General history: Historical events

Magna Britannia: Volume 3, Cornwall. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1814.

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Daniel Lysons. Samuel Lysons, 'General history: Historical events', Magna Britannia: Volume 3, Cornwall, (London, 1814), pp. x-xxiv. British History Online [accessed 22 June 2024].

Daniel Lysons. Samuel Lysons. "General history: Historical events", in Magna Britannia: Volume 3, Cornwall, (London, 1814) x-xxiv. British History Online, accessed June 22, 2024,

Lysons, Daniel. Lysons, Samuel. "General history: Historical events", Magna Britannia: Volume 3, Cornwall, (London, 1814). x-xxiv. British History Online. Web. 22 June 2024,

Historical Events.

The early part of the history of this county is enveloped in obscurity, and mingled with monkish fable; few local events have been handed down to us, and even those are to be received with caution. Till the time of the renowned Arthur, indeed, we have little more than a catalogue of the real or imaginary names of a long succession of princes. Even the story of Arthur is so interspersed with fiction, that some writers have gone so far as to doubt his existence; and Giraldus Cambrensis, though himself of the monkish school, and sufficiently credulous, has taxed the historian of Arthur with falsifying the page of history (fn. n1). However his story may have been disguised by fable, and whatever doubts there may be respecting the place of his birth, the circumstances attending it, as related by Geffery, being so palpably fictitious (fn. n2), yet the existence of such a monarch is confirmed by other ancient writers; and the learned Leland, who was so deeply versed in British chronicles, has given us as the result of what he had gathered from them on this subject, a life of this celebrated hero, in which he has taken much pains to separate truth from fiction. (fn. n3)

The only part of Arthur's history connected with this county, excepting what relates to his birth, is the battle in which he received his death's wound. This battle is generally supposed to have happened near Camelford, on the banks of the river Cambula or Camblan, as historians relate (fn. n4). Sylvester Giraldus calls it "bellum de Kemelen (fn. n5)." Leland, in confirmation of the general tradition of the county, that this bloody contest, which proved fatal both to Arthur and his rebellious nephew Modred, happened in the neighbourhood of Camelford, tells us, that on what was supposed to have been the field of battle, various antiquities, such as rings, fragments of armour, ornaments of bridles, and of other trappings, had been found. This spot is about a mile and a half from Camelford, near Worthyvale, in the parish of Minster. Although there was frequent warfare between the Cornish Britons and the Saxons, there are few local incidents during these conflicts of which we have any notice in history.

In the reign of Ivor, King of Wales, which commenced in 680, the Cornish Britons, with the assistance of that monarch, defeated the Saxons in three engagements; one of which happened at Heyle, in Cornwall (fn. n6). Ina, King of the West Saxons, is said to have got much renown by his wars with the Cornish, and, particularly, to have defeated their King, Gerentius or Gerein, in 710. (fn. n7) Ethelard, his successor, is said to have defeated the Britons at Heilyn, in Cornwall, in the year 728. (fn. n8) Another victory was obtained over the Cornish Britons by Cuthred king of the West Saxons, and Ethelbald king of Mercia, in 743. (fn. n9) The Britons, at length finding themselves unable to cope with the Saxons, called in the Danes to their assistance. The Danish fleet arrived on the coast of Cornwall in 806 (fn. n10), but even with this succour they were not able to withstand the power of the victorious Egbert, who, in 813, over-ran their country from east to west (fn. n11). In 823, a great battle was fought at Camelford (fn. n12), between the Cornish Britons and the Saxons of Devonshire (fn. n13). Twelve years afterwards, another severe battle was fought at Hengston Hill, in the parish of Stoke-Climsland, in which the Britons and their allies, the Danes, were put to flight by Egbert. (fn. n14)

The next remarkable event, and one of the most important in the history of Cornwall, is the conquest of that province by Athelstan. Till this time, the Britons occupied great part of the west of Devonshire, and inhabited Exeter, which was not then fortified, in common with the Saxons. Athelstan, having defeated Howell, King of Cornwall, near Exeter, not only drove the Britons out of that city, but obliged them to retire to the west of the Tamer. This happened, according to Florence of Worcester, in 926; nine years afterwards, the Cornish having shown symptoms of revolt, Athelstan entered their country, traversed its whole extent without opposition to the Lands-End, where he embarked his army, and, having succeeded in his intention of reducing the Scilly Isles, is supposed to have completed the conquest of Cornwall. (fn. n15)

In 981, some Danish pirates plundered the monastery of St. Petroc, in Cornwall. (fn. n16)

In 997, the Danes ravaged the territories of their old allies the Cornish with fire and sword (fn. n17). In 1068, the county was plundered by Goodwin and Edmund, sons of Harold, on their return to Ireland, after they had gained a victory over King William's general in Somersetshire. (fn. n18)

