Meet Lighthouse Keepers, Pilots and their families in past times. The lighthouse was built in 1843. Many descendants of those featured here in the 1800's have been in touch, and added so much information and photos to this feature. I cannot thank them enough. BLOG; CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LATEST UPDATES ON www.penmon.org
Other PENMON links on this site
PENMON PEOPLE YEARS AGO Meet the families who lived in this small, but beautiful corner of Wales over a century ago.
PENMON NOSTALGIA. This is a page for interesting letters, memories or photographs relating to the Penmon area.
PENMON LIFEBOAT RESCUES. This information is supplied courtesy of the Beaumaris Lifeboat webpage. It records details of great acts of bravery between 1831 and 1915.
Click on the arrow to enjoy this clip of the waves at Penmon Point and the lighthouse, listen to the sound of the sea and wind as you browse down the page. Listen out for the lighthouse bell. Lighthouse scene is the copyright of Francine Dean of Llangefni, and is reproduced here with her kind permission.
A light character of a white flash every 5 seconds
The lamp has an intensity of 15,000 Candela
The light has a range of 12 miles (19 km)
Every thirty seconds the bell rings out just to remind us of the stolid duty it performs around these treacherous tidal waters. With the erratic sounds of gulls and the odd motor boat in the distance we have a unique Penmon Point Sea Symphony!
MENAI LIGHTHOUSE FAMILIES
Meet the heads of the households recorded from Census information
1841 Thomas Wallace George Christopher 1851 John Williams John Strong 1861 John Strong 1871 Henry Bowen James Parsons 1881 Joseph Steer 1891 William R. Burgess James T. Woodruff 1901 Recorded as; "Rendered to The Trinity House, London"
Lighthouse keeper Thomas Wallace 41 lived at Black Point with Ann 41, Ann 10, Jane 8, Margaret 5 and house servant Margaret Roberts 25. There were painters in residence too, they were William Tabb 25, William Sweet 30, William Beer 20 and Richard Evans 40.
Lighthouse keeper George Christopher 30 lived at Black Point with Sarah 30, Georgina 7, Susanna 4, John 3, Sarah 15 months and Mary Lens 14.
Two families are recoded as living at "Menai Light Dwelling".
John Williams aged 45 was head of one household, and his occupation is described as 'Light Keeper'. His wife Ann was 42 and daughter Ann 5 years old. They were all born in Beaumaris.
Following delightful message received from Lianne Jones. KD
Hello, I have just been reading your Penmon blog. It was so interesting. My great great taid was John Williams the lighthouse keeper at Penmon. My mother never met him but has talked about other family members at penmon and a day out every summer to see family there. Uncle Eric would fetch them with a cart from the bus stop. I think he lived where the little cafe is now. My great taid went to live in Bodafon with my great nain and were the school caretakers living in the school house and taid and his brothers were quarrymen on the Little Orme. Whenever I spot the lighthouse lights across the sea from where I live on the North Wales coast, I have a sense of pride and a belonging to it. I visit Penmon Point when I can. John and his wife are buried in the cemetery, right around the church nearly as far as you can go. I never knew them but I know of them so I always stop to say hello and walk where they walked. Thank you for the work on your blog Lianne jones
John Strong aged 45 was head of the other household. His occupation is also described as 'Light Keeper'. He and his wife Elizabeth 47 were born in St Lawrence, Kent, and son Stephen 9 born on The Isle of Wight.
John Strong 55 was still Light Keeper at 'Menai Light' with his wife Elizabeth 57. Their birthplace is now recorded as Ramsgate. Son Stephen is no longer resident.
In memory of JOHN RICHARD STRONG son of JOHN and ELIZABETH STRONG of Black Point Lighthouse, died July 13th 1849 aged 12 years. "For I know that my redeamer liveth and that he shall stand at the latter day upon earth and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God". Also of ELIZABETH ANNE STRONG the beloved daughter of JOHN and ELIZABETH STRONG who died August 9th 1859 aged 26 years. "There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus who walk not after flesh, but after the spirit". Also of STEPHEN STRONG son of JOHN and ELIZABETH STRONG died 20th March 1864, aged 22 years.
Also occupying there was John Odgers(?) 39 of Bognor, wife Ann E. 34 of Stonehouse and young John 1 of St Ives
Menai lighthouse left, with Pilot Houses on right at Black Point.
Two families were recorded as living at 'Menai Light House'. Principal Lighthouse Keeper was Henry Bowen 49. He and his wife Sarah, also 49 were born in St Davids, Pembrokeshire. Their family consisted of Elizabeth, 23 from Hakin was a milliner, Esther 16 was a pupil teacher, Thomas was 13, Margaret 10 and Mary 8 and all were born in Holyhead. Son Robert J, 5 was born in Penmon. It is safe to assume that they moved to the lighthouse sometime between 1863 and 1866.
John Williamsof Pembrokeshire gives details of the Bowen family, who also came from Pembrokeshire, and their connection with Tan Y Fron, Penmon.
Both Henry and Sarah Bowen were from St Davids. Henry had been a seaman, based in Milford Haven, when his first three children Elizabeth, Joseph and Susanah were born. He then joined Trinity House as a Lighthouse Keeper and was sent to South Stack, where Esther, David and Thomas and Margaret were born. They then moved to Black Point, where Mary and Peter were born. Henry died in 1878 at the age of 57, and is buried in Penmon Churchyard.
In memory of HENRY BOWEN of Menai Lighthouse who died Oct. 19th 1878 aged 57 years. "Blessed is the man whose hope is the Lord." Jer 17.7. Also of SARAH the wife of above who departed this life Sept. 16th 1906 aged 84 years.
