Drivers of Industry in 4 different places and Reflections closer to home #SticklepathOPS #Sticklepath #OnePlaceWednesday #OnePlaceStudies

What a fantastic webinar with the Society for One-Place studies last night.  4 eloquent speakers and respected researchers presented different aspects with thought provoking case studies. All to an audience of only 30, it merited far more.  Here are my very brief notes which do not do it justice, with apologies for any errors. 

Dr Sadie McMullon started with the brick works in Fletton Parish OPS near Peterborough.  Much it seems is owed to the then Bishop of Peterborough who refused to have railways on his land.  East station therefore had to be sited on the outskirts at Fletton, which meant the brick industry there could thrive.  Another factor was the local clay.  This clay powders when dry so the Fletton brick-making process involves compressing that powder 4 times.  Saving valuable time drying bricks prior to firing.  Having seen piles of mud bricks drying by the Nile or in Malawi I was aware the impact this industry could have on the environment, but in Fletton it was perhaps more industrial buildings and firing the bricks that impacted the locality. With a booming industry and plenty of employment there were likely few complaints!  

M.Diane Rogers talked about the establishment of Newdale, Manitoba, Canada, her One-Place study. On the flat prairies with no trees or stone they too needed a brick industry.  The main drivers for settlement were Government initiatives for settlers, and the Railways.  Small railway companies were given incentives (money and land) to take the railway to small places, essentially colonisation railway lines.  In fact Newdale moved in 1885, leaving “Olddale” and establishing a new Newdale close by.  As well as incentives to move there were reasons why 40,000 or so folk moved from Ontario to Manitoba.  Ontario had little land left to buy or for families to inherit.  Often successful settlers moved with families , and good contacts were essential.  A local who would share with you how to survive the harsh winters, which were many in the first decades.  Of course services such as retail shops, pharmacies etc were needed and Newdale supplied almost 200 small settlements close by, again ensuring success.  For individuals such as a blacksmith harsh weather necessitating more frequent changes of horseshoes was beneficial.  So some elements of success, drivers of industry, were down to luck too.

Jude Rhodes talked about a West Yorkshire coal miner Joseph Hemingway who somehow, though time spent in America perhaps in a ‘Land Grant College’ was able to return home as a Flock Manufacturer and Mill Owner.  This mill was renowned for belching horrendous smoke, and sadly he became bankrupt 1881 when a fire left it uneconomic.  However, by 1890 he had bounced back and was a Professor and Mine Superintendent of a coal mine, and highly regarded as a mining engineer.  His personal drive seems to have been insurmountable!

Jane Barton talked about agricultural workers in the Boltons of Cumberland.  I always talk about farm work as being by far the most common work in 1851 in Sticklepath when you include farmers, their families and the farm servants and agricultural labourers.  Jane pointed out, quite rightly, that by 1911 getting farm work was very difficult.  With increasing mechanisation it was not the farmers or their families that missed out initially, but the employees.  The Great War compounded this and on returning from military service many soldiers found it impossible to regain work as Ag. Labs. It was therefore important to diversify, and what people did depended on the generation, timing, and opportunities that presented themselves.  This was well illustrated by a family case study. 

So lots of challenges and thoughts arise:

Don’t assume all clay or all bricks are the same.  My own family had connections with the Cornish China Clay industry so this should not have been a surprise! (For more examples See UKnamedBricks).  Whatever the industry, ask lots and lots of questions to understand why this was a success or failure at this time and place. 

Always consider the surroundings, the landscape (opportunities and impact of the industry)  Transport links too, bringing workers, as well as transporting supplies and manufactured goods.  Does a change in transport mirror the success or failure of an industry?  Perhaps it is mechanisation or other new development?  Mechanisation saw the downfall of handmade edge tools as in Sticklepath. 

Sources include business records, advertisements, sales and bankruptcies, directories, retirements and celebrations as well as accidents, health problems arising, and court cases (often disputes over land or lack of employee well-being).

The Influence of landowners – I will come back to this – or the prospect of owning land.

Don’t assume low class villagers won’t make something of themselves!  Many failed when settling in a foreign land but others thrived.  Similarly those changing their life situation in whatever way, or when disaster struck. Some are in a position to flourish.

So what of Sticklepath, my own One-Place study?  In the middle of Devon, a largely agricultural area on the geological ‘Sticklepath Fault’, most villagers found employment either on farms or in the mines and quarries. (Of course there were also more than our fair share of millers and blacksmiths as discussed previously).  Sticklepath is surrounded by mines and quarries which have come and gone over time.  Mines at both Greenhill (Belstone Parish) and Ramsley (South Zeal, South Tawton Parish) employed Sticklepath men and produced high grade copper ore from at least the mid 19th century into the early 20th century. 

