Doney "Tailor" Doney

John Doney the Blacksmith of Congdon’s Shop

John, born in 1737 the son of John "Tailor" Doney and Wilmot (nee Truscott), set up as a blacksmith at Congdon’s Shop in the latter half of the eighteenth century. His skills and business were passed down through the generations. His great grandsons Elias Doney and Uriah Doney were blacksmiths working in local mines.

Below are two images of Elias Doney, and the story of his son William James Doney; also on this page is the story of Uriah’s sons, Cecil and Percy Doney.


Elias Doney

Elias was the great grandson of John Doney the Blacksmith. John had a son, James Doney. James had a son he named James after himself. This last James was the father of Elias. All were blacksmiths in Congdon's Shop.

These photos of Elias Doney were probably taken at Hendrabridge, on the St Ive to Liskeard road, around 1910 when Elias’ smithying days were over and he was a cycle agent. He died in 1920 having been married to his wife for over 53 years. His wife, Mary Jane (nee Maunder), was also born in 1844 and died in 1938.


Cecil and Percy Doney

Cecil and Percy were the two youngest children of Uriah Doney and Maria Doney (nee Buckingham). Uriah was the brother of Elias (shown above) and they were born in Congdon’s Shop where their father, James Doney, was the blacksmith. After Uriah married Maria in 1871 they moved into Middlewood and established their family there. In 1881 he was working as a smith in a local mine. Uriah and Maria had 10 children between 1872 and 1890 and they were baptised as Bible Christians in the chapels in Congdon’s Shop, North Hill village and Middlewood. Cecil James Doney was born in 1888 and Percival (Percy) John Doney was born in 1890.

The 1891 census records Cecil and Percy living in Middlewood with their siblings and their mother Maria. Uriah, though, was not at home in the 1891 census but was lodging at a cottage on Dartmoor close to Merrivale. With him was his eldest son, Peter, and they were both working in the Merrivale Quarry (previously known as the Tor Quarry). For those that know the area, this is the huge quarry at the roadside in the valley which you pass as you drive from Princetown to Tavistock. This quarry had provided the granite for the London Bridge (shown here) which was built in the 1830s and now stands in Arizona.

The family were reunited when Maria and the children moved to Merrivale. As the boys of the family grew into young men they followed their father into quarrying. In the 1911 census the family were established members of the community and their involvement with the quarry is evident:

  • Uriah Doney, head, married, aged 58, blacksmith tool sharpener (granite quarry), born in North Hill
  • Maria Doney, wife, married for 39 years (10 children .. 8 alive and 2 dead), aged 58, born in North Hill
  • Peter Doney, son, married for 2 years, aged 40, blacksmith tool sharpener (granite quarry),born in North Hill
  • Emily Doney, daughter, single, aged 27, assisting in house (domestic), born in North Hill
  • Hedley Doney, son, single, aged 25, stone hand driller, born in North Hill
  • Cecil Doney, son, single, aged 23, stone cutter, born in North Hill
  • Percy Doney, son, single, aged 20, stone dresser, born in North Hill

On the 28th February 1916 Cecil and Percy answered their call up and together they attended the recruiting office in Tavistock to sign on for the army for the duration of the war. Initially they were both in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry with consecutive regimental numbers, Percy was #26958 and Cecil was #26959.

Interestingly, neither of them had any teeth and wore dental plates despite them being 28 and 25 years old. Their skill working with rocks and earth was soon recognized and they were both transferred to the Royal Engineers and placed in the 328th Quarrying Company.

On the 19th June 1916 they left on board a troopship bound for France and the Western Front. They were discharged in 1919 and returned to Merrivale.

A document from each of their service records is shown here, click on the thumbnail image for a larger image:


William James Doney

William James Doney was born in Middlewood in 1880 and baptised there in the chapel. His father was Elias Doney the blacksmith shown above.

William married Mary Blackmore and they had five children, the second of which (born 1901), also called William but always known by his middle name of Russell, was injured on 20 March 1941. Russell was on his way home from work (he worked on the railways) on the night Charles Church in Plymouth was bombed. He was nearby when the bomb hit the church and was struck by flying masonry. He died in the Prince of Wales Hospital the following day. He left a widow, Violet, who remarried a year later, this time to William's youngest brother, Cecil. Vioet and Cecil continued to live in Plymouth after the war. Cecil died in 1972 and Violet died in 1989.

Their third child was Vernand Archie Doney (also known by his middle name as Archie) and he served on HMS Sultan, the shore establishment in Singapore which fell to the Japanese in 1942. Along with many others Vernand was transported to Batavia (now known as Sumatra in Indonesia) and was one of many in the Atjeh Party forced to construct the Pakanbaru Railway.

In June 1944 Vernand and 700 other PoWs were put on board ship, bound for Japan. They were being taken in horrendous conditions as a forced labour force. The ship they were on, the Harugiku Maru, was carrying strategic materials and the PoWs were a human shield. The ship was sunk by the submarine HMS Truculent and all but 180 of the PoWs died. Vernand did not survive the incident. [This extract has been referenced from "Death on the Hellships: Prisoners at Sea in the Pacific War by Gregory F Michno, Naval Institute Press 200"1: “More than 20,000 Allied POWs died at sea when the transport ships carrying them were attacked by Allied submarines and aircraft. Although Allied headquarters often knew of the presence of POWs through radio interception and code breaking, the ships were sunk because interdiction of critical strategic materials was more important than the deaths of prisoners-of-war.”]


Sydney Doney


Sydney Bartlett & Leonard Bartlett (L-R back) with Sydney Doney & Henry Foot (L-R front). This photograph was taken in Winnipeg, probably in the winter of 1915/1916.

17 Dec 1914, Winnipeg - Sydney enlisted for the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF); date of birth 23 Feb 1893 (two years older than he really was); next of kin Mr J Doney, Kingbear Cottage, North Hill, Launceston, England; unmarried; farmer

25 May 1918, Winnipeg - discharged from the CEF

Obituary - Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - February 24, 1966, Winnipeg, Manitoba
SYDNEY DONEY On February 22, 1966, at his late residence, Sydney Doney, aged 70 years, beloved husband of Sally Doney, of 603 Rathgar Avenue. Funeral service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Friday in the Clark Leatherdale Funeral Home, 232 Kennedy Street, with Rev. C. L. G. Rowland officiating. Interment in Garry Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Royal Canadian Legion Centennial Fund, Fort Rouge Branch, No. 97.

Sydney Doney is the fourth cousin of the father of John M Doney who contributed the story of John Doney (1843-1923).


The images at the top of the page relate to Cecil & Percy Doney and show (i) Merrivale Quarry on Dartmoor and (ii) a WW1 tunnel on the Western Front in France.
(i) Guy Wareham [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
(ii) The remains of a gas door in the Copse tunnel system, near Loos. (Photo Matt Leonard. Copyright the Durand Group. Available as CC BY-NC-SA).