Ann Glanville (1796-1880) as told by PEB Porter 1905

 

Ann Glanville was undoubtedly a remarkable woman for many reasons. Only such a place as Saltash, in such a naval port as this, could have produced a character like it. Only such a country as England could have presented such a woman. She was a genuine representative of Saltash in its great nautical days when it was alive with business; of a purely naval port, and of a great maritime country, whose sailors are its care and its pride. The British tar was to her the ideal of a man, and the very highest type of a hero. Into whatever trouble .lack got when ashore, however he may have been forsaken by all else in his reckless frivolity, ire never wanted for a "backer," if Ann Glanville was near. And there was not a ship in the Navy, in those days, that had not some story to tell of Ann's life and energy, and in which her name was not cherished as only a British sailor can cherish the memory of a friend. In a perfectly true sense, Ann Glanville was a mother to the British tar indiscriminately; she was known as "mother," and called "mother," by them all.

 

There are other phases of Ann's life which are equally interesting. She was born at Saltash in the year 1796, when Saltash was a very different place to what it is now. During the last fifty years its conditions have been greatly changed. Its character has been radically altered. In the older times of girlhood and young married life, Saltash was not an unimportant, place in the locality. It had then its Parliamentary honours and responsibilities: it had a voice—and a loud one, too—in Parliament, and the free burgesses were important men whose vote was valuable. Saltash was the head-quarters of the waterman and waterwoman fraternity. There were no steamers and no railways then, and the waterman class was a numerous and well to-do one. Saltash was like a half-way house between the towns and the many places by the river side up the Tamar, and it was accordingly a central place of business in the matter of water carriage in those times, then, there were master watermen and mistress waterwomen, persons who owned boats, and engaged men to row in them, just as employers in other forms of occupation hire workmen. It was in this kind of life that Ann spent her early days, and in which she acquired the personal strength and efficiency as a rower, which won for her such a wide reputation in years afterwards. She married comparatively early in life to a man several years her junior. He was a waterman in the old days, when the occupation was a lucrative one, and so Ann continued the work with her husband. She had fourteen children during her lifetime. By degrees, Ann and her husband made progress in a worldly sense and in a short time the wife had a boat of her own. About this time her struggles in life were hard indeed, and she gave the world a striking example of how perseverance and determination may overcome the severest difficulties. Her husband was stricken down with serious illness; for more than a year he was laid in his bed helpless. All income from the recognised bread-winner was stopped, and yet there were seven or eight mouths to feed, and backs to clothe. Ann stuck to her boat. Making arrangements that her sick husband and young family should be properly attended to while she was away, she worked, from early to late, as a carrier by water. The most remarkable instances are told of her physical strength and endurance in this work. A gentleman at Saltash himself remembered her bringing round as many as seventy or eighty bags of corn in her boat from Sutton. Pool, pulling the great cargo alone, and conveying it from Sutton Pool to Butt's Head Mill, a point two miles above Saltash.

 

The most stirring phase of Ann Glanville's life, doubtless, was as a rower at public regattas. In this respect her name was known all over England. For many years she enjoyed the reputation of being the champion female rower of the world. Sixty years ago the crew of Saltash women was one of the most important features, not only of local regattas, but of similar aquatic events in other parts of the country. Ann Glanville was the leader of the crew: she always pulled the "stroke" oar. Thousands of persons remember the interest and excitement created by the Saltash women, in their well-known rowing-dress- "short night-dresses"- and caps. It was very rarely that and her crew were beaten in a match, even by the opposite sex. They were never beaten by their own sex. The strength, courage, and daring displayed by these women in their challenges and contests, at length drew universal attention to them: gentlemen backed them against lowers of the Rowing Clubs, and for the purposes of contest took them to many parts of England. The crew contested, among other places, at Manchester, Birmingham, Hull, Liverpool, Portsmouth, and Goole (Yorkshire). Mrs. Harriett Screech, a daughter of Ann Glanville, rowed with her mother on some of those occasions, pulling the bow oar, the least arduous post, because she was then young. When engaged in a match at Fleetwood, on one occasion, Ann was especially com­plimented by the Queen. The Saltash women rowed so well, and gave the gentlemen such a beating, that Her Majesty enjoyed the scene no less than the other spectators; her interest was fully enlisted in the match, and she heartily cheered Ann Glanville and her crew. The poor old lady was always very proud of this incident, and referred to it many times, with much pleasure, during the latter part of her life.

