A startling revelation in my family history – Carbis Bay, Cornwall


As with when I visited Kesh, in Northern Ireland, earlier on my road trip, my trip south to Cornwall was a special one.

As I’d explored my paternal family history in Kesh, now I was to explore my maternal family history in Carbis Bay, a gorgeous – but gloomy on the days we were there – seaside town in England’s south.

This expedition into my family history was a little tougher than on my father’s side – and I think during my research I found out why.

When I arrived in Carbis Bay, all I really knew was that my ancestors on my mother’s side had originated from there and had somehow, at sometime before my great-great-great-grandfather was born, they ended up on the south coast of NSW, Australia.

My grandfather’s father, Alexander Carbis, was the first settler (after the Indigenous Australians, of course) in Currawong, and I knew that both he and his father were born in Australia.

But I knew nothing else before that really, apart from the Carbis Bay link.

When I got to Carbis Bay and realised I really didn’t know much, so therefore couldn’t do much in town, Dan and I sat at dinner in a restaurant after arriving, both Googling away on our phones, hoping to find any historical records we could.


What we found was: In August 1815, on a convict ship named Ocean, father-son duo William Carbis Senior and William Carbis Junior were brought to Australia from Cornwall on life sentences.

They were both fisherman, and both charged with stealing sheep.

Records show they stayed in Australia until the end of their lives, with William Carbis Junior fathering at least one child in that time.

The dates (and the locations too) match for the birth of my great-great-great-grandfather to have come either as William Carbis Junior’s son, or even possibly grandson.

Interestingly enough, my great-grandfather Alexander was a fishermen, and practically raised my grandfather, Walter, on a fishing boat.

It’s a logical explanation, and as Dan said: “I always knew you had to be descended from convicts, you devil child.”

So there, that’s the (probable) second half of my exploration into my family history!



Five minutes down the road from Carbis Bay you’ll find the larger (But not by much) town of St Ives, which would probably see more tourists than Carbis Bay, but is (In my humble opinion) no more or less beautiful.


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