The Story of Francis (Frank) Paynter and his Relations
by Ian Caldwell

Catherine Augusta Coleman (1811-1880) was born at Church Stretton where her father was the Rector. She was the second child of Anne and the Reverend Thomas Coleman and was born on 7th April 1811, when Napoleon reigned supreme in Europe.

But Catherine grew up in the peace and security of rural Shropshire with her father ministering to his country parishioners. She had a sister, Mary Anne, who was a year older than her, and a brother, Edward Bernard, who was a year younger, and there were two younger sisters, Harriet Emma and Frances. It must have come as a shock to the family when her father died, and Catherine was only six or seven. He probably died of a heart attack as he was only 36, and her brother Edward was to die in 1849, at a similar age to his father, when he was only 37. I think that it must have been while Catherine was staying with her uncle, Edward, at Pendarves in Cornwall that she must have met Francis Paynter (1789-1863) socially. Francis was a lawyer and a member of an old Cornish family who had their seat at Boskenna near Penzance. Francis and Catherine married in 1840 and they lived at Clarence House, Penzance. Pendarves, near Camborne, was not far from Penzance.

Francis Paynter was to become a bit of a black sheep in the Paynter family. He was christened in Penzance on 22nd September 1789, the eldest son of Charles Paynter, a judge, and his wife Judith Tyeth. Charles and Judith had a daughter, Frances, baptized on 31st December 1787, another daughter, Judith, baptized on 9th March 1790, a son they named Charles baptized on 18th January 1791, and three more sons, Henry, born 5th April 1795, John born 29th July 1796 and Edward born 26th March 1798. These last three were all baptized on 2nd September 1799. Altogether, according to a family tree prepared by Mary Davies Paynter in 1898, they had nine sons and one daughter (perhaps one of the two daughters died in infancy?).

Francis had been named after his grandfather, but his father was the fourth son of Francis Paynter of Boskenna, the family seat, so it was Uncle James, the eldest son who had inherited the Paynter estates near Lands End. The Paynters were an old Cornish family of landed gentry, but Francis was destined to bring shame to their name. At first things went well and young Francis went in for the law, following family tradition. He must have been doing well when he built Clarence House in Clarence Street, Penzance. He married twice. I am not sure who his first wife was, but he may have been the Francis Paynter who married Ann Olding at St. Michael, Cornhill, London on 3rd December 1811, when he would have been 22 years old and perhaps newly qualified as a lawyer in London. His father died eleven years later in 1822.

On 26th May 1822, the year his father died, Francis fathered an illegitimate child, a son called Charles, the mother being Anne Hosken of Tolcarne: West Penwith Resources record, in Madron and Penzance baptisms 1756-1888 - “26 May 1822 Charles s/o Anne Hosken of Tolcarne illegitimate, father Francis Paynter (Gent) of Penzance.” Anne may have been a married woman who already had a child. The baptism records also show that on 2nd December 1815 Thomas c/o Benjamin and Anne Hoskin (Miller) of Tolcarn had a Private baptism. Benjamin Hosking (sic) of Tolcarne died aged 50 and was buried on 21st November 1827. I have tried to find out what happened to Charles Hosken and I have found a record in a Cornish Newspaper for 4th July 1887 of the death of a Mr. Charles Hosken, aged 64, on 26th June at Lank, St. Breward. This could be him as the illegitimate Charles would be by then just 65.

On 18th June 1815 The Napoleonic Wars came to an end with the final defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Now the Tory Government under Lord Liverpool voted for the abolition of income tax, which, it was argued, had only been imposed to pay for war. To compensate for this loss of revenue taxes were put on all sorts of items, but these taxes did not discriminate between the wealthy and the poor, so the poor suffered. This situation was exacerbated by the Corn Laws of 1815 which put taxes on imported corn. This measure was designed to help protect farmers against cheap foreign imports of corn, but they did not help the poor. The price of bread rose so some of the working class turned to potatoes and turnips as they could no longer afford bread, and in the end the farmers did not benefit a great deal while the poor suffered.

At this time only about 1% of the population had a vote, so power was in the hands of the wealthy and the poor had no voice in Parliament. The rising food prices led to riots and a growing demand for reform. People who supported a more democratic form of government were called Radicals and one of their number was Cobbett who published a weekly journal called the Political Register. The government reacted by arresting rioters and political agitators and punishing them with severity and they even suspended the Habeas Corpus Act. Events came to a climax with the Peterloo Massacre of 1817 when a squadron of cavalry was set upon a large but peaceful mass meeting resulting in about a dozen people being killed. Public opinion began to change after this. When Robert Peel became Home Office Minister in 1824 things began to improve. He passed a series of Acts which abolished capital punishment for more than a hundred petty offences and did a lot to improve the prison system, and in 1829 he instituted the Police Force.

Piggott's Directory of Penzance of 1823 lists Francis Paynter as being an attorney in West Street (while a Catherine Paynter, and I’m not sure how of if she is related, had an academy in Queen Street).

George IV died in 1830 and his more affable elderly brother became King William IV. The change of monarch led to the general election of 1831 and the great reform bill which got rid of the rotten boroughs and created new seats in the new centres of population, but the bulk of the population still remained without a vote.

After the defeat of the French at the battle of Waterloo and the peace settlement which followed it, Britain found herself not merely the chief colonizing power but practically the only one and she also had the monopoly of sea power that allowed her to go about colonizing without being disturbed. While Russia was expanding eastwards across Asia the United States were expanding westwards. The fact that Britain found herself in possession of parts of four continents, India, Southern Africa, Canada and Australasia, and innumerable islands and ports scattered all over the world, had come about by accident rather than design. Australia proved a convenient alternative to the former American colonies for transporting convicts.

Francis Paynter’s uncle, also called Francis Paynter (d.1814), was the senior partner of a firm of solicitors at St. Columb, Paynter and Whitford. He was living at Trekenning in 1799 and died there in 1814. Lakes Parochial History of 1868 writes of this Francis Paynter: “Mr. Francis Paynter, of Boskenna, was distinguished for his wit and humour. He was either the sole or joint author of a poem ridiculing the then dean of Burian, called “The Consultation.” He practiced as a lawyer at S. Columb, and married Miss Pender, of Penzance, by whom he had several sons. The exercise of wit is seldom associated with pecuniary gain; and Mr. Paynter has been heard to declare that “The Consultation” prevented his obtaining a valuable stewardship from the family of which the dean was a member.”

After the death of Uncle Francis the firm continued as Paynter and Whitford, and I believe that a son of Uncle Francis, also called Francis, continued to work in the partnership as the 1841 census of the civil parish of St. Columb Major shows a Francis Paynter aged 55, Attorney at Law, living at 1 Union Square, with two servants. Mary Mastin aged 65, and Jane Pinch, aged 25.

I think this Francis may have been called Francis Camborne Paynter, as I have found a reference to him in a deed in the Cornish Archives dated 19-20 Nov 1822: Parties: 1) Caleb Boney junior, tin plate worker, lately of St Columb Major, now of Padstow, innkeeper 2) Francis Camborne Paynter, gentleman, of St Columb Major. Lease and release by 1) to 2) of dwelling house, backside and garden, in trust for sale. Recites: previous conveyances, assignments and mortgages. Consideration: five shillings. (Property as above 841/4).

Paynter and Whitford, were involved in drafting a bill for a proposed railway in 1830:

Perranporth Railway NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that application is intended to be made to Parliament.... for making and maintaining a RAIL-WAY or RAILWAYS, or TRAM-ROAD or TRAM-ROADS, with all proper works and conveniences, for the Passage of Waggons, Carts, and other Carriages.... to commence at or near Perran Porth.... and extend through or near to the village of Bolingey, and the village of Cox otherwise Cook's, and from thence to or near to Ripper's Mill.... to New Mills, Coosebean Paper Mill.... to the Bridge in Lemon Street, in the Borough of Truro.... Also, to improve and maintain the Navigation of Truro River from Mopus or Malpas Passage to Truro Quay.... Edwards, Simmons and Paul and Paynter and Whitford, Solicitors. [Single sheet, printed on one side only, a few small tears to margins, folded, approx. 11" x 8". Dated 12th November, 1830. E. Heard, Printer, Bookbinder and Stationer, Truro. Also describes the route of branches through St. Agnes, Newlyn in Pydar, and St. Allen. This was possibly a proposal for a mineral line linking the mines of the East Wheal Rose area with Truro.]

