Select Corbett Miscellany

Here are some Corbett stories and accounts over the years:

The First Corbets

It is said that Corbet came with his second and fourth sons, Roger and Robert, to the invasion of England by Duke William of Normandy.  Besides the two sons who settled in Shropshire, the eldest and third, Hugh and Renaud, stayed behind..

Corbat (sic) and his two sons, Roger and Rodbert (sic), are named by Ordericus among "the faithful and very valiant men" employed by Roger de Montgomery in the government of his new Earldom of Shrewsbury.  Corbet was also, according to tradition, consulted by William the Conqueror as to the defence of the Welsh Marches.  Corbet the Norman was dead before 1086 for his son Roger fitz Corbet is the Domesday baron.

The Travails of Frances Corbet

In the eighteenth century, when one had landed property and debts, it was better to raise money than to sell land.  The Prince trustees thus resorted to the obvious expedient - the marriage of the late Captain's daughter, which would bring a dowry of 7,000.  So at the age of seventeen, Frances Prince was led, like a sacrificial lamb, to the altar of Holy Cross on May 25, 1719 to marry Andrew Corbet of Shawbury Park. 

The marriage was typical for early Georgian gentry.   A woman lost even legal identity when she married. She was expected to be submissive and was restricted to a domestic role.  Few women were fortunaste to enjoy freedom or have a voice.  Most women in this situation remained silent.  But by chance numerous letters written in haste or in anguish by Frances Corbet have survived.  They are not precisely dated.  But internal clues and supplementary research suggest that they began in 1739 when ill health exacerbated Frances's distress. 

Shawbury was so cold in winter that one might as well live under one of the poles, she wrote.  She felt imprisoned, unable to leave the place when her own horse fell lame.  To the usual domestic cares were often added the unwelcome presence of her bachelor brothers-in-law; the major kept late hours, Vin spied on her and made mischief, and George sided with his brothers. 

As for her husband, he is revealed (and other references support the picture) as morose, ill-tempered, given to violent swearing and threats to his wife, critical of visits that she made, forbidding her to have friends of her own, and keeping a wench in his own bed.   No wonder she wanted to get away to Bath that winter. 

In 1757 Andrew Corbet died and was buried at Moreton Corbet.  Frances Corbet had at last arrived at the independence of widowhood.  But three years later, when she was fifty nine, Frances herself died.   She was not buried at Moreton (she escaped eternity in that family vault), but in her old parish at Holy Cross, in the Abbey with her own family.

Robert Corbett in Massachusetts

In The Corbett Family of England and America, Henry R. Corbett writes:

"Little is known about Robert Corbett except that he fought bravely in King Philip's War (which ended in 1676).  A quote from History of Milford Town says: 'Robert Corbett is the first of this name known in these parts.'  Robert became interested in the settlement at Woodstock, now in Connecticut, but then in Massachusetts.  Sometime before 1691 Robert went to live there and he is recorded as having purchased a homestead."

There were at least three Robert Corbetts born in England during the 1640's who could equally be considered as a suitable fit for this Robert of Massachusetts who died in 1695, possibly aged 55.

Reader Feedback - Jesse Corbit of Maryland

I come from a line of Corbits that came from Ireland.   My forebear was Robert Corbit who settled in Coshocton county, Ohio in 1804.  His father Jesse Corbit came to America in the 1700's and fought in the Revolutionary War. Jesse settled in Hancock, Maryland.  

Some background information comes from the history of Coshocton county which was written while Robert was still alive.  Another descendant, Gary Householder, posted the following query.  

I am searching for Jesse Corbit or Corbet or Corbett of Maryland.  From military records we would assume that Jesse was born around 1750, potentially in Ireland. There are records of him in Maryland history books during the Revolution.  

Our connection is through Phoebe Corbit, Corbet or Corbett who was born sometime around 1790 in Maryland and married John Adam Hous(e)holder in Steubenville, Ohio in 1811.  