From its remote situation, the county of Cornwall appears to have had very little share in the military transactions of the three following centuries. In the reign of Stephen, we are told that the Cornish people declared openly for the Empress Maud, and, although the war did not extend into their country, they fought bravely for her under their Earl, who was her brother (fn. n19). Mr. Polwhele observes, that "the story of Henry de la Pomeray, in rebellion against Richard I., stands alone (during a certain period) as a detailed account of warlike enterprize in Cornwall (fn. n20)." During the captivity of that monarch in Germany, Henry de la Pomeray or Pomeroy, who had large possessions in Cornwall, seized on St. Michael's Mount on behalf of John Earl of Cornwall, who was then in rebellion against the King his brother: on hearing of the King's release, we are told that he surrendered it in the year 1194, without making any defence, to Hubert Walker, Archbishop of Canterbury; and it is said he died with fear on hearing of the King's return. (fn. n21)

In the year 1322, we are told that a great multitude of the Cornish men, women, and children, being smitten with a strange enthusiasm, and convinced that they should conquer the Holy Land, left their native country, and, wandering about in foreign parts, some were executed for various transgressions, and others imprisoned; those who escaped, returned home not a little ashamed of their folly. (fn. n22)

In the year 1471, Queen Margaret having landed at Weymouth, the whole powers of Cornwall and Devonshire, having been raised in her behalf, as it appears, through the influence of Sir Hugh Courtenay of Boconnoc, and Sir John Arundell of Lanherne, joined her at Exeter, and accompanied her to the fatal field of Tewkesbury (fn. n23). The same year, in the month of September, John Vere Earl of Oxford, having by subtlety got possession of St. Michael's Mount, established himself in that fortress with a garrison of nearly 400 men, and held it till the 3d of February, when he surrendered to Sir Thomas Fortescue, on condition of his life being spared, which the King granted, but sent him prisoner to the castle of Hannes or Hammes, where he remained several years. (fn. n24)

In the year 1497, being the 12th of Henry VII., in consequence of discontents occasioned by the levy of a tax for the Scottish war, the commons of Cornwall, instigated by Thomas Flammock or Flamank, the head of a respectable family in the county, and, as Holinshed calls him, learned in the laws of the realm, and Michael Joseph, a smith of Bodmin, rose in rebellion. Having prevailed on Lord Audley to be their general, they marched without interruption through Somersetshire, Wiltshire, Hampshire, and Surrey, till they came to Blackheath in Kent, where they were defeated by Lord Daubeny, and their ringleaders taken prisoners and executed (fn. n25). The Cornish men were for the most part armed with bows and arrows, and bills; their arrows were reported to be of the length of a tailor's yard; "so strong and mighty a bow," observes Lord Bacon, "were they said to draw (fn. n26)."

In the month of September following, the celebrated Perkin Warbeck, who has been thought by some late writers (on plausible grounds) to have been really, as he represented himself, the son of King Edward IV., in the prosecution of his claims to the crown, landed at Whitsand bay, near the Lands-End; advancing to Bodmin, he found the Cornish ripe for a new rebellion, and soon gathered together a force of 3000 men, with which he marched to besiege Exeter (fn. n27). His wife, the Lady Catherine Gordon, daughter of the Earl of Huntley, and a relation of the King of Scots, having been left at St. Michael's Mount as a place of security, after her husband's flight, was, by the King's command, taken from thence by a party of horse, and brought to court. (fn. n28)

In the year 1548, another rebellion arose in Cornwall, of which Hugh Arundell, governor of Mount St. Michael, seems to have been the principal leader (fn. n29). Their pretence was, the want of a reformation in religious matters. They proceeded to besiege Exeter as Perkin Warbeck had done, but though that city was sorely distressed for want of provisions, it held out till relieved; the rebels were soon afterwards defeated, and Arundell, with some other of their captains, taken prisoners and executed (fn. n30). During this rebellion the town of Marazion was burnt, as appears by the charter of Queen Elizabeth. Tonkin and Hals speak of its having experienced a similar calamity in 1513 or 1514, when a party of soldiers landed from a French fleet then cruising in the channel, and took possession of the town, but retreated to their ships on the approach of the sheriff with the posse comitatus.

On the 23d of July 1595, a small party of Spaniards landed near Mousehole, and burnt that town, Newlyn and Penzance.

Previously to the commencement of the civil war in the seventeenth century, a petition for redress of grievances was presented to the House of Commons from the county of Cornwall; a part of the prayer of this petition was, that the castles of Pendennis and St. Mawes, both much decayed in their fortifications, &c. should be repaired and put into trusty hands, and that the havens of Fowey and Helford, being very good harbours, were fit to be fortified and put also into trusty hands. In the early part of the war, Sir Alexander Carew of Anthony, and Sir Richard Buller of Morval, active committee men, and the latter one of the members for the county, possessed themselves of the eastern part of Cornwall, placed garrisons in Launceston and Saltash, and the parliament thought themselves secure of the whole county excepting Pendennis castle, whose governor, Sir Nicholas Slanning, was a zealous royalist.

