Monday, 22 September 2008

Crews/Cruse of Dartmouth, Devon

Margaret Torode in New Zealand has kindly sent me details of her husband's Crews/Cruse line which moved from Dartmouth in Devon via Paignton to Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Between the two of us we've now managed to trace the tree back a further two generations. The line begins with the marriage of Benjamin Cruse, a mariner, and Dorothy Wills in 1781 at Dartmouth St Saviour. Benjamin and Dorothy had two children: Dorothy, born in 1782, and Benjamin, born in 1785. Dorothy seems to have died young, for in 1787 Benjamin Crews, now a widower, married Mary Weymouth. Benjamin and Mary had nine children, at least three of whom died in infancy. Benjamin then seems to have married for a third time in 1805 to Elizabeth Ball, a widow. The research into this line has been greatly helped by the wonderful transcriptions of the Dartmouth St Saviour marriages which have been made available online on the Dartmouth History Group's website. We now need to do some further work on the Dartmouth St Saviour burials and baptisms.

Margaret's husband is descended from William Crews (baptised on 2nd November 1799), the son of Benjamin Cruse and his second wife, Mary Weymouth. William Crewse married Susanna Berry Carey in 1819 at Dartmouth St Saviour. At the time of the marriage he was a mariner, but he subsequently joined the Coastguard Service and became a coastguard and chief boatman. The Coastguard Service was only created in 1822 so William was quite possibly one of the earliest recruits. We know nothing of his early career but by 1837 William was the coastguard at St Alban's Head (also known as St Adhelm's Head) in Worth Matravers, Dorset. There is a photograph of the coastguard cottages at St Alban's Head, where William and his family would have lived, on Wikipedia. By 1841 William had moved to Whippingham on the Isle of Wight.

William and Susanna had six known children, five girls and a boy. Their son William was educated at the Greenwich Hospital School in London, but did not follow in the family maritime tradition. Instead he became a wheelwright and settled in Paignton, Devon. Some of William and Susanna's children moved to Guernsey in the Channel Islands. The spelling of the surname veers backwards and forwards between Cruse and Crews in the Dartmouth St Saviour registers. However, all of the descendants of William Crews and Susanna Carey seem to have adopted the Crews spelling from the 1820s onwards.

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