Another manuscript in the Cornish Archives dated 7 Nov 1830 addressed to Paynter and Whitford, St Columb, from Mr Boyne, St Mawes tells of a “Need for Paynter to see Mr Lyne at Liskeard urgently about the search he must make "among Mr Buller's papers at Morval" has sent a list of names with those likely to have had Bogullas leases "dashed under" (underlined). Asks for careful examination of leases and terms, whether "manor" or "borough" or if property is in St Mawes. Mr Vizard is expected down immediately.”

To avoid confusion between these Francis Paynters I shall refer to Francis, son of Charles as Frank Paynter as this appears to have been what he was called during his lifetime.

On 15th June 1832 Frank Paynter, in conjunction with his cousin, John, bought the Manor Of Connerton (or Conarton) and the hundred and liberties of Penwith from John Hawkins of Bignor Park, Sussex, and his son, Christopher Henry Thomas Hawkins of Trewithen, paying £51 to John and £454 to Christopher. This was a huge amount of money at that time and may perhaps account for some of Franks later financial troubles.

The Manor of Connerton and the hundred and liberties of Penwith were separate from the Duchy of Cornwall and gave the Lord of the Manor’s special rights and privileges. I believe the manor itself was a ruin at this time, buried by sand, and I think it was these rights and privileges, of these it seems were the rights to goods from shipwrecks and also the court duties that came with it, which may have been a source of income? There must surely have been some pecuniary advantage to be had to have attracted Francis.

All the hundreds of Cornwall, from time immemorial, had belonged to the Earls, and still continued to be attached to the duchy, except the hundred of Penwith; and of this, two-thirds continued to belong to the duchy in the reign of James I., the other third, together with the bailiffry of the hundred, as attached to the manor of Connerton, was granted, at an early period, to the family of Pincerna, and descended to the Arundells, who eventually became possessed of the entire lordship of the hundred. The manor of Connerton, and the hundred of Penwith, were lately purchased of Lord Arundell, of Wardour, by Sir Christopher Hawkins, Bart.

The book, Half a Century of Penzance 1825-1875, states that:

The manor of Conorton with many privileges extended from Gwithian, or perhaps farther, around to the Land’s End and Mount’s Bay,—in fact it included nearly the whole of West Penwith. Before the County Court came into existence the lord of the manor held a monthly court for the trial of small cases of debt, trespass, etc., not criminal. This court was for a long time presided over by Mr. Aaron Scobell, solicitor, as the lord’s deputy. The manor of Conorton was for many years held by Mr. Francis Paynter, of Penzance, solicitor. Every butcher in Penzance used to pay annually, at Christmas, to the bailiff of the manor of Conorton a marrow-bone or one shilling; this custom was continued until about thirty years ago.

John Hawkins was the brother of Christopher Hawkins, who died childless. Although Christopher Hawkins never married, he did an enormous amount for both Trewithen and Cornwall during his lifetime. His many achievements included opening new tin and copper mines, becoming involved with clay mining near St Austell, re-building the harbour at Pentewan and the great breakwater at St Ives, endowing local schools and building new ones and, politically, becoming Father of the House of Commons by virtue of the number of ‘rotten' boroughs he controlled. He also became Richard Trevithick's patron and commissioned the world's first steam thrashing machine from him. Trewithen was expanded to the extent that he ‘could ride from one side of Cornwall to the other without setting hoof on another man's soil’ and, as well as being given the Duchy of Cornwall appointment of Vice Lord Warden of the Stanneries, he was awarded a baronetcy by the Government for his unwavering support of Parliament. Christopher Hawkins must have known John Stackhouse well and it is possible that it was through this family connection that Francis Paynter met his future wife, Catherine, the granddaughter of John Stackhouse.

On Sir Christopher's death in 1829, Trewithen passed to his brother John Hawkins who built Bignor Park in Sussex. A man of great learning and intellect, he travelled widely and was a patron of the arts, a Fellow of the Royal Society and a founding member of the Royal Horticultural Society, so would have known Thomas Andrew Knight. When he came to live at Trewithen he planted many fine trees - including Holm oaks from acorns collected at Bignor Park - and managed his far flung agricultural estates with sensitivity and care. Much loved by both his tenants and the local community, he died at Trewithen in 1841.

John was succeeded by his young son Henry Hawkins - known to all as CHT - whose contribution to Cornwall was, sadly, negligible. Having inherited a vast fortune, he chose to live either at Bignor Park or in his new London house at 1, Portland Square - later home to the BBC. From there he travelled extensively in Europe, avidly collecting everything he could, including paintings and precious stones. Whilst his own contributions to posterity were limited, his widow later made significant contributions to the building of Truro Cathedral and the founding of the Cathedral Choir School.

What convinces me that the Manor of Connerton was bought by Francis Paynter of Penzance, the son of Charles Paynter, and not by the Francis Paynter of the firm of Paynter and Whitford, is a historical document which was auctioned on 25th September 2008 at Mullock’s Auctioneers in Church Stretton, Shropshire:

Historical Document - Lot Number 293 - Auction Date 25/09/08

Ephemera - Cornwall - Penzance manuscript valuation of the reversion to freehold properties at Penzance and the Manor of Connerton Gwithian in the Count of Cornwall and of properties at the same places in possession owned by Francis Edward Paynter John de C Paynter Henry Paynter the Rev Thomas Beville Paynter and James Bernard Paynter dated Penzance December 23rd 1881. [Neatly written on 20pp folio with names of Tenants and valuations of each property listed making this a most valuable primary source of information on Penzance at the time.]

The Paynters mentioned in this document are all the sons of Francis (Frank) Paynter, and Francis Paynter of Clarence House, Penzance, is described in Kelly’s Post Office Directory for Cornwall in 1856 as a Steward of the Lower Court of the Hundred of Penwith.

In 1833 slavery was abolished. William Wilberforce, the tireless campaigner against slavery, lived just long enough to see this come about, and one of the first actions of the reformed Parliament was to vote the sum of 20 million pounds to buy up all the slaves on British territory and set them free, with the proviso that they were to work as “apprentices” for their old masters for seven years.

Frank became involved with Mr. H.M. Moyle in devising a plan for housing development between Adelaide Street and Mount Streets in Penzance, part of which was the building of a small row of houses known as Gothic Row, but there was some dispute which arose which led to Mr. Moyle building houses in Adelaide Street on the east side from Market Jew to Gothic Row and the remaining ground was let in plots.

On 24th June 1833 Frank Paynter granted a 99 year lease to Thomas Rodda, a butcher of Penzance, on a dwelling house and stable built on some land in Adelaide Street together with another plot.

On 13th October 1833 Frank Paynter sold another plot of land with a dwelling house built by Henry Vingoe, carpenter and three more dwelling houses to William Wakefar, Mason of Penzance, and Nicholas Tremewan, gentleman of Penzance for a mortgage of £150 by leasehold.

In 1834 Frank Paynter was sufficiently well off to invest in property development and built a row of modest but elegant houses in Leskinnick Street, Penzance.

On 29th January 1835 Frank Paynter leased two houses built by John Honeychurch in Leskinnick Fields to Abraham Tredrea, carpenter of Gulval for a 99 year lease for a rent of 19 shillings, if the lessee would build two dwelling houses.

