About a mile to the south of Tregenna Castle, on an elevated piece of coarse land called the Cock Hill plantation, stands Knill’s monument.Knill's Monument

Mr. John Knill was born in the eastern part of the county, and served his clerkship as an attorney at Penzance, from whence he removed to the office of a London attorney, where, having distinguished himself by application and intelligence he was recommended to the Earl of Buckinghamshire, who at the time held the political interest of S. Ives, to be his local agent.

After residing for some time at S. Ives, Mr. Knill was sent on a mission to the West Indies, highly honourable to his abilities and character, with authority to inspect all the custom houses and their establishments; and if sufficient cause should appear, with power to suspend any one, however high, from his office.

Having executed the functions thus delegated with integrity and moderation, he returned to the collectorship at S. Ives, and engaged in the anomalous and questionable speculation of privateering.

Mr. Knill was drawn by the force of circumstances, contrary to his inclination and habits, and to his deep subsequent regret, into doing what others did, and participating in the unsanctified gains. It is understood, however, that he showed every kindness in his power to those who wore made prisoners; and that he restored several articles of their more valued property at his own individual loss.

About this time Mr. Knill erected the monument with which his name and eccentricities are more particularly associated. It consists of a triangular basement, the sides of which are each twenty-five feet; on this is raised a pedestal, the sides of which recede two feet from the outer edge of the basement; this is surmounted by a triangular spire, which can be seen from a considerable distance. On the south side of the pedestal is a blocked doorway, through which access might be had to the mausoleum. The basement has flights of steps on two sides. On the south side of the spire is inscribed, JOHANNES KNILL, 1782; on the eastern side I know that my redeemer liveth; and on the south-western side resurgam, with the arms of Knill, namely, Gules, crusily fitchee, a lion rampant, or, with the motto, Nil desperandum. The monument, which is entirely constructed of granite ashlar, stands on a square floor of granite, and is enclosed with iron rails and gates. The land on which this singular structure stands formerly belonged to Davis Gilbert Esq., P.R.S., and the trustees paid him a rental of sixpence per year, secured on a farm of some value, with a power of distress. It is now the property of J. A. Stephens, Esq.

At his death Mr. Knill left certain property, with the monument, to the care and trust of the incumbent, mayor, and the collector of customs, of S. Ives, and directed that every five years, on the feast day of S. James the apostle, ten pounds should be expended by them in dinner at some tavern in the borough; each of them to invite two friends, making a party of nine persons. Five pounds to be equally divided among ten girls, every one not exceeding ten years of age, natives of the borough, and daughters of seamen, fishermen, or tinners, who shall, between ten and twelve o’clock in the forenoon of that day, dance for a quarter of an hour at least, on the ground adjoining the [the] mausoleum, and after the dance sing the 100th psalm of the old version, “to the fine old tune” to which the same was sung in S. Ives church. One pound to a fiddler to play to the girls while dancing and singing around the monument, also before them on their return therefrom. The fete is still kept up, and so far as the funds will admit the poor are also remembered.

Mr. Knill was a man of considerable talent. When the Earl of Buckinghamshire became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, he selected him for his private secretary; but not liking the bustle, nor perhaps the responsibility of his situation, he returned to S. Ives, where his philanthropy and general kindness were well known.

He, however, removed to London, resided in Grey’s Inn, was called to the bar, and became a bencher. He died March 29, 1811, and was interred according to a direction in his will, in S. Andrew’s church, Holborn.

Mr. Knill is said to have inherited, through an heiress, the property of the Saltrens of Egloskerry and S. Ive.

The Rev. Jonathan Toup, A.M., was born in this borough, and was baptized January 5, 1713-4. His father, of the same name, who died in 1721, was lecturer at the church. His mother was Prudence Busvargus, heiress of the family of Busvargus of Busvargus, in S. Just.

Mr. Toup, having probably received a rudimentary education from his father, became a commoner of Exeter College, Oxford, and having taken the usual B.A. degree, was ordained in 1736. In that year he became curate of Philleigh, and of Burian in 1738. His favourite pursuit appears to have been the study of the Greek language.

Through the interest of his uncle, Mr. William Busvargus, he became rector of S, Martins by Looe, in 1750. In addition to this his zealous patron and friend, Bishop Warburton, procured for him, in 1774, the vicarage of S. Merryn, and a prebend in Exeter Cathedral.

Mr. Toup took his M.A. degree at Cambridge in 1756, when he had somewhat passed the middle of life.

