Life, how uncertain! Death, how sure!

This post will look at the ancient parish church of St Runius in Marown, Isle of Man… and an interesting grave marker for members of the Grose family in the churchyard there.

In the previous post we looked for the graves of the Mining Engineer, Matthew Grose junior (1819-1887) & his second wife, Elizabeth nee Qualtrough (1835-1918), both buried at Kirk Christ, Rushen, Isle of Man.

Some questions remain…

Where is his first wife (Anne Grose nee Read, 1818-1868) buried?

Where is his father (Matthew Grose senior, 1788-1849) buried?
marown sign

Photo © Phil Catterall (cc-by-sa/2.0)

old_mn

Sketch of 1834. Old Kirk Marown with seats for 250. Courtesy of A Manx Note Book

nave

Photo © Richard Hoare (cc-by-sa/2.0)

The Old Church:

The Old Church has been written about by many people, in the past and present day… with various versions of how it got it’s name:

St. Runius, also known as Old Kirk Marown, is a very quaint old church which still has candles for lights instead of electricity.

It is known as Old Kirk Marown because a new church was built in its place in 1853 on the main Douglas to Peel road.

St. Runius is a simple structure dating from the 12th century with alterations and extensions from 1750 to 1755 and in the late 1790’s.

It is called St. Runius as it is dedicated to St. Ronan of Lismore in Ireland and Marown also takes its name from this Saint “Ma-Ronan”, Marown.

From the IOM Photography website, 2014.

The original building was from approximately 1200 AD and was enlarged in 1754 AD.

Three bishops are possibly buried here; Lonnan, Connaghan, and Runius.

The old church was replaced around 1860, when a new church was opened. Old St Runius continued to be used occasionally for special services.

From the Isle of Man Guide website

According to a note by the late Professor Sir John Rhys, in “Mannin” (No. 2) :” the Parish Church of Marown, spelled variously Marown, Maronne, and Maroon. Skeeley Maroon is dedicated to a Saint called Maronog, in the Irish Calendar; and in the Scottish Calendar, Ronan.”

In the Manx Doomsday Book, or Manorial Rent Roll, of 1511, A.D. , the parish is styled St. Runii—St. Runy was evidently one of the Columban missionaries who came to the Isle of Man probably about the 7th Century, and it is in the Old Churchyard of Marown where his remains, with those of St. Lomanus and St. Onca are supposed to be buried, ” and these for ever lie un-molested.”

From A Manx Note Book

Why was a new church built?

With the improvement of the Douglas/Peel main road in the early 19th Century population growth focused on Crosby and the old church became too small and too far from the congregation.

In 1844 Phillip Killey, owner of a brewery in Douglas, gave land from his estate adjoining the main road between Crosby and Glen Vine for a new Church.

Tynwald approved the scheme in 1847, the foundation stone was laid by Bishop Auckland in 1849 and the Church consecrated in 1859.

From A Manx Note Book

Many years later on the 5th Oct., 1924, A.E. CLARKE wrote about this event at Marown Vicarage…

Needless to say that , this gift was accepted. and in a few years time from this date, the Old Church, so far as public worship was concerned, was forsaken for the new.

It was not so, however, with regard to burials.

The people of Marown still clung tenaciously to the old ground, where the remains of their forefathers lay for generations.

Marown Old Church - geograph.org.uk - 3125

Photo of Marown Old Church courtesy of Andy Stephenson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The ‘Grose’ Obelisk:

In the churchyard of St Runius, Marown, Isle of Man there is a granite obelisk and two fallen headstones surrounded by railings. The granite is possibly from ‘the fine granite quarry’ that the Grose family opened at Foxdale.

2017-07-06 10.54.50

Photo © Robert Cannell


Over the years there have been discussions (and confusion!) about the individuals buried there.
By studying a combination of hard-to-read memorial inscriptions and incomplete burial records, this is our best interpretation of the burials. If any further information comes to light, then it will be corrected and shared on the blog.

 

3626338_56c47eff

Photo © Richard Hoare (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Who is buried there?

The Grose family used St Runius as their main local church for baptising, marrying and burying for many years. There was a track from their home at Cornelly/Jones Mine (part of Foxdale Mines) to the church. Other churches were used too (eg, Patrick), but there is a lot of activity at St Runius.

