Some interesting Retallicks of the past

If anyone has other tales of the famous, notable or infamous, please let me know so they can be included.


Capt Richard Retalick RN Richard Retallick of Liskeard Major John Retallack of BC At the Bugle Inn RETURN TO TITLE PAGE
Fire at Eagle River Ralph Retallack & An Gof Maryland State House William Retallack of Illogan

Last updated March 2002









Capt Richard Retalick RN Richard Retallick of Liskeard Major John Retallack of BC At the Bugle Inn RETURN TO TITLE PAGE
Fire at Eagle River Ralph Retallack & An Gof Maryland State House William Retallack of Illogan

Captain Richard Retalick RN

HMS Retalick was named after Richard Retalick. Richard was made Royal Navy Lieutenant on 6th September 1779, promoted to Commander 12th August 1794 and Captain on 24th December 1798. He served at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, commanding HMS Defiance. This was the tenth Royal Navy ship bearing this name.Horatio Lord Nelson

The tenth "Defiance" was a 74 gun ship, a 3rd rate of the Elizabeth Class, launched on the Thames in 1783. She was of 1645 tons, and carried a crew of 600 men. Her length, beam, and draught were 169 ft., 47 ft., and 18 ft respectively. Armaments were 28 x 32 pounders, 28 x 18 pounders, and 18 x 9 pounders.

In 1797 her crew were involved in the mutiny at Spithead. The men complained of low wages, insufficient leave, poor provisions, neglect of the sick, and that they were not paid while suffering in hospital. The Admiralty granted most of the requests, and the King pardoned the offenders.

In 1798, 25 men of the "Defiance" were tried by court martial for mutiny. Their design was to take possession of the ship, murder all the officers and all Protestants on board, and take her into Brest. Eleven were hanged, and the remainder were either flogged or imprisoned.

In 1801 the " Defiance," commanded by Captain Richard Retalick, and flying the flag of Rear Admiral Thomas Graves, was in a fleet of 21 ships, 7 bombs, 2 fireships, and 6 gun brigs, commanded by Vice Admiral Lord Nelson with his flag in "Elephant", which took part in the battle or bombardment of Copenhagen. The fleet forced a passage of the Öre Sound on March 30th, and after encountering various navigational difficulties anchored under fire opposite Copenhagen on April 3rd. The Danish defences, besides forts, consisted of 18 men of war, armed hulks, and floating batteries, moored in a 1½ mile line opposite the town. Two British men of war ran aground, and the six brigs were unable to get into action owing to the tide. The action began at 10 and was general at 11.30. A furious cannonade followed, during which time Nelson put his blind eye to his telescope when advised by the Commander in Chief four miles away to discontinue the action. By 3.30 p.m. letters were exchanged under flags of truce, and the fighting ceased, most of the Danish ships and forts being silenced. The Danes lost in killed, wounded, and prisoners about 6000 men. The British fleet lost 255 killed and 688 badly wounded, to which the "Defiance" contributed 24 killed and 51 wounded. Fourteen Danish ships were captured, burned, blown up, driven on shore, or otherwise taken from the enemy. A fourteen weeks' armistice was then agreed to, and the British forces withdrew. During the withdrawal the "Defiance" ran ashore, and remained hard and fast for nearly eight hours. The Danes mounted 696 guns on this occasion against the British 1014 guns and cannonades. Nelson was elevated to the dignity of Viscount for this victory, and Rear-Admiral Graves was made a K.B.

Defiance later fought at the Battle of Trafalgar under the command of Capt Philip Charles Durham.

--- Source : "The King's Ships" by Halton Stirling Lecky, 1913

Richard Retalick died in 1803 at Padstow. According to his will he had a wife Phoebe and a sister Betty Retalick to both of whom he left his possessions in equal shares.   Betty died a spinster at Padstow in 1834. It is probable that his wife was Phoebe Downwell who he married at Portsea, Hants in 1790. It appears he also had a "natural" daughter, Betsy Dolphina Fuller of Gosport, Hants, to whom he bequeathed an annuity of £20. Information on this will, dated 14th November 1803, can be found at the Devon Record Office.