In the meantime, son Joseph had become a chemist and opened a shop, Medical Hall, in Criccieth, and Henry's widow and several of the children joined him there. Sarah died in 1906 aged 84, and was buried with Henry in Penmon.
Some of Henry and Sarah Bowen's children stayed in the Penmon area, or had closer connections.
Notably daughter Elizabeth, who married William Williams, a son of Rowland Williams from Tan y Fron. Rowland had meanwhile left Tan y Fron and had his own property, Minffordd, in Llangoed.
William Williams and Elizabeth lived in the China House shop in Llangoed in 1870's. It is now the Spar Convenience Shop! William died in 1883, leaving Elizabeth with five young children, two of whom died very young, and the business to run.
By 1891, Henry Roberts, Llangoed Postmaster, was also living at China House. He was a first cousin of the late William Williams, as he was the son of Owen and Elizabeth Roberts, who was a Williams from Tan y Fron and sister of Rowland. They were my great great aunt and great great uncle. Owen was a mariner and became a Pilot at Black Point, at the same time that the Bowens were at the Lighthouse.
A young Henry Roberts, left and older, right.
By 1901, Elizabeth Williams had married Henry Roberts, who was 14 years her junior. Elizabeth died in 1925 aged 78, and Henry Roberts died in 1937 aged 74. He was a great friend of my Taid.
William and Elizabeth Williams' eldest daughter was Mary, who was known as Minnie, married an Owen Davies and had four children.
Owen Davies with wife Minnie (Mary).Eirwen in chair, became Postmistress at Bodlondeb, Idris standing who later had the garage in Llangoed; Lilian, with father, who died of diptheria aged 6, and Nan with mother
Eirwen was married for a time to John Jones, who had a garage in Beaumaris, and had previously worked for Idris in Llangoed. She didn't have any children. She was a lovely lady, and always gave me sweets when I saw her in her Post Office/shop at Bodlondeb. She died in 1960
Idris was married to Ethel, and they had a son called Peter, and possibly other children. Peter was a few years older than me, and would be about 70 today. I think he went into the Merchant Navy. He may well have returned to the area on retirement, but I have not heard anything about him. Idris died in 1989.
I am not sure about Nan, but all the others above are buried at Penmon, and have memorials in the graveyard.
In loving memory of LILIAN BOWEN the beloved daughter of OWEN & MINNIE DAVIES Bodlondeb, Llangoed who died Dec 12th 1914 in her 6th year. "Gone but not forgotten". MINNIE DAVIES died Dec, 31st 1941 aged 67 years. "The Lord is my Shepherd". OWEN DAVIES died Jan 12th 1943 aged 71 years. "At rest". DAVID IDRIS DAVIES died 28 June 1989 aged 82 years. And his wife ETHEL MARY DAVIES died 21 August 1989 aged 73 years. "Rest in peace".
Another of Henry and Sarah Bowen's children, Esther, also married a son of Rowland Williams, Tan y Fron/Minffordd, called Henry who was a schoolteacher, and they moved to Llanerchaeron and later to somewhere in Denbighshire. From the census records they had several children, but I have no idea where they all ended up.
Another of Henry and Sarah Bowen's children, David, seems to have had a shop in Llaneugrad in 1891 and was living in Llanddona in 1903, when his wife Anne died in 1903, and a child of theirs who died in 1905. David died aged 81 in 1938, and is buried with his wife and child in Penmon.
In loving memory of ANNE BOWEN wife of DAVID D BOWEN died 30th August 1903 aged 48 years. And of WILLIAM CARADOC BOWEN son of DAVID and ANNE BOWEN who died 10th September 1905 aged 4 years. DAVID DANIEL BOWEN died 4th January 1938 aged 81 years.
MY THANKS TO JOHN FOR SHARING THIS PIECE OF FAMILY HISTORY WITH US.
Sarah Roberts of Penmon writes; interested to read your news re "Bowens&Williams families in Penmon.My grt.grt.grandfather was Henry Bowen, lighthouse keeper.My maternal grandfather was George Fingland who was a lodger at TanyFron- 1901 census.I now live in Penmon.
Sarah has kindly added the following information on the Bowen family and their connections to other lighthouses.
Henry was christened at St.David's Cathedral, Pembroke 15/8/1821. His parents were Thomas & Elizabeth of Croeswdig. His father was a lighthouse keeper at Bishop's. His brother Thomas was also baptised at St David's. He married Sarah Wilcock 15/9/1845, she was the daughter of Thomas & Elizabeth, & was also christened at 27/51822.Thomas was a shoemaker. At the time Henry was a lighthouse keeper on the Small's. His brothers, Thomas & William were also lighthouse keepers. Also his son, Thomas, having served in Sennan, Cornwall, on the1901 census he was a Trinity store keeper at Holyhead. Oriel Mon have purchased a journal written by Henry when he was at Southstack. My great grandfather was William Wms. son of Rowland,Minffordd. He married Henry's daughter, Elizabeth, & lived at China House, LLangoed.
Thomas Bowen 1841-1861 Bishop Lighthouse. Henry 1845-1853 Smalls 1853-1863 Southstack 1866-1878 Trwyn Du Thomas(brother of Henry) 1841-1861 Smalls 1861 Hubberston 1871 Bromley St.Leonards 1881-1891 Bardsey Island. William(henry's brother) 1861 Trevose head. 1871 Bideford 1891 Trevose Head-retired. Thomas Henry(son of Henry) 1881 Longships Sennen. 1891 St.Tudwalls 1901 Trinity storekeeper S/Stack
The second family living at the lighthouse was;
James Parsons 35, an Assistant Lighthouse Keeper also lived here with his family. He was born in Buckinghamshire, and his wife Mary 35, born in Willsdon. Their family consisted of Mary A. 12, born in Kilburn, James W 10, born in Bayswater, Annie M. 5, in Penmon, George E. 3 in Kilburn and Helena S. 2 in Penmon.
