A Cory family history

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The Corys:
blacksmiths turned butchers


From The Cory Family of Tresparret and Jersey by Rosamund Jeanne Champ, nee Cory

Alice Cory and her children

The Corys were a family of blacksmiths in Cornwall. Several of them moved independently from there to Jersey, where butchery became the preferred family trade

Robert and Alice

On 4 April 1811 Alice French and Robert Cory were married in Davidstow, Cornwall. Robert was born at Tresparett in the parish of St Juliot in about 1788. His father was a blacksmith. Alice was the fourth of the eleven children of John French and Mary Jewell.

Robert was a husbandman, which is something similar to a smallholder of today. He would have leased a piece of land to support animals and the growing of crops, self sufficient for most basic daily needs. Four years after his marriage, he was working in the forge at Tresparret. Perhaps his father had died and left him the family business. Blacksmithing was a Cory family trade.

Neither Robert nor Alice was ever able to read the printed word. Churches and chapels offered the only chance to learn the three Rs and we can be sure this is where their children were given the opportunity to become literate, as they all were. Nine babies arrived in quick succession, of whom eight survived infancy.

The eldest, a son, was followed by two girls who were always busy with their mother around the house and looking after their five little brothers.

Disaster struck in 1830. There was an epidemic in the locality, probably of typhus fever. That summer, Alice caught it. Twelve days later William, the eldest boy, fell sick. Then Robert became ill. He died 12 days later aged only 43. Alice, left at the age of 40 with eight children, the eldest aged 18 and the youngest only a year old, must have been devastated.

Robert’s funeral service was a “solemn and impressive occasion”, held in the open air due to the many people present who came from the adjacent eight or nine parishes. After his death the children may have been dispersed among the family. in the census of 1841 Alice was recorded as living with little Moses, her youngest child, in the household of her son Richard, aged 20, and his wife Elizabeth, together with their year old son William. Richard is described as a blacksmith.

After Robert’s death Alice able to stay in the family home and her eldest son, William, continued with the business to provide an income. Like most women of her time, her nineteen years of marriage had been marked by a pregnancy almost every other year. Although in those days girls were brought up to believe this to be a woman’s duty, the continual birth of child after child had dominated her daily life. At Robert’s death William was 18, the next two in age were Jane, 17, and Mary, 14 (who would have been a great help with the younger boys), Richard, 12, James, 9, John, 7 , Abram 4 and the baby Moses.

In those days many children left home quite early to serve apprenticeships, so it is quite possible the elder children had left home by the age of 12 or so. Certainly John was apprenticed to a tailor at St Gennys at this age.

Jane was married by 1841 to master butcher William Mutton and with the economy in Cornwall depressed they decided to move to Jersey, followed not long after by Alice and the still unmarried Mary. Once in Jersey she took up residence in Cheapside, St. Helier. Alice had no intention of moving in with any of her married children. She set up in business as a pork butcher, probably using skills she had learnt before her marriage and with at least one young man to assist her. At the age of 80 (in the 1871 census) she was still trading.

Eventually all the children except Richard, who stayed on in Tresparret, came over to Jersey. The boys all ended up owning their own businesses and were respected members of the community.

In old age Alice was comfortably placed, and at the time of her death her daughter Mary was still living with her. Alice employed a young maid to help in the house and appeared to enjoy good health. On the night she died - Sunday 10 November 1872 - she probably suffered a heart attack as, an hour or so after going to bed, she woke Mary, complaining of severe pain. There was just time to call Jane before she suddenly stopped breathing and died, her two dear daughters at her side. She is buried at Almorah Cemetery.

She had made out her will the previous year. In it she left £5 to each of her children, William, Richard, James, John, Abram, Moses and Jane. Everything else was left to her daughter Mary.

Alice and her children

The children of Robert and Alice

  • William (1812- )
  • Mary, known as Jane (1814- )
  • Mary (1815- )
  • Richard (1818- )
  • James (1821- )
  • John (1822- )
  • Betsey (1824- )
  • Abram (1826- )
  • Moses (1829- ) [1]

William Cory (1812-1892)

William and his father Robert worked together at the blacksmith’s shop in Tresparret. William, then 17, became ill before his father in 1830 but recovered after Robert died and was able to continue the business, providing an income for the rest of the family.

