Peter Prideaux remained in contact, albeit in a limited relationship, with his father until he died in 1719.
Peter was now settled at Ringmore, accepted in the community and worked as a carpenter. He had built up a good reputation for himself as a skilled and dedicated worker. The ability to read and write helped him get the good jobs. Carpenters were sought after at this time in England, some were treated as great artists and given food and a home until the work was done.
Houses at this time were built from stone and clay and often consisted of only one room. In some cases, this room was also occupied by chicken and geese. The roof was mainly thatch which was tied down with ropes and netting to prevent it blowing away in the strong winds which would whistle up from the coast with a great deal of strength. The cottage may have possessed only a small portion of land around it, or the cottager may have been lucky enough to possess more. This land and property, generally owned by a landlord, was more than likely overseen by an agent on his behalf. Rent was paid to him and non payment answerable often by eviction. Women and children were seen in public at church or going to market when they did not work in the fields. Church was attended on Sundays, but often these cottagers had lost their religious beliefs and piety, leaving that to the better off who had more time to spend in their spiritual diligence.
It was common for people to starve and each family only had enough to feed their own and were unlikely to give to strangers. One hopes that if a neighbour was in trouble, the others came to help. I think they often did. Travellers to villages were not welcome because they could take local jobs and would want housing. Then if they could not pay their way, they would be turned away as no one wanted to pay for their keep. Even children, starving and orphaned would wander the lanes looking for food and shelter and would be moved on. Different times. There is still an inherent mistrust of immigration, I think we treat them better.
Although the population in the land had increased during Tudor times, it remained static and often dropped during this period. After 1750 when industry began to make an appearance, the population began to increase. It also became more common for people to move area again.
Becoming pregnant out of wedlock was frowned upon, but as long as a marriage took place either during the pregnancy or shortly afterwards, then the problem was solved. It was very common for a baby to arrive only weeks after the wedding ceremony.
This Peter Prideaux married Joan and they had five children together during their lives at Ringmore. I presume they married before she was with child, but I do not know.
Their first daughter Joan Prideaux was born on 30th September 1728 and baptised on the 15th October at Ringmore. She gave birth to a base born son, John on 17th April 1752 and baptised him at Ringmore on the 26th April. His father was not named and this child may have died on thwe 24th August 1757, shortly after her marriage to Matthew Bowhey whom she married on 1st May 1757 at Ermington.
Their second daughter Elizabeth Prideaux was born on 6th March 1732 at Ringmore and baptised at the church there on the 31st March.. She married John Skinner on 25th September 1757 at the same place.
Their first son Peter Prideaux was born on 1st August 1733 and baptised on the 12th August 1733 at Ringmore.
Ann Prideaux was born on 7th Jan 1736, and baptised on the 15th April also at Ringmore.
Thomas Prideaux was born on 7th December 1738 at Ringmore and married Elizabeth Carton on 26th November 1761. This Thomas died on 31st July 1813 at Ermington aged 75.
Peter Prideaux Senior died on 12th April 1749 and was buried on the 14th at Ringmore. His younger wife Joan was not buried until 3rd August 1756 – mainly because she wasn’t dead until then.
Celia Fiennes was making her way through the countryside at the time of Peter’s birth and her descriptions of the area, roads and jobs, give an excellent impression of the times.
She tells us about the narrow roads and the stone bridges, sometimes with five arches spanning the waters. The rivers noisily rush and froth over the large rocks on its way to the sea, she writes. She meets characters on the road and in the fields and sometimes sees the cottagers looking at the strange, well dressed woman followed by pack horses smiling as she went along.
Now there were the small beginnings of a civilized way of living for the common people, which gradually developed during the second half of the century. Queen Anne. the daughter of James II reigned from 1702 to 1714.. She had seventeen children but only one child survived to twelve years of age. She was married to Prince George of Denmark. She was Protestant and very fat and loved by her people. She died after having convulsions and her coffin was almost square because of her huge bulk.
Queen Anne had a long friendship with Sarah who started life as a maid and ended up married to John Churchill. Queen Anne gave them money from the public purse to build Blenheim Palace.
The Hanoverians now came to rule England. George I lasted from 1714 to 1727. He died of a stroke.
Capitalism arrived in Devon and Cornwall early, with many foreigners making money from the development of mining. The miner himself earned very little. Wives and children also needed to work in order for the families to make enough money to eat.
Miners worked a long way underground with very little air and in sweltering heat. They came back to the surface where it may well be freezing and dressed in cold, wet and inadequate clothes and then walked five miles home. Food was scarce and not very nourishing. The average age in one Cornish miner’s grave yard was 27 years old in 1750.
Men drank gin and other spirits in the kiddleywinks, the name of the pubs they frequented. There were often uprisings because of food shortages. A famous uprising in 1727 caused one Thomas Tonkin to be hanged at St Austell for leading a raid for food.
George II reigned from 1727 until 1760 at his death aged 76 of a heart attack while sitting on the toilet. What was good enough for Elvis was good enough for this King.
He was followed by his grandson George III, the son of eldest son Frederick who had died from being hit by a cricket ball in the chest. George III reigned until 1820. He had fifteen children of whom thirteen survived. He became mad in later life and eventually died of pneumonia. He was known as Mad King George. But he did love and encouraged the huge boom in agriculture during his reign.
I thought all this was quite an interesting background to the kind of country Peter was living and dying in.
Original Article written by APx in 2009