Then on 20th April 1836 Frank Paynter was leasing more property in Leskinnick Fields, Camborne Street, Penzance to Daniel Rogers, carrier of Penzance, and Humphrey Trembath, yeoman of Gulval, and on 24th June he leased another plot where Daniel Rogers built two dwelling houses in part of Leskinnick Fields, for a mortgage of £120 by assignment of lease.

In 1837 King William IV died and his nineteen year old niece, Victoria, became Queen.

The Penzance Quarter Sessions of 18th January 1838 show the legal activities of two of the Paynter family.

When W. Coulson, Esq., resigned the office of recorder of the borough, Thomas Paynter Esq., the cousin of Frank Paynter, was immediately appointed, and held the first sessions on Wednesday, the 10th January, at the Grammar school. There were several cases of felony, &c.

In the first case John Roberts, aged 13 years, was charged with stealing some hardware from Mr. Scantlebury. The young fellow pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to six months imprisonment at hard labour, such was the severity of the law at that time.

In the second case Frank Paynter was defending a Henry Flamank who had been charged with stabbing Benjamin Hosking, on the night of the 23rd of December 1837.

“This case excited considerable interest and the court was, consequently, crowded to excess. Mr. Francis Paynter was employed for the prisoner and Mr. Aaron Scobell for the prosecutor. Hosking stated that about two years ago, Flamank assaulted him in company with two girls, and from that time to this he had had no conversation with him.

That between twelve and one o'clock at night, in coming out of Mr. Joseph's, he discovered a man hid in the corner of the passage; he exclaimed “Hello, who is there?” and immediately Flamank said "You threatened to thrash me some time since, now I have got you - do it now, will you? I will stab you," and immediately stabbed me in the left side, between the 7th and 8th rib, and followed me, cutting and stabbing me; and I received a wound also in my thumb.

Coming out of the passage, I met Mr. W. Pearce, and told him I was stabbed. He and some other took me away to the surgeon. Flamank was seen near the place. The police were soon on the spot, and took Flamank into custody, to the police office, where he declared he was attacked by Hosking, and did it in self defence, and produced the knife to one of the police. Flamank's employment is sometimes to prune trees; the knife is one that is used for such purposes.

During the trial, no direct evidence being given under what circumstance the act was committed, except the testimony of the prosecutor, the truth of which the prisoner denied, the jury returned a verdict of guilty of an assault, and Flamank was sentenced to imprisonment at hard labour for one year.”

It seems that the boy in the first case received a very harsh sentence in comparison with the man in this case, who caused grievous bodily harm and only got twice the sentence received by the boy.

On 25th December 1838 Francis Paynter, gentleman of Penzance, leased a plot with two dwelling houses in part of Leskennick Fields for 99 years to Peter Richards, merchant of Penzance and John Thomas, conveyancer of Penzance for a rent of £1 for the consideration of the erection of dwelling houses using trust money vested in Peter Richards and John Thomas for the use of Jane, the wife of Henry James, innkeeper, under their marriage settlement.

On 14th February 1839 Francis Paynter was leasing a dwelling house and premises in Adelaide Street, built on a plot in Leskennick Fields to Matthew Trathan, carpenter of Penzance and Richard Trudgen, yeoman of St. Just-in-Penwith for a mortgage of £60.00.

When Francis married Catherine Augusta Coleman, his bride was 21 years younger than he was. They married on 9th June 1840, when he was 50 and Catherine was 29. This was the year that the Penny Post started. The marriage was reported in the West Briton newspaper of 12th June 1840:

On Tuesday, the 9th instant, at Martock, Somerset, Francis Paynter, Esq., of Penzance, to Catherine Augusta, second daughter of the late Rev. Thomas Bernard Coleman, Rector of Church Stretton, Salop.

On 24th June 1840 Francis Paynter was leasing “a plot of uncultivated ground one acre part of croft or furze ground in occupation of John Pearce in Gwithian, with unenclosed piece of ground adjoining all part of manor of Connerton,” for a 99 year lease for a rent of £1, on consideration that the lessee, George Wearne, a labourer, improve the property.

On 24th January 1841 Francis was busy with property deals again, leasing a plot with a dwelling house built by Thomas Edmunds in Leskinnick Fields, to Thomas Hicks, yeoman of Sancreed for £86.

On 26th March 1841 The West Briton reported the death at St. Columb, of Mr. James KEAM, aged 31, who was for many years the respected clerk of Messrs. PAYNTER and WHITFORD, Solicitors, of that place;- his end was peace. The deceased being a member of the teetotal society, the members of that respectable body walked in procession to the funeral.

And on the following day, about nine months after their marriage, on 27th March 1841, Catherine gave birth to a son who they called Francis Edward Paynter; Francis after his father and Edward after Catherine’s brother.

The year that Francis Edward was born was a bad year for the British in Afghanistan. Worried that the Tsar of Russia might try to send his armies into India, the British sent an expeditionary force to Kabul. The Afghans are a proud and warlike people and they mounted a fierce rebellion, forcing the small British force to make terms and evacuate the country. But on their way through the mountain passes in winter many died and the remainder were attacked by tribesmen, so that only one solitary survivor reached Jellalabad to tell the tale.

A news article published in a Cornish newspaper on 2nd April 1841 concerns Francis Paynter and his rights to articles recovered from shipwrecks. Jabez Ashur Luke was being held accused of “having feloniously stolen divers goods and merchandise belonging to a vessel lately wrecked at Porthgwarra Cove, in the parish of St. Levan.” A witness, John Perkins, stated that

