- James Genn, born 14 February 1782
- Ann Genn, born 10 November 1783
- Mary Genn, born 14 May 1785
- William Genn, Jr. born 1 June 1788
- John Genn, born 18 May 1791
- Phillis Genn, born 18 July 1793
Phillis Tiddy (Genn) also went by the name of Philippa and this had introduced some confusion in resolving this chapter of the family history as three of the children were born to Phillis and three were born to Philippa. William Genn's will clearly resolved that Phillis and Philippa are one and the same; all six children are accounted for in his will. Phillis Tiddy's ancestry is presented in Appendix II.
William Genn appears to not have been connected with a particular trade or profession. Piggott's directory identifies the family under nobility and gentry. We do know he was a man of considerable wealth, evidenced by his real estate holdings listed in his will.
The port of Falmouth was the hub of the "Packet Ship" service which carried mail to the corners of the Empire. As the 19th century began, the English Channel was often blockaded by French revolutionary forces. England relied on the Packet Ships and the port of Falmouth to maintain communications with India, Ceylon, the East Indies, and her interests in South America. There is reason to suggest that William Genn, with his shipbuilding interests in Maryland, held a significant financial interest in the Packet Service.
Packet ships were privately owned on a share basis and contracted to the Postal Service. The Packet Agent at the time was Benjamin Pender. The sons of William Genn and Benjamin Pender formed the law firm of Pender and Genn.
Two historic houses are found in the town of Falmouth, attributed to the Genn family. The Genn House is located at 28 Woodlane. The other, Florence Cottage, built about 1900 by the Genn family, is located on Florence Place, the next street north of the Woodlane.
The two properties share the same back fence, as they were originally a single long lot, running through from the Woodlane to Florence Place. The land was owned originally by Baron Woodhouse.
The Genn House is a two story masonry building, with a posted doorway between two large bay windows. It is attached terrace fashion to the houses on either side, as was the custom of the day. The second floor is adorned with three sash type windows. The present occupants are the Spencer-Smith family. Photographs in the albums of Lucy Ann (Genn) Trevenen clearly show the front entrance at 28 Woodlane, and is considered firm evidence that we have the right house. It is difficult to date the construction of the Genn House at Woodlane Terrace. Neither Pigott's Directory of 1830 nor Robson's Directory of 1839 mention Woodlane, but Pigott's Directory for 1844 show John Genn and William Genn, Esq. at Woodlane Terrace, but no number.
The obituary of William James Genn reports his death at 13 Woodlane Terrace. This is the old address for the Genn House. The original development was constructed as a terrace, with houses connected and it was known as Woodlane Terrace. Houses were later constructed on the opposite side of the street and re-numbering was required to facilitate postal delivery. The Genn House then became 28 Woodlane.
Florence Cottage, a two story masonry structure, but detached, we suggest, was built about 1900. Florence Place appears in Slater's Directory of 1852. The entranceway of Florence Cottage is paneled with wood taken from the Adelphi Theatre in London when it was demolished. On the second floor was a glassed-in artist's studio. Florence Cottage was the home of the Genn sisters (daughters of William James Genn): Julia (Dux) Genn, Ellen (Auntie) Genn and Charlotte (Charlie) Hayward, after she was widowed. The present owner-occupant is Jennifer Richards.
The front door and entranceway of Florence Cottage are adorned with three original panels in stained glass. The two door panels each are designed around a ship with a single square sail. There is a Cornish chough on each sail. The Cornish chough is also featured in the Genn family crest. On one panel is the name Julia Cornish, on the other, Ellen Cornish. The third panel, beside the door, shows the front view of a square rigged ship, bearing the name Mayfloweron its foresail, evidence of the Genn's American heritage.
William Genn died 27 October 1835, in Falmouth at the age of 81. His gravestone gives his age as 80 years; the Falmouth Packet and Cornish Heraldreports in his obituary that his age was 82. His estate included the rooms and dwellings of some seventeen tenants located throughout the town of Falmouth.
