Saturday, January 2, 2016

John Parker Gourd


John Parker Gourd was first christened at home on 15 August 1788. Perhaps he was a sickly baby and his parents, Matthew and Betsey weren't sure he would survive. By the time of his public christening on 2 January 1789, it appears they were satisfied he was going to be a healthy boy. His middle name was taken from his mother's maiden name of Parker. He was the fifth of a family of eight children, and only one did not survive. They lived at Liskeard, Cornwall, England (A), which was mentioned in earlier Cornwall posts.


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On 3 May 1810, John married Ann Pyne in her home town of Topsham, Devonshire, England, which is located near the cathedral town of Exeter (B) on the east side of the River Exe estuary. Topsham was made a town by royal charter in 1300, and is the location of an earlier Celtic settlement. It was a port city during Roman times, and is noted for its sheltered harbor. Topsham is 63 miles NE of Liskeard and across what is now the Dartmoor National Park. John was a blacksmith by trade, and the family moved around a bit, though never far.


By 1819, they settled in Chudleigh, Devonshire, where they raised their family. Our ancestor is their son William Soper Gourd, the youngest of seven children. John was enumerated on the 1841 and 1851 census records in Chudleigh. Chudleigh (C) is about twelve miles SW of Topsham, closer to Dartmoor National Park. Earlier Devonshire posts can give more information about Chudleigh and its "great" fire.


In 1858, Ann died, and on the 1861 census, John was living with his daughter, Emma and her husband Thomas Duke at Torquay, just 13 miles south of Chudleigh. Like all of these small places, Torquay has an interesting history. He lived with them for the most of the rest of his life. John died on 24 February 1878 at Combe Lane, West Teignmouth, Devonshire, England. He was 89 years old, and his son, John, was present at his death.


It strikes me that John Parker Gourd was surrounded by beauty his entire life. If you look at these pictures, you can see nature's loveliness everywhere you look. I think of his work as a blacksmith and wonder how often his smithing took him to ships rather than to horses and wagons.

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