Cycling Genealogy. The Tennant Canal

Cycling Genealogy. The Tennant Canal

Cycling time, although I have banked a few walks, I will write them up as the weeks go by.

It’s cycling time because I need to get some training in for the CARTEN 100, a cycling jaunt of a little bit more than 100 miles from Cardiff to Tenby, here in South Wales.

I needed a 2-hour ride as part of the training regime, getting my heart rate into ‘zone 2’. But I couldn’t take my trusty friend Eva.

Part of the route I took was along the Tennant Canal, from Port Tennant out to Jersey Marine, Figure 1.

Figure 1. Tennant Canal at Jersey Marine
cc-by-sa/2.0 – © David Lewis – : accessed 25 July 2021.

As usual I would want to know something about the provenance of the places speeding (well maybe not speeding) by.

The Tennant canal was built by Mr. George Tennant Esq. it is 8 miles in length from Port Tennant, Swansea to its junction with the Neath Canal at Aberdulais through idyllic reed beds, fen and woodland where Otter, kingfisher, sedge warbler, peregrine and kestrel might be spotted.[1]

George Tennant Genealogy. A Google (or other search engine) search will often yield useful starting points. The Neath and Tennant canal Trust provides a birth year, 1765 and death year 1832 saying he was the son of a Lancashire solicitor.[2]

For records in the early to middle 19th century it is in many instances easier to work backwards in time as the earlier records are sometimes less accessible. In Mr. Tennant’s case his burial record shows he is buried at St. Catwg’s church Cadoxton juxta Neath, Figure 2.

Figure 2. St Catwg Church. © Copyright crlewis and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

His burial took place on 11th March 1832[3].

The useful detail from this record aside from an approximate death date in March 1832 he was 67, is his last address was Cadoxton Lodge. Cadoxton Lodge will then open another set of record search and West Glamorgan Archive in Swansea has the following…

“Deeds of the estates of Rhydding and Cadoxton Lodge, Glamorgan, 1751-1913; estate management papers including rentals, 1814-1919; accounts, 1819-1938; tithe records, 1845-1924; correspondence, 1840-1920; records of industrial undertakings including canals, collieries, copper works and quarries, 19-20 cent.; estate notebooks, 1815-1919, including much information on the estate’s potential for industrial development; family papers and personal correspondence, including papers of the following: George Tennant (1765-1832); Gertrude Tennant (1820-1918); Jeremiah Richardson (1822-1906); George Pearce Serocold (1828-1912); Sir Henry Morton Stanley (1841-1904), the famous African explorer; Alice Tennant (1848-1930); Charles Coombe-Tennant (1852-1928); Dorothy Tennant (1855-1926); Winifred Coombe-Tennant (1874-1956).

The Tennant connection with South Wales began early in the 19th century with George, third son of John Tennant, a lawyer from Wigan, Lancashire. George had established himself as a lawyer in London, but in 1816 purchased the Rhydding estate from the Earl of Jersey who had recently inherited the Briton Ferry Estate. Shortly afterwards he also bought the Cadoxton Lodge estate. His main interests were not in landowning, however, but in the construction of the Tennant Canal, which ran from Swansea to Aberdulais, and linked the rivers Tawe and Neath. It was opened in May 1824. The estate passed to George’s second son Charles (1796-1873), then to his only son Charles (1852-1928), who married Winifred Pearce-Serocold. Charles inherited an estate in Devon from his godfather, and subsequently added Coombe to his name to become Coombe-Tennant. The estate was inherited by his second son Alexander (1909-). Cadoxton Lodge was sold in 1963 and demolished in 1966.”[1]

A family tree is appearing before our eyes. The estates passed to his son Charles and the proof is in the will of George Tennant, Figure 3.

