Before It's Forgotten
A Carmarthenshire Settler in Cornwall
The eighteenth century saw the rise of Cornish copper mining from modest output to a boom of world significance. The absence of coal in Cornwall had meant that the export of the ore to South Wales ports for smelting was more economical than importing coal and smelting locally. A side effect of this was an exchange of populations resulting in colonies of Cornishmen in the South Wales ports, particularly Swansea, and Welsh settlement in the small ports of North Devon and Cornwall and in Truro, the commercial capital of the boom. The shipment of the ores seems to have been very largely a Welsh committment.
The settlers brought to their adopted areas advantages and benefits. Not all, perhaps, as spectacular as the Vivians of Truro, later of Singleton, Swansea, who left behind a fine record of scientific, industrial, philanthropic and public achievements. Undoubtedly engaged in this cross-channel traffic was a Carmarthenshire man, one David Jenkins, beginnings unfortunately unknown, who founded a small but very worthy dynasty.
According to Boase (Collecteanea Cornuhiensia
1890) David Jenkins "born in the county of Carmarthen 1717, came from Wales into Cornwall and settled at Truro. Commanded a privateer the 'Duke of Cornwall'. Mayor of Truro 1776." He is noted as "of Clovelly" when, in 1741, he married Elizabeth, daughter of Captain Sylvanus Bowen of Malpas, Truro, who sounds like a fellow-countryman in the same line of business. The marriage resulted in six sons and one daughter, two or three of whom died young. Among the remaining children were:
- David 1746-91 Banker. Chose a Swansea girl as his wife,
- Sylvanus 1751-1804 Merchant and Banker. Co-founder of the Cornish Bank. Like his father was Mayor of Truro (in 1784). Married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Buckland, Overseer (i.e. Poor Law Administrator) of Truro. No sons. A daughter married into the armigerous family Kempe of Polsue.
- Francis 1756-1839 M.A.(Oxon). A very well known and loved cleric. For fifty years Vicar of St. Clement, Truro. Married Mary, another daughter of Richard Buckland.
The Revd. Francis Jenkins's children included:
- Francis 1793-1866 Maj. General in the Honble. East India Coy. and Commissioner of Assam. Credited with the introduction of the tea industry into India following his experiments in cultivating the plant in Assam.
- Frances 1790-1876 Who married the Revd. Rogers, Rector of Camborne and thus linked up with another armigerous family — the Rogers of Penrose.
- David 1796-1869 Vicar of Gorran, Cornwall for 45 years. His children included:
- Francis 1832-1906 Col. Sir Francis Howell Jenkins. Probably unmarried.
- Mary b.1839 Married Brigade Surgeon S. H. Dickerson.
- David d.1926 Vicar of Tideford, Cornwall for over fifty years. Hon. Canon of Truro Cathedral.
- Hy. Lionel b.1837 Of Clanacombe, Kingsbridge, Devon.
David Jenkins and his son Sylvanus seem to have been on good terms with the Lord Falmouth of the day, their "next door" neighbour. David lived in St Michael Penkevil, the picturesque hamlet with the lovely little church immediately outside the gates of Tregothnan, the seat of the Boscawens (Lord Falmouth). A local diary of the time records a stay at Tregothnan by a visiting gentleman and the guests included Mr. Jenkins and his son. Among the tombs, wall plaques and memorials of the Boscawen family in the little church is a memorial to Sylvanus and one of his daughters and in the churchyard rests David Jenkins and his friend and countryman Sylvanus Bowen.
Producing as it did Merchants and Bankers, Clerics and senior Army Officers, the very stuff of which the solid middle-class society of the day was composed, David Jenkins's settlement in Cornwall was nothing but advantageous to his adopted town. Unfortunately, the chapter is closed. As far as is known there are no male survivors to carry on the family tradition.
D. C. JENKINS,
Carlyon Bay, St. Austells.