The following is from [Universal 1791] and must be read in the context of that date.

PENZANCE, Cornwall.

PENZANCE is the farthest town of any note west, being two hundred and eighty-nine miles from London, and within ten miles of the promontory call the Land’s End; so that this promontory is from London two hundred and ninety-nine miles, or thereabouts. It was burnt in 1595 by the Spaniards, who, with four galleys, surprised this part of the coast, and set several villages and farms on fire; but it was soon rebuilt, made one of the coinage towns, and now has a considerable trade. It lies in the parish of Madern, noted for its restorative spring, effectual in the cure of lameness, as well as the cholic, &c. It is well built and populous, and has many ships belonging to it. Here is a good market on Thursday, and fairs on Trinity-Thursday and Holy-Thursday

Here are a great many good families of gentlemen, though in this utmost angle of the nation; and, which is more strange, the veins of lead, tin, and copper[,] ore, are said to be seen, even to the utmost extent of land, at low water mark, and in the very sea. So rich, so valuable, a treasure is contained in these parts of Great Britain, though they are supposed to be poor, because so remote from London, which is the centre of our wealth.

The method of laying and pressing their fish, especially pilchards, is as follows: They pile them up on a bed of great length and bredth, to wit, as long and broad as the house made for that purpose will permit, and breast-high; then in the wall behind, they have a hole into which they thrust a rafter or post of one or two great stones, of which they have many lying there, with a great hook of iron fastened in them for that purpose; of these holes and rafters they have many all along the bed, which press down the boards wherewith the bed of fish is covered, and so press the fish equally underneath the bed; they have a gutter to receive and convey the oil which comes from the fish into a vessel made on purpose i the ground at one end of the house. They have a pretty quay made with a pier of stone, and a good yard for shipping.

Penzance sends no members to parliament.

The Methodists have a meeting-house here; as have the Quakers, Calvinists, and Presbyterians; and the Jews have a synagogue.

The post arrives from Helston every day about eight o’clock in the mornng, and returns at six in the evening.—Russell’s waggon from Falmouth arrives once a week.

The following is a list of the principal inhabitants:


John Beard, Esq. Mayor

John Batten, Esq. Justice

John Price, Esq.

Thomas Pasco, Esq.

Walter Burlace, Esq.

John Tonquin, Esq.

George John, Esq.

John Tremeneer, Esq.

Thomas John, Esq.

Thomas Gildy, Esq.

John Beard, jun. Town-crier

Common Council.

Peter John, Gent. (F.)

John Vigurs, Gent. (F.)

Daniel Ley, Gent. (F.)

Charles Viport, (F.)

John Reed, jun. (F.)

Thomas Roberts (F.)

Thomas Branwill (F.)

John Batten, jun. (F.)


Bird Bertie, Esq.

Burlace Mrs. Elizabeth

Burlace Miss Caroline

Hill William, Esq.

Jenkin Mrs.

Robins Mrs.

Treweek Mrs.


Batten Rev. Joseph, Dissenting Minister

Burlace Rev. Wm. Vicar of Madern

Coryton Rev. George, Curate

Thompson Rev. J. Thomas

Tonquin Rev. William


Burlace John Bingham, Surgeon

Hawey William, Druggist

Pennick Henry, Surgeon

Warne James, Surgeon

Woodis George, Surgeon


Beard John, jun. Attorney

John George, Attorney

John Samuel, Attorney

Painter Charles, Coroner, and Deputy
Steward of the Court of the Hundred of Penwith

