History of Emily McCormick                                                               

                                                             Born 1858 Gwenap Cornwall                                                                            

                                  Died 1947 and is buried Llanstainffraid Church Aberkenfig                                                     

                  A life of love & tragedy, a life she made the most of a Woman to be admired  


01656 725000


Emily McCormick was born on the 8th August 1858 Emily Nicholls in Gwenap, Cornwall to John Matthew Nicholls and Elizabeth Treague.  Her Father John was born in Marizon, Cornwall and Mother Elizabeth (Teague) Gwenap, Cornwall.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries Gwenap parish was the richest cooper mining district in Cornwall and was called the ' richest square mile in the Old World '

Emily McCormick lived a life of much sadness and tragedy as well as happiness and lived to the age of 89 years old.


Emily McCormick was my great grandmother and is buried with her second husband William McCormick in Llanstainffraid church yard, Aberkenfig (Church of St. Bride in the parish of St. Brides Minor).

Born into a farming and fishing family the Industrial Revolution was to make it's unforgettable mark on the Nicholls family, leaving their native Cornwall and centuries old trades. The first record off the family leaving comes with the 1871 Census record.

The 1851 census records Emily's father John Matthew Nicholls, as a 22 year old seaman living with his family at 8, The Beach, St. Ives, Cornwall

St. Ives - Cornwall

By the 1861 census John Matthew Nicholls is married to Elizabeth Teague.  The marriage took place at the Church of St. Euny, Redruth, Cornwall on the 20th October 1953.


St. Euny - Redruth

John's father was recorded as a Mariner and Emily's a farmer. John is recorded as a Mariner and they are living with Elizabeth's Mother and Sister in Gwenap and have a son John Henry and daughters Emily and Charity.

The 1861 census shows a big move for the Nicholls family to Port Talbot, South Wales - probably a journey undertaken by sea.

John Nicholls and his son John Henry are both employed by the Cornish family of Vivian's.


History have served the Vivian family well, whilst throughout the World history tells the diabolic and barbaric standards and human greed that the Crawshays of Merthyr Tydfil operated by it's seems to leave the Vivian family somewhat unscathed and almost betray them as great philtratopsis's to the city of Swansea (Abertawe) how unjust and unfair history can be the Vivian's were disgusting greedy uncaring Iron Masters who in modern time would have found themselves imprisoned for corporate manslaughter and never seem to have regretted their deeds.

  • Llansantffraid Church, Aberkenfig
  • St. Brides Minor

View South from Marazion Beach to St. Michaels Mount, Cornwall

St. Michael's Mount - Marazion

On the 9th November, 1878 Emily married her first husband widower Benjamin Thomas, Benjamin was born the 24th June 1843 to David Thomas and Wife, farmers, Cresswell Quay, Pembrokeshire his first wife Elizabeth died (buried Llangyfelach Church) leaving him with to young children Catherine born 1871 and David 1873.

Cresselly Arms from across the river

Cresselly Arms, Cresswell Quay

Cresswell Quay, Pembrokeshire, a hamlet on the river Cresswell (inlet of the Cleddau) with the parishes of Jeffreyston & Carew

Emily and Benjamin had two children John Matthew born 1881 Taibach, Port Talbot and my grandfather Benjamin 1st July, 1882, my grandfather Benjamin was never to know his father - Benjamin Thomas snr. died from injuries sustained at the Cwrt Herbert Colliery, Neath on the 30th March, 1882.

Emily cared for Benjamin and Elizabeth's children as her own and they continued to live with her until they themselves married. On the 2nd February, 1889 Emily married William McCormick (born Tipperary, Ireland) at the Church in Wales Margam Parish Church (Chapel of Ease/HolyCross) Port Talbot.

Image of Holy Cross Church

Chapel of Ease - Margam Parish Church

On the 10th March, 1890 Emily's McCormicks Father John Matthew Nicholls and her brother John Henry Nicholls were killed at the Morfa Colliery and buried in the graveyard of the Chapel of Ease.

A silence fell over the family and little was spoken, the death recorded in the family bible on the same day, the cause and place not told.

In 2008 I attended an exhibition and memorial in St. John's Church Aberkenfig to the Miners who lost their lives in the Park Slip Mining disaster (Tondu), the gentleman speaking touched on the Cornish who had gone to Taibach as miners and worked in the Morfa Colliery and my interest was aroused, I was going in a few weeks to the theatrical production in Swansea of the Ghost of Morfa Colliery. I started researching on goggle and found the record of a John Matthew Nichollas and John Henry Nicholls losing their lives in the 1890 disaster and much to my surprise was to find that both my great-great grandfather and his son was killed on that day - it was strange to sit through the re-enactment of the tragedy.

