Eng. (Parish) Madron.

The first book of the parish registers of Madron, in the county of Cornwall: online

. (page 1 of 23)
Online LibraryEng. (Parish) MadronThe first book of the parish registers of Madron, in the county of Cornwall: → online text (page 1 of 23)
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L/| HE first book of tlio Parish Registers of Madron is a small folio volume of two hundred and

eighteen pages : of these just two hundred are well filled with entries, ten are more or less written

upon, and eight are Llank. The leaves are of parchment, many of them being in a very dilapidated
condition. A few of the entries are altogether illegible, others have been in part or entirely torn
away, and some even ruthlessly cut off by the trimming knife of the bookbinder.

The early part of the Register of Baptisms is unfortunately lost — that is to say from the year 1577, at
which date the Registers of Marriages and Burials commence, to the year 1592 — and at various places
throughout the book a leaf or more is wanting. The earliest entry is that of the burial of John, son of
Richard Fynnie, dated 20th May, 1577. From this time to the year 1607 the entries that remain are
neatly and clearly written in the same hand, and are evidently transcribed from older manuscript, accord-
ing to Canon 70, of 1603, though damp has made sad havoc with the first four pages. The fact that
they are transcribed must be borne in mind, and will suggest the possibility of clerical errors, as well as
account for certain minor inconsistencies. Judging from the manuscript and from the varying colour of
the ink, it appears to have been the custom not to make the entries in the book one by one as they occurred,
but to write in a large batch of a year or more at a time ; and it is noticeable that when a new handwriting
appears it is usually at the commencement of the year, old style. The date at which a certain handwriting
ends, and the known date of the death of an incumbent, do not coincide. It is plain then that in those
days the incumbent did not himself write the entries in the book in which they are now preserved, but
he probably kept a rough register of Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, which was periodically copied
into the volume destined for its reception.

The following pages contain virtually a complete copy of the record that has been handed down to us, —
the o^t-recurring " was baptized," " was married," with similar repetitions, being the only words omitted
and these are here replaced by the heading lines. Wherever an entry or a page is missing, its absence
is indicated by a line of dots or asterisks. All names of persons and places have been scrupulously copied
letter by letter from the original, and the eccentricities and variations in spelling (which it seemed to me
very desirable to preserve) will form not the least interesting feature in the book. Erasures, interlineations,
or peculiarities, are for the most part noticed at the foot of each page on which they occur, but additional
scraps of information will in some cases be found under the date of the entries, in the notes which follow
the Appendix.

A person accustomed only to nineteenth century writing would probably not find it an easy matter to
decipher the anticp:iated caligraphy of a past age, but it is the partial obliteration which has taken place
that makes the interpretation so difficult in the present case. Those only who have been engaged upon a
similar undertaking can form any estimate of the time and trouble involved in such a task. In reading
the black-letter portion of the manuscript, there is the common difficulty in distinguishing n's from u's,
between which there is absolutely no difference in appearance. Two m's are equally perplexing, for when


these letters occur together it is impossible to determine, except by the surroundings, whether they are
m's, n's, or u's. Since three strokes stand for m, and two for n or u, so six strokes might represent two m's
or a mi, as well as the interchanges that can be produced with these three letters; but each of these com-
binations would bo written thus mm, and as u also frequently stands fori) the complication may be carried
further. "With regard therefore to such names as Saundry, Launder, Frauncis, etc., it is quite a matter
for consideration whether they should be read Sanndry, Lannder, and Franncis, or as above; but having
spelt these and like names as appears to me to be most probably correct, I here call attention to the sub-
ject so that others may form their own opinion. No great stress however need be laid on this difficulty
as a source of error in the present instance, for after the black letter (which includes the transcribed
portion) ceases, with the year 1007, the names mentioned will be found clearly written in both ways.

