Albert Vincent Reade, 1864 - 1940
Trwyn Du Lighthouse , Penmon & Puffin Island , Anglesey

inscribed dated and signed on the reverse " Penmon Lighthouse / Anglesey / & Puffin Island / Aug 27 /1929 / A Vincent Reade "

pencil and watercolour
19 x 28 cm. (7.3/4 x 11 in. )


The fast flowing current through the Sound that separates Puffin Island from Trwyn Du has been the cause of many shipwrecks down the centuries. In 1837 a lighthouse was built to warn ships to keep to the channel on its seaward side. A few years earlier in 1832 a lifeboat station was established here and served seafarers until 1915. In all, the lifeboat had 46 service launches and 116 lives were saved. Today, this area is served by the Beaumaris Lifeboat Station.

Trwyn Du Lighthouse is a lighthouse between Black Point near Penmon and Ynys Seiriol, or Puffin Island, at the eastern extremity of Anglesey, marking the passage between the two islands. The first lighthouse was erected in 1838, at a price of £11,589. There had been a call for a light at this location for some years by master shipmen in the nearby city of Liverpool especially after the steamer the Rothsay Castle ran aground and broke up nearby in 1831 with 130 people losing their lives.

The present Lighthouse is 29m tall and was designed by James Walker and built in 1835-1838. It was his first sea-washed tower, and a prototype for his more ambitious tower on the Smalls. The Lighthouse has a stepped base designed to discourage the huge upsurge of waves that had afflicted earlier lighthouses on the site and reduce the force of the water at the bottom of the tower.

Austere vertical walls, instead of the usual graceful lines of other rock towers, are probably an economy measure. The tower has a crenellated stone parapet, in preference to iron railings on the gallery, and narrows in diameter above the half-way point. These are a features used by Walker in his other lighthouse designs. The tower is distinguished by its original three black bands painted on a white background. Its also bears the words "NO PASSAGE LANDWARD" on its north and south side.

Walker also pioneered, unsuccessfully, the use of a primitive water closet, comprising a specially designed drain exiting at the base of the tower. The stepped design of the lighthouse may have helped water exit the closet, but surges of seawater made its use difficult during heavy weather.One of the many Lighthouse keepers was Joseph Steer, born in 1831 at Bovey Tracey, Devon.(source UK census of 1881) More details of the lighthouse can be found at The lamp was converted to solar power in 1996 and the lighthouse was modernised extensively at that time. At present the Lighthouse has a 15,000 candela light that flashes once every 5 seconds and can be seen 12 nmi (22 km) away, as well as a 178 kilogram fog bell that sounds once every thirty seconds.[4] There was also a lifeboat station built in 1832, nearby, but this closed in 1915.The tower has been unmanned since 1922 and is checked from Holyhead Control Centre.

Highlights of Trwyn Du Lighthouse:
Established in 1838
Automated in 1922
It has a height of 29 m
A light character of a white flash every 5 seconds
The lamp has an intensity of 15,000 Candela
The light has a range of 12 miles (19 km)

Every thirty seconds the bell rings out just to remind us of the stolid duty it performs around these treacherous tidal waters. With the erratic sounds of gulls and the odd motor boat in the distance we have a unique Penmon Point Sea Symphony!

Lighthouse Keepers ;

1841 Thomas Wallace
George Christopher
1851 John Williams
John Strong
1861 John Strong
1871 Henry Bowen
James Parsons
1876 Richard Jones
1881 Joseph Steer
1891 William R. Burgess
James T. Woodruff
1901 Recorded as;

"Rendered to The Trinity House, London"

1841 ; Lighthouse keeper Thomas Wallace 41 lived at Black Point with Ann 41, Ann 10, Jane 8, Margaret 5 and house servant Margaret Roberts 25. There were painters in residence too, they were William Tabb 25, William Sweet 30, William Beer 20 and Richard Evans 40.

Lighthouse keeper George Christopher 30 lived at Black Point with Sarah 30, Georgina 7, Susanna 4, John 3, Sarah 15 months and Mary Lens 14.

1851 : Two families are recoded as living at "Menai Light Dwelling". John Williams aged 45 was head of one household, and his occupation is described as 'Light Keeper'. His wife Ann was 42 and daughter Ann 5 years old. They were all born in Beaumaris.

1861 : John Strong 55 was still Light Keeper at 'Menai Light' with his wife Elizabeth 57. Their birthplace is now recorded as Ramsgate. Son Stephen is no longer resident. Also occupying there was John Odgers(?) 39 of Bognor, wife Ann E. 34 of Stonehouse and young John 1 of St Ives

1871 : Two families were recorded as living at 'Menai Light House'.
Principal Lighthouse Keeper was Henry Bowen 49. He and his wife Sarah, also 49 were born in St Davids, Pembrokeshire. Their family consisted of Elizabeth, 23 from Hakin was a milliner, Esther 16 was a pupil teacher, Thomas was 13, Margaret 10 and Mary 8 and all were born in Holyhead. Son Robert J, 5 was born in Penmon. It is safe to assume that they moved to the lighthouse sometime between 1863 and 1866.
John Williams of Pembrokeshire gives details of the Bowen family, who also came from Pembrokeshire, and their connection with Tan Y Fron, Penmon.

Both Henry and Sarah Bowen were from St Davids. Henry had been a seaman, based in Milford Haven, when his first three children Elizabeth, Joseph and Susanah were born. He then joined Trinity House as a Lighthouse Keeper and was sent to South Stack, where Esther, David and Thomas and Margaret were born. They then moved to Black Point, where Mary and Peter were born.
Henry died in 1878 at the age of 57, and is buried in Penmon Churchyard.

1881: In the meantime, son Joseph had become a chemist and opened a shop, Medical Hall, in Criccieth, and Henry's widow and several of the children joined him there. Sarah died in 1906 aged 84, and was buried with Henry in Penmon.