This Phoebe is most likely the sister of Robert Corbit, born on Maryland in 1790.  Robert's family children have names like John, Jesse, Isabell, Daniel, Lewis, Adam and Phoebe.   Our Phoebe's children share those same names, all but for Jesse.  We have leads in our Housholder family that he was of Irish descent through some of their children's records. 

I would appreciate if there's anything you can tell me about Jesse Corbit

Trinity Corbett (

Corbetts in Newfoundland

The Corbett forebears in Newfoundland appear to be Thomas, who got his land in 1796, and his cousin, Michael, who inherited adjoining land from his grandmother.

Thomas's son Patrick married Sera Hawkco in Chapel's Grove in 1808.  The Hawkcos were one of the first eleven families that settled in Newfoundland.  They were originally called Hacquoil and had come from the Channel Island of Jersey.  However, they married the Irish and lost their "French Connection."

Jim Corbett, Big Game Hunter

Jim Corbett was born in 1875 in Kumaon in the foothills of the Himalayas.  His father was a postmaster at the town of Naini Tal and Jim spent his childhood in an area surrounded by beautiful jungles and dangerous predators.  He fell in love with the forest and the animals and since an early age he knew how to mimic animal sounds and track lethal beasts.

While being known as a conservationist and big game photographer, his actual place in history is one of the best big cat hunters who has ever lived.  Between 1907 and 1938, Jim Corbett killed nearly a dozen man-eaters in India, predators who are estimated to have killed at least 1,500 people during their reign of terror.

He always took on the most dangerous animals, when everyone else had quit and all hope was lost.  He hunted alone and routinely came within five to ten meters of the man-eater before killing it.  His keen senses enabled him to most cunning of the lethal cats that included the Champawat tigress (which was responsible for a record 436 kills).  Those were the times when over a hundred thousand tigers roamed freely in India.  In some parts of the country it was a matter of whether tiger or human would survive!

Such was his renown that India's first national park in Kumaon was named in his honor in 1957.  And one of the five remaining subspecies of tiger has been named after him: Panthera Tigris Corbetti, better known as Corbett's tiger.  

William Corbet in Guernsey

William Corbet was well known in London's Covent Garden and on Guernsey as the "Melon King," having produced some of the finest crops of melons to be shipped to Britain.  He became a founding member of the Guernsey Grower's Association.  During his country's oocupation by the Germans in World War II he ensured that much of his crops were distributerd to the Guerns.

His son William was able to escape the German occupation.  Having squirrelled away small quantities of petrol each week he was able to get away from the island with seven other family members on an 18 foot fishing boat.  It was a moonlit night and they saw nothing until in mid-Channel three German U-boats appeared. Luckily they were not spotted until they arrived off Start Point when a British minesweeper came alongside and escorted them to Dartmouth.   They were the only people to successfully escape the island during its occupation.

Harry Corbett and Harry H. Corbett

Harry Corbett was the puppeteer known as the creator of the long-running Sooty glove puppet character; Harry H. Corbett the rascally rag-and-bone man in the British TV comic series Steptoe and Son.  In 1976 Prime Minister Harold Wilson wished to honor the latter Harry H. Corbett in the Queen's honors.  However, the middle initial "H" was lost in the bureaucratic process and the former Harry Corbett was sent the invitation letter instead.  In the end both men received OBE's.   

Death in Mugabe's Zimbabwe

Ralph Corbett, aged 76, had lived alone on his cattle ranch of Lannes Farm near Kwekwe since the death of his wife Norma in 1992.  He had been decorated in Italy during World War II and still held British citizenship. But once
the Mugabe regime had begun its policy of farm invasions, his children in South Africa begged him to leave.  However, he believed that he would be in no danger.

On August 3, 2001, intruders broke into his farm.  They trussed him up with wire and then bludgeoned him with an axe, leaving the walls of his bedroom covered in blood.  He died in hospital four days later.

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