The Powell’s


When i was first interested in genealogy three years ago, i started looking for information on the Robineau’s. In the first night of my research i found very little on the Robineau’s. Partly because it is not a common name but also because not many had done research on the Robineau line. At the very least, i did not happen to find these researchers in my first days in Genealogy, before the addiction truly kicked in. When i got into my second hour of research that first night i decided to take a break and look into Karen’s line: the Powell’s.

Well, quite a bit has been done on the Powell line. I found that out almost immediately. I found a cousin of Karen’s, whom she has never met and he had a tree on the web. By the way that does not mean the work is done. Once the family tree has names, the more interesting thing to do is find out about their lives and the historical times they lived in. So i knew the Powell’s i am interested in are around Wingham, Ontario. But where do they come from? I found that the Powel’s come from Porlock in England.

PORLOCK, a parish, post town, and small seaport, in the hundred of Carhampton, county Somerset, 6 miles W. of Minehead, and 8 W. of Dunster. This place, which derives its name from the Saxon portlocan, “an enclosed harbour,” is a decayed market town, situated among the cliffs of Porlock Bay, in the Bristol Channel. The parish contains the hamlets of Porlock Weir, West Porlock, Yearnor, and Bossington. It was once the seat of the West Saxon kings, and was invaded by Danish pirates in 918. In 1052 it was burnt by Harold, the son of Earl Godwin, who sailed here from Ireland with nine ships, and vestiges of whose camp are still remaining. The town comprises two streets, composed of straggling and small houses. A portion of the inhabitants are engaged in the fisheries, and others in the coasting trade. The soil is of a sandy nature upon a subsoil of hard stone. The surface is diversified by lofty hills, winding valleys, and deep glens. Coal and lime are largely imported from Wales. Source:

The Porlock website says that:
The poets Wordsworth and Coleridge found Porlock very much to their liking and indeed Coleridge was interrupted by “a man from Porlock” whilst writing “Kubla Khan”; the consequence of which was that he lost his inspiration and never completed it.

The other interesting thing about Porlock is the “Ship Inn”. Read on to find out why.

The Ship Inn was built in 1290, making it one of the oldest inns in the country. It is believed that even before that date some sort of hostelry existed on the site.

In those days the sea came up to where the village school now stands. The Ship Inn was situated very close to the shoreline – an ideal spot for smuggling! It is rumoured that at least one secret tunnel exists, linking the Inn to a nearby cottage: useful for getting rid of contraband when the excise men came knocking! In 1682 The Ship was a venue for a clandestine meeting between smugglers and a corrupt revenue officer. The story leaked out and the revenue officer stood trial.

Throughout its long history the Inn has been at the forefront of village life. Sometimes the close links with the community were not always very happy. In 1754 shooting at the Inn’s sign seems to have been a local sport. The then owner was given 10/6d in compensation. Usually however, the Inn and the village lived in harmony. Source:

The Punch line:
Records of licensees and managers can only be traced back, so far, to the mid – 18th century. In 1744 Catherine Powell, believed to be the widow of Thomas Powell who had previously run The Ship, was named as the alehouse licensee. The Ship remained with the Powell family for some time. In 1746 John Powell took on the licence. His widow, Joan, took over in 1756.
Yes, you guessed it , Thomas Powell is Karen’s great, great, great great great grandfather. ( i presume there are enough “greats”.
So, when we go to Porlock we will check in on the Inn and make sure they have kept up the Powell standards.

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4 Responses to The Powell’s

  1. Karen Robineau says:

    This was, indeed, interesting information. However, I do think that it is more history for the Robineau family in Canada tht the Robineau family in the U.S. My name is Karen Robineau and I am the only person in the United States with that name. I king of like that. I have some very interesting information on the Robineau family and you may want to look up Adalaide Robineau. She was quite the ceramist and sculptor in her early years back around the 1930s. There is even a museum in Syracuse, New York dedicated to her work.

    Plase do feel free to contact me if you want more history on the U.S. Robineaus

  2. Claire Kilpatrick says:

    My great great great great grandparents were John and Sarah Powell, who lived and died in Porlock in the 1850s – and my great grandmother was Annie Powell, who died in the 1950s I believe. It is nice to hear of some other family members! We live in the south of England, and went to Porlock this weekend (15 Nov 2014) to visit their graves.

  3. Dan says:

    I found that very informative and interesting re: the Powell and Robineau last names and their history together. I am planning a trip to Porlock in the near future to walk the same land and to learn as much re: my family heritage (Powell) that i can in person rather than just ‘surfing the net’

    With Thanks, Dan Powell – Canada

    • Roger says:

      The Powell connection is actually my wife. We hope to get to Porlock soon as well. She is from the Powell’s who came from Porlock around 1858 and settled in Wingham Ontario. The Powell’s apparently managed the Shipp Inn in Porlock back in the mid-1700’s.
      Hope to hear from you soon.

      My genealogy e-mail is

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