Henry Harvey, cornish industrialist

+4 votes
I'm trying to solve the mystery of Grace Tonkin from St Just who with Henry Harvey of Hayle, had 10 plus kids. About 1830.They weren't married which is a bit odd for the era and suggests to me that she was married to somebody else previously.Henry Harvey was the owner of foundaries in Hayle and along with Trevithick, built steam engines for mining and cast vast tubes for the Severn Railway tunnel. Tonkin was a common name among the tin miners of St Just.
in Genealogy Help by Ann Henderson G2G2 (2.7k points)
Is this just for information or do you have a question?
I'm looking for information on Grace Tonkin.Obviously there's no marriage cert for parentage.

5 Answers

+1 vote

Grace born 1783 to Simon Tonkin and Elizabeth Hall, one child with James Murrish. Her father born 1753.
by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
There were a lot of Grace Tonkin from St Just and this may not be the right one. Looks a bit early. I'm maybe not expecting the christian name to be Tonkin but the married name to be Tonkin. Her children to Harvey have her as Tonking. I seem to remember that her and Harvey never lived in the same house, according to local books on Hayle. I'm starting to wonder if Harvey was married to somebody else but there's no record of that as yet.
+1 vote


Grace Tonking

England and Wales Census, 1871

Name Grace Tonking
Event Type Census
Event Date 1871
Event Place United, Gwennap, Cornwall, England
Enumeration District 12
Gender Female
Age 68
Marital Status Widowed
Relationship to Head of Household Head
Birth Year (Estimated) 1803
Birthplace Cornwall
Entry Number 2
Affiliate Image Identifier GBC/1871/2312/0077






Grace Tonking Head F 68 Cornwall
Richard Tonking Son M 24 Cornwall


"England and Wales Census, 1871", database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VFVX-RPZ : accessed 24 May 2016), 

by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
+1 vote

Grace A Tonking

England and Wales Census, 1861

Name Grace A Tonking
County Cornwall
Event Type Census
Event Date 1861
Event Place Gwennap, Cornwall, England
Registration District Redruth
Residence Note Sunny Corner
Gender Female
Age 57
Marital Status Married
Relationship to Head of Household Wife
Birth Year (Estimated) 1804
Birthplace St Agnes, Cornwall
Page Number 2
Registration Number RG09
Piece/Folio 1577 / 17
Affiliate Record Type Household






John Tonking Head M 66 St Agnes, Cornwall
Grace A Tonking Wife F 57 St Agnes, Cornwall
James Tonking Son M 19 Gwennap, Cornwall
Michael Tonking Son M 17 Gwennap, Cornwall
Richard Tonking Son M 14 Gwennap, Cornwall
Christian Tonking Daughter In Law F 36 Gwennap, Cornwall
William Tonking Grandson M 10 Gwennap, Cornwall


"England and Wales Census, 1861," database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M7ZG-37H : accessed 24 May 2016), Grace A Tonking in household of John Tonking, Gwennap, Cornwall, England; from "1861 England, Scotland and Wales census," database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : n.d.); citing PRO RG 9, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
Grace  was 25 years younger than Henry therefore born about 1800. Gwenapp is near Redruth. not Hayle but when widowed may have moved. I have to check if these kids correspond to Harvey's. Thank you all. It seems locally nobody knows why they were unmarried.I have a suspicion in that Henry had a sister Ann who died leaving Henry to look  after her 6 kids who were similar in age to Grace. So he already had 6 kids in his house when he met Grace.Enough's enough?
+1 vote
Henry Harvey & Grace Tonkin never married.  They had 8 children, some were baptised with Harvey as their middle name.  She was 18 and he 43 when they had their first child, John.  Family oral history suggests she was a domestic servant in his house. Also, that Henry changed the surname to Tonking to differentiate his children from others with the Tonkin surname. There are two schools of thought regarding Grace's parentage - on her death certificate it states he was William Tonkin, farmer; althernate opinion is that it was Thomas Tonkin, tin miner, mother's surname Nicholls. More info if you want it, I am a descendant.
If you want to see the Harvey house in Hayle, I spotted it up for sale this week on Rightmove.
I am also a descendant, James Harvey Tonking, Grace's son is my great great grandfather and we are looking into the family tree, so anymore info would be welcome.