Capt Richard Retalick RN Richard Retallick of Liskeard Major John Retallack of BC At the Bugle Inn RETURN TO TITLE PAGE
Fire at Eagle River Ralph Retallack & An Gof Maryland State House William Retallack of Illogan

Richard Retallick of Liskeard

On December 22nd 1854 the West Briton reported the death 'At Liskeard, on Sunday last, of Mr Richard Retallick, aged 80 years, for nearly 45 of which he was a zealous agent of this paper for that town and its district.' The same day the Royal Cornwall Gazetteer gave the same details adding that he was 'late clerk to the Liskeard & Looe Canal Company'.

In fact Richard Retallick was joint engineer of the Liskeard & Looe Union Canal with Robert Coad and, for a time, was a local hero for his efforts in support of the scheme. In 1825, when construction started, he was appointed Superintendent of the Works to oversee construction and, after it opened fully in 1828, he became Clerk to the company in 1829 at a salary (inclusive of his assistant) of £80 per annum. From 1832 until 1838, when he was relieved of it, he had the contract to repair the canal, and his clerk's salary dropped to £15. From 1839 it dropped to £5 but he retained the job until he resigned in 1854, some twelve months before he died.

There is a fascinating press report in the Royal Cornwall Gazette of March 12th 1825 which reports that :

'Mr Retallack of Liskeard, who has been to London and examined before the Committee on the intended Canal from Looe to that place, returned on Saturday, where he was met about three miles from Liskeard by above 600 persons, who took the horses from the chaise and pulled him in by hand - all the music that could be mustered walking before and playing "See the conquering hero comes".'

Long Case Clock DialThe 1851 Census shows Richard Retallick, a widower aged 76, living in Liskeard Borough with unmarried 42 year old daughter Ann. The record shows that his occupation was "retired watchmaker" which does not seem to be entirely consistent with his role in canal construction. However, Pigots Directory for 1830 shows that he had a Watch and Clock Making business in Market Street, Liskeard and also was an Ironmonger. He seems to have been an enterprising individual. The photograph shows an example of the work of Richard Retallick. It is a very attractive Long Case clock made by him around 1810. The clock was recently advertised by K and D Clocks of Bath for £975. The picture is reproduced by kind permission of Paul Kembury.

Richard Retallick was born at St Wenn in about 1788. He was married to Susannah (probably Sargent) and they had several children. From the baptismal records he was a Wesleyan Methodist. He died on December 18th 1864 aged 79, and is buried in Lezant churchyard with his wife Susannah. She died 4th March 1841 aged 72. Clearly they were of sufficient means to have a gravestone erected in their memory. It has an intriguing inscription which says:

"Corruption, earth and worry, Shall but refine this flesh,
Till my triumphant spirit comes, To put it on afresh."


Capt Richard Retalick RN Richard Retallick of Liskeard Major John Retallack of BC At the Bugle Inn RETURN TO TITLE PAGE
Fire at Eagle River Ralph Retallack & An Gof Maryland State House William Retallack of Illogan

Major John Ley Retallack, OBEMajor John Ley Retallack

Born at Marazion, Cornwall
2nd December 1865

Died at Grande Prairie, Alberta
4th October 1924

Served with the British Forces in Egypt, 1882, and was present at the taking of Alexandria, following which he came to Canada and joined the Royal Northwest Mounted Police. He served with the Corps in the Riel Rebellion 1885. In the Great War, 1914 - 1918, he served first with the 48th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, and later with 3rd Battalion, Canadian Pioneers. In December, 1916, he was transferred to Canadian Railway Troops, Headquarters Staff. For Gallant and Distinguished Service in the Field, he was twice Mentioned in Despatches and Decorated with the Order of the British Empire.

The above photograph of Major John Ley Retallack hangs in a museum aboard the SS "Moyie" in Kaslo, British Columbia. Kaslo stands on the Kootenay Lake, in the Rocky Mountains where the old paddle steamer "Moyie" used to ply its trade.

The Major's fame lives on because an old mining ghost town bearing his name lies about 25 miles to the west of Kaslo where at one time silver mining prospered.

