Inherited Craziness
A place to share all the nuts found on my family tree

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Silvanus Trevail Architect and Mayor of Truro

Truro : Lemon Street
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Lewis Clarke -

Silvanus Trevail, architect (1851–1903)
The phrase, "going Bodmin" refers to the Cornwall County Asylum (or Bodmin County Lunatic Asylum) opened in Westheath Avenue, Bodmin in 1815, much of which is still in existence, although it has now been turned into housing. The phrase, "gone" or "going Bodmin", relates to this and actually means, "going mad" or "simple". Indeed, if you describe someone as being, "a bit Bodmin", you are saying that they are not in full control of their mental faculty!

Later becoming St Lawrence's HospitalBodmin, when it was extended, "a completely new building to stand to the west of the first was designed in 1901 by Silvanus Trevail (1851–1903), one of Cornwall's best-known architects." It is an unfortunate association, given his history. 

Silvanus Trevail was born in Oct-Nov 1851 to John and Jane Trevail at Carne Farm, Luxulyan, Cornwall. His birth registration shows that his mother's maiden name was also Trevail and, indeed, there is a record that suggests that John Trevail had married Jane Trevail, also in that same quarter of 1851. 

John Trevail, born 1821, was the son of Charles Trevail and Ann Key of Higher Menadew Farm, Luxulyan. Jane Trevail, born 1822, was the daughter of Philip Trevail and Elizabeth Church, also of Luxulyan. Sadly, records prior to this get a bit too woolly to be able to tell where they connect, but in such a small farming community, I'd be much more surprised if they were not all related.

It also hasn't been possible to tell exactly how Silvanus Trevail was related to the rest of the Trevail and Rundle clan of Luxulyan, into which one of my blood relatives, my 1st cousin 3 times removed, Alice Maud Stanley Blazey, married, but as I've said, with the same two surnames in the same small farming community, once again, I'd be more surprised to find no connection. 

In 1861, we find Silvanus Trevail (9) at Carne Farm with his parents and younger sister, Laura (2), who was born 26 Dec 1858. He's still there at 19, with his parents, sister Laura (12) and his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth (71) in 1871. Silvanus and Laura appear to be their only children. Laura remained at home in 1881 and 1891, not marrying until her late 30's in 1897 to Richard Rundle, born in Broadoak. The couple adopted a daughter, Mary Adelaide, born 1899.

Meanwhile, Silvanus Trevail, rose to become Mayor of Truro and President of the Society of Architects, and famous for his radical reforming politics as much as for his architecture: most of Trevail's legacy can be found in Truro city centre

In 1891 and 1901, Trevail was residing in fashionable Lemon Street, Truro

His success however, did not bring him happiness. Trevail suffered from depression and had been unwell for some time. On 7 Nov 1903, he shot himself in the lavatory of a train. The Probate record shows that he left £8,738 13s 6d (£1,089,855 in 2021) to his sister, Laura Rundle, wife of Richard Rundle.

The east window at Luxulyan Church is a monument to Silvanus Trevail, erected by his sister Laura Rundle. Details of the dedication and photos here.

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If you're related to any of the people written about, I'm guessing you'll recognise them from the surnames. If you are, do please get in touch.