 

Another time Ann and her crew were taken over to France, and at a regatta there gave the Frenchman a thoroughly sound thrashing. This was one of the most prominent events of her career as a rower. She was proud of it, and well might have been. About the year 1833, Captain Russell, of H.M.S. "Brunswick," a fine old English officer of those fine old sailor days, vowed that "Ann should take the shine off the Frenchmen." Ho suggested to her that she should go with her crew across the Channel, to Havre, and enter a match at the annual regatta there. Ann shrank not an instant from the challenge. She consulted her crew, and in less than an hour they had determined to go over to France, and beat the Frenchmen "for the honor of old England." They were under the escort of Captain Russell, and it was a capital trip for them. In every way they were treated with respect and consideration. When the Frenchmen and their authorities heard of the challenge from "les Anglaise Saltashe," as they called it, they shrugged their shoulders, and winked their eyes merrily. The Englishmen were good sailors, no doubt, they said, but to bring over women to beat the picked men of a great French port, was a little too absurd! But the challenge of the English captain created a stir, not only in Havre, but for miles around the French coast, and for many leagues inland, too. In England, great interest was felt in the forthcoming match, and in a short time it assumed a kind of international character. Thus, when the regatta day came there was a vast concourse of people to witness the contest. Every quay, hill top, and house roof, whence a view of the course could he obtained, was crowded. All were on the tip-toe of expectation for les Anglaise." And, perhaps, there was no occasion when the loyalty of the sex to one another was more strongly proved. The Frenchmen were a little indignant in their own peculiarly irritable way, that women should be matched against them; but the Frenchwoman knows how to seize every advantage of her sex, and, with a keen sense of humour, forgot not to twit her "lord and master." At last the hour came. Oh! horrible was the violation of French taste when the Saltash women appeared in their well-known uniform of white! It was only with an effort that the fashionable French lady could take a second look at the remarkably dressed crew; for the cut and character of the garments they wore were of universal fashion and usefulness! Amidst intense excitement the start was made. Upwards of ten boats took part in the match, which was one for four oared gigs. Before the start, however, the Saltash crew had a pull round "to show themselves," and when their steady stroke was seen, how they "bent their backs" to the work, and yet with what perfect ease and grace they pulled, our French friends dropped their winking, and opened their eyes wider than usual in half doubt that they had deceived themselves. Ann and her crew had not, the fairest start possible, nor had they the advantage at first. Six boats were ahead of them five minutes after the start. But they soon tested their opponents. After a little opening "play" to get into trim, Ann, who had the stroke oar, gave the word "Bend your backs to it, maidens, and hoorah for old England!" One by one the French boats were passed, with a "cheer" from poor old Ann! At length the Saltash boat, with the British colours flying gaily at the fore, took leading position. It was a long course, and a hard pull; but the Frenchmen were soundly thrashed. Ann and her "maidens" beat them by one hundred yards, at. least! Amid the frantic cheering of a large number of British spectators, who had assembled on the occasion, and not a few cheers from sympathetic Frenchwomen, the Englishwomen's boat was the first to pass the final mark. "Didn't us feel proud at that moment, and often afterwards," said Ann "for it was for the glory of old England!" The names of the crew on that occasion deserve to be recorded. They were Ann Glanville, Harriett Hosking, Jane House, and Amelia Lee, a man acting as coxswain.