Quarry workers Sticklepath

Much of the following information comes from <a href="http://&lt;!– wp:paragraph –> <p><a href=""></a></p&gt; South Tawton and District Local History Group, work by Gerald Bastable “Ramsey Mine”

Industry could influence development of transport links:

“A railway is projected from this station to Okehampton, which, if carried out will be of vast benefit to the locality. A few good mines opening will undoubtedly be a great stimulus towards its being made, as the carriage of their ores and materials must necessarily form a considerable item in their returns.” (Source unclear, c1860)

Census records our for local villages, 1851—81, show various miners. Sadly they don’t tell us where they worked. Others may have been working away on census night, Sticklepath workers are known to have walked across Dartmoor to Princeton, on a Sunday, perhaps to quarry granite or mine tin at Whiteworks, returning home the following Saturday. 

This seriously under-estimates the impact of the mines and quarries on employment. Many other tradesmen worked at the mine, masons, smiths and carpenters. I am not sure how the copper mines were constructed but certainly the Forestry Commission, which had a big impact on the environment with quicker growing conifers, produced pit props for constructing coal mines.  (The coroner’s case below also refers to timber supports at Ramsley.) 

Bowden’s Haulage, Sticklepath, Lorry carrying Pit Props.

Mines and quarries of course leave scars in the landscape, spoil heaps and the noise of machinery mining, crushing and processing stone or ores. Many remain unsuitable for housing and are developed as wildlife areas.

 Ramsley Hill Copper Mine changed hands and therefore name frequently. In 1825 there is possible evidence of mining activities, and it is said rich ores were found when constructing the new road 1829.

Name changes:

1850  Fursdon Mine. Adit opened 1850. 

1851 Exploratory adit. Local syndicate 

1851-1856 Fursdon Mine, listed as Manor Mine 1854 (Lead)

1852-1853 Lease sold to London Co. in another part of sett. 

1856-1857 Devon Copper and Silver Lead Mine. 

1857-1859 Ramsley Hill Mining Company Ltd. Formed to take over Manor Mine, liquidated 1858.

1859  Fursdon Mining Company Ltd. 

1860 George Fursdon – Lord of the Manor. Celebration of new 50’x4′ wheel for shaft “Ellen” 

1862 – 45 employed.

1870-1883. Fursdon Great Consolidated Mining Company Ltd. M. E. Jobling Manager 1876 title changed to Wheal Emily. 

1881 Sett taken over by Emily Copper Mines aka Wheal Emily. 

M.E. Jobling and friends spent considerable money on the mine. 

1882-1888 Emily Copper Mines Ltd. Jobling was manager and vendor.

1888 became South Tawton Copper Mines Ltd. (Emily Copper Mines Ltd. adjoined Ramsley Hill Mines.)

1900-1912. Ramsley Exploration Company.

You may think it strange I only mention Mr Jobling by name, but I have met him before and he perhaps demonstrates how individual factors can influence the industry chosen.

Mark Ernest Jobling was born on 21 July 1844 in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland. He married Emily Cross on 7 April 1868. They had four children during their marriage. He lived at Cleave House Sticklepath June 1901, as he gives this address when signing a lease for a Manganese Mine in Milton Abbot (Held in Plymouth Archive). He died on 12 September 1921 at the age of 77, his residence at the time was Ramsley House, South Tawton.

Digging a little deeper into his background, his brother James A Jobling took over a failing glassworks in Sunderland. When his nephew, Ernest Purser, became the manager in 1902 the company started to make major investments, moving towards a profit. They soon become very well known as manufacturers of Pyrex in Great Britain and the Empire (excluding Canada). The workforce increased from about 100 in 1900 to over 1000 in 1930.  Glass manufacture requires minerals such as manganese.  So I surmise there was a family link that meant Mark Jobling was encouraged to pursue a mining career. 

There were other mining activities in the area of Sticklepath:

1844 Ford Farm Arsenic and Copper Works. Shaft in wood 150 yds SW of farm. 1900 and 1910 local company ran out of money.

1869 Cawsand Vale Mining Company Ltd. 

1853 South Tawton Consols.

1856 Zeal Manor Mine. 

1859 Zeal Manor Mining Company Ltd.

1862-1873 West Fursdon aka Owlsfoot.1873

Greenhill too.  The Quarry seen on The Mount in Sticklepath produced Blue Elvin stone, highly regarded for road building.  However, ours was too tough, too hard to crush to a suitable size so was soon abandoned.  

