Thomas Chapman AM

b. 12/01/1848 Bodmin, Cornwall.  d. 10/07/1921 Calstock, Cornwall.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 06-10/02/1889 Calstock, Cornwall.

Thomas Chapman was born in Bodmin in 1848 to Richard Chapman, a former Lead Miner now a Tin/Copper Miner and Jane Chapman his wife, he was their eldest child. By the time the 1861 census was taken, the family address was 3 St Leonards, Bodmin, Cornwall and 13 year old Thomas had joined his father down the mine as a Tin/Copper Miner. Thomas had now been joined by three younger sisters and three younger brothers.

Tom Chapman was 29 years old when he married Ellen Courtis in Liskeard in 1867, she was about two years his senior; they set up home together at Burning House Linkinhorne, Cornwall. When the 1871 census was taken ten years later, Tom’s occupation was Miner, possibly at one of the mines around Caradon Hill; the couple had one daughter and one son. A subscription fund was started after the rescue to reward all those who had helped, especially Tom Chapman and the money flooded in; the handsome sum of £217 was raised. The presentation took place at the Wesleyan Schoolroom in Gunnislake during a public meeting when even the two men who were trapped down the mine received some welcome cash from the fund, but many locals thought this was wrong. Thomas received the sum of £10 for his part in the rescue. Chapman received the Albert Medal for Gallantry in Saving Life on Land on behalf of Queen Victoria and the 4th Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, (William Henry Edgcumbe) was chosen to do the honours. The ceremony took place in front of a large audience on 17th August 1889, again at the Wesleyan Schoolroom at Gunnislake. He was the first Cornishman to receive the Albert Medal.

Sometime after this, Tom was promoted to Copper Mine Agent but by the 1891 census when he was 43 years of age, he and Ellen were still living at Drakewalls Place with a married daughter, a 17 year old son named John who was employed as a Copper Miner plus two other daughters and two other sons. By 1911 the couple were in their 60’s but Tom was still working as a Tin and Copper Miner but by this time they had moved out of the Agent’s House to a home in St Ann’s Chapel and just one of their daughters was living with them. They have now been married for 42 years and Ellen had given birth to 12 children but over the years, six of them had died.

Ellen was aged 74 when she herself died on 30th October 1919 and Thomas was aged 73 when he died on 10th May 1921, they are both buried in the churchyard attached to St Andrew’s Church in Calstock, with the entry number Z21 which possibly gives the location of their grave.



THE Queen has been graciously pleased to confer the ” Albert Medal of the Second Class”upon Mr. Thomas Chapman, Pitman of the Drakewalls Mine, Calstock, Cornwall, for gallantry in saving life on the occasion of an accident at that mine on the 5th February last.