Among male Christian names there are few that are very strange or unusual, though there are many
that to modern ears sound quaint and old-fashioned. Perhaps the most curious are Emmett (p. 7 :),
LTalenight (which has its antithesis Loveday among the names of women, p. 12 :), Madern (in every pos-
sible variety of spelling) and Morva (p. 44 :) from the parishes so named, Eowan (p. 3.), and Udye (p. 45:).
AVith regard to Christian names of women, free scope has been given to the imagination, and, besides
being quite as quaint as those of the opposite sex, they are far more varied and fanciful. AVe find : —
Addama (p. 24.), Anquite (p. 22:), Armanell (p. 28.), Duens (p. 10.), Earth (p. 10.), Ebbott (p. 8:),
Eppow (p. 54:), Fortune (p. 44:), Gratiana (p. 22:), Jaquelinah (p. 24:), Jaquite (p. 22:), Jellyan (p. 83.),
Jenefred (p. 37.) and Jenyfret (p. 35:), Lovedye (p. 27.) and Lowdy (p. 33.), Kay (p. 58:) and Key
(p. 51 :), Mellioner (p. 43.), Mildren (p. 19.), Milson (p. 32.), Norowe (p. 43.), Olsett (p. 29.), Paecus
(p. 8.) and Pasques (p. 55.), Porthesia (p. 24 :), Eedigon (p. 8.), Eicho (p. 5:), Syve (p. 48.), Tamer (p. 19.),
Tammeris (p. 23:), Temperance (p. 31.), Tiberia (p. 7:), Wany (p. 5:), and many others. Sometimes
too the names of men are used for those of women ; thus — Nicholl (p. 13 :) and Pascow (p. 31.) are fre-
quently so used, though probably the latter was intended for Pascha, the feminine of Pascoe (which by
the way is vulgarly pronounced Paska in this neighbourhood), signifying Easter child ; and throughout,
Philip is as frequently written for a woman's name as for a man's, — there is absolutely no means of
distinguishing between the two except by the context ; but where it is evident that the feminine name is
intended, Philippa has been used in the Index. Certain names, now understood to be entirely distinct
from each other, were formerly — as we find by these Eegisters — often written indiscriminately the one for
the other. Such are Nicholas and Nicholls, Eeginald and Eeynold, Gerard and Garret, Pearco and Peres,
Maurice and Morish, &c, with several different ways of spelling the same names.

Surnames too it appears were used in a vague and uncertain manner, and were sometimes assumed or
given with an utter disregard to all hereditary nomenclature, which at the present day would be must in-
convenient and unjustifiable. " The son of Nicholas, the joyner" (p. 43 :), " one Richard, a poore man "
(p. 45:), "Margarett, an Irishe woman" (p. 42:), and numerous others, have little for which to thank
the scribe who enrolled their names in the Parish Record. The unsettled state of surnames is further
proved and exemplified by the following rather long list of aliases which occur in this book : —

Ameare alias James 5. Boos alias Gymbale l*. Crankan alias Symon 31 :

Ames alias Ash 51. 1'xmd alias Synkow 58 : Daddow alias Thomas To :

Angove alias Thomas 7 : ('ally alias Bowes 58 : Davye alias Rowan 7.

Aukciw alias Sanies 57: Carpenter alias Argall 45: Dreanegles alias .lames 13.

Are,all alias I iarpenter 15 : ( Shepy alias Row 97. Edwardes alias Portere I :

Ash alias Ames 51. ('lean' alias Earrye 1 1 : Gardeage alias Michell 15 :

Beagoe alias Pears 56. Cock alias Boile 69. Geene alias Sudgiovi 14:

Begoe alias George i*: Cornish alias Payan 73. George alias Begoe i*:

Bennel alias Earrie4: Co sen alias Maddern 98. Gover alius Skinner 55 :

Bodenar alias Noy 30 : Cotha alias Sakaria 50 : Gymbale alias Boes in.


Harrie alias: Bennet -1 :
Harries alias Martin 62 :
Harries alias Ankow 57 :
Hurry alias Penreeth 96.
Harrye alias Cleare 44 :
Hoile alias Cock 69.
Hoskin alias Kigwin 50.
Hoskyn alias Trembath 51 :
Hoskyn alias Trembab 6.
Howes alias Calfy 58 :
James alias Arneare 5.
James alias Mulfra 17.
James alias Eosemorran 63.
James alias Sennen 58 :
James alias Tremethack 2. 93.
James alias Treneglos 57 :
James alias Eosemorran 63.
Jeffrie alias Nighten 5.
Kigwin alias Hoskin 50.
Lake alias Lane 50.
Lane alias Lake 50.
Lawrie alias Noy 48 :
Lewer alias Richard 31.
Laudy alias Teage 58 :

Maddern alias Cossen 98.
Madren alias Ricbard 6 :
Martyn alias Harries 6i' :
Michel! alias Gardeage 45 :
Mulfra alias James 17.
Nicholl alias Porteer 48 :
Nicholls alias Trereif 31.
Nicholls alias Trevello 72 :
Nighten alias Jeffrie 5.
Noy alias Bodenar 30 :
Noy alias Lawrie 48 :
Payan alias Cornish 73.
Pears alias Beagoe 56.
Penreeth alias Harry 96.
Polgoone alias Tbomas 48.
Porteer alias Nicboll 48 :
Portere alias Edwardes 4 :
Richard alias Lewer 31.
Richard alias Madren 6 :
Richard alias Wbitewell 4 :
Roberts alias Thomas 7.
Eosemorran alias James 63.
Eow alias Cbepy 97.
Eowan alias Davye 7.