Such was the situation of affairs when the Marquis of Hertford, the King's general in the west, having embarked with his foot at Minehead to join his Royal Master in Wales, Sir Ralph Hopton and Sir John Berkeley, with a party of about 150 horse, which had been attached to the Marquis's army, retired into Cornwall: they were immediately joined by Sir Bevill Grenville, who accompanied them to Truro. At the ensuing quarter sessions (fn. n31), Sir Ralph and his party were presented by the committee as "certain persons unknown, who were lately come armed into that county against the peace;" but Sir Ralph Hopton having attended and produced the King's commission by which he was appointed lieutenant-general of horse in the West, he and his companions were not only acquitted of any disturbance of the peace, but a cross indictment having been preferred against Sir Alexander Carew and Sir Richard Buller, who had assembled the parliamentary forces at Launceston with the intention of cutting off Sir Ralph's retreat, the bill which charged them with being a rout and unlawful assembly, was found by the grand jury, and an order of sessions was made for calling out the posse comitatus, by which means a body of three thousand foot, well armed, was immediately raised for the King's service. With this force thus suddenly assembled, Sir Ralph Hopton marched to Launceston, then in the occupation of Sir Richard Buller, who quitted it at his approach and it was taken possession of without resistance. Saltash was the next object of attack, and surrendered also without opposition. The King's party being now in the entire possession of Cornwall, dismissed the trained bands, and some of his most active friends began to raise volunteer regiments, in which, from the general loyalty of the county, they met with great success. About the same time (fn. n32), Lord Mohun, who had a large estate in Cornwall, and had not as yet attached himself to either party, having declared for the King, was joined in commission with Sir Ralph Hopton, Sir John Berkeley, and Colonel Ashburnham, to command the Cornish forces.

The parliament in the mean-time, hearing that the King's army was in complete possession of Cornwall, and occasionally made incursions into Devonshire, sent the whole of their force out of Dorsetshire and Somersetshire to join with those of Devonshire in recovering what they had lost in that quarter. These forces with all expedition entered the county under the command of General Ruthen, governor of Plymouth, at a bridge six miles above Saltash, and advanced to Liskeard. Mean-time, the King's army, much inferior in numbers, had retired to Bodmin, whence, having been joined by the trained bands who had been again summoned on foreseeing the approaching storm, they advanced towards Liskeard, and Sir Ralph Hopton being chosen general for the day, Ruthen's army, which had been drawn up upon Broadoak or Bradock down, was there defeated. This battle happened on the 19th of January 1643. (fn. n33) Liskeard was taken the same day (fn. n34). Ruthen fled to Saltash, which he fortified with much expedition. The King's forces dividing, Sir John Berkeley and Colonel Ashburnham, with the volunteer regiments, went to attack the Earl of Stamford, the parliamentary general, at Tavistock; Lord Mohun and Sir Ralph Hopton, with the remainder, proceeded to Saltash, which was quickly taken by assault (fn. n35), Ruthen escaping by water to Plymouth. The parliamentary forces having thus failed in their attempt to subdue Cornwall, and the war being now actively prosecuted in Devonshire, a proposal was made by some of the Cornish gentlemen attached to the parliament, that a treaty might be entered into, whereby the peace of the counties of Cornwall and Devon might be settled, and the war removed into other parts. This treaty took effect, and was ratified by the most solemn oaths; but, like the Cheshire articles of neutrality, proved insufficient to its object, for it was declared null and void by the parliament, and both counties were fated to become the scene of repeated bloodshed. An order for Mr. Nicolls and Mr. Prideaux, two Cornish gentlemen, members of the house, to go down and break the pacification, passed on the 11th of March (fn. n36); but it appears that the truce which was to precede the intended peace, was suffered to remain in force; for we are told that it was not till the beginning of May, just before the expiration of the truce, that Major General Chudleigh advanced with a strong party of the parliamentary forces against Launceston, then the head quarters of the King's army: by coming thus unawares, they gained some advantage at the first, but were in the end repulsed, and obliged to retire into Devonshire (fn. n37). Not long afterwards, the King's forces being still at Launceston, the Earl of Stamford marched with a large army into the north of Cornwall, the only part of the county eminently disaffected to the King's cause, and encamped on the top of a steep hill near Stratton, from whence he sent Sir George Chudleigh with a considerable party of horse to surprise Bodmin, and prevent the high sheriff with the trained bands from coming to the assistance of the army at Launceston. Mean-time, the King's generals resolved to advance and engage the enemy notwithstanding any disadvantage of situation or numbers. On the fifteenth of May, they took their station within a mile of the parliamentary army; the next morning, they divided into four detachments, all of which, with wonderful perseverance, gained the summit of the hill on which their enemies were stationed, and obtained a complete victory. Major General Chudleigh was taken prisoner; the Earl of Stamford fled to Exeter. Considering the great disadvantages of the ground, and the superiority in numbers of the parliamentary army, which was more than double that of the King's, this has been esteemed by historians as one of the most brilliant victories in the whole course of that unhappy war. A late writer calls it "the most signal and most astonishing instance of what determined valour can effect (fn. n38)." The King, to shew his sense of its importance, soon afterwards created Sir Ralph Hopton, Lord Hopton of Stratton: after whose death, Sir John Berkeley, another of the generals who shared in the glories of this action, being created a baron by King Charles II., had the same honourable distinction. The consequence of this victory was, that the whole of the parliamentary camp, with all the baggage, provisions, ordnance, ammunition, and a great number of prisoners, fell into the hands of the King's generals. When Sir George Chudleigh, who had succeeded without difficulty in surprising the town of Bodmin, and preventing the high sheriff from assisting the King's forces with the train bands, heard the news of the Earl of Stamford's defeat, he made a hasty retreat with his horse to Exeter. The county of Cornwall being now in a state of security, the King's generals left garrisons in Saltash and Milbrook, to check any incursions from the parliamentary garrison at Plymouth; and marched with their forces to join Prince Maurice, and the Marquis of Hertford, in Somersetshire. Here the Cornish army gained as much honour, as they had done in their own county, and particularly distinguished themselves at the battle of Lansdowne, and at the siege of Bristol. The former proved fatal to the brave Sir Bevill Grenville, the latter to Sir Nicholas Slanning, governor of Pendennis Castle, and Col. John Trevanion, men of distinguished gallantry; they all commanded the regiments of volunteers, which they had raised to assist Sir Ralph Hopton, at his first coming into Cornwall. To shew his sense of these repeated proofs, which the Cornish men had given of their attachment to his cause, the King wrote the following letter, which is not noticed by the noble historian, from whose work the greater part of this brief recital has been collected; although he is not sparing in his commendations of the bravery and loyalty of the Cornish:—