Some of Henry and Sarah Bowen's children stayed in the Penmon area, or had closer connections.

Notably daughter Elizabeth, who married William Williams, a son of Rowland Williams from Tan y Fron. Rowland had meanwhile left Tan y Fron and had his own property, Minffordd, in Llangoed.
William Williams and Elizabeth lived in the China House shop in Llangoed in 1870's. It is now the Spar Convenience Shop! William died in 1883, leaving Elizabeth with five young children, two of whom died very young, and the business to run.

By 1891, Henry Roberts, Llangoed Postmaster, was also living at China House. He was a first cousin of the late William Williams, as he was the son of Owen and Elizabeth Roberts, who was a Williams from Tan y Fron and sister of Rowland. They were my great great aunt and great great uncle.
Owen was a mariner and became a Pilot at Black Point, at the same time that the Bowens were at the Lighthouse. By 1901, Elizabeth Williams had married Henry Roberts, who was 14 years her junior. Elizabeth died in 1925 aged 78, and Henry Roberts died in 1937 aged 74. He was a great friend of my Taid.
William and Elizabeth Williams' eldest daughter was Mary, who was known as Minnie, married an Owen Davies and had four children. Eirwen was married for a time to John Jones, who had a garage in Beaumaris, and had previously worked for Idris in Llangoed. She didn't have any children. She was a lovely lady, and always gave me sweets when I saw her in her Post Office/shop at Bodlondeb. She died in 1960

Idris was married to Ethel, and they had a son called Peter, and possibly other children. Peter was a few years older than me, and would be about 70 today. I think he went into the Merchant Navy. He may well have returned to the area on retirement, but I have not heard anything about him. Idris died in 1989.

I am not sure about Nan, but all the others above are buried at Penmon, and have memorials in the graveyard.Another of Henry and Sarah Bowen's children, Esther, also married a son of Rowland Williams, Tan y Fron/Minffordd, called Henry who was a schoolteacher, and they moved to Llanerchaeron and later to somewhere in Denbighshire. From the census records they had several children, but I have no idea where they all ended up.

Another of Henry and Sarah Bowen's children, David, seems to have had a shop in Llaneugrad in 1891 and was living in Llanddona in 1903, when his wife Anne died in 1903, and a child of theirs who died in 1905. David died aged 81 in 1938, and is buried with his wife and child in Penmon.The second family living at the lighthouse was;

James Parsons 35, an Assistant Lighthouse Keeper also lived here with his family. He was born in Buckinghamshire, and his wife Mary 35, born in Willsdon. Their family consisted of Mary A. 12, born in Kilburn, James W 10, born in Bayswater, Annie M. 5, in Penmon, George E. 3 in Kilburn and Helena S. 2 in Penmon. JOSEPH STEER was baptised on April 3 1831 in Bovey Tracey.

The 1851 census records the family of John Steer living at "A Cottage" Bovey Tracey. The family consisted of husband and wife, John and Grace with their two children, Joseph and Mary. Joseph Steer is now recorded as a shoemaker. Joseph Steer married a Susan Pascoe (know as Susanah Manley; taking her step father's name) in 1855.

Sometime after 1855, Joseph Steer became a lighthouse keeper. There are no surviving records at Trinity House, but it is still possible to map out the career of Joseph through the census and birth records.

The census for 1861 shows Joseph Steer with his family in Plymouth. Joseph had become a lighthouse keeper. His address was given as 10 Radnor Street, so presumably the lighthouse was on the breakwater at Plymouth, rather than the Eddystone light which might have been the responsibility of a more experienced keeper. The family at this time consisted of Hephzibar and Rhoda, both born at Bovey Tracey.


Photo and text © Copyright David Stowell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Lighthouse on Plymouth Breakwater
This lighthouse marks the Western entrance
to Plymouth Sound
Following the records for the birth of Joseph's children we know that, around 1862 Joseph Steer was transfered to Harwich, (birth of Tryphena in 1862 and Joseph in 1863). Then around 1863 to the Leading Lights at Dovercourt, (birth of Joseph Theophilus in 1863 and Josiah John in 1865).

Photo and text © Copyright Bob Jones and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Low lighthouse, Dovercourt
The Dovercourt high and low lighthouses, now restored but disused, once provided leading lights for entry into the port of Harwich. As can be seen in this photo, large vessels using the port of Felixstowe still steer a course towards these lighthouses before turning to starboard, into the harbour.
In 1869 they moved to Les Hanois lighthouse on Guernsey. Ebenezer Steer was born in 1869, at Torteval, Guernsey, where the Trinity Cottages were provided for the family.

A family photograph was taken, between 1870 and 1880 in London, with Joseph Steer, wife Susan, a girl and a boy. Susan may be pregnant at the time.

Photo courtesy of Dave Turton.



By the time of the 1871 census Joseph Steer was the lighthouse keeper at Start Lighthouse in South Devon. The family consisted of Joseph and Susan along with children Joseph Theophilus, Josiah John (just called John), Tryphena and Ebenezer. In 1872 another daughter Amy Elizabeth S Steer was born at Start Point.

Photo © Copyright Brian
and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

At the time of the 1881 census Joseph Steer had moved with some of his family to North Wales. Joseph was now the lighthouse keeper at the Menai lighthouse, Penmon, Anglesey. Accompanying their mother and father were Amy, Ebenezer and Tryphena. Also on Anglesey was Joseph John Steer (also known as Josiah John), but he was staying a short distance away with a retired Salford book keeper, perhaps to further his education as he is listed as a scholar and Anglesey may have been short of English speakers.


Photo kindly supplied by Daniel Sturridge

Joseph and Susan Steer on the left
with another lighthouse keeper and his wife.

Other members of the Steer family had now grown up and had started new lives: In 1881, Hephzibath was working as a school governess, living at 6 Blair Street, Poplar London with her brother Joseph Theophilus, who was an Engineers pattern maker at a local works.

