Magna Britannia: Volume 3, Cornwall. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1814.
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'Parishes: Helland - St Hilary', in Magna Britannia: Volume 3, Cornwall, (London, 1814) pp. 130-142. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/magna-britannia/vol3/pp130-142 [accessed 29 February 2024]
HELLAND, in the hundred of Trigg and deanery of Trigg-Minor, lies about two miles and a half north from Bodmin, which is the post-office town. The principal village in this parish, exclusively of the church-town, is Bodwen. The manor of Helland, having belonged at an early period to the family of Sergeaux, passed by a coheiress to Sir John Passele, who was possessed of it in 1427. (fn. n1) In 1466, Oto Colyn died seised of the manor and advowson of Helland (fn. n2). This manor of Helland appears to have lost its manerial rights: the barton is now the property of John Wallis, Esq., of Bodmin, by purchase from the late Sir John Morshead, Bart., who inherited it from the family of Treise.
The manor of Nether-Helland, which in the reign of Edward IV. was in the family of Bodulgate, belonged at a later period to that of Robartes, Earl of Radnor, and is now the property of their representative, the Honourable Mrs. Agar.
The manor of Newton, which belonged formerly to the priory of Bodmin, and afterwards to the Glynns, was sold by that family to Mr. Treise, the maternal grandfather of the late Sir John Morshead, of whom it was purchased by Mr. Wallis.
The manor of Penhargard having been forfeited to the crown, by the attainder of Sir Robert Tresilian, Chief Justice of the King's-Bench in the reign of Richard II., was granted by that monarch to Sir Humphrey Stafford (fn. n3). The barton of Penhargard, (to which no manerial rights have of late years been attached,) was a seat of the Opies (fn. n4), and in 1657 was sold by Thomas Opie to Thomas Hoblyn, whose grandaughter brought it in marriage to Samuel Peter, Esq. It is now, by purchase from the Peter family, the property of Mr. John Hooper.
The manor of Bodwen was held under the prior of Bodmin, as of his manor of Rialton, by the family of Archdekne, from whom it passed, by marriage, to the Courtenays. The barton of Bodwen is now the property of Mr. Wallis, having been purchased of the late Sir John Morshead. Mr. Wallis purchased also of Sir John Morshead the barton of Kernick, which was some time the residence of the family of Silly.
The heirs of Brode held an estate called Hurden and Helland, under Launceston castle, in the reign of James I. (fn. n5) The barton of Brodes, or Broads, was afterwards the seat of a younger branch of the Glynn family. In the year 1711, Robert Glynn, Esq., of Broads, settled that place and Limsworthy in this parish, on his marriage, with Lucy Cloberry. His only son, Dr. Glynn, of King's College in Cambridge, distinguished himself as a poet by his much-admired production, which gained the Seatonian prize, was held in the highest esteem both as a physician and as a man, and gave a convincing proof of his liberality, and his attachment to his native country, by refusing ever to take a fee of a Cornish man. Dr. Glynn, who had taken the additional name of Cloberry, died in the year 1800, having bequeathed Broads to the Rev. John Henry Jacob, of King's College in Cambridge, by whom it was sold, in 1801, to Mr. T. Hawken, the present proprietor.
Tonkin says, that in this parish lived the ancient family of Gifford, one of whom married the coheiress of Esse, and in this he is confirmed by Sir William Pole (fn. n6). In the parish-church is an ancient memorial (without date) for one of the family of Calwodley (fn. n7). Hals says, that whoever is possessed in fee of the barton of Helland, is legal patron of the rectory, paying forty shillings per annum to the incumbent in satisfaction for all tithes. The present patron is Sir Frederick Treise Morshead, Bart.
HELSTON, an ancient borough and market-town in the deanery and in the west-division of the hundred of Kirrier, lies on the great road from London to the Land's-end, seventeen miles from Truro, thirteen from Penzance, and 274 from London.