"C. R.

"To the Inhabitants of the County of Cornwall.

"WE are so highly sensible of the merit of our county of Cornwall, of their zeal for the defence of our person, and the just rights of our crown, in a time when we could contribute so little to our own defence, or to their assistance; in a time when not only no reward appeared, but great and probable dangers were threatened to obedience and loyalty; of their great and eminent courage and patience in their indefatigable prosecution of their great work against so potent an enemy, backed with so strong, rich, and populous cities, and so plentifully furnished and supplied with men, arms, money, ammunition, and provision of all kinds; and of the wonderful success with which it pleased Almighty God (though with the loss of some most eminent persons, who shall never be forgotten by us) to reward their loyalty and patience by many strange victories over their and our enemies in despight of all human probability, and all imaginable disadvantages; that as we cannot be forgetful of so great desert, so we cannot but desire to publish it to all the world, and perpetuate to all time, the memory of their merits, and of our acceptance of the same; and to that end, we do hereby render our royal thanks to that our County in the most public and lasting manner we can devise, commanding copies hereof to be printed and published, and one of them to be read in every church and chapel therein, and to be kept for ever as a record in the same; that as long as the history of these times and of this nation shall continue, the memory of how much that county hath merited from us and our crown, may be derived with it to posterity. — Given at our camp at Sudeley Castle, the 10th of September, 1643."

This letter is still preserved in many churches in the county; among others, in those of Stratton and Poughill, close to the scene of one of the brilliant victories, to which it principally alludes: it is for the most part painted on board, in some conspicuous part of the churches, and in some the painting has not many years ago been renewed.