It is likely that three generations of the Grose family are buried at St Runius, Marown… Matthew Grose senior (1788-1849) with both of his wives, his daughter-in-law and perhaps five of his grandchildren.
The first ‘Grose’ burial was likely Matthew Grose senior’s first wife, Mary Grose (nee Wearn) buried 1839. She doesn’t appear in the burial records, but the inscription on the headstone (see section below) and newspaper obituary indicates this.

mary wearn

Manks Advertiser, Tuesday, January 08, 1839; Page: 3 (Via iMusuem)


An infant, John Grose, was buried in Marown in 1845. This is likely, John Matthew Grose the son of John Grose and Charlotte (nee Clucas).

johnl grose

Via iMuseum


Matthew Grose senior was buried in 1849

matt

Manx Liberal, Saturday, June 23, 1849; Page: 3
(Via iMusuem)


Frederick William Grose (Matthew junior’s son) buried 1858

fred

Mona’s Herald, Wednesday, June 16, 1858; Page: 3
(Via iMusuem)

Matthew Grose senior’s second wife Mary Grose (nee Tregonning) buried 1864

mary treg

Mona’s Herald, Wednesday, November 23, 1864; Page: 3
(Via iMusuem)


Matthew Grose junior’s wife, Anne Weston Grose (nee Read) was buried 1868

annie weston

Mona’s Herald, Wednesday, May 13, 1868; Page: 7
(Via iMusuem)

list of burials marown

From Isle of Man, Burial Index, 1598-2003 via Ancestry UK

Additionally, 3 children of Matthew senior’s daughter, Jane Powning (nee Grose) are buried at Marown.

powning burials

From Isle of Man, Burial Index, 1598-2003 via Ancestry UK

In the Press…

The ‘Grose’ obelisk at Marown has been written about in the newspapers…

From the Isle of Man Weekly Times (1 Oct 1932)…

Comparatively few of the gravestones in Marown are used to point the moral of the shortness of life at its longest and the possible suddenness of death.
Captain Matthew Grose [junior] of the Ballacorkish mine, Rushen, erected a monument to his son [Frederick] in the form of an obelisk, bearing on its four sides the words,

Time, how short! 

Eternity, how long! 

Life, how uncertain!

Death, how sure!

http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/gazateer/gyards/mn.htm


Analysing the Memorial inscriptions:

There are inscriptions on the fallen stones and obelisk.

From a long discussion on a Manx genealogy forum (from 2006) we can see the following incomplete inscriptions were recorded…

http://www.isle-of-man.com/genealogy/messageboard/index.pl/md/read/id/509238

In memory of Ann Mary Grose the beloved wife of Capt Matthew Grose …………….mines…………..January 8th 1839

Weep not for me my ………..

My children dear my ……………

Prepare yourselves………

also the above named capt Matthew Grose who died on the 19th Jun 1848 1849 aged 62 years

Thanks to Rob Cannell for cleaning the headstone, so the ‘Ann’ above could be corrected to ‘Mary’ which corresponds to Mary Grose (nee Wearn).

In memory of Frederick William son of Capt Matthew Grose [junior] and Ann Weston his wife of Ballacorkish Parish of Rushen

Born March 15th 1850 died June 2nd 1858

Conclusion:

Confusion reigned for a long time because there was an 1839 obituary for a Mary Grose, but it seemed her burial was recorded in 1864. Turns out they were both right – they’re two different people! Both wives of Matthew Grose senior and both called Mary!

Add to the mix a memorial inscription from 1839 transcribed as Ann Grose instead of Mary Grose! Then it turns out that there are actually two Mary Groses… and an Anne Grose buried there too! Anne being a wife of a Captain Matthew Grose too… no not that one – his son!

We got there in the end (hopefully!). It’s a reminder to check as many sources as possible and see the originals, not transcriptions where possible.

Originally erected by the mining engineer, Matthew Grose junior, mourning his young son Frederick, the granite obelisk is a fine monument to the generations of the Grose family buried at St Runius, Marown and elsewhere on the Isle of Man.

Matthew Grose junior may now be in an unmarked grave at Rushen, but the monument he created for others in his family has stood for almost 160 years.

Thanks and Further Reading:

I must thank Rob Cannell for providing plenty of information and some of the great photos for this post. Also for cleaning up that headstone!

A Manx Note Book

Ellan Vannin Volume 1

IOM Photography

Isle of Man Guide

 

Advertisements

Bonus! Family History Clues in “Two Men of Very Different Minds”

In the previous post, the mining careers of brothers, Matthew Grose (1761-1824) and Samuel Grose (1764-1825) were covered. Info was studied in four books containing extracts of their correspondence with William Jenkin (1738-1820).

