(member 1878)

Withell from Perranzabuloe

perrans churchThe parish of Perranzabuloe is on the west coast of Cornwall, near the mouth of the Mellingey river. This is believed to be the place where St Piran, patron Saint of Cornwall, arrived from Ireland in 460 AD and established a Christian church. However the constant battering of the waves along the sand dunes has repeatedly eroded the shoreline. In 1835 an ancient church or chapel was discovered buried in the sand, which may have been the actual oratory in which St. Piran himself officiated.  Much of it was demolished and plundered and the sands have since been allowed to reclaim the rest.

This photo of Perranzabuloe church is courtesy of © Copyright Tony Atkin and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence

The early population surveys of 1525 and 1543 and the Muster Roll of 1569 have no listing of a Withiell in the parish of Perranzabuloe. However events recorded in the Parish register indicate that by 1600 there were three Withiell families then living in Perranzabuloe. The compiling of these registers depended on the assiduousness of the vicar or curate and unfortunately there are gaps. The Perrans families may have been connected to a Withiel family living in nearby Truro, but otherwise they appear to have been a separate group from others in Cornwall.

Family estate papers and wills held by the Cornwall Record Office and Royal Institute of Cornwall indicate that by the 18th century the Peranzabuloe Withiells had acquired property in the manor of Fenton Gympis and at Callestock and used the title of gentleman.

It is interesting that the Perranzabuloe families retained the spelling as Withiel or Withiell into the 20th century. John Withiel from this group died in Cornwall in 1949 and Withiels were listed in British Phone books between 1962 and 1983 as living in Devon.

A number of families migrated to America and New Zealand. I have been contacted by an American descendant of Phillipa Withiel who married John Clarke on 20 October 1733 at Perranzabuloe and moved to USA. Recently I found the record of immigration of a James Withiel to New York in 1882. I believe this may have been James born 1860 in Perranzabuloe.

I have also been able to combine research findings with a descendant of Robert Withiell who married Ann Johns on 18 April 1782 in St Clement. Sir Algernon Phillips Withiel Thomas, great grandson of Robert and Ann, settled in New Zealand and was to become a notable university professor, geologist, biologist and educationalist.

Link to Perranzabuloe postcard

Link to Algernon Phillips Withiel Thomas

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