The Hammers of Towan: a 19th Century Cornish Family

If all history is local, then perhaps much of local history is family history. In "The Hammers of Towan: A Nineteenth-Century Cornish Family", Sue Appleby recounts the story of a 19th century family – and a vanished world – that is simultaneously a microcosm of a Cornwall caught up in the tumultuous flux of industrialism, emigration, and social change, and an intensely personal account of family solidarity and conflict.


Centered around the life of Appleby’s great-grandfather Philip Henry Hammer, his three wives, and their children, The Hammers of Towan presents the life and times of a Cornish tenant farmer, the tradition of Cornwall’s mining industry, the dispersal of Cornish workers to such remote locales as Tasmania and South Africa as the local economy declined, and such universal domestic topics as marriage, children, remarriage–and their attendant pleasures and tensions.


The product of extensive research in published and unpublished sources, and family stories and photographs, The Hammers of Towan is also a sensitive and well-crafted narrative that sheds light on broad historical trends without forgetting the humanity of its protagonists. Complemented by handsome black-and-white line illustrations by Deborah Eckert, this book will be a welcome addition to the libraries of family and local historians, genealogists, students of 19th and early 20th century social and economic developments, and anyone interested in the universal family experience.



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