ST. AUSTELL PARISH
The History of St Blazey: A Lecture,
Rev J BARTLETT, B.A.,
Delivered, December 16th, 1856 .
(donated by Rita Bone Kopp; J. Mosman, OPC )
The talent, how to observe, should be cultivated at home...and there is no better mode of acquiring it, than by a careful attention to our own localities, and particularly to the history and peculiar features and circumstances of our own Parish and County.
The Cornwall Register. Rev. J. Wallis.
JOHN RUSSELL SMITH,
PLYMOUTH : ROGER LIDSTONE.
TRURO : NETHERTON.
ST. AUSTELL: ANDREW
ST. BLAZEY: BENNETT.
(Transcribers’ note: from LDS Book Number: 942.37/522 K2b)
TO THE INHABITANTS OF ST. BLAZEY, PUBLISHED AT THEIR REQUEST IS AFFCTIONATELY INSCRIBED WITH THE BEST WISHES OF THEIR VERY SINCERE FRIEND AND MINISTER
Books referred to in the following pages.
The Author of the following pages need scarcely state that they were not originally intended for publication. The Lecture was written simply with a desire to excite the interest of his parishioners, and was so kindly received by them, that notwithstanding the risk he may incur of bringing on himself the unfriendly criticisms of the stranger, he has, without hesitation, complied with the request of many around him to furnish them a printed copy of it.
A LECTURE, &c.
In investigating the history of St. Blazey,* an inquiry into the origin of its name is of primary importance. Now on consulting the oldest English record in existence, I find that the present name of our parish was not mentioned in it, for in the register of the lands of England formed by order of King William I, in the year 1087, and called the Doomsday Book, St Blasey, as a parish, had no existence whatever. The whole district was there rated either under Tywardreath, or under the jurisdiction of the Earl Cradock's Manor of Towington, Trenance, or Treverbyn; in fact there is but one Church or Person named in Doomsday Book, to whom is given the appellation of "Saint."[*The parish of St. Blazey in the Rural Deanery of Powder, and County of Cornwall, is bounded by the parishes of Tywardreath, St. Austell, and Luxulyan. It is situated within the Eastern Parliamentary division of the County, the Registration district of Fowey, the Auditor's district of Cornwall at St. Austell, Petty sessional division of Tywardreath; and County Court of Cornwall, at St. Austell. St. Blazey contains two market houses, a post and money order office, and two National school rooms re-erected in 1857, for the instruction of 230 boys and girls.]
Two hundred years later, in the Inquistion of the Bishops of Lincoln and Worcester, Anno Domini 1294, our parish appears to have obtained the name of "Fanum,"* and as such was taxed to the Bishop of Rome for first fruits, or annats, four pounds yearly. His Holiness appears, however, to have taken compassion on the Vicar of the Parish, for a note in the record + states that the Vicar is freed from the tax on account of poverty. It has been conjectured that the word "Fanum" was a corruption of "Foy-town," with which it was consolidated in its appropriation to the Priory of Benedictine Monks, then existing in Tywardreath. About two hundred and fifty years later, we have three official records, in each of which St. Blazey is recognized by its present name, the only difference being in the spelling of the word Blazey; - B-l-a-z-e-y being then spelt B-l-a-s-y-e.*'Ecclesia de Fanum, appropriata Dom-ni de Tywardreth, in Decanatu de Powdre.' [+'Vicar ejusdem, uihil propter paupertatem.' ]
The first record is in Cardinal Wolsey's Inquisition and Valor Beneficiorum, made previously to the year 1530, pursuant to the writ of King Henry VIII. St. Blazey is there spoken of as a daughter Church in representation and consolidation with St Austell; the patronage of the living, which to that period had been enjoyed by the Prior of St. Andrew's Abbey, Tywardreath, being vested in the King.
The second document is a lease made by Thomas Collyns, the last Prior of Tywardreath, of the tithes of the Parishes of Tywardreath, St. Sampsons, St. Blasye, otherwise called Landreth, and Lanivery, (except the tithes of the convent barton in Tywardreath), to Walter Kendall, Esq., and Nicholas his son, for sixty years, from the 8th day of February, 1535, at a yearly rent of £37. Here it appears that the parish is recognized by the two names of St. Blasye and Landreth.
The third record is the Ecclesiastical Survey of the Diocese of Exeter, as returned to the Crown by John Vesey, Bishop of Exeter, November 3rd, 1536 , (eighteen months later than the lease just referred to). The parish is there recognized by the name of St. Blasye.
We see then that though St. Blazey had at first no position as a parish, it was known in the year 1294 by the name of Fanum, in the year 1535 by the name of Landreth, and from that time by the name of St. Blasye. It is probable that it obtained its present name soon after the year 1294, for in the year 1244 the Council of Lyons, under Pope Innocent the IV, instituted certain new festivals for the commemoration of Canonized Saints, and in that year caused Bishop Blazise to be canonized. But it was not for a long period after this that the parish was known by the name of St. Blasye alone. When the Church was built, it was dedicated to St. Blaize, and the Parish has, since that time, been known by its present name.
Our next inquiry must be - who was Bishop Blaize? Butler, a Roman Catholic historian, the compiler of the 'Lives of the Saints,' and other ecclesiastical writers state, that St. Blaize was born at Sebaste, a city in Armenia, in the beginning of the third century. In early life he embraced the Christian religion, and was afterwards advanced to the dignity of a bishop in his native city; he there distinguished himself by his zeal for the Christian cause, and he governed his Church so well, that the priests of the idols (then worshipped comparatively all the world over), took distaste at him for preaching against idolatry, and lodged a complaint against him to Agricolaus, the governor of the province, by whom he was examined as to this, and to other parts of the Christian religion, which he would not retract, and being found guilty of abetting the (so called) Christian heresy, (Agricolaus we must bear in mind was a heathen), he was committed to prison, where he was scourged with unparalleled severity, and tormented with iron combs; afterwards by a special order, under the hand of Agricolaus, he was taken from prison and beheaded, in the year of our Lord 298.
