Thursday, 20 October 2016

Poldark and my Stickland family

Recently the BBC has televised a new Poldark series based on the books by Winston Graham and set in Cornwall at the end of the 18th Century.
The Poldark books portray what life was like for my Stickland ancestors who also lived in Cornwall and like Ross Poldark invested in tin and copper mines.
 My 5th great grandfather John Stickland was the only child of Robert Stickland and Bridget Pryor, he was christened in Gwinear church on the 4th of September 1734, his father was a Yeoman which means that he was a small land owner below the class of gentry, probably today we would say upper middle class.
In 1749 Robert Stickland made a contract with landowners Frances Gifford of Lanherne and Henry Arundell of Wardor to lease the Tenement of Coswinsawsin, a very small hamlet about 2 miles north east of Gwinear and bordering onto Baripper and Penponds. Lease contracts or Indentures as they were called, were usually very long winded, especially in Cornwall because of all the mineral rights. The contract allows the owners of the land to set up a mine on the land if minerals should be found, and also timber rights to any trees growing on the land.
John probably received a good education and at the young age of 22 he became church warden of Gwinear church, when he was 19 years old his maternal grandfather Christopher Pryor died and left his estate of Trenowith to John and it seems that John also inherited the tenement of Tappard which had been in the possession of the Pryor family and located about 2 miles south west of Gwinear, as he is recorded on a map as being a tenant of this land.
In 1761 when John was 27 his uncle William Stickland died leaving his prosperous merchandising business to his nephew, so John Stickland had become a wealthy merchant with possession of two tenements in Gwinear parish and a Quay by Hayle harbour. Hayle was a busy and thriving port, and having access to a quay and being able to trade with the local mines etc put John Stickland in a very prosperous and esteemed position.
On the 22nd of January 1763 John Stickland married Mary Rogers the youngest daughter of David Rogers, Gentleman, Merchant  and mine adventurer. Adventurers were something like shareholders, they would invest money into a mine and if the workings were good they would receive a share in the profits, but sometimes they would invest or put money into a mine that was failing and would end up being out of pocket.
John was not only busy with his Merchant's business but was also investing in tin and copper mines of which I have several Indentures. In 1772 John decided to broaden his mining ventures and this time in partnership with a John Harvey of St.Columb Major, on the 4th of April 1772 an Indenture was made between William Angove, gentleman of St. Columb Major, John Stickland, merchant of Gwinear and John Harvey, yeoman of St. Columb Major, the mine was one of the Herland mines situated by Gwinear.
 The Indenture states that John Stickland and John Harvey agree to pay William Angove one eighteenth part or share of any tin, copper, lead or other metals or minerals that they should find, and they also agree to appoint Nicholas Harvey, brother of John Harvey and son in law of William Angove as mine captain.
 Old Herland mine is known to have raised over seven thousand pounds worth of ore in 1756 whilst on the 20th February 1760 a sale of 275 tons of ore from Herland and Drannack fetched over two thousand pounds. The working of the Herland group continued until the year 1762, although certain small sales of ore are recorded as late as 1778, it seems that at the time that John Stickland made his contract production was not at it’s best. The reason for this was probably the fact that the market was suddenly swamped by a great flood of cheap copper found in the Parys mine in Anglesey in Wales.
 John and Mary had a total of six children, one of whom died when she was seven years old.
In the beginning of 1773 John Stickland is cited in an advertisement for a Quay in Hayle, the advertisement was placed in the newspaper dated March 8th 1773, the advertisement reads as follows :
“CORNWALL to be set for three, five, or seven years, TREMEARN’S KEYS, IN HAYLE, Together or in parcels, with the cellar, loft, dwelling-house, and two acres of land there to adjoining, the latter having been long a victualling-house, and has now a licence. The keys and cellars are very advantageously situated for business, and have been many years in the coal and corn trade &c.------For which purpose a survey will be held on the said premises on Friday the 26th day of this instant March, at Three in the afternoon. For particulars enquire of Hugh Edwards, at St. Ives, or John Stickland in Gwinear."
Tremearne’s quay was situated next to Stickland’s quay.
Two months after this advertisement was set, John Stickland, aged now 38 and father of five children, and probably at the height of his career, met an untimely and unfortunate death. I have been unable to discover the cause of his death, but the fact that he died intestate or without leaving a will proves that his death occurred unexpectedly and quickly, either as the result of an accident or a very short illness. Mary, the widow of John Stickland seems to have followed her husband John very quickly to the grave, which could indicate a contagious illness. A letter of Admin was made in December 1773 appointing Robert Stickland as executor of his son’s estate and guardian of his grandchildren.
Sometimes I wish that we could have a glimpse into the lives of our ancestors but I guess that I will just have to make do with watching the new Poldark series.

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