Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Daniel Gumb - some more information


Gutenberg project - Daniel Gumb 18th century 

Elsewhere [Footnote: "An Old English Home," Methuen, 1898.] I have given an account of the North Devon savages, to whom Mr. Greenwood first drew attention. Till a very few years ago there lived on the Cornish moors a quarryman—he may be living still for aught I have heard to the contrary—-in a solitary hut piled up of granite. He would allow no one to approach, threatening visitors with a gun. His old mother lived with him. By some means the rumour got about that she was dead, but as the man said nothing, it was not till this rumour became persistent that the authorities took cognisance of it, and visited the hovel. They found that the old woman's bed had been a hole scooped out of the bank that formed part of the wall; that she had been dead some considerable time, and that her face was eaten away by rats. Daniel Gumb was a stone-cutter who lived near the Cheese Wring on the Cornish moors in the eighteenth century. He inhabited a cave composed of masses of granite. It is an artificial cell about twelve feet deep and not quite that breadth. The roof consists of one flat stone of many tons weight. On the right hand of the entrance is cut "D. Gumb," with a date 1783 (or 5). On the upper part of the covering stone channels are cut to carry off the rain. Here he dwelt for several years with his wife and children, several of whom were born and died there.

Baring-Gould's writing is hearsay and he does not mention the fact that Gumb was very clever especially in the subject of mathematics and the stars and that on top of his stone dwelling he had carved one of Euclid's theory.  As a child, Gumb had been educated by a cleric, who had recognised his genius.

The above photo needs some explaining.  It shows the entrance to the dwelling of the family of Gumb, much reduced because of the quarrying behind.  You see in the far distance the Cheesewring Tor.  There was a Neolithic settlement round this tor and you can see one of the pointed prehistoric stones, balanced precariously on the edge of the quarry.

I have written and collected a lot on Gumb and will put the links below.  He probably worked at the quarry and in stonework, but his carvings on gravestones can be seen at Linkinhorne church in a fairly remote village. 

Paul's cousin in her historical work had been at one of the 'big' houses and said she had seen some of Gumb's mathematical work on paper.

Stop for a moment, and think, what was it like to live in the middle of Bodmin moor with a family of possibly 8 children and no money.  This is what they looked out on. How did this intelligent man view his life, reared in poverty and died in poverty, yet he still held onto all his learning.  Sitting out at night and looking up at the stars and thinking.

Linkinhorne Church

Daniel Gumb - miscellaneous


  1. That sort of life is hard to imagine, especially the challenges it posed for such an intellect. One wonders was he content?

    1. Well he was born into that way of life, so he was used to it. It is just sad that he never had the time for studying and getting a better life. But Cornwall is so cut off from the rest of the country that it was perhaps inevitable.

  2. I wonder about his children and what their life was like. What a hard way to live.

    1. Well I think many of them emigrated to the new country Ellen. In fact in one of the comments is someone who is a direct descendent of Daniel.


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