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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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Buckland Monachorum - the main street in 2002

Buckland Monachorum - the main street in 2002

© Richard J. Brine


Emanuel Lang was baptised in the village of Buckland Monachorum, once the home of Sir Francis Drake, on 26 October 1834. His  father - John Lang, the local blacksmith - had married a girl from the same village - Jane Spry - in April 1827.


John and Jane set up home in the centre of the village  and the baptisms of the first two children born here, Mary and Charles, were recorded on 18 January 1830 and 16 October 1831 respectively, with Emanuel arriving three years later ; no record of his birth on this side of the Atlantic exists just a baptismal record dated 26 October 1834.


After this, everything began to go wrong for Jane, Emanuel and the other children. On 6 October 1836, John Lang died at his house aged 40;  we have no way of knowing the cause of his death. His wife, Jane Lang, was heavily pregnant at the time with twin girls - Keziah and Rachel - who were born on New Year's Day 1837. John's elderly father - Bidden Lang - had lived with the  family and at John's death, Bidden, ( well into his seventies),  Jane and the children, now five in number, had no choice but to appeal to the parish for  help.


First they had to leave the blacksmith's shop and their cottage so that another man could take John's place and were sent to live further out of the village at Harris's Tenement, one of the charitable bequests made to the poorest inhabitants of Buckland. A tenement was a small piece of land on which a few vegetables could be grown and most (but not all) tenements had a tiny shack or one-roomed cottage which they would have had to share with other paupers.


Requests for bread, clothing or medicine had to be made to the Overseers of the Poor who were given small sums to disburse by the parish council throughout the year. It was a  miserable existence, deliberately contrived to be so to discourage anyone who thought they could sponge off other hard-working villagers who were by no means wealthy themselves. The 1841 census shows them all described as paupers and still living out at the tenement, the twins now 4 and Bidden Lang aged 80.


By 1851, Emanuel had found employment as a farm labourer at a farm called Venton (still there) at the nearby hamlet of Crapstone. He lived-in at the farm but 1861 finds him, aged 26,working as a mason at the head of a household,  and living back in the centre of Buckland. His mother Jane is now aged 54 and his brother Charles, now 29, has become a miner in one of the many mines in the area. But, bearing in mind the death of Jane's husband in 1836, surprise, surprise - there are two more children living with them - a brother named Joshua (16) and a  Mary aged 10 who is described as Emanuel's niece. There is no baptismal record for either of these children.


By 1862, however, Emanuel was in St German's, Cornwall, getting married to Ann Gent and, in 1865, welcoming the arrival of their first child, Jane Lang, in the September Quarter . This happy event is followed by a return to the other side of the River Tamar, to Honnick Knowle Cottage in St. Budeaux where their second child, Edith Ann, was born in the June Quarter of 1868.

 However, don't bother looking for them in the 1881 census - they're not here -  they  have gone to Canada.


Greenwood Cemetery entrance, Brantford, Canada
Greenwood Cemetery Brantford CA

Courtesy of the Ontario Genealogical Society.




From David Hutchfield's entry on the previous page , we learn that Emanuel came from Devonshire, that he died 18 April 1912  and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in the city of Brantford. in Ontario. But we also discover his actual birth date (10 October 1834) not the baptismal date recorded in the parish register in Buckland Monachorum. We learn, too, more about his wife Ann  - our UK records show that her maiden name was GENT not GINT; the memorial tells us that she died 28 February 1909 and that she was  born in Cornwall 5 November 1837.


Jane, their eldest daughter (who we last came across in the 1871 census) had married Alfred E. T. Balne and had died tragically early on 22 October 1890 at the age of 25. Alfred had lived on until 19 August 1936 having been born 22 January 1860. The second child of the family, Edith Ann, married in Canada when her name changed to Kerney. Edith died 13 October 1916. The 1881 Canadian census shows that the family are Baptists, that Emanuel works as a bricklayer and Jane as a dressmaker.


Time to look at the 1901 Canadian census which reveals another set of surprises as well as showing a very useful link to the Canadian 1911 census. It seems that  Emanuel and Ann had two further children born to them in Canada; Bessie born 18 April 1874 and John - aged 10 in 1901. So now we can deduce that they probably left England for Canada in 1871, after the date of the British census (2 April 1871) but before John's birth in Canada later on that same year. Back to 1901 and here's Jane's daughter - Edith Balne - being brought up by her grandparents after her mother's untimely death.


Following the useful link from the 1901 Canadian census to the 1911 census brings Emanuel's story to its final pages - a few months after the later census was taken, he was dead. having lost his wife in 1909. His third daughter Bessie (now 36) remains unmarried and  looks after the home and Edith Balne is still there - the spelling of her name is muddled  as suggested on the census return- maybe her grandfather wasn't up to completing the form and  Bessie filled it in instead - in which case, she correctly described Edith as her niece. 


On the 12th of April 1912, at the age of 78, Emanuel Lang's story came to an end. He had never returned to England, and had kept to the same line of work he had done in the old days in St Budeaux. He had escaped the suffocating English village life of the times, a life tightly controlled by the local squire, watched over on a daily basis by the village parson. In Canada, he was free to worship as a non-conformist and free to live on an equal footing with his fellow citizens - freedoms he could pass on to his children. His girls did not have to curtsey to anyone and he could afford not to have to send his grandchild to the workhouse when her mother died. So yes, it would have been a matter of satisfaction to Emanuel that they had made the great decision and had gone to Canada.


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