Ann Glanville – Champion female rower of the world

Ann Glanville

Ann was born in Saltash, Cornwall in 1796 as Ann Warren.

She married John Glanville, a waterman. They had fourteen children and when John fell ill, Ann continued her husband's trade to support the family.

Ann formed a crew of four female rowers who took part in local regattas.

She was noted for her large stature and for her crew who dressed in white caps and dresses.

Their success led to competitions all over the country. One event at Fleetwood was watched by Queen Victoria, who congratulated Ann when they won by beating an all-male crew. The most famous competition was in 1833 when they visited Le Havre and beat the best ten French male crews by 100 yards; this led the press to call her the champion female rower of the world.

Ann continued competitive rowing until she was in her sixties. Into her old age, she was given to circling the warships anchored in the Hamoaze on the Tamar exchanging banter with their crews.

When the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Plymouth in 1879, they invited Ann to lunch on their yacht.

Her general character may be summed up in the quaint language of a neighbour, who said ‘she was honest to a farthing, clean as a smelt, and kind hearted as a queen.’

Personally Ann Glanville was a tall, finely-built, robust woman.

Her coffin was six feet two inches in length, and this will give an idea of her tallness in life. She was high-spirited and good tempered. Always fond of a joke and ready for a laugh.
She died on 6 June 1880 and was buried in St Stephen's Churchyard at the expense of Admiral Lord Beresford. Admirers from all parts of the country attended and a Royal Marines band played the funeral march.

This article has been kindly provided by Kernow Matters to Us and is part of the series on Famous Folk of Kernow (Cornwall).