Susan Pellew’s memorial in St James’ Church, Cristow, Devon.
By Heather Noel-Smith
Susan Frowd, coming from a village in rural and distinctly land-locked Wiltshire, might at first not seem to be an auspicious choice for a bride of an ambitious young naval officer. Edward Pellew himself described his courtship of her with characteristic energy, writing to his friend Alex Broughton that he had “rousted her out” from her village before she could know anything about the sea.
As it was, Susan turned out to be, as Pellew’s most recent biographer Stephen Taylor writes
The paragon of a sea officer’s wife, a partner, home manager and friend.
Susan made a hospitable and welcoming home wherever they found themselves, and oversaw the acquisition and building of the Canonteign estate, which was the official family residence although she and Pellew never really lived there, but instead in the less grandiose setting of West Cliff House, Teignmouth, leaving their eldest son Pownoll and his family to live at Canonteign.
Susan Pellew outlived her husband by just four years and is buried beside him in the parish church near Canonteign. The graves themselves are not visible, being beneath the floor, but on the north wall of the choir are memorials to both of them, their children and other family members.
Susan’s memorial sums up her contribution all too briefly, but not without a reference to her loyal, loving and open-hearted nature, speaking of her as a faithful and beloved wife and an exemplary mother and friend. Behind the formal words of the epitaph lies a woman whom many had cause to be grateful to, as much in the mould of matriarch and friend as was her husband the equivalent. The note of resignation in the phrase that it was “the will of providence” that she should outlive both her daughters rather smooths over the great grief that both parents felt at the loss of Julia, and the further grief to Susan over the loss of Emma in 1835.
By the side of her husband are also deposited the remains of Susan, Viscountess Pellew.
Daughter of James Frowd of Sedgehill, near Shaftsbury, Wiltshire who died on the 29th October , 1837,in the 82nd year of her age and the fifth of her widowhood.
A pious, faithful and beloved wife , exemplary mother and friend.
Respected and esteemed by all who knew her sterling worth.
It was the will of Providence that she should survive both her daughters, of whom The Hon Emma married Admiral Sir Lawrence William Halsted GCB and leaves a large family to lament her loss, died the ? day of March 1835, aged 50 years, and was here buried with her parents.
The Hon Julia married Captain Harward, Royal Navy, of Maizemore Lodge, died, to the great grief of her family who affectionately loved her, on the 26 day of December 1831 aged 44 years, leaving no children. Her remains lie in Maizemore churchyard, near Gloucester.
They sleep in hope of a blessed resurrection.