genealogy of the Bird and Musgrove families
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The Pensioner and the Farm Girl

I purchased this postcard off ebay as it was of Padstow and we love Padstow. I had no idea it was going to provide a mystery story to savour.

For a bit of fun I started researching the Miss J. Williams who the card was sent to. I discovered that she was Jessie Rawle Williams, born in Padstow in 1881 and her father farmed a large farm at Tregonna in Little Petherick (PL27 7QT).  The farmhouse on the 1911 census had 9 rooms so it was quite large.


The postcard was postmarked 24th October 1902 and, although there was no message, the suggestion is that it was sent by "J.C" or perhaps "F.C".  Why would you send a postcard to a 20 year old girl without a message from Padstow to somewhere about a mile away ?


I thought that perhaps it was sent by an admirer and I searched to see if I could find her subsequently marrying someone with those initials.  Sadly that was not to be, but I did discover something which deserved further investigation.  Eight years later in 1910 she married Henry Francis Whitefield who was 77 and, on the 1911 census, among the resident staff was a "sick nurse" !


I have come across quite large age gaps when researching some of my own ancestors but I don't think I have come close to nearly a 50 year gap.  That must surely be unusual.


This is where my love of attending murder mystery weekends takes over and speculation runs rife.  What could her motive for marriage be ?


Maybe she wanted his money ? Well, I discovered he died at their home of "Tolcarnia" in Newquay eighteen months later leaving an estate, in today's money, worth 1,612,000. I ordered a copy of his Will and apart from some relatively small pecuniary legacies (including provision in trust for looking after his aged sister - see below - and something to a cousin and her family in Canada) the bulk of the estate was left in trust absolutely to Jessie. 



Maybe her family didn't want to continue their responsibility for her ?  She was the only daughter sandwiched between two brothers and, at 29, I guess her family might have thought she would be left on the shelf and forced her to marry an elderly gentleman who needed a companion.


Maybe they were in love ? 


Henry was an interesting person.  He was a retired Solicitor and had not previously been married. Perhaps the reason for this is that he had previously led a life of being a Carer. Not only did he live with a brother who was blind and 13 years older than him (until this brother died in 1882) but also he had a sister slightly older than him and they were still living together (with two young servant girls) on the 1901 census. She died in 1912 having moved to another large house in Newquay.


Was there life for Jessie after Henry ?  Well, "yes" !  Having previously been married to a man 48 years older than her, in 1916 Jessie remarried to Arthur Horace Riche who was 8 years younger than her !  They married in Woodford, Essex (where he was living) but it seems they must then have returned to Newquay as both of their children were probably born in the property which Jessie had inherited and (see right) she is advertising for staff between 1922 and at least 1928.  Arthur died in 1955 but Jessie lived until 1963 when she died at the ripe old age of 83.  

Post script : Needs more research, but I believe that "Tolcarnia" overlooked what is now Tolcarne Beach in Newquay.  The beach is a crescent shaped sandy beach with 150 foot cliffs and is one of the most popular of the beaches in Newquay with great surf.  Unfortunately you can only get to it by taking over 200 steps down from the town, so it's not one I have been to ..... or are likely to visit !  The advert (see left) placed in The Times in May 1901 was about the time Henry may have retired and moved from nearby Station Road in Newquay where he was living on the census a few months earlier.

TO DO : Visit Tolcarne Beach in Newquay TR7 2QN


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