His chief work is said to be, Emendationes in Suidam; etc. These were printed in three parts, which came out in 3 vols. in the years 1760, 1764, and 1766; and were followed in 1775 by Appendiculum notarum in Suidam. All these have since been reprinted at Leipsic in 4 volumes octavo.

Mr. Toup also published by far the best edition that his appeared of Longinus; and he assisted Mr. Thomas Warton in his edition of Theocritus.

“His Annotations on Suidas,” wrote a critic of the day, “and on Theocritus, his edition of Longinus, and the notes which he contributed to almost every distinguished work of classical criticism published during his time, evinced deep learning, and in general great integrity. He censured freely and praised sparingly; but by a peculiar felicity in discovering the places to which the author alludes or quotes, he has explained difficulties, and illustrated obscurities with greater plausibility, and more undoubted success, than any of his predecessors.”

Mr. Toup died unmarried January 19, 1785, having held the rectory of S. Martins thirty-four years. In his domestic character he furnished an amiable and remarkable example of kindness to dumb animals. The children of his tenants were restrained from taking birds’ nests on his extensive glebe, as well as from confining birds in cages. The cow that had long supplied his family with milk was preserved from being killed, and supported during her old age, with the tenderest of care; and the dog who had for many years faithfully guarded his court-yard, too old to serve the office of keeper of the premises, was admitted to the comforts of the parlour, which be enjoyed until he died.

Mr.Toup’s learning was excelled only by his religion; and he exemplified the christian graces which he taught to others in his own conduct.

A monument was erected in S. Martins church to his memory by his niece and personal representative, Miss Phillis Blake, but the expense of it was afterwards repaid her by the delegates of the Oxford press, who also presented her with an edition of Shakespeare’s works, as a mark of respect for, so eminent a scholar, and in return for a present of Greek MSS.

S. Ives first returned members to parliament in 1558, 6 Mary. A charter of incorporation was procured from Charles I. in 1639, by Sir. Francis Basset, of Tehidy, who afterwards became the recorder. As a token of his attachment to the inhabitants he presented to the corporation a silver cup, which with the cover will contain six quarts. On its top is the figure of an armed man and the Basset crest; below is the following inscription:—

If any discord ’twixt my friends arise,
Within the borough of beloved St. Ives,
It is desyred tlat this my cupp of love
To everie one a peace-maker may prove;
Then am I blest to have given a legacie
So like my harte unto posteritie.

Francis Basset, Ao. 1640.

The charter of Charles I. was forfeited in 1685, and a new one was granted the next year by James II., in which the government of the town was vested in a mayor, recorder, town clerk, ten aldermen, and twelve common councilmen. Four of these were justices of the peace, and the mayor acts as coroner. The right of voting extended to all the inhabitants of the parish who paid scot and lot.

It appears that before the incorporation, the chief officer of the town was called the portreeve; and it was said that in 1549, Sir Anthony Kingston, provost-marshal to Edward VI., was sent into the west to execute rebels, and on his arrival at this town he ordered John Payne or Pyne, who was then portreeve, to be hung on a gallows erected for that purpose in the middle of the town.

By the Reform Act of 1832 the borough was deprived of one member, and the adjoining parishes of Lelant and Towednack were added to it for parliamentary elections. The municipal government is vested in a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors.

The market of S. Ives was originally granted by Edward I., in 1295, to William Bottreaux, to be held on Thursdays, within his manor of La Nant. The same charter also granted two fairs; one at the purification, and the other at the assumption of the virgin Mary.

In the 3 Henry VII. 1487, Sir Robert Willoughby, afterwards Lord Broke, having obtained the manor of S. Ives in marriage with the heiress of Champernowne, procured a charter for a weekly market to be held in the town on Saturdays, and two annual fairs. Previously the inhabitants were obliged to go to Lelant market. He also contributed largely towards erecting the market house in 1490; and built a fort and furnished it with large guns for the protection of the bay.

The charter of Charles 1. granted two weekly markets to be held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The market on Wednesdays, however, was soon discontinued. Also four fairs, namely May 10, July 20, September 26, and December 3; and the following day to each. A grammar school for the instruction of youth by a master and usher, of which the bishop of Exeter, the mayor, and the capital burgesses for the time being wore appointed governors, was founded under this charter.

At present but one fair only is held in the town, namely, on December 1.

A town hall, with a substantial and commodious market house, were erected in 1832, at an expense of £1000.

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