Townshend Village History

Townshend derives its name from a branch of the Godolphin family who owned a large estate of great mineral wealth in an area centred on 15th century Godolphin House. The Godolphin name is famous worldwide as it was this family that developed the bloodstock from which racehorses descend. On the death of the 2nd Earl in 1766 the estate passed via his daughter to the Duke of Leeds (the Osborne family). As with many great estates, large swathes were sold off after the Great War and the Grade I listed House is now owned by the National Trust which lets it as an up-market holiday venue.

Throughout what follows you may notice many names whose descendants can be traced locally today and who still play an active part in village life, including some of those who appear in the 1851, 1881 and 1901 censuses which show the variety of occupations that made small communities self-sufficient.

Most often listed were those working in mining, closely followed by farming and widows. There was a definite distinction made at that time between copper and tin minors (sic).

Many villagers worked at Troon Mine in the late 19th century, walking there early on a Monday and returning the following Saturday whilst most cottagers grew flowers to supplement income and there is still evidence in the hedgerows of escaped daffodils, narcissi and violets etc.

Extracts from the Census

1851 Census - Joseph Pascoe and wife Mary kept the Inn, with 19yo Cathrine Brown as their housekeeper. It’s notable how many cobblers there were in the population so it must have been one of the important support jobs. John Bolitho was a boot and shoemaker, Richard Taylor and his 14yo son John also followed this occupation and John, a bachelor, was still plying his trade in 1881, boarding with Mary Simmons and her cousin who were grocers. There was another John Taylor working as a cordwainer with his lodger William Monday. Richard Taylor’s son George, (b1857) had also tied himself to the cobblers’ last and was supporting his mother, who by 1881 was widowed.

Thomas Seaddon is described as ‘working to mine’ i.e. on the surface, but was only aged 10. Thomas Simmons was the Schoolmaster.

By now, the Woolcocks had arrived at Noonvares and were tin mining whilst another Woolcock farmed 27.5 acres, living in Noonvares Farm House.


1881 Census - Julia Pearce is entered as unmarried and retired with two small children. She was just 26! The main women’s occupations were charwomen, dressmakers and tin stamps “girls” some of whom were nevertheless quite old.

William Steavens was working as a tin dresser aged 75 and Peter James was keeping a shop as well as farming 30 acres.

William Woolcock had become the landlord of Townshend Inn as well as being a copper miner but why was his eldest son born in Liverpool? – that’s the port many miners embarked from at about this time to try their luck in America as Cornish mining went into rapid decline. John Leon with his son Alfred (17) were millers with Johnson Leon (13) miller’s boy.

James Connor was a grocer and tea dealer who was still in business by the 1901 census. Jane Atkins must have been better off than most other widows, being listed as an annuitant and James Pearce was training horses at Kertonwood. Later there were Pearces at Kirthen Water.

1901 Census - The descendants of the Brees who were living at Kertonwood are still there. Jonathan Bettens was one of several listed as dynamite factory hand. Was Charles Cock being a bit above himself in calling his occupation Egg and Tea Dealer because it’s been crossed out and replaced with ‘grocer’?

Another well known local family was now working at the cutting edge of technology. Wearne Ivey was driving traction engines whilst Sydney Hampton was teaching at the elementary school at the tender age of 17 and Jeremiah Bettens had become an insurance agent.

Berrymans still farm at Paul’s Green but 1901 farmer Richard Berryman had another distinct job as Buss (sic) Proprietor whilst Andrew Laity was running a horse stud at Godolphin Bridge.

Banfield Vivian and Francis Chown had separate medical practices and Jane Winn, by now widowed, was running the smithy with her 14yo son listed as the blacksmith. Grenville Berryman was another smith at Paul’s Green. Robert Wilson drove bullocks at Noonvares and 40yo William Henry Mitchell was an egg collector. The cemetery at Townshend Chapel and the Great War memorial bear testimony to many Mitchells living in the area.