Today, the remains of a one-time prosperous mining venture has given place to a ski centre known as Whitewater. It seems the Cornish dream of riches from the ground has once again faded in favour of the all-pervasive leisure industry of the modern world. I doubt if you would find a Pasty any where near Retallack today. But if you want to see it as it now is click <HERE>.

If you want to read more, get a copy of "Ghost Towns of British Columbia" by Bruce Ramsey


Capt Richard Retalick RN Richard Retallick of Liskeard Major John Retallack of BC At the Bugle Inn RETURN TO TITLE PAGE
Fire at Eagle River Ralph Retallack & An Gof Maryland State House William Retallack of Illogan

Savagery at the Bugle Inn

This was the heading in the West Briton of February 5th 1864. The following article went on to describe the unsavoury scene.

"We had some words, and the defendant struck me. I caught hold of him to hold him fast, so that he should not strike me, when he bit off my ear. I had my arms around him. The ear now produced in the piece of paper is the ear that was bit off by the defendant. This was the whole of the evidence adduced by the complainant, in consequence of the witnesses having all returned to their homes, thinking the matter settled . . . . . Inspector Sherstone produced the ear in a piece of paper, which Cock said was his ear. Prisoner then said Cock assaulted me first; he potched me with his stick, and struck me. I got up and he clenched me; I said, if you do not let me go we shall have a scuffle. He again clenched me, and for the third time. I took off a portion of my clothes, and he took off his jacket, and we both winded up to each other; he at last caught me round the neck, and tried to get my forefinger in his mouth . . . . "

West Briton, 5 February 1864

[The unlucky man was William Cock, shoemaker, of Luxulyan, his assailant a twenty year old man named Edgar Retallick]

Anyone want to claim acquaintance?

From "Life in Cornwall" edited by R.M. Barton, with acknowledgments

Capt Richard Retalick RN Richard Retallick of Liskeard Major John Retallack of BC At the Bugle Inn RETURN TO TITLE PAGE
Fire at Eagle River Ralph Retallack & An Gof Maryland State House William Retallack of Illogan

Joseph Retallack and the fire at Eagle River

The following was published in the "The Portage Lake Mining Gazette" Thursday, June 27,1867.



"Loss $68,000 - Insurance $28,200."

"The most destructive fire we have been called upon to record as having occurred in any of the Lake Superior towns, took place in the village of Eagle River, at midnight on Sunday, last night, the 23rd inst, by which ten business houses and dwellings were reduced to ashes and glowing embers in a short time. Almost the entire business portion of the town was destroyed. After once getting a little headway it was impossible to stay the progress of the flames by pouring buckets of water on it, the only means at hand. Like the majority of our wooden constructed towns, Eagle River has no fire engine, hook and ladder, or even bucket company organized for the protection of property from the consuming element, and after a few ineffectual efforts, the people were driven away by the insupportable heat and were compelled to behold building after building swept away without being able to save scarce a tithe of its contents even. The buildings on both sides of the narrow street were in a blaze in a short time after the discovery of the fire and the conflagration only stayed when there were no more buildings to ignite in the direction toward which the wind was blowing at the time. Had the wind been as strong from another quarter it is highly probable the whole town would have been destroyed. The injunction against insufficient means of fire prevention has been most severe to the residents of Eagle River, and we hope has not been lost to other towns similarly situated, and liable to a similar visitation, which may, through less fortuitous circumstances, result in a very much more severe loss.

"About midnight, Jos. Retallack, Sr., was awakened by his horse making a tremendous noise in the stable, and on going out to see what was the matter he found his barn was on fire in two places. Liberating the animal, he at once gave the alarm, but before the people could be awakened and congregated the building was enveloped in flames and in a few minutes more, his house and shop was on fire also. The citizens turned out in mass and made extraordinary exertions to quell the fire, which now raged fearfully, but without a particle of success. The dry material of the long close row of buildings caught like tinder and flew swiftly along to Loth's large hall, which caught, and in five minutes was a mass of bright flame. The heat became so intense that the people could scarce approach within one hundred feet of the fire, and soon the buildings on the opposite side of the street caught and in a short time both sides of the street were wrapped in flames. Efforts were still made to check their progress, but their futility was apparent to those making them. A single good fire engine could not have checked the fire then. From Loth's hall the flames reached across a small space and ignited Austrian and Co.'s Store, before they had time to save more than their books and papers. From thence the fire swept across an alley to the brewery buildings of Mrs. Clemens, which were the last on that side of the street. Fortunately, the wind drove the fire out of town by the most direct line from where it originated, or a large number of other buildings would have been added to the list of those destroyed. The following is a complete list of the losses, &c.:

"The fire was beyond question the work of an incendiary, and suspicion at once attached to a man named William Jenkins who had that day made threats against Mr. Retallack, before whom he had appeared a few days before when sitting as a magistrate. Jenkins was at once arrested and examined, and had at last accounts, failed to prove his whereabouts on the night of the fire. There is no direct evidence against him, yet the public conviction is that he is guilty." We are under obligation to several friends for forwarding particulars of the calamity which has befallen the village."

Joseph Retallack was the 2xGreat Uncle of John W. Retallack of Rochester NY. You can find him on I hesitate to mention that my paternal grandmother was a Jenkins!

Capt Richard Retalick RN Richard Retallick of Liskeard Major John Retallack of BC At the Bugle Inn RETURN TO TITLE PAGE
Fire at Eagle River Ralph Retallack & An Gof Maryland State House William Retallack of Illogan

It was high summer in 1497 and the Cornishmen gathered on Blackheath looked down on the city of London and the river Thames winding through it. For the majority it was probably the first time in their lives they had ventured out of their home county across the Tamar. A chronicler tells that they lay there 'all night in a great agony and variance'. In the night many stole away secretly not wanting to face the conflict of the coming day. This was first of two Cornish uprisings in that year.

King Henry VII, the first of the Tudor dynasty, had come to the throne in 1485 after Richard III was killed at the bloody battle of Bosworth Field. During Henry's reign peace was a fragile entity and the maintenance of a strong military force became increasingly necessary. By 1497 the king was at war with the Scots who supported Perkin Warbeck, a pretender to the English throne. There was raiding all along the borders between Scotland and England. Henry realised that a confrontation with them was unavoidable and persuaded Parliament to impose heavy taxes to support his military endeavours. The burden fell heavily on the common people and unscrupulous landowners were opportunistic in applying the new laws. The ordinary Cornish folk saw no reason for their involvement in the kings problems far away on the Scottish borders; so by June 16th, that year they were found on the outskirts of London ready to air their grievances.

The main leaders of the uprising were two men, Thomas Flamank, an eloquent lawyer from Bodmin, and Michael Joseph, a blacksmith from St Keverne, a natural leader of men. The Cornish word for "the blacksmith" is "An Gof" (literally 'the smith') and the event has often been referred to as the "An Gof Uprising". The common Cornish name of "Angove" or "Gove" has its origins here; the English equivalent is "Smith".

Resentment spread through the county and many families among the lesser gentry allied themselves with the cause. Among these was Ralph Retallack of St Columb in company with Richard Borlase of St Wenn, Thomas Polgrene of Polgrene and others. Armed with a conviction of the rightness of their cause, and, as Francis Bacon said, with 'bows and arrows and bills, and such other weapons of rude and country people', they marched out of the county into Devonshire gathering support from the people as they went. They proceeded through Somerset to Wells; from thence to Salisbury and Winchester, eventually reaching Blackheath on the borders of Kent, only a few miles from the centre of London.

Considering his support for the cause it would be surprising if Ralph Retallack did not accompany the marchers. There were others of more significant rank among them, the best known being James, Lord Audley, who joined the uprising at Wells. Lord Audley later lost his life in the enterprise.

Sadly for the Cornishmen, the following day, June 17th, spelled disaster. They had overlooked the existence of the king's army prepared for the Scottish campaign - perhaps 25,000 men. The Cornishmen fought bravely but could not match the better trained and better equipped army of their opponents. Bacon reports of the Cornish rebels that being 'ill-armed and ill-led, and without horse or artillery, they were with no great difficulty cut in pieces and put to flight'. Michael Joseph fled but was captured and executed. Flamank also suffered the same fate. Some 200 Cornishmen died on the field of battle out of 15,000 men who were on Blackheath the night before. Perhaps Ralph Retallack was among those who returned with bruised pride to his home county, a wiser man. So ended the first uprising of 1497.

