Canon Courtenay’s Coachman
Michael de G. Gribble
This is the story of how my great-grandfather and his sons started our family’s move from Devon to other parts of England and now as far as Australia. Although my great-grandfather had six sons, only two branches have persisted to the present day, and the family, which was never very close, has become ever more widely separated geographically. However, the most significant part of our family’s history lies in the 100 or so years from my great-grandfather’s birth in 1829 to the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.
Chance events may turn out to be major influences affecting not only the individual, but also generations of descendants. If my great-grandfather, Joseph, had not taken the opportunity to become a stableman, instead of remaining just another agricultural labourer, the future for all his descendants would have been completely different. He would not have become a coachman. He would not have worked for a generous and influential member of the clergy who, although married, had no children of his own but used his influence to get his coachman’s six bright sons positions scattered all over England, where all put the opportunities they were offered to good use.