The following is from [Carew 1602] and must be read in the context of that date.


My last labour, for closing up this wearisome Survey, is bounded, as Cornwall itself, and so the west part of England, with Penwith Hundred. The name in English signifieth the Head of Ashen Trees, belike for some such eminent mark while the country was better stored with timber. The Danes sailing about Penwith Steort (saith Hoveden1) made foul havoc in Devon and Cornwall.

Upon the north sea lieth Nance, which importeth a valley, and houseth a Gent, who there through, hath worn out his former name, of Trengoue, in English, the Smith’s Town, and assumed this: he married Sir John Arundel’s daughter of Trerice: and beareth Argent a cross haumed Sable. During summer season the seals haunt a cave in the cliff thereby, and you shall see a great store of them apparently show themselves, and approach very near the shore at the sound of any loud music or other such noise.

Beyond Nance, Mr. Basset2 possesseth Tehidy who married Godolphin, his father Coffyn: he beareth Or three piles in point Gules a Canton Ermine with a difference.

And so, leaving these private inhabitances and keeping still the north coast, we arive at the town and port of St. Ives, both of mean plight, yet with their best means (and often, to good and necessary purpose) succouring distressed shipping. Order hath been taken, and attempts made for bettering the road with a pier, but either want, or slackness, or impossibility, hitherto withhold the effect. The whiles, plenty of fish is here taken, and sold very cheap.

As you row to the westward from hence, the sea floweth into a large cave further up than any man durst yet adventure to discover, and the cliffs thereabouts muster long streaks of a glittering hue, which import a show of copper; and copper mines are found, and wrought in the grounds adjoining.

Mr. Camden observeth that near hereunto stood the watch-tower mentioned by Orosius,3 and oppositely placed to such another in Galicia.

Stepping over to the south sea (for the distance is in comparison but a step) St. Michael’s Mount looketh so aloft as it brooketh no concurrent for the highest place. Ptolemy4 termeth it Ocrinum, the Cornishmen, Cara Cowz in Clowze, that is, The Hoar Rock in the Wood. The same is sundered from the mainland by a sandy plain of a flight-shoot in breadth, passable at the ebb on foot, with boat on the flood. Your arrival on the farther side is entertained by an open green of some largeness, which finishing where the hill beginneth, leaves you to the conduction of a winding and craggy path, and that at the top delivereth you into a little plain occupied for the greatest part by a fort of the old making. It compriseth lodgings for the captain and his garrison, and a chapel for devotion, this latter builded by William Earl of Mortain, to whom William the Conqueror his uncle gave much lands in those quarters, and greatly hunted, while folk endured their merits, by far traveling. They have a tye-pit,5 not so much satisfying use as relieving necessity. A little without the castle there is a bad seat in a craggy place, called St. Michael’s Chair, somewhat dangerous for access and therefore holy for the adventure.

Until Richard the First’s reign the Mount seemeth to have served only for religion, and (during his imprisonment) to have been first fortified by Henry de Pomeroy, who surprised it and expulsed the monks. Howbeit soon after, when he became ascertained of his Sovereign’s enlargement, the very fear of ensuing harm wrought in him a present effect of the uttermost that any harm could bring, namely his death: whereon the old cell and new fort were surrendered to the Archbishop of Canturbury in the King’s behalf. Thus Hoveden reporteth. But the descendants from this Pomeroy make a somewhat different relation of this accident; for they affirm that a sergeant of arms of the King’s came to their ancestor at his castle of Berry Pomeroy in Devon, received kind entertainment for certain days together, and at his departure was gratified with a liberal reward, in counterchange whereof he then, and no sooner, revealing his long concealed errand, flatly arresteth his host to make his immediate appearance before the King for answering a capital crime. Which unexpected and ill-carried message the gentleman took such despite as with his dagger he stabbed the messenger to the heart; and then well knowing in so superlative an offence all hope of pardon foreclosed, gets to a sister of his abiding in this Mount, bequeatheth a large portion of his land to the religious people there for redeeming his soul, and lastly causeth himself to be let blood unto death, for leaving the remainder to his heir. From which time forward this place continued rather a school of Mars than the Temple of Peace. For shortly after the discomfiture of Henry the Sixth his party by Edward the Fourth [margin 11. E. 4.] at Barnet Field, John Earl of Oxford, who had made one, and one of the principal on the weaker side, arrived here by shipping, disguised himself with some of his followers in pilgrims’ habits, therethrough got entrance, mastered the garrison, and seized the place. Which thus politicly won he as valiantly kept, and kept a long time defended against the King’s power, until reasonable conditions swayed him to surrender.

