Elizabeth Ould

(1826-1927) – War passed her by

Elizabeth Ould died in the parish of her birth aged 101, the year after receiving a royal telegram. Royal telegrams officially started during the war, about the time that the Saxe-Coburgs became Windsors. Elizabeth remembered Queen Victoria’s Coronation, and saw the 1851 Great Exhibition, although the First World War largely passed her by.

Credit: Trenance Cottages Heritage Centre, Newquay and Newquay Old Cornwall Society

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Royal telegrams, sent to celebrate people reaching their 100th birthday or 60th wedding anniversary, officially started in 1917. Around this time the King and Queen changed their name from the Germanic Saxe-Coburg to the more English Windsor.  A few, more personal, royal telegrams had been sent out earlier than this. 

Elizabeth Ould was born at Chapple (pronounced ‘Chaypul’) on Sunday 21st March 1826.  After visiting the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, travelling by coach to Bristol and then train, she and her husband William settled in London for a time and their first children were born there.   Elizabeth found that ‘she did not like city life’ and returned home with two babies and a trunk by coach, boat and trap to her parent’s house.  She found happiness at Vine Cottage, Trenance where she lived for almost 50 years, bringing her parents to live with her and her family there.  Perhaps it was the advent of the royal telegram in 1917 that encouraged Elizabeth to live to 100.

At the time of the First World War, Elizabeth Ould was an elderly widow.  By then living with her unmarried daughter Bessie, next door was her widowed daughter Mary Pearce and two young grandchildren – Percy Vivian (Viv) and Mary Isabelle - who were aged nine and eight when war broke out.  The last cottage, known as Rose Cottage, was the home of lifeboat coxswain and market gardener, William Wilton, and his wife Mary.  Their two sons had both emigrated to America.

The war years were relatively tranquil for Elizabeth Ould with no one from Trenance Cottages called on to serve.  In the previous decade Elizabeth had lost four close relatives: her husband, son-in-law and both sons.  The main upset during the war years was the death in April 1916 of her 69 year old neighbour Mary Wilton.  Mary had helped entertain Newquay during the early war years as part of Mr and Mrs Crosby Smith’s amateur theatrical troupe.  Mary’s younger son George, then aged 40, left New York on the St Louis on 22 July 1916 and braved an Atlantic crossing to visit his widowed father and former neighbours, including Elizabeth Ould, at Trenance Cottages.  

Credit: Trenance Cottages Heritage Centre, Newquay and Newquay Old Cornwall Society