Poldark: A Personal Connection
*Note: This is a post from my old blog. I was able to re-create here.
As a genealogist, I love reading stories or watching films that are set in places my ancestors lived. “The Bride Sale” by Candice Hern is one of my all time favs because it’s set in Cornwall and some of the minor characters have surnames in my family history. Now, to be honest, I’d watch “Poldark” just because it’s a period piece staring a good looking Irishman, however, when I realized it was set in Cornwall.. I knew I’d have a personal connection.
My Rundle and Clark families were old Cornish families. They came from the Liskeard and St. Neot areas of the county. While “Poldark” is set closer to the coastline, and St. Neot is inland, there are still enough similarities to capture my attention. The nearest “Market Town” was Liskeard, where my Clark family was from. When looking at the views of St. Neot and Liskeard, I can easily imagine the “Market Days” scenes in “Poldark”.
The Rundles originally lived in Antony, Cornwall prior to 1600. Antony is along the south east coast of Cornwall. John Rundle settled at Hole Farm in St. Neot right around the turn of the 17th century. Hole Farm is still standing and is a working farm. I was lucky enough to be in contact with Richard Crow who bought the farm in the 1960’s. He was interested in the farm’s history and so ended up doing some wonderful research on the farm and the families that lived there. The Rundles lived at Hole from 1600 to the mid 1800’s.
When I watch “Poldark”, I can’t help but be reminded of Hole Farm when they show Ross’ home. Here are a couple of images of Hole Farm in modern days.
While the Rundles started off as tanners and farmers, Beginning in the early 1800’s they owned and worked in copper mines. My Great Great Grandmother, Agnes Clark, of Liskeard was a “mine girl” at age 14. She worked above ground at the mouth of the mine, sorting the ore and rocks as the miners brought it up. I always find this amusing because after moving to the US and doing well for themselves, the Rundles were not happy when their son, George, married my Irish Catholic Great Grandmother, Jane Smith. They disowned their son upon his marriage to “Jen”. Agnes was known to tell family members that “George can come home anytime he wants, as long as he leaves that Irish girl at the bottom of the hill where she belongs”. Watching “Poldark” I think of the fact that, Cornwall, Agnes was basically on the same social level as “Demelza”, but obviously forgot her humble beginnings once she moved up in the world.
Here is a page from Richard Crow’s research that shows images from the mines on the Rundle property. I found it interesting to note that the man on the left in the top image is ” W.A. Pascoe” . Pascoe, an old Cornish name, is the surname of the bankers that Ross Poldark wants to use, instead of the evil Warleggans.
So while watching “Poldark” I will continue to think of my Cornish ancestors.. even though I doubt any of them looked like Aidan Turner.