NC
The last will and testament of William Prior of the county Cornwall G. Britain witnesseth–
I appoint Capt J P Fell and J L —- at present residents in Mecklenburg Co. No Car’a my true and lawful executors.
I request them to — from — Griffiths A— Co my mark of — appoint and to sell the same to the but advantage.

I give and bequest to my two daughters Ann and Christiana Prior in equal portions all my property.

I appoint my brother Simon Prior now and recently of Parish Waldron County Cornwall G. Britain the guardian of my two daughters.

Witness my hand this fourth day of May in the year of our Lord 1829

Signed by William Prior

Category: England | Tags: , ,

Pryor: Cornwall UK Connection

Cornwall UKIt happened again. I was talking to a Pryor when they proclaimed their family tree went back to Cornwall, England. I bristle a bit on that news. I know there are a lot of Pryor family trees that claim a Cornwall connection, but are they all right?  Well, maybe not.

A fact from the Pryor Y-DNA project — There are numerous Pryor men from the UK who had tested and none of them match any of the US Pryors who have tested.  Over the past few years I’ve poked around in UK records. In the late 1700’s there were Pryors in London and in multiple UK counties located in the South West, East, South East, West Midlands, and Yorkshire. And of course, there were Pryor families off-shore on the “emerald isle” (Ireland). There’s no telling where these all these Pryors originated from. Yes, there were Pryors in Cornwall, but they were all over the UK by the time of consistent parish registers and even more spread out by the time of the first UK census.

Pryor Cornwall, England

There seems to be just one US Prior/Pryor family that we know for sure can trace their line directly to Cornwall: John Prior who died in Edgefield County, South Carolina around 1797. What’s really cool about John is that his death left a trail in America and in the UK. His wife was still living in the UK, but it appears he had a long term relationship with Eva/Eve Grubbs in America, fathering at least 4 children. On his death he acknowledged the children as his own but they used the Grubbs surname. When know his eldest son from his UK marriage, John, left the UK for America to settle the estate. He may have stayed in the US and was counted on the 1810 Census.

1775 Marriage in Cornwall, England – John Prior and Elizabeth Cheqwidden on 28 December 1775. Witnesses John Cheqwidden and Anthony Prior.

1778 Christening in Cornwall, England – John Prior, son of John Prior and wife Elizabeth. Christenened 12 May 1778.

US Will

1797 Will, Edgefield County, SC – John Prior husband of Elizabeth Chiqwidden

1797 Will, Quoted in a Petition – Edgefield County, SC
John PRIOR executor petitioned the court for permission to sell the estate of John Prior, deceased. “I will, that my beloved son John Pryor (now in England) if he come over to this country be and I do hereby constitute and appoint him Guardian to Susanna P Grubs, Tobias P Grubs, Elizabeth P. Grubs, and William Pryor Grubs until the whole of the estate is divided and the youngest receives his portion. I also constitute, make and ordain John Starr, Captain Jacob Zinn (both of beach Island) and my son John Pryor, if he comes from England, Executors of this my last will and testament.” He also states in the will “I do hereby acknowledge to be my children.” Witnesses William Stewart, Charles Ramsey, Peter Cooper. “I will and Bequeath unto my son John Pryor, aforementioned (in the County of Cornwall, and Parish of Wendron, in England)” The will also states, “I will as my land and Mills on Town Creek are sold, that my executors make titles unto James Otis Prentis according to the articles between the said J. O. Prentis and myself” The will states John Pryor was a Mill Wright. He also willed money to Eve Grubs. The will indicates his son Tobias may have been under 21 years at the time of his death.

UK Probate

1799 Cornwall Chancery Court Case – States John Prior husband of Elizabeth Cheqwidden, daughter of Thomas Cheqwidden– John went to America 18 years earlier and died there in 1797, leaving property. His wife in Cornwall was alive in 1799 as was his son John, daughters Mary. The son John Prior and postmaster Nicholas Hichens left for America to administer the estate.

This case is pretty awesome stuff because it give the approximate year that this John Prior arrived in America… 1779. It seems a bit odd or perhaps worth noting that he arrived in the middle of the Revolutionary War.

Edgefield County Records

The Census records and salve sales shows there was an evolution in the use of the surname Prior. The Prior heirs went from Prior-Grubbs to just Prior.

1810 Census, Edgefield Co., SC
Page 37, Eve PRIOR 01100-110010-1 (oldest male 16-25yrs, oldest female over 45yrs)

1818 Slave Sale in Edgefield Co., SC: On 18 May 1818 John PRIOR made several slaves sales (Ann, Binah, Dick, Ellick, Jack, Lucy, Phillis, Sam, Shade) to John P. Grubbs, William P. Grubbs, and Tobias P. Grubbs.

1843 Sheriff’s Sale – Dawson Atkinson vs. Martha PRIOR, seventy acres of land more or less , adjoining lands of Tobias Pryor, and lands of the estate of John J. Gray, and others. (Edgefield Advertiser, 1 November 1843)

More Possible Descendants of John Prior of Cornwall

1820 Census, Barnwell Co., SC
Page 7, Isham H Clayton (married to Susannah Pryor) 00001-10002 (Isham Henry Clayton and wife Susannah Pryor b. 1800 were in Lowndes Co., GA in 1850 – Susannah Pryor may be the daughter of John Prior of Edgefield County, aka Susanna Pryor Grubbs. 1850 Census puts her birth in 1800 is that an error or is she too young to be John’s daughter?)
Page 41, Tobias PRYOR 30001-001

1850 Census Edgefield Co., SC
Page 425B, House 1899, Richard PRIOR 45 wheelwright SC, Barbara 37 SC, John 18 wheelwright SC, Catharine 16 SC, Elizabeth 14 SC, Richard 12 SC, Mary Ann 10 SC. (Richard & Barbara Pryer are on the 1860 Census in Edgefield Co. Per notice in Charleston Oberserver Feb. 16, 1828, Richard Pryor married Barbara T. Hail at Beach Island.)
House 1900 Charlotte PRIOR 48 SC, David Clark 39 wheelwright SC, Sarah 38 SC, Charlotte 11/12 SC.
Page 127A, House 1923 Tobias PRIOR 60 SC, Mary 55 SC, Richard 36 SC, Mary 14 SC (See Barnwell Co. 1820 Census. Mary Pryor is on the 1860 Census in Edgefield Co.)

1860 Census, Edgefield Co., SC
Beach Island PO, page 51, house 758 Richd (Richard) PRYOR 55 mechanic SC, Barbara 47 SC, Richard Jr. 21 SC, Cinchin (Kinchin R. Pryor) male 16 mechanic SC, Archibald 12 SC, Jane 10 SC, James 8 SC, Alice 5 AL.
Beach Island PO, page 52, house 787 Mrs. Mary PRYOR 56 farmer SC. (widow of Tobias Pryor)

1870 Census, Edgefied Co., SC
Hammond Twp., page 265a, house 51 K R PRYOR 26 farmer SC, Ann Eliza 18 SC, Ida 4/12 SC (born Jan) (Kinchin R. Pryor who was later in Aiken Co., SC. Son of Richard Pryor and wife Barbara.)

1930 Census Aiken Co., SC
Page 19b Robert Pryor 44 SC SC SC, Willie wife 30 SC SC SC, Evelyn dau 6 SC, John W. son 5 SC, Nath Lee dau 1 4/12 SC, Will Miner boarder 43 widow SC SC SC