Catalogue description Treffry of Place

This record is held by Archives and Cornish Studies Service (formerly Cornwall Record Office)

Details of TF
Reference: TF
Title: Treffry of Place



St. Austell


St. Austell and St. Blazey


St. Blazey


St Blazey and Par




St. Columb Minor


Fowey (Caffa Mill, Carne, Dagga land, Hillhay, Lescrow, Leskerwell, Penventinny, Polglaze, Rectory, Trenant, Fowey town)


St. Kew








St. Mawgan-in-Pydar


St. Mellion


St. Merryn


St. Mewan


St. Neot






St. Pinnock




St Sampson




St. Veep




Composite parishes


General estate


Out-county (Devon, Warwickshire




St. Blazey




St. Columb Minor & Newquay


St. Dennis


Fowey (Caffa Mill, Carne, Daggaland, Langurthow, Lescrow, Penventinny, Polglaze, Trenant, Fowey Town)


St. Kew














St. Mellion


South Petherwin


St. Pinnock (Bodithiel, Connon, Gelly, Hurland, Hillball alias Mount Pleasant, Lee, Penvrane, Pennyton)


St. Stephen in Brannel




St. Veep


Out-county (Devon, Glamorgan Lancashire Sussex)








Borlase Wartha (St. Columb)


Towan Blistra (Newquay)


Penvrane (St. Pinnock)


Penventinny (Fowey)


Fowey parish and borough:


Poor law administration








St. Blazey






St. Mewan


Newlyn East




St. Pinnock




Financial papers (Accounts, balance sheets, bonds, Income Tax, Insurance (by parish), Rates, Rentals, Tithes, Treffry Estate Company, Miscellaneous


Schedules of documents


Wayleaves and agreements (electricity, telephones)








tin & copper


china clay














Par-Newquay line


Cornwall Railway


Cornwall Minerals Railway


Lostwithiel and Fowey Railway


Devon and Cornwall Railway


Chepstow, Gloucester & Welsh Railway


Gover and Carthew Railways, St Austell


London, Salisbury & Falmouth line




Bristol & Exeter Railway


South Devon Railway




Par Harbour, Canal and Railway








Iron & lead
















Newquay Harbour and Tramroad








Peter v. Pipon, 1717-50


Dagge v. Toller, c.1720


Toller v. Toller, 1731


Fowey charity dispute, c.1813


Goodwright v. Hawkins, 1740


Lemon v. Lemon, 1763


Pomeroy v. Treffry, 1765


Meredith v. Treffry, 1848


Pomeroy probate, 1746


Houghton v. Lopes, 1816


Houghton v. Brown, 1816


Bullman bankruptcy, 1844


Austen v. Thompson, 1818-26


General (bills of costs etc.), 18th & 19th cents.




Estate plans, 1702-1840


Ordnance Survey


Industrial (mines, Par harbour, railways, quarry), c.1790-1880.


General and miscellaneous




Bundles of Correspondence


Letter books




Wills and administrations, various










Inventories, prints, genealogical, bills and posters


Fragments, burial certificates etc

Date: 1563-1969

The first deposit of Treffry documents was made in 1967, when a descriptive catalogue was compiled and indexed. The second deposit is in many ways complementary to the earlier collection but also contains much new material. After consideration, it was decided not to attempt to amalgamate the two deposits to form a single collection; the reference numbers of the earlier deposit are therefore unchanged and the present catalogue follows on.

Held by: Archives and Cornish Studies Service (formerly Cornwall Record Office), not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Treffry family of Place, Cornwall

Physical description: 3700 files
Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited by J. Treffry, Esq., via Mrs. A. Treffry Accession No. 1127.


2506, 3755, 2113

  • Treffry, Joseph Thomas, 1782-1850, of Fowey, Cornwall
  • Fowey, Cornwall
Administrative / biographical background:

The ancient Cornish family of Treffry came originally from Treffry in the parish of Lanhydrock. The manor of Fowey was acquired by marriage; lands formerly owned by Robert de Cardinham passed from his family to that of Boniface of Pyworthy, Devon, whose heiress Elizabeth married Thomas Treffry of Treffry. After this marriage the family moved to Fowey, where they already held the manor of Langurthow.