 

Ann was just the fine, courageous old character that would win the regard of Lord Beresford; and as to his lordship, he was a sailor, and that fact alone was enough to secure the motherly love of Ann. It happened that Ann, some years since, had a son on hoard the "Galatea," to which Lord Charles was attached. He, of course knew something of Ann's history, and through the son he kindly enquired after her. Subsequently, when he came to the Port, his lordship sent for the old lady, had an interview with her, and treated her with the kindness which a frank-hearted, generous man like Lord Charles Beresford can display. Seldom on any occasion afterwards when he visited the Port did he fail to see Ann Glanville. When the Duke of Edinburgh gave the dinner to his crew, at the Devonport Mechanics Institute, on his return from the cruise in the "Galatea," Ann walked at the head of the procession through the town, between the Duke and Lord Charles, and, as she was wont to say, "next to the elephant!" Again, when the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh came in connection with the building of the new Eddystone Lighthouse, and were lying with their yacht in Barnpool, Ann was specially sent for to come on board. On a Sunday morning a steam launch was sent to Saltash to bring her down; she came, was introduced to their Royal Highnesses, and dined on board! And Ann wasn't scared by the honor either. She cracked a joke with the Princes, and, in her own words, had "a hearty good laugh with them." Afterwards, Lord Beresford was ever a kind friend to her, and his friendship was often practically shown for her in a substantial, though delicate manner. The likeness of Lord Charles was one of the most valued and cherished articles in her clean and neatly furnished room. During her last illness she had the likeness placed on one side of her bed, and that of her deceased husband on the other. Her general character may be summed up in the quaint language of a neighbour, who said "she was honest to a farthing, clean as a smelt, and kind hearted as a queen."

 

Personally Ann Glanville was a tall, finely-built, robust woman. Her coffin was six feet two inches in length, and this will give an idea of her tallness in life. It may be imagined, from what has been said before, that in manner Mrs. Glanville was high-spirited and good tempered. There was no woman more fond of a joke, and more ready for a laugh; yet the finest bred women in the West could not more promptly resent an insult.

 

Courage, honesty, and a great heart combined to make Ann Glanville the "Heroine of the Tamar," and the most remarkable and renowned daughter Saltash has ever produced. By such spirit and character animating the men on deck in our ships, the Naval supremacy of England has been built up in the days of yore, and we to-day sit and boast of our inheritance in this great Empire. We live on the traditions of the past, we thrive on the genius of a Stephenson, an Adams, and a Brunel, and the gallantry of a Drake, a Blake and a Nelson; nor do we stop to ask ourselves if our dream now is but a fool's paradise. Sure it is that a latter day sentiment is creeping up that affects a pious horror of Ann Glanville and all her associations, and especially her regatta, which it has stifled.

 

People, too ill-informed to know or discriminate between horse races and regatta, think it is "very respectable," to call our regatta "a drunken frolic," and so save their pockets front subscriptions. What wonder then that rates are not paid by "mock martyrs" for "conscience sake," though in some instances bills and rent have not been paid for nine months either, and no qualms of "conscience" have then been exhibited. It is a marvel how many people take the "nonconformist conscience" seriously, and attend places of worship, when one considers the sensational loquacity of the rostrum, with its boy preachers, women wonders, with their mystic lights,

 

However that may be, the memory of Ann Glanville, with the courage and perseverance of her nature, will survive, and be preserved for ages yet to come, everywhere in the West of England, and at Saltash in particular.

 

If any old Saltasher had walked into the cabin of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford last year, in HMS "Caesar" (Flagship of the Atlantic. Fleet), he would have seen hanging there a portrait of—Ann Glanville!

 

Sir Jas. Penn Boucaut, late Premier South Australia, in replying to the toast of his health, at Adelaide, in 1893, referred to Saltash as follows " . . . I won't even dilate on the pluck and endurance of the Saltash women rowers. It was a pretty sight to see half-a-dozen boats start in a Regatta, with all the women in snow-white frilled caps and frilled jackets. One crew, of which Ann Glanville was stroke, and which I have seen row, would beat any crew of men of the same number, and would not, I believe, have thought it anything very wonderful to beat a crew of men with a couple of men extra. I read in the Times that Ann Glanville, then an old woman upwards of eighty. was introduced to the I hike of Cornwall, when he was down West and I have often heard that she used to row round the captains man-of-war gigs in the Hamoaze, and chaff the blue‑jackets.              

His Excellency re-visited Saltash in 1892.

 

In St. Stephen's old Church-yard, near the Wearde vault, and within fifty paces of the chancel, on the South side, is a plain stone headstone, with the following inscription :‑

 

IN MEMORY OF

ANN GLANVILLE

BORN 2ND APRIL 1706 DIED 6TH JUNE 1880

AGED 84 YEARS

 

"She shall rejoice in time to come, her children shall rise up and call her blessed."