The Ghost of Morfa Colliery was performed by Theatr nanog please click this link to read their account


87 Men died in the Morfa Colliery Disaster, Parliament debated it but it was a long time before mine safety become equal to the owners profit if it ever did !  the owner of Morfa Colliery John Henry Vivian turned his yatcht around on hearing on the news, his mine had a bad safety record, he was a ruthless employer, history serves him well better than it should he should be counted with the worse of his day, not many had heard of Tennerife in 1890 but he was sailing there !

please click here for a link to the death roll of the 10th March, 1890.


Since then my Father and I have collected copies of the death certificates from Neath Registry offices, visited Taibach Library to see the memorable plaque, Margam Abbey to view the burial records and put our minds at rest that their bodies were recovered and my father Jack Thomas laid a wreath on the Morfa Memorial which stands in the Port Talbot Steelworks.

After military service with the South Wales Borders in Burma in World War II my father Jack Thomas and his brother Tommy Thomas who served with South Staffs airborne and was a prisoner of war returned to work as a bricklayers, and entered the then Steel Company of Wales in Port Talbot at it's beginning as a bricklayers little did they know that just about daily they passed the spot where their great grandfather and Uncle had been killed. In 2006 their Union which Jack played a prominent role in during his working life and continues today in retirement had organized for the memorial of their fellow working man to be built.

John Cronin of UCATT arrange in November 2009 for Jack to lay a wreath on the memorial and the then Managing Director of the Port Talbot steelworks honoured him with lunch and thanked him for his loyal service to the steelworks - his picture appeared with 'Jack is back' in the Steel News

Was Emily McCormick related to Richard Trevithick - Richard Trevithick invented and built the World's first high pressure steam engine and in 1804 the world's first steam locomotive was born, it took time for this be acknowledged that he was there before Stevenson, but my Father always taught me that it was Trevithick if sometimes it was in peril of getting the best marks in school.  Trevithick's mother was Anne Teague born in 1736 born in the village of Carharrack Cornwall so was my family Teague ?

Census records

Census Record for Elizabeth & John Nicholls

1851 Census Record

Elizabeth Nicholls no husband recorded probably at sea the family are living at

8,The Beach, St. Ives, Cornwall


born 1804 Head Born Marizon
John age 22 son Seaman Born Marizon
Elizabeth age 17 daughter Born Marizon
Andrew age 12 son Scholar Born Marizon
Matilda age 10 daughter Scholar Born Penzanace
Catherine age 8 daughter Born Marizon
Rebecca age 5 daughter Born Marizon
Michael age 2 son Born Marizon


Census Records for Elizabeth (Treague) and John Matthew Nicholls

1861 Census Record 34, Carharrack, Gwenap, Cornwall

John Matthew Nicholls age 32 Head Mariner Born Marizion
Elizabeth Nicholls age 31 Wife   Born Gwenap
Ann Teague age 56 Mother-in-law   Born Gwenap
Emma Teague age 22 Sister in law   Born Gwenap
John Henry age 5 son Scholas Born Gwenap
Emily age 2 daughter   Born Gwenap
Charity age 1 month daughter   Born Gwenap


1871 Census Record

John Matthew Nicholls & Elizabeth Nicholls

15 Groeswen, Brick Row, Taibach, Port Talbot

John Nicholls   Head Born Marizion Collier
Elizabeth   Wife Born Gwenap  
John Henry age 14 daughter Born Gwenap Collier
Emily age 12 daughter Born Gwenap Scholar
Catherine age 8 daughter Born Gwenap Scholar
Elizabeth age 3 daughter Born Taibach  
Matilda age 6mths. daughter Born Taibach  


1881 Census Record

John Matthew Nicholls & Elizabeth Nichollas living at 1 Greenfield Street, Taibach, Port Talbot

John Nicholls   Head Born Marizion Collier
Elizabeth   Wife Born Gwenap  
Elizabeth age 13 daughter Born Gwenap Scholar
Matilda age 10 daughter Born Taibach Scholar
Eliza A age 8 daughter Born Taibach Scholar

By the 1891 census John Matthew Nicholls and his son John Henry Nicholls had

both killed in the Morfa Colliery Disaster 1890.