In the year 1201, the men of Helston gave forty marks of silver, and a palfrey, to King John, that their town might be made a free borough, and have a mercatorial gild (fn. n8). King Edward I. made it one of the coinage towns. Various privileges were granted to the burgesses by succeeding monarchs, and these were confirmed by Queen Elizabeth, who, by her charter (in the year 1585), incorporated them by the name of the mayor and commonalty of the borough of Helston. The corporation consists of a mayor, four aldermen, a recorder, townclerk, and an indefinite number of freemen, who are chosen by the majority of the mayor and aldermen. The mayor is elected by the majority of the aldermen and freemen, out of two aldermen nominated by the mayor and aldermen. The borough of Helston has returned members to parliament, ever since the reign of Edward I. The right of election is vested in the corporation, mayor, aldermen, and freemen (fn. n9) the present number of freemen is about twenty. It appears by Brown Willis's Notitia Parliamentaria, that in the early part of the last century, there were about seventy resident freemen, and ten non-residents. AttorneyGeneral Noy sat in parliament for this borough, as did Sidney Godolphin, afterwards Earl Godolphin, and Lord Treasurer.
A market on Saturday was granted to the burgesses of Helston in the year 1336, and four annual fairs for three days each; at the festival of St. Simon and St. Jude, Palm-Sunday; the festival of St. Cyric and St. Juliet, and the decollation of St. John the Baptist (fn. n10). The market is still held on Saturday for corn and all sorts of provisions, supplying a large district, including the whole of the peninsula called Meneage. The fairs, which are considerable marts for cattle, are now held on the day before Midlent-Sunday, Whit-Monday, July 20th, September 9, and St. Simon and St. Jude's day. Vast quantities of shoes, mostly made at Helston, are exposed to sale at the fairs and markets, and carried to Redruth market and elsewhere. The tolls of the fairs, market, and mills form part of the townrevenues, under a grant of Richard King of the Romans.
Helston was one of the decayed towns, for the repair of which an act of parliament was passed in the reign of Henry VIII. (fn. n11), but, as Norden observes, the success was not answerable to the meaning. According to a poll-tax taken in 1694, there were then 1,348 inhabitants in this town (fn. n12); in 1801, their number was 2,248; in 1811, 2,297, according to the returns made to parliament at those periods. Sir Francis Goldolphin was in 1705 created Baron Helston, and Earl of Godolphin.
William of Worcester, in his Itinerary of Cornwall, written in the reign of Edward IV., speaks of Helston Castle, some time the residence of Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, as being then in ruins. There are now no remains of it; the site, which commands a view down the valley of the Looe-pool, is now a bowlinggreen: at the north end of it has been built, a house for the Duke of Cornwall's officers, and a new coinage hall.
The first symptoms of the Cornish rebellion in the year 1549, are said to have broken out at Helston, where a person of the name of Hody was killed by one Kiltor and his associates, as he was sitting in commission on matters of religion.
The manor of Helston, as having been parcel of the duchy of Cornwall, underwent a temporary alienation during the interregnum in the seventeenth century, when it was sold to Anthony Rowse. In 1798 it was sold, under the powers of the land-tax redemption act, to John Rogers, Esq., of Pearose, who is the present proprietor. Mr. Rogers has also the manors of Helston-Tony, and HelstonChamond: the former was purchased of the representatives of the Robartes family. It had been, at an early period, in the family of Tony, and had passed by a female heir to the Beauchamps. Anne, widow of Richard Nevill, and heiress of Beauchamp, conveyed it to King Henry VII. (fn. n13) The manor of HelstonChamond, now called the manor of Helston, which was purchased by Mr. Rogers of the Trefusis family, took its former name from the Chamonds, to whom it anciently belonged.
The parochial chapel or church, dedicated to St. Michael, is a modern structure of white moor-stone, from Tregoning in Breage, built at the expence of Francis, Earl of Godolphin, in 1763. (fn. n14) In it are some memorials for the family of Rogers of Treassowe in Ludgvan, now of Penrose. Leland speaks of a chapel "in the towne, and a paroch-chirch at the north-west end." The registers of the see of Exeter mention a chapel, and hospital of St. Mary Magdalen in Helston (fn. n15). There is a grammar-school at Helston, endowed with the sum of 13l. 6s. 8d. out of the tolls belonging to the corporation. The school-house has been lately rebuilt.
ST. HILARY, in the deanry and in the east division of the hundred of Penwith, lies two miles nearly east of the town of Marazion, which is in this parish, and is the post-office town; and five miles nearly east-by-north from Penzance. The principal villages in the parish are, Higher and Lower Downs, Relubbas, Resudgian, Tregurtha, and Trevennor, adjoining Marazion.