 

"This stone was erected by friends who had great regard for her, and who esteemed her for her high moral character and her honest, industrious and upright life."

 

The announcement of her death at once arrested the attention of thousands of people in all parts of England, and in many places beyond it. In every seaport in the country the news was received with regret. Wherever there was a British man-of-war—no matter in how remote a region - the fact aroused a feeling of interest and sympathy. Old and young alike shared that feeling—those who were her contemporaries and were witnesses of many of her aquatic feats, and those who for many years had listened with eager attentions to the story of her long and stirring life. There are few women, in the West of England at least,—let their position be as high as it may—who were better known than Ann Glanville was, and whose memory, when it comes their turn to pass away, will be more respected than hers.

 

At the ripe old age of 84, she died peacefully, at Saltash, where she had lived so many years. On the fact being made known to Lord Charles Beresford, who had been a very kind friend to the old lady, he at once asked a local gentleman to see that she was buried in a thoroughly respectable manner, at Lord Charles's cost. On the day before the funeral took place, his lordship sent a beautiful immortelle, arranged with the choicest flowers and ferns, to be placed on the coffin as an evidence of his respect. The funeral took place on Thursday, June 10th, 1880, and it was gratifying to observe the admirable manner in which it was carried out. Everything connected with the sad ceremony was conducted with order and respect. There was ample evidence of the esteem which was entertained for the deceased, without the least ostentation. In addition to the wreath sent by Lord Charles Beresford, another was sent by Mrs. Bennett (nee Cook), of Portland Square, Plymouth, whose father was for many years Mayor of Saltash, and who, therefore, had had ample opportunity of making herself acquainted with the character and antecedents of Mrs. Glanville.

 

Upon Ann Glanville's death, the band of the Royal Marines were sent by the commandant, at Stonehouse, to play a funeral march.

 

Writen by P.E.B. Porter 1905

 

 

Ann Glanville - another view

 

 

Ann Glanville

 Ann Glanville was born in Saltash in the year 1796 and died after a short illness aged 84 at her Waterside home on 6 June 1880.

There is no doubt that Ann was a character and in her younger days had been an athlete. She is reported to have been tall and muscular and worked on the Tamar as a waterwoman, ferrying people and goods about the river. Her fame came from the regatta circuit where, for many years Ann, as lead ore led a crew of Saltash women to many a victory.

It is surprising then that the only newspaper to carry any report on her death was the Western Daily Mercury and that was only a few lines two days after her funeral.

A little research into the life of Ann Glanville revealed that almost all written accounts of her life are based on the writings of Philip E.B. Porter in his book ‘Around and about Saltash’, published in 1905, he in turn based his text on a report in Doige’s Annual of 1881. It is obvious when reading Porter that he has relied on word of mouth and is recounting stories told about Ann twenty after her death and sixty years after the events that later became folk law. Ann herself was reputed to tell her stories to anyone who would listed and like many a story teller there was a degree of exaggeration.  

 

About her funeral Porter wrote…….

The announcement of her death at once arrested the attention of thousands of people in all parts of England, and in many places beyond it. In every seaport in the country the news was received with regret. Wherever there was a British man-of-war—no matter in how remote a region - the fact aroused a feeling of interest and sympathy. Old and young alike shared that feeling—those who were her contemporaries and were witnesses of many of her aquatic feats, and those who for many years had listened with eager attentions to the story of her long and stirring life. There are few women, in the West of England at least,—let their position be as high as it may—who were better known than Ann Glanville was, and whose memory, when it comes their turn to pass away, will be more respected than hers.

At the ripe old age of 84, she died peacefully, at Saltash, where she had lived so many years. On the fact being made known to Lord Charles Beresford, who had been a very kind friend to the old lady, he at once asked a local gentleman to see that she was buried in a thoroughly respectable manner, at Lord Charles's cost. On the day before the funeral took place, his lordship sent a beautiful immortelle, arranged with the choicest flowers and ferns, to be placed on the coffin as an evidence of his respect. The funeral took place on Thursday, June 10th, 1880, and it was gratifying to observe the admirable manner in which it was carried out. Everything connected with the sad ceremony was conducted with order and respect. There was ample evidence of the esteem which was entertained for the deceased, without the least ostentation. In addition to the wreath sent by Lord Charles Beresford, another was sent by Mrs. Bennett (nee Cook), of Portland Square, Plymouth, whose father was for many years Mayor of Saltash, and who, therefore, had had ample opportunity of making herself acquainted with the character and antecedents of Mrs. Glanville.