In April 1838, at the age of 26, William married 21 year old Grace Budge, the daughter of farmer Richard, and Anne, of Rosecare, in St Gennys Parish Church. They had six children. Some time after the 1861 census they decided to follow other members of the family and move to Jersey.

Grace died at the relatively young age of 62. When William grew old he gave up his home and went to live with his daughter Mary and her husband at Cheapside, St. Helier. William lived for a further 14 years after the loss of Grace.

Jane Cory (1814-1883)

Jane was baptised Mary but then renamed Jane by the family. She married William Mutton on 19 October 1833, in St Juliott church. William signed the register, Jane made her mark.

William was six years older than his wife and a butcher by trade. They had five children (on the 1851 St Helier census) and from their birthplaces it can be seen that they left for Jersey in 1841-42, between the births of their children Louisa and William. The children shown in the 1851 census were Mary, 15; Louisa, 10; William, 9; Thomas, 7; and Francis, 5.

Thomas and Francis are shown in the 1861 living with their grandmother Alice, and working as cabinet makers.

Jane died in 1883 aged 71. She outlived William by six years. They lie in the same grave at Almorah together with three little grandchildren who died in the space of two months, victims no doubt of some childhood disease.

William and Grace and their children

Alice Cory Lee

Alice Cory Lee was a granddaughter of Jane and William, daughter of their son William and Clara, nee Evans. Her story was told in the Palmers Green and Southgate Gazette of Friday 16 January 1959:

"A woman who can remember the late Seymour Hicks a a young man, who once went over the yacht of Lillie Langtry, the sensational “Jersey Lily”, and who at the ae of 12 spent a night tied to the mast of a stranded boat, is Mrs Alice Cory Lee, of 9 Orchid Road, Southgate, who celebrated her 94th birthday on Sunday 4 January.
"Born in St Helier, Jersey, the eldest of nine children, Mrs Lee was 20 when her family moved to Hornsey, London, for business reasons. She has lived at her present address since becoming a widow 19 years ago. Seymour Hicks was the friend of her brothers, who were educated a Victoria College, Jersey.
"She herself went to a private school in Jersey and then to a boarding school in France, studying music and dancing and winning prizes for the former.
"It was when returning for the holidays one bitter Christmas that young Alice Lee had her sea adventure. She and two others having missed the boat to Jersey, they stayed the night at a hotel and then chartered a fishing boat wih five fishermen to take them to the island. They were caught in a fog and stranded near rocks, the three of them, a captain’s daughter, aged 15, who chartered the boat, Alice, then aged 12, and a child of 9, being tied to the mast. All the coastguards were out on the search and afer reaching safety the three girls, of course, were public heroines for quite a time."

Mary Cory (1815-1920)

The third child of Robert and Alice, Mary was baptised at St Juliot Church on Thursday 28 December 1815.

She appears in the 1851 census for St Helier, living with her sister Jane Mutton and described as a 'servant'. Her brother Abram was also in the household, aged 24.

Family tradition indicates that she was deaf and did not marry, but Jersey records show that she married John Kennedy on 26 June 1853 at the St Saviour.

The witnesses were William Mutton, in whose house she had lived for a time, and her youngest brother, Moses. The marriage of a 38 year old woman (never mind that she stated on her marriage certificate that she was only 31) to a 28 year old man was quite rare. Why did she falsely state her age? Why was she married in a Parish Church and not a Bible Christian Chapel, the Corys being such well known members of the BC Society?

By the 1871 census Mary was again living with her mother, described as aged 55, married, occupation assistant pork butcher; no doubt helping in her mother’s business. Where was her husband?

Richard Cory (1818-1903)

Richard, the fourth child of Robert and Alice, was baptised at St Juliot Church on Sunday 5 July 1818. He was 12 years old when his father died. He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a blacksmith, later taking over the Tresparret forge. He did not move to Jersey with the rest of his family, but they did not lose touch, and there are famly group photographs including him, taken in Jersey.