The manor of Treveneage was purchased by Sir Nicholas Hals, about the year 1600, of Sir Thomas Arundell of Tolverne: John Hals, Esq., his son and heir, sold it to Mr. Walker of Exeter. In 1649 it was purchased by John Tredenham, Esq., from whom it descended, through the Scobells, to Sir Christopher Hawkins, Bart., the present proprietor.
The barton of Treveneage belonged to the ancient family of Gaverigan, and passed with one of its co-heiresses, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, to the Godolphins. Trevarthen is a large estate belonging to the Duke of Leeds, as heir of the Godolphin family: the barton, where is now a farmhouse, was some time a seat of the Davies family, as lessees under the Godolphins.
The manor of Tregurtha, otherwise Truthwall, in this and some neighbouring parishes, belonged to the Penneck family, who purchased part of it of Robins about 1706. It is now the property of William Carne, Esq., and the representatives of the late Thomas Grylls, Esq., by purchase from the devisees of Penneck. Tregember or Trethegimber belonged to the family of Grosse, from whom it passed, by successive sales, to King and Penneck: the latter purchased it in 1684. Tregember, which was the residence of the Pennecks, is now a farm-house. It belonged to the late Rev. William Borlase, of CastleHorneck, who married an heiress of the Pennecks. Ennis, some time the seat of Humphry Millet, Esq., was the property of the late Thomas Grylls, Esq., who married his daughter.
In the parish-church is a monument in memory of Catherine, wife of John St. Aubyn, Esq., of Clowance, and heiress of Francis Godolphin, Esq., of Treveneage, 1662.
The impropriate rectory, which belonged to the priory of Mount St. Michael, continued to be annexed to the Mount estate till the reign of Charles I., when the Earl of Salisbury, having sold the Mount, reserved this rectory and other estates. The rectory of St. Hilary belonged to Sir James Smith, of Little Chelsea, who died in 1681; in 1700 it was purchased, under a decree of Chancery, by John Penneck, Esq., of Tregember. It has of late years been sold in lots. The patronage of the vicarage is vested in the lords of the manor of Pengersick in Breage. (fn. n16)
In Palmer's Nonconformists' Memorial is an account of Mr. Joseph Sherwood, who was ejected from this vicarage by the Bartholomew act in 1662. It is there related that Mr. Sherwood, having been cited to appear before the justices for preaching in defence of that act, then prophesied that Mr. Robinson, one of the magistrates, who had ordered him to be committed to Launceston jail, should die a violent death, which is stated to have happened a few days afterward, in consequence of his having been gored by his own bull, never before known to be vicious.
The late vicar, the Rev. Malachy Hitchins, to whom we were indebted for some communications relating to this parish, was author of several ingenious papers in the Philosophical Transactions and the Archæologia. He died in 1809. Mention is made in the registers of the see of Exeter, of the chapels of St. Katherine and St. Anne, in this parish. (fn. n17)
The Rev. John Penneck, who died in 1724, gave the interest of 100l. to this parish, to be applied either to the relief of the poor or the teaching of their children.
Marazion, in the parish of St. Hilary, called in old records Marghasyon, Merdresein, Marketjewe, &c. is a market-town on the coast of Mount's-bay, about three miles and a half from Penzance, and 283 from London.
The appellation of Market-jew, still retained in use among the common people, has led some to suppose that it had a market in very remote times, chiefly attended by foreign Jews, who came to deal in tin: others are of opinion, that it obtained that appellation from its Thursday's market, "die Jovis." It is certain that Robert, Earl of Moreton, in the year 1085, granted to the monks of St. Michael a market on Thursday, and five fairs; but it is not expressed where they should be held (fn. n18). In the reign of Henry I., Alan, Earl of Brittany and Cornwall, gave ten shillings rent, issuing out of the profits of the fair at Merdresein, to the prior of St. Michael (fn. n19). We have seen the copy of a charter of Richard, King of the Romans and Earl of Cornwall, in the reign of Henry III., by which he grants to the prior and convent of St. Michael, that the three fairs and three markets, which they held under the charter of the kings of England at Marghas-bigan on land not their own, they should in future hold at Marchadyon on their own land, near their grange. The fairs are stated to have been held, for two days each, at Midlent, at Michaelmas, and at the festival of the apparition of St. Michael in the Mount (fn. n20). The market days are not stated. By the mention of three, the town appears to have been a place of great trade and importance. In the year 1331, a market on Monday, and a fair for three days, at the festival of St. Andrew, was granted to Ralph de Bloyon (fn. n21). There is now only one market, which has from time immemorial been held on Saturday, and is well supplied with butchers' meat, fish, vegetables, and poultry. Ready-made shoes are sold in considerable quantities.