Pasco James, Attorney

Roberts Eldred, Attorney

Scopell Aaron, Attorney

Stephens William, Scrivener

Tremencer John, Attorney


Acorbadilley Ralph, Grocer

Battin Nehemiah, Merchant

Baws Francis, Butcher

Blaxland ———, Excise-officer

Blewet Hannibal Colonel, Mercer

Bolitho Thomas, Tanner

Bramwell Richard, Innkeeper

Bramwell Joseph, Butcher

Broad Thomas, Innkeeper

Broad William, Maltster

Broad James, Grocer

Bullock Richard and Thomas, Shipwrights

Caine William, Grocer

Cock Solomon, Mason

Colensoe Robert, King’s Head Tavern

Colson Thomas, Painter

Colson ———, Watchmaker

Corin John, sen. Cordwainer

Cunnack Richard, Tanner

Cunnack John, Tanner

Cunnack James, Currier

Davey William, Watchmaker

Dinnes Grace, Mercer

Dinnes John, Clothier

Dunkin Robert, Sadler

Dunkin John, Merchant

Edmans William, Currier

Edwards James, sen. Merchant

Edwards James, jun. Merchant

Ellis John, Merchant

Fennil John, Schoolmaster

Frant John, Tallow-chandler

Gardner Alexander, London Inn

Halse Thomas, Merchant

Hambleton Edward, Architect

Heath John, Innkeeper

Hewett John, sen. Stationer

Hewett John, jun. Stationer

Hoskin Thomas, Mariner

Husband William, Star Tavern

Jeffery John, Blacksmith

Judge Mark, Mariner

Julian John, Tide-waiter

Keam John, Shopkeeper

Kevil James, Shipwright

Kevil Thomas, Hotel

Lloyd Barnabas, Grocer

Love Thomas, Merchant

Luke John, Brewer

Marshall John, Peruke-maker

Matthews John, Victualler

Matthews Henry, Innkeeper

Matthews Joseph, Sailmaker

Mitchell William, Victualler

Mitchell Joseph, Innkeeper

Nicholls Samuel, Shipwright

Nicholls Joseph, Deputy Comptroller of the Customs

Ninnis John, Peruke-maker

Owens Henry, Blacksmith

Oxnam Richard, Merchant

Paul Thomas, Butcher

Pedwell Benjamin, Mercer and Draper

Penbethey Thomas, Brazier

Penbethey Jane, Grocer

Phillips Susanna, Victualler

Pidwell Thomas, Hat-maker

Polgrean William, Sadler

Prian John, Innkeeper

Purchase William, Mariner

Reed James, Innkeeper

Reynolds Sampson, Innkeeper

Richards Nicholas, Innkeeper

Richards William, Taylor

Richards William, Land-surveyor

Richards William, Millwright

Roberts Humphry, Peruke-maker

Roberts John, Mason

Roberts Henry, Hat-maker

Rogers John, Mercer

Roope Richard, Cordwainer

Sampson Henry, Watchmaker

Scadden Richard, Painter

Scopell John, Collector of the Customs

Stone Elizabeth, Ship and Castle Tavern

Tonquin Thomas, Blacksmith

Treludrow William, Mariner

Videley Richard, Innkeeper

Vigurs Thomas, Victualler

Williams John, Grocer

Willis Thomas, Gardener

Woodis George, Builder

Gentlemen’s seats in the neighbourhood of Penzance:—Richard Hitching, Esq. has a seat at Paltier, about one mile north-west.—Trenear, the seat of J. Robins, Esq. half a mile north.—Trereiff, the seat of Mrs. Nichols, one mile west.—Castle Horneck, the seat of Samuel Burlace, Esq.—Kereggie, the seat of the Rev. William Harris, one mile east.Treveler, the seat of William Veal, Esq. one mile north.—Vickeridge House, the seat of Charles Pennick, Esq.

About half a mile west of Penzance is a remarkable tin-mine, called the Wherry Mine, about thirty fathom deep, the mouth of which, at high tide, is six fathom under the surface of the sea. A bridge, one hundred and twenty fathom long, reaches from the shore to a large platform, which is surrounded by water, as above; the miners descend through a wooden case, by means of a windlass, to the mouth of the shaft or mine, and from thence by ladders to the bottom. The mine is remarkably rich, and yields the adventurers large sums.

Between Penzance and St. Burien, a town midway between it and the Land’s End, stands a circular temple of the Druids, consisting of nineteen stones, the distance between each being twelve feet, and a twentieth in the centre much higher than the rest; not unlike those of Stonehenge, described vol. ii. p. 38. The parish where they stand is called Biscardwoune, from whence the ancient and noble family of Boscawen (viscounts Falmouth) derives its name. In Cleer parish, in this county, six or eight stones of prodigious bigness likewise stand up in a circle; a monument of the like nature. These are probably, as those at Stonehenge and Burien, remains of Druids temples.

The Maen-amber, near Penzance, was also a very remarkable stone, which as Mr. Camden tells us, though it be of a vast bigness, yet might be moved with one finger, notwithstanding a great number of men could not remove it from its place. It was destroyed, as one of the same sort was in Fifeshire, Scotland, by one of Oliver’s governors; for those reformers had a notion of these works being of a superstitious kind. Maen is a British word for a great stone; there is one of these stones, as Dr. Stukeley tell us, in Derbyshire; and Mr. Toland acquaints us, that there are also such in Ireland, as well as Wales; he gives the following account of this piece of antiquity:—“At a place called Maen-amber, says he, is an heap of stones, roundish, and of vast bulk; but so artificially pitched on flat stones, sometimes more sometimes fewer in number, that, touching the great stone lightly, it moves, and seems to totter, to the great amazement of the ignorant; but stirs not, at least not sensibly, when one uses his whole strength.”