Eowe alias Stephens IS.
Sakaria alias Cotha 50 :
Sennen alias James 58 :
Skinner alias Gover 55 :
Stephens alias Eowe 13.
Stephens alias Stinion 13.
Stephens alias Trevawin 57.
Stinion alias Stephens 13.
Sudgiow alias Geene 44 :
Symon alias Crankan 31 :
Synkow alias Bond 58 :
Teage alias Laudy 58 :
Thomas alias Angove 7 :
Thomas alius Daddow 70 :
Thomas alias Roberts 7.
Thomas alias Polgoone 48.
Trembah alias Hoskyn 6.
Trembath alias Hoskyn 51 :
Tremethack alias James 2. 93.
Treneglos alias James 57 :
Trereif alias Nicholls 31.
Trevawin alias Stephens 57.
Trevello alias Nicholls 72 :
Wbitewell alias Richard 4 :

Thanks to the imperfect but phonetic spelling of the period, it is easy to determine how the names of
persons and places -were then pronounced ; and, since there is a tendency to disguise the sound of our
Cornish names in such a manner that we do not know them with their foreign ring, it is -well that -wo
have some means of refreshing our memories with the original pronunciation. As a rule in all Cornish
names the accent is laid on the second syllable in -words of two syllables, and on the next to the last in
words of more than two. There are some exceptions, but, for the most part, names, differently accentuated
by the inhabitants of the more remote districts, are not essentially Cornish. Surely Lord Penzance does
not take his title from the name of this little borough any more than Man?zion is to be found on the
shores of Mount's Bay ; and can it be possible that } T oung Tom Tresider (of the Guards) and Nugent
JVawkivell (of the Civil Service) are any relation to the true Cornish families of Tresider and Nanfo'rell ?
The saints who have given their names to the parishes in this neighbourhood — St. Madern or Madron
among them — were not of Cornish extraction. Prance sent holy men and women to the south coast, and
Ireland supplied the west with prodigies of goodness and of prowess. A mere eccentricity of spelling
would not be likely to mislead an expert, nor need a novice be disappointed if he fails at first to recognise
the name he seeks. We know that it is possible to spell some words, correctly as to sound, without a
single letter that rightly belongs to them, and, judging from what I have seen of Parish Eegisters, it would
not be advisable to give up search until extremes have been reached.

From an historical point of view something may be indirectly learnt from these pages, though they are
particularly barren in those quaint notes and pithy bits of information, which often add so much to tho
value and interest of such old books ; still even here we can read the signs of the times and draw our
inferences. That the custom of not solemnizing Marriages during Lent was, for the most part, strictly
observed in this parish, is very evident. It is noteworthy too that there are no registers either of Bap-
tisms, Marriages, or Burials for the year 1595, the year of the attack of a party of Spaniards upon Paul,
Newlyn, and Penzance ; but there is no allusion to the marauders, as in the Eegisters of Paul. The
Commonwealth and Puritanical times have left their mark on these Eegisters, though happily they then
escaped with less disturbance than those of many other parishes. Whether we must attribute the unsatis-


factory state of the record towards the end of the 17th century to the general laxity of post-restoration
days, or to the troubled times of the greater revolution, is uncertain : more probably a non-resident vicar
was to blame, for notwithstanding that Master Reginald Trenhayle may have busied himself about affaire
of state — and his bones found a resting-place in Westminster Abbey — still the confused entries, written
by many hands during the later 3 - ears of his incumbency, tend to prove that he neglected his parochial
duties. Immorality leaves but comparatively slight traces of its existence: there are in all about sixty
entries of Baptism and Burial of illegitimate children, and previously to 1630 such entries are most fre-
quently marked by the addition of the word spur, a contraction of spurius (p. 46.) ; sometimes, and more
rarely, by a harder name. Nor have we any reason for supposing that there was any suppression of the
truth, since it is plain that our predecessors did not hesitate to call a spade a spade. During the reign
of the Merry Monarch the Register is peculiarly free from entries of this nature.

