Pearce Blaney (14 November 1769 – 18 April 1854)

Pearce Blaney was born 14 November 1769 in Plympton St. Mary, Devon — now a part of the city of Plymouth — to William Blaney and Mary Jeffrey.   His parents had married in the same parish on 23 April 17641

Sometime in his youth he migrated nearly 25 miles northward to the village of Lewtrenchard where he was apparently employed for more than two decades by the owner of Lew House manor and its several thousands acres of land.  William Baring-Gould, who was about he same age as Pearce Blaney, inherited the estate in 1796 and made it his home for until his death in 1846.  The manor house is now a hotel.

He appears on a 1797 list of Devon game certificates (hunting licenses) as “Pearse Blaney”, gamekeeper and servant to  William Baring-Gould of Lewtrenchard.2 in 1802 he was listed in a newspaper advertisement as the information contact for the auction sale of a “large quantity of Oak timber” at Lew Down, perhaps cut from the Gould estate, along with 16 draught horses and their wagons.3  He may have lived on or near the Gould estate for at least the next twenty years, as his wife’s home was listed as “Lew House” in the parish death records.

He married Mary Searle on 19 September 1802 in the parish church of Lewtrenchard, Devon. 4  Banns were published both in Lewtrenchard and in the adjacent small parish of Thrushelton where Mary lived. Pearce was identified as a “Sojourner” in the parish of Thrushelton, meaning that he was either a resident of some other parish, apparently Lewtrenchard. 5  The identity of Mary Searle is a mystery; no Searles or Serles appear in the parish registers of Thrushelton or Lewtrenchard.

The baptisms of the four children of Pearce Blaney and Mary listed below were recorded in the Lewtrenchard parish records between 1803 and 1810.   The same parish registers noted the burial of Mary Blaney, age 42, of Lew House, Lewtrenchard on 10 December 1817.  Despite being left with small children, it appears that Pearce Blaney did not remarry.

Few records of Pearce Blaney after this were found.  He apparently was still working for Gould in 1822 when he again appeared as a recipient of a game license.6  And he must have been living in Lewtrenchard in 1824 when his daughter Mary married Walter Palmer.  But at some point he resigned both the profession and the residence.  He was probably the same Pearce Blaney confined in Plymouth debtor’s prison in 1833 over a £14 debt.7

The 1841 census of England enumerated him as a miner living in a Callington, Cornwall boarding house along with his grandson Walter Palmer.  He was still in Callington for the 1851 English census, living with the family of his son-in-law Walter Palmer, who had married two of his three daughters.  He died there three years later.

His gravestone in St. Mary Churchyard in Callington bears the inscription: “Pearce Blaney who was born at Plymton St. Mary Devon November 14 1769 and died at Calllington April 18 1854 aged 85 years.”

  1. William Pearce Blaney (July 1803 – April 1853) He was baptized in Lew Trenchard parish on 31 July 1803.  He had a first wife, but her name is unknown.  On 19 July 1846 he married a widow named Mary Cleave (Cleve) in the unified parish of St. John and St. George, in the city of Exeter, Devon.8 The marriage record identifies him as a widower, a labourer residing on St. Mary Archer Street, and the son of “Pierce” Blaney, labourer.  It identifies Mary Cleve as a widow, a nurse residing at Friendly Street, and the daughter of John Roberts, bell hanger.   Mary Roberts had first married a man named Charles Cleave on 9 July 1827 in Kenton, a small village just south of Exeter.9  She had five children whose births were recorded in the Kenton parish register: Henry Cleave (1827), Walter John Cleave (1828), John Cleave (1830), Thomas Cleave (1832), and Charles Cleave (1833-1834) who died in infancy.  Her husband’s death was recorded in late 1849 in the civil records of East Stonehouse district.  Mary appeared as head of household, age 35, in the 1841 census residing in the village of Kenton with her four sons.  The 1851 census found the blended family living in Kenton.  William Blaney was identified as an agricultural labourer, age 45 (sic), with Mary, 46, William Blaney, 3, John Cleave, 21, and Thomas Cleave, 19.10

    The son was William Pearce Blaney (1848-1924), who lived and died in Exeter — whether he was in touch with his cousins or not is  unknown.  The burial of William Blaney, age 49, was recorded in the Kenton parish register on 24 April 1853.  It wasn’t registered in the civil district until the third quarter of 1853.11

  2. Mary Blaney (1805 – 1850?)   She was baptized in Lew Trenchard parish on 2 June 1805.  She was the first wife of Walter Palmer.
  3. Margaret Ellen Blaney (1808 – 28 November 1880) She was baptized as “Peggy” in Lew Trenchard parish on 4 February 1808.  How and why she traveled to Canada is mysterious, but she was in Montreal, Quebec by 1833 when she married George Hill (1800-1846).12   They had four children before George died in Brant County, Ontario.  Margaret remarried there to Joseph Page (1813-1861) and had one more child, a daughter named Anna Maria Page.  The 1851 and 1861 Canadian census lists the blended family in Brant County.  Sometime in the 1860s, after her second husband died, Margaret moved to Lyon County, Nevada, near Silver City where her Palmer relations were mining executives.  She was enumerated there with her adult children in the 1870 and 1880 censuses.

    She is buried in the Dayton Cemetery in Lyon County, Nevada where she shares a stone with her sons George Pearce Blaney Hill (1833-1883) and Cornelius Augustus Blaney Hill (1837 – 1887), who married his first cousin Ellen Palmer.  Her other children were twins named Henrietta Blaney Hill (1841-1909), who remained unmarried, and William Henry Hill (1841-1914).  Her only child by the second marriage was Anna Maria Page (1848-1935) who married Thomas Proctor Mack; she continued to live in Nevada though she died in Los Angeles, and is also buried in the Dayton Cemetery.

  4. Harriet Blaney (3 August 1810 – 28 July1889)  She was baptized 19 August 1810 in Lew Trenchard parish.  Harriet was the second wife of Walter Palmer.


  1. Plympton St. Mary parish register, online at []
  2. Sherborne Mercury issue of Monday, 30 October 1797 Transcribed by Lindsey Withers and posted online at Genuki. []
  3. Exeter Flying Post, issue of 25 March 1802, page 2. []
  4. Lewtrenchard parish register, available online. []
  5. The Hardwicke Act of 1754 required parishes to list the residence of both parties.  If a person either failed to identify his home parish, lived elsewhere, or was too newly settled to qualify for settlement rights, he or she was identified as a sojourner.  That basically meant that he was not eligible for parish assistance. []
  6. Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post, Thursday, 19 September 1822, Transcribed by Lindsey Withers, onlin. []
  7. Parliamentary Papers, Volume 4 (1855), page 171. []
  8. Parish record book, images available online. []
  9. Kenton Parish Register.  The marriage entry calls her a “sojourner in this parish”, meaning that she resided elsewhere, probably Exeter. []
  10. William’s birthplace was Lewtrenchard, Mary’s birthplace was Exeter, and all three children were born in Kenton. []
  11. Devon Civil Registrations Index referencing St. Thomas District Volume 5b, page 62. []
  12. Quebec Non-Catholic Marriages, database online. []