Catherine Enys: Documented

Catherine Giddy was born on April 5th 1813 in London. Her mother was Mary Ann Gilbert an agronomist and helper of the poor. Catherine’s father was Davies Giddy of St Erth in Cornwall. He was a Member of Parliament for Helston and later for Bodmin. She became Catherine Gilbert in 1818 after her father took his wife’s maiden name in order for her to inherit her Uncle Thomas’ extensive estate at Eastbourne. Thomas Gilbert had no heir which is why everything went to his niece, Mary Ann.

Catherine was brought up in Eastbourne, also at Holles Street and Gower Street in London and at Tredrea in St Erth her father’s family home. She was educated at home by two governesses, a Miss Carvell and a Mrs Bishop who received some money in Mary Ann Gilbert’s will, therefore they must have been held in high regard.

Tredrea house

Tredrea St Erth (CRO reference: EN/2028/4)

Davies Gilbert wrote frequently to Catherine, he called her Kitty.

Letter dated February 1818 (when Catherine was 4 years old):

̀My Dear Kitty,

Papa is so delighted with your fine long letter that he must write to thank you.

Papa hopes to see Kitty soon

Her affectionate father.’

Letter dated March 1818 to Kitty:

̀This will come to Kitty on her dear little Birthday- next month will bring her Great Birthday when Kitty will be five years old. Papa hopes to see dear Mam-ma and all his dears soon after next month.’

Letter to Kitty and her brother John Davies 1820:

̀You are the very best children I ever know and you will be the comfort and joy of both your parents as long as they live. I hope that Susan and Anny and Lizzy (siblings) will be good like you, and that we shall be altogether as happy as any family can be.’

Letter dated 1822 Catherine (then 9 years old):

̀Her father tells her that she must write her name as Catherine and not Catharine, but for him it must be Kitty.’

In 1825 Davies Gilbert established a private printing press at his home in Eastbourne. Catherine became his compositor when she was 12 years old.

From a letter dated 1827 Davies writes, ̀I don’t know of anything that gives me so much pleasure as I derive from your letters.’

In 1828 Davies sent a poem to Catherine after he had received some specimens of her printing.


In Ithaca a famous Queen,

As in old Homer may be seen,

When night approached,to make delay,

Undid the doings of the day,

Quite safe her husband found his wife;

But all the labours of her life

Had disappeared:-To shrew her pains

Theres not a vestige which remains:

Fiqures,and forms,and colours rare

Were gone,as if disper s’ d by air;

And yet she’s prais’d beyond compare

In vain Homer liv’d to tell,

The art of a more modern Belle-

Typena! whose  Circean skill

Embodies all things at her will,

Portraying to the mental eye

What ‘eer Invention can supply

And tho’ the labour of the day

Is in a moment thrown away,

A mingle heap;- yet Wondrous sight,

The forms remain to give delight,

Existing,tho’ broken all to pieces,

A mass,yet in order plac’d,

Thy praise,Enchantress! To rehearse

Defies the pair of Homer’s verse;

An Ædipus alone could name,

The myst’ry that adorns thy fame.


Extract from a letter to her brother John Davies Gilbert in 1827 when she was 14 years old. John Davies Gilbert was born in 1811 and died in 1854. He owned Trelissick house which was kept by the Gilbert family from 1844 to 1913.

̀Pray be so good as to tell us all about Mrs Davy, and I hope you enjoy the billiard table. We take your little dogs out every day for a walk in the town and they bark so well and are as handsome as yourself so I suppose you must think these great beauties. You don’t deserve a longer letter so goodbye.’

(Maybe Mrs Davy was the wife of Humphrey Davy a friend of her father Davies Gilbert.)

From another letter to her brother John Davies in October 1827:

̀Thank you for your letter, but I want another. We all drank tea at Lady Piggott’s last Tuesday and after we left her , Mama drank tea at Mrs Willards. I have a little puss she can see pretty well now and has a very fine tail she is a very great beauty like myself.’

Another letter to John Davies 1827:

̀I am going to drink tea at Mrs Willards tonight and we drank tea by the sea last night and a steam vessel came so near the shore that we heard the band of music playing on board and they fired a cannon and it was merry.’

Another letter to John Davies not dated but most likely written in 1827:

̀I am glad to hear yourself and Papa are arrived in Devonshire without going to the bottom of the sea.’

She also mentions going riding on the Downs in East-bourn on her new horse, her rabbits, and people visiting the house drinking tea and to send her love to her cousins in Penzance.