Photo copyright and courtesy of Sian Roberts
Joseph Steer 50 lived at Menai Lighthouse and was employed as a lighthouse keeper with wife Susannah 53, both of Bovey Tracey, Devon and family Triphenie 19, a teacher of sewing, born Harwich, Ebenezer C. 11 born Guernsey, and Annie Laurie 8 born Start Point, Devon.
Brief family history of Joseph Steer, lighthouse keeper, by his great great grandson, Dave Turton.
JOSEPH STEER was baptised on April 3 1831 in Bovey Tracey.
The 1851 census records the family of John Steer living at "A Cottage" Bovey Tracey. The family consisted of husband and wife, John and Grace with their two children, Joseph and Mary. Joseph Steer is now recorded as a shoemaker. Joseph Steer married a Susan Pascoe (know as Susanah Manley; taking her step father's name) in 1855.
Sometime after 1855, Joseph Steer became a lighthouse keeper. There are no surviving records at Trinity House, but it is still possible to map out the career of Joseph through the census and birth records.
The census for 1861 shows Joseph Steer with his family in Plymouth. Joseph had become a lighthouse keeper. His address was given as 10 Radnor Street, so presumably the lighthouse was on the breakwater at Plymouth, rather than the Eddystone light which might have been the responsibility of a more experienced keeper. The family at this time consisted of Hephzibar and Rhoda, both born at Bovey Tracey.
This lighthouse marks the Western entrance to Plymouth Sound
Following the records for the birth of Joseph's children we know that, around 1862 Joseph Steer was transfered to Harwich, (birth of Tryphena in 1862 and Joseph in 1863). Then around 1863 to the Leading Lights at Dovercourt, (birth of Joseph Theophilus in 1863 and Josiah John in 1865).
The Dovercourt high and low lighthouses, now restored but disused, once provided leading lights for entry into the port of Harwich. As can be seen in this photo, large vessels using the port of Felixstowe still steer a course towards these lighthouses before turning to starboard, into the harbour.
In 1869 they moved to Les Hanois lighthouse on Guernsey. Ebenezer Steer was born in 1869, at Torteval, Guernsey, where the Trinity Cottages were provided for the family.
A family photograph was taken, between 1870 and 1880 in London, with Joseph Steer, wife Susan, a girl and a boy. Susan may be pregnant at the time.
Photo courtesy of Dave Turton.
By the time of the 1871 census Joseph Steer was the lighthouse keeper at Start Lighthouse in South Devon. The family consisted of Joseph and Susan along with children Joseph Theophilus, Josiah John (just called John), Tryphena and Ebenezer. In 1872 another daughter Amy Elizabeth S Steer was born at Start Point.
At the time of the 1881 census Joseph Steer had moved with some of his family to North Wales. Joseph was now the lighthouse keeper at the Menai lighthouse, Penmon, Anglesey. Accompanying their mother and father were Amy, Ebenezer and Tryphena. Also on Anglesey was Joseph John Steer (also known as Josiah John), but he was staying a short distance away with a retired Salford book keeper, perhaps to further his education as he is listed as a scholar and Anglesey may have been short of English speakers.
Photo kindly supplied by Daniel Surridge
Joseph and Susan Steer on the left with another lighthouse keeper and his wife.
Other members of the Steer family had now grown up and had started new lives: In 1881, Hephzibath was working as a school governess, living at 6 Blair Street, Poplar London with her brother Joseph Theophilus, who was an Engineers pattern maker at a local works.
Rhoda Steer married Thomas Cutting in 1877. Thomas Cutting was born in 1855 in Great Yarmouth Norfolk. It is not clear how Rhoda met Thomas, but Thomas was already a lighthouse keeper before the marriage. Thomas served on the Longships Light before he married Rhoda in Penzance.
The Longships Lighthouse. The first Longships Lighthouse was built in 1795 but the present structure dates to 1875. It is situated one mile west of Land's End and its light can be seen for 18 sea miles.
Two children were born to Rhoda: Thomas Herbert Cutting born in 1879 at the Lizzard Cornwall, then Rhoda Effie Cutting born on Penmon, Anglesey in 1880, where Rhoda had returned to stay with her parents for the birth.
At the 1891 census, Joseph Steer had retired and was living at 13 Crescent Rd West Ham, possibly at a house provided by Trinity House. A family picture taken around this time shows several members of the family together in the garden of a small terraced house.
Photo courtesy of Dave Turton
An elderly Joseph and Susannah sit together, surrounded by Ebenezer on the left, Josiah John and Joseph Theophilus, and one women who might be Tryphena, Amy, Hephzibah or Rhoda.
In 1891, Rhoda Cutting was living at the South Foreland Lighthouse in Dover where her husband was the lighthouse keeper.
Lighthouse now maintained by the National Trust between Dover and St Margaret's Bay
In 1893 Susannah Steer died at the age of 66, living in West Ham. Soon afterwards, in 1895, Joseph Steer died also at West Ham, aged 63.Following the death of Joseph and Susannah Steer, the house remained occupied by members of the Steer family.
The 1901 census shows the occupants of 13 Crescent Rd as Joseph Theophilus and wife Martha Steer along with their children Joseph and Ursula, as well as a domestic servant.
I am very grateful to Dave Turton for this fascinating information on Joseph Steer and his family. KD
Daniel Surridge contacted me stating "I am currently researching the family of my great-great-grandfather Joseph Steer and since I first visited this site, I notice the addition of further information by Dave Turton. "I may be able to supply some further information regarding my line of the family through Joseph Theophilus who incidentally is buried with his parents and his sister Hephzibah (Effie) in the City of London Cemetery. "My own father is buried in the same grave. Are you able to put me in touch with Dave Turton? I hope eventually to be able to supply further information when I have confirmed some of my own findings".