North Wales Express
19th September 1884
POSTAL NOTICE.-Some time since Mr Steer, of the Menai Lighthouse, applied for the extenion of a postal delivery to that establishment and the Life Boat Station, as also to that part of Penmon which was not favoured with their letters by a delivery.

That application has now been recognised by the postal authorities, and a daily delivery is to be extended to these parts.

Thanks is due to Mr R. Davids, M.P. for Anglesey, who seeing the necessity for a more direct communication to these noble institutions, kindly lent his aid in favour of the same, and the appointment of John Roberts, son of Mr Roberts, Penmon pilot, has been made to meet the postman from Beaumaris at Penmon school, and deliver the letters to the above named establishments and the houses on his way.

Rhoda Steer married Thomas Cutting in 1877. Thomas Cutting was born in 1855 in Great Yarmouth Norfolk. It is not clear how Rhoda met Thomas, but Thomas was already a lighthouse keeper before the marriage. Thomas served on the Longships Light before he married Rhoda in Penzance.

Photo © Copyright Row17
and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The Longships Lighthouse.
The first Longships Lighthouse was built in 1795 but the present structure dates to 1875.
It is situated one mile west of Land's End and its light can be seen for 18 sea miles.

Photo and text © Copyright Ron Strutt
and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Two children were born to Rhoda: Thomas Herbert Cutting born in 1879 at the Lizzard Cornwall, then Rhoda Effie Cutting born on Penmon, Anglesey in 1880, where Rhoda had returned to stay with her parents for the birth.

At the 1891 census, Joseph Steer had retired and was living at 13 Crescent Rd West Ham, possibly at a house provided by Trinity House. A family picture taken around this time shows several members of the family together in the garden of a small terraced house.


Photo courtesy of Dave Turton

An elderly Joseph and Susannah sit together, surrounded by Ebenezer on the left, Josiah John and Joseph Theophilus, and
one woman who might be Tryphena, Amy, Hephzibah or Rhoda.

In 1891, Rhoda Cutting was living at the South Foreland Lighthouse in Dover where her husband was the lighthouse keeper.

Photo and text © Copyright Matthew Slowe and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
South Foreland Lighthouse
Lighthouse now maintained by the National Trust
between Dover and St Margaret's Bay

In 1893 Susannah Steer died at the age of 66, living in West Ham. Soon afterwards, in 1895, Joseph Steer died also at West Ham, aged 63.Following the death of Joseph and Susannah Steer, the house remained occupied by members of the Steer family.

The 1901 census shows the occupants of 13 Crescent Rd as Joseph Theophilus and wife Martha Steer along with their children Joseph and Ursula, as well as a domestic servant.

I am very grateful to Dave Turton for this fascinating information on Joseph Steer and his family. KD

Daniel Surridge contacted me stating "I am currently researching the family of my great-great-grandfather Joseph Steer and since I first visited this site, I notice the addition of further information by Dave Turton.
"I may be able to supply some further information regarding my line of the family through Joseph Theophilus who incidentally is buried with his parents and his sister Hephzibah (Effie) in the City of London Cemetery.
"My own father is buried in the same grave. Are you able to put me in touch with Dave Turton? I hope eventually to be able to supply further information when I have confirmed some of my own findings".

I have forwarded your e-mail to Dave. KD.


Mike Steer, of Australia writes;
I'm delighted to have the family's history kept alive. Records indicate that the STEER family lived in Bovey, Devon for well over 500 years. The surname itself is believed to be Anglo-Saxon in origin and derives from Sture or Stiur, meaning a young ox (Baring-Gould, 1910). Over the centuries few Steer's seem willingly to have left the town. Among the several who did was Joseph Steer, lighthouse keeper at Menai in 1881.

Joseph Steer was born March 5, 1831 at Bovey Tracey, married Susannah Manley (her second marriage) in 1855 and they had nine children; Hephzibah (b. 1856), Rhoda (b.1857 ), Triphenie (b.1861 ) Joseph (1863. ) Theophilus (b. 1864) John (b. 1865), Ebeneezer Clement (b. 1869) and Annie Laurie Steer (b. 1872 ).
Joseph's occupation:
1861 Gardien des Phares Hanois for Trinity House, at Hanois Rocks, Guernsey
1871 Lighthouse Keeper at the Start Lighthouse, Stokenham, Devon
1881 Lighthouse Keeper, Trwyn Du. Menai Lighthouse, Penmon, Anglesey, Wales

Their daughter Rhoda married another Trinity House Lighthouse Keeper named Thomas Cutting from Great Yarmouth, while daughter Triphenie became a sewing teacher in Harwich. In 1901, Ebenezer Clement was living in Leyton, Essex.

Abbey Road The old Baptist Chapel in Bovey
where Joseph Steer was baptised. The white
house was Mike Steer's grandfather Edwin Steer's

John & Julia Steer, headstone in the Chapel burial ground

The Steer family owned Indeo Pottery (sample above) at Bovey Tracey from about 1780 until 1836.

Grace Steer, memorial in the Baptist Chapel
With regard to Grace Steer, Grace is a name that appears over and over again in the family tree. This particular Grace was born in 1764, daughter of Thomas Steere and Mary Bennet, both of Bovey Tracey. She lived at Indeo on the outskirts of Bovey. I've placed a copy of her will (proved December 16 1845) on the Bovey Tracey GENUKI site. Joseph Steer (Lighthouse keeper)'s grandfather Nicholas Steer was my great, great, grandfather. Grace comes down a related branch of the same tree, but all the branches connect at Robert Sture alias Clarke and his wife Thomasin. He was a "Collyor" (dealer in coal) who lived in Bovey in the 1540's. They had a large family. Robert is recorded as a tax payer in the Lay Subsidy Rolls, as well as a parent in the earliest Parish registers. On 12 August 1541, he purchased a tenement in Bovey from John and William Kerswell of Loddiswell (near Dartmouth).
You can read much more about this fascinating family, by visiting;


James Woodruff, 23 was also a lighthouse keeper at Menai Lighthouse where he lived with his wife Maria E. 23.

