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Speculi BritanniŠ pars:

a topographical and historical description of Cornwall

by  John Norden

Transcribed by Heather Carbis

Map with grid references (ie d.2, c.18) can be viewed here

John Norden (1548- 1625)

John Norden was topographer and was the first Englishman who designed a complete series of county histories and geographies (a gazetteer).  The first part of his Speculum Britanniae  in 1593 was of Middlesex, then Hertfordshire in 1598.  Three of his studies were printed long after his death, Essex, Northamptonshire,  finished in 1610, but only published in 1720, Cornwall also finished in 1610, published in 1728.

The hundred of PENWITH
Mapps, and Alphabeticall Tables,
of the Severall Hundreds in the Dukedom

[At the beginning of this  book is a general description of the people of Cornwall which I have included at the end of this gazetteer]

Pen-with, what is signifieth.  The boundes of Penwith.  Tynn and copper
PEnwith signifieth the head of the Ashen trees, and is the most westerne and farthest hundred of all the Dukedom of Corn-wall, extending it selfe to the Landes ende; bounded with the sea Northe-west, and partly Southe, upon which parte also it lyeth upon Kirrier hundred ; in the Easte towching Pyder hundred.
    This hundred is ill stored with woode, but less with timber : it is verie mountanous and rockye. Within this hundred are manie tynn mynes, and some Copper mynes.

Armed-Knight, d.2. A rocke poynting into the sea, at the Landes ende ; wher are found a kinde of stone that will attracte iron


Bolvargus, c.6. the howse of one Bolvargus.

Bodrigie, c.18.  the howse of Mr. Cotwyne

Boskenna, e.6.  the howse of Walter Carthew, and standeth harde upon the South sea

Bedman or Pedman dowe, c.2.  a rocke poynting into the sea at Landes ende

Bolistow, e.4.  the howse of John Bolistow, situate at the verie Landes ende

Bosissell, (?) b.6.  a hamlett sett upon the brincke of the north sea coaste

St. Burien, d.6.  a greate parishe nere the Landes ende, wher King Athelstane buylded a Colledge for priestes after his conqueste of the Sylles, which he vowed to doe upon his victorie ; as did rashe Iepthah.  This Churche, as M. Camden reporteth, was consecrated to a holy Irishe woman, one Buriena . So were the moste of the Parishe churches and Chappells of Cornwall dedicated to some holy sainete, every churche founder choosinge his perticular Saynete, to whose intercession they might especially address their devotions.

Botallock, b.8.  a litle hamlet on the coaste of the Irishe Sea, at the Landed ende

Breland Insula, b.2.  a rocke sett in the sea, at the Landes ende


Carnonbigh, b.10.  a howse

Castle Carnuiack, b.4.  the ruynes of an auntiente castle sett at the verie northe-weste pointe of the Landed ende, upon a loftie craggie rocke, where yet appeare the ruined walls and forlorne trenches

Castle Andinis, c.12.  a vaste and craggie rocke wheron in former times hath bene a castle trenched about.  More castle of this name ther are in Cornwall, which M. Carew calleth Castellandanis, Castles raysed by the DanesMr. Camden calleth them Castellan Dauis, Dauidis castra.  it may be rather Castle-en-Inis, a castle sett as in a ilande, trenched about, and as it were divided from the reste of the lande.

Clowans, d.18.  an auntiente howse of an auntiente gent.  M. Thomas Seyntabyn

Castle-anowthan, b.12.  a craggie rocke on the topp of a hill nere Sener, upon the north sea, somtyme trenched about and buylte with stone, as appeareth by the ruynes of the walls.

Camburne, c.20.  A churche standinge among the barrayne hills.  It is a Saxon worde, and signifieth aquam curuatam, the crooked River.

Crowan, e.20.  A churche standinge upon the edge of Kirrier hundred.

Castle Hornocke, d.10.  an auntient ruyned castle standinge on a mounte nere Pensans, and is it seemeth in former times of some accompte.

Drysse, d.8.  the howse of Thomas Tre-wryn.

S. Earthe, d.16.  a parishe nere Hayle river.


Gwyner, d.18.  A parish situate on the Moares, nere which are manie tynne mynes.

Gwythian, b.18.  A parish standinge nere St, Ies baye, muche anoyde by  sea and sande, which flyeth at a lowe water with the winde out of the choaked haven into the Lande, swallowinge up muche of the lande of the inhabitants, to their great impoverishment.

Gurlyn, d.16 the howse of John Nants■yan.

Gudrevie Ins, b.18.  a rocke in the sea nere St. Ies baye.