It has been said that the Bishop came to England, and, that he landed at Par, and that for this reason the Parish Church was dedicated to him; but it cannot be proved, nor indeed does it appear probable, that he was ever in the West of Europe. No reason can now be assigned for the tradition, other than his being the Titular Saint, to whom the Church was dedicated, and from whom the parish has derived its present name. He is said to have effected some great improvements in the manufacture of woollen goods, and, the popular legends of St. Blaize, relate that he was most barbarously lacerated with wool-combs. These circumstances may account for his having been adopted as the patron of all concerned in the manufacture of cloth. His fame extended in proportion to the benefits that were found to result from the woollen manufacture; and so the tradition of the landing at Par, of so renowned a Saint, might have been the occasion of the Church being dedicated to him in this parish, when (as Mr. Drew writes),' it reared its un-pinnacled turrets to the sun.'
According to the Romish legends St. Blaize was a man of great miracles and power. Ribadeneira, the Jesuit, states that when the persecution against him arose in Sebaste, he privately retired, and lived in a cave, whither wild beasts came daily to visit him, and to be cured of him; if it happened that they came while he was at prayer they did not interrupt him, but waited till he had ended, and never departed without his benediction - he was at length discovered in this retirement and imprisoned.
The same writer also states that he cured a youth, who had a fish bone stuck in this throat, by prayer. And also that (Etius, an ancient Greek Physician, gave the following receipt for a stoppage in the throat: - 'Hold the diseased party by the throat, and pronounce these words, Blaize, the martyr, and servant of Jesus Christ, commands thee to pass up or down.' He further asserts, that when St. Blaize was scourged, seven holy women anointed themselves with his blood, whereupon their flesh was combed with iron combs, the wounds caused by the combs ran nothing but milk, their flesh became whiter than snow, angels came visibly from heaven and healed their wounds as fast as they were made. They were ordered to be burned, but the fire would not consume them; they were then beheaded, and St. Blaize was ordered to be drowned, but he walked on the water, and invited the infidels to join him, whereupon three score and eight, who tried the experiment, were drowned. St. Blaize then walked back to be beheaded.
We read in the 'golden legend,' that a wolf having run away with a woman's swine, she prayed St. Blaize to have her swine restored to her again; the Saint promised her with a smile that her request should be granted, accordingly the wolf brought the swine back, 'then she slew it, and offered the head and the feet, with some bread, - and a candell - to St. Blaize, and he thanked God, and ate thereof, and sayed to her, that every yere she sholde offre in his chirche a candell,* and she dyd all her lyf, and she had moche grete prosperyte. And knowe thou that to thee and to all them that so shal do, shall wel happen to them."
This Saint is indebted to the wool-combers for his reputation in England, for no other trade or persons take any interest in remembering his existence, and this popularity with a body of so much consequence may possibly have been the reason, and the only reason, for the retention of his name in the Church Calendar at the Reformation.*It is observed, in a note on Brand, that the candles offered to St. Blaize were said to be good for the toothache, and for diseased cattle. ['Then followeth good sir Blase who doth a waxen candell give, And holy water to his men, whereby they safely live, I, divers barrels oft have seen drawne out of water cheare, Though one small blessed bone of this same Holy Martyr's heare, And caryed thence to other towns, and cities farre away, Ech superstition doth require such earnest kinds of play."]
At Bradford, and at Leeds, + in Yorkshire, the Bishop's festival is celebrated, with great pomp and festivity, by those engaged in the woollen manufacture, every seventh year, and at Norwich every year, on the 3rd of February: and till a comparatively recent period, the annual feast of St. Blazey parish was also held on the same day.[+At Leeds it has been long customary to repeat the following lines, at the Septennial celebration of Bishop Blaize's festival: - "Hail to the day, whose kind suspicious rays, Deigned first to smile on famous Bishop Blaize, To the great author of our combing trade, This day's devoted, and true honour paid; To him whose fame through Britain 's Isle resounds, To him whose goodness to the poor abounds, Long shall his name in British annals shine And grateful ages offer at his shrine. By this, our trade are thousands daily fed, By it supplied with means to earn their bread. In various forms our trade its work imparts, In different methods, and by different arts, Preserve from starving, - indigents distrest, As combers, spinners, weavers, and the rest. We boast no gems, or costly garments vain, Borrowed from India , or the coast of Spain ; ]
About the year 1744, a curious piece of machinery was exhibited throughout England , which represented the manufacture of broad cloth, from the shearing of the wool, to the last operation of pressing. A small figure was at work on each separate process, and over them all, as a general director, arrayed in his pontifical habit and mitre, appeared Bishop Blaize. It is said that the building now known as White-house, near St. Blazey Bridge, was formerly a woollen manufactory. In the old church there were fragments of stained glass in the windows, some of which were preserved, and inserted in the east window of the present sacred edifice, representing the Bishop holding in the one had his pastoral staff, and in the other a book, or a wool comb. Another fragment of stained glass appears to represent a sheep.
"Our native soil, with wool, our trade supplies, While foreign countries envy us the prize. No foreign broil our common good annoys, Our Country's produce all our art employs, Our fleecy flocks abound in every vale, Our bleating lambs proclaim the joyful tale; So let not Spain with us attempt to vie, Nor India 's wealth pretend to soar so high, Nor Jason pride him in his Colchian spoil, By hardships gained, and enterprising toil, Since Britons all with ease attain the prize, And every hill resounds with golden cries; - To celebrate our founders great renown, Our Shepherd and our Shepherdess we crown, For England 's commerce, and Victoria 's sway, Each loyal subject gives a loud hurrah."
Perhaps few Cornish parishes can boast less of the remnants of antiquity than St. Blazey, but the Church tower has been considered worthy of notice by more than one antiquarian. The entrance door to the belfry is a good example of the decorated English style of architecture, by which it would seem probable that it was erected in the early part of the fifteenth century.
We have also an interesting memorial of former ages, of which possibly many of you are ignorant, or at least sceptical. I allude to an inscribed stone nearly opposite St. Blazey turnpike-gate, which formerly stood in the adjoining field, but now, alas! is degraded to the use of a gatepost at the entrance of a field, a few yards distant from the turnpike gate: - Time has laid its destroying hand on it, and it is now quite impossible to decipher the inscription: we are indebted for information respecting it, to the researches of antiquarians of the past century.