“I am at times in the service of Frances John PAYNTER, Esq. He is Lord of the manor of Penwith and Connerton. I have gone to save things for him that have been washed on shore from wrecks. On the 22nd of March, I went to St. Levan. I saw the prisoner at Porthgwarra Cove. RODDA, who was with me, asked if there were any things washed on shore from the wreck. He said there was. He told me that he had seen the vessel, that she was a Dutch schooner, and that she had her yards and masts on her deck, that she was copper-bottomed, and with a round stern. He said he observed her on Friday forenoon, about ten o'clock. He said that she came in there, (nodding his head as if that was a secret) and struck against the rocks, and was there a short time, and then went to pieces, and that parts of the wreck came on shore. He then said he took a staff-barrow upon which they carry stones for the Rundlestone, to save some of the wreck. When he came up to the stores, the prisoner said that they had saved a little wool, and a little hemp and dye-wood, and that he had saved a piece of wood which someone had stolen from him. He said that there were some old pieces of timber which he had saved, of little value. He said that they were very foolish that they turned to saving the wood instead of other things, and that he had sold his share of the wood for 2s. 6d., and he pointed to the very wood which he had saved and which he had sold; and the other parties were taking it up over the cliff at the time. That was timber apparently belonging to a ship. When he brought me up and showed me the hemp, dye-wood, and wool, I asked him if he had anything more, he said he had some stuff; pointing to a can which was in the corner, and he said it was curious stuff, that it was something like water, and he did not know what to call it. He poured out a little, and I asked for some as a sample, when he told me he should not be able to find a bottle. I was to take a sample to see what it was, or what it was worth. Something had been said before about there being things there, and he asked us if we had come of our own accord. Rodda said how should you think we were sent by any one, we are merely come of our own accord, to see if we could meet with anything of the wreck. Then he said, come and I'll show you. Rodda said we will come down and see whether we can buy anything. Then he said he would go in for a key, and came out and went to the door of a house occupied for keeping stores in. He took us inside the door, and showed us the wool, dye-wood, and hemp. He asked me what it was worth. I told him that I was not allowed to give a price then, that I would take a sample and tell him some other time. I took a bit of the wool in my pocket, and the naphtha which he said he gave 3d. for, and which sum I gave him again. He put the sample up for us. None of us knew at that time what it was. We said we would call again in a day or two to let him know the value of it. Afterwards I learnt from the prisoner that he was employed in the erection of a light-house on the Rundlestone Rock. He also showed us a large sail drying in the fold outside the house. He said that he expected the preventive men knew that that was there. When he gave me the naphtha, I asked him if he had any more. He said he had three cans, containing about 10 or 12 gallons. He also told me that he had 15 or 16 gallons of Venice turpentine, and some liquid for making India rubber. I did not see that, but he told me he had 15 or 16 gallons. Cross-examined by Mr. Slade. We told him a lie, because when he was first spoken to he denied having any thing. I stated to the Magistrates when examined, that the prisoner denied it. Mr. Paynter did not tell me to tell that lie. I admit that it was not right to tell the lie. Perhaps it was not the first lie that I have told by many a thousand. By Mr. Rogers. If we told them that we were sent by Mr. Paynter, these people would never tell us the truth. Stephen Rodda was next examined and gave evidence generally corroborative of that given by the last witness, after which he produced the naphtha spoken to by both witnesses. William THOMAS examined. I am a constable. I went with Mr. Paynter with a search-warrant to St. Levan. We went into a house, I saw the prisoner there. He said he slept there. I found part of a can with naphtha in it, some hemp and sumac; there was some plank over a beam near his bed. Mr. Paynter asked him if he knew anything about the naphtha, turpentine and India rubber, that he had offered for sale. He denied knowing anything of it, or having any thing of the kind except the can. In the chaise going to Penzance, I asked him what the vessel was, and he said he thought it was a schooner. I asked how she came on shore, and he said he thought the bottom of her was out; and she stood about three minutes after she came in, then the wreck began to float barrels, and cans, and bags. He told me the goods came on shore in Porthgwarra Cove. He told me the bags contained sumac. Cross-examined. Never saw any attempt at concealment or resistance of any kind. Henry GROSE examined. I am bailiff of the hundred of Penwith, and manor of Connerton; have been so for twenty years and upwards; have been in the habit of collecting wreck for the Lord of the manor, the present Lord is Francis Paynter, Esq., St. Levan is within the manor. I went with Mr. Paynter to the prisoner's at Porthgwarra. We found some things there belonging to a wreck, there was wreck timber in the house and some near the prisoner's bed. I had the prisoner in custody at Chyandour, where I live. The prisoner said "they must put a lock and key upon my mouth." I had cautioned the prisoner many times. He said I will never "shut" or split. Then he said that he thought St. Levan men would work very hard that night when they came to hear that he was taken up. Rodda then produced the naphtha can; but the Learned Judge said that the can was not in the indictment. A chemist was then sent for, who proved the liquid produced to be naphtha. Mr. Francis Paynter examined. I am lord of the hundred of Penwith and manor of Connerton. I have a right to take wreck on the manor. This gentleman then gave evidence as to the visit to the prisoner's house and the finding the articles spoken to by the other witnesses. Mr. Slade addressed the jury for the prisoner, urging that there was nothing in this case to justify the manner in which it had been opened by his Learned Friend, and asked them to compare the conduct of the prisoner with that of those "blood-suckers," Rodda and Perkins, the latter of whom had confessed with unblushing effrontery that he might have told a thousand lies. The Learned Counsel then stated that the prosecutor, Mr. Paynter, had a dispute respecting the right to the wrecks on the manor with the Admiralty, otherwise they would never have heard of this prosecution, and he would show by the most conclusive evidence, that the prisoner and the other men received orders to collect the wreck from the engineer of the Rundlestone Rock, and from one of the officers of the coast guard. Henry POMEROY examined. I am in the coast guard service; have been so 31 years. I am also order to protect all wrecks, whatever they are, that come on my station. My station was along the coast of St. Levan. I saw this wreck which the prisoner is charged with plundering. I was on the cliff at two o'clock in the afternoon, and saw two or three things floating on the water. I saw wreck on the shore, and then I went to a cove and saw the wreck coming on shore. There were a number of men there. I gave them orders to save all that should come on shore and take care of it. I told them to keep it up in the cliff till my return. I went then to Penberth cove; there I ordered a man to go to the inspecting commander. He did not come that night. I remained on duty all night. I knew the store on the cliffs. I went in the store and saw the prisoner there. I saw also a quantity of wreck. The prisoner said that they had picked up the wreck the day before. He told me that they had picked up some spirits, but said he did not think it was anything that could be drunk. He told me I might go where I pleased and take an account of all the things there were there. I did not know the prisoner before. I did not see them carry away anything. I did not think they were working for plunder. I should think there were as many as ten men in that cove. A great deal of the wreck was floating along the shore. I think fifteen men were the outside that I saw wrecking at one time. I don't think throughout the day that I saw a hundred. I would not give more than £30 for the goods I saw washed ashore. I saved something which I have in my possession now. I reported it to Mr. Paynter's clerk, for the first time, when HARVEY was apprehended. I don't know that it was my duty to report to Mr. Paynter. I know that wrecked goods have been taken by direction of the Admiralty, to Mr. Paynter. I have received five shillings' worth of these wrecked things. Henry THERBAN examined, I am a civil engineer employed by the Trinity Board in the erection of a lighthouse off the Rundlestone. We have an open store on the shore. There is open access to it for anybody. The prisoner sleeps in it, and is under my employ. I remember on Friday, the 19th of March, some wreck coming on shore. I gave notice to Lloyd's agent, and the inspecting officer of the customs; information was sent to me by the prisoner, a man named GUY brought it to me. I went down on the shore and the prisoner was there. The goods did not appear to me worth the salvage. I have known the prisoner for two years; he has been under my employ. He is a very honest, sober, well-behaved, industrious man. Cross-examined. I went before the magistrates, and was examined when he was charged. I was sworn. I was cautioned that I might commit myself if I proceeded with my evidence, but I was determined to speak what I knew to be the truth. I was examined before the magistrates; part of it was taken down. Christopher BARNICOAT examined. I was present at the wreck when the inspecting commander was there. I did not see the prisoner there. I heard the inspecting commander tell the people to save the things till the proprietor or someone appeared.” At the conclusion of the trial the jury found a verdict of Not Guilty.

The 1841 Census Lists the occupants of the Paynter household in Clarence Street as Francis Paynter, 50, Solicitor, Catherine Paynter, 30, not born in the county, Francis Paynter, 2 months born in county, Jane James, 35, female servant, born in county, Henry Lye, male servant, 15, not born in county, Anne Jenkins, 35, female servant, born in county; and Mary Guy, 35, female servant, born in county.

There was no birth control in those days, so Catherine was soon pregnant again and, in 1842 gave birth to another son, Charles Paulet Paynter on 12th April 1842. They must have been disappointed when on 10th May 1844 Catherine gave birth to yet another son, who they called John de Camborne Paynter.

Francis Paynter is listed as an attorney in Clarence Street, Penzance in Piggott’s Directory of 1844 but is still busy with his property deals. On 12th July 1845 he sold the remainder of the lease on a property in Adelaide Street he had previously made with Matthew Trathan to William Luke for £63 and also assigned to Richard Trudgen a dwelling house in Penwith Street.

1845 was the year of the awful Irish Potato Famine that led to the abolition of the Corn Laws in 1846, and 1846 was also the year that a fourth son, my great grandfather, Henry Augustus Paynter, was born on 2nd April.

On 30th April that year Francis was busy with more property deals, leasing another property in Leskennick Fields to Matthew Trathan for £49.00

Catherine, ever fertile, was soon pregnant again and gave birth to their fifth son, Thomas Beville Paynter on 28th November 1847.

Frank's cousin, John Paynter of Boskenna (son of James Paynter), died on 2nd January 1848. His death was reported at length in the Gentleman’s Magazine:

“Jan 2. At his seat, Boskenna, near Penzance, in his 56th year, John Paynter Esq., an active magistrate for Cornwall.