After the battle of Stratton, nothing worthy of note occurred in the county of Cornwall till the middle of July 1644, wheen the Queen retreated to Pendennis Castle, whence she embarked for France (fn. n39). On the 20th of that month the Earl of Essex marched into Cornwall (fn. n40), contrary as it is said to his own judgment, being swayed by the advice of Lord Robarts and some Cornish gentlemen, who were sanguine in their expectations, that by their presence and interest they should be able to do great matters for the service of the parliament. Essex passed the Tamer at Newbridge (fn. n41), after a sharp skirmish with Sir Richard Grenville and a party of the King's forces who defended that pass (fn. n42). He then took possession of Launceston and Saltash (fn. n43). Sir Richard Grenville's house, which was garrisoned for the King, was taken by storm (fn. n44) : the general then marched to Bodmin, and afterwards to Lostwithiel and Fowey, where he fixed his head-quarters, and summoned the county to come in to his assistance (fn. n45). Sir Richard Grenville retired before Essex's army, and having suffered some loss in a skirmish at Lostwithiel with Lord Robart's brigade (fn. n46), made good his retreat to Truro (fn. n47). Mean-time the King having determined to pursue Essex's army, entered Cornwall on the 1st of August, at Polston-bridge. Previously to entering the county, he reminded his soldiers that they were going among a people who had shewn themselves much attached to his cause, and gave them the strictest caution to abstain from plunder. The King passed through Launceston, and slept that night at Trecarrel, Mr. Manaton's house, in the parish of Lezant, his army being quartered around him in the fields. The next day he drew up his forces upon Carraton Down, in the parish of Linkinhorne, where he was joined by Prince Maurice's army, and they marched together to Liskeard that night. It was the same day that the Earl of Essex had moved from Bodmin to Lostwithiel, and had taken possession of Fowey. Lord Mohun's house at Boconnoc was occupied by the parliamentary officers, several of whom, and among the rest the general's own lieutenant-colonel, were there surprised on the 4th, and taken prisoners by a party of horse belonging to the King. Boconnoc-house became afterwards the King's head-quarters. About this time His Majesty sounded the Earl of Essex, about detaching himself from the parliament, and with his own hand wrote a letter, in which he invited him to a pacific accommodation; but the Earl peremptorily refused to listen to terms of any kind without the concurrence of parliament. When the King advanced from Liskeard on the 7th, he encamped his army on the entrance of Pinnock (or Broadoak), down, on the very spot where Governor Ruthen was defeated by the Cornish in 1642. The next day the army advanced over Broadoak down towards Boconnoc, and in the evening towards Glynford; the King encamped on the heath, where he spent the night in the midst of his army. He afterwards occupied Boconnochouse. The two armies remained nearly in the same situation for several days, the King's foot among the enclosures between Boconnoc and the heath, and his horse in and about St. Veep; the Earl of Essex's forces occupying Lostwithiel and Fowey, with the intermediate ground for their horse. Meanwhile Sir Richard Grenville advanced from Truro to Grampound, and thence to Bodmin, where he was successful in a skirmish with the parliamentary horse. On the 11th of August he took possession of Lord Robarts's seat at Lanhydrock, and of Resprin Bridge without opposition. On the 13th they took possession of the pass at St. Veep, and the ford below it, Hall-house (fn. n48) belonging to Lord Mohun, over against Fowey haven, and Pernon fort at its mouth, of which fort Colonel Page was made governor. This gave the King the command of Fowey harbour. One of the parliamentary diurnals of this time, says, "The enemy daily encroacheth upon our quarters, the loss of Fowey harbour being to our infinite disadvantage, no ship being able to ride out of the command of their guns. The Lord Admiral made a gallant attempt on Monday the 26th of August to have cleared that side of the enemy, whereby his ships might harbour as at first, but extremity of weather would not suffer him to land any men, so that he is now returned safe into the found (fn. n49)." On the 17th the King rode to view the passes on the river towards Fowey, and to inspect the garrisons at Hall and Pernon fort; at the former place he was in some danger from the enemy's shot. On the 21st the King's forces on every side moved nearer to Lostwithiel, and many slight skirmishes happened with various success. Restormel Castle was taken on that day by Sir Richard Grenville, and a square battery raised on the Beacon Hill at the extent of the King's quarters towards Lostwithiel. On the 26th General Goring and Sir Thomas Basset took possession of St. Austell and the western part of St. Blazey, and a place called the Parre, on the river which was the chief landing-place for provisions for the supply of the parliamentary army. The King's line at this time extended to Grampound, St. Enoder, Fowey, and to St. Blazey bridge (fn. n50). Being now reduced to great straits, the Earl of Essex began to devise how to escape, and to make good a retreat for his army. Sir William Balfour, favoured by the darkness of the morning, it being about three o'clock, succeeded in his attempt of passing through the King's quarters with the whole body of the parliamentary horse on the 31st of August, and got safe out of the county by way of Carraton Down, Pillaton, and Saltash. Essex with his army quitted Lostwithiel on the same day; the soldiers, on the morning of their departure, are said to have blown up the church, which, during their stay there, they desecrated and profaned in the most wanton manner (fn. n51). During their march to Fowey, a kind of running fight was kept up between the two armies. In one of these skirmishes the parliamentary army retreated to the ruins of an old castle called Castle-Dore (fn. n52). That night the King encamped in the fields with his army very near the parliamentary quarters. The next day, Essex sent to propose a parley, but without waiting for the result, took ship at Fowey the same morning, with Lord Robarts and a few of their particular friends, and embarked for Plymouth. General Skippon, who was left in command of the parliamentary army, then consisting of about 6000 men, immediately capitulated, and the whole of their arms, artillery, and ammunition was delivered up the next day. A parliamentary diurnal (fn. n53) of that time, says, that previously to the capitulation, the King's forces attacked those of the Parliament, that General Skippon, who fought like a lion, animated his men to make a brave resistance, and intimates that they forced the King to yield to his proposals for a capitulation, a copy of which is there given. By this agreement, the arms and the whole of the ammunition were to be given up, the parliamentary army were to have a safe convoy of 100 horse to Poole and Wareham; the sick and wounded to lie at Fowey till cured; the army to have on their march all the money they could procure from Plymouth, and other accommodations; no soldier to be moved to turn to the King, except such as should come voluntarily. The same diurnal complains that the soldiers were plundered by the King's troops, contrary to agreement; and gives a speech said to have been made by General Skippon to the King upon the occasion. Sir Richard Grenville being sent in pursuit of the parliamentary horse, on his route took possession of Saltash, which had been quitted before his approach. The King returned to his quarters at Boconnoc house on the 2d of September; on the 4th he marched to Liskeard, and on the following day quitted the county and advanced to Tavistock, having fully accomplished the purpose of his expedition, and left Cornwall for a while in a state of perfect security (fn. n54). In the course of the next month, a party from the parliamentary garrison at Plymouth took possession of Saltash, which soon afterwards Sir Richard Grenville recovered by assault. (fn. n55)

