Avast, We Found A Treasure!
Updated: Apr 15, 2019
It is no secret that a pirate likes a good old treasure hunt and that is what we have been on for many years know or at least it feels like it, from discovering my families ghastly history of pirates and smugglers to the old bays, smuggler haunts, tunnels and caves as we clamber across rocks, explore via sea or unearth parts of stories from old museums and archives but for us our treasure was a book, not just any book but a book that was around 200 years old that could give us the lost clues to Newquay's smuggling, pirate and wrecking past and hpfully explain some of my families folklore.
It all started when we I was a young boy, my grandmother would tell me many stories about our family history, I heard it all from Crooked Jackyo who my grandma and mum would sing a nursery rhyme about. Then we had Henry Every the Devon-shire pirate that is my 13th great grandfather who took Henry's daughters hand after he helped capture a prize bounty but I had also been told the story about the black sheep of our smuggling and pirate family, that of the Black Clemens, Branock Clemons the pirate, his son Humphrey and his son Duff and all about there wrecking days, pirate and smuggler life.
I had the myths, I knew the folklore of by heart but I needed proof, who was my ancestors? Was I really connected to these Cornish pirate's and smuggler. So we searched high and low, spoke to locals that knew of Black Humphreys Island on Whipsiderry Beach but sadly the newer generations of Newquay had long since forgotten about one of the most sinister of all the Cornish Pirates, his stories had vanished, not a website in the world returned any searches, no smugglers book on the planet and no collector seam to know anything of it. All we had was my families stories then just before my grandmother would pass, she gave me a name and a number!
Our search began, with Help from Len Shepard from Newquay Old Cornwall Society, we traced a name of a out of publication book called Black Humphrey, last printed in 1911 under the title of Black Humphrey: a story of the old Cornish coaching and kidnapping days.
But after years of searching, it turned out that X really did mark the spot when we called the number and tracked down a Bristol collector of smuggling and pirate history that had sadly passed away and his wife was selling off his collection, we stumbled upon this by accident or fate. the fact she was boxing up his items when I called, but what was even more spooky is that when she answered the phone, she had just packed the book. It tuns out that after my grandfather had passed and them farther my gran had sold off many of our families historical items, a old flintlock, books and items relating to pirates and smuggling.
We would find the book, which dated back to the early 1800's, the book was over 200 years old and we now had our holy grail, a part of my families forgotten history about Newquy's past and it seams like this could well be the only copy in living memory.
We are currently researching the book for clues to locations, names and facts on our very own treasure hunt, now we have this 200 year old map we hope to find the real treasure, the truth about my family and Newquay's forgotten smuggling, wrecking and pirate past!
We aim to use this old book to help shape our tours and local knowledge and understanding of the forgotten history and to bring back the old Cornish legends of Black Humphrey and his son John "Duff" Clemens, his grandfather Branock Clemens the pirate who is my 11th great grandfather. So far we have pin pointed old Inn's, a cottage that belonged to a witch and the sites of many tragic deaths from ship wrecks to murder.
We will update as we find more... However till then, you can visit the Newquay Smugglers Walk which will be changing each time we discover more of this puzzle as we try and put a disruption to the man, we already know he is a brute of a man, over 6 feet tall with thick black hair and beard and lived within old mine workings on an Island in Newquay.!
Join me and hear of my families history!