In this year St. Ives was made a Parliamentary borough, its first members being T. Randolph and W. Champer.


Thomas Stevens, last portrieve, elected.


Richard Hext, first Mayor appointed.


Silver wishing-cup presented to the corporation by Sir Francis Bassett, thus inscribed:

“If any discord ‘twixt my friends arise,
Within the borough of beloved St. Ives,
It is desyred that this my cup of love
To everyone a peacemaker may prove;
Then am I blest to have given a legacie
So like my hearte unto posteritie.

Francis Bassett, A.D., 1640.


Sir Richard Grenville imprisoned the mayor and hanged a constable, for opposing the Cavaliers, and subsequently Colonel Goring unsuccessfully besieged the town.


A terrible plague broke out in St. Ives which carried off over 500 persons. The Stephens family shut themselves up in their House at Ayr, and escaped the contagion. The town was then threatened by famine; but a vessel laden with corn and wine put into the harbour for shelter, and its cargo was bought up by the mayor, and given to the distressed.


On the 30th January the King was beheaded. The same day a terrific storm broke over the western coasts, and a ship which had on board property belonging to the royal household was wrecked on the Gull Rock (now Godrevy Island). Only a man, a boy and a dog were saved.


Peter Ceely, the roundhead mayor of St. Ives, the fierce destroyer of ancient crosses and chapels, fitted out a privateer with one piece of ordnance, and captured many French vessels.


Grace Bettie of St. Ives was accused of being a witch, and conveyed to Launceston goal.


John Tacabird, a noisy fellow, who had settled in the town, quarrelled in a tavern with William Ackland, a burgess of some standing. Ackland stabbed Tacabird, and was hanged; his goods were confiscated to the corporation.


Two Quakers were sent to goal for preaching in the town.


The town band consisted of a drummer, a piper, and two fiddlers.


A ducking-stool was set up.


Many French Protestant refugees settled at St. Ives.


The Duke of Bolton visited the town, and was treated with six bottles of sack at the “George and Dragon”.


The Rev. Jonathon Toupe, the renowned mathematical and classical savant, a native of St. Ives, paid a visit to the town, and received a guinea for preaching.


Turnips were first brought into West Cornwall, by Thomas Matthews, a Norwich farmer. Great numbers of people went to see the first turnip field, which was in Lelant parish.

More about St. Ives


IT NOW only remains for us to add a few words in description of the inhabitants of Saint Ives themselves. In so far as they are typical Celts, they resemble the natives of other parts of Cornwall. But this County; like all remote and isolated regions, exhibits distinctive traits even between parish and parish. The Saint Ives people, from time immemorial, have been the Cornish “wise men of Gotham”. Numerous legends and anecdotes have accumulated, and are adduced by the people of other parishes, in illustrating of the supposed simplicity of the people of Saint Ives.

You will hear, for instance, how some fisherman of this place eagerly manned a boat, and put out into the bay for the purpose of picking up “floating mill-stones”, which they believed had been left by some wreck. One of the crew stood up in the bows of the boat, and, in his haste to secure the prize leaped on to one of the supposed mill-stones, which proved to be only the stave of a cask, enclosing a lot of sea foam. (Perhaps this story is not unconnected with a legend that Saint Ivo, like many of the Irish saints, came across the sea to Cornwall on a mill-stone). Of course such tales are told only by the people of other parishes.

The Hayle men were formerly the bitterest taunters of the people of St. Ives, the two towns having long been rivals in commerce. We well remember the case of a vessel which was in great danger of being detained at a foreign port, because (the crew being chiefly Hayle men) Saint Ives men were the only sailors procurable to fill the places of some deserters. Though himself a man of St. Ives, the writer may be believed when he affirms that the humbler classes of this town will compare favourably for intelligence and smartness with those of any place in England.

It is said that there is a certain Irish element in the composition of the town, showing itself in a considerable vehemence of manner on such occasions as borough elections, when the spirit of the populace is roused. Down to the middle of the last century St. Ives was a port of embarkation for Ireland, and there was great intercourse between the coast of Munster and this place. But if the rural population of the sister isle behaved itself as well as that of St. Ives, where one policeman has done duty for many years, it would be better for all political parties concerned. Thefts and crimes of violence are here almost unknown. We do not mean to deny that the people of this neighbourhood have their own particular foibles, like other human beings, but at least they are honest, law-abiding citizens.

The visitor will perhaps be struck with the very strict sabbatical observance of the Sunday’s rest at St. Ives. The action of some east country fisherman in landing fish on a Sunday was lately the cause of a serious disturbance; the fish were forcibly taken and thrown back into the sea.

The following local tradition illustrates the profound veneration of the people of Saint Ives for the observance of Sunday’s rest. A lady who had an interest in the pilchard fishery, was the employer of a number of woman to pack and cure the fish. This work was being carried on in a cellar near the old market-house one Saturday night. The lady, fearing that if left till Monday the fish would be spoiled, went down to tell the woman to continue their work into the Sunday morning. On her way home, as she passed by the old market-house, she was startled by seeing (through the open window) the form of a man lying upon the pavement, on which he appeared to be writing with his finger, his head was supported by the other hand. She stopped to watch the writing, and, by a great light which proceeded from the man’s side, she was enabled to trace the words; “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy”. This event created a great sensation in the town.

But with all his Methodism, the Saint Ives man is by no means a puritan. The old borough has always been a merry and a musical town. In the corporation records we meet with numerous entries of fees paid to regularly kept minstrels on occasions of rejoicing. And in recent times the town band was always to the fore in popular merrymaking, especially at the Parliamentary elections, when it paraded the streets, escorted by a crowd of men and boys singing some rhyming skit on local politics, to the Helston Furry tune on the Redawa polka.

In Professor Hunt’s deservedly popular book on Cornish traditions, the reader will find a description of the Christmas guise-dancing at Saint Ives, in which Saint George and the Turkish Knight engage in deadly combat.

In the hope that “the borough of beloved Saint Ives” will right soon recover its ancient prosperity, we now make our congé to our readers, and trust that this hasty sketch has in some small degree contributed to their appreciation of this town and neighbourhood.

More about St. Ives