I have forwarded your e-mail to Dave. KD.
Mike Steer, of Australia writes; I'm delighted to have the family's history kept alive. Records indicate that the STEER family lived in Bovey, Devon for well over 500 years. The surname itself is believed to be Anglo-Saxon in origin and derives from Sture or Stiur, meaning a young ox (Baring-Gould, 1910). Over the centuries few Steer's seem willingly to have left the town. Among the several who did was Joseph Steer, lighthouse keeper at Menai in 1881.
Joseph Steer was born March 5, 1831 at Bovey Tracey, married Susannah Manley (her second marriage) in 1855 and they had nine children; Hephzibah (b. 1856), Rhoda (b.1857 ), Triphenie (b.1861 ) Joseph (1863. ) Theophilus (b. 1864) John (b. 1865), Ebeneezer Clement (b. 1869) and Annie Laurie Steer (b. 1872 ). Joseph's occupation: 1861 Gardien des Phares Hanois for Trinity House, at Hanois Rocks, Guernsey 1871 Lighthouse Keeper at the Start Lighthouse, Stokenham, Devon 1881 Lighthouse Keeper, Trwyn Du. Menai Lighthouse, Penmon, Anglesey, Wales Their daughter Rhoda married another Trinity House Lighthouse Keeper named Thomas Cutting from Great Yarmouth, while daughter Triphenie became a sewing teacher in Harwich. In 1901, Ebenezer Clement was living in Leyton, Essex.
Abbey Road The old Baptist Chapel in Bovey where Joseph Steer was baptised. The white house was Mike Steer's grandfather Edwin Steer's
John & Julia Steer, headstone in the Chapel burial ground
The Steer family owned Indeo Pottery (sample above) at Bovey Tracey from about 1780 until 1836.
Grace Steer, memorial in the Baptist Chapel
With regard to Grace Steer, Grace is a name that appears over and over again in the family tree. This particular Grace was born in 1764, daughter of Thomas Steere and Mary Bennet, both of Bovey Tracey. She lived at Indeo on the outskirts of Bovey. I've placed a copy of her will (proved December 16 1845) on the Bovey Tracey GENUKI site. Joseph Steer (Lighthouse keeper)'s grandfather Nicholas Steer was my great, great, grandfather. Grace comes down a related branch of the same tree, but all the branches connect at Robert Sture alias Clarke and his wife Thomasin. He was a "Collyor" (dealer in coal) who lived in Bovey in the 1540's. They had a large family. Robert is recorded as a tax payer in the Lay Subsidy Rolls, as well as a parent in the earliest Parish registers. On 12 August 1541, he purchased a tenement in Bovey from John and William Kerswell of Loddiswell (near Dartmouth). You can read much more about this fascinating family, by visiting; http://genuki.cs.ncl.ac.uk/DEV/BoveyTracey/BoveyTraceySteer.html
MY THANKS TO MIKE FOR SHARING THIS PIECE OF FAMILY HISTORY WITH US. KD.
James Woodruff, 23 was also a lighthouse keeper atMenai Lighthousewhere he lived with his wife Maria E. 23.
Tony Woodruff contacted the site; The family moved to Llanstadwell near Pembroke Dock when James was appointed to the lighthouse at Lundy. James Woodruff's wife Maria Eugenie nee Williams came from the Isles of Scilly. Her grandfather was reputedly a smuggler lost at sea whilst returning from a smuggling trip to France. I am the grandson of James Woodruff who was at Trwyn Du Lighthouse from 1879 to 1897. His son Harold (my father) was born there and also most of his brothers and sister. James was born in Poplar Middlesex. The 1871 census shows him living at 60 Wellington Street, Bedford, aged 15, and the son of Edward Pereira and Jane Twios Pereira.
James and Eugeine Woodruff with their family, taken at Haverfordwest, after they had left Penmon. The children, named clockwise are; Laura, Alfred, Charles, Thomas, baby James and Harold Douglas, sitting on his father's knee.
Maria Eugeine was the daughter of Sarah Williams, who was the daughter of Stephen Downing.
Stephen, born on the Isles of Scilly, was lost as sea in the gig 'Bull', in 1825. It was returning from a smuggling trip to France. The gig was last seen being driven before the wind with a jury rigged mast. None of the bodies of the 6 or 7 man crew were recovered, and the only remains of the of the boat was a piece of timber which was recognised as being recently used on the gig Hope this is of interest to you, and if you have any information I would be pleased if you could let me have it.
I saw the photograph of the schoolchildren at Penmon on your site and think that 2 of my uncles must be amongst the pupils (Alfred and Charles Woodruff) but obviously I couldn't recognise them.. My thanks to Tony for sharing this information with us. Can anyone help Tony identify his Uncles in the Penmon photo? KD
Information on the Williams / Downing / Woodruff Families
Received the following fascinating information from Marilyn Howells, nee Williams. KD
Delighted to discover Penmon Lighthouse Families - I'm a beginner to computing (about a month !)
Last week I "Googled" my great grandfather, Stephen Downing Williams (1831 - 1903), who was a gigbuilder and Foreman Shipwright at Mr. Thomas Edwards' yard, St. Mary's, Scilly. Imagine my amazement when up popped your Website showing a family group photograph of a couple I have researched extensively - James Woodruff, Lighthouse Keeper at Penmon, and his wife, Maria Eugenie Woodruff (nee Williams), to whom I am related. Stephen Downing Williams, (known simply as Downing Williams), had a younger brother, Nicholas Williams, born in St. Mary's on 23rd May 1833. He was Maria Eugenie's father. Your correspondent is mistaken about Maria's mother, as Sarah Williams (nee Downing) was Nicholas' mother and therefore Maria's paternal grandmother.
