In 1680 St. Mary’s was consecrated by Lamplugh, Bishop of Exeter, as a chapel of ease to Madron; the deed of consecration being dated 29th August. At this time the length of the chapel was sixty-four feet, and the breadth sixty feet.

The following plan—drawn in the year 1674, showing the names of those to whom the sittings were then appropriated—is interesting, since it gives us a sort of summary of the inhabitants of the town at this period; and upon referring to it, will be noticed that it was not customary for the men and women to sit together: the seats nearest the walls were devoted to the former, whilst those in the body of the chapel were given up to the latter. The oblong space marked to the right of the pulpit is perhaps intended for the communion table.

The seating plan of St. Mary’s Chapel—1674
Mr. William Pearce
" John Trevethan
" Thomas Teage
" Charles Pike
" Benjn. Penhallow
The Residue of the Magistrates The Justice and two of the Magistrates, according to their places The Mayor of the Town Three of the Magistrates, according to their places Mr. John Tremenheere
" Thomas Younge
Mr. Arthur Paynter
" John Grosse
" Peter Jenkin
" Henry Ustick
" Christopher Pender
" Joseph Benmer
John Tremenheer, jun.
Mr. Ralph Beard
" John Hary
Mr. William Jenkin
" Samuel Gubbs
" William John
Mr. Dd. Penlease   Mr. Elisha Daniel
" Harris Maddern
Mr. Joseph Gubbs
" Anthony Gubbs
" Francis Newman
William Penticost
Ambrose Upton
Mrs. Elis. Harry and Family. Mrs. Mayoress
Mr. Justice’s wife
Mrs. Mary Keigwin Nicholas Rawlyn
Gilbert Bishop
William Angove
Isaac Spriddle
Tonkin Boase
Wm. Collensoe
Mrs. Mary Grosse Mrs. Trenhayle
Mr. Elisha Daniel’s wife
Mrs. Catherine Grosse Mrs. Grace Benmer Philip Arthur
Martin Gwennap
Robert White
Willm. Thomas
George Veale
Robert Wallis
Othniel Benmer
Mrs. Sarah Loase
" Mary Penhallow
Mrs. Sibella Tremenheere Mrs. Mary Tremenheere Mrs. Cheston Borlase
" Mary Trevethan
Leonard Rugg
Richard John
William Summers
Michael Browne
Marrat Furse
Richard Symons, jun.
James Bennetts
Edward Spriddle
Mrs. Elizabeth Pearce
" Jane Angove
Mrs. Joan Sherum
" Be. Penhallow
Mrs. Alice Gubbs
" Margery Gubbs
" Catherine Gubbs
Mrs. Mary Pike
" Margaret Penlease
William Lanyon
William Penlease
William Anthony
William Sampson
Arundell Sackerley
Benjamin Michell
Thos. Edmonds
Thos. Lanyon
Joan Jenkin
Ann Arthur
Margery John
Mrs. El. Maddern
" Ann Gubbs
Mrs. Julyan Finny
" Mary Teage
Mrs. Susan Benmer
" Mary Jenkin
Jachlenah Pender
Gabriel White
Thomas Finny
Richard Bennetts
Robert Harry
Peter Cloak
Nicholas Cloak
Thomas Pearce
Richard James
Wm.Colensoe’s wife
Wm. Thomas’s wife
George Veale’s wife
Michael Browne’s wife
Mrs. Ann Pike
" Doll. Beard
" Do. Newman
" Jane Chirgwin
Mrs. Catherine Colmer
" Cath Gwennap
" Elizabeth Harry
" Joan John
Mary Bishop
Catherine White
Dorothy Penticost
Sisely Benmore
Richard Mildrum
John Hitchcock
Abraham Bennetts
John Hichens
Martin Richards
Alexander Read
Richard Stone
Edward Jones
Leonard Rugg’s wife
Richard John’s wife
Thomas Pearce’s wife
Arndl. Sackerley’s wife
Mrs. Jane Rawlyn
" Thomas Pearce
Mr. Upton’s wife
Grace Spriddle
Susan Boase
Ann Summers
Widow Luke
Honor Chamber
Wm. Penlease’s wife
Sarah White
Christian Bennetts
Christian Furse
Thomas Avery
Tristram Phillips
Henry Dunkin
John Pryor
James Symons
Richard Cunnack
John Pidwell
Nicholas Tregerthen
Benjn. Michell’s wife
James Symon’s wife
Nicholas Symon’s wife
Nicholas Cloak’s wife
Margaret Hichens
Elizabeth Symons
Robert Edmonds’s wife
Mary Symons
Blanch Hitchcock
Christopher Edwards
Elinor Sampson
Peter Cloak’s wife
Eliz. Finney, widow
Mary Pryor
Jenefer Dunkin
Wm. Michell’s wife
Nicholas Symons
David Gift
Richard Symons
Thomas Gift
Stephen Luke
George Nicholls
Stephen Noye
Richard Dyer
Martin Richard’s wife
Richard James’s wife
Richard Mildrum’s wife
Thomas Lanyon’s wife
Richard Bennetts’s wife
Wm. Anthony’s wife
John Pidwell’s wife
Stephen Luke’s wife
Robert Harry’s wife
Thomas Avery’s wife
Avis Noye
Mary Read
George Abraham’s wife
James James’s wife
William Jeffery’s wife
Thomas Gift’s wife
Thomas Chirgwin
John James
Nicholas Richards
William Michell
Thomas John, sen.
Walter Fosse
George Abraham
Richard Sandy
Richard Cunnack’s wife
Edward Jones’s wife
Annanias Hosford’s wife
Edward Penticost’s wife
Thos. Chirgwin’s wife
William Luke’s wife
Margaret Tonkin
N. Tregerthen’s wife
John Thomas’s wife
Thomas Johns’s wife
John James’s wife
Ralph Hacker’s wife
Richard Sandrey’s wife
Richard Mathew’s wife
John Tregullo’s wife
Edward Rawling’s wife
Richard Mathew
John Tregullos
William Sleep
John Tucker

