The following is from [Lewis 1831] and must be read in the context of that date.

PENZANCE, a sea-port, market town, and chapelry in the parish of Madron, having exclusive jurisdiction, though locally in the hundred of Penwith, county of Cornwall, 67 miles (S.W. by W.) from Launceston, and 282 (W.S.W.) from London, containing 5224 inhabitants. The former appellation of this town was Burriton; its present name, signifying “the head of the bay,” is indicative of its situation, which is at the north-west side of Mount’s bay. In the year 1595, it was set on fire by a small party of Spaniards, who landed near Mousehole, a mile and a half distant, on the 23rd of July, and who, as observed by historians, were the only Spaniards who ever landed in the kingdom as enemies: on this occasion, Sir Francis Godolphin summoned the county to his assistance, and attempted to save Penzance from the threatened danger, but his followers being seized with a sudden panic, he was obliged to abandon it to its fate; the Cornish men having rallied the next day in greater numbers and better courage, the Spaniards, who had already set fire to Newlyn, Mousehole and Penryn, quitted the coast without attempting further hostilities. During the great civil commotions, the town is said to have been plundered by the army of Sir Thomas Fairfax, in 1646, as a punishment for the kindness which the inhabitants had shewn to the troops under Lord Goring and Lord Hopton.

The town, which has of late years considerably increased in size and population, is situated on the north-west side and nearly at the bottom of Mount’s bay, opposite to St. Michael’s Mount, and Marazion on the east: the streets are lighted and paved; the houses in general modern, neat and commodious; and the inhabitants are supplied with water from a reservoir. The fine situation of the town, its salubrious atmosphere, and the picturesque beauties of the vicinity, through which the walks and rides are particularly pleasant, have rendered it a place of resort for valetudinarians, and gained for it the well-deserved epithet of the Montpellier of England; the great variety of boats and shipping constantly lying in Mount’s bay contributes much to the interest of the scenery, which in its diversity and combinations, is considered to be unsurpassed by that of any other place in Great Britain. A battery pier, constructed in 1766, extended in 1782, and again in 1812, is now more than six hundred feet in length; and in 1816, a lighthouse was erected at its extremity, which is illuminated only when there are nine feet of water in the harbour. Among the scientific and literary institutions is “The Royal Geological Society of Cornwall,” which was established here in 1814, under the patronage of his late Majesty, George IV., and has published three volumes of transactions, which were receieved in the most flattering manner by the various scientific institutions of Europe and America; attached to it is a most splendid museum of minerals, illustrative of geology and mineralogy: there is also a public library, established about ten years since, and now containing nearly three thousand volumes of standard works; besides which, several book clubs, subscription and commercial news-rooms, and commodious apartments for public assemblies, contribute to the instruction and recreation of the inhabitants. Here is a considerable export trade in tin, copper, china[,] clay, pilchards, and other fish: the imports are timber, iron, hemp, tallow, and groceries, with various other items of merchandise. The pilchard fishery is chiefly carried on by the inhabitants of Newlyn and Mousehole, on the west side of the bay, and the fish are brought hither for exportation. About the period of the Restoration, Penzance was added as a fifth stannary town, and all the Cornish tin is now coined here and at Truro, and about two-thirds of it shipped at this port. A dry dock has been constructed, and the port regulations are efficient and well conducted. A packet sails weekly to the Scilly islands. The manufacture of yarn and coarse woolen cloth affords employment to several persons. A market and an annual fair for seven days were granted in 1332, and under the charter of incorporation, two markets and seven fairs, most of which have fallen into disuse. The present markets are on Thursday and Saturday; the former is well supplied with corn: fairs are held on May 28th, Thursday after Trinity-Sunday, and Thursday before Advent-Sunday. The annual income from the tolls of the market is about £600, and that from the pier duues about £1200, both being under the control of the corperation. A grant of anchorage, keelage, and bushellage, was made to the inhabitants by Henry VIII., which was confirmed in the charter of incorporation granted by James I., bearing date May 9th, 1614, under which the corporation consists of a mayor, eight aldermen, and twelve assistants, with a recorder, town clerk, and other officers: the mayor is elected from among the aldermen, by the corporation at large, on the Friday after Michaelmas; the retiring mayor is justice of the peace for the ensuing year: the aldermen are elected from the inhabitants: the aldermen and assistants have an equal vote on all corporation affairs. The mayor, recorder, and justice, are magistrates for the borough, with exclusive jurisdiction, but have no power to appoint deputies (excepting the mayor in the court of record): the aldermen and assistants hold their situation for life, but the recorder and town clerk only during the pleasure of the corporation. A court of record is held every alternate Friday by the mayor and town clerk, who is steward of the court, for the recovery of debts under £50: after having been disused seventy years, this court was revived in 1826. Sessions for the borough are held quarterly, on the Friday following those for the county, by the officers of the corporation, whose power extends to transportation for seven years, and has been recently excercised for the first time. Petty sessions for the west division of the hundred are held here, on the first Friday in every month. A court for the hundred is held by the steward, as occasion requires.

The living is a perpetual curacy, annexed to the vicarage of Madron, in the archdeaconry of Cornwall, and diocese of Exeter, endowed with £800 parliamentary grant. The chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, was erected prior to 1612, enlarged in 1671, and at its consecration, in 1680, was endowed with land which now lets for £20 per annum, by John Tremenhere, Esq.; a cemetery was then enclosed, and the limits of the town were defined to be those of the chapelry. There are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends, Independents, and Wesleyan Methodists, also a synagogue. The free school was endowed, in 1714, by John Buller, Esq., with £15 per annum: the poor children of the chapelry also receive instruction in a school at Madron, founded in 1704, by Mr. George Daniel. Northward of this town there are considerable earthworks, with a treble intrenchment, called Leseaddock, or Leseudjack, supposed to be of remote antiquity. An annual custom, the origin of which is unknown, prevails here on Midsummer-eve, when a great quantity and variety of fire-works, accompanied with bonfires, ignited tar barrels, and torches, are exhibited, and attended by young persons of both sexes; and on Midsummer-day, a fair is held on the pier, and a number of persons from the town and neighbourhood enjoy the gratification of water excursions: similar customs are observed on the 28th and 29th of June. Sir Humphrey Davy, the celebrated natural philospoher and chemist, and late President of the Royal Society, was a native of this town,and bequeathed £100 four per cents. to the master of the grammar school, to allow the boys a holiday annually on his birthday, the 17th of December.

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