From 1809 to 1856 John Davy lived in North Hill and latterly farmed at Glubhole Farm. The story of this brief sojourn of the Davy family in North Hill commences with the sad death of 25 year old John Peter. He was a member of the long established Peter family of North Hill, some of whom are still in the parish today.

The Peter Family

John Peter was born in 1784, the son of Arthur Peter and Mary (nee Aunger). John's lineage can be traced back to before the English Civil War and includes the Luskey family. Both the Peter and Luskey families were North Hill families of the gentleman class and held land as both owners and occupiers, in the parish and elsewhere. Indeed, when John's grandfather, Arthur Peter (1703-1773) died a decade before John was born, his estate included property in North Hill, Linkinhorne, St Cleer and Davidstow. Whilst the Peter and Luskey families were not as high in status as the Rodd family of Trebartha Hall, nonetheless they were influential in and around the area.

John Peter had married in St Torney's in the spring of 1807 to Ann Cullis from Werrington and it is probable that she married above the social status of the time. She had two sisters and all three were the illegitimate daughters of Joan Cullis of Werrrington. John, on the other hand, was the younger of two brothers. Their father was the eldest surviving son of Arthur Peter, the one who had property in the places described above. Whilst it is expected that John's elder brother would receive the bulk of the Peter estate at the appropriate time, it is probable that John was also reasonably wealthy. After 2½ years of his marriage to Ann, which had produced no children, John died in September 1809 aged 25. He had written his will shortly after their marriage in 1807 and, other than a bequest of £10 to his 5 year old niece, Jane Foott, he left his entire estate of property and personal effects to his wife. Ann Peter remarried to John Davy in St Torney's just before Christmas 1809, just 99 days after the burial of her husband.

John Davy

John Davy's life before he married Ann is not known. At the time of their marriage he was recorded as a tailor. This was not usually considered in rural communities to be an occupation that provides any wealth. In the 1851 census his birthplace is recorded as Tavistock in Devon and from his age it seems he was born about 1787, as was Ann.

It will be clear from the following paragraphs that amongst other places the couple had significant interests in the tenements of Churchtown, Glubhole and Addicroft, all in North Hill. Their wealth can be explained by the inheritance received by Ann upon her first husband's death. Under the property laws at the time Ann's possessions would become her new husband's possessions upon their marriage. If John Davy had any personal wealth before the marriage, the record that informs us of this has not been found.

The day before their wedding they entered into a pre-nuptial agreement that confirmed the tenancy of some lands they owned to Edward Coumbe (1754-1830), the landlord of the Ring o' Bells tavern in North Hill. This transaction may be honouring an agreement between John Peter, before his death, and Edward Coumbe. The lands in question were primarily part of the Glubhole and Churchtown tenements. Edward would have farmed the land, employing agricultural labourers to do the bulk of the work. The Davy surname, with spelling variants such as Davey and Davie, is a common name in Cornwall and Devon but in North Hill the incidence of the name is much less. It would appear to be more than coincidence, therefore, that the innkeeper Edward Coumbe's brother, John Coumbe, married a Mary Davy in North Hill in 1774. The family link between John Davy and Mary Davy, if it exists, has not been found in the available records.

According to Truly Rural John Davy was a yeoman and was strongly involved with the Methodist Wesleyan movement in North Hill. In 1827 he was a teacher at the chapel; in 1834 a class instructor; in 1832/4 a school superintendent.

John and Ann had two children, both daughters and they named them Elizabeth and Mary Anne. It isn't likely that they were twins but they were baptised together in St Torney's church on 12 May 1818, Elizabeth probably being a toddler and Mary Anne a baby.

Legal Transactions

From 1810 to 1856 John and Ann Davy were parties in several land transactions:

  • 1810 - According to Truly Rural this was when the land for the North Hill Wesleyan Chapel was secured. We learn from a 1911 newspaper report that it was Ann Davey (sic) who gave the land from her holding of the Churchtown tenement. The chapel is shown here.
  • 7 Dec 1811 - Deed to Levy a Fine
    This was a transaction between "John Davy of North Hill, yeoman, and wife, Ann" and "Thomas Jasper of North Hill, yeoman". The property involved was part of tenements in Altarnun (occupied by William Foot), in St Cleer (occupied by Edward Peter, the brother of Ann's first husband), Addicroft (occupied by John Davy) and parcels of land in North Hill (occupied by John Elford). This appeared to convey the ownership to Thomas Jasper but was a legal ruse by which the status of these properties could be changed to freehold. This would enable John and Ann Davy to use the property or sell it without reference to any third party.
  • 5 Feb 1818 - Deed of Appointment
    This transaction sold parts of the Churchtown tenement to Francis Hearle Rodd of Trebartha Hall. It realised £1200 for John and Ann Davy. This equates to almost £100,000 in 21st century values.
  • 8 Sep 1820 - Mortgage
    John and Ann, along with John Williams of Gwennap, raised a £500 mortgage using Addicoft as security. This is likely to be in support of the Wesleyan movement. The lenders were Matthew Wevill and William Luskey, both of North Hill.
  • 2 Jul 1822 - Lease
    Two recently built cottages and associated gardens and small fields at Addicroft were leased to a labourer, Simon Smeeth of Trewen. It is probable that he was also part of the Wesleyan movement.
  • 16 Dec 1825 - Lease and release
    Addicroft in North Hill was sold to Francis Hearle Rodd who paid £500 to Matthew Wevill to redeem the mortgage taken out in 1820; Francis also paid £1,100 to John and Ann Davy. This would indicate that the value of property was £1,600. The two cottages leased to Simon Smeeth in 1822 were included in this transaction.
  • 10 Oct 1840 - Mortgage
    John and Ann borrowed £500 from Richard Geake of Egloskerry, using Glubhole and the remaining parcels of land in the Churchtown tenements as security. This set of documents includes a certificate acknowledging the deed was signed by a married woman.
  • 12 Oct 1840 - Tithe Apportionment (see map)
    This assessment shows Addicroft and Churchtown tenements in the possession of Francis Rodd and not occupied by any of the Davy family; it shows Glubhole as owned and occupied by John Davy; it shows Newhams tenement rented by John Davy from The Duke of Cornwall, Anne Heydon and the Reverend Thomas Adams Collings. Thomas Colling was a vicar in Plymouth and descendant of the Colling and Luskey families of North Hill. Whilst Glubhole was almost exclusively arable farming, Newhams offered pasture for animals and furze for fuel.
  • 10 Feb 1852 - Transfer of Mortgage
    The debt of £500 owed to Richard Geake and secured against Glubhole was taken over by Edward Parson of St Winnow.
  • 18 Mar 1856 - Sale of Glubhole
    The last remaining property owned by the Davy family in North Hill was Glubhole and this was sold to Francis Rodd of Trebartha Hall. He paid £500 to Edward Parson to redeem the mortgage and £1,100 to John and Ann Davy. The deed also included the remaining parcels of land in the Churchtown tenement, one quarter part of tenement in Altarnun (240 acres) called Smith's tenement (which features in the 1811 deed), in the occupation of Richard Bray and a moiety (a portion, usually a half) of Newham's tenement which was part of the Duchy of Cornwall Estate (about 52 acres).
(Extract from the tithe map has been reproduced with the kind permission of Kresen Kernow ref: AD1409/1)


