Late in the evening on the 29th September, 1760, the town was roused by the firing of guns in very close proximity, and it proved that an Algerine Xebecque was stranded on the beach to the west of the Battery. Several of the crew were drowned in attempting to get on shore, and the remainder were put into the Barbican cellar, where they were guarded by a volunteer company, which obeyed the call to arms in the dead of night; for since the strangers were each armed with scymetar and pistols, a vague fear of Turkish ferocity, massacre, and plunder, seized upon the inhabitants of Penzance, which only gave place to fear of plague when it was discovered that the men were Algerines, and they were compelled to perform quarantine at the Folly.

In the same year opposition was made, at great expense, to the Turnpike road being carried from Penryn through Penzance to Land’s End, and it was stopped at Marazion.

At the Coronation of King George III. and Queen Charlotte there were unusual rejoicings in Penzance. The following account of the proceedings I find in the late Mr. Thomas Giddy’s M.S.:—

Morning Procession.—The Independent Company, headed by Mr. Walter Stone, three deep, with Mr. Jack Michell carrying a pair of new silk colours in the middle; Mr. Michael Pearce, carrying St. George’s flag adorned with flowers; six young gentlemen with white rods, two fifes, two drums, two German flutes, a French horn, and hautboy; the four constables with their long poles in their right hands, and their short poles slung with red ribbons over their left shoulders; the two sergeants-at-mace, Mayor, Aldermen, Common Council, gentlemen of the town and neighbourhood. The town crier with a white rod closed the procession. When they came to the chapel yard the Independents drew up on each side, from the stile to the great door, for the procession to pass through, the music and constables falling off each side as they came on; the six young gentlemen with white rods walked into the chapel before the Mayor, &c., when an excellent sermon was preached on the occasion. After divine service was ended the procession proceeded to the Battery, and after the cannon was fired they proceeded to the Town hall in the same order, when “God save Great George our King” was sung in grand chorus. They then adjourned till four o’clock in the afternoon.

In the Afternoon.—At four o’clock the fifes, drums, with the German flutes, hautboy and French horn, with the six young gentlemen with white rods, assembled at the Corn-market house, from whence the proceeded to the Mayor’s house and waited on him, the gentlemen, &c., to the Corn-market house, where they passed through the Independents under arms with rested firelocks, into the Town hall. Then the Independents, preceded by the drums, fifes, and other music, marched into the Square opposite the Town hall, and fired at every health toasted in the Town hall upon a signal given from the window, and in the intervals the music played.

“After the firing was over the Independents, preceded by the music, marched again into the Corn-market house, when “God save Great George our King” was sung in grand chorus, with the music, &c. Then the Independents marched in procession with colours, music, &c., as in the morning, to the ‘Star’ tavern, and drew up on each side for the Mayor, &c., to pass through them, after which they were ordered to several houses to supper. All the Corporation, gentlemen, music, Independent company, and all the town’s people—men, women, and children—wore cockades in honour of the day. The evening was concluded with a grand ball, illuminations, tar-barrels, bonfires, and every demonstration of joy; and everything was conducted with the greatest order, regularity, and decency imaginable; tho’ great part of the neighbouring parishes came in to see the show, there was not the least disturbance or disorder: the Mayor having several days before set up advertisements to forbid all sorts of squibs, crackers, &c.”

During the reign of George III. Penzance prospered, and was well-to-do. Fish, tin, and copper—ever the staple commodities of the county—were largely exported. Mining and the fisheries brought profit and revenue to the town. A certain toast was not unknown in this loyal and ancient Borough; it is:—

“Here’s a health to the Pope, may he live to repent,
And add just six months to the term of his lent;
And tell all his vassals, from Rome to the Poles,
There’s nothing like pilchards for saving their souls.“

Society was not more refined here than elsewhere in the earliest part of this reign. Only one newspaper was circulated in the west then, and that was the Sherborne Mercury. Cock fighting, smuggling, and intemperance, were not thought of in the same light they are now. Travelling was usually effected on horseback, and merchandise was chiefly conveyed in the same manner. The simplest luxuries in the way of furniture—comforts such as carpets—were unknown except among the wealthy,—sanded floors were the rule; and there was not a silver fork in the town. A certain Mrs. Treweeke, through whose agency the old Assembly rooms at the back of the Union Hotel were built, was the first person who possessed a carpet in her then new house, now occupied by Mr. Prockter. I have heard of a lady of the old school who called upon a newly-married couple, and finding them sitting with their feet on a small square of carpet, which scarcely extended beyond the limits of the table, exclaimed, “Deary me! are you so tender footed? I expect I’ll find you sitting with your feet in feather beds, the next time I call.” Mrs. Treweeke also possessed a carriage; and so rarely was such a phenomenon seen in this neighbourhood that I must tell you what happened at St. Ives. A concert had been announced to take place in that town; and some of the inhabitants at least must have known as much about concerts as they did about carriages, for when Mrs. Treweeke was entering St. Ives, having driven from Penzance in her vehicle of the period, she was followed by an admiring crowd, shouting, “The concert is come! the concert is come!!”