Hello Diana,


I have been researching one of the sons of this union. JAMES HARVEY TONKING who went to the USA. He led a totally fascinating life and there is a street named after him in New York's Staten Island.  I can put you in touch with one of his descendants if you wish.....

Worth looking at. The museum at Hayle, Cornwall would be very interested.Its in Harvey's old factory near the wharf.
+1 vote
The story of Henry Harvey and Grace Tonking that has passed down my family is that Grace was a servant in the house of Henry's father in (or near) Hayle. Henry and Grace fell in love, but Henry's father would not allow them to marry. He set her up in a house of her own, and she had a number of children. When eventually Henry's father died, Henry wanted to then tie the not, but Grace was reported to have said that she had managed very well without marrying, and declined the offer. Their sons were all set up with farms and land around Cornwall.

Re the Family Story of Henry's father not allowing them to marry:

In all the census records, and Grace's death record, it seems she was born about 1799 - 1800. She was stated to be 66 yrs when she died in 1865. 

Henry Harvey's father John died in 1803 so Grace would have been about 3 to 4 years old at that time. Therefore the story of his objections to the marriage does not hold up.  (Henry Harvey's mother  Johanna died in 1807.)

None of Henry and Grace's sons were given land. They were apprenticed  or trained to commerce.  The majority died under the age of 40.

I have not bought the certificates to see if there was a pattern to their deaths. e.g. possible Congential Heart Disease. But would be interested to hear of cause of death if others have that information.

John died unmarried aged 20 yrs in Nov 1838. Occupation unknown.

William died unmarried aged 21 yrs in 1843., Aged 19 in 1841 Census, occupation not stated.

Francis died aged 30 yrs in 1853. He was a Grocer and married to Ann Hosking.

Henry (Harry) died unmarried aged 19 yrs in 1844. Occupation not known.

Richard died aged 31 yrs in 1856. He was a Chemist (Druggist) and married to Blanche Sandow.

Julia Ann died aged 20 yrs in 1849 probably in child birth. She was married to John Polglase. In 1851 Grace has her grandson John Polglase in her household.

Edwin (1) died aged one year in 1831.

Edwin (2) died aged 37 years in 1869. He was a Draper married to Jane Rosewarne.

James died aged 76 yrs in 1910 in New York City. Originally a Draper he had several jobs including soldier in the US Civil War and a Tramway Driver. His first wife (Eliza Whitford) returned to England with their two sons. He had two wives in the USA. And had a daughter and two sons from his second marriage.

Charles died aged 70 years in 1908. He trained as a Chemist (Druggist) and was married to Elizabeth Sarah Nicholls Hoskings.

Re the 1841 Census, Grace is living in her home in Mellenear, St Erth that was provided for her by Henry. The children in her household are: William 19yrs; Henry 16yrs; Richard 15yrs; Edwin 10 yrs; Francis 8 years; and Charles 4 yrs.

Either Francis age is wrong (it should be 18 yrs) or Francis has been stated instead of James who should be 7 yrs. Julia Ann aged about 12 is missing

James or Francis is missing depending how James and Francis are mixed up.

I have not found Julia Ann in 1841 or the mixed up Francis/ James.

Grace's Death Record states her father was William Tonking a Farmer.  Some people have rejected this information as spurious. However unmarried women were usually described in terms of their relationship to their father and I was surprised to see that the re-published Harveys of Hayle stated that her father was Thomas Tonkin of St Just a Miner.

Having debunked the the idea that Grace was a servant in Henry's father household or even Henry's household that idea that she was a miner's daughter from St Just does not seem credible. How would he meet her (Poldark effect notwithstanding)? 

Cornish Cousin

Julianna Harvey Tonking married 1848 to John Polglase, died 1 August 1849, death registered Redruth, Cornwall. Their son John Polglase was born 1st quarter 1849.  Don't know the cause of death but may investigate.

Agree about Grace's father, definitely stated on her death certificate as William Tonkin, farmer, which is far more likely than a tin miner's daughter.  Also none of Grace's children bore the name Thomas but her second son was William.  Assuming that the oldest son was named after Henry's father, John Harvey, it could be assumed that the 2nd son was named after Grace's father.  No way of proving it unless someone miraculously uncovers Grace's origins.

So much more to this story!

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