Consider, now, the six children of William and Phillis Genn. (We suggest that you refer to the chart for Cornwall as this next part gets a bit complex). James Genn, the eldest, was our direct ancestor, so we will leave him to last.
Ann Genn married Nicholas Tolmie Tresidder in 1811, and had children, Ann Christiana Tresidder, 8 October 1812, and John Nicholas Tresidder, 10 January 1819.
Mary Genn married Samuel Downing in 1818. James Genn, Mary's brother, attended and signed as a witness. Samuel was a mercer (dealer in cloth), later to become a wine and spirit merchant. Samuel Downing was one of the eleven children of William Downing (1748-1804) and his wife Elizabeth.
Samuel Downing and his wife Mary (Genn) Downing had two children, Samuel Theophilis Downing and Mary Genn Downing. Mary Genn Downing married her cousin Edward Coenty Downing. Samuel Theophilis Downing became a noted lawyer in Helston, Cornwall. His children were Nora Downing who married Richard Robyns Malone, and Caroline Winfield Downing who married Harold Roxworthy. C. Vincent Downing and Company, solicitors, Falmouth, Cornwall, continues the family legal tradition.
The colorful part of this diversion is in regard to Samuel Downing's sister Harriet, who married a doctor by the name of Robert Sawle Donnell. Robert Donnell was tried in Launceston for administering arsenic (in a sandwich) to his wife Hariet's (also Samuel's) mother Elizabeth Downing. Donnell was in financial difficulty, his mother-in-law Elizabeth was wealthy, and his wife would stand to inherit. Despite all the evidence against him, Robert Sawle Donnell was acquitted.
Pigot's Commercial Directory for 1823, under Jewellers and Silversmiths, and also under Watch and Clockmakers, there appears Merifield and Genn, Market Street. We consider this to be William Genn, Jr. He also appears to have operated a pawn shop. The West Briton, 29 October 1813 advertised an auction "at the house of William Genn, Pawnbroker, in the Town of Falmouth, A Quantity of Unredeemed Pledges..".
Holden's Directory 1811 lists Wm. Genn, pawnbroker, Falmouth. William Genn, Jr. would have been 23 years of age, old enough to be in business.
William Genn Jr. married Nancy Ditchett, born in Plymouth, Devon, and christened 23 July 1795 at Batter Street Presbyterian, daughter of John and Elizabeth Ditchett. William and Nancy Genn apparently spent some time in New York, as their son, James Ditchett Genn was born there on the 28 March 1817.
James D. Genn, in 1844 was established as a watch and clockmaker, Market Street, Falmouth. It would appear that he took over his fathers business. The 1851 census lists him as a jeweller and Watchmaker.
William Genn Jr. died at sea August 1830 en route from Valdivia to Valparaiso (both in Chile). His widow Nancy Genn, and son, James D. Genn, by 1851, lived at 229 Market Street, Falmouth. James Ditchett Genn married Mary Elizabeth Drown, 18 April 1860, at St. Johns, Hackney (London). Their son, George Murray Genn was born in 1861. Nancy Genn died 27 June 1881 at Oak Terrace, Ponsanooth, near Falmouth.
John Genn, a jeweller and silversmith in Falmouth, married Mary Arthur, of Budock, 4 April 1830. Mary Arthur was born in 1784.
Their children were:
- John Genn, born 26 June 1831,
- William Genn, born 10 February 1833,
- Louisa Mary Genn, born 26 December 1834.
John Genn died 23 August 1834, four months before the birth of his daughter, and possibly as a result of the cholera epidemic. His wife Mary died 8 July 1849, leaving the three children orphaned: John, age 18, William, age 16, and Louisa Mary, age 14. William died 17 August 1850, age 17 and Louisa Mary died 22 May 1860, age 25.
Phillis Genn, Jr. married Nicholas Tresidder (not Nicholas Tolmie Tresidder) in 1836. James D. Genn, her nephew signed as witness.