A tradition prevailed that the stone was set up about the year 900, to mark the boundaries of the Saxon conquests in Cornwall, and that this was expressed by the characters on its surface, which have been interpreted - 'Hitherto came the Saxons but no further.' But Dr. Borlase proves very satisfactorily that it is a sepulchral monument, containing this inscription, Alroron, Ullici Filius, and that it was erected in the tenth century to the memory of Alroron, the son of Ullici - probably one of the Welch nobility.**'The flat surfaces of the stone face nearly north and south, on the southern side we have the word Alroron, written in three lines, according to its syllables, Al-ro-ron. The first letter is preceded by a cross; above the word some ornamental net-work appears, and above this, there is a plain rectangular apartment, the whole of which is encircled by a border that runs parallel with the edges of the stone, and terminates below the inscription, where a projecting line bounds the workmanship. On the northern side the stone preserves its distinct compartments; there is however this difference, Vilici, or Ullici Filius, is not parallel with Alroron on the opposite side, which is on the lowest compartment, but in the middle, i.e., parallel with the net-work that has been pointed out, and on this nothern side the net-work is on the lowest, that is, parallel with Alroron: - The ornamental work on this side is different from that on the other, so that variety was evidently designed in these decorations, and the places allotted for the distinct parts of the inscription were purposely counter changed, for what reason it is impossible to say.' - Hitchens and Drew.
That this monument was sepulchral, may be gathered not only from the expressions on its inscription, and the resemblance that it bears to others in the county, that confessedly are so, but also from the fact that in the meadow adjoining the place, where the stone now stands, many human bones have been found, and these, not in a solitary spot, but in several places, which plainly shows that it must have been a place of common sepulture; and this supplies us with the reason why the stone was originally erected there. Perhaps when the meadow was first cultivated, it was removed to its present locality. This theory is further strengthened by the circumstances, that when Hitchens and Drew compiled their history, there existed among the inhabitants a tradition, that a Church formerly stood there.
ST. BLAZEY IN THE CIVILWAR
In the year 1644, St. Blazey was the scene of an encounter between the Royalist army, under the command of King Charles I., and the Parliamentarians, commanded by the Earl of Essex. I would willingly enlarge upon this - to Englishmen - interesting event, but we must of necessity content ourselves with a very brief account of it.
On the first open rupture between these contending parties, the temper and feelings of the Cornish were (to their credit be it recorded) on the King's side. Early however in 1642, the Parliamentarians made themselves masters of the County, and held it, till the Royalist army by possessing themselves of Par, St. Blazey, and the adjoining district, compelled them to lay down their arms.
In the month of July, 1644, the Earl of Essex, with a strong army, marched into Cornwall, and soon took possession of Launceston, Saltash, and Bodmin, and joining the army under Lord Roberts, proceeded to Lostwithiel and Fowey.
Frequent skirmishes occurred between the Royalists, commanded by Sir Richard Grenville, and Lord Roberts' brigade. While these transactions were taking place, the King, at the head of his principal army, was in Somersetshire, but he no sooner learnt the menacing position assumed by the army of Essex , than he repaired to the relief of Grenville, and gave the enemy battle. On the 8th of August he encamped on Pinnock or Badoak Downs, where Sir Richards Grenville joined him. The successes of the King soon became apparent, the Harbour of Fowey fell into his hands, and Essex was obliged to retire to Lostwithiel, where he fixed his head quarters. He was now nearly surrounded by the King's troops, and the only avenue of communication with the sea left open to him, was between Lostwithiel and Par. Essex received his provisions, forage, and munitions of war, on the open beach at Par, Fowey being in the hands of the Royalists. But this aperture for relief was soon closed, for the King drew his army on every side, gradually a little nearer towards Lostwithiel, and thus having menaced the forces of Essex at head quarters, sent Sir George Goring with the greater part of the horse, and Sir Thomas Bassett with fifteen hundred foot soldiers, with instructions to take a circuitous route from Bradoak Downs, and to occupy the western parts of St. Blazey, in order that the enemy might be driven close together, and that he might obtain possession of the landing place at Par, and so cut off their supply of provisions and stores.
On Sunday, the 26th, the King's troops made themselves masters of Par, St. Blazey fell into their hands, large supplies were seized, and Essex and his army were reduced to great straits.*[*The King's line now extended from Par to Grampound, and St. Ender, on the one side, and by Bodmin, Restormel, Boconnoc, and St. Veep, to Hall, on the other.]
When the Earl discovered that his resources were cut off, and that in a few days he would be left without any provision for his army, he called a council of war, at which it was resolved that Sir William Balfour, one of his generals, should use his utmost endeavours to break through the King's forces, (by whom they were surrounded), and take with him the whole body of horse, in number two thousand five hundred. This he did on the night of the 31st August, and on the same day reached Saltash.* On the following day, Essex, to lull suspicion, sent a herald to propose a parley with the King, preparing the while to go privately by night to Fowey, and embark there for Plymouth. The darkness of the night favoured his escape, and he reached Plymouth , with Lord Roberts, on Sunday, September 2nd. He left his troops, in number six thousand, under the charge of Major General Skippon, and they were reduced to such straits, that on the 3rd September, having made a treaty with the Royalists, they surrendered, and delivered up to the King forty nine brass pieces of ordnance, two hundred barrels of powder, with match and ball proportionable, seven hundred carriages, and from eight to nine thousand stand of arms.+[* Essex in the meanwhile retreated towards Fowey, and occupied Castle-dor, a running fight being kept up between the two armies.]
The rebels in their retreat from the county, in the true spirit of republicanism,
blew up Lostwithiel church. Whether they effected any damage to St. Blazey
Church is not known, but the fact that we have no parish registers, antecedent
to that time, would seem to indicate that St. Blazey also suffered by the hand
of the spoiler. Hals, the Cornish historian, tells us that at the time of the
unhappy rebellion, when the Lord Hopton had disbanded his army, some of Fairfax's
forces entered the house at Merthen, to murder Mrs. Laas and the household
for being to dilatory in dressing meat for them; Mr. Laas, who was riding about
his estate, had intimation that the rebels were in his house, carousing at
the expense of his bacon, poultry, and beer. With all possible expedition he
alighted at the door, entered the kitchen, which was then opposite to the parlour,
and being warmed with a loyal and honest zeal, took down a loaded gun from
the chimney piece, and shot the rebel at the head of the table, dead on the
spot. Immediately he took horse and rode towards Par, and preserved his life
from his vile pursuers, being well mounted, by leaping a five barred gate,
and swimming across the river at Par, it being at that time high water.