Near Penzance, but open to the sea, is that gulph they call Mount’s Bay, named so from an high hill standing in the water, or rather a rock, which they call St. Michael’s Mount; the seamen call it only the Cornish Mount. On the top is a church, which is occasionally used for divine service, and has a good ring of bells in the tower. At the bottom are docks for the building and repairing of small vessels, with houses for the habitation of the artificers, &c. At low water there is a dry passage from the main land to it.

A little up in the country towards the north-west is Godolchan; which, though an hill rather than a town, gives name to the ancient and noble family of Godolphin; and nearer on the northern coast is Ryalton, which gave the second title to the Earls of Godolphin. The place also is infinitely rich in tin-mines.

[there next follows an extensive description of the Scilly Islands.]

The point of the main land, called the Lizard, which runs out to the southward, and the other main promontory called the Land’s End, make the two angles or horns, as they are called, from whence it is supposed this country received its first name in Cornwall, or, as Mr. Camden says, Cornubia in the Latin, and, in the British, Cerneu, as running out in two vastly-extended horns. The Lizard Point is still more useful (though not so far west) than the other, which is more properly called the Land’s End, being more frequently first discovered from the sea; and is therefore the general guide, and the land which the ships choose to make first, bein then sure that they are past Scilly.

Nature has fortified this part of the island of Britain in a strange manner, and very much worth a traveller’s observation. First, there are the islands of Scilly, and the rocks about them; which are placed like out-works to resist the first assaults of this enemy the ocean, and so break the force of it; as the piles or stirlings (as they are called) are placed before the solid stone-work of London-bridge, to fence off the force, either of the water or ice, or any thing else that might be dangerous to the work. Then there are a vast number of sunk rocks besides such as are visible and above water; which gradually lessen the quantity of water, that would otherwise lie with an infinite weight and force upon the land. It is observed, that these rocks lie under water for a great way off into the sea on every side the said two horns or points of land; so breaking the force of the water, and lessening the weight of it. But, besides this, the whole body of the land, which makes this part of the isle of Britain, seems to be one solid rock, as if it was formed by nature to sesist the otherwise irresistible power of the ocean. And, indeed, if one were to observe with what fury the sea comes on sometimes against the shore, especially at the Lizard Point, where theer are but few, if any, outworks to resist it; how high the waves come forward, storming on the back of one another, particularly when the wind blows off-sea, one would wonder, that even the strongest rocks themselves should be able to resist and repel them. An yet, as if all this were not enough, nature has provided another strong fence; and that is, that these vast rocks are, in a manner, cemented together by the solid and weighty ore of tin and copper, especially the latter, with which the stones may be laid to be soldered together, lest the force of the sea should separate and disjoint them, and breaking in upon these fortifications of the island, destroy its cheif security. It is very probable that all these isles were once part of the main land; but the sea, violently beating against it, carried off the softer parts and left the harder. This process of nature and time may be seen in miniature at the western point of the Isle of Wight, and many other exposed places. Undoubtedly, had not such hard bodies as these rocks been there, the sea would have made still greater havock, and carried away much more of the land. This is certain, that there is a more than ordinary quantity of tin and copper, and lead also, fixed by the great Author of Nature in these very remote angles, so that the ore is found upon the very surface of the rocks a good way into the sea, and does not only lie, as it were, upon or between the stones among the earth, which in that case might be washed from it by the sea; but is even blended or mixed with the stones themselves, so that the stones must be split into pieces to come at it. By this mixture the rocks are made exceedingly weighty and solid, and thereby still the more qualified to repel the force of the sea.

Upong this remote part are numbers of that famous king of crows, which is known by the name of the Cornish chough; they are the same kind which are found in Switzerland among the Alps, and which Pliny pretended were peculiar to those mountains, and calls the Pyrrhocorax. The body is black; the legs, feet, and bill, of a yellow, almost to a red. It is of a ravenous nature, and is very mischievous; it will steal and carry away any thing about the house, that is not too heavy for it, though not fit for its food; as knives, forks, spoons, and linen-cloths, or whatever it can fly away with: sometimes, they say, it has stolen bits of firebrands, or lighted candles, and lodged them in the stacks of corn, and in the thatch of barns and houses, and set them on fire.

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