Tony Woodruff contacted the site;
The family moved to Llanstadwell near Pembroke Dock when James was appointed to the lighthouse at Lundy.
James Woodruff's wife Maria Eugenie nee Williams came from the Isles of Scilly. Her grandfather was reputedly a smuggler lost at sea whilst returning from a smuggling trip to France.
I am the grandson of James Woodruff who was at Trwyn Du Lighthouse from 1879 to 1897.
His son Harold (my father) was born there and also most of his brothers and sister. James was born in Poplar Middlesex. The 1871 census shows him living at 60 Wellington Street, Bedford, aged 15, and the son of Edward Pereira and Jane Twios Pereira.

James and Eugeine Woodruff with their family, taken at Haverfordwest, after they had left Penmon.
The children, named clockwise are;
Laura, Alfred, Charles, Thomas, baby James and Harold Douglas, sitting on his father's knee.
Maria Eugeine was the daughter of Sarah Williams, who was the daughter of Stephen Downing.

Stephen Downing
Stephen, born on the Isles of Scilly, was lost as sea in the gig 'Bull', in 1825. It was returning from a smuggling trip to France. The gig was last seen being driven before the wind with a jury rigged mast.

None of the bodies of the 6 or 7 man crew were recovered, and the only remains of the of the boat was a piece of timber which was recognised as being recently used on the gig.
Hope this is of interest to you, and if you have any information I would be pleased if you could let me have it.

I saw the photograph of the schoolchildren at Penmon on your site and think that 2 of my uncles must be amongst the pupils (Alfred and Charles Woodruff) but obviously I couldn't recognise them.

My thanks to Tony for sharing this information with us. Can anyone help Tony identify his Uncles in the Penmon photo? KD


Information on
the Williams / Downing / Woodruff

Received the following fascinating information from Marilyn Howells, nee Williams. KD

Delighted to discover Penmon Lighthouse Families - I'm a beginner to computing (about a month !)

Last week I "Googled" my great grandfather, Stephen Downing Williams (1831 - 1903), who was a gigbuilder and Foreman Shipwright at Mr. Thomas Edwards' yard, St. Mary's, Scilly.
Imagine my amazement when up popped your Website showing a family group photograph of a couple I have researched extensively - James Woodruff, Lighthouse Keeper at Penmon, and his wife, Maria Eugenie Woodruff (nee Williams), to whom I am related.
Stephen Downing Williams, (known simply as Downing Williams), had a younger brother, Nicholas Williams, born in St. Mary's on 23rd May 1833.
He was Maria Eugenie's father. Your correspondent is mistaken about Maria's mother, as Sarah Williams (nee Downing) was Nicholas' mother and therefore Maria's paternal grandmother.

Nicholas Williams
father of Maria Eugene Woodruff

Nicholas married twice.

His first wife and the mother of both Maria Eugenie Williams ( b. 19th February 1858, Helston) and Maria's older brother, Thomas White Williams ( b. 1856, also in Helston), was Mary Ann Gibson (b. 1831/2 in Ireland) - her father, a Scillonian serving on Aranmore with the Coastguard Service, was of the Gibson photographic family of St. Mary's.

Nicholas was a shoemaker and after their marriage on 15th August 1855 he and Mary Ann moved to Helston where he set up shop in Church Street.

Sadly, Mary Ann became ill and the couple returned to Scilly - (I have photos of their house) - and when Maria Eugenie was 4 ½ her mother died, on 16th September 1862 aged 33, having suffered with an aortic aneurism for some 6 years.

About a year later Nicholas married again to Mary Ann Sanderson, daughter of a Mariner.
My father told me that she was a lovely lady, as was Maria's mother, and that she was very kind to her two stepchildren.

Maria Eugenie grew up in Scilly, met James Woodruff who was serving on the Bishop Rock Lighthouse and married him in St. Mary's on 17th October 1879.
James Thomas Woodruff, born in Bromley on 14th October 1857, was the son of a Mariner, James Woodruff, and his wife Jane Twish Woodruff (nee Turner), who lived at 11 Wellington Place, Bromley at the time.

My interest is that, apart from having traced Maria Eugenie's ancestors back for four more generations, I recognise her son, Charles Turner Woodruff, known to me as my Uncle Charlie!

Charles Turner Woodruff
son of James and Maria EugineWoodruff

I am descended from S. Downing Williams, while Maria and her childrens' line is through Downing's brother, Nicholas Williams - but Charlie then met and married my father's older sister, Nora Marjorie Williams, so they were third cousins.

Charlie was a Shipwright in Portsmouth Dockyard and they only had one child, a son called Dennis Woodruff - a first cousin to me but also to your correspondent Tony Woodruff and to the parents of Marjorie Gray and Gwyneth Phaure.
Our family is very proud of him. He was a Flight Lieutenant in R.A.F. Bomber Command, 15 Squadron, flying Lancasters in the night raids over Berlin in 1944.

He was awarded the D.F.C. and bar but he was posted Missing on 28th/29th January before he could receive it.

His mother, my Aunt Nora, and his widow, Phyllis, went to Buckingham Palace to receive his posthumous award from King George VIth but Uncle Charlie was so stricken by the loss of his only child that he was too emotional to accompany them.

Aunt Maria Woodruff, with her daughter Laura, used to visit her son Charlie and his wife at their home, Beaumaris, in Mayfield Road, North End, Portsmouth.
My late father's Photographic Record states that the portraits he took of Aunt Maria and Laura were taken there on Saturday December 31st 1932, when Maria would have been 74.
I imagine they had been staying for the Christmas holiday.