1891 Census Record

Elizabeth Nicholls now a widow living at 1 Oak Wood Cottages, Port Talbot

Elizabeth Nicholls   Widow Born Gwenap  
Matilda age 20 daughter Born Taibach Tin Worker
Rebecca Matthews age 21 visitor Born St.Ives Dressmaker


Census Records for Emily nee Nicholls

1st.  husband    Benjamin Thomas  died of injuries sustained in the Cwrt Herbert Colliery, Neath

2nd. husband    William McCommick

1881 Census Record

Emily & Benjamin Thomas are living at 13 Queen Street, Skewen in the parish of Coed Franc

Benjamin Thomas age 38 Head Coal Miner

Born Creswell Quay,Pembrokeshire

died of injuries Cwrt Herbert Colliery, Neath 13th March, 1882

Emily age 22 Wife   Born Redruth, Cornwall
Catherine age 19 daughter Scholar Bron Aberclydach daughter of Benjamin and 1st wife Catherine
David age 17 son   Born Aberclydach Son of Benjamin and 1st Wife Catherine
John Matthew age 10 son   Born Margam
John Henry Nicholls age 25



Coal Miner

Born Cornwall Redruth (Emily's brother)

killed 10th March 1890 Morfa Colliery Disaster along side his father.

Isabella Nicholls age 19



  Born Scotland, Renfrew, John Henry's wife

1891 Census Record

Emily was widowed and has remarried and her surname is McCormick the family

are living at Godra Bryn, Bettw (Bridgend)

William McCormick age 32 Head Coal Miner Born Tipperary, Ireland
Emily McCormick age 32 Wife   Born Redruth, Cornwall
Catherine Thomas age 19 Step-daughter   Born Clydach, Swansea daughter of Benjamin & Catherine Thomas
David Thomas age 17 Step-Son Coal Miner Born  Clydach, Swansea Son of Benjamin & Catherine Thomas
John Matthew Thomas age 10 Step-Son   Born Margam Son of Benjamin & Emily Thomas
Benjamin Thomas age 8 Step-Son   Born Neath - my Grandfather Son of Benjamin & Emily Thomas born after his Fathers death
William McCormick age 1 Son   Born Margam


1901 Census Record

The family are living at Glan Nant Row, Shwt, Bettws, Bridgend

William McCormick Head age 42 Coal Miner Born Tipperary, Ireland
Emily McCormick Wife age 42   Born Cornwall

Elizabeth Nicholls

Emily's Mother

Widow age 70   Born Cornwall
John M Thomas Syep-Son age 20 Coal Miner Born Margam
Benjamin Thomas Step-Son age 18   Born Neath
William T McCormick Son age 11   Born Margam
Sarah Elizabeth McCormick Daughter age 9   Born Bettws
James McCormick Son age 7   Born Bettws
Thomas D McCormick Son age 5   Born Bettws
Laura H McCormick Daughter age 2   Born Bettws


Census Record of David Thomas son of Benjamin & Catherine Thomas

living at Fountain Terrace, Bettws, Bridgend

1901 Census Record

David Thomas Head age 27 Insurance Agent Born Clydach (Swansea)
Rebecca Thomas Wife age 31 Dressmaker Born Cornwall-Marizion recorded as a visitor on the 1891 census - also cousin to Davidd
David J Son age 2   Born Bettws

David and Rebecca had three daughters, Rebecca, Catherine & Elizabeth, Rebecca became the Matron of

Hollow Prison London and spent & cared for Ruth Ellis on her last night of life before being hanged - the last

women to be hanged in Britain

Census Record 1881 of Stephen & Rebecca Matthew parents of Rebecca Thomasrecorded as living at Oddfellows Row, Bettws, Bridgend

Stephen Matthews Head married 40 Coal Miner Born Cornwall
Rebecca Matthews Wife married 35   Born Cornwall
John Matthews Son   13   Born Cornwall
Rebecca Matthews Daughter   10   Born Cornwall
Stephen Matthews Son    4   Born Bettws
Andrew Matthews Son    1   Born Bettws

Census Record 1891 of Stephen & Rebecca Matthews Bryn Bach, Bettws

Stephen Matthews Head married 51 Coal Miner Born Marizion Cornwall
Rebecca Matthews   married 47   Born Marizion Cornwall
Stephen Matthews     15 Coal Miner Born Glamorgan Bettws
Andrew Matthews     11   Born Glamorgan Bettws
James Matthews      4   Born Glamorgan Bettws
John Jones Boarder   28 Coal Miner Born Glamorgan Pontypridd


Census Record 1901 of Stephen & Rebecca Matthews Green Meadow, Bettws

Stephen Matthews Head Married 60 Coal Miner Born England Conrwall
Rebecca Matthews Wife Married 55   Born England Cornwall
Stephen Matthews Son Single 25 Coal Miner Born Glamorgan Bettws
Andrew Matthews Son Single 21 Coal Miner Born Glamorgan Bettws
James H Matthews Son Single 14   Born Glamorgan Bettws
Michael Tellam Boarder Single 22 Coal Miner Born St. Ives Cornwall