The Cornish were not easily subdued and in September of the same year Perkin Warbeck attempted to revive their hopes when he landed at Whitesand Bay near Lands End. His aim was to overthrow the king, Henry VII, and take what he considered to be his rightful place as King of England. The Cornishmen had still enough fire in them to rise again against the Crown and a new march began. Warbeck had heard of the An Gof Rising while in Scotland. On reaching Cornwall he proclaimed himself Richard IV at Bodmin and gathered 3000 men to support him. Under Warbeck the uprising was even less successful than the Blackheath disaster. The king moved his army westward to meet the rebels. By the time the royal army reached Glastonbury, the nerve of the rebel leaders failed and Warbeck deserted them. So ended the 1497 debacle.

As far as one can tell, the Retallacks do not appear again in the history books until 1606. There was much resistance in parts of Cornwall to the establishment of the Church of England and many families were fined for their recusancy. These fines gradually impoverished the family estates. Remember this was the time of the Gunpowder Plot (November 5th 1605) and feelings ran high. Among those families drawn into the net were the Retallacks and Michells of St Columb Major with others in that area. How much they suffered can only be a matter of speculation. Such were the times in which they lived.

For more information read "Tudor Cornwall" by A.L. Rowse (1941) and Thomas Gainsford's "True and Wonderful History of Perkin Warbeck" (1618) from which books much of this information is drawn.


Capt Richard Retalick RN Richard Retallick of Liskeard Major John Retallack of BC At the Bugle Inn RETURN TO TITLE PAGE
Fire at Eagle River Ralph Retallack & An Gof Maryland State House William Retallack of Illogan

Simon Retallick in Maryland

Protecting the State House from Lightning

The Lightning Rod on the dome of the State House is the largest 'Franklin' lightning rod ever attached to a public or private building in Benjamin Franklin's lifetime. It was constructed in accord with Franklin's recommendations and has served the State House and the dome well for at least 208 years, with only one recorded instance of damage caused by lightning. Indeed the dome and the lightning rod passed their first real test when they weathered the severe hurricane of July 1788 without incident.

The lightning rod is of wrought iron painted to protect it from corrosion. It is 28' tall and 2.5" square at its maximum thickness. It was in place by the time Charles Willson Peale drew the State House (dated July 1788, but probably drawn in June). A Columbian Magazine article (probably by Peale) refers to the lightning rod as a 'spire' and indicates that it is 18' above the acorn and pedestal which it passes through and which are themselves 10 feet tall. (recent measurements by Orlando Ridout V and information taken from "A Description of the State-House in Annapolis, the Capital of Maryland" from the Columbian Magazine, February 1789.)

The State House Lightning Rod: A Timeline

1773 "... to guard the said Stadt House as far as may be against any Accident from Lightning. Be it further enacted that the said Undertaker shall fix place and secure in the best manner an Iron Rod pointed with Silver or Gold of six feet at least above the Height of the Cupola of the said building and conducted at least six feet in the Ground ..." (Chapter 32, Acts of 1773, Laws Liber R.G., 310, 311, MSA, cited by Radoff, 4-1768-86)

1775/09/07: "On Saturday night last we had a most violent storm from the north-east, which for several hours blew a mere hurricane, with heavy rain; the water rose three feet perpendicular above the common tide; a great quantity of the copper on the state-house was torn up, and the market-house blown down; the damage sustained in different parts of the province, we are told, is very considerable." (Maryland Gazette, September 7, 1775, cited by Radoff, 4-1768-87)

1775/09: "The September Storm of 1775 blew off the roof, the building unavoidably lay open near the whole Winter, in consequence of which, the work of the upper Rooms which was entirely finished, was Totally destroyed.-- At another time lightning very much damaged the Dom, repairing of which cost much expense & loss of Time." (Charles Wallace to Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, ca. November 1784, 1-105) When the lightning struck is not clear, but the next sentence describes events in 1777 which suggests that the lightning may have struck sometime between September of 1775 and 1777 when the British fleet appeared in the Bay.