All three men were from Redruth, Cornwall. Jenkin looked after mining interests for the Marquis of Buckingham. He appointed Matthew and Samuel Grose as Mine Captains in Cornwall and Somerset.

Family History Clues:

Mine Captain!

From Jenkin’s letters, we see Matthew Grose (1761-1824) was Mine Captain at Loxton, on the Mendip Hills in Somerset.

We’d previously discovered that his son (Matthew Grose 1788-1849) and niece, Mary (1788-?) were baptised here at the Parish Church of St. Andrew in Loxton:

 © Image courtesy of Somerset Heritage Service; Taunton, Somerset, England; Somerset Parish Records, 1538-1914; Reference Number: D\P\LOX/2/1/1 (Somerset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1531-1812 via Ancestry.co.uk)

Initial research suggested it was a brief, unsuccessful copper mining venture, but Jenkin’s letters show it was a long captaincy.

Missing baptisms, children John and Elizabeth Grose:

With baptism records missing for two of Matthew Grose’s children – John Grose (1793-1842) and Elizabeth (1797-?), we can check again for misspelled records – focusing on Loxton and surrounding area.

From Jenkin’s letters we know that Matthew Grose (1761-1824) was still in Loxton in 1794.

1794: Josiah Holdship comes to Somerset seeking the mineral ’emery’. He approaches Matthew Grose at Loxton first, who sends him on to Samuel Grose in Dodington.

via “Two Men of Very Different Minds”… – Adventurous Ancestors

This bodes well for finding John and Elizabeth Grose’s baptism records nearby… unless for some reason they were baptised elsewhere!

There is also the following challenge:

“The early Loxton parish registers were badly worn, thus many entries on the fiche are illegible and others are taking a considerable amount of time to transcribe…

…before 1800 many surnames of similar sound were spelt in a variety of ways, now referred to as variants. There was not the standardised spelling that we have today and few people could write. Many churchwardens couldn’t spell and educated clergyman had to enter a written name that best fitted the sound of the name. It was open to misinterpretation particularly when one considers the various dialects around the country.”

via Loxton Baptism Registers…. – Somerset Village of Loxton

 Son, Matthew Grose and grandson, Thomas Grose:

We know Matthew Grose (1761-1824) was back in Dodington, Somerset by 1820, installing a pumping engine in the Beech Grove House.

By 1821, his son, (Matthew Grose, 1788-1849) and daughter-in-law, Mary (nee Wearn) are with him. They baptise their son, Thomas Grose at Dodington, Somerset.

(© Image courtesy of Somerset Heritage Service; Taunton, Somerset, England; Somerset Parish Records, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1914 (via Ancestry.co.uk)

Matthew (1788-1849) is listed as a ‘Miner’ on son Thomas’s baptism. Was Matthew working in the Dodington area too, or visiting his bold father, or perhaps en-route to another mine?

Work ceased at the Dodington (Buckingham) mine in 1821 and equipment was sold off in 1822.

image

20 July 1822 – Royal Cornwall Gazette – Truro, Cornwall, England (© Image courtesy of The British Library Board accessed via FindMyPast)

Grose family in Sticklepath, Devon?:

In the 1823 newspapers, at Okehampton, Devon, (approximately 50 miles southwest of Dodington, Somerset), we see a Mine Captain called Matthew Grose at the Sticklepath Copper Mine.

Could this be one of our Cornish Mine Captains – either Matthew Grose (1761-1824), or his son ‘Foxdale‘ Matthew Grose (1788-1849)?

image

12 June 1823 – Exeter Flying Post – Exeter, Devon, England (© Image courtesy of The British Library Board accessed via FindMyPast)

Check for Clues!

Near to Sticklepath in Devon are the villages of South Zeal and Belstone.

We see Elizabeth Ash (nee Grose) (1797-?) and her miner husband Obadiah Ash in South Zeal around this time because there are baptism records for their children here.

eg, Obadiah Ash junior baptised in 1822.

obadiah-ash.jpg

 © Image courtesy of  The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; General Register Office: Birth Certificates from the Presbyterian, Independent and Baptist Registry & Wesleyan Methodist Metropolitan Registry; Class Number: RG 5; Piece Number: 172 England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970 via Ancestry.com

The mother on the baptism record Elizabeth Ash (nee Grose) is the daughter of Matthew Grose (1761-1824), so the younger sister of Matthew Grose (1788-1849).

On 18th March 1824, we see a baptism in Belstone, Devon for a John Grose, son of Matthew and Mary Grose. Their abode is Sticklepath and the profession of the father is Miner.