The year 1645 was almost wholly barren of incident in Cornwall, the war having been removed into other counties. King Charles II., then Prince of Wales, spent a great part of the autumn and winter of this year in Cornwall, residing principally at Launceston and Truro (fn. n56). On the 2d of March 1645-6, he embarked at Pendennis Castle for the Scilly Isles (fn. n57). Some time in the preceding autumn, Sir Richard Grenville, who is said to have rendered himself extremely odious in the county, by his oppressive and tyrannical conduct (fn. n58), fortified Launceston. He had hitherto been very active for the King's service, yet, in consequence of some unpleasant misunderstandings then subsisting between Lord Goring and himself, he caused a proclamation to be read in all the churches throughout Cornwall, that if any of Lord Goring's forces should offer to come into Cornwall, they should ring the bells, and, thereupon, the whole county should rise and beat them out. These divisions among the officers had already proved, in a great measure, fatal to the King's cause, before Sir Ralph, then Lord Hopton, was made commanderin-chief of the western army. Sir Richard Grenville, although he had himself advised the measure of appointing a superior officer, from whom all others might receive orders, refused to obey Lord Hopton, and was in consequence, by the Prince's command, committed to prison at Launceston, from whence he was afterwards sent to St. Michael's Mount: there he remained till the Parliament was possessed of the whole county, when, left he should fall into their hands, the Prince gave him leave to retire to the continent. Lord Hopton having (though sorely against his inclination) accepted the command of a divided, broken, and disorderly army, was defeated by Sir Thomas Fairfax, at Torrington: from thence he retired to Stratton, the scene of his former honours, where he staid two or three days, till he was joined by the remainder of his foot. Sir Thomas Fairfax followed his steps into Cornwall, and the latter end of February, 1646, forced the pass of Tamerton-bridge (fn. n59), advanced to Stratton (fn. n60), and from thence to Launceston, where, in consequence of the turn which affairs had now taken in this county, Colonel Edgcumbe, "who had always pretended to be of the King's party, joined Sir Thomas Fairfax with his regiment of trained bands (fn. n61)." The general, previously to entering Cornwall, strictly forbad his soldiers plundering or injuring any of the inhabitants, as the King had done upon the same occasion. Lord Hopton retired to Bodmin. About this time, Saltash was finally abandoned by the King's forces. (fn. n62)

The following particulars are given more at large by Sir Bulstrode Whitelocke than by any other historian: — Sir Thomas Fairfax marched to Bodmin, which was quitted by the King's forces the beginning of March. Cromwell was sent with a large party of horse to secure the pass at "Ware-bridge (fn. n63)." Sir Thomas Fairfax's army was quartered about Bodmin and Lostwithiel (fn. n64), and spent some days securing all the neighbouring passes. During this time, Mount Edgcumbe was surrendered to the general, and many of the principal persons (fn. n65) of the county, among whom was Lord Mohun, came and submitted themselves to the Parliament. Sir Thomas Fairfax advanced from Bodmin towards Truro; on the 7th of March, the army (fn. n66) held a rendezvous, and halted one night, four miles beyond Bodmin. The King's forces were quartered at this time near St. Columb, where a smart skirmish took place between the Prince's regiment and a detachment of the Parliamentary army under Colonel Rich, in which the latter was victorious (fn. n67). On the 8th, Fairfax was quartered within three miles of Truro. A treaty was now set on foot, and, after having been some days in agitation, it was agreed by Lord Hopton, that his army, consisting of nearly 3,000 horse, should be disbanded, and the horses, arms, ammunition, baggage, and artillery, delivered up to Sir Thomas Fairfax; Lord Hopton to have a convoy of fifty of his own, and fifty of the parliamentary horse, to accompany him to Oxford (fn. n68). Lord Clarendon says, that Lord Hopton's officers were all in a state of mutiny, and that, on his shewing a reluctance to capitulate, they declared, that if he would not treat, they would treat for themselves; that from that time, they neither kept guard, nor performed any other duty; that Lord Hopton, being reduced to this dilemma, and having first sent his ammunition and foot to Pendennis and the Mount, gave the horse leave to capitulate, but declared, that he would not treat for himself or the garrisons; and, quitting the army, repaired with Lord Capel (fn. n69) to the Mount, whence, with the first fair wind, they embarked to join the Prince in Scilly (fn. n70). Heath says, that at the time of this treaty, Lord Hopton's head-quarters were at Truro; that the treaty was concluded at Tresilian Bridge; and that immediately afterwards, though with much reluctance on the part of Lord Hopton, Sir Thomas Fairfax made Truro his head-quarters. This seems to be somewhat inaccurate; for there is extant an official letter, addressed to Speaker Lenthall, printed by authority of parliament, dated Truro, March 11th and 12th, 1645-6, Sir Thomas Fairfax's head-quarters being then in that town, and the treaty not completed. Whilst this treaty was in agitation, Mount Edgcumbe and Fowey were surrendered to Sir Thomas Fairfax (fn. n71). The governors of Penryn and St. Mawes soon after sent in their submission (fn. n72). Helford fort also surrendered before the end of March. On the 23d of April, the garrison at St. Michael's Mount surrendered to Colonel Hammond (fn. n73), an event which is said to have been hastened by the influence of the Duke of Hamilton, at that time a prisoner there (fn. n74). Pendennis was now the only garrison in Cornwall that remained in the King's hands, and, though closely invested, both by sea and land, by Captain Fortescue and Admiral Batten, was defended by its brave old governor John Arundell of Trerice to the last extremity; and although the garrison had not provisions sufficient to last twenty-four hours, the treaty for capitulation was carried on with such spirit, that their real situation was never suspected, and they obtained as good terms as any garrison which had been surrendered during the war. Ragland and Pendennis Castles were the last garrisons in England which held out. Pendennis was surrendered about the middle of August 1646, when Captain Fortescue, who commanded the besieging army, was appointed governor. (fn. n75)