There were many accidents (See this report from a coroner’s case in Sticklepath, quite graphic) and various mining and quarrying industries had an impact on health.  

 St John’s ambulance started their famous First Aid Courses with mining companies.  As Sticklepath had several mines and quarries which would have taken part, so Albany Finch would likely have joined their workers, doing a first aid course to keep his Finch Foundry workers safe. They did, of course, supply specialist tools and other supplies to various mining and quarrying concerns. This is his certificate 1896:

Sticklepath’s mining and quarrying industries deserve far more research – when time allows!  But I finish with this quote hinting at the thrill of prospecting (gambling!) and some of the barriers presented by, often powerful, landlords.

“A strong prejudice against mining operations is entertained by certain landlords who have properties here, induced in some degree by the gross mis-management hitherto practised. This will, however, be soon dispelled if a good mine or two be opened; nothing has a greater tendency to do so. The desire for increase of riches from beneath the soil is very infectious; it not only enriches the proprietor, but confers a benefit on the entire population. it is money found.”  (Source not clear, perhaps c1860, <a href="http://&lt;!– wp:paragraph –> <p><a href=""></a></p&gt; South Tawton and District Local History Group, work by Gerald Bastable “Ramsey Mine”)


Sampford Courtenay was the Parish Church of most Sticklepath villagers

Michael Garlick / Sampford Courtenay: St. Andrew’s Church (Original Page)

Auntie Kate has often told of the rebellious nature of them folk at Sampford Courtenay. Twas not only the Prayerbook rebellion… but Musical Mutineers too! One can not imagine the genteel choir of today breaking down the door!!! But in August 99 years ago…

Extract from PATRIOT Wednesday 23 October 1833 a accessed via Britishnewspaperarchive

“The Church of Sampford Courtenay was the scene of a curious occurrence on Sunday, the 29th ult. :—

The Rev. clergyman entered his desk and commenced the service as usual, when shortly afterwards some members of the choir came into the church, bringing their musical instruments with them. The Rev. Gent., as if suddenly paralyzed, made a dead stop, and the pause continued for nearly three quarters of an hour.

This dread and solemn silence was broken at times by a few whispers, and an occasional titter from the thoughtless; at length the serious people fancying they had had enough of nothing, arose from their seats, and a general disposition for a clearance was manifested.

The parson, to arrest this defection, now stepped into the vestry-room, and sending for the leader of the choir, informed him that the service would not be proceeded with till the musical instruments were removed. The leader expostulated, but the parson was inexorable, and so returning into the church, the leader in a loud voice, proclaimed the mandate of the Rev. Gent.

The choir determined to take themselves and their instruments out together, and proceeded to the school-room, in order that they should not be deprived of the customary exercise of music, in which they indulged themselves on the Sabbath. Their friends followed them, and the church was nearly empty; but here they were frustrated, for the parson anticipating their movement, had deprived them of the key; they became desperate, and broke open the door.

We leave the reader to draw his own picture of the state of excitement into which such strange conduct must have thrown such an excellent parish as that of Sampford Courtenay.”


Miss E. A. Seward – A valuable obituary?

Elizabeth Ann Seward is not a direct ancestor of anyone. She never married. Yet we can learn so much diverse information from the newspaper report of her funeral, a transcription of which you can find below.

She was well respected, and at the grand old age of 87 years, many attended her funeral. Nowadays, sadly, many of us will spend our last months in a care facility, often many miles from our friends, associates and neighbours (FANS). Perhaps by virtue of being ‘out of sight’, and perhaps because those FANS don’t know about the funeral until too late, perhaps because families are much more spread out geographically and tend to be smaller, funerals may be poorly attended. Covid of course adds another level to that, with many social activities being curtailed, and numbers attending funerals restricted in recent times.

The newspaper gives useful genealogical details including her full name, age, address, and a number of relationships such as nieces and nephews. Often, particularly for men, occupation is included. In fact we learn here that her cousin John was church warden for many years.

Hints at character are often included – ‘A prominent member of the Women’s Institute’ (WI) she was ‘closely associated with the social activity of the village’ somehow implies lady-like activities, not that she was down the pub every evening or a loose woman!

Church was clearly important, to her cousin if not Miss Seward herself, since she donated a stained-glass church window in his honour.