 © Images courtesy of South West Heritage Trust and Parochial Church Council (Accessed via FindMyPast)

All this evidence points to the Mine Captain of Sticklepath, Devon being ‘Foxdale’ Matthew Grose (1788-1849).

This is just four years before he migrates to the Isle of Man.

There is a slim chance that his father is the Mine Captain at Sticklepath, with Matthew just a miner, but unlikely.

His father, Matthew (1761-1824), passes away this year in August 1824 and from extracts  in “Men & Mining on the Quantocks” (Second Edition, Hamilton & Lawrence, 2008) he stubbornly resided in Dodington, (trying to attract new investors for the Buckingham Mine) and died there in grinding poverty.

Was Matthew Grose (1761-1824) alone when he died a pauper in 1824? Were his wife (Jane/Jennifer nee Williams) and youngest daughter, Eliza (1807-1864) still in Somerset at that time too?

To be resnearched another time!

Mining Career Clues:

Only a few gaps remain in the career timelines for the Redruth brothers, Matthew and Samuel Grose. With further analysis of the information from Jenkin’s letters, this will now be easier to research.

CONCLUSION:

Found!

From reading a few books about mining and further online research, we’ve been able to solve other family history mysteries…

‘Foxdale’ Matthew Grose (1788-1849) was a miner at Dodington, Somerset in 1821 because he was baptising his son Thomas Grose (1821-1882) there.

This date ties ‘Foxdale’ Matthew to working in Dodington with his bold father, because Matthew Grose (1761-1824) is installing an engine at Beech Grove (and subsequently upsetting the Marquis by moving it to the Glebe House!).

Also, from connecting a random newspaper clipping about Sticklepath Copper Mines in Devon to the Grose family, we’ve discovered ‘Foxdale’ Matthew Grose (1788-1849) was likely Mine Captain there by 1823.

His abode was Sticklepath and he baptised his son John Grose at nearby Belstone in 1824.

Interesting to note that ‘Foxdale’ Matthew Grose (1788-1849) chooses a ‘Church of England’ church to baptise his son, John (1824-1888), in Devon.

His sister Elizabeth Ash (nee Grose) (1797-?) chooses the nearby Methodist Church to baptise Obadiah Ash junior (1822-?).

The connection between the siblings, Elizabeth Ash (nee Grose) and Matthew Grose,  is of particular interest because BOTH migrate to the Isle of Man.

This will be looked at more closely in a future post.

Still to find!

Be nice to find the baptisms for two children of Matthew Grose and Jane/Jennifer Williams:

Unless the Loxton Parish Registers are just too badly worn!

Thanks for reading. Please comment or contact if you’re enjoying the blog, or if you have any info or ideas that might help with some of the mysteries!

 

 

“Two Men of Very Different Minds”: Escapades of Cornish Mine Captain brothers, Matthew and Samuel Grose, from 1786 to 1824

This post covers the mining escapades of two brothers, Matthew and Samuel Grose born in Redruth Cornwall in the 1760’s and worked at mines in Somerset and Cornwall. They were first written about here.

Recap:

Matthew Grose (1761-1824) is the father of Matthew Grose (1788-1849) who moved to be Captain at Foxdale Mines, Isle of Man.

His brother, Samuel Grose (1764-1825) is the father of ‘the famous engineer’ Samuel Grose junior (1791-1866) who was a pupil of Richard Trevithick and designer of the Cornish engine.

..

Introduction:

After reading these four fantastic books, extra info has been gathered:

  • “Men & Mining on the Quantocks” (Second edition) by J.R. Hamilton and J.F. Lawrence
  • “News from Cornwall” by A.K. Hamilton Jenkin
  • “Mines and Miners of Cornwall (Hayle, Gwinear & Gwithian)” by A.K. Hamilton Jenkin
  • “The Historic Landscape of the Quantock Hills” by Hazel Riley (free: here)

The details about Matthew and Samuel Grose in the books are mostly sourced from letters written and received by William Jenkin of Redruth in Cornwall (1738-1820).

William Jenkin looked after the mining interests of the Marquis of Buckingham in Cornwall and developed mining on the Marquis’s Dodington Estate in Somerset.

William Jenkin had a close friendship with Samuel Grose, but an antagonistic relationship with Matthew Grose and this is reflected in his letters. The books interpret this accordingly – hailing sensitive Samuel Grose ‘a Cornish artisan’  whilst outspoken Matthew Grose is deemed the ‘less reputable, impulsive brother’!

Most of the ‘quotes in italics’ in the following timeline are brief extracts from their extensive correspondence with William Jenkin.