Extracts from letters written to John Davies from his Mother Mary Ann Gilbert in 1827:

̀Catherine has this morning finished her exercises and then had a lesson in riding at a school near the Regents Park where ladies only are received 12 to 4.

Cousin John, could he come round and visit and again surprise your sisters with his conjuring tricks. They much enjoy Mr Newburys company of Friday evening.Mr Newbury sings better and more melodic than anyone I have ever heard, and he sang several comic songs-the last supposed to be about an Italian servant describing his master’s manner of living.’

On Thursday 17th April 1834 Catherine married at Eastbourne John Samuel Enys Esq of Enys in Cornwall.

From a Letter to Catherine addressed Post Office Tunbridge Wells April 17th 1834 (Honeymoon perhaps?):

̀Dear Mrs Enys,

We must sincerely and heartily join in wishing yourself and Mr Enys,long life with every happiness.

Yours affectionately

Father    Davies Gilbert

Mother   Mary Ann Gilbert

Sister   Mary Susanna Gilbert

Sister   Anne Gilbert

Sister   Hester E Gilbert

Euphiatia Fanny Holworth

Cousin   Marabella North

Cousin   Anne Holmes

Cousin   Charlotte Holmes’

Sketch of Catherine Enys

Drawing of Catherine 1834 (from EN/1906)

In August 1834 Catherine’s sister Mary Susanna died aged 18 years of a spinal complaint. Catherine’s Aunt Mary Philippa Guillemard (nee’ Giddy) wrote her this letter:

̀You will learn that the dear object about whom we have all been so anxious is now mercifully removed from her helpless and pitiful state, the change will be deeply felt by all around her, and by you too my dearest love, you have all attended upon her with the greatest care and if human aid could have saved her the affection of her family would have been rewarded by her recovery. It is a long time I have looked to the restoration of her limbs, even if her health should return, what a melancholy state this would have been for a young creature to live, and to be in health and yet deprived of the enjoyment of which others are partaking. I rejoice that your Papa was not far from home at this sad moment, it was I understand tranquil, and without pain, the remembrance of it will be soothing to him. Your  letters my dear Kitty always afford me great satisfaction, they convince me that you have reason to be pleased with your lot in life and that you are so. You appeal to a person almost too partial to give an unbiased opinion when you state the probability of your not leaving home this Autumn, I had dwelt upon the hope of seeing you, but I enter fully with the prudence and propriety of the reasons you give for not moving, and the event that has now taken place will perhaps strengthen rather than alter your resolve. I would not on any account have you come by water? I am pleased to find that Davies is so much liked in your neighbourhood, but how could it be otherwise his manners are perfectly those of a gentleman, and the kindness of his heart has been well proved by his unremitting attention to poor Mary.’

Catherine’s first child Jane Mary Enys was born in April 1835 at Enys.

Letter sent to Catherine from her Mother and Father in April 1835:

̀Congratulations on your 22nd birthday, and sincere wishes that your little girl may give you as much pleasure as you have us and all you have been connected with.’

Catherine went on to have four more children, Francis Gilbert, John Davies, Mary Ann and Charles.

Catherine Enys

Catherine and John Samuel Enys (both from EN/1906)

Jane Mary Enys married Lieutenant (later Captain) Henry Rogers RN at St Gluvias Church in 1860.She lived at Hartley House in Manamead Plymouth. Jane died in 1874 aged 39 years; she left behind eight children, seven sons and one daughter. Jane was the only child of Catherine and John Samuel to marry so her eldest son Enys Henry Rogers inherited the Enys Estate after Jane’s last brother John Davies Enys died in 1912.Enys Henry had to change his surname to Enys in order to inherit.

Henry Rogers and wife, Jane Mary Rogers ńee Enys with two of their children (both from EN/1906)

Catherine was widowed in 1872 when John Samuel died. She remained at Enys with her daughter Mary Ann and eldest son Francis Gilbert. In 1893 at the age of 80 years Catherine passed away.

From an obituary:

̀Long will Mrs Enys be remembered for a benevolence that was lavish and was exercised without regard to sect or creed.’

Catherine was buried in St Gluvias cemetery next to her youngest son Charles who had died two years previously.


Charles and Catherine’s graves (EN/193/4/1)

Documents used   EN/1932   DG/85   DG/116

Images used  EN/2028/4 ,  EN/193/4/1 and selected photos from EN/1906, a personal family album.



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