Mr. Paynter, we believe, was educated at Oxford. For many years after quitting the University he prosecuted his studies in retirement. This may have increased the natural shyness and reserve of his character - a disposition which often deprives the world of the advantages of superior talent. But a strong sense of duty impelled him to break through this restraint, and for the last twenty years engaged him in the bustle of active life, and in the promotion of public welfare, until his physical powers sank beneath the generous exertion. He has been for many years an indefatigable magistrate - fulfilling the duties of his office with the highest credit to himself and great benefit of the community. In politics he was a consistent Whig, and on several important occasions zealously promoted the cause which he conscientiously espoused - but with such good feeling, that he never lost the respect of those from whom he differed. He was indeed so much and so generally valued for his thorough knowledge of Cornish interests, and his devotion to public business - which seemed to be his ruling passion - that we have frequently heard men of all parties concur in regarding him as one who would worthily represent his native country in Parliament. On this subject it is now sufficient to say, that whatever measure promised substantial advantages to Cornwall was sure to obtain his energetic support. In his own district he was the President of the Natural History and Antiquarian Society, which rising institution was much indebted to his fostering care. He was frequently also the chairman at the meetings of agricultural and horticultural societies, and delighted and instructed their members with those rich stores of information relating to their pursuits which he had diligently collected during a long residence on the continent.

He was a considerate landlord, and always accessible to the poor of his parish. He was not only their liberal benefactor in distress, but the kind and Christian reconciler to whom they were always ready to submit the arrangement of their disputes - whilst the more opulent often gladly availed themselves of his judicious arbitration in questions of property.

His health, it seems, had been declining for some time, but even his most intimate friends were not apprehensive of any immediate danger. On New Year’s day, according to a good usage of his family, he entertained at his house about thirty of his poorer neighbours, who, whilst they repaid his bounty with grateful wishes of health, long life, and every blessing, little thought how soon they should be deprived of their kind friend and patron. When these guests had left, the servants who went to appraise their master, found him insensible and almost lifeless, sitting in his study near the grate, in which the fire had gone out. He was partially revived by their care before a messenger, who had been dispatched to Penzance, returned with his cousin, Mr. Francis Paynter, and two medical men. They found him still below stairs, but in a very exhausted state, and a considerable time elapsed before he was able to reach his bed-room with their assistance. Afterwards he expressed his feeling that he was better and warmly acknowledged the kindness of those around him - but in a few hours he sank into a slumber from which he never awoke.

Mr. Paynter was unmarried. He has left a brother, Thomas Paynter, Esq., sometime recorder of Penzance, and now one of the police magistrates at Kensington, near London. He married Anne, daughter of W. Moody Esq., of Kingsdon, Somerset, and has issue.”


Francis (Frank) Paynter’s cousin, John Paynter, had become heir to Boskenna, the family seat at St. Buryan near Penzance, at the age of ten, when his father, James Paynter, died in 1800. He lived there with his mother and grew to be a serious, lonely man who never married, but was kindly and liberal. He made the mistake of allowing his cousin, Frank, to manage his affairs, which was unfortunate, as apparently Frank defrauded the estate and also borrowed £1,000 from John, who had agreed to be bound over to him. When John died childless in 1847 his brother, Thomas, inherited Boskenna.

Thomas was a sensible, hard working barrister who we met earlier with his cousin in the court in Penzance. He had left Cornwall and had been working as a magistrate in London since 1841, which is probably how his cousin Frank had been quietly getting away with borrowing funds from his easy going brother, John. After John’s death Thomas set about trying to restore the family fortune which had been earlier squandered by his genial and dissolute grandfather and not helped by his cousin Frank’s activities. Thomas leased Lamorna quarry to Captain Owen, a close friend of his, and together they built a pier and put up a crane that was to lift the granite from the quarry into ships. The granite was transported to London where it was used to build the Thames Embankment and other works, Thomas receiving 6 pence a ton for the granite. He invited farmers from Lincolnshire to become tenants of some of his farms, raising the standard of farming at St. Buryan. He restored the house and leased it to a close friend, Judge Charles Dacres Bevan, and though he continued to work as a magistrate in London he came down to stay at Boskenna from time to time. When he died in 1863 Boskenna passed to his wife, Ann, as his will left it in trust to her and then to her as yet unborn son, Reginald.

Reginald’s mother, Ann, was obviously fond of cousin Frank Paynter’s eldest son Francis Edward Paynter, as when she died in 1876 her son, had just predeceased her, so she left the furniture, plate, books, pictures, china etc. possessed of her, to her grandson Camborne Haweis Paynter, who was only 11, as he had inherited the estate; but she left the residue of her estate to Francis Edward Paynter (Frank's eldest son, Frank having predeceased her in 1863).

Camborne followed a military career, becoming a Lieutenant Colonel, so was away from Boskenna in his youth. He brought the first car to West Cornwall in 1903, a steam driven Serpolet, AF2 and when he drove it at night the red glow from the furnace led some old Cornish folk to believe he was in league with the devil. He married aged 40 in October 1904 to Ethel Nina Patience Venning, the only daughter of Sir Edgecombe Venning, FRCS, surgeon to Edward VII and their only child, Elizabeth Narcissa Marie Paynter (Betty), was born on 7th April 1907.

Apparently Boskenna was the first house in Cornwall to have electricity - in 1900 - according to Jim Hosking. Colonel Paynter had a liking for writers and painters and established an artists’ colony at Lamorna Cove where he built studios, garages and some houses. The result was the Newlyn School of painters and a talk was given to Betchworth NADFAS in April 2005 by David Evans JP BSc, entitled “Painting in Newlyn 1880-1914” that my wife attended. Afterwards she spoke to him and he told her how, as a child he had stayed at Boskenna with his father, who had known the artists and the Paynter family. Amongst the artists who came to live and work there were Lamorna Birch, Alfred Munnings and Dame Laura Knight. One day Laura Knight was painting a tramp in the nude, with only a handkerchief for covering, when two elderly ladies came with hampers and seated themselves on the grass above. Seeing what was going on they complained loudly and were going to stop it, when the Colonel said, “Laura Knight can do what she likes - that piece of shore is my property.”

There is an amusing description of Col. Paynter in Ithell Colquhoun’s book, “The Living Stones”. “The ground landlord was Colonel Paynter whose family had owned Boskenna for many hundreds of years and still owned much of the land around Lamorna. Strangely enough, the old colonel, one of feudalism’s last relics, had been the first person I met when I arrived in Cornwall for a week’s holiday during the war. There were no taxis in Penzance station yard, and as I was standing forlornly by the suitcase I was unable to carry, not knowing how I was going to cover the three or four miles that separated me from Mousehole, a little old gentleman kindly offered me a lift. His bent figure looked to me rather like a beetle, but this may have been because of his clothes - a sort of tail-coat and a bowler green with age - reminded me of a beetle similarly attired which I had seen long ago in an illustration in a child’s book. I afterwards discovered that this was the colonel’s habitual costume. But his beady eyes, down curving nose and dark wrinkled skin added to the illusion.”

The last of the Boskenna Paynters was Elizabeth Narcissa Marie Paynter, (Betty Paynter), who had an unusually interesting life. When she was young Einstein came to Boskenna and tried to explain his Theory of Relativity to her and she said later, “I used to go boringly up to him and say, “Oh, Mr. Einstein, I’ve forgotten what you said”, and he used to start all over again.” She also remembered as a child, secretly seeing Alistair Crowley holding a ritual in the Trevellow Woods, and described it as “a real orgy, fit for The News of the World!”

In a book by Michael Williams and John Chard, ‘Penzance to Lands End’, Betty Paynter recounted some of her memories: “Lawrence of Arabia would roar up and down the drive on his motorcycle, and he was quite mad about my mother. D.H. Lawrence would come here from Zennor, Augustus John was a regular visitor, and one night he brought a baby that some young woman had given him. Father said, “leave it in the porch”, but I went and deposited it in the kitchen with one of the servants. We had marvellous parties, it was not the thing to invite the ‘trade’ but artists were always welcome.”

