Doney "Blacksmith" Doney

There were five men, across five generations, known as ‘Tailor Doney’ in North Hill, from about 1740 to 1923.

  • Generation 1 - Around 1740 John Doney (c1715-1766) arrived in North Hill with his wife Wilmot and their first three children. They had previously lived in St Neot, St Cleer and South Petherwin. John was a tailor by trade and he set up home in Kingbear. When he died in 1766 the tailoring business and home was taken over by his eldest son, William.
  • Generation 2 - William (1725-1808) had maried Elizabeth Souther and they named their eldest son John. John grew up learning the family trade and it was his turn to assume the epithet “Tailor Doney” when his father died in 1808. (The cartoon is an image of tailors from the early 1800s).
  • Generation 3 - John (1760-1828) had married a local girl, Elizabeth Caunter in 1787 and they had nine children. The first four were girls and the fifth was their son, John, who died as an infant. The sixth child was also a boy, born in 1802, and also named John. He was also to marry a local girl, Jenny Foott, and become the fourth generation of Tailors Doney in North Hill.
  • Generation 4 - John (1802-1870), Jenny and the family were still living at Kingbear as can be seen in the newspaper report of the trial of Jane Harvey in 1858. John died in 1870 and the tailoring passed to his son, John Doney, who had been born in 1841. John and Jenny's daughter Elizabeth Doney married Edward Chubb and they are the direct ancestors of WW2 casualty, Leslie Maunder (1924-1945).
  • Generation 5 - This, the fifth generation of tailors in North Hill, would prove to be the last. John (b1841) kept up his trade as a tailor whilst living at Kingbear and then when he moved to nearby Port Lane, and later in South Petherwin. He married Ellen Coad who died in 1875 and then remarried Mary Ann Harris (nee Ruse) in Plymouth in 1896. His last known residence was Trecrogo Lane End in South Petherwin in 1911. Mary died in 1917 and John died in 1923. He passed his tailoring skills onto his teenage son, Nathan, but at some point in the 1880s Nathan gave up tailoring for gardening.


John Doney (1843-1923) moves to London

The youngest son of John Doney (Generation 3, above) was James and he was born in North Hill in 1808.

When he was almost 34 years old, James married Jane Lean, a widow. Jane had been born in St Minver in 1809, the daughter of Moses Sloggett. Jane married Robert Lean in May 1833 in Egloshayle, but he was her husband for less than a year. He drowned in February 1834 in an accident at Trevilling Cove in the estuary of the River Camel. By 1841 Jane had a position as a servant in Trebartha Hall in North Hill. At the time James was living in Coad’s Green and being descended from this long line of tailors was recorded, unsurprisingly, as a tailor. Living with him was his 18 year old (listed as 15 on the census) niece, Elizabeth Doney and a lodger William Northey, 65 and a farm labourer. James Doney married Jane Lean on 5th July 1842 in St Torney’s church in North Hill.

James and Jane had just two children, John in 1843 and Sophia in 1847. Sophia died as an infant when she was just four years old. Two years later in 1853 Jane was widowed for the second time when James and was buried near his daughter Sophia in the graveyard of Coad’s Green Methodist Church. Jane and John moved to Liskeard during the 1850s and John started his working life there as an apprentice printer. In 1857 the Cornish Times was launched and printed in Liskeard and John was part of the early history of the newspaper, starting work there when he was 13. Whilst he was working there he met his work companion William Church.

In the 1861 census for Fore Street in Liskeard, shown above, John is shown as printer (compositor) and was living with his mother, Jane, who kept an eating house. According to his obituary, however, he had an ambition to find “more scope for his labour” and as a result he went to London to work on a newspaper entitled “The Hour”. He also spent some time working at Spottiswoode’s publishing and printing company and whilst with them he met and married his first wife, Ann Hicks. They were maried in the magnificent church of St Mary in Bryanston Square in Marylebone.

John was living in West Ham, which was in Essex at that time, when he married Ann. They did not seem to have lived there for very long and moved first to Holborn and by 1871 to 30 New North Road in Finsbury. This would have been closer and easier to get to the Spottiswoode’s printing works in Shacklewell, East London. Their first child, Arthur, was born in Holborn and their second child, Annie Sophia, was born at home in Finsbury.

The next five years had some difficult periods for John. His third child with Ann was born in 1873 and they named the infant Minnie. Sadly she died when a little over one year old. Then, just a year later, in February 1875 Ann died, leaving John a widower with two children to bring up. Arthur was just six years old and Annie was four. John had some decisions to make for the benefit of his family and chose to move to Sutton in Surrey and to work again with his companion from Liskeard, William Church. William was a printer and bookseller in Sutton High Street and was clearly doing well enough to take on his friend John Doney. John started the wages of one guinea per week. This later increased to £1 10 shillings but throughout this period John records in his diary that times were hard and his situation was poor.

In 1881 John remarried at last and his new wife was Hannah Bradford. Hannah was the grand-daughter of Joseph Bradford a friend and companion of John Wesley, the Methodist preacher (This image is a picture of the Rev Joseph Bradford as published in the Arminian Magazine for April 1783).

Following William Church’s decision to sell the business in 1885, John created a new business with his partner, Mr Barry. Some years later the business became John’s when he bought out Mr Barry. John was an active supporter of Wesleyan Methodism in Sutton and a supporter of the regular local spelling bee. John never forgot his Cornish connections and his house in Sutton he named “Cornubia”.

John and Hannah had no children.Hannah died in 1910 and John died in 1923. They are buried together in Sutton Cemetery.

Jane Doney, nee Sloggett (1809-1897)

John or Arthur Doney, perhaps?

John Doney (1843-1923)

John Doney (1843-1923)

Arthur John Doney (1869-1935)

Annie Sophia Doney (1870-1958)

Our thanks go to John M Doney, great grandson of John Doney, whose contributions have enabled us to remember the life of John Doney.


'Jack' Doney of Coad's Green

This is 'Jack' Doney of Coad's Green. Do you know which 'Jack' Doney he was?

As there is no 'Jack' Doney living in Coad's Green around the time these photographs were taken, it is likely that he was a John Doney. There were two people named John Doney living in the village at the same time and it would be natural if one was known as Jack to avoid confusion. But which was which?

One John Doney was the son of John Doney (born 1864 and a direct descendant of William Doney and Elizabeth Souther) that married Deborah Wilton. The other was the husband of Ann Doney, and she was the daughter of the same John Doney who married the same Deborah Wilton. Ann Doney had married a John Doney who was born in 1862 in Par, near St Austell.


Doney of Botternell Farm

Botternell Farm in North Hill was part of the Duchy of Cornwall's estate until 2001. From 1935 to its last days as a farm, Botternell was farmed by James Doney and then his sons, Andrew and Anthony. James was directly descended from William Doney and Elizabeth Souther.


The image at the top of the page shows a tailor from Georgian times sitting crosslegged by his window so as to gain as much light as possible..