Whilst the Prince remained in Scilly, where he was much straitened for provisions, the Parliament caused a letter (fn. n76) to be written to him, inviting him to place himself under their protection; soon afterwards, a fleet of twenty-seven or twentyeight sail surrounded the island where he was, with the intention, as was supposed, of taking possession of his person, but was dispersed by a storm. On the 16th of April, the Prince quitted the island, which had afforded him but an insecure and incommodious retreat. The next day he landed in Jersey, and from thence sailed to France (fn. n77). The Scilly Islands were shortly afterwards surrendered to Parliament. (fn. n78)

In the month of February, 1647, the commons having taken into their consideration what garrisons were fit to be continued, it was determined to keep up the garrisons of Pendennis, the Mount, and St. Mawes, in Cornwall. (fn. n79)

In the month of May, 1648, Sir Hardress Waller defeated some forces which had been raised in Cornwall, with the vain hope of restoring the fallen King (fn. n80). In 1649, Sir Hardress appears to have been governor of Pendennis Castle (fn. n81). Sir John Berkeley and Colonel Slingsby having been sent into Cornwall in the autumn of 1649, to encourage their friends to rise in arms for King Charles II., were taken at Colonel Trevanion's house (fn. n82), and sent prisoners to Truro (fn. n83). In the year 1650, the Scilly Isles were held against the parliament by a considerable body of English and Irish forces. Mr. Godolphin appears to have commanded these under Sir John Grenville (fn. n84). In the month of April 1651, the Dutch admiral, Van Tromp, lay before Scilly, and declared that he would assist the English (fn. n85) in the reduction of these islands. The following month, Admiral Sir George Ayscough, with the parliamentary forces, took all the islands, except St. Mary's, which was not surrendered till June (fn. n86), when Sir John Grenville was amongst the prisoners there taken. In the year 1667, the Dutch made an attempt to land near Cawland, in Cornwall, but were beaten off by the infantry on shore (fn. n87). De Ruyter, the Dutch admiral, made an attempt also on Fowey harbour, but was repulsed. (fn. n88)