One fine summer afternoon, in the days when ladies wore skirts so closely fitting that they scarcely allowed of taking moderately long steps, this same old lady, a portly dame, was leisurely crossing the upper part of Market-place towards her house. It happened to be market-day; and a lusty pig, having broken the tether which bound him to the Market cross, was hurrying towards Chapel street as fast as his wayward nature would let him; but pigs are not famous for running in a straight line, particularly when they are being chivied by a fat old farmer, and any number of small boys, so when near Mrs. Treweeke he suddenly made a dive at her feet, and running his head between her ankles fairly lifted her off the ground, carrying her on his back into a china shop which was near; the old lady keeping her balance however, and holding on with might and main till she was safely landed on the floor all among the crockery, much to the dismay of herself and the proprietor, and to the amusement of the small boys giving chase in particular.§

The Market Cross, 1825

The Market Cross, 1825.

I have already told you that we owe to a lady of the time of Edward III. the first privileges the town possessed. Again the ladies of Penzance took the initiative in the literary awakening, which commenced in the latter part of the last century. The Ladies’ Book Club was established in 1770, and it is still in existence. The Gentlemen’s Book Club soon followed and the Grammar school was founded by the Corporation in 1789. Then several societies—Agricultural, Provident, Humane, Scientific, and Literary,—amongst them the Penzance Institute—sprang up in quick succession.

Important changes too soon crowd themselves upon our attention. New Churches, new Market houses and Guild hall (since superseded), new Piers, Railway accommodation (we still want a new Railway Station), Royal visits, and a hundred other incidents of more or less moment; but for the present the progress of Penzance has been crowned by the erection of the noble pile of buildings in which I now have the honour to address you, wherein Law, Literature, Science, Art, and Music find a home.

Time, however, will not allow me to dwell further on the many points which suggest themselves. To remind a Penzance audience that Sir Humphry Davy was born here is unnecessary; but inasmuch as I have done little more than hurry past the time of his birth, I may be excused from dilating upon one whose fame is world-wide.

And now, having reached times within memory of the present generation, I must bring my sketch to a close; not without regret, however at having been able to do little more than allude to more recent events, and with a keen sense of the inadequate manner in which I have attempted to give an outline of the history of my native town,

Our Beloved Penzance.

