For further information about the wider Treneer / Trenear family please contact me direct.
Tracing the Treneers
I grew up in Plymouth believing that
Treneer was a common Cornish name.
I went to church every Sunday [being
in the Church choir] and there was the vicar,
Father George Treneer, conducting the
services. I went to stay with relatives at
Pencoose Farm on the outskirts of Penryn, and there was often talk of visits from cousins called Treneer from Canada. On one occasion I actually met one, a blind Music Teacher called Herbert C Treneer, who visited while I was staying there.
When I started seriously researching my family roots, I discovered contacts, through CFHS and elsewhere, relating to the other branches of my Cornish families: the Warmingtons and King-Nicholls of Penryn in particular but as regards that which I regarded as being a common Cornish name: no links whatsoever!
In the meanwhile I was drawing together some pieces of information about this side of the family. A cousin gave me a newspaper cutting of 1934 from one of the local newspapers which was a letter from a John Pascoe Treneer, who was then 81 years of age and living in Toronto. In the letter he spoke of his father, Robert Treneer, [my Great, Great Grandfather] who was a teamster on the Carclew Estate, as well as being a class leader and trustee of the Bible Christian Chapel at Penryn. Robert had also signed the pledge. Apparently at seeding and harvest time “he sowed the grain by hand and carried the seed in, mowing with the help of 15 men. In those days they got no extra money for mowing, but there were 16 gallons of local brewed beer a day sent out, one gallon a day for each man. My father did not drink, the other 15 got the 16 gallons. The land steward was a Mr Sanders, a Scotsman. He said to my father one day : ‘Robert, why don’t you drink the beer, if you are punished for it I will take half your punishment’."
Mainly through the census returns, I came to realise that Robert had a brother, Richard, who, as well as being a couple of years older than himself, farmed nearby at Poplar Farm; and this brother had a son who was still a scholar at nineteen years of age . Ten years later, this son [Joseph] was schoolmaster at Gorran School, married to Susan [Gorran born] with a little daughter, Ellen [born at Stokeclimsland]. Being an ex-school teacher myself this man fascinated me, for whereas most of his relatives were agricultural labourers, gamekeepers and the likehis occupation was in complete contrast to theirs.
For some time, this is where my knowledge of the Treneers remained.
Then in the September 2000 edition of the CFHS magazine, a new member, Tina Carmichael of Virginia was requesting contact with anyone interesting in “Treneer - anywhere in Cornwall”. Needless to say I responded immediately, and within a few days we were in e-mail contact. Tina’s grandmother, Ellen Treneer, had lived to a wonderful age [almost 103 yrs old] when she died in 1978. She had been born at Stokeclimsland in 1876, she had married John Thomas Treneer, her first cousin and they had emigrated to the States. Her father was Joseph, but her mother was Ellen - so were we talking about the same family?
To answer this question I posted a request for information about the Gorran family of 1881 on the ‘Cornish-Gen’ site, and amongst the very helpful replies was one which simply said, “You need a book called “School House in the Wind” by Ann Treneer”. Following on e-mails confirmed that this was indeed the right family. Joseph had arrived at Gorran as a widower with his little girl [we have since learned that mother Ellen died three days after giving birth to young Ellen] and that he had married again: to Susan [or Dan’l, as he called her], the youngest daughter of Joseph & Elizabeth Nott of Trevarrick Farm, just outside Gorran Churchtown.
“School House in the Wind” is an omnibus edition of three autobiographical books originally written by Ann Treneer in the 1940s, that has been re-published. Reading the book, the story of Joseph and Dan’l Treneer, their family, their environment, their neighbours, and the Cornwall of their time seems to unravel. Her descriptions of the land and its people are worth reading by anyone with Cornish interests whether they have links with the family and the Gorran area, or not.
Through speaking to Tina, together with the omissions in the book, it seems that Ellen was not part of the family situation when Ann, the youngest of the children, was growing up at Gorran and at Caerhays.
From his second marriage, Joseph had six more children:
Maurice, who became a research chemist, emigrated to the USA being employed by Miles Laboratories at Elkhart, and invented ALKA SELTZER in 1929, and together with William Compton developed the tablets for Benedict's test [for urine sugar] in 1940.
Howard, who was very musical and also became a teacher. He was the organist at St. Michael's Church, Exeter from 1914, and was ordained during WW2.
Stanley, who worked for the Post Office.
Wilfred, who when he was young was an accomplished sportsman.
Susan, who like Howard was very musical and also became a school teacher.
Ann, who taught at schools in the south west of England, and at King Edward's High School for Girls in Birmingham. She was also a poet and an author of note, being one time chairman of the Cornish Writers Association. She also wrote four “school-girl” books under the name of S K Ensdaile.
Since reading the book, our knowledge of the Treneer family has filled out, and we have been about to make contact with other folks whose families connect with the Treneer family, including the Notts.
Since then I have also made contact with the family of John Pascoe Treneer who emigrated to Canada.
Oh! And as for Father Treneer - you’ve guessed it! I eventually asked our local vicar if he could look up for me [in Crockford’s, the Anglican Clerical Directory] the Rev Cyril Treneer, Howard’s son who conducted his Aunt Ann’s memorial service when she died in 1966. Back came the reply, “Rev Cyril, George, Howard Treneer; last parish: St Gabriel’s, Peverell, Plymouth!