James Genn (our direct ancestor), son of William Genn and Phillis, became a partner in the Pender firm of solicitors, founded in 1822, by Francis Pender, born April 1779, son of Benjamin Pender, Packet Agent. The firm was then known as Pender and Genn. Pigot's Directory 1830 for Cornwall has Pender & Genn, attorneys, Church Street, Falmouth, agents for Royal Exchange Insurance Company. Pender and Genn eventually became Genn and Nalder and since 1914 has gone by the name of Nalder and Sons. Its present address is 50 Arwenack Street, Falmouth. James Genn was also Deputy Town Clerk.
Francis Pender was elected Alderman 28 September 1810 and then elected Mayor 30 September 1811 and re-elected 29 September 1812 and again on 29 September 1815. He was appointed Town Clerk 26 July 1821, a position that required one to be a lawyer.
A son of Francis Pender, William Rous Tresilon Pender, was elected coroner, August 1849, in place of William James Genn, and in January 1863 he replaced W. J. Genn as Clerk of the Peace.
In the election of 1834 something seems to have gone seriously wrong. On 29 September, at the Town Clerk's office, two new Burgesses, William Henry Bond and William James Genn were elected and took their oaths.
The following week, 2 October, Tobias Harry Tilly was also elected Burgess and was sworn in. Three weeks later, on 27 October 1834, protests were made that the elections were illegal.
The following is an extract from the Corporation Book:
We, the undersigned Aldermen and Burgesses of the Town of Falmouth, hereby protest against the Election of Henry Bond, William James Genn and Tobias Harry Tilly as Burgesses of the said Town, such election being contrary to the Charter of Incorporation of the said Town, illegal and null and void, and we do now record our protest against the said Election accordingly, witness our hands this twenty seventh day of October 1834; William Carne, Alderman, John Vigurs, Alderman, Edward C. Carne, Alderman, Francis Treleaven, Burgess, William Downing, Burgess.
It is not clear as to what caused the protest, nor how it was resolved, but it seems not to have been of lasting character as Bond went on to become Mayor, Tilly to become a respected solicitor and in large part responsible for the promotion of the Falmouth Docks, and of course William James Genn became himself, a successor to Francis Pender and held several offices of importance in the following years.
James Genn married Margarette (Peggy) Hawke in 1808. Peggy Hawke was from the old family of Hawke of Mt. Hawke near St. Agnes, Cornwall. The name Hawke reappears repeatedly in successive generations of the Genn family. Note that this is how the name Hawke was introduced. Peggy Hawke's ancestry is presented in Appendix III.
James Genn and Peggy had five children:
- William James Genn, born 2 November 1811
- Mary Louisa Genn, born 10 February 1814
- James Maddison Genn, born 15 February 1816
- John Hawke Genn, born 21 October ZDX1818
- Clara Genn, born in 1828.
James Genn died at 1845 Church Street, 12 November 1845, age 63. His widow, Margaret (Peggy) Genn, died at Green Bank Terrace, Budock, 5 July 1849, age 66.
William James Genn, son of James Genn and Peggy, remained in Falmouth, studied law, became a well known solicitor and attorney, held the position of Town Clerk for many years, as well as Clerk of Falmouth Union and Clerk of Peace of Falmouth. His portrait hung in the town hall but in recent times has become misplaced. His office was on Church Street in Falmouth and he appears to have owned the office building.
The 1864 directory for Falmouth shows William James Genn resident at 11 Woodlane Terrace and his cousin, James D. Genn at 15 Woodhouse (or Wodehouse) Terrace. Wodehouse crosses Florence Place and ends at Woodlane.
William James Genn married Ellen Cornish on 18 June 1845. Ellen was born in 1827, the daughter of James Cornish and Mary Commins. James Cornish established in Falmouth as a surgeon and general practitioner, and became a man of considerable influence. He was appointed alderman in 1829 and was later elected mayor. He was published in the field of medicine and was known as a man of letters.
