C is for Cullicoat Cornwall and Change
Continuing on with Alona’s Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge brings us to the letter C.
Lots of possible C words: Cornwall, Culley, Children to name but a few so maybe I’ll mix all of these into this story.
My Mary Johanna Nicholls emigrated to Queensland in 1884. She married William George Weeks 14 May 1884.
The family story was that she had come to Queensland in a bid to improve her health. She died of tuberculosis in 1886. They had one child Rupert George Weeks. This very nice marriage notice was in the Brisbane paper and this and the marriage certificate led me to Mabe in Cornwall (incidentally the Stoke in Devon turned out eventually to be Stoke Damerel, one of the three cities of Plymouth).
Mary was born 8 September 1859 in Mabe Cornwall and baptised 5 July 1862, the same day as her younger sister, in Stithians, a next door parish.
Her parents were Richard Nicholls and Mary Ann Culley as shown by her birth certificate. Their marriage certificate is below. All is well and the next logical step is to look for Mary Ann’s baptism which should be 1828 or before. I check the 1851 census and it states that she is born in Mabe.
In the 1851 census for Mabe there was the below entry for a John Culley, stonemason. Not proof, particularly with a name like John, but interesting.
So a search of the Mabe baptism registers (which incidentally you can do online now with the digital images on the FamilySearch site which is a lot easier than the evenings I spent at the Family History Library at Kangaroo Point going through the microfilms. The online images are not as yet indexed but they are way-pointed so it is just like scrolling through microfilm but in the comfort of your own home). However there is no baptism for Mary Ann Culley. So I do a search of adjacent parishes, still no baptism for Mary Ann Culley. Mary Ann Nicholls was very consistent about where she was born in the ensuing censuses. Interestingly there were no baptisms for anyone named Culley even though John Culley also said he was born in Mabe as were his children.
So I went back and looked at every Mary Ann baptism in the Mabe registers and
there was this baptism shown below.
Researching the census:
CALLICOAT, John M 35 1806 Cornwall
CALLICOAT, Jane F 40 1801 Cornwall
CALLICOAT, James M 17 1824 Cornwall
CALLICOAT, Mary F 14 1827 Cornwall
CALLICOAT, John M 11 1830 Cornwall
CALLICOAT, Joseph M 7 1834 Cornwall
CALLICOAT, Samson M 4 1837 Cornwall
CULLEY, John Head Married M 49 1802 Stone Mason Mabe, Cornwall
CULLEY, Jane Wife MarriedF 48 1803 Mabe, Cornwall
CULLEY, John Son UnmarriedM 21 1830 Stone Mason Mabe, Cornwall
CULLEY, Joseph Son UnmarriedM 16 1835 Stone Mason Mabe, Cornwall
CULLEY, Sampson Son UnmarriedM 14 1837 Servant Mabe, Cornwall
CULLEY, William H Son M 6 1845 Scholar Mabe, Cornwall
WINNE, Mary J Niece UnmarriedF 15 1836 Servant Mabe, Cornwall
On further searching I found a baptism for each of John Culley’s children under the name of Cullicoat, Cullecoat, Callicoat.
So we have a John Culleycoat who is a stonemason whose wife happened to be Jane Winn on further research. Sampson Winn Culley marries in 1862.
When researching we all know that consistent spelling is a fairly recent idea as literacy levels varied and accents caused issues. Even today consistency can vary, I have received mail addressed to Hellen, Helan and Helon as well as the usual Helen and even Smith can have a few variations.
This change of surname seems a bit way out and I have no explanation as to why pretty well all the Cullicoat family changed their surname to Culley between 1841 and 1851. John’s father James is buried as a Cullicoat in 1842. Was there some major scandal (I haven’t been able to find anything in the British newspaper Archive) but there has to be some reason why John and his family and his brother James and his family all changed their names.
Surname changes can be a nightmare, but you sorted this one out very nicely.
It took a lot of research time and many nights at the Family History Centre at Kangaroo Point.It was a bit easier in that they did stay within 10kmm of their home parish and had some unusual names.
Maybe one day a reason will emerge as to why the name was changed.
Fabulous detective work there Helen. Name changes can be a brickwall for so many, but you knocked that one right down.
I just wish I knew the reason for the name change!
Maybe one day a record will pop up with a great explanation as to why they changed their names. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. I also get unusual spellings of my name, my favourite being Phiona.
Wow..I'm so impressed with this bit of detective work.
I wonder if it was as simple as the way it was pronounced. Maybe the emphasis was more on the Culley bit of the surname and the coat bit was almost cut off and pronounced as "cut" rather than "coat" and in the end people just remembered the Culley and it was too much of a bother to insist on the "coat". Have you looked for a one-name group? There might be some answers there….
It was fun researching it. Yes it is a possibility although it is strange as it is the same Vicar present during the time period who had baptised them as Cullicoat. There is no one name group that I have found.