Reverend Thomas Grylls (1790-1845)
The Reverend Thomas Grylls, Rector of St Meubred’s Church in Cardynham for 31 years until his death in 1845, was a steadfast, calm and intensely religious “gentle man”, much beloved and respected by his Parishioners. Although intellectual and possessing high church inclinations, he was most sensitive to the feelings and needs of his rural flock. In recognition to Thomas’ ministry in Cardynham, there is a fine Memorial to him on the south wall inside the Church. Thomas’ sermons were said to be spiritual, practical and scriptural, delivered with reverence and devotion, and in his pastoral work he demonstrated a bright and rare example of the Christian Pastor. After his death Thomas was buried in the south side of St Meubred’s churchyard to the east of the Porch, to be joined later by the grave of one of his sons, Humphry Millett Grylls (1821-1876).
Thomas was born in Helston in 1790, the second son of Thomas Grylls. After graduating highly from Cambridge University he shunned academia in 1813 to follow a genuine calling and to return to Helston to sort out family matters following his Father’s suicide. He was initially installed as Curate in Cardynham in 1814 by his Uncle Thomas Trevenen, the absentee Rector of St Meubred’s, and subsequently appointed Rector thanks to the Patronage of the Vivians of Pencalenick.
Thomas’ ministry extended beyond the Parish to surrounding rural areas, founding a small group of local Clerics to discuss religious matters and supporting overseas missionary causes. He was appointed a Prebendary by the Bishop to Exeter Cathedral in 1833, although denied a Deanship due to jealous opposition from the serving Canons because they had not chosen him. Instead he returned to his quiet rural duties in Cardynham, largely insulated from the increasing problems of industrialisation and population growth elsewhere.
Thomas was married to Sarah (nee Willyams) and raised 10 children in Cardynham Rectory. However his four sons rebelled against their sheltered upbringing in his rural Parish, preferring the highlife of Truro, Helston and beyond and causing Thomas and Sarah much distress and consternation, despite being well educated in good schools. However they eventually settled down and returned to more traditional ways of life in their later years. His five daughters married well, three to clergymen, one to a naval officer and another to a man of considerable property, a JP and artist of some repute.
By 1843 Thomas’ health had begun to deteriorate dramatically and he was persuaded to take a cure in Switzerland which probably extended his life for a short while. Despite his failing health, however, Thomas endured the pain without complaint and continued to preach each Sunday until the last few weeks of his life when he was too ill to walk or talk. Sarah and their nine surviving children gathered around Thomas’ death bed and noticed in his last moments that his eyes, which had been fixed and lustreless, were suddenly raised towards heaven and his countenance became radiant with a joyful smile. A fitting way for this religious and gentle man to depart this life.
Graves of Rev Thomas Grylls (left) and of his son Humphrey Millett Grylls in St Meubred’s Churchyard
Thanks to Richard G Grylls, whose four times Great Grandfather was Thomas Grylls, for providing this information; an extract of his manuscript “Grylls and Grills, the History of the Cornish Clan”, can be found here.