James Cornish (born 20 May 1792, died 22 September 1858), his brother, Thomas Cornish and his sister Elizabeth Dale Cornish, were the children of William Cornish, Merchant Captain, and his wife, Sarah Nancarrow. William Cornish (grandfather of Ellen Cornish) was taken prisoner by privateers and died in a French prison.
Ellen was also the great granddaughter of Mrs. Elliot of Exeter who established the first printing press in Cornwall and may have printed the Cornish Bible, of which only a few copies remain. Ellen Genn was a noted artist, her paintings, chiefly of flowers, having been exhibited at London, Plymouth and at the local exhibitions.
William James Genn and Ellen Genn had 10 children:
1. William James Genn Jr., born 30 March 1846, died 24 June 1870
2. Mary Genn, christened 25 May 1854
3. Julia Hawke Genn, christened 25 May 1854
4. Edward Hawke Genn, christened 25 May 1854
5. Ellen Genn, born 1848, christened 30 November 1854
6. Margaret Hawke Genn, christened 30 November 1854
7. John Henry Genn, christened 27 December 1856
8. Charlotte Hawke Genn, christened 28 December 1857, died 1858
9. Charlotte Bessie Genn, christened 13 April 1859
10. Lucy Ann Genn, christened 24 August 1861, died 1928
1. William James Genn, Jr., in 1864, was awarded a prize by the ArtUnion of Cornwall for a photograph titled, The Faithful Shepherdess. In the same year it appears he was awarded a bronze medal for a paper titled A Few Words on Postage Stamps. In 1864 he was awarded a silver medal for a paper titled, Statistics of the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society.
William James Genn, Jr., gentleman, unmarried, died in Melbourne (Punt Road, Richmond), Australia, 24 June 1870, of Phthisis Pulmonalis. The witness and informant was W. H. Nalder, we presume, of the Nalder family in Falmouth, Cornwall (Genn and Nalder, Solicitors).
2. Mary Genn, fate unknown.
3. Julia Hawke Genn remained in Falmouth, lived at Florence Cottage.
4. Edward Hawke Genn entered the Royal Navy in 1864 and served on the Pacific coast of Canada from 1865 to 1868. He served as midshipman on the H.M.S.Scoutunder Captain John A. Price. In 1867 he temporarily assisted in draughtsman's duties on the surveying vessel Beaver(the first steamship on the Pacific coast) and is credited with having Genn Island in Malacca passage, Chatham sound, (54 deg. 06 min. N. lat, 130 deg. 17 min. W. long.) named after him by Captain Pender of the Beaver. He became Sub-lieutenant in 1870 and was appointed to H.M.S. Scylla, 16 guns, under Captain F. A. Herbert. In October 1871 he joined H.M. sloop Daphne, 5 guns, under Commander R. S. Bateman, East India station, and died at Calcutta in 1872.
5. Ellen Genn remained in Falmouth, lived at Florence Cottage.
6. Margaret Hawke Genn married Charles John Wilkins, barrister, 6 June 1868, possibly in London. Their children were:
- Hilary Wilkins who became a Church of England Nun;
- possibly a son who went to India;
- Ellen Margaret Wilkins, born about 1876.
While in India visiting her brother?, Ellen Wilkins met Col. Stuart Henry Heseltine. They were married in India in 1907. (This is the same family as Michael Heseltine, who competed with Margaret Thatcher for the Conservative Party leadership.) Stuart and Ellen Heseltine moved to Australia about 1910, living in Queensland for three years, then in Victoria.
Their children are:
- Margaret Ellen Heseltine, born about 1909 in India;
- Peter Stuart Heseltine, born about 1912 in Australia;
- Hilary Heseltine, born about 1916 in Australia.
- Ellen Margaret (Wilkins) Heseltine died 9 May 1960 at the Andra House Private Hospital, Brighton, Bourke, Australia, age 84 years. Her last address was listed as 18 Alexandra Street, St.Kilda. The daughter of Peter Stuart Heseltine is Jill Meuther of Sydney, Australia.