A like surprise, but of later date, I read in Popeliniere [margin 2. Vol. Lib. 31.], touching the like named and seated mount, in Normandy.

During the last Cornish commotion,6 divers gentlemen with their wives and families fled to the protection of this place, where the rebels besieged them, first winning the plain at the hill’s foot by assault when the water was out, and then the even ground on top by carrying up great trusses of hay before them, to blench the defendants’ sight and deaden their shot. After which they could make but slender resistance, for no sooner than anyone within peep out his head over those enflanked walls but he became an open mark to a whole shower of arrows. This disadvantage, together with the women’s dismay and decrease of victuals, forced a surrender to those rakehells’ mercy, who, nothing guilty of that effeminate virtue, spoiled their goods, imprisoned their bodies, and were rather by God’s gracious providence that any want of will, purpose, or attempt, restrained from murdering the principal persons.

Here also [margin 13. H. 7.] was the Lady Katherine Gordon (an unfit yoke-fellow for that counterfeit Prince, Perkin Warbeck) taken by the Lord Daubeney for the King. Of this, as the last wonder:

Who Knows not, Michael’s Mount and Chair
The pilgrims’ holy vaunt?
Both land and island twice a day,
Both fort and port of vaunt.

Under the Mount extendeth a bay for lesser vessels to lie at, and between it and the western shore there is an indifferent good road for shipping, saving upon some winds, called the Mount’ Bay, where, by Froissart’s report, Sir Robert Knolles landed, what time his return out of France, was by King Edward the Third. commanded, and for his valiant exploits there achieved, very graciously welcomed.

Over against the Mount fronteth a town of petty fortune, pertinently named Marcaiew, or Marhas Diow,7 in English the Thursday’s Market, for then it useth this traffic. At the beginning of King Henry the Eighth’s reign it felt the Frenchmen’s firey indignation, who landed there with thirty sail. But the smoke of those poor houses calling in the country to the rescue, made the place over hot for the enemy’s any longer abode.

Mousehole in Cornish is name Porthennis, and in Latin Portus Insulæ, both importiong one sense, to wit, the Island Haven, and so called through a little island placed before it.

Mr. Holinshed8 telleth us that near hereunto, not many years sithence, certain tinners as they were working, found spear-heads, battle-axes, and swords of copper, wrapped in linen clouts and little impaired through their long lying.

Penzance, by interpretation the Saint’s Head, is a market town not so regardable for his substance as memorable for his late accident of the Spaniards’ firing, which fell out in this manner:

The three & twentieth of July, 1595, soon after the sun was risen and had chased a fog which before kept the sea out of sight, four galleys of the enemy presented themselves upon the coast over-against Mousehole, and there in a fair bay landed about two hundred men, pikes and shot, who forthwith sent their forlorn hope, consisting of their basest people, unto the straggled houses of the country about half a mile compass or more, by whom were burned not only the houses they went by but also the parish church of Paul, the force of the fire being such as it utterly ruined all the great pillars thereof. Others of them in that time burned that fisher town Mousehole, the rest marched as a guard for defence of these first firers. The inhabitants being feared with the Spaniards’ landing and burning, fled from their dwellings, and very meanly weaponed met with Sir Francis Godolphin on a green on the west side of Penzance, who that forenoon coming from his house for pacifying some controversies in those western parts, and from the hills espying the fires in that town, church, and houses, hastened thither: who forthwith sent to all the captains of those parts for their speedy repair with their companies, and also sent by post to Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins (then at Plymouth with a fleet bound for the Indies) advertisement of the arrival of these four galleys and of their burnings, advising them to look to themselves if there were any greater fleet of the enemy’s at sea, and to send west with all haste what succours by sea or land they could spare. Then Sir Francis Godolphin advised that weak assembly to retire into Penzance and to prepare it for defence until the coming of the country forces that he had sent for. But they finding themselves in number something above a hundred, wherein were about thirty of forty shot, though scarce one third of them were serviceable, insisted to march against the enemies to repel them from further spoils of their houses.