“Two Men of Very Different Minds”: 1786-1824

CORNWALL TO SOMERSET:

1786: At the age of 25, Matthew Grose leaves Cornwall for Somerset, boldly claiming he is ‘the first miner introduced to seek for Copper at Dodington’ [in recent times]. Matthew begins mining work with a few Cornish Miners on Dodington Common in Somerset. He is then established at the Garden Mine at Dodington in a supervisory capacity.

Relations between the Cornish Miners and locals of Somerset are delicate. Jenkins writes that the local ‘inhabitants seem quite disposed to be offended’.

Matthew’s staff now consists of coal miners from Radstock, Somerset, but he finds them unmanageable and wishes to replace them with Cornishmen, but William Jenkin refuses.

Matthew Grose is overly enthusiastic and unwisely gives the Marquis of Buckingham an exaggerated impression of the value of the veins discovered in Dodington. This annoys William Jenkin and his opinion of Matthew wavers.

1788: Matthew Grose moves sideways to be Captain at the Marquis of Buckingham’s Mine at Loxton, on the Mendip Hills. (His son, Matthew Grose (1788-1849) – is baptised at the Parish church of St. Andrew’s here).

loxton.jpg

Parish church of St. Andrew’s, Loxton © Copyright John Baker and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

1791: Whilst Matthew is in Loxton, his brother, Samuel Grose is appointed senior Mine Captain at Dodington. Some Cornish miners in his employ return to Redruth and it is difficult to attract others to Somerset because ‘the spirit of Mining is high in Cornwall’. Jenkin asks Samuel Grose to give any remaining Cornishmen proper encouragement to stay, or ‘get some of the Somerset young men to become handy’.

Samuel’s ‘famous engineer’ son, Samuel Grose junior (1791-1866) is born at Nether Stowey, Somerset.

1793: The French First Republic declares war on Britain.

1794: Josiah Holdship comes to Somerset seeking the mineral ’emery’. He approaches Matthew Grose at Loxton first, who sends him on to Samuel Grose in Dodington.

1795: Samuel Grose resides at Newhall, near Dodington which has a:

colony of unpleasant neighbours… the most profligate and abandoned part of mankind’.

Matthew Grose is still at the Loxton Mine and similarly writes about the:

“…ill-natured prejudice in the behaviour of the inhabitants at Loxton and it’s vicinity against suffering any but themselves to inhabit the county.”

Matthew seems at his wits end about:

“…tenants as could accommodate Shippam Miners with lodging and would not do it.”

1796: Spain declares war on Britain.

1797: A French invasion of Britain is rumoured. Samuel Grose writes that:

‘I cannot think that the French will come here, but I think they will ruin our country by threatening to come.’

The French briefly invade at Fishguard.

1798: William Jenkin holds shares in Wheal Alfred Mine in Cornwall (named after his son).

1799: There is crisis in the copper trade as prices fall.

1800: Samuel Grose’s spirits fall too. Partly due to the imminent failure of the Dodington mine (a pump is desperately required) and also due to the ‘enormous advanced price of the necessities of life’. Poverty has become extreme in Somerset and Cornwall for working people, including miners.

After a woman (about to be arrested for theft) hangs herself in Samuel Grose’s garden, he writes:

“Glad should I be if circumstances should alter so that my removal was nigh from such bad people and such a disagreeable house as Newhall is at this time. I do not believe we can live there. Let the consequence be what it will.”

and

“I would not have my children frightened by this shocking affair, not for all the Gold in the Universe.”

newhall

Ruined building at New Hall. © Copyright Nick Chipchase and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Samuel desires to move to the Counting House in Dodington (the mine company’s headquarters), but understands ‘it would require £20 to fit it for a dwelling’. Also the mine is unprofitable and closure inevitable.

1801: Jenkin writes to a friend about Samuel Grose:

“…poor Capt. Grose appears to be falling back again. His doctors seem to think that his native air might be of service to him. In that case I could take him back to Cornwall with me, after going to Dodington to supervise the closure of the mine.”

Jenkin also writes directly to Samuel:

“Thou shall not want for anything that I can command or procure – therefore write me freely as one Friend should to another”

Jenkin makes plans to install Samuel as Captain at Wheal Alfred Mine back in Cornwall.

