Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: October 04, 2019
Webpage updated: January 04, 2020




William Penn Hele Eales was born at Kingsbridge, Devon, on November 9th 1809, to Mr Samuel Eales and his wife, formerly Miss Martha Penn.

He must have received a good education locally because he chose to become a surgeon and went to Saint Bartholomew's Hospital, in London, to do his training.  Almost directly after finishing in London he settled in Plymouth, where he developed and large obstetrics practice.

On September 9th 1837 Mr William Penn Hele Eales married Miss Honoria Susanna Combe, the eldest daughter of the late Colonel William Markham Combe, in Plymouth.*

At the time of the census in 1861 he and Honoria were living at number 15 Lockyer Street, Plymouth, along with daughters Laura and Eliza; son Benjamin; his widowed mother, Martha; and two female servants, Mrs Emma Barrable and Miss Elizabeth Lapthorne.  Two other children, Jane and William, were evidently not at home that night.

The local press described him as having 'a remarkably amiable disposition' and that he 'led an unostentatious, useful life'.  He took no part in politics and held no public office.  He was a member of the Plymouth Brethren and frequently held their meetings in his house.

Mr Eales retired in 1876 and moved to a small farm at Milton Coombe, Buckland Monachorum, where 'he appeared singularly happy and contented in his retirement'.

Mr William Penn Hele Eales died on Sunday May 19th 1878 while visiting his son-in-law in London.

However , he did have a special claim to fame to has almost gone unrecorded.  It was Mr Eales who is credited with developing the recipe for the baby's Rusk that he asked Mrs Farley to bake for him and which eventually became known as Farley's Rusks rather than Eales' Rusks.  Although the Farley company has always claimed that this was in 1880, it will be noted that he died in 1878 so the Rusk must be older than that.  Sadly his obituary makes no mention of this occurrence so the Rusk must have attained its fame after he died and probably due to the efforts of the Farley family.  It is said that the biscuits baked by other Plymouth bakers were white whereas those baked by Mrs Farley came out golden brown, which the mothers clearly preferred.

* Marriage announcement, Devonport Telegraph & Plymouth Chronicle, Devonport, September 16th 1837, and others.  The announcements are all worded the same and give the bride's father's name as 'Markham, Combe' suggesting he was Mr Markham, of Combe.  However, the official Births, Marriages and Deaths record give the surname as 'Combe'.  The place of the marriage is not stated, other than 'at Plymouth'.  Mr Eales was a member of the Plymouth Brethren.