But while they were marching towards them, the Spaniards returned aboard their galleys and presently removed them farther into the bay, where they anchored again, before and near a lesser fisher town called Newlyn.

There again with all speed they landed, and embattled in the slope of a hill about four hundred pikes and shot, sending about two ranks of soldiers, three in a rank, up to the top of the hill to discover what forces or ambushes of the country might lie in view: who espying none but those that were returned with Sir Francis Godolphin from their forementioned fruitless march, gave notice thereof to their embattled company, whereupon they forthwith marched towards Penzance.

Upon their moving Sir Francis Godolphin moved also to enter Penzance before them, and as soon as that weak number were entered into the open green, being of three quarters of a mile length, the galleys ceased not to ply them all that way with their ordnance from their prows as busily as they could. Of which shot, though none were hurt, but only a constable unhorsed without any harm, saving the show on his doublet of the bullets sliding by his back, yet many in a fearful manner, some fell flat to the ground and others ran away.

Sir Francis sent after those that were entered Penzance before him, that they should make their stand at the market-place, himself staying hindmost to observe the enemy’s order and which way they would make their approach. Which done, he found at the said market-place but only two resolute shot who stood at his command, and some ten or twelve others that followed him, most of them his own servants; the rest, surprised with fear, fled, whom neither with his persuasions nor threatening with his rapier drawn could he recall.

Finding himself thus abandoned and the enemy entered the town in three parts, he was then forced to depart, the enemies beginning their fire some houses behind him. The town thus fired, as also the forementioned little fisher town Newlyn, they returned again to their galleys.

By this time, towards evening, the Cornish forces, increased in number and amended in heart, encamped themselves on the green near to the town of Markasiew and St. Michael’s Mount for the defence thereof, and there spent out the night. The next day the enemy made show to land again on the west side of the bay, but seeing the people, though few in number yet resolute to resist, they desisted from their enterprise, and besides, finding themselves annoyed by the shooting of bullets and arrows into their galleys where they rode at anchor, they were forced to remove them farther off.

Soon after, viz. on the 25th of July in the morning, came hither Sir Nic. Clifford, Sir H. Power, and certain other captains who were sent by the generals from Plymouth to the camp, as some of her Majesty’s ships were also sent, who being come as far as the Lizard Head, and those captains to the camp, matters there go on in provident and orderly sort. A plot is laid for intercepting the enemy by ambush if he thrust on shore again, whereto necessity must soon have pressed him for renewing his consumed store of fresh water, but within one hour after the arrival of the captains, the wind, which was until then strong at south-east with mist and rain to have impeached the galleys’ return, suddenly changed into the north-west with very fair and clear weather, as if God had a purpose to preserve these his rods for a longer time. The wind no sooner came good, but away pack the galleys with all the haste they could.

Thus you have a summary report of the Spaniards’ glorious enterprise and the Cornishmen’s infamous cowardice, which (were there any cause) I could qualify by many reasons: as, the suddenness of the attempt, the narrowness of the country, the openness of the town, the advantage of the galleys’ ordnance on a people unprepared against such accidents through our long continued peace, and at that very time for the most part either in their tin-works or at sea, who ere the next day made a resistance even with a handful, and entered a vowed resolution to revenge their loss at the next encounter if the enemy had landed again.

So might I likewise say, that all these circumstances meeting in any other quarter of the realm would hardly have produced much better effects. But I will not seek to thrust my countrymen into any other folks’ company, for shifting them out of sight.

Verily such sudden surprises work more indignity than damage, and more damage than disgrace, and have so been ever construed. Moscow, a head city in a populous dominion, was burned by the roguing Tartars, anno Domini 1572 [margin Liu. lib. 3.]; the Capitol, a head fortress in a populous city, was taken by slaves and outlaws, anno urbis 292; and yet who therefore exalteth the Tartars’ valiancy above the Muscovite, or the Romans’ slaves and outlaws above their masters? Besides, such nap-taking assaults, spoilings, and firings, have in our forefathers’ days, between us and France been very common; and yet who is so witless as to twit either or both for the same?