He and his wife Elizabeth, nee Rawle, had seven sons and two daughters. The two eldest, William (1840- ) and John (1845- ) followed their Cory grandmother and uncles and aunts to Jersey.

William Cory (1840-1909)

William served his apprenticeship and became a shoeing smith. He married a Cornish girll, Ann Stacey, who was a dairywoman. They moved to St Helier before starting a family, and for some or all of their married lives they lived at 9 Union Street, St Helier. They had five children:

Richard William Stacy (1868-1885), Fred, James Martin (1832-1932), Florence Albert (1874-1961), Mabel Annie (1876-1898). Florence ran a dairy business from the family home in Union street and kept a sweet shop at one time.

An invoice for the Colomberie butchers

John Cory (1845-1933)

He married Mary Walson [2] who was born in St Helier in 1843 and trained as a tailor. John was in business as a butcher.

They had five children: John [3] (1868- ), who married his cousin Mary Alice Cory; Edith (1870-1992); Annie Elizabeth (1872- ); Florence Louisa (1875-1896); Jessie Alice (1877- ).

Jack Corey (1868-1919)

Jack Cory (1868-1919)

Jack was Richard and Elizabeth's grandson, son of John (above). He was educated in Jersey, [4] and France. He was a butcher in partnership with his uncle John. He was educated at E Saunders' Academy in Kensington Place and the College de Dinan in France. He was active in the Jersey Free Church council and became a Centenier of St Helier, after being nominated and elected without his consent. The Constable, Philip Baudains, was not interested in Jack's protestations that he was already busy with other activities.

His hobby was show pigeons and he was recognised as one of the top British breeders. He was also a keen sportsman, excelling at swimming, running, rifle shooting, cricket and golf. He was elected as a Deputy in the States in 1910, 1913 and 1916.

An advert for the La Motte Street cleaners

James Cory (1820-1899)

The fifth child of Robert and Alice, James married Mary Ward Cann in Cornwall in 1840. They had ten children; the first five were born in Cornwall and the others in Jersey, after their move in 1851. James was initially a blacksmith but switched to the other family occupation of butcher when he came to Jersey.

Robert Cory (1854-1932)

The first son of James – he followed six girls – Robert founded the successful dyers and cleaners business in La Motte Street. He married Esther Monet and secondly, Natalie.

James William Cory (1867- )

Robert's younger brother, the tenth and last of Robert's children, married Ada Elizabeth Harris in 1891. She died in 1942 and soon after James married Marion de La Rue. His children by his first marriage were:

John Corey (1822-1912) known as 'Neighbour'

Gladys May (1892-1892); James Harold (1894-1978), [5] married Pretoria Hussey; Dorice (1895-1967); Marion (1900-1973); Donald (1903- ).

John Cory (1822-1912)

The sixth child of Robert and Alice, John was an apprentice tailor at the age of 12 in Cornwall but became a butcher in Jersey. He married Ann Worden and, after her death, Mary Fremont.

Abram Cory (1826-1872)

The eight child of Robert and Alice, he was only four when his father died. He was a butcher in Jersey. He and his wife Mary Lee had six children: Elizabeth (1854-1856); John Lee (1855-1938), an engine fitter and later coffee tavern manager; Samuel (1857-1891), a cabinet maker; William (1859- ); James (1862-1898), a jeweller; and Mary Allice (1864-1941)

Moses Cory (1829-1908)

The ninth child of Robert and Alice, he was barely a year old when his father died. As did so many of his relatives, he started working life as a smith and became a butcher in Jersey. He married Caroline Cuming, from Devon, and they had five children:

Robert (1862-1862); Kate Strickland (1864- ); Ernest James (1866- ); Caroline French (1867- ); and George Herbert.

Notes and references

  1. The last three children were baptised and their baptisms registered in the nonconformist registers: nonconformists had to marry in the Anglican church from 1754-1837 but were not obliged to baptise their children there. So if a couple marry and no children are found this can be due to their nonconformity.
  2. Her gravestone shows her as Mabel Wolson
  3. Known as Jack
  4. Probably at Victoria College
  5. Known as Dick to his friends and Harold to his family
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