The Cornish Economy and Emigration

The following has been taken from "Cornish Studies Resources - The Great Emigration" by Bernard Deacon. This is an important component in the story of the Davy family, as with many other Cornish families.

"The history of the Cornish mining industry is key to understanding the history of Cornish emigration. As early as the 1820s Cornish miners were sought after for their skills and migrated, often on temporary contracts, to Central and South America as well as to metal mines in Wales and northern England. In the 1830s and 40s, this trickle became a flood as mass emigration began to North America. Some of this was at first from marginal and impoverished farming districts in north Cornwall but the majority was from mining areas that at this time were still growing. Later, when the economic tide turned against Cornish mining in the 1870s, it was the declining rural mining parishes that supplied the bulk of migrants.

"Most emigrants from the 1840s to the 1870s went to Australia or North America, although the Australian stream was reduced thereafter while emigration to the States continued at a high level. In the 1890s there was a short-term surge to South Africa as gold mines were opened up in the Transvaal. By the 1900s inter-continental movement of Cornish miners was well-established, moving between overseas destinations and returning to Cornwall, depending on the changing fortunes of the global mining economy."

John and Ann's elder daughter - Elizabeth Davy

Elizabeth married in her early twenties in 1838 to Edmund Turner of Egloskerry, in his village church. They were to become important figures in their time in Egloskerry. Edmund was schoolmaster, printer and post office receiver; Elizabeth was the schoolmistress. Between 1839 and 1855 they had six children, one of whom was named Edmund after his father and grandfather. At the age of 7, young Edmund 'wrote' his account of his family, prompted by the arrival of census enumerator in 1851; actually it was written in 2021 by Ann Nelson but reflects the family status from Edmund's perspective; it can be read by clicking on this image. Ann, Edmund's 'ghost writer', is married to one of Edmund's descendants, Fred Nelson.

John and Ann's younger daughter - Mary Anne Davy

Mary Anne married a year later in St Torney's to William Hornabrook Smith, also of Egloskerry. William moved to Glubhole and as time went by and John Davy grew older, William took over the running of the farm. Mary Anne had seven children by William and they were all baptised in St Torney's, viz: John (1839); Sydney (1840); Elizabeth Anne (1842); William Davy (1845 - adopting a mother's maiden name as the middle name of a child was commonplace); Eliza Mary (1847); Joseph (1850); Alfred (1852). The family are recorded in "Edmund's account"; click on the image to read it.

Emigration to Canada

Having settled all their financial dealings it seems that the whole family, John, Ann, the Turners of Egloskerry and the Smiths of Glubhole finalised their plan and emigrated to Ontario in Canada where the family flourished.

Ann and John died in Canada. They are buried there along with their children and succeeding generations. Some gravestones of the family have survived and can be seen in Carlingford Union Cemetery, Carlingford, Perth County, Ontario, Canada. Images of the headstones have been collected by the Find A Grave website and can be seen by clicking on the image of Mary Ann (Davy) Smith's shown here.

The family never forgot their North Hill roots despite living so far away and news of events in the parish reached them in Canada. In March 1911 The Cornish and Devon Post reported on a fund raising venture for the benefit of the North Hill Wesleyan Chapel which was being re-opened after renovation. Part of that report includes the following:

"The response to the appeal for help has been liberal in large as well as small sums of money, and in horse labour in drawing material, etc. that to give a list would be too great a labour, but perhaps mention might be made of the fact that not only at home but from the United States and Canada has come financial help and even the green dollar bill, in memory of the old homeland. Some of those are Mr Peter Buckingham and Mrs Sydney Smith, whose late husband's grandmother, Mrs Davey (sic), of Glubhole, gave the land for the chapel, also Mr J Doney and Mr J Foott, have been away from the old home for 30, 40 and 50 years."

The image at the top of the page is Glubhole Farm, taken in 2009.