But least hold can the author and actor of this tragedy take to build any vaunt thereon; for oftentimes small troops of ours against far greater forces than theirs, yea (sometimes) after forewarning and preparing, have won, possessed, ransacked, singed, captived, and carried away the towns, wealth, and inhabitants, not only of their Indies but of Portugal and Spain itself, which Nombre de Dios, St. Domingo, Carthagena, the lower town of the Groyne,9 Peniche, the suburbs of Lisbon, and Cadiz will testify beyond all exception. But our countrymen, leaving reason and example, excused themselves by destiny. In fatis, they say (and not in fatuis10) it was that the Cornish people should undergo this misfortune, for an ancient prophecy in their own language long run amongst them, how there should land upon the rock of Merlin those that would burn Paul’s church, Penzance, and Newlyn. And indeed so is the rock called where the enemy first stept on shore. The prophecy is this:

Ewra teyre a war meane Merlyn
Ara Lesky Pawle Pensanz ha Newlyn.

More about The Spanish Attack

Not far from the Land’s End there is a little village called Trebegean, in English the town of the Giant’s Grave, near whereunto and within memory (as I have been informed) certain workmen searching for tin discovered a long square vault which contained the bones of an excessive big carcase, and verified the etymology of the name.

At Saint Buryan, a parish of great circuit, and like benefit to the incumbent, King Athelstan accomplished his vow in founding a college of priests, what time he had conquered the Scilly Islands.

Chiverton signifieth a house on the green lea, and a castle on a green hill is given by the gentleman of that name,11 who, in a quiet single life, maketh no further use of his knowledge gotten in the laws during his younger age, or that experience wherewith a long course of years hath sithence enriched him, then may tend, sine lucro, to the advancement of public justice, or, sine strepitu,12 to the advancement of his private acquaintance.

Sundry other gentlemen people that remote quarter, as Lavelis, &c. touching whom I must plead non sum informatus.

Diogenes, after he had tired his scholars with a long Lecture, finding at last the void paper, Be glad, my friends (quoth he) we are come to harbour. With the like comfort, in an unlike resemblance, I will refresh
you, who have vouchsafed to travaile in the rugged and
wearysome path of mine ill-pleasing stile, that now your journey
endeth with the land; to whose Promontory (by Pomp.
, called Bolerium: by Diodorus, Valerium: by
Volaterane, Helenium: by the Cornish, Pedn
an Laaz
: and by the English, The
Land’s End) because we are
arrived, I will here
sit mee down
and rest.

Deo gloria: mihi gratia. 1602. April. 23.

1 Roger of Hoveden, a twelfth-century chronicler.

2 James Basset (d. 1604); he married Jane Godolphin, daughter of Sir Francis.

3 A fifth-century Spaniard who wrote a universal history.

4 The Alexandrian mathematician, astronomer, and geographer of the second century.

5 Pit for collecting water.

6 The Prayer Book Rebellion, 1549.

7 I.e. Marazion. The main street in Penzance, leading to Marazion, is called Market Jew Street.

8 Raphael Holinshead (c. 1529–c. 1580). The second (1587) edition of his Chronicles, used by Shakespeare, was edited by Carew’s friend, John Hooker.

9 Corunna, sacked by Drake in 1589.

10 By fate and not by foolishness.

11 Thomas Chiverton of Paul, near Newlyn (d. 1604), was the author of Chiverton’s Obits, and Burials of Cornish Gentlemen, a manuscript now lost.

12 Without gain … without fuss.

Other extracts from the book include [a little edited] …

The free tenants services, are ordinary with those of other places, save that they pay in most places only fee-Morton releeses, which is after five marks the whole Knight’s fee, (so called of John Earl first of Morton, then of Cornwall, and lastly King of this land) whereas that of fee-Gloucester is five pounds. And to accomplish this part, I have here inserted a note of the Cornish Knight’s fees and acres, which I received from my learned and religious kinsman Master Robert Moyle.

Hundred de Penwith.