Figure 3. Will of George Tennant 1832

A codicil states (my transcription) “This is a Codicil to the last will and Testament of me George Tennant of Grays Inn Esquire. I give devise and bequeath to my son Charles Tennant all the real and personal estates whatsoever and wheresoever vested in me… “.[2]

The will also provides useful family tree information. George had a daughter Jane Pickard (her married name), another son Henry Tennant, and two daughters unmarried at the time of his will, Margaret, and Frances, he makes annuities to these using the income from estates he has including those in Glamorgan among which are his canal works and canal docks, right where I was riding my trusty Cube bike. All this information around his death makes a search for his birthday easier and quite quickly a baptism records surfaces, he was baptized 21 January 1766 at All Saints Church in Wigan[3]. Figure 4.

Figure 4. All Saints Wigan. © Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. : accessed 25 July 2021.

His parents were John and Alice Ten[n]ant. A search for George’s marriage record directed me to the History of Parliament, and the biography of George’s son Charles, in this George’s wife is named as Margaret Beetson[1], which leads to the record. They were married 20 December 1792, at St Bride Fleet Street, City of London.[2] Finally, in all senses a date for his death can be gleaned from a newspaper of the time, 1832 “Died 27 Feb. George Tennant Esq. of Russell Square and Cadoxton Lodge, Glamorgan aged 66.”[3]

A last piece of history on my ride towards the new school at Baglan Bay is a quick note on the Briton Ferry Inn or the Ferryboat Inn or Ferry Boat House in its various disguises, which I could look down on from the Briton Ferry Bridge cycle path if it was still there, it is a marina now. But in 1891 you could find the Cox family there, Joseph William the head, aged 36 the Ferry Lessee and Licensed Victualler born in Hackney, his wife Charlotte aged 30 (even though the enumerator described her as single) born in Woolwich, their children John, Winnie and Lottie all born there in Cadoxton, and two servants, Hannah Evans 18 born Briton Ferry, Glamorganshire and Lizzie Ellen Shea aged 15 also born Briton Ferry, Glamorganshire.[1] It looked very different in the 1820’s Figure 5.

Figure 5. Thomas Hornor, 1785-1844. Briton Ferry, Glamorgan.–image–10470 There is no copyright on this image. Kindly donated for public use.

Just two places on a 25-mile ride, more to follow in the weeks to come if you have enjoyed this get in touch at:

[1] Fisher, David R. (2009). TENNANT, Charles (1796-1873), of 62 Russell Square and 2 Gray’s Inn Square, Mdx. The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1820-1832. : accessed 25 July 2021.

[2] Marriages (PR) England. St Bride, Fleet Street, City of London. 20 December 1791. TENNANT, George and BEETSON, Margaret Elizabeth. Reference Number: P69/BRI/A/01/MS 6542/2. Collection: London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1936. : accessed 25 July 2021.

[3] Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser (1832). Died. 01 March. Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser. P.4d. Collection: British Newspapers Online. : accessed 25 July 2021.

[4] Jisc. Archives Hub. Tennant Estate Papers. : accessed 23 July 2021.

[5] Testamentary Records. England. TENNANT, George. The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Series PROB 11; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 1799. : accessed 23 July 2021.

[6] Baptisms (PR) England. All Saints, Wigan, Lancashire. 21 January 1766. TENNANT, Geo. Bishops Transcripts. Reference Number: Drl 2/492. Collection: Lancashire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812. : accessed 25 July 2021.

[7] Swansea City Council. Tennant Canal. Accessed 23 July 2021.

[8] Neath and Tennant Canals Trust. Tennant Canal History. : accessed 23 July 2021.

[9] Burials (PR) Wales. St. Catwg, Cadoxton-Juxta-Neath, Glamorganshire. 11 March 1832. TENNANT, George. Page number: 152. Collection: Glamorganshire, Wales, Anglican Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1570-1994. : accessed 23 July 2021.

[10] Census records. Wales. Ferry Boat House, Coedffranc, Neath. 05 April 1891. COX, Joseph William (head). RG12 PN:4465 FN: Page:15. Collection: Census Transcript Search, 1841-1911. : accessed 25 July 2021.

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