Friday, April 25, 2014

John and Radigan Gourd of Cornwall

Radigan Pearce married John Gourd on 25 April 1711 in Liskeard, Cornwall, England. She and John had six children, all in Liskeard, so she spent her entire married life there. She was buried on 28 October 1750, also in Liskeard, at the age of about 70. John was a gardener, who on 9 Jan 1753, filed a complaint against two of his sons as follows, “Complaint by John Gourd of Liskeard, gardener, being poor, old, blind and impotent and unable to work; that his sons John of Helston and Sampson of Liskeard, gardeners, do not contribute to his relief ordered that John contributes 1s. 6d. and Sampson 6d., weekly, to their father's relief and maintenance.” From this we know that one of his sons lived in Helston, which is near Stithians. These two places are about 50 miles from Liskeard, but the Helston reference ties Radigan to both places through her son. In Stithians, there is a christening on 4 May 1688 for a Radigan Pearce. The parents were Nicholas and Katherine and they had a large family. If our Radigan is their daughter, she was the youngest and eighth child. John didn't die until after his complaint of 1753, so he outlived his wife. We really don't know anything of his birth or his parents.

View Larger Map

By looking at the map we can see the locations of the three places mentioned; Liskeard, Stithians, and Helston.

Liskeard, the farthest north and the place Radigan spent her married life, is an ancient stannary and market town located in SE Cornwall, near the resort towns of Looe and Polperro. It lies above the Looe river valley and about 14 miles W of the River Tamar, with the Cornish coast to the south, and Bodmin Moor to the north. Liskeard has original Victorian shop fronts, a Guild Hall, a Clock Tower and a Town Hall. Stuart House, another old building, was named after Charles I who spent six nights there in 1644 during the Civil War.

The church, St. Martin’s, is the second largest in Cornwall, and is built on the site of the former Norman church, the oldest parts dating back to the 15th century. Always an important market town and originally called Liscarret, Liskeard was one of the holdings of the Count of Mortain when recorded in the Domesday Book. At that time it consisted of a market, a mill, and 250 sheep. It received its first charter in 1240 from Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who was the brother of Henry III and held Launceston Castle at the time. There are lovely photographs of the area. See

Stithians (also known as St Stythians) is a small village and civil parish in the Kerrier district of Cornwall. It lies in the center of the triangle bounded by Redruth, Helston, and Falmouth. Its population (2001) is 2,004. The parish is mainly agricultural, located south of the Gwennap mining area and north of the quarrying areas of Rame and Longdowns. The River Kennall runs through the parish and in the 19th century, this river worked a number of flour mills, machinery at a foundry, and a paper mill.

There is a parish church dedicated to St. Stythian (a saint of uncertain origins), and there are references to the parish in the 13th and 14th centuries. There has been a church on the site since the 6th century but the oldest part of the current church is 14th century, with the tower being added in the 15th century. John Wesley visited Stithians in 1744-50 and brought Methodism to the parish. To read the entire description, please see

Nearby is Helston, referred to as the residence of John Gourd, the son, in his father’s complaint. In 2001 the town celebrated the 800th anniversary of the granting of its Charter, making it the second oldest town in Cornwall. King John granted the charter in 1201, making it a free borough town having certain privileges such as the right to its own court. In the Domesday Book it is referred to as Henliston. Its name is derived from hen lis, which means “old court” in Cornish, denoting it as a Saxon manor. Helston has always been associated with mining, and was a coinage town during the reign of Edward I.

It is famous for the annual Furry Dance or Flora Dance, said to originate from the medieval period. For more information, go to


Honor said...

I like that ... I think Radigan married a humorous man.

Cori said...

This last picture makes me laugh... who is that guy?

eyanharve said...

great information and like your blog. thanks for sharing.
- St Austell