Hibbitt & Barnes Family History

James GEAKE (1881 - 1956)

James GEAKE was born at Wapsworthy Farm near Peter Tavy, close to Tavistock in Devon, on 25th January 1881. The details on his birth certificate read as follows...

Registration District: Tavistock
1881 Birth in the Sub-district of Tavistock in the County of Devon
No: 117
When and Where Born: 25th January 1881, Wapsworthy, Tavistock RSD
Name: James
Sex: Boy
Name and Surname of Father: George Geake
Name and Maiden Name of Mother: Maria Geake formerly Ball
Rank or Profession of Father: Farm Laborer
Signature, Description and Residence of Informant: x The mark of George Geake, Father, Wapsworthy, Tavistock
When Registered: 25th February 1881
Signature of Registrar: S P Haddy Registrar

Family legend has it that for many years, James celebrated his birthday a couple of days adrift of the actual date and it was only when he obtained a copy of his birth certificate at some stage that he realized he was born on the 25th.

A video of St Peter's Church at Peter Tavy can be viewed in the videos section of the Gallery.


James married Sarah May HELLYER in 1905. Here are the details which appear on their marriage certificate...

1905. Marriage solemnized at the Bible Christian Chapel, Bannawell Street, Tavistock, in the District of Tavistock in the Counties of Devon and Cornwall
No: 64
When Married: 18th March 1905
Groom: James Geake, Age: 25 years, Bachelor, Rank or Profession: Gardener
Bride: Sarah Mary Hellier [Should have been Sarah May HELLYER], Age: 21 years, Spinster, Rank or Profession: Parlour Maid
Groom's Residence: Church Parks, Tavistock
Bride's Residence: The Elms, Tavistock
Groom's Father's Name: George Geake (deceased), Rank or Profession of Father: Farm Laborer
Bride's Father's Name: John Hellier (deceased), Rank or Profession of Father: Seaman Royal Navy
Married in the Bible Christian Chapel according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Bible Christians by Certificate by me,
Jn Stephens, Minister
Thomas Henry Cranch, Registrar
Witnesses: George Webb & William Thomas Harris

It seems that both the bride and groom's ages were stated incorrectly on the certificate, having been increased by one year. This would, in fact, have meant that Sarah would have required parental consent. Only speculation can suggest whether this might have proved difficult to overcome in view of the fact that both her parents were deceased. The witness, George WEBB, might have been the uncle of Sarah, married to her father's sister, Eliza (nee HELLIER).


James and Sarah moved to Cornwood, Devon, during their early married life. Two of their children were baptized in the parish church there and the parish records state the family lived at Delamore Lodge. James was a gardener, possibly working on the Delamore Estate.


The family later moved to Gilfach Goch in Wales, where James worked in the coal mines, eventually moving back to Tavistock with Sarah and most of the family in 1932. Upon his return, James worked as a gardener once again.


There was a big family event in 1955 when James and Sarah celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary. The following write-up appeared in a local Tavistock newspaper...

Golden Wedding
at Tavistock

A large and widely known Tavistock family will be celebrating a very happy occasion today for exactly 50 years ogo Mr. and Mrs. James Geake, of 17, Crelake Park, were married by the Revd. Mr. Stephens in Bannawell Street Bible Christian Chapel. Mr. and Mrs. Geake's eleven children and thirteen grandchildren will certainly be very proud of them because a golden wedding anniversary is an event that does not happen so very often.

Not only are Mr. and Mrs. Geake well-known in Tavistock, but they are also remembered in Ivybridge where they spent eight years of their early married life. Mr. Geake was a gardener but later when they went up to Gilfach Goch Cardiff, South Wales, where he joined the hundreds of others who every day worked on the coal face.

When we asked Mrs. Geake if she had enjoyed living up there for twenty years, she replied: "I like Wales very much, although she had not learned to speak Welsh she had picked up a number of odd words from the local people, and so had the children, she added. They went to School in Wales although some of the younger ones later went to the Dolvin Road School when the family returned to Tavistock 23 years ago.


"All the children are married now" said Mrs. Geake proudly, "my youngest daughter was married just over three years ago and has a little boy of eighteen months. Two of them, one son and a daughter, are living in Wales. My son, who is near Newport, has now eleven acres of land of his own.”

Another of their sons was a railway policeman at Exeter, one was in the insurance business, and one of their daughters had been in Maryland, U.S.A. for nine years.

We asked Mrs. Geake whether they had many reunions of this large family, to which she replied that they always got together at Christmas for a party. It was a very jolly affair with plenty of dancing, games and a sing song. They had to use two rooms but that did not spoil the enjoyment, because the wireless was in one and there was a loud speaker in the other, so they were all doing the same things at the same time. On the walls of the sunny dining room were many pictures of the family at different periods. These included one of the twins of one daughter who is in America, who might be coming to England on a visit next year.