Goldsynnye, d.14.  a hamlet nere the parish of St. Hillary.

Gulvall, c.12.  a Parishe standinge in the bottome of Mountes baye, nere Pensans

Gull rocke, c.2.   a rocke in the sea at Landes ende.

Hillary, d.14.  called St Hillary, a parishe nere Mountes baye


St Ithes or St Ies, b.14.  a poore haven towne, and market : Ther is a baye, but the sande hath bene verie prejudiciall unto it, and made it insufficient to receyve shipps of any great burden, but fisher boates, who beinge well excercised, bring profit to the inhabitantes, beinge great store of fish upon the north coaste.  The river of Hayle runneth into the baye ; it is also called Porth-ea.

St Ivste or St Ewst, c.6. a parish at the Landes ende.


The Kilguth, b.4.  a rocke poyntinge into the sea at the landes ende, verie steepe, high and verye craggie, wherin are stones attracting iron.

Kenegie, c.12.  The howse of Mr. Tripwayes.

Kern-Inis, b.8.  A huge rocke upon a mountayne near Morvale.

Kern-usack, c.8.  A greate rocke nere the former, a receptacle and harbor for foxes.

Kerthyes, d. 8.   the howse of Willm Chyverton.  

St. Levan, e.4a parishe standinge upon the south-weste poynte of the lande, havinge a litle cove for fisher boates to shroude them in.  Nere unto, and in this parishe are manie Tynn mynes.

Lamorny poynte, e.10A rocke bendinge and poyntinge into the south sea.

Luggan, c.12.  a Parrishe nere Mountes baye, called in former times St Illogan.

Luggan, b.24.  A parishe upon the north sea, situat amonge the hills ; called also St Ludvan in former times.


Mowshole, e.10. or Meddeshole. A litle hamlet sett within Mountes baye, sometymes yet a market towne ; a harbor for fisher boates, and is called in the Cornish Language Port-ernis, or rather Port-inis ; in latine Portus Insule.  Nere this place, as Hollinshed reporteth, certayne tynners in their mineralls founde armour, speare heades, swordes, Battle axes, and suche like, of Copper, wrapte up in lynnen clothes, the weapons not muche decayde.  This litle village, with others adjacent, was burned by the Spaniardes in anno 1595.

Maderne, c.10.  called also St Maderne, a parish situat under the craggie hills north of Pensans, nere which is a well called Maderne Well, whose fame in former ages was greate ; for the supposed vertue of healinge, which St Maderne had therinto infused : And manie votaries made annale pilgrimages unto it, as they doe even at this daye unto the well of St Winifride, beyounde Chester, in Derbigheshire, wherunto thowsands doe yearly make resorte.  But of late, St Maderne hath denied his or hers ( I know not whether ) prystine ayde ; and as he is coye of his Cures, so now are men coye of cominge to his conjured Well ; yet soom a daye resorte.

Morvath or Morveth, b.10. a parishe standinge upon the Irishe sea, in a moste colde seat in winter : it longs to Madern.

Mount St Michaells, d.12.   a steepe and most craggie torr, called somtime Dinsol; of Ptomeley, Ocrinum ; in the Cornishe language, Careg Cowse, the graye rocke ; and in the Saxon tongue, Milchelstor, Michaells hill or mount.  tor signifieth a sharpe mount, or anie hill turri similis : It is at the full sea Insula Plena, at a lowe water Peninsula ; and is of this forme :

St Michaels Mount

The buyldinges that are on the topp of this Mount are auntient, all of freestone, verye stronge, and permenent, wherof muche was erected by Wllm Moriton, Nephew to Wllm the Conqueror, who had muche lande in this countrye.  It was sometimes a Cell of munckes, but since fortifyed for defence.  it hath bene muche resorted unto by Pylgrims in devotion to St Michaell, whose chayre is fabled to be in the mount, on the south syde, of verie Daungerous access.  The ascente unto the mounte is steepe, curving, narrowe, and rockey ; and that but one waye, on the north syde.  John Earle of Oxforde surprised this mount by pollicie, and kepte it by force againste King Edwarde the 4. but with noe profitable or prayse-worthy success ; for he was violently depryved of it : But some write, that he surrendred it upon conditions.  It is a place of noe greate imortance, having small receyte of meanes to keepe and denfende it longe.  At the foote of the mount is a peere of stones, wherin boates are harbored ; and from Marca-jew there is a causwaye or passage that leadeth to the Mount on foote at lowe water.

Mountes baye, d.12. A greate harbor for ships, espetially beneficiall nere the western shore, unles a forcible easte and north-easte wynde disturbe them.