In investigating history for the purpose of ascertaining whether St. Blazey boasts of having given birth to, or has any association with, those individuals, who by their talents, their martial deeds and prowess, or their literary renown, have contributed to raise our native land to the proud position which she occupies amongst the nations of the world, I find that it was reserved for the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, to witness a development of talent in our little parish. As in early spring the tree sends forth its many buds at one time, so it would seem that St. Blazey gave birth to many contemporary magates; let us briefly notice them.
Ralph Allen pre-eminently claims our first attention. He was born in the year 1693, at a road-side inn in this parish, situated at St. Blazey highway, and known probably to the older inhabitants as "The Duke William Inn;" it is frequently spoken of as "the Old Duke". Of the names of Mr. Allen's parents I cannot speak with certainty. The register book of marriages for the parish of St. Blazey contains the following imperfect entry: - "William All......, and Grace..........., was mar....... 24th August". And in the registers of Tywardreath, I find the following entry under the year 1687: - "John Allen, of parish of St. Blazey, and Mary Elliott, of the parish of St. Austell, were married the 10th of February."
It is probable, that this latter couple were Ralph Allen's parents. To Ralph Allen, England is indebted for the scheme of the cross-posts. It appears that letters used to be conveyed along certain great roads, emanating from the metropolis, but without any communication with each other. Mr. Allen first conceived the idea of uniting these lines, by what has been termed cross-posts. The first mention we find of him is that, when a boy, he was removed from the Duke William, and placed under the care of his grandmother, who kept the post-office at St. Columb. He there discovered a turn for business, a cleverness in arithmetic, and a steadiness of application, which seemed to indicate his future eminence. The Inspector of the post-office, having come into Cornwall, and among other towns having visited St. Columb, was highly pleased with the uncommon neatness and regularity of young Allen's figures and accounts, and expressed a wish to see the boy in a situation where his ingenuity and industry might have a wider scope, and more ample encouragement.
Not long after this his friends consented to his leaving Cornwall, and he was removed to Bath; here, being one of the clerks in the post-office, he secured the friendship of General Wade, for in the year 1715, having obtained intelligence of a wagon load of arms coming up from the West, for the use of the disaffected in this part of England, (who were supposed to have projected an insurrection in order to co-operate with that in Scotland, and the North of England, for the restoration of the Stuart family to the throne), he communicated this to General Wade, who was then quartered with troops at Bath, and who finding him to be a sensible, prudent young man, got him advanced to the station of post-master at Bath.* Here his native genius soon developed itself, and his project of the cross-posts, before noticed, for farming which he obtained a grant from government, laid the foundation of his well-earned fortune.
Mr. Allen was so convinced of the value of his system, that he risked the chance of taking the revenues to be derived from his new institution for a term of years, at a certain annual payment to the state; the scheme so far exceeded his expectations that on the expiration of the first term, he took another lease at an advanced rent of some tens of thousands a year. The revenue derived from the post-office in the year 1644, when the parliament bestowed the foreign office on the Earl of Warwick, and the inland on Edmund Prideaux, Esq., was only £5000, but by Mr. Allen's skill and perseverance, the annual receipts increased from £111,461 in the year 1722, to the enormous sum of £432,018 in the year 1764, when he died. During the forty two years he farmed the post-office he netted, on an average, about £12,000 a year.+*It is probable that at this critical juncture, the letters passing through the post-office were suspected, and Mr. Allen authorized to open them. The power being wisely vested in the Government, to open any suspected letters. +In addition to the post-office, Mr. Allen opened some extensive quarries on Coombe Down near Bath which proved to be a real and important source of wealth to him. He had a fine wharf and other conveniences on the banks of the Avon , and displayed his mechanical talent by devising a method for lowering huge masses of stone down a steep hill to the wharf, without horses, or any other help but that of one man, who, by a particular spring was enabled to stop the machine in the steepest part of the hill, and in its swiftest motion. To Mr. Allen's liberality, St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London , was indebted for an exterior casing of Bath stone.
Mr. Allen erected for himself a noble mansion called Prior Park , in the
year 1736, where on the 29th June, 1764 , he terminated his useful life. He
was buried in Claverton Church yard,* where a pyramidal monument is erected
to his memory, on which is en-graven the following epitaph: -
"Beneath this monument lieth entombed the body of Ralph Allen, Esq., of Prior Park, who departed this life the 29th day of June, 1764, in the 71st year of his age; in full hopes of everlasting happiness in another state, through the infinite merit and mediation of our blessed Redeemer, Jesus Christ."
"O'er Allen's dust what needs this pious care,
To raise you splendid structure high in air,
How vain these efforts to adorn a name,
So long recorded in the rolls of fame;
The great, the good, the friend of human kind,
If such may hope a just return to find,
His virtuous acts through distant ages spread
Shall live, when tombs are vanished with their dead;
Yet hold - perhaps in emblematic style,
Some artist planned this pyramidic pile,
As from its spreading base the aspiring cone,
T'wards heaven high raised, directs the pointed stone.
Thus Allen's generous deeds, still glorious rise,
Wide spread on earth, all pointing to the skies."
Gilbert, in his History of Cornwall, remarks, "St. Blazey has acquired distinction by giving birth to Mr. Ralph Allen, known over England as Mr. Allen of Bath ; he acquired a large fortune through the medium of conferring important benefits on his country, and he employed it in promoting literature and sciences on the most extensive scale. Pope, Swift, and other celebrities were occasional inmates of his house, and Warburton, the author of 'The Divine Legation,' who married his niece, Miss Gertrude Tucker, was mainly through his influence advanced to a Bishopric, the highest station in the Church."
"On all occasions was his hand held forth, At pity's call, to succour modest worth."
Polwhele, writing of Mr. Allen, says - "His merits were acknowledged by great as well as by little men, and his conversation universally cultivated, and his countenance and support esteemed an honour by many who moved in the higher classes."