Will, de Campo Arnulphi ten. 7 feod. & di. in Luduon trewedryn, Maien & Kellemeke.
Will. Basset ten. 1. feod in Tihidi & Trenalga.
Mich. de Bray ten. 2. partes vnius feod. in Bray
Alanas Bloighon ten 2. feod. in Tremall.
Haeres Marci de Walestbren ten. 2. partes feod. in Veno.
Episcop. Exon. ten dimid. feod. in Lauestli.
Haeres Iocei Dynnan ten. 1. feod. in Gorten.
Comes Gloc. ten. 4. part. unius feod. in Draynneck.
Idem. Comes ten. 1. feod. in Couerton.
Idem. Comes ten. 1. feod. in Binnerton.
Idem. Comes ten. 5. part. 1. feod. in Loigans.
Haeres Ties ten. dimid. feod. in Alverton.
Marchio Dorset. ten. 4. feod. in Trenwel.

Extenta acrarum Cornub. facta coram Salom. de Ross. & Sociis suis Iustic. itinerant, apud Launceston a die Paschae in 3. septimanas anno Reg. Edw. 12.

Hundred de Penwith.

Decunar. de Tihidi. 70. Lanistly 28. Acr.
Redwory 14. Acras. Alwarton. 64.
Couerton. 45. Trefruss. 3.
Treruffe. 1. Marchel. 23.
Dreyneck. 5. Trefundryn. 20.
Bennerton. 45. Maen. 15.
Gurlyn. 15. Bree. 8.
Loygans. 9. Kelyneck. 24.
Tenent de Tregony. 9. Warewil. 25.
Penuerthy. 8. Tredyne. 1.
Vthno. 8. Trewannard.
Prior Mich. 8. Kelision. 6.
Treynwal. 20. Tredeny. 3.
Luddeuan. 55.
Sum. 532. Acr.

I will conclude with the highest jurisdiction, namely, the Parliament, to which Cornwall, through the grace of his Earls, sendeth an equal, if not larger number of Burgesses, to any other shire. The boroughs so priviledged, more of favour (as the case now standeth with many of them) than merit, are these following: Launceston, Downeuet, Liskerd, Lostwithiel, Truro, Bodmyn, Helston, Saltash, Camelford, Eastloo, Westloo, Prury, Tregny, Kellington, Bossimy, S. Ives, S. Germans, Meddishole, and S. Mawes: and because Quindec. are ordinarily granted at Parliaments, together with the Subsidies, I will here set down the ordinary rate of them.

Md. de 15. Cornub. in Paroch. subsequent. vt patet. p.

Hund. de Penwith

Paroc. S. Iusti. 2li.11s.8d. S. Hillary 2.18.8
S. Gorian. 8.5.2 Caniborn. 4.2.0
S. Gorgian. 1.15.6 Laundut. 6.16.5
S. Crowen. 2.2.2 Vthno. 0.12.6
S. Michaels. 2.11.3 Germogh. 0.10.8
S. Illogan. 4.7.10 S. Synan. 3.6.0
S. Erly. 3.11.8 S. Maddern. 4.12.0
S. Luduan. 2.16.6 S. Twynnock. 2.5.0
Morueth. 0.17.6 S. Felis. 2.1.2
S. Siluan. 2.12.5 Kedruth. 1.12.5
S. Sancred. 1.14.0 S. Winner. 3.6.0
S. Ey. 3.6.8 S. Pawl. 6.17.0
S. Sennar. 2.11.1 Woluele. 3.5.0
Sum. 81. 8. 6.

Md. postea sequuntur deductiones & allocat. de eisdem sum. appunctuat. per Edmund. Episc. Exon. & Thom. Bodulgat tunc vn. milit. praed. Com. in Anno 24. H. 6. vt pt. p. particulariter.

Hund. de Penwith.

Luduan. 0.9.0 S. Sencrede. 0.15.0
Camborn. 1.0.0 S. Felix. 0.6.0
S. Senan. 0.13.0 S. Selenan. 0.10.0
S. Gothian. 0.10.0 S. Michaels. 0.10.0
S. Ius t. 0.10.0 S. Pawl. 1.0.0
S. Veryn. 2.0.0 S. Thebut. 1.0.0
S. Wynner. 0.10.0 S. Grey. 0.9.0
Sum. 10. 2. 0.

More about Penwith