I was aware of the WI, though we now know it was already going strong in the village in 1939. However, I learn of the ‘Belstone, Sticklepath and Sampford Courtenay Nursing Association’, of which she was President for many years. Their floral tribute tells of her ‘generosity and kindness’ to the nurses and association. We also find the secretary is called Miss Reynolds. Further research shows 156 donors to the association and that Albany Finch took over as the President (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette – Friday 04 August 1939).

I spot another floral tribute was sent by my great grandmother, widow of an Ag Lab, and wonder what the connection there was. Perhaps consider which of your ancestors was a contemporary too.

There is mention of the vicar being Rector of ‘Belstone with Sticklepath’, which might alert us to the fact that responsibility for the Sticklepath residents was passed from one vicar to another in different parishes over time.

There is also a hint about funerary customs – the bearers are listed, which is not surprising, but mention is also made of ‘A number of neighbours’ who ‘acted as relief bearers’. The coffin must have been carried a reasonable distance to require one or more teams of relief bearers. Her house, Sunnyside, pictured above, lies about mid-way between the church and cemetery, which are about 100 yards apart. Even a fairly wealthy woman was carried then, not taken by hearse.

My point? It is worth reading about funerals and other events taking place where your relatives lived, even if they were not themselves present. You may just pick up something that helps to put their life in context. Like any source, information should be confirmed where possible and often many new research questions arise – why, for instance, did she come to the village as a child? Where did her money come from to allow such generosity? Who benefitted after her death?

(Although I have used the tribute below, a fuller account can be found on her memorial on Findagrave using the Western Times 3 February 1939 report).

Western Morning News – Tuesday 31 January 1939 accessed via

STICKLEPATH FUNERAL Last Tributes To Miss E. A. Seward.

Many mourners attended the funeral at Sticklepath Church yesterday of Miss Elizabeth Ann Seward, of Sunnyside. Sticklepath, aged 87. Miss Seward went to Sticklepath to live in her early childhood, and during her life had been closely associated with the social activity of the village. She was president for many years of the Belstone, Sticklepath, and Sampford Courtenay Nursing Association, and a prominent member of the Women’s Institute. Some time ago she was the donor of a stained-glass window to Sticklepath Church, in memory of Mr. John Cook, her cousin, who was a churchwarden for many years.

The service was conducted by Rev. C. Lister James (rector of Belstone-with-Sticklepath). Family mourners were Miss B. W. Seward and Miss M. W. Seward, nieces; Mr. and Mrs. Jack Tucker (Crook-Burnell), Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Hawkins (Waterslade), Misses Ada and Elsie Colwill (Hatherleigh), and Mr. Ashley Hopper (North Tawton). Mr. Frank Seward (nephew) was unable to attend.

Bearers were Messrs. J. Cooper, G. Brooks, J. Newcombe. A. Bowden. T. Holman, and G. W. Hellier. A number of neighbours acted as relief bearers.

THE MOURNERS. Among the mourners were Com G. Aldwell R.N., Mr J J. Newcombe (clerk to Okehampton Town Council) and Mrs. B. B. Newcombe (Okehampton). Messrs. C. Counter. Wright, Sleeman. J Cook. Harvey. Bowden. Wonnacott. Brook, R. Finch. E. Heggador,. C. Bowden. J. Newcombe, E. Hull. R. Bennett. A. Hopper. F Richards and A. G. French Mesdames E. C. Maynard. E. Heggarion, Simpson-Grey. M A Bowden. E. Tucker, F. Wonnacott. Cooke. Lethbridge, E Bowden. E Tucker. A. Bowden. S. Bowden. Jones E. Jones. Mr. and Mrs A. J Crews (Plymouth), ard Mrs. S. Yeo, Mr. and Mrs. F Fielder. Misses Alder Brown, Stewart. Mesney. E. Ireson. Warn. H. Heggadon. E. Cobbledick. Reynolds (secretary of the District Nursing Association). Littlejohns. and Nurse Gator.

Floral tributes were sent by Frank and May, Bessie and Mary; Margaret and Cary: Annie: Mrs Sloman and Miss Hockaday (Honeychurch); Mrs. Minnie Tucker and Lena (Mitcham. Surrey); Mrs M A. Bowden; Miss A. C. Watson (Plymouth); Dr. and Mrs Maynard: Elderton ar.d Miss Stewart: Mrs and Miss Miss A. C. Hastie, Mr. and Mrs Freeman (Berryfield. Mrs. and the Misses Colwill Hatherleigh; Mr and Mrs. Edgar Hawkins (Waterslade). Com. and Mrs Metherell (New Milton): Miss Reynolds: “In grateful memory of much generosity and kindness to the Nursing Association”: members of the Women’s Institute.