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Enter Stephen Johns

Posted on: 23rd February 2012

Lake’s “Parochial history of Cornwall” 1868 records that the present manor house at Trewince was erected in 1750 by the grandson or great grandson of a man named Richard Johns. Quoting from the ‘History of Cornwall vol 2 Gilbert 1838’ (based on manuscript histories of Hals and Tonkin), the editor wrote that: “An extremely good house was built here about the year 1750 by the grandson or greatgrandson of the gentleman who made the purchase of Trelegar from Mr Trevanian.”

old Trewince

old Trewince

Trewince was described as “A very pleasant house of 5 bays 2 storeyed with quoins and a door with an alternatingly rusticated surround (ie Gibbs) 1750. ”

There is another reference to Mr Johns here; I don’t think that a ‘squire of Gerrans’, resident at Trewince, could possibly expect such entitlements in the 21st century:

“The Bishop of Exeter  endowed Gerrans church the one half as a rectory, the other as a vicarage. This division was effected in a very unusual manner, although in one not quite without example. Instead of apportioning the tithe of corn to the rector, and all other portions, as small tithes, to the vicar, the whole has here been divided into equal shares; so that Mr Johns of Trewince the lay impropriator is entitled to 1/20th of everything tithable and the incumbent to another twentieth.” This would have been Stephen Johns for we read of a lease of 1753  – ‘Stephen John, on the lives of Stephen 25 Elenor 18 son and daughter of Stephen’. This expression ‘on the lives’ refers to a form of lease which was used in the 17th & 18th centuries, which was based on the lives of three specified people, so the lease would last for the lifetimes of the father Stephen, who could have been about 45, his son Stephen, aged 25 and his daughter Elenor aged 18: for the natural life of the survivor or longest liver of them. The theory was that the property would remain in the family for a substantial amount of time, since every time one of the ‘lives’ died, the lease would be surrendered and raised again on another three lives.

Stephen died soon after this: in his will of 04/11/1761 the ‘remainder of lands’ were left to his son Stephen Johns. I saw a document relating to the administration of his will in 1766, and it was in such a fragile state that I was amazed that viewing was allowed! The will referred to daughters Abigail, Ann and Eleanor and son Stephen; witnesses were Henry Nicholls, Martin Davis, and John Pascoe. He left to his wife ‘meadows in Trewithian’; to daughter Abigail £500 as a marriage settlement to be paid within a year of his death; in the meantime interest on this of £4 per cent per annum; to daughter Ann and daughter Eleanor the same; the remainder of lands and tenements were left to his son Stephen.

Johns Memorial in Gerrans churchyard

Johns Memorial in Gerrans churchyard

It was interesting to read about leases at http://bit.ly/wgZJlG . Apparently, leases sometimes had a wavy edge where two halves of an agreement had been cut apart and could be matched back together at a later date in order  to check that both halves of the agreement were the original documents.

There are accounts books relating to this period, referring to large parcels of land
1760 S Johns – Trewince (80 acres)
Polhaughan
Lanhoose
267 acres
Treluggan and so on….
They show amounts of wheat and  barley and the sale of lump sugar