Upon Ann Glanville's death, the band of the Royal Marines was sent by the commandant, at Stonehouse, to play a funeral march”.

 

 

The only published account of her funeral appeared almost a year latter in Doige’s Annual and reads……

“The funeral cortege started from the house shortly after three o'clock, preceded by a hearse accompanied by the orthodox number of bearers. In addition to the children and grand­children of the deceased and the number of those of the family who were able to be present was about twenty, several of the chief residents of Saltash followed the deceased to her last resting place in a shady quiet nook of the picturesque yard of St. Stephen's Church. Mr. Gilbert, who to a very large extent may be regarded as the representative of Saltash joined in the procession, and there were also present. Mr. Vosper, Mr. J Rawlings, Mr. S Rawlings, Mr. J H Youlton, Mr. W Warren. A number of the inhabitants of the borough followed the hearse and as the procession passed through the town, a general feeling of sympathy was shown. On arriving at St. Stephen's Church, the Vicar, Rev. A. Noel, M.A. met the funeral at the outer gate and led the way into the imposing old parish church where the service was very impressively read by the Vicar. The grave lay in a quiet part of the churchyard and the ceremony as conducted by Mr. Noel was very affecting”.

Doige Annual 1881

 

 

 

Ann Glanville and her crew came to the attention of the public because of their success at pilot gig racing in regattas around the south west and later the UK and France.

Gig racing was big business with gigs being owned and sponsored by business men and the gentry. Although prize money for the winning crew was small the owners and sponsors along with the spectators would bet heavily on the outcome of a race.

Locally regattas were held at Saltash, Saltash Passage, Torpoint, Plymouth and Sutton. Races were held for both armature and professional crews of both men and women with many naval crews taking part. Many classes of boat were raced especially in naval ports were local boat races were supplemented by those for twelve oared cutters and Montagu whalers. There were different classes of gig, the most popular being the four oared and six oared gigs. Apart from the scheduled raced occasional open races and private challenges took place.

Ann and her crew were usually classed as professional and raced four oared gigs, they were rarely beaten by other women’s crews and often won against amateur male crews in open races, but in the few reports available of Ann and her crew racing against male professional opposition the results were not so good, with no evidence of any wins.

With Ann becoming well known in the local area her sponsor arranged for Ann and her crew to travel further afield where they were less well known and the odds would be better. They attended regattas in Portsmouth and once spend time touring to a number of regattas in the north including Fleetwood Royal Regatta, Hull and Newcastle. Ann always boasted about meeting and being praised by Queen Victoria at Fleetwood but in reality the boat taking Ann and her crew to Fleetwood was delayed by bad weather in Dublin, arriving in Fleetwood two days after the regatta had finished.

The most famous episode in Ann’s life and the most frequently recounted took place at Le Havre in 1842.

 

 

Porter wrote….