7. John Henry Genn attended Sherborne College between 1869 and 1872, became a solicitor and notary public in the firm of Marrack, Nalder, Hocking and Genn, of Falmouth and Truro and succeeded to many of the appointments held by his father, including town clerk and clerk to the borough justices, clerk to Falmouth Union, assessment committee, school attendance committee, rural district council and superintendent to Falmouth Union. His office was at 23 Church Street. Cousin Jill Meuther of Sydney, Australia, has a silver cigarette case bearing the initials, J.H.G. on the lid. On the side of the box is inscribed: "Presented to John H. Genn, Esq. by the Vicar and Churchwardens of St.Budock as a grateful recognition of services, AD 1898". We attribute this to John Henry Genn, not John Hawke Genn who died in Liverpool in 1900.
From The History of the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club 1871-1949,by C. Mead, we learn that John H. Genn of Woodlane was a new member in 1883. He was one of the founders, along with H.S. Tuke, of the Falmouth Sailing Clubin 1894.
8. Charlotte Hawke Genn died in infancy.
9. Charlotte Bessie Genn married a Hayward and gained a stepson, Arthur Hayward. During her marriage she lived at the Guest Housein Lingfield, Surrey. On being widowed, she returned to Florence Cottage, Falmouth. A portrait by H. S. Tuke of one of the Genn sisters, it appears to be of Charlotte Bessie Genn, hangs in the Falmouth School on Tregenver Road.
10. Lucy Ann Genn married William Trevenen Jr. in 1889. William Trevenen Sr. is thought to have been Mayor of Helston. Lucy Ann and William Trevenen emigrated to Canada and raised horses and cattle near Cochrane and Airdrie, Alberta. Lucy (Genn) Trevenen has had the cattle brand -^5 registered in her name since 1920. She died in 1928 and is buried at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church cemetery at Patricia Bay, near Victoria, BC. William Trevenen was buried at sea in 1936.
Their father, William James Genn died 7 September 1890, age 78, at 13 Woodlane Terrace, leaving an estate valued at £5,300. His wife, Ellen Genn died 16 September 1897, age about 70. Kelly's Directoryfor 1897 recorded her address as 13 Woodlane Terrace. The house appears to have been transferred to the ownership of William Cornish, brother of Ellen Genn. It was sold by him in 1902 and was later renumbered to 28 Woodlane.
William James Genn might be best portrayed by some words from his obituary, printed by the Falmouth and Penryn Times, 13 September 1890: "In 1828 he took his place in the office of Messrs. Pender and Genn (his father), and on the completion of his articles was admitted to the profession of a solicitor, and became in May 1833, the junior partner of the same firm, which then assumed the style of Pender, Genn and Genn.
For many years after the death of his senior partners Mr. Genn carried on his large business alone. Subsequently he took into partnership Mr. F. Nalder, who at the time was managing clerk to Mr. S. T. G. Downing of Redruth, with whom Mr. Genn remained in active practice until early in the current year when his professional career ceased. In the year 1834 he became a member of the Falmouth Corporation, but did not offer himself for election under the Municipal Corporations' Reform Act, which was passed within a short time afterwards.
On the formation of the Falmouth Union, in May 1837, he was elected clerk to the Board of Guardians, an office which he resigned so recently as February, after nearly 53 years' service. On his retirement he was entertained at a banquet at the Royal Hotel, and his life size portrait, painted by H. S. Tuke, was presented to him, the picture now being hung in the Town Hall.
He was clerk of the Petty Sessions of the Justice of the Peace for the Hundred of East Currier from 1851 to the beginning of the present year; Town Clerk of Falmouth from 1851 to 1885; clerk to the Borough Justices from 1864 to 1885; and held for some years and up to the last, the appointment of clerk to the Falmouth Harbor Commissioners..... In religion he was a Churchman, and in politics he was a Liberal."
Mary Louisa Genn remained in Falmouth and died a spinster on 19 March 1854, age 40, at Penwerris Terrace, Budock.
- Clara Genn died 2 July 1838 at the age of 10.