The Treffrys never owned extensive estates but during the middle ages gained considerable wealth through their activities as merchants in handling exports of tin, fish and wool. By the mid-fifteenth century they had become the owners of a fine mansion overlooking the town. It is not known exactly when Place was built; John Leland, the king's antiquary, was impressed by the house, where he stayed when he visited Fowey in the early sixteenth-century.


The family fortunes increased steadily; John Treffry who actively supported the cause of Henry Tudor against Richard III, was rewarded with a knighthood, and died a comparatively wealthy man. He owned lands in and around Fowey, and had considerable investments in shipping.


For five generations, from the fifteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, the Treffry estates descended by direct male inheritance (three Thomas Treffrys, John, William and John). By the seventeenth century they had become a well-established family, serving their county as lawyers and justices of the peace, and their country in the army. Their marriages were often with sons and daughters of local merchants, which, although not bringing to the Treffrys the landed estates which more socially ambitious matches might have done, nevertheless consolidated and united a number of leading Fowey families.


The direct line came to an end in 1658 with the death of John Treffry, who had no family. He left his estates to his cousin Thomas Treffry of Rooke in St. Kew, where a younger branch of the family had been established for many years. The marriage of Thomas only surviving son, John, was childless, and he in turn left the family estates to William Toller, the son of his sister Jane, who had married a rich Fowey merchant, John Toller. In 1717 John Treffry conveyed to Sir Richard Vyvyan of Trelowarren, Charles Trelawny of Hengar, esq., and Charles Grylls of Court, esq., all his lands in trust for his nephew "provided he take the name of Treffry". (TF/1010).


Subsequently & Bill was presented in Parliament "to enable William Toller now called William Toller use the surname of Treffry only". (TF/1013).


William Toller had in 1702 married Honoria Fortescue of Spriddleston, Devon (TF/1011), but they had no children, and after Honoria' a death William married Rebecca Weymouth of Fowey. They had eight children, four boys and four girls, but only one of their sons, Thomas, born in 1724, survived infancy. William spent most of his life in shipping, and in 1727 he was appointed collector of the customs in Fowey. He died in 1736


After William's death, Rebecca became guardian of her son's estates during his minority. Place had fallen into disrepair, and William had spent considerable amounts on repairs and rebuilding. In his will he left numerous sums of money to family and friends, specifying which lands were to be sold to raise the necessary funds (TF/1014). Unfortunately there was not enough money to cover all the debts and legacies, so a complicated arrangement was made by Rebecca (TF/1014) transferring to certain beneficiaries of William's will all the rents of Penventinue, Caffa mill and Liskerwell in Fowey, and a field in Bodmin, until they had received the full amounts of their legacies.


In about 1740 Thomas Treffry married Susanna, daughter of Thomas Pipon of Powey, merchant; their family consisted of a son, William Esco, and four daughters, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Jane and Susanna Ann. In 1775 Thomas made a deed of settlement, leaving all his land in trust for his wife and surviving children, William, Jane and Susanna (TF/1015). Thomas died in 1776; three years later his son died unmarried, and the Treffry lands were therefore vested in Jane and Susanna Ann in equal moieties.


At this time the Treffry estates consisted of Place mansion house, and the capital messuage, barton or farm of Trenant, in Fowey, with the tithes and advowson of the parish church, and the manors of Powey and Langurthow. The manor of Penvrane in St. Pinnock had been acquired by a marriage with Elizabeth, daughter of John Colyn, and the family also owned a moiety of the patronage and right of presentation to, the church of St. Pinnock. Lands in St. Veep, Lanteglos-by-Powey, houses in Powey and St. Austell, and tin bounds in St. Stephen-in-Brannel were inherited from Elizabeth Peters, whose lands they formerly were. William Toller had between 1650 and 1658 purchased lands in Powey, including Lescrow, Caffa Mills, part of Liskerwell and Penventinue, and Nicholas Close in Bodmin (TF/9, 18, 21 and 176), which were added to the family fortunes when his descendant William Toller inherited the Treffry estates in 1717. The family also had interests in tin mines in Gwennap and Kenwyn, and some scattered lands including the manor of Borlase Wartha in St. Columb Major.