Probably the sanitary arrangements of the inhabitants of the parish, three and even two centuries ago,
were not as complete as they might have been. There are indications that infectious diseases were some-
what prevalent at certain periods ; the entry of burial of one member of a family being not unfrequeutly
followed by other such entries of the same. Upon two occasions the locality was visited by a very fatal
sickness or plague : it appeared first in 1578, and again in 1647, lasting about six months (from June to
November) at each outbreak. The first visitation was the more fatal, — whole families seem to have been
swept away ; and at one time the number of burials reached as many as five a day. Not less than one
hundred and fifty persons were buried within the time mentioned, whilst the average death-rate previously,
and for some time after, did not exceed three per month. In the previous year the celebrated Black As-
sizes took place at Oxford — the gaol fever having broken out on the seventh of July, 1.577 — though there
could scarcely have been any connexion between the two, and it most probably was but a local epidemic
of a very serious nature. The second visitation is mentioned more than once by "Alexander Daniel, of
Laregan," to whose manuscript I have so often referred in the notes. Besides speaking of the vicar
of Madron, John Keat, who died at Nanceglos as was " supposed of } 7 e plague," he says in the smaller
volume of his manuscript, under July, 1647, "My daughtr, Jaquelina, sick of a feaver nere to death.
She doubted lest if she had died then (the plague being at Pensance and in Maddren Parish) they would
report that she died of e pest, but I willd her to joine in prayer to God," etc. From this it appears
that a certain amount of reproach was attached to the disease.

Some four hundred times do we find the badge of gentility in one form or another in these pages. Just
eighty-two names have "Mr." prefixed, whilst the greater part of the remainder are distinguished by
having the word "gent" appended. There are but five esquires (the title occurring seven times only),
and sinco they are so few it may be well to mention them. They are — Richard Lanyon (p. 7.), Richard
Trovamiyon (p. 30.), William Harris, of Kenegy (p. 38:), John Lanyon (pp. 45. 50: 51.), and Francis
Jones (p. 56.). Twice, and twice only, do wo find a highor title, and that in Sir John H . . . . (p. 37.),
and Sir Thomas Fanshowo (p. 56:). The decaying page hinders our learning more of the former: the
latter is not unknown in the chronicles of his country, lie held the olliee of Remembrancer in the Court
of Exchequer, and upon the death of his father, in 1665, inherited his title of Lord Viscount Fanshawe,
of Donamoro, in Ireland. His eldest half-sister married Sir Christopher Ilatton, heir to the Lord Chan-
cellor of that name. He was twice married: first to Catherine, daughter and heiress of Knighton
Ferrers, Esq., of Bedford-bury, in Eertfordshire, and secondly to Sarah, daughter of John Evelyn, Esq.,
of West Dene, in Surrey, and widow of Sir John Wray, of (ilentworth, in Lincolnshire. That he is the

person referred to in the Register is evident from the Mtmoira of Lady Fmtham. She writes (at p. 57) :

"I was at Penzance with my father, and in the same town was my brother 1'anshawe and his lady and
children. My father and that family embarked for Morlaix, in Brittany, with my lather's new wife, which


lie had married out of that family. My cousin Fanshawe, of Jenkins, and his eldest son being with them
went also over, but being in a small vessel of that port and surprised with a great storm, they had all
like to have been east away, which forced them to land in a little creek, two leagues from Morlaix, upon
the 28th of March, 1646; and five days after the Prince* and all his council embarked themselves in a
ship called the Phcenix, for the Isles of Scilly. They went from the Lands-end, and so did we ; being
accompanied with many gentlemen of that country, among whom was Sir Francis Basset, Governor of
the Mount, an honest gentleman, and so were all his family ; and in particular we received great civility
from them."

"With regard to the state of trade in this locality during the period comprised within this first book of
the Registers, we have but slight particulars upon which to base an opinion. The terms merchant and
smith occur just twenty and ten times respectively, but they refer more than once to the same individual ;
and it is hardly possible during all this time that there could have been but one cutler, one glover, one
joiner, one shoemaker, or one coffin maker, yet no more are mentioned.

