In May 2019 Mary Ellen Burt Morgan of Syracuse in New York State visited North Hill to see where her forebears were born, baptised, lived, worshipped, married, worked and laid to rest. Very kindly she wrote about her visit and the impression it made on her. Having returned to the USA and allowed her thoughts to settle, this is what she has written.

I am very proud of my Cornish roots and was excited to find the North Hill Local History Group on-line. Soon after I found myself able to visit that beautiful part of the world.

My grandmother, Fannie Craske Clements (1906-1987), was a descendant of two Cornish families who, in the case of the Pearses, were born, married and buried in North Hill/Berriow Bridge.

James Pearse (1797-1881) and his wife Elizabeth Batten (1805-1878) are listed as residing at Port Lodge, Berriow Bridge in the 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871 censuses. James was a mason. How exciting it was for me to visit that house and walk where my great-great-great grandparents walked for so many years.

Robert Richards Clements (1822-1888) is listed in Berriow Bridge for the 1861 census. He and his father Job and his son William were copper and tin miners. Although the Clements family was in the immediate North Hill/Berriow Bridge area for a shorter period of time, it was evidently long enough for James and Elizabeth’s daughter Fanny (1830-1901) to marry Robert on September 2, 1852 in North Hill. Their son William Batten Clements (1854-1931) is my great-grandfather.

William emigrated to the United States in 1880 aboard the SS Algeria. He travelled without his first wife Belinda Kemp and their children who followed at a later unknown date. Belinda died in the U.S.A. in 1893. William married Mary Ann “Polly” Stutters in Massachusetts in 1897. My grandmother was a child of that union.

When I learned through census data that my great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather and great-great-great-grandfather had all been miners I tried to imagine the conditions under which they would have worked – back breaking, filthy, dangerous.

Visiting Cornwall was added to my bucket list. Then I finally read Daphne Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn and was surprised to find many mentions of North Hill in it. I needed to go.

Through the generosity of the North Hill Local History Group and an adventurous driver/guide I made it to North Hill where I was allowed access to St. Torney’s church as well as the previously mentioned Port Lodge (since renamed). My major disappointment was learning that it was not uncommon for families not to erect grave stones – there were none for me to search for. This did seem a little strange as James Pearse was a mason.

It was such a wonderful and heart-warming experience visiting this tiny slice of rural England. I hope to visit again and spend more time exploring the area. I can now envision my male ancestors hiking off over the hills and moor to work in those dark and dirty mines. I can see families walking to St. Torney’s for services, christenings and weddings. I can see my female ancestors cooking, mending, scrubbing and tending gardens while caring for their children.

I have no pictures, have no idea the color of their hair or eyes, no idea if they were short or tall, thin or heavy, whether they were serious or laughed often, no idea if they could sing. We only have bits gleaned from censuses and church records to tell us just a little more, such as the tidbit that the Clements’ sent their children to school – not necessarily a common practice at that time.

So, to James and Elizabeth (Batten) Pearse, their daughter Fanny and her husband Robert Richards Clements and their son William Batten Clements, thank you. I think you Cornish men and women were strong and hard-working people and I’m pleased to be related to you. It’s not likely you ever gave a thought that 200 or so years from your lifetime that your descendants would know and remember your names, but we do and would have loved to know more.

Mary Ellen Burt Morgan, 2019

The image at the top of the page is Mary Ellen (left) with her 'buddy' and travelling companion, Brooksie.