Posted by on 14 February 2012 in General, Guest Bloggers, Record Collections member and AncestryUK Facebook fan Linda Wilson is a passionate family historian and been researching her ancestors for a few years. Her Valentine’s Day blog post is in memory of her great grandparents whose story tells one of great love and romance. 


Sarah Govett was a country girl, born in St Dominic, Cornwall in 1863.  Her father was a farm labourer (“Ag Lab” in census terminology).  At the ripe age of 18 she met and fell in love with a fresh faced young musician from Staffordshire.
 He enlisted in the Royal Artillery in Devonport and was initially posted to Plymouth citadel in 1881, a mere 21 miles from her home in Calstock.  Although meeting must have been difficult, they continued the relationship.  However he was soon posted overseas and contact could only be by post.  She was keen to join him at the earliest opportunity but he wanted to wait until he was posted somewhere that would be conducive to married life and raising a family.

Years passed but the separated couple remained faithful to the idea that they would be together one day.  Eventually Sarah decided to throw caution to the wind and take matters into her own hands.  In 1888 she found a ship that was going to where her love was stationed and worked her passage to the island of St Helena.  Situated in the Mid-Atlantic the island was notorious for being one of the most remote islands in the world as well as being where Napoleon Boneparte was incarcerated.  It was not known for salubrious accommodation, indeed the army was largely under canvas.

On arrival in St Helena she was at last reunited with Joseph after years of separation.  However, he immediately told her that she had 24 hours to decide whether to marry him or not.  (Some Proposal!)  As there was nowhere for her to stay as a single woman she would either have to marry him and stay in “married quarters” or leave on the same ship as she had arrived on.  The next day, 12 June 1888, they were married in St Matthews Church on the island.

Sarah gave birth to their first child in Mauritius and their 2nd and 3rd in Capetown, while Joseph was involved in the Boer War.  She bore him 5 more children whilst he was still in active service.  ( 5 girls and 2 boys in all .)

After Joseph retired, they lived together happily until Sarah died in 1937.

Linda is going to visit St Helena and Capetown, where her grandmother was born, on a cruise this April so have a wonderul trip and enjoy discovering more about your ancestors’ romance.

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About Brian Gallagher

Brian is the International Social Media Specialist for Ancestry, working closely with our United Kingdom, Sweden, German and Australian teams.

1 Comment

Jane Natalie Goodwin 

My Father is Welsh, I was born there also. My Grandparents ancestory could be Irish. However their surnames are English sounding. Goodwin and Timothy.
where do you sugest I start from?
Thank you
Kind Regards
Jane Natalie Goodwin

14 February 2012 at 12:17 pm