Jenny Davies, also known as Jenny Mopus or Jenny of Malpas, was a Truro ferry woman in the 18th and 19th century, carrying people, goods and livestock across the river to and from Malpas at Truro, and on Roseland and at the Tregothnan Estate.
The name Malpas originates in the french term for bad-crossing, describing the waters which Jenny navigated daily in her large rowing boat, the Happy-go-Lucky. Legend also believes that this original ferry-way was used by the c12 legendary Tristan and Iseult, as they travelled to King Mark’s Palace.
Jenny Mopus Photo credit: Royal Institution of Cornwall
Jenny Mopus is recorded by the West Briton newspaper as single-handedly capturing the thief who tried to steal Lord Falmouth’s mail in 1804, and when a local rector asked about her passengers she replied that ‘Wemmin and pigs’ gave her the most problems.
Her portrait was painted by John Boyle, which was an unusual privilege for those living outside of the aristocratic classes, at this time. Her portrait was hung in the Servants Hall of Tregothnan House, until recently, and is now in the collection of Royal Cornwall Museum.
A lithograph depicting the view from Malpas looking down towards Truro along the River Fal. Collection of Hall for Cornwall.