Two of the more ancient fairs, now held on Midlent Monday and Michaelmas day, are still kept up; and there are two others held under Queen Elizabeth's charter, one on St. Barnabas day, the other on St. Andrew's, being the day of Ralph de Bloyon's fair. These two fairs are very inconsiderable; the latter is held at the bottom of the town. The Midlent and Michaelmas fairs, which are for cattle, clothes, &c., are held near the old priory barn and farm (the ancient grange), in the village of Trevennor, adjoining Marazion.
Leland, speaking of "Markesin," as he calls this place, describes it as a great "long town, burnid 3 aut 4 anno Hen. VIII. a Gallis." Tonkin and Hals relate, that at the time spoken of by Leland, a party of French soldiers landed from a fleet, then cruising in the channel, took possession of Marazion, and that on the approach of John Carminow, or as Tonkin says, James Erisey, Esq., sheriff of the county with the posse comitatus, they retreated to their ships, but not before they had set fire to the town. The charter of Queen Elizabeth attributes the decay of the town to a subsequent and similar calamity; reciting that it was a trading-town of great note, but fell into decay in the reign of Edward VI., when it was burnt by the rebels; and that most of the public buildings and dwellinghouses remained in ruins when that charter was granted, in 1595. The corporation of Marazion, which exists under this charter, consists of a mayor, eight burgesses, and twelve capital inhabitants. It has been said that the borough of Marazion formerly sent members to parliament; but that after it became decayed and impoverished, it neglected to return them as before. We cannot find any evidence of this, although Hals speaks of it on the authority of the Tower records. Dr. Borlase, in his MS. collection, gives an account of two members, Thomas Westlake, Esq. and Richard Myll, Esq., being returned for Marazion in the year 1658, but it does not appear that they ever took their seats, as their names are not to be found in the lists of that parliament.
Leland speaks of a chapel in Marazion, and another in the sand, near the Mount (fn. n22) : the latter probably was the same which Dr. Borlase speaks of, by the name of the chapel of St. Catherine, on the chapel-rock, near Marazion; of the latter there are no remains. The present chapel in the town, we suppose to be the same which Leland describes; and which, as it appears by the registers of the see of Exeter, was dedicated to St.Ervat. There are two meeting-houses in the town; one belonging to the methodists; of the other we could not obtain any description.
Adjoining to the parish of St. Hilary (fn. n23), opposite to the town of Marazion, and connected with it by a narrow causeway of pebbles, passable at low water, is the very singular pyramidical insulated mass of rocks, called St. Michael's Mount, which gives name to the adjoining bay. There has been much written on the subject of some ancient traditions, which tell us, that this mount was formerly attached to the shore, and surrounded with trees. These traditions appear perfectly groundless (fn. n24) : Dr. Berger has shewn very satisfactorily, from the position of the strata, that St. Michael's Mount could not have been separated from the land, but by some great convulsion, far beyond the reach of tradition or historical record. The height of the Mount, from the level of the sea to the platform of the tower of the chapel, is 231 feet. The whole of the island contains about seven acres of land: at the foot of the Mount is a level piece of ground, where is a wharf, and near it a considerable village.
It has been supposed, with great probability, by several writers (fn. n25), that this was the island called Iχτις, mentioned by Diodorus Siculus, whither the tin, when refined and cast into cubic ingots by the Britons, who dwelt near the promontory of Belerium, was carried in carts over an isthmus, only dry at low water. St.Michael's Mount certainly tallies with his description, in the circumstance of its connexion with the land of Cornwall at low water: and its situation with respect to the mining district, adds great strength to the conjecture. Others, influenced in a great measure by the similarity of name, have conjectured that by the island Ictis, Diodorus must have meant Insula Vectis, now the Isle of Wight; a very unlikely place, on account of its distance from the tin-mines, to have been made the depository for the British tin to be brought thither in carts, with a view to its being transported to Gaul; when so many good ports were to be found so much nearer.