1786/03/10: The General Assembly gave its implicit approval to commencing work on Joseph Clark's dome (4-1768-92) which was 'to be 'sixty foot Higher' then the old one. (1-108; 4-1768-93)

1787/08-1788/06/05: Simon Retalick, ironmaster, is engaged in ironwork on the State House. While there is no account extant for the lightning rod, there are sufficient accounting entries for Retalick to encompass his forging and installing the rod. From one surviving account, it is clear that Retalick worked for 32 days beginning in July 1787 and ending on or about August 25, 1787 on "iron work" for the windows of the State House. Similar sums are paid him in January and June of 1788. Assuming the windows were secured while the dome, cupola, and acorn were under construction, it would seem likely that Retalick completed the lightning rod by the time of the January entry in the accounts, or by June at the latest.Maryland State House

Simon Retallack (or Retalick) was baptized St. Issey Parish March 30th 1752. He was the son of Richard and Elizabeth Retallack. Simon left for the US from the Port of London in July 1774 on the "Peggy Stewart". He was recorded as 22 years old, a blacksmith, and indented servant. The "Peggy Stewart" was burned in the port of Annapolis MD October 19th 1774. The owner Anthony Stewart was given the choice of burning his ship or being hanged because the ship was carrying 2000 pounds of tea.

On June 24th 1782, Simon Retallack married Elizabeth Miles. The marriage is in the records of All Hallows Parish, Anne Arundel Co, MD. He appears to have died in 1799 as his will was probated on July 10th of that year. His wife Elizabeth was named as the only beneficiary.

Federal District Tax 1798 charged Simon Retallick with a 1-storey frame dwelling 28/28 and 1-frame shop 38/38. The assessment was $250. Ground rent was 12 pounds 12 shillings and 3 pence.

There are a number of mentions of Simon Retallack in the Annapolis court proceedings and Annapolis Corporation minutes for items that a blacksmith would make - hooks, axes, etc. There are also a number of places between 1782-1786 that he was paid by the state for work at the "State House" including the above work on the Lightning Conductor.

On July 25th 1799 the Maryland Gazette recorded the decease of Simon Retallack; estate to be settled and business to be carried on by Elizabeth Retallack and Richard Goodin. The estate showed that Simon had prospered as a Blacksmith. It included quality furniture and household goods (silver spoons, china bowls and dishes, walnut dining table and chairs--and although, it does not list slaves, it does included hand cuffs and leg irons).

Simon's wife Elizabeth died in 1808 survived, as far as is known, by two children, Simon and Elizabeth. Elizabeth married William Rawlings, and Simon Jr married Sarah Phelps in All Hallows Parish, June 8th 1798. In 1812 he enlisted in the military as a private, U.S. Corps Artillery. He was described at that time as 5 feet 6 inches tall, gray eyes, brown hair, age 37. In 1813, he was sent to Ft. McHenry, MD, and was still there 1816 when he applied for the position of Sgt. He died in 1824.

The first part of this article is prepared by the staff of the Maryland State Archives, © Copyright August 22, 1997, and is used with permission. Image courtesy of the Maryland State Archives.

For the full article go to the Maryland State Archives Web Site

For more information about Simon Retallick's descendents try Janet Welty on

Capt Richard Retalick RN Richard Retallick of Liskeard Major John Retallack of BC At the Bugle Inn RETURN TO TITLE PAGE
Fire at Eagle River Ralph Retallack & An Gof Maryland State House William Retallack of Illogan

William Retallack of Illogan . . . . the family man

The West Briton published the following report in its issue of 2nd July 1824 . . . . a source of great pride to Retallacks everywhere! But why no mention of his poor wife ?

"Penwith Agricultural Society. The first meeting of this society took place at Camborne on Monday last, and was very respectably attended. The ploughing and sheep-shearing were in the very best style, and the shew of cattle reflected very great credit on the farmers of that confined district . . . The following prizes were adjudged . . .

To William Retallack, Illogan, as a labouring man who has maintained the largest number of children (19) without parochial relief, £2 2s.; and

To John West, Camborne, as maintaining the second largest ditto (15) ditto ditto £1 1s."

From "Life in Cornwall" edited by R.M. Barton, with acknowledgments

Keith Retallick, Christow, Devon, England