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Francis Coath

Francis was born sometime in 1741 to William and Margaret Coath, in the village of Polperro in Cornwall.

On December the 5th, 1741 he was baptised at Lansallos Parish Church.

He was apprenticed to one William Prym, a clothier of Tywardreath, from 1758 until 1765, for the sum of £10.

On December the 30th, 1765, Francis was wed to Rebecca Rean in Llanteglos by Fowey. This was followed the following December by the birth of their first child, William, in 1766.

Between them, Francis and Rebecca had 9 children, all of whom survived until adulthood.

  • William, baptised 28th December 1766 in Lansallos (see note 1 below)
  • Robert, baptised 3rd January 1769 in Lansallos (see note 2. below)
  • Francis, baptised 29th March 1770 in Lansallos
  • Rebecca, baptised 4th December 1772 in Lansallos
  • Thomas, baptised 12th April 1774 in Lansallos (see note 3 below)
  • Walter, baptised 23rd November 1775 in Lansallos (see note 4. below)
  • Mary, baptised 4th November 1777 in Lansallos
  • Ann, baptised 20th December 1779 in Lansallos
  • Elizabeth, baptised 2nd March1782 in Lansallos

It seems Francis may have had problems with so many mouths to feed because in 1786, he was indicted and found guilty of stealing one ewe sheep, valued at 10 shillings, the property of Richard Searle.

He was sentenced to be hanged but received a reprieve of 10 days from 6th April 1786 by the order of Mr Baron Eyre. While waiting in jail he made a confession. It also transpired that his wife had been defrauded out of her birthright when her brother coerceed her father to change the will in his favour while he was in a feeble state.

A petition to the king was raised by the justices and some of the local gentry, and a letter was written by Mr John Buller Esq.

It was common practice in such cases as this to commute the sentence to transportation. However Francis must have upset someone as on April 26th 1786, sentence was carried out on Bodmin Moor.


1. William moved to Liskeard and married Elizabeth May. They had ten children.

2. This is the same Robert as mentioned in "The Smugglers Banker"-the story of Zephaniah Job of Polperro by Jeremy Rowett Johns. Heritage Press, ISBN 09530012 2 9

Robert was a witness for the prosecution against three local men, William and John Quiller and Richard Oliver, who were charged with possessing contraband. Job did his utmost to discredit Coath, even finding several locals to testify that Coath was a known liar.Robert later moved to Liskeard and joined the Inland Revenue as did several of his sons, grandsons and great grandsons.

3. Thomas also moved to Liskeard. He married Elizabeth Sargent and they had 9 children. For a while Thomas was the Innkeeper at the Talbot Inn on the corner of Bay Tree Hill and Fore Street.

4. This is the same Walter Coath who was captured at sea by the French and ended up at Cambrai in 1811 along with 25 other Polperro men.