The Carpenter Family


The family name ‘Carpenter’ is of long standing in Launceston; a succession of this family have had their name added to the honoured roll of Mayors of the Shire Town of Cornwall since Thomas Carpenter was given that honour in 1591. John Carpenter was similarly honoured in 1704, 1712, 1729 and again in 1736. Following the now family tradition Nathaniel became mayor in 1737 and 1748, Joseph in 1750 and Nathaniel again in 1752.

Mr Coryndon Carpenter, Attorney-at-law, was appointed Mayor of Launceston in 1755, John in 1759 and Joseph in 1760, then again Nathaniel in 1761. Coryndon, now also Constable of the Castle of Launceston, again became mayor in 1763. It must have been around this time he purchased a lottery ticket which he handed to his intended wife. This ticket was a winner making the couple £10,000 better off, a not inconsiderable sum for that period and the couple then wed and began to build a mansion house just outside the north gate of the castle. This mansion was completed around 1764 and was, at some time, named ‘Eagle House’ due to some of its many decorations. Coryndon again became mayor in 1767, to be followed by John in 1768 and Joseph in 1769. Coryndon Carpenter was again given the honour of office becoming mayor once more in 1774 being the last mayor of that name for the town.

In 1797 a sale of furniture was held: a copy of the original sales notice hangs in a dining room in the hotel:
HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE: TO BE SOLD on Thursday the 29th Day of this Instant June, and on the following day. A SURVEY will be held at LAUNCESTON, in the County of Cornwall, for selling all the Household Goods & Furniture, In the Dwelling House, formerly the residence of CORYNDON CARPENTER, Esq., deceased, and since of his widow Mrs ELIZABETH CARPENTER, deceased, consisting of: Four Post & other Bedsteads, Bed Tyes, Mahogany Dining, & other Tables. Three very large Pier Glasses, two of them calculated for an handsome Dining Room; being eight feet by four. Swing, and other Glasses. Mahogany, and other Chairs, two large Sophas, Bureaus, Some very good Prints, glazed and framed, a very large Wilton Carpet, & divers other articles, together with some very good Kitchen Furniture.
The Furniture may be seen on application to Mr Lethbridge, Attorney, in Launceston.
Or at the house on the Day preceding the Survey, and on the morning of each days’ sale,
which will commence precisely at 2 o’clock.
Launceston, June 15th, 1797.
The above sales notice was printed by W Bray, Bookbinder & Stationer.

Just a few years before this time the Duke of Northumberland had refurbished his mansion at Werrington, using the experts of that time for his interior decoration, especially of the Italianate style of plaster work. It is said that, after finishing their work at Werrington, the decorators came into Launceston offering their services to the more wealthy property owners in the town. As Castle Street was a very wealthy street at that time several owners had their properties done in the style of the period – 1770 – 1790 – and this included Eagle House, Lawrence House and Castle Hill House, all in Castle Street, as well as several more within the town.
Much of their work may still be admired in Castle Street in 2001 being still in excellent repair.

Dr. Coryndon Rowe, Surgeon, married Ann Carpenter on 15 June, 1795. He was probably the Mayor Coryndon Rowe in the years 1792, 1797, 1810, 1821 and again in 1829. Dr. Coryndon Rowe was also a chief officer of the new Launceston Savings Bank which opened in 1818. Dr Rowe lived at Dockacre House, later to become the school of the Misses Smith.
Joshua Rowe, born in 1799, eldest son of Joshua of Torpoint, became Chief Justice of Jamaica from 1832 to 1856, a CB in 1848, and died in London in 1874.

William, only son of Dr Coryndon Rowe of Dockacre, was nephew of the Reverend John Rowe, and brother of Mrs Charles Gurney. Baptised at Launceston on 28 July, 1801, he became Recorder of Plymouth and Chief Justice of Ceylon in 1856. On 3rd April, 1856, at St Mary’s, Bryanstone Square, London, Sir William Carpenter Rowe, Chief Justice of Ceylon, married Frances Elizabeth, youngest daughter of James Hamilton Story, Esq., of Bryanstone Square and Lockington, county of Cavan.

February 21, 1857 – births – At The Lodge, Kandy, January 18th, the lady of Sir William Carpenter Rowe, Chief Justice of Ceylon, a son.

9th November, 1859, Sir William died in Ceylon. From his Will, proved in March, 1860: .”Sir William has bequeathed a sum of £500 in trust, when, after purchasing an annuity of £5 on a female life, the surplus is to be applied to charitable and educational purposes in the borough of Launceston. His law books he leaves to his nephew, William C Gurney; his other books to his two sons.”
Some of this ‘surplus’ was used to begin ‘the Launceston Hospital & Rowe Dispensary’
This was first at the South Gate, but was built in Western Road in 1861, Launceston’s first dedicated hospital. In 1871 it was enlarged at a cost of £1,200. It now contained an operations theatre, a surgical ward, an accident ward, and a new committee room and had 11 patient’s beds. (A portrait of Dr Rowe hung in the hospital).

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