He writes to Samuel (about Wheal Alfred Mine and Matthew Grose):

“Thy brother Matthew had set his mind on this appointment for himself but the preference is given to thee. I hope for the sake of his Family that a place will be found by and for him also, but I am sorry to observe that poor Matthew does not make many friends amongst those who would be most likely to have power to serve him. He is too great a talker and too full of himself. A little disappointment may probably be in the ordering of Providence…”

and

“The mine which Matthew is in is likely to go down. I wish he had so good an opening for future employment as thou hast – but he has not thy abilities to recommend him.”

After fourteen years, mining at Dodington ceases in 1801, with Samuel Grose and a dozen men departing. William Jenkin laments about the ‘scattered bunches of rich ore’ and supposes that at a deeper level it will be more ‘regular and collected’. A powerful steam engine is required to work the deeper, richer veins, but no investment is forthcoming.

Also in 1801, change is afoot internationally as the fighting with France dwindles and a peaceful conclusion draws near. Jenkins writes:

“After the scourge of War and famine which has long threatened the inhabitants of this land, this is the method that they take to manifest their thankfulness for so great a deliverance. Illuminations, Shouting, Bawling, Huzzaing, Cursing, Drinking, Squibbs, rockets and fire balloons are poured out and scattered through Earth and Air, while the poor and needy are neglected and forgotten.”

BACK IN CORNWALL

1802: The Treaty of Amiens temporarily ends hostilities between the French Republic and Britain.

1803: Now back in Cornwall, Samuel Grose is in better spirits as Captain at Wheal Alfred Mine with an engine. “The water is very quick… but I believe we shall be able to endure… I have now a better opinion of Wheal Alfred than I ever had.”

1804: Spain declares war on Britain (again)

1805: Thomas Poole from Nether Stowey in Somerset considers promoting a reopening of the Buckingham Mine at Dodington. (Thomas Poole is a great friend of the poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth and for some time they reside closely) .

1806: The eminent inventor and chemist, Humphry Davy is approached for capital and geological advice regarding the peculiar shell limestone formations in Dodington. He responds advising that:

Miners from Alston Moor and Derbyshire would understand your Country [mines] better than Cornish miners.’

Humphry Davy declines to ‘adventure’ (invest in the mines) because he is saving to embark on a scientific expedition to Norway, Lapland and Sweden.

Pottery mogul Josiah Wedgwood II is also approached to invest, but he’s averse to adventuring money on Somerset Copper mining.

However, the high price of copper attracts interest from other investors and mining again at the Buckingham Mine in Dodington becomes a possibility.

1807: Thomas Poole meets with William Jenkin and Samuel Grose for advice on mining matters. Samuel won’t be persuaded back to Somerset as he is now the Mine Agent at ‘a truly great copper mine’ (Wheal Alfred in Cornwall). Jenkin advises that Samuel Grose might be able to give direction by travelling to Somerset three or four times a year. Jenkin does not get directly involved either, however remains as an active well-wisher and helps recruit Cornish miners for the venture in Somerset.

1808: Thomas Poole travels to Cornwall again to see ‘the mines and gigantic machinery employed about them.’  Jenkin doesn’t meet with him – now weary of the Somerset men merely talking about mining, with no action.

1810: Sweden declares war on Britain

1811: Ardent Methodist, Samuel Grose and John Davey (Mine Agents) begin a Sunday School at Wheal Alfred for 250 to 300 children after observing the:

“…profligacy of the Children of many Labourers in that Mine, -and particularly of those who cannot read.”

1812: William Jenkins writes:

“There is too much Copper bringing to Market for the demand”

and of the Anglo-American war of 1812:

“The American War is a great Evil to the Mining Interest in Cornwall. The price of Copper has been gradually declining as the prospect of Peace receded.”

1814: Proposals are made for reworking Herland Mines near Gwinear. According to William Jenkin, his old nemesis, Matthew Grose, has written “a great, blown-up prospectus” .

“Matthew Grose does not, in my opinion, possess that solid Judgement nor that thinking deliberate turn of mind which I consider an essential ingredient to make a Captain fit to direct so weighty an undertaking. One who can indulge himself in what he calls good living so as to become even now unable to go to the bottom of Wheal Alfred, shall not be the Captain of my choice. I do not think he is truly careful of speaking honestly and truly so as to give his employers clear and honest answers to their enquiries – in short he is not Sam, but Matthew Grose – two men of very different minds.”

1815: Matthew Grose and Richard Nicholls proudly return from London with a long list of Adventurers prepared to invest in the Herland Mines. They specify certain conditions about how they are to be paid. They’ve also discovered a shallow level of Silver in the mine that was overlooked in the former working.

William Jenkin grumbles:

“How it may turn out is past my judgement to say – but I don’t feel very sanguine [optimistic] about it.”

