Samuel May Colenso & Mary Veale Thomas
Samuel May Colenso married
Mary Veale Thomas in Penzance on the 27th August 1808. She was the
daughter of William Thomas, a solicitor in Penzance. Her
mother was Jane Veale, connected to the Veale Family of Trevaylor, near Gulval.
Samuel was described as a
gentleman in the marriage record, but elsewhere as saddler. His business must
have been reasonably successful as he served some time as a councilor for Penzance.
He is also recorded as joining the Druid’s Lodge on the 3rd December 1809. This is the first
record indicating the Colenso family’s long association with Freemasonry.
Samuel and Mary had ten
children, with nine reaching adulthood.
William, born 1809, dying 15 July 1810.
William, born 17th November 1811, dying 10th February 1899 in Napier New Zealand.
He emigrated to New
Zealand in 1834 as a printer for the Church Mission
Society. He was an explorer, naturalist, politician and student of maori-lore, collecting most of the NZ flora for the Kew
Gardens. He had two children by his wife Elizabeth
Fairburn, and another son Wiremu as the result of a
relationship with a maori woman called Ripeka..
Samuel, born 1813. He married Louisa Charles and
had three daughters. After his wife’s death in 1852, he and his two surviving
daughters disappear. However the will of Eleanor Thompson Brock Colenso,
indicates that she married a Samuel Colenso around 1857 in Ontario
subsequently disappeared again, with the only clue an unclaimed letter in Australia
around 1862. Samuel was a painter and glazier.
Richard Veale Thomas, born 13th May 1815, dying 5 Jun 1892 in Penzance.
He married Susan Ann Edmondes, from Marazion,
in 1836 and they had 19 children. He was also a painter and
probably started the Colenso & Sons business of painters and decorators.
John Williams, born 1818, dying 29th January 1853 in Penzance.
He married Christiana Grey in 1847, but they had no children. He was a painter
until his marriage, and then became a grocer. His death was attributed to
Jane Emily, born 1820, dying January 1896 in Penzance.
She married John Tucker in Paddington in 1848. In the 1881 census she is
widowed and running a boarding house in London.
In the 1891 census she is living as a lodger in Penzance.
A number of letters from her brother William to his nephew William indicate
that he was supporting her.
Elizabeth Frances, born 1822, dying 22nd December 1883 in Penzance.
She married John Bramwell Sutherland Stevens, a
master mariner. They had one daughter Mary Jane (Minnie), who was buried in Penzance
with her parents in 1937, no indication that she married.
Ellen, born 1824, dying 14th March 1907 in Penzance.
She was a dressmaker, working in London
in 1871. She was living with her cousin Robert Edward Nicholas in 1891 and
boarding in 1901, living on her own means.
born 1827, dying 30 June 1897
in Geelong, Australia.
He immigrated to Australia
in 1848 and worked as a carpenter and then an undertaker. He married twice and
had 15 children.
Mary Ann, born 1830. She married James Symons, a
saddler from Liskeard, in 1856 in Birmingham.
He ran a wholesale saddlery business in Walsall. They had 6 children, including Annie
Colenso Symons and Edward William Symons, who both became teachers, with the
latter becoming Headmaster of the King
Edward VI School,
Samuel May and his wife were married
in the established church and their first two sons were christened in the Penzance
- St Mary’s. However there are no further christenings recorded and they were
both mentioned on a memorial at the Heamor Wesleyan Chapel. This suggests that they became Wesleyan. Samuel’s brother William was a lay preacher and actively involved in
the Wesleyan movement.
They lived at 10
Alverton Street for most
of their married life – a house that had been in the Colenso family for many
years. Mary Veale Thomas died in November 1856, with Samuel May dying in April
Their portraits were taken by their
son William to New Zealand
and then returned to Penzance, via his nephew William
Colenso, son of Richard Veale Thomas. The following is an extract from a
letter, dated 5th June 1898,
William wrote to his nephew concerning the portraits.
Figure 1: Mary
Veale Thomas Figure 2: Samuel May Colenso
The original portraits are now at Shotley Manor, passed down through Susan Colenso, daughter
of William’s nephew, who married Albert Arthur Greer Martell.
family tree that I saw described Samuel as “the bad old man”. Have never found any explanation for this title.