Marca-jewe, d.14. signifying in Englishe market on the thursday, it is a verie meane town opposite to the mounte : It was burnt by the Frenche men in the time of king Henry the 8. as of late her neighbors have bene by the Spaniardes.

Merther-dervah, b.20. the howse of Mr Xtofer Arrondel.

Mawla, b.26.  A howse situate nere the north sea shore.


Newlyn, d.10A litle hamlet within Mountes bay, nere Pensans burned with others by the Spaniardes 1595.  Mr Carew reporteth, the king Henr. the 8. affecting his Honor of Newlyn, and respectinge the Comodities which Wallingford castle could afforde it, Tooke the last by acte of Parliament from the Duchye, and in lieu therof annexed certayne Mannors lying in Cornwall, which fell to the Crowne by the attaynder of the Marques of Exon, which ( althowgh Q.Mar. restorit unto his sonne in tytle ) returned to the Crowne agayne after his decease without issue.

Nant Gissall cove, d.2.  A cove in the landes ende.

Nants, c.22. It signifieth a valley ; and the situation importeth as muche.  It is the howse of Mr Nantes, sometimes the Trengoves. 


Port-Curno, e.2. a litle cove at the landes ende.

Pendene, b.8.  a hamlet upon the north sea.

Pendene cove, b.8. a holl or deepe vaute in the grounde, wheinto the sea floweth at high water, verie farr under the earth : Manie have attempted, but none effected, the search of the depth of it. The sea clyffes betwene this place and St Ithes does gliter as if ther were muche Copper in them : Not farr from thence, in the Innland, is a greate store of Copper and Copper mynes ; as about Morvath, Sener, and Lalante.

Pawle churche, d.10. standinge on a hill above Mountes bay, on the weste syde, burned by the Spaniardes a ║ 1595.

Pensans, d.10. It signifieth caput sabuli, the head of the sande ; and so it standeth in the botome of Mountes baye, adjoyning unto the sande.  Mr Carew calleth it Sainetes head.  It is a market towne, but of late verie muche defaced, being also burnt by the Spaniardes a ║ 1595.  It is in the Madern parishe.

Peran Uthnoe, d.14.  a parishe situate in the easte parte of Mountes baye, called in former times only Uthnoe, of a mannor ther of that name.

Penrose, d.4.  The howse of Mr Hughe Jones.

Pen-dryn, d.6. the howse of Edwarde Noye.

Poken-horne, c.18. the howse of Thomas Pokenhorne.

Phillack, c.18. a chirch standinge nere St Ies Baye, muche anoyde and almoste drowned with the contynuall drifte of the sea sande, that with the wynde is forced out of the baye into the Lande, to the greate hurte of the inhabitants.


Reskestel, e.4.  a hamlet at the landes ende, harde upon the south sea.

Rosmorran, c.12.  a hamlet.

Relubbus, d.16. a hamlet.

Rudgwerye, c.18.  the howse of

Redruth, c.24. a hamlet annexed to uni-redruth, wher are manie tynn workes, both Stream and lode workes.


Sennan, or Synan, d.4.  the fartheste parish westward in all the kingdome, situate at the verie landes ende, in which, and nere it, are manie Tynn workes.

Scalls, c.4.  a hamlet at the landes ende.

Sener or St Sennar, b.12. a parish upon the north sea, wher are Copper Mynes verie riche.

Sancrete or Sancred, c.8. a parishe situate amonge the hills.


Tre-ville, d.4.  a hamlet nere the landes ende.

Tre-worgan, d.6. The howse of Thomas Kibberde.

Tre-wootte, e.6. the howse of Arthure Lavelys.

Treladmas, d.8. the howse of one Groze.

Tre-warneth, d.10  the howse wherin one Mr Goldolphin dwelleth.  It signifieth a howse on a hill.

Tringwenton, e.10.  a howse of Mr Cowlynes.

Talvar, c.12.  the howse of John Crudge.

Twydnack, c.12.  A chapell to Lelant.

Tre-ver-neweth, d.14.  A howse of Mr Harris.

Trenowth, b.14.  It signifieth new towne ; it is the howse of Mr Trenowth.

Trevulgan, c.16.  A howse of Mr Trenowth.

Tre-wynard, d.16.  the howse of one Mr Manering.

Treswythen, c.20.  it signifieth a towne of trees, as Lucus quia minime lucet, for this towne of trees have now few trees.  It is the howse of one Mr George Brea.

Tehiddy, b.22.  The howse of Mr Basset.

Tregenno, b.14.  The howse of Mr Tregennoe.