Dennis Woodruff
son of Charles and Norma Woodruff

Dennis and Phyllis Woodruff had one child, Brian, who was only two when his father was killed.
As he grew up he spent a lot of time with his grandparents, Nora and Charlie.
When I was working on the Family Tree, Brian came to stay, bringing his father's D.F.C. and some paperwork including a postcard sent to him by his Grandma of the Penmon Lighthouse and the Lighthouse Keepers' cottages which she and Charlie visited in 1965.
She has marked one of the houses with a X and says, ". . .cross marks the house where your Grandad was born & spent his early years.
Five miles to school & no conveyance." I had it photographed and enlarged and also photocopied the text. I attach copies for you.


I do hope this will be of interest to you.
With my thanks,
Marilyn Howells (nee Williams)


Ann Langton has kindly added the following information about her family;

My great great grandfather was Stephen Downing Williams, son of Thomas Williams and Sarah Downing, and brother of Nicholas Williams who was the father of Maria Eugenie Williams.

Nicholas Williams married Mary Ann Gibson Sept 1855 Scilly. Mary Ann died Sept 1862 Scilly.
Nicholas then married Mary Ann Sanderson Sept 1863 Scilly

There were two children from the first marriage, Thomas and Maria Eugenie,both born in Helston. There were several children from the second marriage, one named Laura.

James T Woodruff was posted to the Bishop Rock Lighthouse off the Scillies,met and married Maria Eugenie Williams, was posted to Trwyn Du, 1979 -1897, then to Lundy. The Lundy keepers were housed in Pembrokeshire and the Woodruffs lived at Windsor House, High Street, Neyland.

I was in Neyland in August and looked for Windsor House but the name must have been removed.

James T Woodruff died age 66, Sept 1924 Medway.
Maria E Woodruff died age 91, Sept 1949 Chatham.

Charles T Woodruff married Nora M Williams in December 1915 Portsmouth.
Nora is the sister of my grandfather, Stephen Downing Williams who is thegrandson of Stephen Downing Williams, the brother of Nicholas.
Stephen Downing Williams married Christian Annie Charlotte Flack but she diedsoon after my father was born in 1911. It was Nora who went to herbrother's rescue and looked after the baby and his older sister. Nora was seventeen. I think she died childless.

Mary Ann Gibson was the sister of John Gibson who became a photographer inScilly. There are internet sites about him.

There is a site about lighthouse keepers up until 1911.
For James Thomas Woodruff it gives:
Assistant Keeper Bishop Rock 1877 - 9,
Trwyn Du 1879 - 97,
Lundy 1897 - 1901.
Principal Keeper Caldey 1901,
Lundy 1910.
The 1911 census gives the family living in Pembrokeshire with just three children, Laura, Harold and James.
Laura E Woodruff died 1965 in Kent.

Ann Langton,


The 1891 census for the lighthouse is not actually recorded as part of Penmon.
It appears on a sheet entitled;
William R. Burgess, 52, Principle Light Keeper, born Gt Yarmouth, Jane Burgess, 42 wife, born Aldeby,William H Burgess, 16, blacksmith, born St Bees, George E. 14, born Hartland, Alice J. 3, born Plymouth, Alfred A. 1 born Holyhead.

James T. Woodruff, 33, Assistant Light Keeper, born Poplar, London, Maria E. Woodruff, 33, wife, born Helston, Alfred H Woodruff, 9, born Bedford, Charles T. 7, Laura E. 6, Thomas H. 2, all born Penmon.

James's details appear under 1881. In 1901, he was Assistant keeper at Lundy South light house. His family were not recorded as living in the lighthouse.

Maria and children were in fact, living at Windsor House, High Street, Pembroke. She was 43, son Alfred 19 an apprentice boilermaker, Charles 17, an apprentice shipwright, Laura 16, Thomas 12. The couple had another two sons since the last census, Harold 5, born Penmon and James, 1 born New Milford, South Wales.

North Lighthouse

© Photo Copyright of Stephen Williamsand licensed for reuse under thisCreative Commons Licence.


Tony Woodruff writes;
I thought this might be of interest to you. It's nothing to do with Penmon but it has a family connection.
It's an envelope of a letter sent to my father and shows how mail was delivered to Lundy island in 1939.
Top right is the normal postage stamp 1.5d (not p).
Top left is the airmail stamp for Lundy Atlantic Coast Air Lines.
Below left the surcharge put on mail to Lundy of half puffin (half pence)

It is interesting that the letter was posted in Norwich at 3pm on the 26 June 1939 and was delivered in Lundy by postmark above the puffin stamp on 27 June. Not bad going and they had never heard of first class post those days.

The 1911 Census Summary sheet shows J. Woodruff as the occupier of the Lundy North Lighthouse.

I received the following e-mail on the 24th August 2009.KD
The Lighthouse and Pilot families was such a revelation to me! I was very interested in Tony Woodruff's information about James Thomas Woodruff and his family and would dearly love to know if anyone knows what became of James' only daughter, Laura Eugenie Woodruff.
I recently visited Lowestoft Lighthouse because my father's mother (named Laura Eugenie Woodruff) gave that address as her place of residence on his birth certificate. He was born in St Bartholomews Hospital in December 1916. St Bart's are able to confirm Laura Eugenie, aged 31, was a patient at that time. The Lowestoft records library could find nothing to connect her with the Lighthouse, but were able to find her name on the 1911 census. I contacted Trinity House who directed me to your site.
I hardly dared hope she would be the same Laura Eugenie, (my grandmother?) but it certainly looks very likely. Trinity House have just sent me a copy of her brother Harold's marriage certificate. He married Charlotte Bowler (Bowles?) at St Margarets Church Lowestoft on 10th December 1922. Possibly their father James Woodruff may have been stationed there.
Yours sincerely Marjorie Eugenie Gray (nee Woodruff)
If anyone can help, Marjorie can be contacted via [email protected]