The same author in his Biographical Sketches of Cornishmen, narrates the following anecdote of Mr. Ralph Allen's father. "In a severely contested election for the County, in which the candidates were Edgeumbe, Boscawen, Grenville, (of Stowe), and Trevanion, Mr. Boscawen called upon Mr. Allen, and asked for a pint of his beer, requesting Mr. Allen to drink with him. Mr. Allen being naturally obliging, had no hesitation in complying with the request of the stranger. Mr. Boscawen (who was incog.) took an occasion to inquire the news of the neighbourhood and day, and the election being then most prominent, the subject was immediately introduced. After conversing in a mere cursory manner, Mr. Boscawen began to inquire into the general characters of the candidates, which Mr. Allen as freely gave him. Mr. Boscawen then inquired who this Boscawen was, and what Allen thought of him? Allen observed, "He is much respected, I believe in his neighbourhood, but in his public capacity we all suspect him to be unsound." The conversation having proceeded thus far, several of Mr. Boscawen's attendants came up, and addressed him by his name. Mr. Allen felt abashed and apologized for the freedom which he had ignorantly taken. "Give me your hand my honest friend, (cried the gentleman), you have given me no offence, here is your money for the beer, I hope soon to undeceive the country, and prove that Boscawen is not unsound." The father soon after this removed to Bath , and some relation of his, succeeded him at the Duke William, (some say his son-in-law named Tucker). A few years since, some gentlemen of the legal profession called on several individuals in St. Blazey, and amongst others on J. Puckey, Esq., who informs me that the object of their mission was to ascertain if any of the family of Ralph Allen were to be found in the neighbourhood; they could not, I believe, arrive at any satisfactory conclusion, although the name of Allen still exists amongst us.
Bishop Hurd states - "Mr. Allen was a man of plain good sense, and the most benevolent temper; he was of that generous composition that his mind enlarged with his fortune, and the wealth he so honourably acquired he spent in a splendid hospitality, and the most extensive charities. His house was open to all men of rank and worth, and especially to men of distinquishd parts and learning, whom he honoured and encouraged, and whose respective merits he was able to appreciate. His domestic virtues were above all praise."*
*Bishop Hurd adds further - "I firmly believe him to have been sent by Providence into the world to teach men what blessings they may expect from heaven, would they study to deserve them."
Here is another instance of the many which may be given, that true religion
is no obstacle to the development of genius; Mr. Allen's biographers agree
that he was a religious man, and surely the voice of all history proves that
the men, who have conferred the greatest benefit on the human family, have
been good, as well as great.
We must now proceed to give a passing notice to other individuals of more than ordinary renown, connected with St. Blazey.
The Rev. John May, Vicar of St. Austell, St. Blazey and St. Neot, was one of those clergymen who at the time of the great rebellion, were, as it is stated by Walker, deprived of their benefices for conscience sake. Walker says, "Mr. May was succeeded in one of his livings (probably St. Austell), on its sequestration, by one Bond, but the plague happening to come into the parish some time after, Bond fled and got to Mawgan in Meneage, another sequestered living in this County. Upon this, Mr. May (undaunted by fear), resumed the care of the parish, and continued to discharge all the offices of it, throughout the whole time of the sickness, during which the plague came not nigh his dwelling so as to enter, for though it raged all around him, yet not one of his family had it; as soon as the sickness was over Mr. May was again turned out." The same author states that a sermon of Mr. May's is still extant, on "Epaphras."
Next in point of time comes Shadrach Vincent Vincent, Esq., of Roselyon, in this parish. He signalized himself at sea, while serving as a volunteer in the navy, under the great Earl of Ossory, and afterwards, as a Major of Horse in Flanders , under Sir John Fenwick, in the Dutch wars. After the revolution he married Katherine, the daughter of Richard Kelliowe, Esq., by whom, as heiress of her father, he became the possessor of Roselyon, where he resided. He was Member of Parliament for the borough of Fowey, and erected a school there. By his will, dated, January --, 1700, (the day before his death), he settled £500 to be laid out in lands to pay £80 per annum to a schoolmaster, to teach twenty poor children of the said borough the Latin and English tongues. This endowment is now of the yearly value of £80.
The Rev. John Carlyon, who next claims our attention, was the third son of Thomas Carlyon, Exq., of Tregrehan. He was born at Tregrehan, June 4th, 1722 , and was educated at Liskeard and Westminster , whence he removed to Pembroke Hall, Cambridge , and was admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Laws, in 1745. He resigned the valuable living of Bradwell, in Essex, in 1749, after having held it three years only, on finding that from the state of his health, he was unable himself to perform the duties of the parish.* He was held in the highest estimation by some of the most distinguished personages of his day.*In his letter to the Bishop of London on tendering him the resignation of the living, he observes, "The duty of personal residence, is, in my opinion, so great and indispensable, that I cannot for my own part, without doing violence to my conscience, an longer retain a cure upon which I am unable to reside." His circumstances at the time were far from affluent, and his sacrifice of property to principle, excited public applause and admiration.
Alluding to his death, a contemporary writes - "the decease of such an exemplary and pious man, must be considered a public loss, He was a man very highly respected, of great learning and piety, eminently liberal in his views, and much beloved by all connected with him;" during an illness of several weeks previous to his death his mind was calm, resigned, and cheerful, in the same heavenly tranquillity he continued to the very moment of his dissolution, which occurred at Truro, A.D. 1798.
St. Blazey was the birth place of Edward Long, the historian, one of Fuller's "Worthies of England." He was born at Roselyon, in 1734, and was educated at Liskeard, from whence he removed to London , where after two years private instruction; he was entered at Gray's Inn . In 1757, he obtained an ex gratia call to the bar, and through the influence of his brother-in-law, (Sir Henry Moore), was appointed Judge of the Vice Admiralty Court in Jamaica, but in consequence of ill health he returned to England in 1769, and passed the remainder of his life in retirement, devoting his leisure to literary pursuits, and particularly to the completion of his history of Jamaica, a work which is as deservedly popular at the present time as it was at the time of its publication, containing a large mass of valuable information, much just reasoning, and many spirited delineations of colonial scenery and manner.* He died, March 13, 1813, in the 79th year of his age, at Arundel Park, in Sussex, the seat of his son-in-law, H. Moyneux, Esq., M.P.
Captain William Carlyon, of Tregrehan, greatly distinguished himself during the American war, when he commanded a frigate, the 'Syren'. He was the first who sailed with the despatches of peace to that country, at the time when many of the ships of war at Portsmouth were in a state of mutiny. He was placed on the superannuated and retired list of Post Captains in 1801, and died at Tregrehan, A.D. 1829. His remains now rest in the family vault at the east end of our Church.
