Some September weather reports 1895-1909

James Stevens recorded some very dry September weather in his Diary…

1895 – Tonight being the breakup of the drought and heat, September being the finest and hottest for 50 years; the thermometer at Eagle’s Nest in the glass house on the 26th was as high as 90 degrees and at London in the shade 86, the heat causing sunstrokes and the fainting of horses and people in the streets. Hard rain and wind this night causing many wrecks at sea. Water has become very scarce in many places and the grass fields dried up, here in Foage and Towednack they remained more green.  (Tuesday 1st October)

1906 – Very dry these last two weeks…. (Saturday 29th September)

1907 – Threshed, got big rick straw and large pile of dredged corn. Finished about 5.20, helped to put machine to Trannack mill. Had dry weather and it has been dry for a fortnight or more. Had barrel water yesterday and one today from the trough in field. Burned about 10 cwt coal.  (Wednesday 25th September)

1909 – At Penzance. Put the fruit (apples etc) from the Harvest Festival to the Infirmary. Heavy showers much needed, water everywhere very low.  (Thursday 23rd September)

1909 – Water short, carting it every day for use and cattle.  (Wednesday 29th September)


Mrs. Stevens of Lower Foage

On this day 121 years ago the funeral of Mrs. Stevens was held at St. Senara’s Church in Zennor.  She had died three days earlier, recorded by James Stevens in his Diary…

Mrs. Stevens of Lower Foage died aged 80 years.  Walked New Mill to see the undertaker. (Sunday 6th September 1896)

Honor Stevens - Death Card

On the day of the funeral James wrote…

James [his son] drove horse St. Ives for mournings etc. at Mrs. Stevens’ funeral. (Wednesday 9th September 1896)

Honor Stevens

Mrs. Honor Stevens was James’s mother-in-law.  Born in Zennor in 1816, she was the daughter of Francis and Dorcas Edwards (nee Rowe).  At the time of the 1841 Census she was living with her family in Trowan, a hamlet about half a mile from St. Ives, where her father was a farmer.  In 1848 she married John Stevens, a tin miner from Trevalgan (a nearby farm) and they had five children, two sons and three daughters, all born in Trowan.  By the 1871 Census the family had moved to Foage, Zennor and in 1881 Honor and two of her daughter are listed as ‘Dairywomen’.  The last Census she appears on is in 1891, “living on her own means” at Lower Foage with her unmarried daughter, Eliza.  Honor and John’s sons, John and Francis, both emigrated to California to work in the gold mines of Nevada City, while their middle daughter, Elizabeth, married James Pascoe (a granite mason from Zennor) and went to live in Bath.  Their eldest daughter, Honor Edwards Stevens, married James Stevens in 1874.  

Mrs. Stevens was widowed in 1873, her 56-year-old husband’s cause of death given as “phthisis pulmonalis” or pulmonary consumption.  But James Stevens was a good son-in-law and often recorded the things he did for her, such as…

  • Pulled 14 load of long dung for potatoes and 6 load of Mrs. Stevens for her potatoes.
  • Cut brambles of hedge and made a stool for Mrs. Stevens.
  • Shore our 7 and Mrs. Stevens’ 4 sheep.
  • Thatched Mrs. Stevens’ furze rick with 2 sheaves of reed.
  • Rode horse St. Ives for the doctor for Mrs. Stevens of Lower Foage. Rode St. Ives again for medicine for Mrs. Stevens.
  • Pulled Mrs. Stevens’ turfs, 1500 at 6 loads.


Honor Stevens (1816-1896) - Copy (640x257)

Ireland versus Stona – an accusation of “slander”

On this day in 1903 James Stevens wrote in his Diary…

At Penzance with trap for load of boxes etc. for Mr. Ireland the new schoolmaster. (Saturday 5th September 1903)

Little did James know that Arthur Ireland and his wife Mary (the schoolmistress) were going to prove problematic employees.

In December the following year James wrote…

Last Monday I was at a meeting of managers in Sancreed school, decided to give the master and mistress notice to leave, as there has been so much friction or disagreement between them. (Monday 12th December 1904).

According to a later Newspaper report, it was said that Mr. Ireland had “owing to indulgence in drink during the time he had been head-master of the Sancreed National School, conducted himself in an offensive, quarrelsome, and insubordinate manner towards the managers, that he was unreliable and untrustworthy, and not fit to be employed in any position of trust, that his wife was a drunkard, that she had assisted her husband in quarrelling with the managers…”  (From The West Briton & Cornwall Advertiser, Tuesday 13th June, 1907)

Then in June 1907 James wrote…

Rode Penzance in our trap with Mr. Stona to go to Bodmin Assizes with Mr. Hichens as witnesses for Mr. Stona as defendant in a charge of slander or libel against Mr. & Mrs. Ireland former teachers at Sancreed school, but were not required to give evidence as Mr. Stona’s counsel most ably cleared him, the other side being proved to be a fraud or plant or trap got up by the Irelands to try to catch Mr. Stona. Damages claimed by plaintiffs £1,250. (Monday 10th June 1907)

Arthur and Mary Ireland had sued Rev. John Stona, Vicar of Sancreed and a school manager, for “libel and slander”, claiming damages of £750 and £500 respectively. However, during the trial it became clear to the Jury that the letter at the centre of the action was a ‘plant’, involving Mr. Ireland’s brother-in-law (Mr. W. Gibson). Before Rev. Stona or James Stevens were called to give testimony, the Jury said they had already heard enough to make a decision, which the Judge agreed to. They found the case in favour of Rev. Stona, awarding him £84. In October 1907 Rev. Stona applied to the Courts as he still hadn’t received any money from Mr. Ireland. The Court said Mr. Ireland must pay Rev. Stona in installments of £1.00 per month. Then in December 1907 Mr. Ireland declared himself bankrupt!

You can read the newspaper reports in The West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser…

  • Thursday 13th June 1907 (page 8) – Cornish Vicar and Schoolmaster – Slander action at the Azisses.
  • Thursday 31st October 1907 (page 4) – Cornish Slander Case – Sequel in the County Court.
  • Thursday 19th December 1907 (page 8) – Affairs of a Cornish School Teacher.