In 1728 the further enlargement, which had been some time in contemplation, was carried into effect; and important addition of a chancel, or the eastern portion which extended the whole width of the building, being added at this time.

Sir Jonathan Trelawny (father of the Bishop), Sir Walter Moyle, and other gentlemen, were treated by the Corporation in 1681. In looking through the Borough accounts, one notices that an immense deal of treating went on. Lord Lansdown; Sir Richard Carew; Sir John St. Aubyn; Sir Joseph Tredingham; Sir John Arundell; Justices Dorel and Tregagle; Harris, Esq.; Mr. Pendarves, and a host of others are at various times regaled at the expense of the Corporation; though it is but fair to say their liberality was dispensed in equal proportion, and there are numberless entries of “to a poor widow,” so much; or, “to shipwrecked sailors,” &c.

In 1686 the four Borough bound-stones were set up: one is at the end of the first row of houses at Wherry-town, on the left-hand side of the road leading to Newlyn, where it is sunk into the ground, since it obstructed the thoroughfare; another at the lower end of Alverton lane, opposite the old factory, where it is also buried in consequence of the hill having been cut down and the level of the valley raised. The third stands at Chapel St. Clare, on the right of the high road leading to Madron; and the fourth at Chyandour, on the left of the road leading to Gulval.

In the following year a heavy item figures in the Borough accounts: no less than £159 17s. 4d. spent “in defence of our charter.” Charles II. died in 1685; and now that James II. wore the crown, a system of extortion and oppression was commenced, which ended in the ignominious retirement of that unpopular monarch from the throne of the kingdom. The charter of Penzance, together with the charters of many other Boroughs, was called into question, and had to be taken to London; but having been proved valid, it was returned in a trunk (probably the curious leather box in which it is still kept), after the Corporation had been put to the expense of the sum named, as well as many minor expenses.