Whilst things are possibly looking up for Matthew Grose, his brother Samuel Grose has been under pressure and has run up a debt of £12,000 on Wheal Alfred because…

“…willing to comply with the clamorous demands of some of the Adventurers, [he] kept out of sight some heavy bills for coals, timber, and other articles in order to make dividends.”

Jenkin ‘trembles for the consequences’… should this mine go down’ with 1200 men, women and children employed there. He suggests it is the secret wish of some for Wheal Alfred to go down because it would cause copper prices to rise again.

1816: In February, Richard Trevithick’s famous, powerful pole-puffer engine is set to work at Herland Mines.

However, by October, Jenkin writes that:

“The Herland business has been so badly managed that the Mine has been stopped for want of money.” 

200 labourers are turned idle.

“I wish it may be the last time that London adventurers become directors and managers of Cornish Mines.”

Meanwhile, Samuel Grose is called to write an account of the Buckingham Mine in Dodington, Somerset for newly interested adventurers, attracted by Thomas Poole again.

Also, 1816 was the year without a summer, with crop failure and food shortages across Britain and beyond. Welsh families became refugees, travelling and begging for food. Global temperatures had decreased by around 0.5°C, possibly due to a volcanic eruption in the East Indies the previous year.

1817: Things seem to have gone from bad to worse in Cornwall. Jenkin writes that:

“The two Parishes of Phillack and Gwinear are very populous, chiefly Miners, and are, I believe, more distressed than any other district in this County, for there is not now one Mine in either of the parishes to give employment to them.”

BACK TO SOMERSET

1817-1820 A new shaft is sunk and an engine-house is erected at Beech Grove, behind Dodington House in Somerset.

beechgrove.jpg

 Beech Grove Engine House © Copyright Nick Chipchase and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

1820: After an absence of twenty seven years, Matthew Grose returns as Mine Captain to Dodington. He supervises the installation of a Boulton & Watt engine in the Beech Grove house.

Shortly afterwards, Matthew requests that the engine be removed from Beech Grove and re-erected at the Sump (Glebe) Shaft to cope with an influx of water.

Matthew Grose writes to John Price on 25 February 1820…

“I am happy to inform you for his Lordship’s information that our prospects in the mine is very good…”

and

“The great increase of water is not a bad symptom, its generally found in all mines the more water, the more ore. I believe shares in this mine may be got at a very easy rate as the pockets of some of the adventurers is very much exhausted, and will not well be able to encounter the expense of removing the engine.”

Disputes arise between various shareholders with the Marquis of Buckingham pressing for a revision of terms and other Adventurers wanting to suspend operations as costs mount. Thomas Poole exercises proxy votes for his friends, forcing the minority to continue. He remains in control for another year.

The engine is moved to the Glebe Engine House as per Matthew Grose’s request. Although good quality copper ore is raised, the mine remains unprofitable.

glebe2.jpg

Glebe Engine House © Copyright Chris Andrews and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The Marquis is offended. He strongly opposed the moving of the engine because it would no longer be on his land, so in the event of closure he will find it harder to secure new adventurers (investors). He blames Matthew Grose (as Mine Captain) for orchestrating the manoeuvre.

Matthew Grose now faces impending closure of the uneconomical mine, loss of earnings and the wrath of an antagonistic Marquis.

Matthew writes to the Estate Steward:

“I have learned with some concern that I am discredited with you… for removing the engine without his Lordship’s leave for doing so… I hope no blame can possibly be attached to me.”

Matthew Grose then goes onto explain his many technical and economic reasons for moving the engine from Beech Grove to the Glebe House and the unavoidable costs involved.

The Marquis’s wrath continues as he expresses more displeasure – he’d been told there were manganese deposits in his mine at Dodington, but these have proved non-existent.

Matthew Grose tries to explain a convoluted catalogue of errors (including an adventurer dying en-route to the mines). He insists the lack of manganese isn’t his fault and blames Richard Symes for mixing up samples of ore:

“Mr Symes says now, the samples he sent must have come from Loxton” [not Dodington]

In August 1820, Matthew tries to restore relations with the Marquis by sending him a box of mineral specimens:

“…esteemed valuable acquisitions…. better collected for a grotto than the cabinet.”

1821: Work ceases at the uneconomical Buckingham Mine in Dodington after an expenditure of £20,000 and paltry sales of ore of £2,500.