She had an affair with Marconi which seems to have begun when she was still a schoolgirl. He had become friendly with her mother when he was experimenting with wireless transmissions in Cornwall. In 1924 Marconi and his Irish wife decided to separate. That autumn he invited Mrs. Paynter and Betty to a Mediterranean cruise on his steam yacht, Elettra. On the cruise Marconi took them to meet the King and Queen of Spain and the King and Queen of Italy and they were away for three months. Marconi spent Christmas at Boskenna and in April 1925 the national newspapers were predicting Betty’s engagement to Marconi, but it was not to happen. Betty later said Marconi had lavished her with presents and wrote her letters and later proposed to her but added, “There was no sex between us, and though he was a very sweet and generous man, the age was too great.”

Betty was the first woman to land in an aeroplane at the Isles of Scilly, with the aviator, Graham White, and her mother, Mrs. Ethel Paynter was the first woman to speak directly to Australia over the air, from Marconi’s transmitter at Poldhu.

Betty Paynter was quite a lady. She was striking, athletic and flamboyant and it was said that when she entered a room conversation would stop for a moment, such was her personality. After her affair with Marconi she was one of the ‘debs’ who was presented at Court in 1925 and she ‘did the London season.’ Later she married Olaf Poulsen de Baerdermaker of Chateau Hemelryk, Belgium by whom she had a daughter, Sonya, who married a Mr. Timothy Bryant. Betty married for a second time to Mr. Jewel Hill of Penzance. Betty Paynter sold the estates to pay off huge loans in the late 1950’s shortly after my parents stayed there with her. The death duties when the Colonel had died were £33,000! So the estate was broken up and the farms sold off.

When she was 72 and strange incident was reported in the press when a young man with whom she had been a close friend, I believe he was the son of a bank manager in Penzance, who apparently had a drink problem, tried to break into her flat and I believe her jealous husband shot him in the leg, then fled by sea to Spain to escape the consequences. The young man died in hospital the next day and later Betty's husband was cleared of the murder. Betty died the following year on 10th July 1980.

There is a good booklet written about the history of the Paynter family and Boskenna, their Cornish seat for many generations. (Boskenna and the Paynters by Jim Hosking). And another book has just been published which gives an idea of life at Boskenna during the 1930’s and 40’s - “Wild Mary”, an excellent biography of Mary Wesley by Patrick Marnham published by Chatto and Windus. Mary Wesley was a great friend of Betty Paynter’s and she based some of her books including “The Camomile Lawn” on her experiences at Boskenna.


Frank Paynter's Bankruptcy: Going back in time to the year 1849, we find that although Francis (Frank) Paynter was a lawyer and judge of the Hundred Court etc., he was in deep financial trouble and was bankrupt. This was, some fourteen years before his death and around the time of the birth of his son, William Rouse Paynter. It must have been following the death of his cousin, John, that financial irregularities were exposed when John’s younger brother, Thomas, inherited Boskenna. John Paynter was obviously not interested in money and was quite happy to let his cousin, Frank, handle his financial affairs. And Frank had a growing need for money after he married Catherine in 1840 and the children started arriving. All those sons required clothing feeding and educating and Frank began helping himself to his cousin’s money, perhaps intending to pay him back at a future date, not realizing that his cousin John would die suddenly in 1847 at the age of 56, and his younger brother would find him out when he inherited the estate. Being a lawyer, Frank tried to protect his assets by declaring himself bankrupt, having salted away what assets he had.

According to a report in the Royal Cornwall Gazette, at the Exeter Court of Bankruptcy on May 18th 1849, Francis Paynter said that he had assigned his furniture etc., to trustees and in January he had made a mortgage of his property to his brother, Charles, who had become his surety to the bank for £200. At this time a Mr. Bidwell was suing him for £500, and his cousin, Mr. Thomas Paynter, (the police magistrate), for another large sum, about £700. Francis Paynter denied any knowledge of any unsettled account for money which he had borrowed of the late Mr. John Paynter, brother of the magistrate, and for whom the bankrupt had acted as agent, although it appears that entries were found in Mr. Paynter’s papers of money advanced to the bankrupt and of the repayment of which there was no record.

Frank Paynter said that at the beginning of 1840 he had set down his capital at £16,000, subject to liabilities of £11,000. In May 1840 his second marriage took place when he settled property to the value of £9,825.00 on his wife whose pin money was £50 per annum. In nine years his household expenses were £4,502; his office expenses £2,500; and his servants wages £100. The profit from all his business did not average more than £600 per annum. The examination was adjourned sine die.

There was a note of the proceedings in the press-:

West Briton 10 May, 1850


Montague Baker BERE, Esq., Her Majesty's Commissioner of the Exeter District Court of Bankruptcy, being the Commissioner authorized to act under a Fiat in Bankruptcy, bearing date the twelfth day of February, 1849, awarded and issued forth against FRANCIS PAYNTER, of Penzance, in the county of Cornwall, attorney and money scrivener, dealer and chapman, will sit on the twenty-third day of May instant, at One o'clock in the Afternoon precisely, at the Court of Bankruptcy for the Exeter District, in Queen Street, in the city of Exeter, for the purpose of auditing the assignees' accounts of the estate and effects of the said bankrupt; and on the twelfth day of June next, at Eleven o'clock in the Forenoon precisely, to make a dividend of the estate and effects of the said bankrupt. On either of the above days, the creditors who have not already proved their debts, may prove the same, or they will be excluded the benefit of the said dividend; and all claims not then proved will be disallowed. THOMAS ROGERS AND SON, Helston, Cornwall, Solicitors to the Assignees. Dated 3rd May, 1850.

This bankruptcy must have been a great embarrassment to the family and to his wife, Catherine, in particular, and there were certain things in the past that my grandmother would never discuss, so she never spoke of this to the family.

But blood is thicker than water, and in the end Thomas must have forgiven Frank and they must have come to a compromise as Francis Paynter appears to have been able to continue as a lawyer despite his financial troubles of the late 1840’s. Perhaps Catherine’s uncle Edward Pendarves helped to bail Francis out of trouble?

In 1850, despite his own recent financial embarrassment, Francis Paynter was acting as Clerk of the Court in Penzance and, ironically, in dealing with the bankruptcies of others. Notices appeared in the press, presumably placed by Francis, as Clerk of the County Court, requesting that persons owing money to certain individuals in financial difficulties should make payment to him, as Official Assignee nominated by the court. The poor bankrupts that August and September 1850 were John Potter, a retailer of Ale, Beer, Porter and Cider; a widow, Patty Trerise who was a grocer, druggist, perfumer, toy merchant and tobacconist; and Philip Nicholas, a grocer, draper, flour dealer, dealer in earthenware and a farmer.

Why were these people experiencing financial problems in Cornwall? The years between 1842-1846 were called “The Hungry Forties” and aside from the terrible potato famine in Ireland, bad weather conditions had led to poor harvests and food shortages all over the United Kingdom. In 1848 the average age of death was only 28 in West Cornwall. Poverty and poor nutrition were partly to blame, but also poor sanitation leading to contamination of drinking water. Very few houses had toilets and in 1849 there was an outbreak of cholera in West Cornwall while the following year there was a smallpox epidemic. In 1849 the Public Health Inspector wrote: "It is impossible to convey an adequate idea of the filth of the town near the Quay, in which the cholera prevailed formerly." There had been a cholera epidemic in Britain in 1832.

The Corn Laws had been brought in after the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 to protect British farmers from cheap foreign imported corn and so keep the price artificially high. It was partly the potato famine but also the generally poor harvests in England that put pressure on Sir Robert Peel, the Conservative Prime Minister, to consider importing cheap American maize and removing duties on grain, putting him at odds with many members of his own party. But it was Benjamin Disraeli’s powerful argument that finally was to convince enough MP’s to vote to repeal the Corn Laws on 16th May 1846. This debate was to make Disraeli’s reputation and split the Conservative Party.

After 1850 things began to improve. The repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 and the rapid expansion of the railways helped economic recovery and things slowly got better.