Nicholas Williams father of Maria Eugene Woodruff
Nicholas married twice. His first wife and the mother of both Maria Eugenie Williams ( b. 19th February 1858, Helston) and Maria's older brother, Thomas White Williams ( b. 1856, also in Helston), was Mary Ann Gibson (b. 1831/2 in Ireland) - her father, a Scillonian serving on Aranmore with the Coastguard Service, was of the Gibson photographic family of St. Mary's.
Nicholas was a shoemaker and after their marriage on 15th August 1855 he and Mary Ann moved to Helston where he set up shop in Church Street.
Sadly, Mary Ann became ill and the couple returned to Scilly - (I have photos of their house) - and when Maria Eugenie was 4 ½ her mother died, on 16th September 1862 aged 33, having suffered with an aortic aneurism for some 6 years.
About a year later Nicholas married again to Mary Ann Sanderson, daughter of a Mariner. My father told me that she was a lovely lady, as was Maria's mother, and that she was very kind to her two stepchildren.
Maria Eugenie grew up in Scilly, met James Woodruff who was serving on the Bishop Rock Lighthouse and married him in St. Mary's on 17th October 1879. James Thomas Woodruff, born in Bromley on 14th October 1857, was the son of a Mariner, James Woodruff, and his wife Jane Twish Woodruff (nee Turner), who lived at 11 Wellington Place, Bromley at the time.
My interest is that, apart from having traced Maria Eugenie's ancestors back for four more generations, I recognise her son, Charles Turner Woodruff, known to me as my Uncle Charlie!
Charles Turner Woodruff son of James and Maria EugineWoodruff
Marilyn Howells continues;
I am descended from S. Downing Williams, while Maria and her childrens' line is through Downing's brother, Nicholas Williams - but Charlie then met and married my father's older sister, Nora Marjorie Williams, so they were third cousins.
Charlie was a Shipwright in Portsmouth Dockyard and they only had one child, a son called Dennis Woodruff - a first cousin to me but also to your correspondent Tony Woodruff and to the parents of Marjorie Gray and Gwyneth Phaure. Our family is very proud of him. He was a Flight Lieutenant in R.A.F. Bomber Command, 15 Squadron, flying Lancasters in the night raids over Berlin in 1944.
He was awarded the D.F.C. and bar but he was posted Missing on 28th/29th January before he could receive it.
His mother, my Aunt Nora, and his widow, Phyllis, went to Buckingham Palace to receive his posthumous award from King George VIth but Uncle Charlie was so stricken by the loss of his only child that he was too emotional to accompany them.
Aunt Maria Woodruff, with her daughter Laura, used to visit her son Charlie and his wife at their home, Beaumaris, in Mayfield Road, North End, Portsmouth. My late father's Photographic Record states that the portraits he took of Aunt Maria and Laura were taken there on Saturday December 31st 1932, when Maria would have been 74. I imagine they had been staying for the Christmas holiday.
Dennis Woodruff son of Charles and Norma Woodruff
Dennis and Phyllis Woodruff had one child, Brian, who was only two when his father was killed. As he grew up he spent a lot of time with his grandparents, Nora and Charlie. When I was working on the Family Tree, Brian came to stay, bringing his father's D.F.C. and some paperwork including a postcard sent to him by his Grandma of the Penmon Lighthouse and the Lighthouse Keepers' cottages which she and Charlie visited in 1965. She has marked one of the houses with a X and says, ". . .cross marks the house where your Grandad was born & spent his early years. Five miles to school & no conveyance." I had it photographed and enlarged and also photocopied the text. I attach copies for you.
I do hope this will be of interest to you. With my thanks, Marilyn Howells (nee Williams)
Ann Langton has kindly added the following information about her family;
My great great grandfatherwas Stephen Downing Williams, son of Thomas Williams and Sarah Downing, and brother of Nicholas Williams who was the father of Maria Eugenie Williams.
Nicholas Williams married Mary Ann Gibson Sept 1855 Scilly. Mary Ann died Sept 1862 Scilly. Nicholas then married Mary Ann Sanderson Sept 1863 Scilly
There were two children from the first marriage, Thomas and Maria Eugenie,both born in Helston. There were several children from the second marriage, one named Laura.
James T Woodruff was posted to the Bishop Rock Lighthouse off the Scillies,met and married Maria Eugenie Williams, was posted to Trwyn Du, 1979 -1897, then to Lundy. The Lundy keepers were housed in Pembrokeshire and the Woodruffs lived at Windsor House, High Street, Neyland.
I was in Neyland in August and looked for Windsor House but the name must have been removed.
James T Woodruff died age 66, Sept 1924 Medway. Maria E Woodruff died age 91, Sept 1949 Chatham.
Charles T Woodruff married Nora M Williams in December 1915 Portsmouth. Nora is the sister of my grandfather, Stephen Downing Williams who is thegrandson of Stephen Downing Williams, the brother of Nicholas. Stephen Downing Williams married Christian Annie Charlotte Flack but she diedsoon after my father was born in 1911. It was Nora who went to herbrother's rescue and looked after the baby and his older sister. Nora was seventeen. I think she died childless.
Mary Ann Gibson was the sister of John Gibson who became a photographer inScilly. There are internet sites about him.
There is a site about lighthouse keepers up until 1911. For James Thomas Woodruff it gives: Assistant Keeper Bishop Rock 1877 - 9, Trwyn Du 1879 - 97, Lundy 1897 - 1901. Principal Keeper Caldey 1901, Lundy 1910. The 1911 census gives the family living in Pembrokeshire with just three children, Laura, Harold and James. Laura E Woodruff died 1965 in Kent.
Ann Langton, Oxford.