"My daughter dresses the twins exactly alike" said Mrs. Geake. They are real little Yanks," she added smilingly.


In answer to a question as to whether Tavistock had changed during the 20 years they had been in Wales we were told that it was much the same except that there were more buses now, and the Meadows had been greatly improved. "We still go up to Wales for holidays nearly every year."

Now the cold weather is over Mr. Geake is able to get out into his little back garden where he is “doing the shallots" and in a few weeks time it will be all dug up and ready for spring planting again.

"He is always on the go said the son in law, ''either pottering about in the garden or doing odd jobs."

Although the grand old couple do not know anything about the party and its delights, yet they are looking forward to the afternoon. The chief thing they want is to see all the family who are specially coming to Tavistock for the occasion.

But there will be some surprises for them, too, which will make the day one of the most memorable in their fifty happy years together.

What they are . . . well, our fingers are crossed - and our lips sealed.

Photographs of the Golden Wedding can be seen in the Gallery section of this web site.


James GEAKE died in Tavistock on 13th April 1956, at the age of 75. The following obituary and funeral write-up for James was published in a local Tavistock newspaper...


It is with regret that we record the passing on Friday of Mr. James Geake, of 17, Crelake Park, Tavistock at the age of 75. Born at Wapsworthy Farm, he was educated at Peter Tavy, and after he married he went to South Wales, where he worked as a miner.

When he returned to Tavistock he worked as a gardener, and was keenly interested in horticulture. Of a quiet and retiring disposition, he was liked by all who knew him.

The funeral took place at Tavistock Parish Church on Wednesday, and was conducted by the Rev. D. H. Leonard Williams. The organist was Mr. P. Richards.

Family mourners at the service were the widow; Messrs. L., W., I., B. and R. Geake, sons; Mesdames R. Couling, W. Gwyn, J. Moyse, daughters; Misses M. and J. Geake, granddaughters; Mr. C. Carpenter, Mr. and Mrs. F. Northcott, nephews and niece; Messrs. R. Couling, W. Gwyn, W. Newman, J. Moyse, sons-in-law; Mesdames I., W., and R. Geake, daughters-in-law; Mr. W. Hellyer and Mr. F. Northcott, brothers-in-law; Mesdames L. Thompson, R. Weston, sisters-in-law.

Mrs. W. Newman and Mrs. E. Savory (U.S.A.), daughters, were unable to attend.

Other sympathisers were: Mrs. J.Moyse, Mrs. C. Rogers, Mrs. M. Wright, Mrs. J. M. Cuttell, Mrs. A. Rogers, Mrs. A. N. Stenlake, Mr. and Mrs. T. Hoare, Mrs. C. R. Doidge (also rep. Mr. C. Doidge), Mr. E. R. Gitsham, Mrs. A. Branton (rep Mr. K. Branton) Mr. R. B. Hoare, Mr. B J. B. Lister, Mr. F. G. Reddicliffe, Mr. B. Jackson (rep. Mrs. Jackson), Mr. T. Sampson, Mr. G. C. Sowton, Mr. T. Page.

Beautiful floral tributes were received as follows: In loving memory, from your loving Wife; In loving memory, from his children; To Grandpa, from all his loving grandchildren; In fond remembrance of an old friend, from C. and E. Rogers, Diana and Raymond; With deepest sympathy, from Horace and Flo; With deepest sympathy, from Frank and Margaret; With deepest sympathy, from Miss Smith (Plymouth) and Mrs. Gitsham; With love, from Charlie and Ada; In loving memory, from Will and Lill, "R.I.P."; With deepest sympathy, from Mr. and Mrs. Waycott and family; Fond remembrances of Uncle Jim from Hilda, Nancy and Ruth; From Lizzie, Dick, Margaret and Bill (Exeter); Deepest sympathy, from 41 and 42 Crelake Park; With deepest sympathy, from Hilda, Alf, Gran and David; In affectionate remembrance and heartfelt sympathy, from Reg and Aileen; With deepest sympathy, from Mrs. Tyler and staff of the Empire Cinema, Porth; In loving remembrance, from the Neighbours at Nos. 19-22 Crelake Park, and Innisfree; With deepest sympathy, from Mr. and Mrs. B. Lister; In loving memory, from Frank and Bessie, "The glorious end of a well-spent life, end in a great reward."

Funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Morris Bros.


James was buried in Tavistock Cemetery. His wife, Sarah, is buried with him.


A photograph of James GEAKE can be seen in the Gallery.


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