It appears that in Leland's time there were at the foot of the Mount certain houses with shops for fishermen. Before the year 1700, the place had become so far decayed, that there remained only one cottage, inhabited by a widow-woman. In the years 1726 and 1727, Sir John St.Aubyn (the third baronet of that name) rebuilt the pier; in consequence of which, several houses were erected, the fisheries revived, and the Mount became a place of considerable trade. There were in 1811, fifty-three houses at the Mount, eight of which were then uninhabited. A stone pier had been built at Marazion early in the fifteenth century. An indulgence of forty days remission of penance was granted by the Bishop of Exeter, to all such persons as should contribute to it. In 1425, Edward the Confessor's charter granted to the monks of St.Michael a harbour, called Ruminella, with its appurtenances. This has been supposed by some, to have been Romney in Kent; but it is much more probable that it was a haven at the Mount, although its ancient name has been wholly forgotten, as well as that of the district of Vennefire.
A priory of Benedictine monks, afterwards changed to Gilbertines (fn. n26), was founded on St. Michael's Mount, previously to the year 1044, when King Edward the Confessor gave to the monks there dwelling, the Mount, with all its buildings and appendages. It appears by the charter, that there was at that time a castle (fn. n27) as well as a convent on the Mount. In the reign of Richard I., Henry de Pomeroy, being in the interest of John Earl of Cornwall, during Richard's imprisonment in Austria, took possession of St.Michael's Mount by stratagem, fortified it, and continued to hold it after the King's return; but on the approach of Archbishop Hubert Walter's army, assisted by the sheriff of Cornwall and the posse comitatus, surrendered the garrison without resistance, and threw himself upon the King's mercy. It is said that he died soon afterwards through grief, despairing of a pardon. It appears that in the year 1204, Henry de Pomeroy the younger gave sixty marks to be restored to certain possessions, in as ample a manner as his father enjoyed them, before he entered the castle on St. Michael's Mount. Besides this douceur to the King, he bestowed on the Knights Hospitallers the church of St.Maddern, in Cornwall (fn. n28). After the surrender of Pomeroy, King Richard restored the convent to the Gilbertines, who had been dispossessed, and placed a small garrison of soldiers in the castle.
After the battle of Barnet-field, John Earl of Oxford, having fled into Wales, assembled a party of soldiers, and crossed over with them to the Cornish coast. On their arrival, they disguised themselves as pilgrims coming to pay their devotions, as was customary at the church of St.Michael (fn. n29) : under this pretence they got entrance to the castle, and soon overpowered the small garrison by which it was defended. Sir John Arundell, who was in the first instance sent against the Earl of Oxford, having summoned the castle without effect, made a vigorous assault, but was repulsed, and lost his life on the sands between Marazion and the Mount (fn. n30). A commission was then issued, under the King's patent, empowering John Fortescue, (one of the Esquires of the body who succeeded Arundell in the sheriffalty), Sir John Crokker, and Henry Bodrugan, Esq. (fn. n31), to oppose John, Earl of Oxford, and the other rebels who continued to hold possession of St. Michael's Mount, and to make depredations on the coast. The patent grants a free pardon to all persons engaged in the rebellion, except the Earl, his sons George, Thomas, and Richard, Lord Beaumont, and Sir * * * Burdett (fn. n32). Fortescue made an unsuccessful attack on the castle; but at length, after a long siege, from the last day of September till the 15th of February following, the Earl, after demanding a parley, agreed to surrender it, on condition of a pardon to himself and his adherents. The King chose to consider this pardon as extending only to life; and he was imprisoned in the castle of Hamms in Picardy, till the year 1485, when he came over with the Earl of Richmond, and was in the action of Bosworth-field.