The 1891 census for the lighthouse is not actually recorded as part of Penmon. It appears on a sheet entitled; LIST OF OFFICERS, CREW, AND OTHERS ON BOARD THE SHIP OR VESSEL NAMED THE MENAI LIGHT HOUSE, ON THE NIGHT OF SUNDAY APRIL 5TH 1891.
William R. Burgess, 52, Principle Light Keeper, born Gt Yarmouth, Jane Burgess, 42 wife, born Aldeby,William H Burgess, 16, blacksmith, born St Bees, George E. 14, born Hartland, Alice J. 3, born Plymouth, Alfred A. 1 born Holyhead.
James T. Woodruff, 33, Assistant Light Keeper, born Poplar, London, Maria E. Woodruff, 33, wife, born Helston, Alfred H Woodruff, 9, born Bedford, Charles T. 7, Laura E. 6, Thomas H. 2, all born Penmon.
James's details appear under 1881. In 1901, he was Assistant keeper at Lundy South light house. His family were not recorded as living in the lighthouse.
Maria and children were in fact, living at Windsor House, High Street, Pembroke. She was 43, son Alfred 19 an apprentice boilermaker, Charles 17, an apprentice shipwright, Laura 16, Thomas 12. The couple had another two sons since the last census, Harold 5, born Penmon and James, 1 born New Milford, South Wales.
Tony Woodruff writes; I thought this might be of interest to you. It's nothing to do with Penmon but it has a family connection. It's an envelope of a letter sent to my father and shows how mail was delivered to Lundy island in 1939. Top right is the normal postage stamp 1.5d (not p). Top left is the airmail stamp for Lundy Atlantic Coast Air Lines. Below left the surcharge put on mail to Lundy of half puffin (half pence)
It is interesting that the letter was posted in Norwich at 3pm on the 26 June 1939 and was delivered in Lundy by postmark above the puffin stamp on 27 June. Not bad going and they had never heard of first class post those days.
The 1911 Census Summary sheet shows J. Woodruff as the occupier of the Lundy North Lighthouse.
I received the following e-mail on the 24th August 2009.KD The Lighthouse and Pilot families was such a revelation to me! I was very interested in Tony Woodruff's information about James Thomas Woodruff and his family and would dearly love to know if anyone knows what became of James' only daughter, Laura Eugenie Woodruff. I recently visited Lowestoft Lighthouse because my father's mother (named Laura Eugenie Woodruff) gave that address as her place of residence on his birth certificate. He was born in St Bartholomews Hospital in December 1916. St Bart's are able to confirm Laura Eugenie, aged 31, was a patient at that time. The Lowestoft records library could find nothing to connect her with the Lighthouse, but were able to find her name on the 1911 census. I contacted Trinity House who directed me to your site. I hardly dared hope she would be the same Laura Eugenie, (my grandmother?) but it certainly looks very likely. Trinity House have just sent me a copy of her brother Harold's marriage certificate. He married Charlotte Bowler (Bowles?) at St Margarets Church Lowestoft on 10th December 1922.Possibly their father James Woodruff may have been stationed there. Yours sincerely Marjorie Eugenie Gray (nee Woodruff) If anyone can help, Marjorie can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony Woodruff (who supplied family photos of James and Eugeine Woodruff) and Marjorie Gray have discovered their family link to the couple, and have been put in touch with each other for the very first time. Tony asked to be put in touch with Marjorie, to which she responded; Hi Ken Have just read your email. Can't believe what I'm seeing. How amazing! Thank you so much. I will contact Tony immediately. How strange that he has just recently returned from Anglesey, and we are heading off there on Saturday. Thanks again, you're doing a wonderful job. Best wishes Marjorie
Marjorie adds in 2011;James's only daughter (Laura Eugenie) was my grandmother and I understand she was always in the company of her mother Maria Eugenie in later years and that they ended up living in Gillingham, Kent. I'm afraid I only have sketchy info about these two women following 1911 when as far as I can tell the family were living in Llandstadwell. However I do know Laura gave her place of residence as The Lighthouse, Lowestoft when she gave birth to my father in 1916.
I received the following e-mail in December 2009.KD
Whilst researching my family history on my mothers side,I came across your website and very interesting it was. I was astonished to find that my Uncle Tony (my mothers brother) is also researching the family history. We also have the family potrait picture that is included on your website of James Thomas Woodruff and his family.
My problem is that since my mother died in 2002 we lost touch with Tony and his family, but I would love to get in contact with him again and fill in some of the gaps in the family tree, especially who was JamesThomas' father.
I know Tony thought that in the 1871 census he was fifteen and living with Edward Perira and Jane Twiss, but I have found out this was her second marriage. Also quite a few a his uncles were also lighthouse keepers so it was a family tradition and my grandfather Harold (Tonys father) was also a lighthouse keeper. If possible,could you forward on my details to him.Many thanks Gwyneth Phaure (nee Hogan).
I was happy to oblige, and received the following responses from Tony Woodruff and Gwyneth. KD
Hi Ken Good to hear from you again as usual with some good /exciting news Thanks again for your efforts on my behalf, Tony
Just a short note, many thanks for passing on my email. Tony and I have already exchanged emails and were both amazed at your speed of replying. We are now collaborating with the family history and will most certainly forward any more news. Incidently not only is Tony my uncle he is also my Godfather. Many thanks again and best wishes for Christmas and the new year.
Photo courtesy of Alan Barber
Ladies enjoying some time near the lighthouse. Do you know who they are? If so, please let me know.
Above, Lighthouse Cottages. Photo courtesy of Eric Jones.
The Menai Lighthouse is recorded as 'Rendered to the Trinity House, London'.
POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE by Christopher Nicholson
I have great pleasure in introducing a new book, which has strong connections with some of the families featured on this webpage.KD.