John Hawke Genn, son of James Genn married Nanny Tilly Green, 9 August 1842. Witnesses to the marriage were Henrietta Green and J. Richards. Nanny Tilly Green was the daughter of William Green, Master, Royal Navy. John Hawke Genn held a position as the Landing Waiter at the Arwenack Street Customs House in Falmouth. He was also Vice President of the Tee Total Societyformed in Falmouth in 1838.
John Hawke Genn relocated to Liverpool sometime before 1849, continuing to be employed by the Customs Service. John Hawke and Nanny Genn had two children that died in infancy:
- James Genn, born, 4 November 1859; died, 15 November 1859
- Edward Harding Genn, born, 16 May 1862; died, 17 May 1862
A third son, John Anthony Hawke Genn, Jr., Financial Agent, of 31 Wool Exchange Building, Coleman Street, London, is on record as having inherited his fathers estate on his death on 12 January 1900.
Three daughters were also born to John Hawke Genn and Nanny Genn:
- Katherine Marion Genn
- Ellen Mary Lins Genn
- Cary Tilly Genn
John Hawke Genn's presence in Liverpool may have had some connection with the relocation of his brother, James Maddison Genn, to Liverpool after his brief adventure in Brazil. William James Genn and John Hawke Genn are undoubtedly the "Uncle William" and "Uncle John" referred to by subsequent generations.
To continue the story of John Hawke Genn and his descendants, we refer you to the chapter on Liverpool.
James Maddison Genn, our direct ancestor, went to Brazil to manage a plantation, and eventually, according to Susan Gay, died there. More of his story in the next chapter.
In 1899 to 1925 diary of Henry Scott Tuke, a noted artist from Falmouth, makes several references, confirming his familiarity with the Genns of Falmouth, which include:
-several references to visiting and dining at the Genn residence, earliest, 12 March 1899, latest, 25 October 1903.
-reference to D. Genn, 4 September 1899, possibly a son of John Henry Genn.
-several reference to Julia Genn, 5 April 1900 to 17 December 1924, also to Ellen Genn.
-John Genn had a seizure while boating 28 September 1901 and died 26 October 1901. He would probably be the son of John Genn and Mary Arthur.
-reference to Charlie Genn (Charlotte Bessie Genn), 1 May 1924.
Henry Scott Tuke painted several Genn portraits, including the following:
- 54 Portrait of Charlie (Charlotte) Genn, Nov. 1885.
- 80 Sketch portrait of Lucy Genn, Apr. 1887
- 84 William J. Genn, Aug. and Sept. 1887
- 155 Portrait of Mrs. Genn, Dec. 1890
- 192 L. & B. Kilby, Pastel at the Genn house, 1893.
- 1142 Grace Harwar, sold to Mrs. C. Hayward, (nee Charlotte Genn).
The question has been raised on occasions as to where James Maddison Genn got his middle name. The name Maddison has appeared in Falmouth records:
- Anthony Maddison Todd was born 23 January 1792
- Graham Maddison Porteous was born 21 December 1861
- George Beaugh Maddison married Sarah Thomas in 1812
No marriages are recorded between the Genns and the Maddisons.
Maddison may have been the name of a Packet boat and the Genns may have been connected to the Post Office Packet Service. It was not uncommon for a child to be given for a middle name, the name of a Packet boat.
James Maddison Genn's grandfather, William Genn, however, was born in Maryland in 1754, and his parents were born in Virginia. Also born in Virginia, 16 March 1751, at Port Conway, was a James Madison. When James Maddison Genn was born in 1816, James Madison from Virginia was President of the United States. It is possible that this is the source of the name, and maybe there is a closer association or kinship yet to be discovered.
The dates, places and names appearing in this section are fully documented with birth, christening and marriage records. Other primary sources were the Census' for Cornwall for the years 1841 and 1851, both of which, incidentally, were signed by W. J. Genn, Superintendent Registrar of the Census. Visits were also made to Falmouth in search of details.
No Genns appear in the current telephone directory for Cornwall.
Revised: 10 March 2002