In 1692, on the 12th August, the celebrated Bishop Trelawny was here; and, together with Major General Trelawny, was treated by the Corporation. I need scarcely tell you that the former was the Trelawny who, from the fact of his being committed to the tower, in 1688, by James II., gave rise to the stirring song which bears his name. This song is for the most part modern; but it embodies the spirit of the fragmentary lines upon which it is based, and these made the county ring from one end to the other, adding to the din of discontent which reached the ears of Catholic James.

The late Rev. R. S. Hawker, of Morwenstow, acknowledged the authorship of it as lately as 1869, when his ballads and other pieces were published in a small volume. The fragment forming the refrain which has become proverbial—

“And shall Trelawny die?
Here’s twenty thousand Cornish bold will know the reason why”—

is as well known in the county as the motto “One and All.”

We are not told whether the muddy state of the streets caused the Bishop, who was also a Baronet, to take refuge in hard words when he entered Penzance; but it is noted upon the next occasion of a Bishop visiting the town, Bishop Lavington, that two men were employed to sweep the streets before him. At all events, it is said Trelawny was rather given to expressing himself in strong language (he wished to be distinguished from the Puritans, doubtless), and excused himself from the unbecoming practice by saying that he did not swear as a Bishop, but as Sir Jonathan Trelawny.11

On the 19th March, 1702, Queen Anne was proclaimed in Penzance, and a tar barrel was burnt in her honour. Since William III. died on the 8th of the same month, it may be presumed that it took not less than ten days for the news to reach the far west. This, nevertheless, was a great improvement upon the state of affairs just a century before, if it be true that the death of good Queen Bess was not known in the more remote districts in this county until three months after the event.

In the early part of Queen Anne’s reign, a new misfortune fell upon Penzance; and was the means of its actually losing its charter. A certain Mr. John Carveth, who, in the year 1703, had been elected Mayor, liked the duties of Chief Magistrate “not wisely, but too well;” for he positively declined to give them up, and stuck to the sweets of office, until a writ from the Queen was eventually the means of ejecting him from the Mayoral chair.

On the 22nd January, 1706, William Tonkin was chosen Mayor; and the following statement, as to the anomalous state of affairs which had recently existed, is entered among the Borough accounts for the year mentioned:—“The said town having before his election forfeited their charter by the usurpation of Mr. John Carveth, the late Mayor of the said town, who stood in Mayor by force and violence for three years. But on a petition to Her Majesty Queen Anne by the major part of the then Aldermen and Assistants of the said town, therein setting forth their grievances, Her Majesty was graciously pleased, on hearing the said petition, to restore them again to their former rights, liberties, and franchises, by her special writ for that purpose, under the great seal of England, thereby ordering and requiring all the Aldermen and Assistants, or the major part of them, to assemble themselves together in some convenient place within the said town, and out of the then Aldermen, to elect a Mayor to serve as such for the said town, from that day until the Friday next after the feast of St. Michael the Archangel next ensuing; and thereby likewise commanding John Borlase and Francis Paynter, Esqs.; Christopher Harris; Francis Paynter; and John Penneck, Gentlemen, that they or two of them should be present at the said election; and they were likewise empowered thereby to swear the Mayor that should be elected; and in obedience to which Her Majesty’s said writ, the said major part of the Aldermen and Assistants of the said town did assemble themselves together, and did, in the presence of the said Commissioners, unanimously elect William Tonkin (Merchant, one of the then Aldermen) Mayor for the said town; and he was then sworn by the Commissioners, according to the tenor of Her Majesty’s said writ.” there are several other entries relating to this usurpation: such as demanding the regalia from Mr. Carveth, serving him with a mandamus, putting pretended constables to Bodmin, &c.

In 1713 there is evidence of a custom which has now entirely passed away. The accounts show that the Mayor received from Mr. George Treweeke, for his freedom to practice physic in this town, £1 1s. 6d.; and similarly, at various times, fines were imposed upon tradesmen for the privilege of opening shops; but there are also occasional notices of fines of another class, which doubtless, were not voluntarily paid: such as for allowing pigs to straggle, and for selling ale without a licence.