Uny-iuxta Lalant, c.16.  somtyme a haven towne, and of late decayde by reason of the sande, which hath choaked the harbor, and buried muche of the Lande and howses, and manie devises they use to prevent the obsorpation of the churche.  Here are greate store of tynn and Copper mynes.

Uni-Redruth, c.24.  A parish in the Easte parte of the hundred, wher are verie greate store of Tynn workes, both Stream-workes and Load-workes. 


Whitesand bay, c.2. A baye at the landes ende.

Tynn workes of name within this Hundred of Pen-with

Carmeall-ball, which signifieth a honye hill of beneficiall workes, wherof the Lordes are, Mr Haniball  Vinian, Mr Tho. Tregose, Mr Tho. Chyverton, and Mr Nicholas Fortescue.

Ball-luhollthe Earle of Bathes.

Bossieghan,   one Mr Halls.

Theis are in the Parishe of St Ewste, nere the Landes-ende.

Carbisse, in St Ies.

Basilsacke In the parishe of Maderne, Mr Cornishes.

Hallywoone and Bennyon, good mynes, in Lalant paryshe, Sir Reynolde Mohune.

Roswallin Lalante parishe, Mr John Ruswells.

Ball Due,   on the black rock in Ludgvin.

Finis de Penwith hundrede.


Of Cornwall

In the weste parte of the Countrye, as in the hundreds of Penwith and Kerrier, the Cornishe tounge is moste in use amongste the inhabitantes, and yet ( whiche is to be marveyled ) thowgh the husband and wife, parentes and children, Master and Servantes, doe mutually comunicate in their native language, yet ther is none of them in manner but is able to convers with a straunger in Englishe tongue, unles it be some obscure people, that seldome conferr with better sorte : But it seemeth that in few yeares the Cornishe Language wilbe by litle and litle abandoned.

To speake of the nature and generall disposition of the people :

The gentlemen and suche that hath tasted civile education, are verye kinde affable, full of humanitie and courteous entertaynemente, and in causes of equitie stoute.  They are sooneste overcome, and moste have bene overthrown by a home borne enemye, wherby they have bene more subdued and browghte under then by outwarde force by their voluptuous life : And manie of them which have liniallye descended of cheefeste parentes, and to good patrimonies, have hereby diminished their livlihoodes, and have only the glorie of beinge the sonne of a famous and generous father, whose comendation and grace is more in the name then in the nature of vertuous auncestors.  Theirs is suche as have given scoape unto the raynes of affections, to followe this consuminge vanitye ; yet are ther verie manie vertuous, religious, and stayde  gentlemen, whose examples mighte stirr up vertuous imitations in the reste, but that it hath ben held a veniall offence, and auricular confession and verball repentance procured so easie a pardon, as the sweetnes of the synn and the couller of remission concurr, that some seldome leave this synn till ability fayle them to synn.  Theis kindes of pardons are as parentes to new synns.

As for the baser sorte of people, that live by inferior meanes,  as Mechanicks and Rustickes, comprehendinge under latter Yomen, Husbandmen and Tyn-workers ; manie of them are of harshe, harde, and of no suche civile disposition, verie litigious, muche inclined to lawe-quarrels for small causes; by meanes wherof the Fogers and Petie Lawiers ( by reason of the remotenes of the Countrie from the tribunall ) gett unto themselves,  and that ( as is comonly affirmed ) very sinisterly, greate advauntage by their combined Practices, wherin they the advocates of eyther side contive all the proceedinges in lawe, in some cases coullarablye betwene themselves, and therof bringe bylls of charge unto their Clyentes, as if all had orderly proceded, or ben formally done : But when time and the charge seemeth to challenge an ende, then, under the pretence of conscience and kyndenes, and for savinge their Clyentes charges, they shewe a desire to staye the matter, and agree the parties to the benefite or reliefe of nether of them ; an abuse worthy reformation.  But their envious heartes breede theis idle quarrells, and these quarrells their povertye, in divine judgement, which thowgh they feele not, beinge in so hot a humor of revenge. they weaken their owne estates, and strengthen and increase the caterpillars that devour their purses

And as they are amonge themselves litigious, so seeme they yet to retayne and kinde of conceyled envye agaynste the Englishe, whome they are affecte with a desire to revenge for their fathers sakes, by whome their fathers receyved the repulse.

The Cornish-men are verie stronge, active, and for the moste parte personable men, of good constitution of body, and verie valarous, whiche made Michaell Cornubiensis their Countryman to sett them forth in this ostentive manner, among other his laudatory verses :

Fraus ni nos superet, nihil est quod non superemus.