Tony Woodruff (who supplied family photos of James and Eugeine Woodruff) and Marjorie Gray have discovered their family link to the couple, and have been put in touch with each other for the very first time.
Tony asked to be put in touch with Marjorie, to which she responded;
Hi Ken
Have just read your email. Can't believe what I'm seeing. How amazing! Thank you so much. I will contact Tony immediately. How strange that he has just recently returned from Anglesey, and we are heading off there on Saturday.
Thanks again, you're doing a wonderful job.
Best wishes

Marjorie adds in 2011;James's only daughter (Laura Eugenie) was my grandmother and I understand she was always in the company of her mother Maria Eugenie in later years and that they ended up living in Gillingham, Kent.
I'm afraid I only have sketchy info about these two women following 1911 when as far as I can tell the family were living in Llandstadwell.
However I do know Laura gave her place of residence as The Lighthouse, Lowestoft when she gave birth to my father in 1916.

I received the following e-mail in December 2009.KD

Whilst researching my family history on my mothers side,I came across your website and very interesting it was. I was astonished to find that my Uncle Tony (my mothers brother) is also researching the family history. We also have the family potrait picture that is included on your website of James Thomas Woodruff and his family.

My problem is that since my mother died in 2002 we lost touch with Tony and his family, but I would love to get in contact with him again and fill in some of the gaps in the family tree, especially who was JamesThomas' father.

I know Tony thought that in the 1871 census he was fifteen and living with Edward Perira and Jane Twiss, but I have found out this was her second marriage. Also quite a few a his uncles were also lighthouse keepers so it was a family tradition and my grandfather Harold (Tonys father) was also a lighthouse keeper. If possible,could you forward on my details to him.Many thanks
Gwyneth Phaure (nee Hogan).

I was happy to oblige, and received the following responses from Tony Woodruff and Gwyneth. KD

Hi Ken
Good to hear from you again as usual with some good /exciting news
Thanks again for your efforts on my behalf,

Hi Ken
Just a short note, many thanks for passing on my email. Tony and I have already exchanged emails and were both amazed at your speed of replying. We are now collaborating with the family history and will most certainly forward any more news. Incidently not only is Tony my uncle he is also my Godfather. Many thanks again and best wishes for Christmas and the new year.
Regards Gwyneth

Photo courtesy of Alan Barber

Ladies enjoying some time near the lighthouse.
Do you know who they are?
If so, please let me know

Above, Lighthouse Cottages. Photo courtesy of Eric Jones.


The Menai Lighthouse is recorded as 'Rendered to the Trinity House, London'.

by Christopher Nicholson

I have great pleasure in introducing a new book,
which has strong connections with some of
the families featured on this webpage. KD

Cover reproduced here courtesy and copyright of Whittles Publishing

Lighthousekeepers who worked the Penmon light have also been keepers elsewhere. Some of these lighthouses are featured in Christopher Nicholson's excellent book, in which he shares his passion for vintage snapshots of Britain's remotest lighthouses.

Click here to read more information about POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE
ISBN 978-1904445-59-3
260 x 195mm c.144pp
liberally illustrated colour throughout
January 2010

is featured in the February 2010 issue of
(click here to visit their website)



I am greatly indebted to author Christopher Nicholson for personally supplying copies of the above two postcards from his personal collection.
They feature the landing beach, Lundy and South Lighthouse, top and Plymouth, Eddystone Lighthouse, bottom.


What We Do
The Corporation of Trinity House
The safety of shipping, and the well being of seafarers, have been our prime concerns since Trinity House was granted a Charter by Henry VIII in 1514
Click here to visit Trinity House's website, which includes a virtual tour of a lighthouse.
I am really grateful to Trinity House for putting people in touch with this page on my website. Ken Davies


I have collated information from the censuses of 1841 to 1901 inclusive relating to families involved in the piloting of shipping around the Penmon area.

Many of these brave men were involved in lifeboat rescues and received honours fror their bravery. Please read about them in the PENMON LIFEBOAT RESCUES link on the left hand side of the webpage.


Pilot John Williams 55 lived at Black Point with Jane 45, Hugh 13, Owen 11 and Eleanor 9.

Owen Roberts 55, also a pilot lived at Black Point with Jane 45, William 10, Robert 9 and Owen 4.

Pilot William Jones 30 and Ann 30 lived at BlackPoint.


William Jones 40 was a Trinity Pilot born in Llandegfan. His wife Ellen 26, children William 7 and John 3 were born in Penmon. Ann Bulkeley 16 was born in Llangoed. They all lived at Black Point.

John Williams 27 was also a Trinity Pilot living at Black Point. He was Penmon born. His wife Ellen 26 was from Llangoed.

A third Trinity Pilot was Owen Roberts 65. He and his wife Jane 57 were from Llangoed. Granddaughter Jane 12 was from Penmon. All lived at Black Point.

Retired Trinity Pilot John Williams 68, wife Jane 57, Richard 24, a mason, Thomas 22 a labourer and Ellen 19 a dressmaker, all of Penmon also lived at Pwll Crwn.

Pilot Owen Roberts 35 lived at Black Point with his wife Elizabeth 31 and children John 9, Owen 7 and William 1. All were Penmon born.

Another Pilot, John Williams 37 of Penmon also lived at Black Point with his wife Ellen 37 of Llangoed.

Pilot William Jones 53 of Llandegfan and his family also lived at Black Point.
Wife Ellen was 35, William 19 was a sailor, John was 13, Richard 10, Ellen 7, Anne 5, Thomas 2 and Owen 10 months, all of Penmon.

Owen Roberts 77, described as a late Pilot lived at Beudy'r Rychain with his wife Jane 71, both of Llangoed. Son Robert 29 was a pilot and the couple had granddaughter Jane 22 as a housemaid. Both from Penmon.

