“Desperate People in Desperate Times”: Christian Grose and Richard Angove

The Younger Sister:

Christian Grose (1773-?) was the younger sister of Cornish Mine Captains, Matthew Grose (1761-1824) and Samuel Grose (1764-1825).

Her brothers worked at mines in Somerset and Cornwall and have already been written about on the ‘Adventurous Ancestors’ blog here and (in more detail) here.

Christian Grose was baptised at St. Uny in Redruth, Cornwall on 12th April 1773 to parents Matthew Grose and his wife Mary (nee Davey).

At the age of nineteen, Christian Grose married Richard Angove (1772-) on 15th October 1792 at St. Uny, Redruth. Both were likely illiterate as they marked (did not sign) the marriage register. The witnesses of their marriage were John Angove and Benjamin Davey (likely relatives of the bride and groom).

Interesting that, (unlike Christian Grose), her brothers had been educated as both signed their marriage registers, (Matthew in 1783 and Samuel in 1786).

After marriage, Christian (nee Grose) and Richard Angove encountered drama and troubles in 1795. I contacted their descendant, Peter Gardner, about the incidents I’d read about in his fantastic essay “A Convict in the Family”:

Peter commented that Christian and Richard Angove were…

“Desperate people in desperate times.”

This moving and meaningful interpretation inspired me to share their story here (mainly extracts from Peter’s essay and other sources).

1795 certainly epitomised  “desperate people in desperate times”. It was the year of bread riots across England – wheat shortages meant starving people and a country on the brink of famine.

The Angoves of Plain-an-Gwarry:

Richard Angove was baptised in Redruth, Cornwall on 22nd March 1772 to parents John Angove and his wife Elizabeth (nee Launder).

Richard Angove (1772-?) and his ancestors hailed from Plain-an-Gwarry, near Redruth

“Plain-an-Gwarry (Cornish: Plen an Gwari) is a hamlet in the west of Redruth, Cornwall… It is entirely surrounded by the town of Redruth… The name derives from Cornish plen an gwari (meaning “playing place”), an open-air performance area used historically for entertainment and instruction.”

via Plain-an-Gwarry – Wikipedia

In this case, Plain-an-Gwarry is a residential hamlet, but elsewhere in Cornwall the term refers more generically to an outdoor entertainment space…

A plen-an-gwary, also known as a playing place or round (Cornish: Plen an Gwari), is a medieval Cornish amphitheatre. A circular outdoor space used for plays, sports, and public events, the plen-an-gwary was a Cornish variant of a construction style found across Great Britain. Formerly common across Cornwall, only two survive nearly complete today…

The theatre area could be used for local gatherings, sports events, and production of plays. Cornwall culture had a type of play called miracle plays, written in the Cornish language, that would were meant to spread Christianity. To capture the attention of the audience, “the plays were often noisy, bawdy and entertaining.”

via Plen-an-gwary – Wikipedia

Peter Gardner writes about Plain-an-Gwarry in his essay:

“Plain An Gwarry was built early in the Eighteenth Century to house miners for the nearby North Downs tin and copper mines. The conditions in this and other similar villages by today’s standards were appalling. In 1833 when Plain An Gwarry was over 100 years old it was reported that there were just 11 privies for over 130 dwellings. These houses were overcrowded with large, extended families and lodgers being taken in to supplement incomes. Streets were given names like Dirty Court and Poverty Court.”

poor

Christian’s ‘ill-behaved husband’:

Mining Consultant, William Jenkin wrote a letter to Samuel Grose (Christian’s ‘Mine Captain’ brother) on 21st March 1795 which mentions Christian and other relations:

Thy Aunt Kate has behaved unkind to the little Alice Richards whom I have this day fixed with thy Uncle Richard Nicholls of Michell -who has taken her home with him and promised to take good care of her, and I believe he will do so. I am pleased with him from the little I have seen of him. Little Mary still lies on hands – but as she seems a well behaved industrious girl, and is in constant employ, I hope she will not stand in need of much assistance.

All these family members require further research. The letter continues about Christian…

Thy sister Kitty [Christian] and her ill-behaved Husband [Richard Angove] vexed me much one day this week by laying wait at thy Father’s door in the morning, and as the little girl opened it, they rushed in and seized the bed and bolster which he lay on while he lived, and carried it away, and then brought back an old bed of theirs in it’s stead. The little Girl [Mary] came up to me in a great surprise to tell me of it. I immediately went down, and by threatening them got back the Bed and bolster again–and I think it will be well, if I don’t hear from thee soon, to take all the goods to my House

Via ‘News From Cornwall’, by A.K. Hamiliton Jenkin

Severe Whipping:

Another letter followed from William Jenkin to Samuel Grose, on 16th October 1795

A strong rumour prevailed here yesterday that Kitty’s [Christian’s] husband [Richard Angove] was dead, and that Dug [Launder – a relative] was dying – and the Hill [A poor quarter of Redruth, near Plain-an-Gwarry] was in an uproar. It was asserted that their death was owing to the severe whipping they had last week. But on enquiry today I find it was a false report. I believe they had a pretty close trimming. I am sorry for thy sister [Christian] who I understand is far gone with child, and must unavoidably suffer by her husband’s misbehaviour.