A sixth son, William Rouse Paynter was born on 9th July 1849. The following year their seventh son James Bernard Paynter was born on 28th December 1850. 1851 was the year of The Great Exhibition, when Britain showed off her creativity and industry to the world in the Crystal Palace erected in Hyde Park.

The 1851 census shows the size of the Paynter household at 24 Clarence Street. Francis was the head of the household and now 61 years of age. He is described as a solicitor and Clerk of the County Court and he and his wife now have seven sons ranging in age from 10 years to 3 months, with a nurse, a cook and housemaid and a house servant. The four oldest children, Francis, Charles, John and Henry, were born at Church Stretton, their grandmother’s home, the next two, Thomas and William, were born at the small village of Wendron near Helston in Cornwall, while the last child, 3 month old James, was born at home in Clarence House. In 1853 Catherine’s uncle Edward Pendarves died and his glowing obituary was published. Francis and Catherine’s eighth and final son was born at the time of the Crimean War in 1854 and they called him, appropriately, Frederick Octavius. They must have been disappointed to have had no daughters.

The Crimean War, where Britain and France decided to help to prop up the crumbling Ottoman Empire to prevent Russian expansionism, was fought after forty years of peace. But it seems that the officers and generals of the British army had become inefficient and complacent, as this war showed not only the bungling that led to the futile though heroic “Charge of the Light Brigade,” but dreadful mismanagement of supplies and equipment leading to the men been exposed to freezing weather and lack of food, while the clothing and supplies that could have helped them were rotting on a beach at Scutari five hundred miles away.

This was the first European war since the invention of the electric telegraph some ten years earlier. The lack of censorship of the dispatches sent by William Russell to the Times, who was allowed complete freedom to go where he liked and talk to whom he liked, unfortunately led to the Russian Commanders learning about the disposition of the allied forces from reading The Times and thus sometimes knowing more about what was going on in the field than some of the British Officers on the ground!

But Russell’s reports were to make another contribution to the way the war was being waged as he ruthlessly exposed the scandalous sanitary arrangement and the poor treatment of the wounded, the dysentery and disease. An immediate result of this outcry was the appearance of Florence Nightingale, a thirty three year old woman who had just returned to England having studied hospital organisation abroad. Her offer of help was accepted by an embarrassed government and within two weeks she sailed with a party of other ladies to the Crimea. Here she undertook the enormous task with zeal and spent thousands of pounds of her own money in buying hospital stores. The Times followed her progress with interest and opened a public subscription to support her. She reduced the death rate in the hospital from 42% to 2% in six months by the application of common sense, good nursing care and proper hygiene. This was the beginning of the modern nursing and medical services out of which the International Red Cross was eventually born.

From the 1830’s to the 1850’s the railway network grew across Britain. This made travel from one part of the country to another so much easier and faster. In 1845 the Great Western Railway introduced express trains between London and Exeter (194 miles) at 43 mph, including three stops, much faster than trains anywhere else. Isambard Kingdom Brunel shared his triumph with Sir Daniel Gooch, who had designed the locomotives that ran so well. Daniel Gooch and his son, Charles, laid the first transatlantic cable in 1858 using Brunel’s Great Eastern. The Cornwall Railway which opened in 1859, depended on the GWR and its allies for the exchange of long distance traffic at Plymouth. By 1867 through carriages were being run between London and Penzance but this latter development came too late for Francis Paynter who died in 1863 aged 73.

The West Briton newspaper of Friday May 20th 1853, has an announcement concerning a certain George Brant Bosustow, formerly a farmer and now an insolvent debtor, poor fellow. And “All persons indebted to the said George Grant Bosustow, or who have any of his effects, are not to pay or deliver the same but to Mr. Francis PAYNTER, the Clerk of the said Court, at his office at Penzance, aforesaid, the Official Assignee, nominated in that behalf by the said Court, acting in the matter of the said Petition. FRANCIS PAYNTER, Clerk. Dated 10th May, 1853.”

Kelly’s Post Office Directory of Cornwall for 1856 shows Francis Paynter’s name under several different headings. He is listed (1) among the Perpetual Commissioners for taking Acknowledgements of Married Women; (2) as a Commissioner in Chancery; (3) Francis Paynter Esq. of Clarence Street is the Registrar of the Deanery Court of St. Buryan; and lastly (4) Francis Paynter Esq. of Clarence Street is the Steward of the Lower Court of the Hundred of Penwith. Francis Paynter is also given as the County Court Clerk for Redruth in 1856.

He is listed thus in the 1856 Directory: "Paynter Francis, solicitor, clerk to County court, Commissioner in Chancery, Notary Public, Registrar of the Deanery court of St. Buryan, & steward of the Lower Court of the Hundred of Penwith, Frances Paynter Esq., Clarence street."

On 10th February 1856 Francis Paynter was a party together with Edwin Newman and others in arranging a lease of Cooks Tenament at Castallack, Paul, in Cornwall. Francis Paynter’s son, Henry, was to marry Edwin’s daughter, Henrietta, in 1867, and this is the first reference I have found to a connection between the two solicitors.

On 1st September 1859 amongst the Cornish records we find that Francis Paynter was involved in leasing part of Connerton Manor: AD656 Cornish deeds and leases Ref. No AD656/19 is a “Lease on Connor Downs, Gwithian between the Parties: 1) John Warren of Paul, shipwright, and wife Mary 2) James Rogers, mason and administrator of deceased father James Rogers 3) John Rowe, miner, of Gwithian. Recites: 25 March 1837. Lease by Francis Paynter to James Rogers. 1844 mortgage, James Rogers to Hannah Hitchens. 1846 will of Hannah Hitchens, leaving premises to Mary Warren as in 1) above Lease by 1) and 2) to 3) of plot of ground then uncultivated (1 acre Cornish) part of Connor Downs adjoining road from Hayle to Camborne part of Connerton Manor. Term: 99 years.”

In 1861 a new census was made of districts in Penzance and we find Francis Paynter and family still living in 24 Clarence Street. Francis Paynter, the head of the family is now 71 and described as an Attorney and Solicitor, the Registrar of the County Court & Steward of Lower Court of Hundred of Penwith. His wife, Catherine Paynter is now 50, but now there are just two sons at home: Francis E Paynter, who is 20 and a Solicitor's Articled Clerk; and Frederick O Paynter, aged 8, a Scholar. There are just two servants: Ann Hicks aged 23; and Ann Pearce, who is 16, both described as House Servants. I wonder where the other children were. Perhaps at boarding school?

When Francis Paynter died in 1863 at around the same time as his son Charles, his widow, Catherine, was left with six sons aged approximately 21, 19, 17, 16, 11 and 9 and this must have been a hard time for her. Her mother, Anne Gregory Coleman, had died the year before and young William, her son, had died just three years earlier. I am sure her older son’s must have helped their mother.

In 1864 Coulson’s Directory of Penzance lists the occupant of Clarence House as being Alfred Southby Crowdy, Esq. and in brackets (Mrs. Paynter).

In 1867 Catherine’s son, Henry, married Henrietta Newman, the only daughter of a wealthy solicitor from Yeovil, Somerset, and Catherine was to take a strong liking to Henry’s father-in-law, Edwin Newman.

The 1871 census shows the widowed Catherine still living at Clarence House Penzance now with three of her sons, Francis E. (30), John de C. (26) and Frederick O. (17). But Frederick was to die later that year, on 5th September, when he and his brother Bernard were visiting their brother Henry and his wife, at Freelands, in Alnwick. Frederick was just 17, the same age as William had been when he died. The death was registered by his brother, Bernard, and the cause was described as “acute pneumonia phthisis.” All of the remaining brothers and their mother gathered for the funeral in Alnwick and there is a family photo of this sad occasion.

In 1875, according to an intriguing item offered on ebay:

Here is an Indenture on vellum dated 27th August 1875 in respect of a Transfer of Mortgage on premises at Rush Hill Road, Lavender Hill, Surrey. The contract is between Thomas Lyon of Yeovil, Somerset, Gentleman, and Catherine Augusta Paynter of Penzance, Cornwall, Widow. Other names mentioned are James Mulvey and Thomas Graves. The document opens out to approx 28" x 19", is beautifully handwritten, carries an original wax seal and has a one shilling and six pence revenue stamp. In excellent condition.