In memory of
Pilot, Penmon
died March 23rd 1864 aged 73 years.
Also of the above
died Jan 6th 1866 aged 81 years.


Owen Roberts 45, Pilot lived at Black Point with his wife Elizabeth 41, son Owen 17, a Pilot boy . William 11, Henry 8, Mary 6, Robert 3 and 1 month old Elizabeth. All were born in Penmon.

Sacred to the memory of JOHN ROBERTS
the beloved son of
OWEN ROBERTS Pilot of Penmon
by ELIZABETH his wife
who died February 9th 1879 aged 27 years.
sister to the above who died August 24th 1859
aged two years and 5 months,
and WILLIAM ROBERTS who died August 12th 1877
aged 17 years and 8 months.
"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord".
This stone is erected by the friends of JOHN ROBERTS.
MARY B. MITCHELL of Lleiniog Castle

Pilot John Williams 48 of Penmon and his wife Ellen 48 of Llangoed, were also housed at Black Point.

A third Pilot's family at Black Point was that of William Jones 62 of Llandegfan and his wife Ellen 45 and children Anne 15, Thomas 12 and Owen, all Penmon born.

Beudy' Rychain housed another Pilot and his family. Robert Roberts 39 above, his wife Ann 26 children Grace 4, John 1 and general servant Jane Thomas 14 were all from Penmon.

Retired Pilot John Williams 88 lived at Pwll Crwn Bach with his wife Jane 77, both of Penmon. Son in law Robert Roberts 61 of Llangoed worked as an agricultural labourer Their daughter Jane Roberts 52 and her children Owen 11 and Margaret 9 were both from Penmon.

In memory of
by JANE his wife
died December 22nd 1833 aged 17 years.
she died January 9th 1839 aged 45.
Also the above JOHN WILLIAMS, Pilot
who died January 3rd 1872 aged 90 years.


Working as a Pilot was John Williams 58 of Penmon. Wife Ellen also 58 was from Llangoed.

Another Pilot living at
Black Point was
Robert Roberts 49
with his wife Anne
36 and children.
She was Llangoed
born but her husband
and children were from
Dressmaker Grace
was 14, John 10,
Owen 7, William 5,
Jane 4 and Margaret 2.

(In Memory)
of Grace
the beloved daughter of
Robert Roberts, Pilot, Penmon
by Ann his wife, who departed
this life Feb. 6th 1884 at Dulwich
aged 17 years.
While young in years she was cut down
No longer could she stay
For it was her Saviour's will
To call her hence away.
Pilot of the port of Liverpool SS no 4 boat
son of the above named ROBT. and ANN ROBERTS
who died Nov. 14th 1894 aged 28 years.
Also of JANE ROBERTS, their daughter
who died Sept 4th 1908, aged 32 years

Ellen Jones 55 was
formerly a Pilot's wife.
She lived with her
daughter Ann 25 at
Beudy'r Uchain.
Both were from Penmon.

In loving memory of OWEN JONES
Beudy'r Ychain, Penmon
who died August 1892 aged 31.
wife of WILLIAM JONES, Pilot, Penmon
who died Dec 19th 1899 aged 76 years.
"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord."


In loving memory of
Beudy'r Ychain Penmon,
who died August 21st 1892 aged 31.
Also of ELLEN JONES wife of
who died Dec 19th 1899 aged 76 years.
"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord".

Robert Roberts 59 a Trinity Pilot lived at Black Point with wife Ann 46, children John 21, a draper's assistant, Williams 16 a sailor, Jane 14 a dressmaker, Margaret 12, Mary 9, Henry 7 and Grace 4. All were Penmon born.


Parents of John Pritchard

John Williams writes; The above rather charming old photograph is in the album which belonged to my Nain and Taid. My uncle made some notes before he died and did his best to identify the people in the photos. This phot has the comment "Father and Mother of John Pritchard", but I have no idea which John Pritchard he was referring to. I know there are a several Pritchard families in an around Penmon, but I am wondering if the Pritchard that contacted you could be interested, and better still be able to identify them. My greatuncle, Robert Williams, married a Pritchard from Llanddona, but I haven't found a John Pritchard in that family. I just wonder if they could be related to the Black Point pilot John Pritchard.

Pilot William Pritchard 36 also lived at Black Point with his family. He and his wife Elizabeth 35 were from Llangoed. John 11 and Margaret A 8 were born when they lived at Holyhead, but Mary 5 and Henry 1 were both Penmon born.

Retired Pilot John Williams,68 a widower of Penmon lived at Pwll Crwn Bach. Nephew John Roberts 36, a gamekeeper of Llangoed and niece Jane Edwards 19, of Penmon who kept house, lived with him.


At Black Point lived
William Roberts 25,
pilot from Penmon
lived with his wife
Catherine 26 of Llanrug,
both bilingual,
and 2 month old
daughter Annie,
born in Penmon.

In affectionate remembrance of
Pilot Penmon
who died March 16th 1905
aged 30 years
Also IAN infant son of
Mor-Awel, Penmon
grandson of the above
Died June 2nd 1933
aged 1 year 4 months
Erected by his dear children.


William Pritchard
William Pritchard 46 (left) worked as a pilot at Black Point and came from Llangoed, as did his wife Elizabeth 43. The children were all Penmon born; Henry 11, William 4, and Elizabeth 3. All were bilingual.