The late Major General Carlyon, of Tregrehan, served during the whole of the Peninsular War, in the 66th regiment; and in 1816, and 1817, with the army under Sir D. Ochterloney, during the Nepaul War. This slight reference to one so lately taken from us, cannot be considered out of place. He died at Tregrehan on the 4th of July, 1854 , aged 70 years, having survived his wife, Anna Maria, sister of Sir Samuel T. Spry, only three weeks. They were buried in the family vault above referred to. +*In addition to the History of Jamaica, Mr. Long wrote an admirable work, entitled "Reflections on the Negro Cause," 1772. Letters on the Colonies, 1775. English Humanity, No Paradox, 1778. A very luminous pamphlet on the Sugar Trade, 1782. A collection of Essays called "The Prater." A novel, "The Antigailican;" and a humorous pamphlet with the title "The Trial of Farmer Carter's dog "Porter," for murder," 1771.
If my design permitted me, I might speak of others, who have contributed greatly to the development of wealth in this district, but my reason for not doing this will be evident to you all - they are yet alive, and I must leave it to some other Vicar of St. Blazey to record their virtues and their deeds.
I know not what reflections may suggest themselves to the minds of my audience, respecting this review of the lives of eminent characters, connected with our parish. One conclusion, however, is self evident. The inquiry must convince us, that those only live in the grateful estimation of after generations, who have been distinguished in their life time, either by piety towards God, or by the benefits they have conferred on their fellow creatures. Surely “The actions of the just, smell sweet, and blossom in the dust."
There is a record, in the Parochial Register Chest, written in a fair old hand, unnoticed by strangers, and not opened, I suppose once in ten years. That book contains the entries of christenings, marriages, and burials of the inhabitants of this parish, for nearly two centuries. It is but a little volume, yet it comprises within it some hundreds, aye, thousands of the names of those who were once living, thinking, beings as ourselves - of their respective histories we know nothing; some, no doubt, struggled on amid the toils of poverty, others enjoyed the abundance of wealth, and many of either class, we hope, merited and obtained the good will and the blessings of their neighbours. And so it will be with the histories of the great majority of us, when we are gone; but if there be an exceptions to the general rule, it will be the lot of those only who unselfishly labour in the service of their fellow creatures with an eye to God's glory, and in this way strive to improve the talents with which their MAKER has endowed them.
The history of Ralph Allen cannot fail to show the young man what great things may be effected by by zeal, perseverance, and habits of careful industry, under the sanctifying influences of true religion; and if I have succeeded in convincing you of this, the pains bestowed in collecting materials for this address will be more than sufficiently rewarded.
TRADITIONS RESPECTING THE ANCIENT OWNERS OF ESTATES.
I will now say something on traditions, which have come down to us, respecting the ancient owners of various estates in the parish.
The first owner of the estate and manor of Tregrehan, whose name is recorded, was Sir Henry de Bodrugan, of whom it is stated, "he was the representative of the ancient family who possessed the manor of Tregrehan," or as it is called in ancient records, Trengreene or Tregoryan.
On the accession of King Henry VII, to the Crown of England (1485), Sir Henry de Bodrugan was attainted of treason, on account of his having espoused the cause of the House of York, in the civil wars. In order to save his life, he fled to Ireland , and his estates being seized by the Crown, this manor of Tregrehan was almost immediately after granted by King Henry to Sir Robert Edgcumbe, of whom the present Earl Mount Edgcumbe is a descendant. By purchase, the barton of Tregrehan, together with the estate of Restineas, and other property in the parish, came into the hands of the Carlyon family, which has been settled at Tregrehan for more than three centuries.
Hals, a compiler of the histories of many Cornish families, says "If I may be permitted to judge, I would say that this family of Carlyon, by its name and arms, were the descendants of Richard Coeur de Leon, otherwise, King Richard I." He further states - "the name Carlyon is local, from a place in Kea parish, so called." Be this as it may, it is clear that the surname of Carlyon, in connection with Cornwall, is derived from remote antiquity, for besides the barton of Carlyon, near Truro, it is upon record that a sea-port town of this name was formerly in existence on the north west coast of the county.
By Thomas, the ancient historian, whose romance was published by Sir Walter
Scott, in 1804, it appears that Carlyon, in Kea, was the residence of his hero,
Sir Tristram; and if names may afford any ground for presumption, the occurrence
of Tristram, among the christian names of members of the Carlyon family, may
serve as a link to connect the Carlyons of Tregrehan, with the ancient family
of that name located in Kea.* The Carlyons are descended, on the female side,
from the old house of Tredenham, eminent in Cornwall, from the time of the
+ Not to trace their descent through successive generations to the present time, I will state that one of the ancestors of the Carlyons was Sir Joseph Tredenham, High Sheriff of Cornwall in 1665, Governor of St. Mawes Castle, and first Comptroller of the Army.
The great tithes of St. Blazey parish were purchased by a Carlyon, of one Couche, but the benefice of the Church was consolidated with St. Austell, and in the patronage of the Crown, till the year 1845, when by an Order in Council they were separated, and became distinct cures. The late Major General Carlyon obtained the patronage of the benefice of St. Blazey, by endowing it with the parsonage house and garden. **Vicars of St. Austell and St. Blazey. -- 1675, Thomas --1696, Hugoe -- 1758, Hart --1775, Hennah --1815, Smythe --1838, Todd. Curates who resided at St. Blazey. --1834,C.W. Carlyon --1836, E. Rimell --1840, J.G. Childs --1842, C.E. Hosken. Vicars of St. Blazey after its separation from St. Austell. --1845, C.W. Hosken --1853, J. Bartlett.
Restineas was formerly a seat of the Carlyons, and occupied by some members of that family, but for many years it has been used as a farm house.
Roselyon, or Rose-Sillian, was anciently the seat of the Trehawkes, who were likewise the owners of the manor of Biscovey, or Boscovey, which, in the year 1563, was sold by Christopher Copelstone, Esq., of Warleigh, in Devonshire , to Mr. Richard Trehawke.
This family is now extinct; the last of the Trehawkes dying at Liskeard, in 1790, devised his property to the Kekewiches of Peamore.
The estate and manor of Roselyon passed into the hands of a Kelliowe, (the owner of the adjacent estate of Trenavissick), who married the last heiress of Trehawke.
It then became the property of the Vincents, by the marriage of Shadrach V. Vincent, Esq., to Katherine, the daughter of Mr. Richard Kelliowe, the last male heir.
The Vincents appear to have been an important family in this County, in the seventeenth century: they possessed property in the parishes of North-hill, Botusfleming, Creed, St. Clements, &c., and represented in Parliament the boroughs of Grampound, Lostwithiel, Truro , and Fowey.
