Sarah Smith married Samuel Pooley in 1785 at North Petherwin. She was buried in December 1814 when her age was given as fifty. Sarah, illegitimate daughter of Elizabeth Smith, was baptised at North Petherwin on 10 February 1765.


An Elizabeth Smith was buried on 5 February 1765 at North Petherwin,[1] raising the possibility that Sarah’s mother died in childbirth. However, there were also two Elizabeth Smith marriages at North Petherwin in the following period, one to Abraham Prest in 1774[2] and the other to William Colwill in 1777.[3] William Colwill was evidently baptised in 1753[4] so the Elizabeth whose daughter was baptised in 1765 would probably have been several years older than him. This does not rule out her being William’s wife, but makes it less likely. The Elizabeth Smith who married Abraham Prest, on the other hand, was apparently born about 1739 judging by the burial of Elizabeth Prest at North Petherwin in 1823 aged eighty-four, so she is a better fit chronologically. Moreover, there are reasons to think that the wife of Abraham Prest was indeed the mother of Sarah Smith. A significant point is that both of the known children of Abraham and Elizabeth (Smith) Prest were living with a child or grandchildren of Sarah Smith at the time of the 1841 census. Isaac Prest was with Benjamin Pooley[5] and Elizabeth Prest was with the family of Richard Woof who married Elizabeth Pooley.[6] It may also be noted that in 1924 at the time of the death of Grace (Symons) Palmer, a granddaughter of Sarah Smith, there was a tradition that Grace was descended from Agnes Prest, a Protestant martyr who was burnt in the 1550s.[7] Although the currently-known evidence does not support such a descent, and it is not clear whether Grace was actually descended from Abraham Prest (no father being named in the baptism entry for Sarah Smith), the link with the Prest family would be a likely source for the belief.


Abraham Prest may be the Abraham Prust who was baptised on 1 June 1729 at Week St Mary.[8] He appears to have married Mary Martin in 1754 at North Petherwin.[9] Mary was buried in 1770.[10]


As for Elizabeth Smith, she was perhaps the one of that name baptised on 26 November 1738 at St Stephen by Launceston, daughter of Richard Smith,[11] although against this identification is the burial of an Elizabeth Smith at St Stephen on 10 December 1738, shortly after the baptism.[12] There was a Walter, son of Richard Smith, baptised at St Stephen in 1728 and a Walter Smith of North Petherwin married Ann Smith, widow, at Charles the Martyr, Plymouth, in 1763. However, a Walter Smith married Elizabeth Bate at St Mary Magdalene, Launceston, in 1764, and there was another Walter Smith who was baptised at Treneglos in 1735, son of John and Joan, who might be the Walter who later lived at North Petherwin. This in fact seems more likely as John and Joan had a son called Josias baptised in 1738 and Walter of North Petherwin had a son of that name.


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ELIZABETH SMITH was born about 1739 and buried on 8 November 1823 at North Petherwin, Devon.[13] She married on 4 August 1774 at North Petherwin, ABRAHAM PREST.[14] Abraham was buried on 8 May 1802 at North Petherwin.[15]


Child of Elizabeth Smith:

i               SARAH SMITH, bap 10 Feb 1765, North Petherwin,[16] bur 26 Dec 1814, Boyton;[17] m 21 Aug 1785, North Petherwin, SAMUEL POOLEY[18] (see here).


Children of Abraham and Elizabeth (Smith) Prest:

ii              ISAAC PREST, private in the 62nd Regiment of Foot, b North Petherwin,[19] bap 16 Mar 1777, North Petherwin,[20] d 6 Dec 1851, Egloskerry.[21]

iii             ELIZABETH PREST, bap 15 Oct 1780, North Petherwin,[22] d 29 Apr 1845, Egloskerry.[23]

[1] North Petherwin bishop’s transcripts.

[2] North Petherwin bishop’s transcripts.

[3] North Petherwin bishop’s transcripts.

[4] Ronald Ames Hill, The Colwill/Colwell Families of North Cornwall and Northwest Devon (Star, Idaho, 2005; second printing 2014), 500.

[5] 1841 census returns, Boyton (National Archives, HO 107/151/1, fol. 4).

[6] 1841 census returns, Egloskerry (National Archives, HO 107/134/1, fol. 7): “Elizabeth Press”. Elizabeth Woof was the informant for the death of Elizabeth Prest in 1845.

[7] See the website of Ralph and Paulene Smith (, apparently quoting a report of the funeral of Grace (Symons) Palmer. An e-mail of 19 May 2006 from Joan Margaret Scoble to Edward J. Davies also stated that Joan’s late mother, who was a granddaughter of Grace (Symons) Palmer, possessed a newspaper cutting from Jan 1924 which stated that Grace was a descendant of Agnes Prest. A notice of Joan’s own death in 2020 stated that she was a “descendant of Agnes Prest, the Cornish Martyr” (

[8] Week St Mary parish registers. The entry does not name Abraham’s parents, but another Abraham Prust had been buried at Week St Mary on 30 Nov 1728.

[9] North Petherwin bishop’s transcripts.

[10] North Petherwin bishop’s transcripts.

[11] St Stephen by Launceston bishop’s transcripts.

[12] St Stephen by Launceston bishop’s transcripts.

[13] North Petherwin bishop’s transcripts.

[14] North Petherwin bishop’s transcripts.

[15] North Petherwin bishop’s transcripts.

[16] North Petherwin parish registers (Kresen Kernow, P167/1/1).

[17] Boyton parish registers.

[18] North Petherwin parish registers (Kresen Kernow, P167/1/2).

[19] Royal Hospital Chelsea discharge papers (National Archives, WO 97/1124/80).

[20] North Petherwin bishop’s transcripts.

[21] Death certificate; Royal Hospital Chelsea pension records (National Archives, WO 22/84).

[22] North Petherwin bishop’s transcripts.

[23] Death certificate.