Y CLORIANYDD - Ionawr 8, 1919
MARW HEN ARWR-Yn nhy ei chwaer yn High Street, Bangor, bu farw Mr. William Pritchard, Trwyn Du, fu yn pilot am flynyddoedd ac yn llywydd y bywydfad.
Penodwyd ef yn pilot yma yn 1884, wedi iddo fod saith mlynedd ar y llongau yn croesi o Gaergybi i Dublin.
Hyd ei ymneillduad chwe blynedd yn ol efe oedd coxswain cwch bywyd yr oror hon, a bu mewn llawer drycin flin yn estyn ymwared i rai ar ddarfod am danynt.
Yr oedd yn gyfaill diddan ei sgwrs, pur ei galon, a bu'n un o gryfion dirwest am flynyddedd yn enwedig ynglyn a'r Temlwyr Da.
Wedi marw ei briod ryw saith mlynedd yn ol dechreuodd ei iechyd adfeilio, an ychwanegwyd at ei loes pan gollodd ddau fab yn ddiweddar-un yn cael ei ladd yna y rhyfel.
Am y deuddeng mis diweddaf bu ar aelwyd ei chwaer ym Mangor, ac yno daeth i gysylltiad ag aml i hen gyfaill morawl.

John Pritchard writes; My family had connections with Trwyn Du from when William Pritchard arrived there as a pilot in 1880s. His daughter Margaret continued to live on the point in the cottage which is still the cafe and was then too, until her death in the 1950s. My father and his brothers, sons of William's oldest son John used to spend their summer holidays at the cottage during the 1920s staying in a shed that was in the garden. John was a lighthouse keeper but I don't think he served at Penmon; I know he was at Holyhead harbour light in 1904 and possibly South Stack at some time, then later at Withernsea, Yorks. Margaret used to say that she remembered the nothern pebbly beach when it was sandy!

My father considered buying the cottage as a holiday home after Margaret's death. Margaret's daughter Ceri continued to live there at the northern of the pilot houses until she was well into her seventies and widowed before moving reluctantly to Llangoed. The point still has a draw to the family and there was a large Pritchard gathering there in July. There are other descendants living in Llangoed and Marianglas. William's family grave is at St. Seiriol's Church and the 2 large headstones lists his wife and young children who died at Penmon. Included on the headstone is Lt. Henry Pritchard who was killed at the Somme in 1918. I think he would have been at Penmon village school at the time of the photograph shown on the website; he was born in 1891. I could not see enough detail on the website photograph to identify him. It's possible another one or two Pritchards could be on the photo too.


William Pritchard , 57, was still a Pilot, living with his wife Elizabeth, 55. They had been married for 31 years and had eight children, five of whom were still living. With them in the lighthouse were son William Pritchard, 15 and Elizabeth, 13, both at school.

Ellis Doyle, 27, born Llangoed, was living at the Pilot Station, but his employment was a limestone quarryman. He and Margaret, 28, born Holyhead, had been married for 5 years with two children, John Emrys, 5, and Ceridwen, 2.

John Williams writes about his family connection with the Pilots.

The John Williams who was a pilot in 1841, and later retired to Pwll Crwn Fach was my great great grandfather. The John Williams who was a pilot in 1851, and was still a pilot in 1881, before also retiring to Pwll Crwn Fach, was the son of the aforementioned John Williams, and my great great uncle. Incidentally I am pretty sure he is the John Williams in the photo on the RNLI Beaumaris website, with Robert and Owen Roberts and William Preston. He has a definite Williams family likeness, and I can imagine he would have been on the lifeboat crew like the other pilots. The Owen Roberts who was a pilot in 1841 and 1851 was surely the first coxswain of the Penmon lifeboat?

The other Owen Roberts, who was a pilot in 1861 and 1871, was I am sure also the son the aforementioned Owen Roberts. as he died in 1864 aged 74. This second Owen Roberts married my great great aunt Elizabeth from Tan y Fron, and they had a number of children, including Henry Roberts, China House, the Llangoed Postmaster, and another son, also called Owen, who became the Senior Warder at Caernarvon Jail.

Owen Roberts was almost certainly the Second Coxswain of the lifeboat, under his younger brother Robert Roberts, the famous Cowswain, and they are both in the photograph I mentioned earlier.

My great great grandfather was Owen Williams, youngest son of John Williams (pilot at Penmon) and Jane Rowlands.

I was saddened to see that John Williams has recently died who had done so much research on this family's side. I would welcome getting in touch with anybody who can help or who has any old photographs.

Owen Williams had a son William Williams, a mariner who died when The Empress of Ireland sank in the St Lawrence river near Quebec in 1914. He had moved to Liverpool and had a daughter Jane who married Thomas Rainford.

Penmon Point is accessible by heading east out of Beaumaris and through Llangoed. For a small fee you can go along a toll road and park very close to the lighthouse or park for free about a mile from the lighthouse. The area around Dinmor contains a cafe, shop and toilets and is good for fishing.Pufffin Island is the former home of promiscuous rats but now secure home to the comical puffins, after which it gains its familiar name.

In Welsh, we call it Ynys Seiriol (St Cyril’s Island), after the saint who established the priory, hospice and settlement during the sixth century, just inland of the peninsula point. The population of Puffins had been almost decimated by brown rats by the end of the 20th Century:

1804 Estimated in excess of 50,000 puffins
1907 Estimate of at least 2000 puffins.
1990s Probably less than 20 pairs.
A joint project between the RSPB and Countryside Council for Wales (RSPB) was developed to eradicate the rats who were estimated in 1971 to number 500,000. The rats lived in 250,000 burrows - having eaten the puffin eggs.

It is reported that the rats first came ashore on the island following a shipwreck in 1816.

The project lasted from February 1998 until late 2000 and the means of eradication was primarily warfarin.

The poison was brought to the island by boat and with the assistance of RAF Valley 22 SAR Helicopter Squadron.

Over half a ton of warfarin was used.

Since 2000 there has been a gradual increase in the numbers of Puffins and a re-establishment of the black guillemot.

Artist biography

Albert Vincent Reade was born in 1864, he was a portrait, landscape and still life painter. He studied at the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts and Colarossi's Paris, He exhibited  between 1901 and 1933 and lived in Manchester.