Cover reproduced here courtesy and copyright of Whittles Publishing
Lighthousekeepers who worked the Penmon light have also been keepers elsewhere. Some of these lighthouses are featured in Christopher Nicholson's excellent book, in which he shares his passion for vintage snapshots of Britain's remotest lighthouses.
I am greatly indebted to author Christopher Nicholson for personally supplying copies of the above two postcards from his personal collection. They feature the landing beach, Lundy and South Lighthouse, top and Plymouth, Eddystone Lighthouse, bottom.
I have collated information from the censuses of 1841 to 1901 inclusive relating to families involved in the piloting of shipping around the Penmon area.
Many of these brave men were involved in lifeboat rescues and received honours fror their bravery. Please read about them in the PENMON LIFEBOAT RESCUES link on the left hand side of the webpage.
MENAI PILOTS 1841
Pilot John Williams 55 lived at Black Point with Jane 45, Hugh 13, Owen 11 and Eleanor 9.
Owen Roberts 55, also a pilot lived at Black Point with Jane 45, William 10, Robert 9 and Owen 4.
Pilot William Jones 30 and Ann 30 lived at BlackPoint.
MENAI PILOTS 1851
William Jones 40 was a Trinity Pilot born in Llandegfan. His wife Ellen 26, children William 7 and John 3 were born in Penmon. Ann Bulkeley 16 was born in Llangoed. They all lived at Black Point.
John Williams 27 was also a Trinity Pilot living at Black Point. He was Penmon born. His wife Ellen 26 was from Llangoed.
A third Trinity Pilot was Owen Roberts 65. He and his wife Jane 57 were from Llangoed. Granddaughter Jane 12 was from Penmon. All lived at Black Point.
Retired Trinity Pilot John Williams 68, wife Jane 57, Richard 24, a mason, Thomas 22 a labourer and Ellen 19 a dressmaker, all of Penmon also lived at Pwll Crwn.
MENAI PILOTS 1861
Pilot Owen Roberts 35 lived at Black Point with his wife Elizabeth 31 and children John 9, Owen 7 and William 1. All were Penmon born.
Another Pilot, John Williams 37 of Penmon also lived at Black Point with his wife Ellen 37 of Llangoed.
Pilot William Jones 53 of Llandegfan and his family also lived at Black Point. Wife Ellen was 35, William 19 was a sailor, John was 13, Richard 10, Ellen 7, Anne 5, Thomas 2 and Owen 10 months, all of Penmon.
Owen Roberts 77, described as a late Pilot livedat Beudy'r Rychain with his wife Jane 71, both of Llangoed. Son Robert 29 was a pilot and the couple had granddaughter Jane 22 as a housemaid. Both from Penmon.
In memory of JANE wife of OWEN ROBERTS Pilot, Penmon died March 23rd 1864 aged 73 years. Also of the above OWEN ROBERTS, Pilot died Jan 6th 1866 aged 81 years.
MENAI PILOTS 1871
Owen Roberts 45, Pilot lived at Black Point with his wife Elizabeth 41, son Owen 17, a Pilot boy . William 11, Henry 8, Mary 6, Robert 3 and 1 month old Elizabeth. All were born in Penmon.
Sacred to the memory of JOHN ROBERTS the beloved son of OWEN ROBERTS Pilot of Penmon by ELIZABETH his wife who died February 9th 1879 aged 27 years. Also of MARY JANE ROBERTS sister to the above who died August 24th 1859 aged two years and 5 months, and WILLIAM ROBERTS who died August 12th 1877 aged 17 years and 8 months. "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord". This stone is erected by the friends of JOHN ROBERTS. MARY B. MITCHELL of Lleiniog Castle.
Pilot John Williams 48 of Penmon and his wife Ellen 48 of Llangoed, were also housed at Black Point.
A third Pilot's family at Black Point was that of William Jones 62 of Llandegfan and his wife Ellen 45 and children Anne 15, Thomas 12 and Owen, all Penmon born.
Beudy' Rychainhoused another Pilot and his family. Robert Roberts 39 above, his wife Ann 26 children Grace 4, John 1 and general servant Jane Thomas 14 were all from Penmon.
Retired Pilot John Williams 88 lived at Pwll Crwn Bach with his wife Jane 77, both of Penmon. Son in law Robert Roberts 61 of Llangoed worked as an agricultural labourer Their daughter Jane Roberts 52 and her children Owen 11 and Margaret 9 were both from Penmon.
In memory of WILLIAM son of JOHN WILLIAMS, Pilot by JANE his wife died December 22nd 1833 aged 17 years. Also JANE wife of JOHN WILLIAMS she died January 9th 1839 aged 45. Also the above JOHN WILLIAMS, Pilot who died January 3rd 1872 aged 90 years.
MENAI PILOTS 1881
Working as a Pilot was John Williams 58 of Penmon. Wife Ellen also 58 was from Llangoed.
Another Pilot living at Black Point was Robert Roberts 49 with his wife Anne 36 and children. She was Llangoed born but her husband and children were from Penmon. Dressmaker Grace was 14, John 10, Owen 7, William 5, Jane 4 and Margaret 2.
(In Memory) of Grace the beloved daughter of Robert Roberts, Pilot, Penmon by Ann his wife, who departed this life Feb. 6th 1884 at Dulwich aged 17 years. While young in years she was cut down No longer could she stay For it was her Saviour's will To call her hence away. Also of OWEN ROBERTS Pilot of the port of Liverpool SS no 4 boat son of the above named ROBT. and ANN ROBERTS who died Nov. 14th 1894 aged 28 years. Also of JANE ROBERTS, their daughter who died Sept 4th 1908, aged 32 years
Ellen Jones 55 was formerly a Pilot's wife. She lived with her daughter Ann 25 at Beudy'r Uchain. Both were from Penmon.
