Like most people when researching family history I was fascinated with any links I may find with important historical figures. When I started tracing my family tree, I had high hopes of finding a link with Edward III of England as a family named Holland married into Edward's family. However, Thomas Holland (c.1800-1846) has proved such elusive a character that I have been unable to trace the Hollands further back. It was then that I started to look at other branches of the tree and when I stumbled across the Lance family of Truro.
My great x3 grandmother, Mary Lance (1815-1898) was born in Truro to what first appeared to be a regular 19th century working class family. Her father, John (1766-1841), was a tailor. He and his wife, Mary Colmer, had thirteen children and lived in the Pydar Street area of Truro.
I was lucky enough to get hold of a copy of John Lance and Mary Colmer's marriage entry in the parish register for Bodmin (29 August 1799). Both John and Mary signed their names - suggesting that both of them could read and write, which is extremely intriguing for a working class family of this time. Many of my other ancestors from the early 19th century could not write and placed a mark or cross on official documents.
From records held online in the International Genealogy Index and also at the Cornwall Records Office, I discovered John Lance's parents were John Lance (1730-1813) and Damaris Bohenna (1730-1767). They too lived and worked in Truro. In turn, John's parents were Francis Lance (1703-1755) and Margaret Thomas (1708-1757). Unlike his son and grandsons, Francis Lance was christened at St. Clement (a parish near Truro) on 22 August 1703.
Francis was born at the turn of the 18th century, one of eight children born to John Lance (1680-1760) and Anne Trear. In the parish records, John and Anne's marriage is recorded as having taken place on 3 November 1702.
Unfortunately after this point the records become difficult to follow and there are no censuses to back up any parish register information found. However, at present - and from available evidence - it appears that John Lance (b.1680) was the son of one John Launce, who was born in St. Clement in 1652. This John Launce's parents are more than likely to be James Launce and Rebecca Blakiston, who resided in the parish of St. Clement at Penair House.
Interestingly, Rebecca Blakiston was the daughter of the regicide, John Blakiston, who signed the warrant for the execution of Charles I. It is quite possible that during the restoration the Launce family lost Penair House due to their known Republican tendencies (certainly one of James' sisters, Mary, fled to America). This could explain the family's sudden loss of status and move to the centre of Truro.
James Launce himself also came from a fascinating family. His father, yet another John Launce (!) married Isabella Darcy on 13 June 1620 at Isleworth, Kent. On closer research it appears that Isabella Darcy's family tree is populated by such figures as Edward III, Nicholas Carew, the De Mortimer family and through them Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, Prince of Wales.