The next remarkable circumstance connected with the history of St. Michael's Mount, is, that Perkin Warbeck, who represented himself to be Richard, the younger son of King Edward IV., supposed to have been murdered in the tower, having landed with a party of his friends from Ireland, in Whitsand-bay, in the month of September 1498, was admitted into the castle by the monks, who were favourable to the house of York; he immediately put the fortifications in a state of defence; and soon afterwards marching with his forces to Bodmin, he left his wife, the Lady Katherine Gordon, at the Mount, as a place of security. She remained there till after the unsuccessful termination of his enterprise, when King Henry sent the Lord Daubeney to bring her thence to the royal presence. The King is said to have taken compassion on her misfortunes, and to have granted her a competent maintenance, which she enjoyed till her death.
When the priory of St. Michael, which by Robert Earl of Cornwall had been made a cell to the monastery of St. Michael in Normandy, was seised into the hands of the crown during the wars with France, it was first given to King's College in Cambridge (fn. n33), afterwards to the monastery of Sion in Middlesex, to which it continued to be attached till the dissolution. In 1533, it was given, with all its revenues (valued at 110l. 12s. per annum), to Humphrey Arundell, Esq., of Lanherne. This Arundell put himself at the head of a rebellion which arose in Cornwall, in the year 1549, on the subject of the reformation. Having left the Mount, of which he was governor, several Cornish gentlemen, well affected to the King, took possession of it; but it was soon recovered by Arundell, who immediately dispatched a party of horse and foot to besiege it (fn. n34). After some partial successes, Arundell was defeated by Lord Russell in Devonshire, taken prisoner, and executed in London. The government and revenues of St.Michael's Mount were granted on lease by the King, to Job Militon, Esq., sheriff of Cornwall. The lease was renewed to his son William, and to William Harris, Esq. of Heyne in Devonshire, who married the widow of the latter. Arthur Harris, Esq., son of William, died governor of the Mount, in 1628. In the year 1599, long before the expiration of Harris's lease, the fee was granted to Thomas Bellott and John Budden, as trustees, it is probable, for Robert Earl of Salisbury, to whom it was by them conveyed. William, the succeeding Earl of Salisbury, alienated it to Francis Bassett, Esq. of Tehidy, afterwards Sir Francis Bassett, Knt., who, in the year 1642, was required, by the King's commanders in the West, to fortify the Mount for His Majesty's service; and in consideration of the expences which would be incurred by so doing, they ordered that certain estates, formerly belonging to the priory of St.Michael's, and which had been reserved by the Earl of Salisbury, when he sold the Mount to Mr.Bassett, should be sequestered (the said Earl being disaffected to His Majesty's service) to the use of the said Sir Francis (fn. n35). Sir Arthur Bassett succeeded his brother Sir Francis in the government of the Mount, before the month of November 1645, when the Duke of Hamilton was committed prisoner to his care (fn. n36). According to Dugdale, the Mount was taken on the 15th of April 1646, by Col. Hamond. Whitlocke says, that it was surrendered on the 23d of April (fn. n37). Lord Clarendon observes, that it was given up many months before it was necessary, by the advice of the Duke of Hamilton, then a prisoner at the Mount. It does not appear that it had sustained any long siege during the civil war. Norden, writing not many years before, had observed, that it was "a place of noe great importance as a garrison, having small receyte of meanes to keep and defend it longe." (fn. n38) Major Ceely was governor of the Mount under Richard Cromwell, in 1659. About the time of the Restoration, the St.Aubyn family became possessed of the Mount, by purchase from the Bassets: it is now the property of Sir John St. Aubyn, Bart. The house, which is his occasional residence, is situated at the summit of the rock: it partakes of the character both of a fortress and a monastery, being castellated and embattled; the internal part underwent great alterations in the course of the last century (fn. n39). The diningroom was the refectory of the convent, which has been modernized, being fitted up with a remarkable friese, representing, in stucco, the hunting of various animals: in the same room are the dates 1641 and 1660. The chapel has been newly fitted up in the Gothic style. "On the top of the tower, in one of the angles, are the remains of a moor-stone lantern, kept, (as Captain Grose observes,) in all likelihood, by the monks, who had a tithe of the fishery, to give direction to the fishermen in dark and tempestuous weather. This is vulgarly called St. Michael's Chair, and will only admit one person to sit down in it. The ascent to it is dangerous; but it is sometimes ascended out of a foolish conceit, that whosoever sits therein, whether man or woman, will henceforth have the mastery in domestic affairs." (fn. n40)