Recently I’ve spent time revising and editing a short history book on the history of a pub (something that I’ve returned to, on and off, for a good while now). Yes, the entire history of one single pub: the Blue Monkey of Plymouth. Today the pub is no more, yet its history is a rich and colourful one. During this time of editing I’ve trawled through the research that I’ve accumulated over the years, including a 1950s newspaper article titled ‘Napoleon the bogy man’. The article itself is slightly confused, particularly in outlining the threat of Napoleon in the early date of 1794 (Napoleon would not take power in France until the end of the 1790s). However, the article does provide an interesting snapshot in to the life of St. Budeaux village at this time, and in how the villagers would have prepared for a French invasion.
Napoleon the bogey man
When Napoleon Bonaparte threatened the invasion of England, every parish was organised to resist him, and in 1794, Captain Thomas Byard RN (Mount Tamar), while on shore leave, was very concerned that Pembrokeshire had been invaded by the French.
He called for a meeting in the Church Inn (now Blue Monkey) which was well attended by an enthusiastic audience who pressed for a parish census to be taken and appointed John Blatchford (Little Ash), Thomas Pollard (Whitleigh), and Joseph Avent (Barn), guardians of the parish.
The census showed that 24 residents were proprietors of stock who could provide 15 drivers, so Robert Maddock, James Pollard, Richard Curtis and John Smith were appointed directors of stock and the nine who owned wagons could provide 20 draft horses with 10 drivers to evacuate 23 persons incapable of removing themselves.
There were 11 men, listed as smiths, carpenters, sawyers and masons, with four who held a light musket known as a firelock, using a flint for ignition; the blacksmiths, Robert Bond, William Bond, William Pengelly and his son, William, were supported by 29 who could provide telling axes, shovels, and pickaxes
There were 44 of the younger generation who volunteered to support the armed forces and five of them owned boats. It is very interesting to read the names of the inhabitants who resided in the parish before 1800 with those of today, with the same surnames.
In 1800, the 42nd Regiment of Foot was sent to Whitleigh under the command of Captain Edmund Henn, from Paradise Hill Manor, Ennis, County Clare, a descendant of Richard Henn who settled in Ireland in 1685.
He was billeted with John Gennys of Whitleigh Hall and married Mary, his only daughter, changing his name by Royal Licence in 1802, to Henn Gennys.
They had four daughters and one son; the fourth daughter, Anne, died in Dublin on December 31, 1843.
The union between Captain Henn and Mary Gennys is celebrated by two magnificent hatchments which can be seen above the south aisle in St Budeaux Church which mystify both residents and visitors, as nothing has been recorded in the parish registers and I am indebted to a friend of mine from the College of Arms for the information.
As Mary Gennys was an heraldic heiress, her paternal arms (a lion looking to the right side on guard against attack, with a blue head and red hind quarters) is placed on a small shield in the centre of the Henn arms, with moorcocks holding in their beaks a sprig of myrtle and has the motto, Mors Janua Vitae (Death is the gate of life).
As the right-hand is white and the left-hand is black, means that Edmund survived his wife Mary.
The second hatchment with the date 1869, with the faded motto, Deo Est Gloria (for Gennys) with Edmund B Henn Gennys (son of Edmund Henn Gennys) arms in black on the right side showed that his wife, Ann Chapple, survived him; his arms show the two lions and moorcocks surmounted by an eagle with wings elevated, holding in its beak an scroll with a hen pheasant alongside.