Ann Glanville painted by Saltash artist David Whittley

“Another time Ann and her crew were taken over to France, and at a regatta there gave the Frenchman a thoroughly sound thrashing. This was one of the most prominent events of her career as a rower. She was proud of it, and well might have been. About the year 1833, Captain Russell, of H.M.S. "Brunswick," a fine old English officer of those fine old sailor days, vowed that "Ann should take the shine off the Frenchmen." Ho suggested to her that she should go with her crew across the Channel, to Havre, and enter a match at the annual regatta there. Ann shrank not an instant from the challenge. She consulted her crew, and in less than an hour they had determined to go over to France, and beat the Frenchmen "for the honor of old England." They were under the escort of Captain Russell, and it was a capital trip for them. In every way they were treated with respect and consideration. When the Frenchmen and their authorities heard of the challenge from "les Anglaise Saltashe," as they called it, they shrugged their shoulders, and winked their eyes merrily. The Englishmen were good sailors, no doubt, they said, but to bring over women to beat the picked men of a great French port, was a little too absurd! But the challenge of the English captain created a stir, not only in Havre, but for miles around the French coast, and for many leagues inland, too. In England, great interest was felt in the forthcoming match, and in a short time it assumed a kind of international character. Thus, when the regatta day came there was a vast concourse of people to witness the contest. Every quay, hill top, and house roof, whence a view of the course could he obtained, was crowded. All were on the tip-toe of expectation for les Anglaise." And, perhaps, there was no occasion when the loyalty of the sex to one another was more strongly proved. The Frenchmen were a little indignant in their own peculiarly irritable way, that women should be matched against them; but the Frenchwoman knows how to seize every advantage of her sex, and, with a keen sense of humour, forgot not to twit her "lord and master." At last the hour came. Oh! horrible was the violation of French taste when the Saltash women appeared in their well-known uniform of white! It was only with an effort that the fashionable French lady could take a second look at the remarkably dressed crew; for the cut and character of the garments they wore were of universal fashion and usefulness! Amidst intense excitement the start was made. Upwards of ten boats took part in the match, which was one for four oared gigs. Before the start, however, the Saltash crew had a pull round "to show themselves," and when their steady stroke was seen, how they "bent their backs" to the work, and yet with what perfect ease and grace they pulled, our French friends dropped their winking, and opened their eyes wider than usual in half doubt that they had deceived themselves. Ann and her crew had not, the fairest start possible, nor had they the advantage at first. Six boats were ahead of them five minutes after the start. But they soon tested their opponents. After a little opening "play" to get into trim, Ann, who had the stroke oar, gave the word "Bend your backs to it, maidens, and hoorah for old England!" One by one the French boats were passed, with a "cheer" from poor old Ann! At length the Saltash boat, with the British colours flying gaily at the fore, took leading position. It was a long course, and a hard pull; but the Frenchmen were soundly thrashed. Ann and her "maidens" beat them by one hundred yards, at. least! Amid the frantic cheering of a large number of British spectators, who had assembled on the occasion, and not a few cheers from sympathetic Frenchwomen, the Englishwomen's boat was the first to pass the final mark. "Didn't us feel proud at that moment, and often afterwards," said Ann "for it was for the glory of old England!" The names of the crew on that occasion deserve to be recorded. They were Ann Glanville, Harriett Hosking, Jane House, and Amelia Lee, a man acting as coxswain”.

 

A bit of research tells a different story, it is easy to check on RN ships and there was no HMS Brunswick at that time, however there was a paddle steamer called Brunswick and research by A T Goodman for the Old Cornwall Society revealed……

 

“The Glanvillites left Plymouth for Southampton on 11 August 1842 in PS BRUNSWICK, and transferred to PS GRAND TURK for onward voyage to Le Havre. At Le Havre the women were given a civic welcome but for reasons of chivalry, French male crews declined to row against them at the regatta on 15 August. Finally, a scratch team of sailors from GRAND TURK was matched against the women whose cox'n was Thomas Russell. The Glanvillites easily won this race, to the particular delight of French women who, among a crowd of 20,000 regatta spectators, viewed the race. Afterwards, the Saltash women returned to Southampton in GRAND TURK, transferred to BRUNSWICK and arrived at Plymouth on 17 August. There appears to have been no civic welcome for them either at Plymouth or at Saltash”.

 

Despite some exaggeration about the achievements of Ann Glanville and her crew she was still a remarkable women and an inspiration to many including the famous Cornish write A.T. Quiller Couch who, in 1905 wrote a widely read story called ‘Ye Sexes, Give Ere’ about a crew of Saltash women who beat there men folk in a challenge race. One recent publication states that Ann rowed to France, even Ann never went that far with her stories but it is nice to see that she is remembered in a fitting manner with Caradon Pilot Gig Club naming their first boat after her.

The name lives on

Ann Glanville statue in Fore Street Saltash official opening on Saturday 5 September 2013 by Mayor David Yates surrounded by descendants of Ann with the Caradon Gig "Ann Glanville"

 

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Painting at Saltash Heritage - David Whittley