In loving memory of OWEN JONES Beudy'r Ychain, Penmon who died August 1892 aged 31. Also of ELLEN JONES wife of WILLIAM JONES, Pilot, Penmon who died Dec 19th 1899 aged 76 years. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord."
MENAI PILOTS 1891
In loving memory of OWEN JONES Beudy'r Ychain Penmon, who died August 21st 1892 aged 31. Also of ELLEN JONES wife of WILLIAM JONES, Pilot Penmon who died Dec 19th 1899 aged 76 years. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord".
Robert Roberts59 a Trinity Pilot lived at Black Point with wife Ann 46, children John 21, a draper's assistant, Williams 16 a sailor, Jane 14 a dressmaker, Margaret 12, Mary 9, Henry 7 and Grace 4. All were Penmon born.
Parents of John Pritchard
John Williams writes; The above rather charming old photograph is in the album which belonged to my Nain and Taid. My uncle made some notes before he died and did his best to identify the people in the photos. This phot has the comment "Father and Mother of John Pritchard", but I have no idea which John Pritchard he was referring to. I know there are a several Pritchard families in an around Penmon, but I am wondering if the Pritchard that contacted you could be interested, and better still be able to identify them. My greatuncle, Robert Williams, married a Pritchard from Llanddona, but I haven't found a John Pritchard in that family. I just wonder if they could be related to the Black Point pilot John Pritchard.
Pilot William Pritchard 36 also lived at Black Point with his family. He and his wife Elizabeth 35 were from Llangoed. John 11 and Margaret A 8 were born when they lived at Holyhead, but Mary 5 and Henry 1 were both Penmon born.
Retired Pilot John Williams,68 a widower of Penmon lived at Pwll Crwn Bach. Nephew John Roberts 36, a gamekeeper of Llangoed and niece Jane Edwards 19, of Penmon who kept house, lived with him.
MENAI PILOTS 1901
At Black Point lived William Roberts 25, pilot from Penmon lived with his wife Catherine 26 of Llanrug, both bilingual, and 2 month old daughter Annie, born in Penmon.
In affectionate remembrance of WILLIAM ROBERTS Pilot Penmon who died March 16th 1905 aged 30 years Also IAN infant son of JOHN and ELLEN ROBERTS Mor-Awel, Penmon grandson of the above Died June 2nd 1933 aged 1 year 4 months Erected by his dear children.
William Pritchard 46 left worked as a pilot at Black Point and came from Llangoed, as did his wife Elizabeth 43. The children were all Penmon born; Henry 11, William 4, and Elizabeth 3. All were bilingual.
John Pritchard writes; My family had connections with Trwyn Du from when William Pritchard arrived there as a pilot in 1880s. His daughter Margaret continued to live on the point in the cottage which is still the cafe and was then too, until her death in the 1950s. My father and his brothers, sons of William's oldest son John used to spend their summer holidays at the cottage during the 1920s staying in a shed that was in the garden. John was a lighthouse keeper but I don't think he served at Penmon; I know he was at Holyhead harbour light in 1904 and possibly South Stack at some time, then later at Withernsea,Yorks. Margaret used to say that she remembered the nothern pebbly beach when it was sandy!
My father considered buying the cottage as a holiday home after Margaret's death. Margaret's daughter Ceri continued to live there at the northern of the pilot houses until she was well into her seventies and widowed before moving reluctantly to Llangoed. The point still has a draw to the family and there was a large Pritchard gathering there in July. There are other descendants living in Llangoed and Marianglas. William's family grave is at St. Seiriol's Church and the 2 large headstones lists his wife and young children who died at Penmon. Included on the headstone is Lt. Henry Pritchard who was killed at the Somme in 1918. I think he would have been at Penmon village school at the time of the photograph shown on the website; he was born in 1891. I could not see enough detail on the website photograph to identify him. It's possible another one or two Pritchards could be on the photo too.
John Williams writes about his family connection with the Pilots.
The John Williams who was a pilot in 1841, and later retired to Pwll Crwn Fach was my great great grandfather. The John Williams who was a pilot in 1851, and was still a pilot in 1881, before also retiring to Pwll Crwn Fach, was the son of the aforementioned John Williams, and my great great uncle. Incidentally I am pretty sure he is the John Williams in the photo on the RNLI Beaumaris website, with Robert and Owen Roberts and William Preston. He has a definite Williams family likeness, and I can imagine he would have been on the lifeboat crew like the other pilots. The Owen Roberts who was a pilot in 1841 and 1851 was surely the first coxswain of the Penmon lifeboat?
The other Owen Roberts, who was a pilot in 1861 and 1871, was I am sure also the son the aforementioned Owen Roberts. as he died in 1864 aged 74. This second Owen Roberts married my great great aunt Elizabeth from Tan y Fron, and they had a number of children, including Henry Roberts, China House, the Llangoed Postmaster, and another son, also called Owen, who became the Senior Warder at Caernarvon Jail.
Owen Roberts was almost certainly the Second Coxswain of the lifeboat, under his younger brother Robert Roberts, the famous Cowswain, and they are both in the photograph I mentioned earlier.
Hello, I am currently researching the Williams side of my family tree after finding some old documents in my mother's files.
My great great grandfather was Owen Williams, youngest son of John Williams (pilot at Penmon) and Jane Rowlands.
I was saddened to see that John Williams has recently died who had done so much research on this family's side. I would welcome getting in touch with anybody who can help or who has any old photographs.
Owen Williams had a son William Williams, a mariner who died when The Empress of Ireland sank in the St Lawrence river near Quebec in 1914. He had moved to Liverpool and had a daughter Jane who married Thomas Rainford.