These were the lands which were inherited by Jane and Susanna Ann Treffry after the death of their brother William Esco Treffry. The two sisters married two brothers, sons of Joseph Austen of Plymouth. Jane's marriage to Nicholas, Joseph's youngest son, was short and childless; after his death she married Thomas Dormer, esq., of Fowey, and died four years later in 1786, leaving two daughters, Susanna Ann Treffry Dormer, who in 1804 married John Mills of Warkleigh in Devon (TF/1021), and Jane Treffry Dormer, who married Edward Wilcocks of Exeter in 1806 (TF/1028). The two girls became tenants in common of one moiety of the Treffry lands.


In 1781 Jane's sister, Susann Ann Treffry married Joseph, eldest son of Joseph Austen of Plymouth (TF/1026). Two daughters of the marriage died in childhood but Susanna's son, Joseph Thomas Austen, born in 1782, survived to live a long, active and eventful life. In 1808 and 1809 he bought his cousins shares in the family estates (TF/1030-1034) and in 1836 by private Act of Parliament he assumed the name and arms of Treffry


Joseph Thomas Treffry died in 1850, leaving all his lands in trust for his cousin, Rev. Edward John Wilcocks of St. Mary's, Scilly, the son of Joseph Thomas Treffry's cousin Jane, for his life, after debts, "provided he take the name of Treffry". Place was reserved for Joseph's mother, Susanna, who died in 1842 at the age of 95. All the estates were "to descend in strict settlement for the maintenance of the respectability of the Treffry family and the upholding in a proper way, their ancient Mansion of Place" (TF/1055).


James Henry Meredith of Stonehouse, Devon, was appointed trustee. His task was a formidable one; not only had he to administer the lands which had been owned by the Treffrys for many generations, but he was also in charge of the impressive and extensive industrial enterprises which Joseph Thomas Treffry had begun. There were tin and copper mines in Tywardreath and St. Austell; china clay works in the St. Dennis area; extensive harbours at Par and Newquay, and granite quarries in Lanlivery, all conected by a complicated network of railways, tramroads and the St. Blazey canal, the most spectacular achievement being without doubt the aqueduct over the Luxulyan valley.


Treffry had in 1845 (TF/2074) purchased from the trustees of Richard Lomax the manor of Towan Blistra in St. Columb Minor. Part of the land was used for a railway to link Newquay harbour with the interior of Cornwall, but the rest of the manor formed the nucleus of the new town of Newquay, the development of which was encouraged by Treffry.


At his death many contracts and agreements were still to be completed; much of, the property had been mortgaged to raise funds for the development of the industrial enterprises, on the expectation of their future income, and in 1852 "Treffry's Estate Act" was passed, "for better enabling the trusts of the will of Joseph Thomas Treffry to be executed, under the authority of Chancery" (TF/1060).


In 1857 James Henry Meredith died, and his widow Frances and son James Austen Meredith conveyed the Treffry trust estates to Robert Thomas Head of Exeter and Edward Lambert of Bedford Row, London, trustees appointed by Chancery (TF/1067).


Further mortgages and assignments followed, and some parts of the estate were sold, but the schemes which Joseph Thomas Treffry envisaged and planned were completed and his harbour and railways are still in use today.


Although the Treffry family never owned extensive landed estates, this was in a way an advantage. During the nineteenth century many large estates were being divided and sold, but instead of selling his lands, Joseph Thomas Treffry saw the possibilities of industrial expansion and the estate benefited accordingly. At a time when many families were selling the properties which were proving too costly to maintain, Treffry was negotiating purchases and leases of land for his many schemes. The spectacular growth of Newquay from a tiny fishing village in the 1790s to a fashionable watering-place less than a century later was due not only to the willingness of the landlord to grant leases of building plots, but also to the railway which he had constructed, which enabled the Victorian tourists to reach their destination with ease and in comfort.


The family documents now deposited at the County Record Office show clearly the history of the estate, especially Joseph Thomas Treffry's great achievements; but there are also many deeds and leases relating to properties in the town of Fowey, and documents illustrating the family's involvement in the affairs of parish and borough. The two deposits of documents are complementary and illustrate in great detail many aspects of the history of one of Cornwall's oldest families.

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