Friday, 3 April 2015

Adieu then to sweet Lulworth Cove, My happiest moments were there

"Adieu then to sweet Lulworth Cove, My happiest moments were there"

William Rule Jeatt (1813-1879), Coastguard

Lulworth Cove 100 years ago
I always loved going to Lulworth Cove on the South Coast of England as a child, never realising that my ancestral family lived there back in the 1700s. The Cove itself has changed little from how it looked a century ago (see plate above). Back then day-trippers arrived in their hundreds by paddle steamer but now they come by cars through the village of West Lulworth half-a-mile inland.

In January 2010 I decided to start a one-place study of West Lulworth parish, including the Cove, to learn more about its history, and the people that have lived and worked there over the centuries. One-place studies bring together the local history AND family history dimensions to give a much fuller picture of what life was like in that place and why families came and went.

The first step was to set up a dedicated website, where information from West Lulworth's past could be added for all to see. This included transcriptions of baptisms, marriages and burials, census returns, newspaper reports, obituaries, probate records, wills and much more. And being a picturesque coastal location, there was also a ready supply of old postcards!

Looking inland from the Cove towards the row of Coastguard Cottages
Just a few hundred yards from the beach lies an impressive row of eight Coastguard Cottages, built over 190 years ago in 1824.

The Coastguard was formed in 1822 by the amalgamation of three services set up to prevent smuggling: revenue cruisers; riding officers and the preventive water guard. Until 1925 the duties of the Coastguard were defending the coast, providing a reserve for the Royal Navy, and preventing smuggling but then the focus shifted towards saving lives, salvaging wrecks and supervising the foreshores.

The Coastguard of Lulworth

Being a Coastguard Officer was a very hazardous occupation. Many Coastguard men lost their lives while out at sea, including five men from the neighbouring Worbarrow Station in 1865 when their boat sank 'like a stone' just off Lulworth Cove. But there were other dangers too! On a tombstone in Weymouth's Bury Street cemetery there is the following inscription:  

Sacred to the memory of Lieut Thos Edward Knight, RN, of Folkestone, Kent, Aged 42, who in the execution of his duty as Chief Officer of the Coastguard was wantonly attacked by a body of smugglers near Lulworth on the night of 28th of June 1832, by whom after being unmercifully beaten he was thrown over the cliff near Durdle Door from the effects of which he died the following day.
"Over the Cliff!"

The census returns from 1841 to 1911 show that there were generally between seven and eleven coastguard men stationed at West Lulworth, with wives and children the total number living in the cottages ranged from 34 to 54 persons. Sadly no coastguards live in the cottages today - they are now mostly holiday homes.
The Coastguard Cottages at Lulworth Cove in 2014
At the time of the 1841 census, William Rule Jeatt (1813-1879) was a Coastguard at West Lulworth, living in one of the Coastguard Cottages. In an adjacent cottage lived Graham Hewett, a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, along with servant Jane Harvell (1814-1891), the daughter of James and Hannah Harvell. Three years later, William Rule Jeatt was to marry Jane Harvell.

William Rule Jeatt and his wife Jane Jeatt (nee Harvell)
William Rule Jeatt was born at Dartmouth, Devon. His father Richard Jeatt was in the Preventive Service and is mentioned in the press on various occasions for seizures of contraband and capture of smugglers. Sadly Richard drowned in the Porthcawl Preventive Boat tragedy of February 1839, less than 18 months after marrying his second wife, who by then was expecting their first child.

William & Jane had five children:
  • William Rule Jeatt (1844-1916)
  • Richard Brooking Jeatt (1845-1927)
  • Hellon Rebecca Gaze Jeatt (1847-1876)
  • Arthur James Jeatt (1850-1919)
  • Augustus Bisset Jeatt (1853-1932)
At the time of the 1851 census, Jane Jeatt was at the Coastguard Cottages in West Lulworth with her first four children. Meanwhile, her husband William was recuperating at the Royal Naval Hospital at Haslar, near Gosport, reason unknown. His occupation was shown as Chief Boatman, Revenue Services.

On 12 March 1860, William Rule Jeatt (Senior) was promoted to Chief Officer at Chesil Coast Guard Station, Portland. When the 1861 census was taken, William Rule Jeatt (Junior) was aboard the Coastguard Tender ‘Defence’, meaning three generations of the Jeatt family had served in the Coastguard/Preventive Service.The Portland Directory of 1865 showed the following entry: "Coast Guard Station: Chesil. JEATT, William R, Chief Officer and twelve men".

William Rule Jeatt (Senior) died in 1879 aged 65 at their home in Hope Way, Weymouth. Jane lived there until her death in 1891. William wrote poetry and his manuscript book survives to this day. One of his works was "An Adieu to Lulworth Cove", reproduced below, stating his happiest moments were there....

1 comment:

  1. Lulworth Cove is a pretty place, I first visited in around 1993 and then some time in the 2000s so I found your post most interesting and informative.

    Although I am a member of One-Place Studies I have yet to take the plunge and register a study, congratulations on your work.


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