Matthew Grose writes to the Marquis, saying he recommended the:

Company to stop the mine altogether rather than continue to work with it in a paltry way. “

He also says:

“I believe that no company that was engaged in mining business was so completely ignorant of the principles of mining, as the Buckingham Mining Company, nor no mine was ever worked in such a shily-shaly way.”

Matthew’s comments about his employer result in his dismissal from the company. He laments:

‘…this extraordinary and unexpected event originated from the belief that I am more inclined to serve his Lordship than the company; though what produced this belief, I know not’

Matthew Grose is instructed to leave the house where he and his family live. No wages are to be paid until he’s complied.

Stubbornly, he remains in residence and becomes captain at a small mine 25 miles west of Dodington (likely Luccombe, or similar in the Alcombe-Wootton Courtenay district).

Matthew Grose writes letters to Thomas Crawford, pleading for employment at the Dodington Mine:

‘no person knows the mine as well as myself’

Crawford responds that:

‘You were the company’s servant and as they have suspended working the mine and do not choose to continue you in their service, I do not know in what way I could help you.’

Matthew Grose is not easily silenced and in June 1821, he indignantly writes to Thomas Crawford again:

‘what right has the company to sell gravel from the mine and carry off so much without making acknowledgement to his Lordship?’

and

‘I keep the keys of the counting house, the office and materials house… A small stipend [salary] with the little I receive from the mine in the west will serve to keep my head above water. I ask no more till it is settled.’

In September, five months after his dismissal, Matthew is offered his wages, only payable up until when the mine had ceased work. He rejects the offer, demanding his salary right up until September. He also rejects their demand that he pay rent on the house.

1822: In August the company surrenders the mining lease. Some adventurers remain interested and want to continue some operations. The Marquis obtains a new report on the mine from Alfred Jenkin and Captain Francis, but it is unfavourable and deters investors.

Matthew Grose remains steadfast and faithful to the mine, despite failing health and an empty pocket. He writes a new prospectus, desperately trying to promote for a new company to rework the Dodington mine. Refusing to return to Cornwall, he lingers on in poverty at Dodington.

1823: Matthew wins the interest of Charles Carne of Exeter who liaises with Matthew Grose’s son John.

Carne applies for a mining lease at the Buckingham Mines, Dodington, but struggles to agree terms.

1824: In February, Charles Carne arranges a meeting with interested parties at the Royal Inn in Bridgwater to raise capital for a new engine for Dodington. Unfortunately the meeting does not happen because Charles Carne has been imprisoned in Exeter ‘by means of a most unlucky adventure in a tin mine in Cornwall.’

According to the book, “Men & Mining on the Quantocks (by J.R. Hamilton and J.F. Lawrence)”, Matthew Grose dies as a ‘starving pauper’ in ‘grinding poverty’ and is buried at Dodington Churchyard on 11 May 1824.

This date concurs with Matthew’s burial record in 1824 and the information from his Memorial which was erected in Gwinear, Cornwall.

Conclusion:

Matthew and Samuel Grose’s mining adventures (and misadventures) show the struggle between the reality of mining economics and the optimism of miners.

In the book, “The Historic Lanscape of the Quantock Hills”, Archaeologist, Hazel Riley pays tribute to Matthew Grose’s final bold project:

“The Glebe engine house survives virtually intact to its original roof level. The scatter of red tile fragments around its base shows that it originally had a tiled roof. A large infilled shaft, some 16m in diameter, lies to the south of the engine house and spoil heaps lie to the east. The thick bob wall was on the southeast, the cylinder opening, with a brick arch, was in the northwest wall. Some good quality copper ore was raised from these deeper levels: 100 tons of ore from the Buckingham mines was sampled and shipped from Combwich in 1820 when it was described as ‘rich and of prime quality’ (Hamilton and Lawrence 1970, 62). The engine houses are remarkable testaments to the business acumen of Tom Poole and the practical enthusiasm of Matthew Grose, the mine captain. The Glebe engine house is the oldest intact beam engine house in southwest England (Stanier 2003).”

glebe

Glebe Engine House and ruined Miners’ Store © Copyright Nick Chipchase and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Resources and Further Reading:

Books:

  • “Men & Mining on the Quantocks” (Second edition) by J.R. Hamilton and J.F. Lawrence
  • “News from Cornwall” by A.K. Hamilton Jenkin
  • “Mines and Miners of Cornwall (Hayle, Gwinear & Gwithian)” by A.K. Hamilton Jenkin
  • “The Historic Landscape of the Quantock Hills” by Hazel Riley (free: here See pages 148-150)

Websites:

As always, please comment or make contact about this post!