I found another document relating to this indenture which records:

Battersea LEASE of a piece of ground with a messuage known as 10 Rush Hill Road, Thomas Graves to James Mulvey. 2 vellum sheets, wax seals, sketch plan in text showing Lavender Hill etc. 1875. £12.00

Was the widowed Catherine thinking of moving from Cornwall to a house south of London? Perhaps she was buying a house for one of her sons? It is strange that Rush Hill Road, off Lavender Hill, Clapham, is very close to where my daughter Sasha is living now in Wix’s Lane Clapham, about three roads away off Lavender Hill.

Eventually Catherine married again in 1876 to her son, Henry’s, father-in-law, Edwin Newman of Hendford Manor, Yeovil, whose wife had recently died and with whom she got on well, but she died four years later on 11th September 1880.

I have found a confusing document on the internet amongst Cornish Deeds and Leases AD656:

RefNo AD656/20
Title Lease, Connor Downs, Gwithian
Date 12 Apr 1878
Format Manuscript
Extent 2 items
Parties: 1) Catherine Augusta Newman, late widow of Francis Paynter, of Clarence House, Penzance, now widow of Edwin Newman of Yeovil, Somerset. 2) Jenifer Smethram, widow, of Connor Downs. Lease by 1) to 2) of messuage or dwelling-house with garden in front and barn, cowshouse, stables and three fields formerly four closes, three acres at Connor Downs. Term: 99 years or lives of lessee and counterpart. Rent: 10 shillings.

This can’t be right, as Edwin outlived Catherine, so I think the person who transcribed the document misread widow and it should have read “Now wife of Edwin Newman.”

Edwin lived on for another five years. He was a wealthy man, so the marriage gave Catherine and her family financial security in her old age.

Clarence House, in Clarence Street, Penzance is a large house which had a good sized garden, but it was sold some time after 1871, perhaps in 1876 when Catherine married Edwin, and was acquired by the Bolitho family. Thomas Bolitho & Sons are listed in Kelly’s Post Office Directory of 1856 as merchants, tanners and tinsmiths of Chyandower, and Bolitho Sons & Co. are also listed at Mount’s Bay bank, Market Jew Street. In January 1890 the Bolitho family let Clarence House to The Penzance Church of England High School for Girls. The 1891 census now shows Clarence House was a school with Elizabeth Hare as headmistress living with four teachers, two student teachers, a cook and a housemaid, while at number 24, which is part of the same building I believe, lived a Professor of Music with his wife and his daughter who was a teacher of music.

In 1918 the school moved to Polwithen, to another house owned by the Bolitho family. Clarence House was then occupied by St.Erbyn’s School, a junior mixed school. The school grew, becoming a Boys Preparatory School in 1926, with a dozen boarders and 40 day boys, and was becoming too much for the headmistress. Miss B.Steadman, who sold it to Reginald Frederick d’Argaville (Rex) Carr in 1927. He bought the freehold from Edward Bolitho in 1927, including a games field and soon after the school expanded to include No. 1 Clarence Place to accommodate the growing numbers. Girls were re-admitted to the school in 1935 when Rex’s daughter, Bridget, joined. Rex remained headmaster until he retired in 1970. Now part of the grounds are a public car park and the house is run down, or was when I saw it in the 1990’s.

In 1925 Lieutenant Colonel Sir Edward Bolitho inherited Trengwainton House and Gardens near Lands End which had been acquired by his family in 1857. The family must have known the Paynter family quite well, as Trengwainton is not far from Boskenna

James Bernard Paynter: Catherine’s youngest living son at the time of her second marriage, was Bernard, her favourite and my grandmother’s “Uncle B”, and he lived at Hendford House, Yeovil, very close to his mother, now at Hendford Manor with her second husband. My grandmother did not like him. Bernard also seems to have been very successful in real estate and seems to have become quite wealthy. By the time of his step father (Edwin Newman)'s death in 1885, Bernard was only 32, yet he was already a partner in the family firm of Newman, Paynter and Gould, and most probably senior partner. He was an executor of Edwin's will (along with his brother Henry Augustus Paynter and Edwin's eldest surviving son, Walter), one provision of Edwin's will empowered James Bernard Paynter to purchase "any part of Edwin's real and personal estate at any sale or sales thereof at public auction or by private contract …." , from which one may deduce that Bernard purchased Hendford Manor from Edwin's estate. This seems to indicate that Edwin expected Bernard to buy out some or all of his property. Certainly he was the owner of Hendford Manor in 1889 when he went on to purchase 'Hendford House' across the road for £4,450.

The 1881 Yeovil census shows James living nearby at 32 Hendford Hill (described as a lodger, and solicitor aged 29). By the time of the 1891 census he had become "Head" of the household at Hendford Manor.

Like his father, James Bernard married late in life, and (aged 50) he married Maud Beckton the 4th daughter of Joseph Beckton, in 1900; she may have been related to the Ernest Beckton who, with James, took over the £600 mortgage on part of the Windy Edge Estate adjacent to Freelands. By then (and probably earlier) Bernard was senior partner of the Yeovil firm. Harold Newman records that "it was in Bernard's era that I visited Hendford Manor several times. He had married a local girl, Josephine Beckton, who bore him two sons (William Bernard) Camborne and (Edwin) Pendarvis - Cornish names par excellence - who were several years my senior)". He also had a daughter, Margaret Catherine Amelia Paynter.

Both of Maud's grandparents were extremely wealthy industrialists. One of the sites states that "The Beckons' paternal grandfather earned a fortune in textiles, the same industry in which their maternal grandfather, Matthew Curtis, became rich as an inventor and founder of one of the largest textile mills in Britain. Curtis, who also served three terms as lord mayor of Manchester, left his 18-, 19- and 20-year old grandsons a great deal of money when he died in 1887." Presumably Maud also inherited some of her grandfathers' wealth however this was not the source of the funds that James used to buy his properties in Yeovil which he had purchased some years before marrying Maud.

Yeovil Chess Club was founded on 22 September 1906 at Hendford Manor Lodge, 33 Hendford. James Bernard Paynter owned the Lodge at the time and gave the Club free use of the room. He was made the first president of the Club. The Club remained at Hendford Manor Lodge until 1927. Founder members came from The Avenue, Stuckey , Kingston, Everton Road, Preston, Reckleford Cross and the Chairman (Dr Kingston) from Yeovil. The first subscription was 5 shillings per annum for Town members, and 2 shillings and sixpence for persons residing upwards of 20 miles from Yeovil. (It is not known if there were any members who travelled this distance, but transport could not have been easy). It is interesting to compare costs over the years. The first recorded balance sheet was for 1908, when the total expenditure for the year was £5.19s 11d. £2 of this was paid to a Mrs Martin for cleaning and providing fires in the Clubroom for the year. Today, total annual expenditure is in excess of £700, with room rent making up the largest part of this.

When Bernard died in 1927, he left the house to his eldest son William, who sold it to Yeovil Town Council in 1935. Maud Paynter (James Bernard's wife) was still living in Yeovil at The Grove House, Preston Road, in 1939.

Regarding Francis and Catherine’s other children:

The tump, north-east of the Church, had a small castle with the brook forming wet defenses all round. This brook joins the River Wye at How Caple. Snowdrops grow on its little bays and promontories and cowslips grow in the churchyard. The old Churchyard Cross has a medieval base. The Preaching Crosses were used in churchyards so that congregations were in the open air at the time of the Black Death.

Extract from Littlebury's Directory and Gazetteer of Herefordshire, 1876-7:

Thomas and Fanny had a son, Francis de Foe Beville Paynter. Thomas died on 4th February 1917 aged 69.

Page created 12 Jun 2009