  • n1. See Leland's Collectanea, II. p. 78.
  • n2. The fabulous circumstances relating to Arthur's birth, taken principally from Geffery of Monmouth by Hals, may be seen at large in Polwhele's History of Cornwall, II. p. 4. An ancient French chronicle, translated by Leland, simply says, that Tintagel and Divilioc castles, in this county, were kept by Gorlois Earl of Cornwall against Uter Pendragon; that Tintagel was delivered up to him, and that he married Igerne, the Earl of Cornwall's wife. Arthur was the son of Uter and Igerne; but all his historians agree that he was begotten in adultery.
  • n3. Collectanea, Appendix, Part I.
  • n4. See Lel. Collect. II. p. 38; and Galf. Monmouth. inter Rer. Brit. Scrip. Vetustiores, p. 82, 83,
  • n5. Leland's Collect. II. p. 12.
  • n6. See Leland's Itin. VIII. p. 86. Mr. Whitaker supposes it to have been Heyle, at the mouth of Helford Haven, near which is a creek called Porth Saussen, or the Saxon Haven. There is some degree of uncertainty about this; some writers making Ivor the son of Alga, King of Brittanny, others the son of Cadwallader, the last King of Wales. See Leland, Carew's Survey of Cornwall, f. 77, b. and Borlase's Antiquities.
  • n7. Powell's History of Wales, and Sax. Chron.
  • n8. See Turner, I. p. 162.
  • n9. Sax. Chron. and Dec. Scrip. I. p. 767. (J. Bromton).
  • n10. Polwhele; R. Hoveden.
  • n11. Sax. Chron.
  • n12. Called in the Saxon Chronicle, Gafulford.
  • n13. The battle is mentioned by Henry Huntingdon, (Scrip. post Bedam, 197, b.), and in the Saxon Chronicle.
  • n14. Sax. Chron. and Henry Huntingdon. (Scrip. post Bedam, 198.)
  • n15. Whitaker, I. 20, 21.
  • n16. The Chronicles (see J. Bromton inter Dec. Scrip. I. 877., and Hoveden inter Scrip. post Bedam, 245.) only say the monastery of St. Peter or Petroc, in Cornwall; it has generally been supposed to have been the monastery at Bodmin; but Mr. Whitaker has very ably shown, that it was another monastery of the same saint at Padstow, on the sea-shore, which was a cell to Bodmin. See his cathedral of Cornwall, I. 60.
  • n17. Sax. Chron. and Leland's Collectanea, II. p. 189.
  • n18. Sim. Dunelm inter decem Scrip. I. 189.
  • n19. Polwhele's Cornwall, II. 23.
  • n20. Ibid. II. 24.
  • n21. Hoveden inter Scrip. post Bedam, f. 418, b.
  • n22. Leland's Collectanea, l. 274; from an ancient chronicle, the author unknown.
  • n23. Holinshed.
  • n24. Ibid. and Leland's Collectanea, I. 508, 509.
  • n25. Holinshed.
  • n26. Life of King Henry VII.
  • n27. Life of King Henry VII.
  • n28. Holinshed.
  • n29. In conjunction with Rosogan, Winslade, and others.
  • n30. Holinshed.
  • n31. This must have been the Michaelmas sessions, 1642. All the particulars relating to the early part of the war are taken from Lord Clarendon's history, in which there is a great deficiency of dates.
  • n32. It was in the autumn of 1642, or the early part of the winter. (See note ).
  • n33. Heath, p. 43.
  • n34. Dugdale's View of the Troubles, p. 116.
  • n35. Heath.
  • n36. Dugdale's View of the Troubles, p. 589.
  • n37. Lord Clarendon, Whitlock, and Vicars.
  • n38. Granger's Biographical History, II. p. 236.
  • n39. Walker's Historical Discourses, p. 41.
  • n40. Walker.
  • n41. Walker says Horse-bridge, and that Sir Richard Grenville abandoned that pass when he supposed that he had secured Launceston, p. 48.
  • n42. Whitelocke.
  • n43. Ibid.
  • n44. Ibid.
  • n45. Whitelocke.
  • n46. Ibid.
  • n47. Walker's Historical Discourses.
  • n48. Lord Clarendon calls it View Hall.
  • n49. P. D. Sep. 2–9, 1644.
  • n50. See P. O. Sep. 6–13, 1644.
  • n51. Dugdale's View of the Troubles, p. 560.
  • n52. Walker. It was in the parish of Tywardreath.
  • n53. Perfect Occurrences, Sep. 6–13, 1644.
  • n54. The dates of the greater part of the account of the King's expedition into Cornwall, in 1644, are taken from the narrative of his secretary, Sir Edward Walker. (See his Historical Discourses.)
  • n55. See Lord Clarendon's History, 8vo. II. 684. 690. 703. 705. 735.
  • n56. The Prince was at Launceston as late as February 1645–6.
  • n57. See P. D. Feb. 22–March 2d.
  • n58. See Lord Clarendon, Fol. Edit. II. 561, 562,
  • n59. Whitelocke.
  • n60. Lord Clarendon.
  • n61. Ibid.
  • n62. Heath.
  • n63. Whitelocke; most probably Wadebridge.
  • n64. P. D. Mar. 9–16. 1645–6.
  • n65. Sir Jo. Trelawney, Sir Richard Prideaux the high sheriff, the Edgcumbes, Lowers, Trevanions, Corytons, Bonds, Sawles, &c.
  • n66. Ibid.
  • n67. Ibid.
  • n68. Ibid.
  • n69. Heath says, Lord Wentworth.
  • n70. Lord Clarendon, 8vo. II. 734.
  • n71. Whitelocke.
  • n72. Ibid.
  • n73. Whitelocke and Heath.
  • n74. Lord Clarendon.
  • n75. Whitelocke.
  • n76. Whitelocke says a loving and tender letter; Lord Clarendon calls it rather a summons than an invitation.
  • n77. Lord Clarendon.
  • n78. Heath.
  • n79. Moderate Intelligencer, Feb. 18–25, 1647.
  • n80. Whitelocke.
  • n81. P. D. July 9–16, 1649.
  • n82. Most probably Carhayes.
  • n83. Whitlocke and Heath.
  • n84. Perfect Diurnal, Oct. 1650, and Whitlock, p. 435.
  • n85. Whitelocke.
  • n86. Ibid.
  • n87. Heath.
  • n88. Ibid.