Via ‘News From Cornwall’, by A.K. Hamiliton Jenkin

Peter Gardner writes more about this event in his essay :

In 1795 Richard Angove… was sentenced, with a relative, to 2 years in Bodmin prison for the theft of 4 pence worth of tin ore. His young wife Christian (nee Grose) was pregnant.

  • Wendy Angove in her history of the Angove family wrote:
    “William Launder of Redruth, tinner, and Richard Angove of Redruth, tinner, were convicted of taking 20lbs of ore, value 2d, 20lbs of tin stuff, value 2d, the property of Sir John St Aubyn and others, adventurers of Wheal Peevor. Sentenced to hard labour for 2 years, and to be publicly whipped until their backs are bloody, in Bodmin, at the beginning and end of their punishment.” [Angove, Wendy. The Jigsaw Puzzle Tree, The Author, Brigend Wales, 2003 p.78]

This was an extremely severe punishment in troubled times. Launder and Angove were either cousins or uncle and nephew and appear to have been ‘tributers’ (contract miners) in Wheel Peevor.

An estimate of the theft in today’s values (2015) is difficult and the 4d could have been as low as $40. Estimates of earnings of tributers about this time averaged from £2 to £3 per month so 4d would equal at least 1/120th of a monthly wage. However if their pitch (contracted area of the mine) turned poor or they had a poor contract they may have earned very little or nothing. Some prices of foodstuffs about this time (1801) included butter at 8d per pound, bacon 8d per pound and barley 6s bushel.

The crime almost certainly was one of ‘kitting’ – taking ore from another part of the mine away from their own ‘pitch’ or designated place and presenting it at as their own. This practice was generally frowned upon by miners and definitely so if the ore was stolen from another group of tributers’ pitch – in other words stealing from mates. However in this instance it appears that the ore was removed from a part of the mine not being worked by their fellows – in other words they were stealing from the company.

This and the harshness of the punishment meant they had strong support amongst the community

Peter also writes insightfully about the riot:

The riot that followed this cruel punishment was typical Cornish behaviour to injustice and in desperate times. It followed on from food riots in Redruth at the market earlier in the year. From this behaviour we can conclude that those being punished had the support of the community and that the spirit of revolt was very strong.

Children of Christian (nee Grose) and Richard Angove:

On 6th October, 1793, a daughter, Alice Angove was baptised at St Uny, Redruth.

In October 1795, Christian was pregnant when her husband was whipped (no baptism record found yet).

A son, Richard Angove baptised on 21st October, 1798 at St Uny, Redruth who likely died as an infant.

On 26th April, 1801, they baptised another son, Richard Angove at St Uny, Redruth.

Conclusion and Further research:

These letters of William Jenkin again show the close association that he had with the extended Grose family.

Other family members are mentioned in ‘News from Cornwall’ by A.K. Hamilton Jenkin who can be researched:

  • Assuming ‘Aunt Kate’ is an aunt of Matthew, Samuel and Christian Grose – she is either a sister (or sister-in-law) of their parents Matthew Grose (1732) and Mary Davey.
  • The same theory can be applied for ‘Uncle Richard Nicholls’ meaning he’s likely a brother-in-law of Matthew Grose (1732) or Mary Davey.
  • It is unknown whether Alice Richards is a family member, or perhaps a servant. The Richards/Grose family connections have been mentioned in other letters of William Jenkin and these will be looked at on another post.
  • Mary is likely a younger sister, cousin or niece of Matthew, Samuel and Christian Grose.

Further research is required for Christian (nee Grose) and Richard Angove and their descendants. Currently have not found a death or burial record for them.

born-1264699_640

Resources and ‘Thanks’:

Sincere thanks to Peter Gardner for giving permission to use extracts of his essay on the blog.

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3 thoughts on ““Desperate People in Desperate Times”: Christian Grose and Richard Angove

  1. Amy May 25, 2017 / 4:16 pm

    It’s incredible that those old letters survived—how fortunate you are. Richard does sound like a bit of a scoundrel, but yes, desperate times lead to desperate actions. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • adventurousancestors May 25, 2017 / 9:30 pm

      Thanks for reading! I was so excited when I found those letters in the books! I’ve just added a line to the post about the 1795 bread riots. Many people in England were starving due to wheat shortages – it was a country on the brink of famine. Truly “desperate people in desperate times”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy May 25, 2017 / 10:22 pm

        Yes, we all need to remember not to judge—we don’t know how we would have acted under those circumstances.

        Liked by 1 person

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