Richard & Grace

Richard and Grace were my 5X Grandparents

Richard Clifton was born in the old village of Week St. Mary about three miles from the ocean, near the Devon border. Richard was Christened on April 26, 1725. He was the son of John Clifton and Patience (Ryder). They were from a very well-known family that had been in the area since at least the early 1500s.
Richard moved to Camborne some time before September 9, 1751. I don’t know the reason for his leaving Week St. Mary, but he did marry on this date in Camborne to Grace Smith. Grace was born with the name Grace Jeffery. (In Cornwall at that time many families used alias’ for many different reasons. The most common reason being a common name like Jeffery, but to change it to Smith does not make sense to me.) So because there were many of her family members using the name Smith, I think that Smith was the real name, and some changed it to Jeffery.
I assume that Richard came to Camborne looking for work, or to seek his fortune. I don’t know if he found his fortune but he did find his place in life as we all do in time. Richard and Grace were the first Clifton’s to live in Camborne.
The town of Camborne, ancient even at the time of Richard, was only a small town in the year 1751. To give you some idea of how small it was, only ten couples were married that year. The surnames of the couples were Tyack, William’s, Bennetts, Clifton, Trezona, Richards, and Trythall.
The first child born to Richard and Grace was named Patience after Richard’s mother, the second child was named John after Richard’s father. Naming the children after the husband’s mother and father was common at that time in Cornwall. In most families the wife had little influence in naming the children, but there were exceptions. The third child was named after Richard’s brother William and the fourth after his sister Mary (baby Mary died at age two). The fifth child was a boy named after Richard. The sixth child, a girl to take the place and name of Mary (this was a common practice at that time to name the next child of the same gender after the one that died). Now we come to the last child and fortunately the child was a girl so they named her Grace. Since she gave birth to all these children one should have been a namesake.
There are no records to tell us much about Richard and his family. We have their wedding date, christening and burial dates, but that is about all. I have read a few books about how the people of Cornwall lived at that time and in my mind’s eye I can just picture Richard walking the cow paths on his way to seek his fortune. (Most of the roads in Cornwall were built on top of cow paths — that is why they have so many turns in them.)
I understand that the older sons got to keep the land and the younger ones had to go out in the world to find their own life. In most cases at that time, the younger sons would stay close by the area and would have some support of their family and friends. Richard decided to leave the area.
At that time there was a boom in the copper mining industry in Cornwall. There was no place on earth that had more copper than the Camborne-Redruth area of Cornwall. That is one reason that he may have come to Camborne. Another is that the Clifton family had leased a few Inns from the Bassett Family and he must have had some experience running a Hotel or Inn. The Bassett family were one of the major property and mine owners in the area. With the copper boom going on, most of the male population were in the area to work the mines — so the need for lodging must have been great.
One other reason could have been the influence of John Wesley (he was the founder of Methodism). John Wesley was in Week St. Mary in 1745 and went on to Camborne. He could have followed him, but I doubt it.
So now we find Richard and Grace married. Now, they must have a house to live in. There was a problem that could be solved very easily. Richard had to get permission from a landowner to build a house on a small piece of his land. The landowner was most likely a member of the Bassett family. The permission was usually given with the stipulation that it must be built and covered with a roof in one day. Also, at the death of the head of the family or perhaps the death of his children the house became the property of the landowner. That way the landowner could be sure that his grandchild would be able to take over this property and rent it to another poor person.
With the help of his friends and co-workers, Richard could build a house in one day. The men would build with stone that they accumulate and the roof was made of slate that was cut beforehand. There was very little wood in that area that could be used, but there was a lot of wooden ships that would crash against the rocks and then float in to the shore to be used by the builders.
I have seen some of the homes that were built in this manner that are still standing. In one house that I was in, the owner told me that he removed a wall that was made of a mixture of mud and straw. In the wall he found the bones of a baby. I read that this was common at that time because of a tax that had to be paid for the burial.
They would build two fireplaces. One would be for the big family dinner, and the other would be small, so as not to use too much fuel for just making a pot of tea. The floor was made of dirt and later would be made of a mixture of ash and stone. The houses were very poor by any standards, but they were made better by their owners as time went on. The houses had two rooms: one was the kitchen and the other was for everything else. There were some houses that did have a second floor for sleeping.
So now we have Richard and Grace living in their own home and I suppose Grace, if she was near her mother, would have her help with the furnishings and before long the house would be comfortable. Richard and Grace lived together in Camborne for forty-seven years. Richard was buried on May 28, 1796. Grace was buried on May 2, 1802. They had many children and grandchildren to comfort them and although they had to work from morning to night with little worldly goods to show for the work they did, you could say that they found success and built a base on which we draw on even to this day.
I seem to like Richard because he had the courage to leave the comfort of his home in Week St. Mary and to go out in a world that I am sure he was not familiar with. Like John Henry Clifton he did not sit back and wait for his future to be made for him. He went forth on his own and made a life for himself and his family.
When my wife and I moved to Florida I felt a little fear and for no reason. Rose and I are skilled workers. She as a typesetter and I as a plumber-pipefitter. I know that we can always earn a living and yet I still felt this fear that Richard and John Henry must have felt. Camborne was booming with work and I suppose he knew this and it must have seemed like the best place to go. I donÌt know what year he want to Camborne, I only know that he married Grace Smith on September 8, 1751 and they lived in Cornwall until their death.


This is a genealogy site for the Cliftons of Cornwall.