The old mode of registration ended with the year 1812. Books of a different character were then re-
quired by law, and it so happened that at Madron, when the change was made, a new book had lately been
commenced, and was but little written in. Possibly, the numerous blank leaves of parchment suggested
to the then incumbent a design, which he carried into effect. He prefaced his labour of love with the fol-
lowing note : — "March 13, 1815. Finding the ancient Parish Register much decayed, worm-eaten, and
perishing, I have this day begun to copy it herein. Wm. Tremenheere, A.B., Vicar." Whilst the work
was in progress the old book seems to have been re-bound. (See note, p. 46). At this time probably
occurred that shameful clipping of edges (already alluded to) and loss of leaves, besides a very consider-
able derangement of chronological order and pagination, not only by misplacing leaves, but, making the
confusion greater, by binding several of them wrongside out. Mr. Tremenheere endeavoured to rectify
these blunders as far as possible, and it is not uncommon to find such marginal notes as — " for page 143
turn over five leaves," "this leaf bound the wrong way," "for page 131 v. next page but three," and so
on ; but one or two of the reversed leaves escaped his notice, and the entries on such as copied by him
are consequently wrongly dated. He concluded thus : — " Finished by intervals and at leisure, after many
intermissions, interruptions, and delays, this Fourth Day of June, 1817. (Nulla dies sine linea. Evenings
at home)." So commendable was his attempt to make a duplicate of this valuable record, thus threatened
with destruction, that it is with regret I allude to the marring effect of his inaccuracy and omissions in
copying it. It is necessary however, in self-defence, for me to mention the fact, since upon comparing the
present work with Mr. Tremenheere's copy (which is kept in the parish chest, in the church at Madron*
and being more easily read is perhaps more often referred to than the Register itself) many differences
will be found. Reference to the original must decide between us. And here let me say, what many per-
sons already well know, though there is oftentimes some misapprehension upon the subject, that in point
of law certified extracts from the original Parish Register only are evidence. Of the six thousand entries
set forth in the following pages not one would be received as proof of a Baptism, Marriage, or Burial in
a court of law ; but having by this means found a required entry we need have no difficulty in procuring
a certified copy of the original from the proper authority — the vicar of the parish. The "Ancient Register"
is still the real source of legal certificates, and its state of preservation and continued safe keeping become
matters of paramount importance.

" Decayed, worm-eaten, and perishing" such are the words of the vicar with regard to the Parish Register
of Madron upwards of half a century ago. Add but the fair wear and tear — not to mention damp or
neglect — of more than fifty years, and judge of its probable condition at the present time. Such a whole-

' Afterwards Charles II.


some horror have I of the 'word restoration in its conventional meaning, that I refrain from using it iu
connexion with my self-imposed task ; hut, with the consent of the vicar, it has been my endeavour to do
something towards the preservation of the original manuscript, by carefully strengthening the broken
leaves, re-uniting the tattered fragments, and re-arranging the pages in chronological order. It is almost
unnecessary for me to say that no entry has been re- written or re-touched, — so unjustifiable and objection-
able a practice serves, in my opinion at least, to throw more or less suspicion upon the genuineness of the
entry. I have however ventured to re-number the pages in red, since the old numbering was but partial
and imperfect.

Time, damp, and the bookbinder have each done something towards the destruction of the volume, yet
the greater part remains — dating from three hundred years ago ; and it is in the hope of adding perma-
nency to so valuable a local record, and of facilitating reference to it, that the present work has been
undertaken. "With regard to the value of Parish Registers iu general, of the best mode of directing
attention to their wealth, and of the most effectual means of preserving them, it is useless for me to speak.
So much has been already said upon the subject, and so little has been done for their protection, that one
more protest from this westernmost corner of Cornwall will not avail. The administration of the law is
lax; the destroyer in varied guise is for the most part ceaselessly at work; "everybody's business is
nobody's business ;" and the "title deeds of the people " are iu danger.

In conclusion, I gladly take this opportunity of expressing my indebtedness to the clergymen of this
neighbourhood, who, from time to time during the last ten years, have courteously allowed me free access
to their Parish Registers, and to documents relating to their churches : especially to the Rev. Michael
Nowell Peters, of Madron ; the Rev. John Martyn Collyns, of Sanereed ; the late Rev. John Ramsay
Mc Dowell, formerly of St. Just-in-Penwith, and his successor, the Rev. Henry Stuart Fagan ; the late
Rev. Robert Francis Bute Richards, formerly of Constantine ; the late Rev. Thomas Pascoe, formerly
of St. Hilary ; the Rev. Joseph Sydney Tyacke, of Helston ; the Rev. Richard Maloxe, formerly of

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Online LibraryEng. (Parish) MadronThe first book of the parish registers of Madron, in the county of Cornwall: → online text (page 1 of 23)