From the Vincents, Roselyon passed into the family of Scobell -- The last owner of that name, Henry Scobell, was for many years paymaster and treasurer of the farm tin to Queen Anne. The elaborate monument at the east end of our Church, in memory of this gentleman, was erected by his brother, Mr. Francis Scobell, of Tregonan.*
It is a fine specimen of the sculpture of that day, and contains an emblematical representation of the Resurrection. Connected with this family were Richard Scobell, Clerk of the Parliament to Oliver Cromwell, and also the late Sergeant Scobell, whose law reports, even at this time, stand deservedly high with the most eminent professional characters. From the Scobells, Roselyon was inherited by the Deebles; and it was devised by John Deeble, Esq., to Mr. John Rogers, the father of the late Mr. Richard Rogers, and grandfather of Mr. John Rogers, the present owner. It is said that the rights of the estate extend to Par or St. Blazey river, and that from a foot bridge, that was formerly laid across the river, Mr. Rogers exacted a payment from every person passing over it. About a mile from Par Bridge , extending towards the sea, and at the furthest ebb of the tide, a pole was erected at the extremity of a low ledge of rocks, called the Spit, to warn vessels of this dangerous reef, "the expense of keeping this pole formerly devolved on the lords of the manor of Roselyon." Some years since, the late Mr. Richard Rogers perambulated the boundaries of his estate, and erected a new pole, the old one having been damaged by a vessel belonging to the late Mr. John Pearce, of Newhouse, in Tywardreath, which was driven against it in a storm. On this occasion the usual ceremonies were observed, a cask of cider was tapped and drunk on Craggan Rock, (now covered with sand), and a numerous party of guests were entertained by the proprietor, at the Sloop Inn; individuals who are now alive were present at the festivities.*Mr. Francis Scobell was one of the six Stannators, (returned by the Mayor and Council of the several Stannary towns) for Foymore, at the Convocation, assembled at Truro, in the Eighth year of Queen Anne's reign, A.D. 1710, for the purpose of making a new contract with her Majesty for the tin for seven years, from June 1st, 1710. C.S. Gilbert says "he was a person of great note in the time of Queen Anne, and served in several parliaments for Grampound and Launceston."
The estate of Trenavissick or Trenawick, adjoins Roselyon; this also was formerly a seat of the Kelliowe family. In the latter end of the seventeenth century it purchased of Mr. Richard Kelliowe, by Hugh Williams, a son of Mr. Williams, of Trewithen, in Probus. This last gentleman is spoken of by Carew, as "a wealthy and charitable farmer, grandfather to sixty persons now living, and able lately to ride twelve miles in a morning, to attend the christening of a child, to whom he was great-great-grandfather."
Hals says that Mr. Hugh Williams, his son, the owner of Trenavissick, was an attorney at law, and at length upon some discontentment, with a rope or halter he privately hanged, or strangled himself to death, in his own house (as was reported), though the coroners' jury, at the inquest, brought in a verdict of accidental death. Upon news of the fact of Mr. Williams' death getting abroad (Hals goes on to say in his quaint style), the uncharitable country people, whom he had persecuted, wished that all the rest of his brethren, of the practice of the law, would make the same expedient to hasten out of this life to Paradise, as he did, for the case and public good of the inhabitants of the land. The estate of Trenavissick is now the property of the Carthews.**"Carthew, sometimes written Cardu and Cardew, a family supposed to be descended from Ranulphus de Cardu, who lived about 1300. Edmund Carthew was one of the stannators for Blackmore, in the Convocation of Tinners at Truro , in 1703. John his son, married a daughter of Hugh William, of Trenavisick, in St. Blazey. James Carthew, clerk, their son, who married Puckey, and settled at Liskeard, was father of Edmund Carthew, long Town Clerk, and as well as his brother John, often Mayor of the Borough" - Allen's History of Liskeard.
In the early part of my lecture, I have incidentally noticed some circumstances connected with the ecclesiastical government of the parish. The old Church was probably erected in the beginning of the fifteenth century, it was restored in 1839, and the present north aisle added to it. Up to the Reformation, the great tithes of the parish, togetherer with the patronage of the living, were appropriated to the Priory of Benedictine Monks at Tywardreath, but, on the suppression of the religious houses by King Henry VIII., this Priory shared in the general overthrow. The patronage of the living was then vested in the King, and St. Blazey was appended as a daughter Church to St. Austell, as such it was rated in Wolsey's inquisition. The vicar at that period, was the Rev. Robert Tregonwell,* and one May was the owner of the great tithes, which, after passing through many hands were purchased, as before stated, of one Couche, by the Carlyons.*The Rev. R. Tregonwell, on the death of the Rev. O. Baker, vicar of Liskeard, succeeded to that benefice, March 28th, 1540 . Patron the Crown. He died in 1542.
Of the old parish Church, C.S. Gilbert, writing in 1818, says "the Church of St. Blazey is a truly venerable structure, built of square blocks of granite, with an embattled tower on the west end, and on the eastern point of each aisle stand a stone cross. Amongst some imperfect remains of stained glass, that still adorn the windows, is a human effigy of a most antique appearance, which is said to represent St. Blazey; in one hand it holds a book, which is placed on the breast, and the other appears to be resting on a staff. Here are also, the remains of a once handsome ceiling. In this Church are interred several of the deceased family of Scobell, and a vault where many of the Carlyon family of Tregrehan, are interred. At the east end of the south aisle, stands a handsome monument of fine marble, bearing a most elegant and awful representation of the Resurrection, below a grand sculptured canopy, adorned with weeping figures. Opposite ot this monument is placed a monumental tablet,* now partially hidden by a pew; it is inscribed to Digory Tonkin, who is supposed to have married the heiress of Lea, (or Laas), and bears the arms of that family, namely, argent, a chevron, between three Cornish Choughs in chief, and a cannon mounted in base - the date is hidden. Near the monument of the Scobells, is laid a large blue stone, inscribed to Richard Deeble, Gent : who died January 22nd, 1783 . Stones of the same kind are inscribed to the family of Rosevear. +"
The tower contains three bells, which were erected, one in the year 1699, another in 1740, and the third in 1771. In the parochial account book, for the year 1771, is the following entry: "Mr. Deeble, for carrying, and bringing home the bell, £1 0 0." "Expenses for ditto, 5s." And at Easter, 1772, there is charged " Bell founder's bill, £14. 3s. 8d."