1614 John Madern
1615 [John Clies, see below*]
1621 Roger Polkinhorne (? ’20)
1623 James Bonithon
1624 Thomas Millard
1630 William Norsworthy
1631 Nicholas Madren
1633 Roger Polkinghorne
1636 Nicholas Shearme
1639 William Norsworthy
1640 Robert Feny
1643 Nicholas Shearme
1644 Nicholas Shearme
1645 Anthony Gubbes
1646 John Games
1647 Nicholas Shearme
1650 Philip Lanyon
1651 Joseph Gubbes
1652 Joseph Gubbes
1653 Thomas Grosse
1654 Thomas Games
1655 John Tremenheere
1656 Anthony Gubbes
1657 Nicholas John
1658 Walter Fynny
1659 Joseph Gubbs
1660 Nicholas Shearme
1661 Thomas Grosse
1662 Martin Maddren
1663 John Keigwin
1664 Thomas Benmer
1665 John Loase
1666 Richard Veale
1667 Thomas Chirgwin
1668 Nicholas Shearme
1669 Thomas Grosse
1670 Martin Maddern and John Keigwin
1671 Thomas Benmer
1672 Robert Harry
1673 James Loase
1674 Henry Tremenheere
1675 James Penhallow
1676 Thomas Grosse
1677 Thomas Grosse, jun.
1678 Robert Harry
1679 Thomas Benmer
1680 James Lose
1681 John Trevethan
1682 Henry Tremenheere
1683 William Pearce
1684 John Grosse
1685 Peter Jenkin
1686 John Tremenheere
1687 Richard Usticke
1688 James Lose
1689 Richard Pearce
1690 John Tremenheere
1691 Peter Jenkin
1692 George Richards
1693 Thomas Eaistlake
1694 Richard Pearce
1695 John Grosse
1696 John Pellow
1697 John Tremenheere
1698 Daniel Hawkey
1699 Daniel Hawkey
1700 Samuel Williams
1701 John Pellowe
1702 Daniel Hawkey
1703 John Carveth, who by
1704 force and violence held
1705 the mayoralty until January, 1706
1706 William Tonkin; October, Daniel Hawkey
1707 John Pellow
1708 William Tonkin
1709 Samuel Williams
1710 Daniel Hawkey
1711 John Pellowe
1712 William Tonkin
1713 Samuel Williams
1714 Daniel Hawkey
1715 John Pellowe
1716 William Tonkin
1717 James Hawkey
1718 Thomas Pellowe
1719 Samuel Williams
1720 John Pellowe
1721 William Tonkin
1722 Uriah Tonkin
1723 James Hawkey
1724 Thomas Pellowe
1725 Samuel Williams
1726 William Tonkin
1727 Uriah Tonkin
1728 Thomas Pellowe
1729 George Treweeke
1730 William John
1731 James Tremenheere
1732 Goerge Borlase
1733 Henry Hichens
1734 Uriah Tonkin
1735 Thomas Pellowe
1736 George Treweeke
1737 William John
1738 George Borlase
1739 James Tremenheere
1740 Henry Hichens
1741 Uriah Tonkin
1742 George Treweeke
1743 William John
1744 George Borlase
1745 Henry Hichens
1746 William Veale
1747 Christopher Pender
1748 Uriah Tonkin
1749 George Treweeke
1750 George Borlase
1751 Henry Hichens
1752 William Veale
1753 James Tonkin
1754 William John
1755 George Treweeke, jun.
1756 Walter Borlase
1757 Uriah Tonkin
1758 George Borlase
1759 Henry Hichens
1760 John Tonkin
1761 William John
1762 George Treweeke
1763 Uriah Tonkin
1764 George Borlase
1765 Walter Borlase
1766 George Treweeke
1767 James Tonkin
1768 John Price
1769 John Pender
1770 John Tonkin
1771 George Treweeke
1772 James Tonkin
1773 John Pender
1774 John Tonkin
1775 John Price
1776 John Beard
1777 George Treweeke
1778 James Tonkin
1779 John Price
1780 John Tonkin
1781 George Treweeke
1782 Thomas Giddy
1783 James Tonkin
1784 John Beard
1785 Thomas Giddy
1786 Thomas John
1787 John Tonkin
1788 John Price
1789 John Batten
1790 Thomas Giddy
1791 John Tremenheere
1792 Thomas Giddy
1793 John Batten
1794 John Beard
1795 John Batten
1796 Thomas Giddy
1797 John Tremenheere
1798 John Batten
1799 John Beard
1800 John Batten, jun.
1801 Thomas Giddy
1802 John Batten
1803 John Batten, jun.
1804 John Giddy
1805 Thomas Giddy
1806 Richard Jewell Ferris
1807 John batten, jun.
1808 Thomas Giddy
1809 Benjamin Carne Branwell
1810 John Bingham Borlase
1811 Thomas Giddy
1812 George John
1813 John Batten
1814 Richard Jewell Ferris
1815 Thomas Giddy
1816 Henry Boase
1817 Henry Penneck
1818 George John
1819 Edward Collins Giddy
1820 John Jones Pearce
1821 Edward Collins Giddy
1822 John Jones Pearce
1823 Edward Collins Giddy
1824 John Batten
1825 Edward Collins Giddy
1826 Henry Penneck
1827 Edward Collins Giddy
1828 Joseph Nichols
1829 Edward Collins Giddy
1830 Robert Richards
1831 Edward Collins Giddy
1832 John Batten
1833 Robert Richards
1834 Richard Jewell Ferris
1835 Richard Jewell Ferris, to 1st January
After the Reform:—
1836 William Davy, from 1st January to 9th November
1836 John Batten, elected 9th November
1837 Richard Pearce
1838 Richard Moyle
1839 John Batten
1840 John Robyns
1841 Richard Longfield Davies
1842 Richard Pearce
1843 John Batten
1844 Samuel Pidwell
1845 Edward Bolitho
1846 Thomas Simon Bolitho
1847 Richard Pearce
1848 John Nicholas Richards Millett
1849 Samuel Pidwell
1850 Robert Branwell
1851 Richard Pearce
1852 Thomas Simon Bolithio
1853 Samuel Higgs
1854 Delbœuf Baker Bedford
1855 Walter Borlase
1856 Thomas Coulson
1857 William Davies Mathews
1858 Richard Pearce
1859 Francis Boase
1860 Samuel Higgs
1861 William Davies Mathews
1862 Rowland Augustus Griffiths Davies
1863 Rowland Augustus Griffiths Davies and William Davies Mathews
1864 Francis Boase
1865 John Richards Branwell
1866 Francis Boase
1867 Francis Boase
1868 John Richards Branwell
1869 Nicholas Berriman Downing
1870 Francis Boase
1871 John Richards Branwell
1872 Henry Coulson York
1873 Francis Boase
1874 William Henry Rodd
1875 William Henry Rodd

The greater part of the foregoing List is extracted from an original MS. in my possession, entitled, “Memoranda selected from the Archives of the Corporation of Penzance, by Mr. Thomas Giddy, many years senior Alderman, and ten times chief Magistrate of that place.“ Mr. Giddy died in 1825, and the names occurring after that date have been supplied from the office of the town clerk.

* John Clies, or Clyes, is mentioned in the charter as the successor of Jahn Madern in case of the death of the latter before he fulfilled the office, therefore he was probably the second Mayor; at all events, he was twice Mayor of Penzance as stated on his monument in Madron church, and he died on the 27th of November, 1623.

State of Society in Mount’s Bay. See Dr. Davy’s Life of Sir Humphry Davy, vol. i., p. 8. Possibly some of the statements must be taken cum grano.

§ Mrs. Treweeke and the pig. this somewhat extraordinary story is vouched for by a person who was living at the time.

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