In the same year the Quay was damaged, to the amount of £6, by a certain ship laden with tobacco; and this reminds me that it has been said that the fragrant weed was first smoked in England upon Penzance pier—it having been assumed that Sir Walter Raleigh, with a pipe in his mouth, landed here on his return from Virginia.

On the 23rd December, 1727, the Corporation turned their attention to improving the postal accommodation. It was deemed desirable that there should be a post three times a week; and a petition upon the subject was afterwards drawn up and presented to Lord Falmouth.

In 1729 there were riots in the county;—at Redruth, St. Ives, the Mount, and elsewhere—and on the 6th April, a proclamation against riotous tinners was read by a constable in Penzance. It does not appear that anything very serious came of it; but the town was put to the expense of “getting a guard, with shot and bullets,” and this is entered in the Borough accounts at the alarming sum of 7s. 6d.! Further, twelve firearms, bayonets, and cartouch-boxes, were brought from London at a cost of six moidores: a moidore being then worth 27s. The lower end of Market-jew street was guarded; and the soldiers were billeted in a room over the Coinage hall, where they were provided with straw at the public expense.

On the 8th October, 1730, Penzance was honoured by the presence of a Syrian Prince, who rejoiced in a title which I hesitate at attempting to pronounce. He was Prince of Chesroan Abu Gemblat Hassar Abaisei, of Mount Libanus. Horses and a guide were provided for His Highness, and he was treated at an expense of five guineas.

In the following year, on the 22nd of April, the Corporation purchased the Advowson of Madron, Morvah, and Penzance of Robert Coster, Esq., for £487 10s.

All feasts and festivals appear to have been most religiously observed by the Mayor, Aldermen, and Assistants. At this time we find an entry “to holding Coronation Day, £4 10s.;” “to the drum and music, 6d.;” and “a tar-barrel, 2s. 6d.” Just think of music, including a drum, 6d.! and a tar-barrel valued at five times the amount. St. Cecilia’s art was evidently at a discount in those days; but not forgotten altogether, for there is an entry in 1724 “to Richard Stone, for tuning the Psalms, £2;” and in 1758 “to E. Sampson the singer, one year’s salary, £1 1s.;” so you see Penzance was not even then entirely without music, or a Sampson to sing.

In the very early part of the last century Michael Vibert had the keeping of the town clock, which continued in the care of one or other of the same family until a recent date.

Penzance possessed a May-pole, and there are many notices of it in the Borough accounts at different times.

There is one very curious entry in these accounts, under 1739, February 8th, which is:—“to Thomas Pidwell, for a woman’s bridle, 10s. 6d.” A woman’s bridle, it seems, is nothing more or less than a gag. That such an extraordinary instrument should have been in the possession of the Corporation is remarkable and suggestive, to say the least; but that it could have been required in Penzance at any time is almost beyond belief. I have made very particular enquiries of his Worship the Mayor, and find that no such head-gear is now among the regailia, or has been within memory.*

The wood-cut gives a representation of the scold’s bridle, which is still to be seen in the vestry of Walton church, Surrey. It is inscribed:—

“Chester presents Walton with a bridle,
To curb women’s tongues that talk too idle.”

The date of the presentation is 1632, and the tradition respecting this bridle—one of the few and the oldest examples yet remaining in England—is that a person named Chester gave it to Walton parish, because he had lost and estate “through the instrumentaility of a gossiping, lying woman.”

The Scold’s Bridle

The Scold’s Bridle.

In 1745 the Corporation sold to John Borlase, Esq., the perpetual Advowson of Madron, Morvah and Penzance, for £800; and this money was spent with about £125 more in re-building the Quay.

Spelling Bees were not i fashion in 1754, or the town might not have had to pay as much as £1 to Richard Scaddan, for cleaning, varnishing, gilding, and altering the wrong spelling of the King’s Arms, in the Town hall.

11 Oliver’s Bishops of Exeter, p. 159.

* [Scold’s bridles were used in the [Off Site]workhouses well into the 19th century. Ed.]

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