The earliest register book of baptisms, marriages, and burials, (of which
some few leaves are missing), bears date 1663,++ from which time to the commencement
of the present century the population was between three and four hundred. The
vast increase within the last thirty-five years is owing to the success of
the mines in the parish and neighbourhood. The following table shows how rapidly
the population must have inceased from the year 1815: -
From 1685 - 1695, the annual average number of burials, was 10.
1745 - 1755, .......8.
1805 - 1815, .....11.
1815 - 1825, .....15.
1825 - 1835, .....36.
1835 - 1845, .....58.
1845 - 1855, .....61.
In 1801, there were 87 inhabited houses in the parish, and the population
467; in 1811, there were only 82 inhabited houses, and the population had
decreased to 442. From that time to the present, the number of the inhabitants
has been gradually and steadily increasing, as appears from the following
extracts from the census tables:
Year 1821, Population 938.
1831, " 2155.
1841, " 3235.
1851, " 3570.
At present we amount to nearly four thousand inhabitants. The number of statute acres in the parish is fourteen hundred and eighty, of these, three hundred and two are rendered useless for agricultural purposes, by mines, dwelling houses, &c. &c.
We have no books containing the parish accounts of a date earlier than 1765. Those in my custody contain some entries which seem strange to our modern ears. Such as
Philip Beal, for Killing a Fox, 2s. 6d.
By Cash received for Old Clothes, £2. 17s. 10d.
Cash received for an Ass Negro, £2. 14s. 6d.
Cash received for a Grinding Stone, Vice, &c., 12s.
To Jacob Robins, being drawn into the Militia, by direction of the Deputy Lieutenant, £5. 0s. 0d.
To J. Edes, as parish clerk, for extraordinary trouble, 2s. 6d.
Within the last century the tide flowed from Par to St. Blazey Bridge, and in periods, still more remote, it stretched nearly half-a-mile further up through the winding valley to Pontsmill. At Pontsmill, holes have been discovered in the rocks, recently covered with sand, &c., to which boats were moored, and boats of a large size regularly plied to St. Blazey bridge, * within the period above stated.
*"There is, a mile from the entrey of Tywartraith Bay up yn the land at the bat ende of it, a new bridge of Stone, of the Sainctes name, over a broke that ther cummeth into the bay." - Leland's Itinerary, 1547.
In Hitchins and Drew's History of Cornwall, published in 1824, we find the following statement: - "This creek is at present so far choked up with sand and rubbish that have descended from the hills, that boats at Par can now scarcely float where vessels of considerable burden formerly laid to discharge their cargoes. Near the foot bridge at Par, the remains of an ancient quay are still visible, but the rising sands now rival its elevation, and about half a furlong below, a large rock that stood conspicuously in the bed of the sea, has wholly disappeared within the last forty years, the river now rolling its sands over its most elevated parts. From a contemplation of the nature of the country, and of the distant hills, from which the river has descended for ages, it has generally been thought that a body of tin was deposited in the vale beneath the mass of sand, which has been accumulating during many centuries. Many attempts have been made to discover this supposed bed of ore, in various parts, and several sums of money have been expended in the different adventures. All these, however, have been successively abandoned, and the riches, either real or imaginary, which were expected to crown the enterprise, still remain unknown to excite future exertions. In the openings made in the various strata in this vale, the evidence that the sea had formerly visited these now subterranean beds, were too conspicuous to be doubted. Sea sand, pebbles, shells, and other marine substances, were distributed through the valley in great profusion, extending to the extremity around St. Blazey Bridge, and in places from which the tide has retired for several ages. In some parts of this valley it has been said that the remains of vessels have been discovered, deeply buried in the accumulating strata; if so, they must have been permitted when unserviceable to fasten in the mud at an early period, when the tide conducted them to the places where they have been found."
To show how high the tide reached, even as late as the year 1808, I will quote some remarks made by the Rev. Richard Warner, in his tour through Cornwall in that year. He says, "after leaving Fowey, we found another ferry at Par, after a pleasant ride for some distance over the sands, as these are only passable at ebb, owing to a jutting low promontory which is washed by the sea at the time of flood, it is necessary to be previously acquainted with the state of the tide, and in case of its being near high water, to take a circuitous route, and cross the river at St. Blazey bridge."
In the selection I have made from my manuscript notes, of incidents and facts connected with the parish of St. Blazey, I have avoided, as much as possible, the dangers consequent on too minute a detail of dates: neither have I occupied your attention by reference to recent events, which must be better known to many of you than they are to me. I have desired rather to lead you back to the days of your forefathers, and to introduce to you persons and incidents, previously unknown to many of my hearers. Were I disposed to enumerate recent improvements, I should dwell on the many public buildings, &c., erected for the convenience of the inhabitants, such as the Market-houses, the Church at Biscovey, and our National School-rooms.
I need not state that our proximity to the Pier of Par, (one of the many works undertaken and accomplished, by the late J.T. Treffry, Esq., and his able successor, J.T. Meredith, Esq.,) has greatly increased the traffic of the parish and neighbourhood. We now look forward with anxious expectation to the opening of the Cornwall Railroad, which is brought within half a mile of our town, for St. Blazey can no longer be called a village.
Dr. Johnson says wisely, "To abstract the mind from all local emotions
would be impossible, if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish, if it were
possible, " And who shall say that the memories associated with the name
of St. Blazey are not such as to make our steps more firm, and our hearts to
elate with a noble and proud emotion? Are the associations connected with the
Patron Saint, from whom our Parish takes its name, with the "all worthy" Ralph
Allen, the martial Vincent, with Royalty itself, in the person of King Charles
I, nothing? Is it nothing, that St. Blazey gave birth to Edward Long, the historian?
Is it nothing, that the great bulk of our population, the thousands residing
in this and the adjoining parish of Tywardreath, draw their support almost
solely from the bowels of the earth? Surely we need not be ashamed of the place
in which we have pitched our tents, and we will resolve, in dependence on the
help of God, so to discharge the various duties, to which by His providence
we have been called, - duties to Himself, and to our neighbour, - that when
we have passed "that bourn, from whence no traveller returns," posterity
may be enabled to sing of each parent here present the pathetic words of the
"He dying bequeathed to his son a good name,
Which unsullied descended to me,
For my child I'll preserve it, unblemished by shame,
And it still from a spot shall be free."
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