Susan E. (Susan Elizabeth) Gay.

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Old Falmouth




1 1 i


Old Gateivay, Ar-wenack






[all rights reserved.]





I have had much pleasure in acceding to the
request of the author of Old Falmouth that I would
write a few introductory Hnes for her interesting
volume, since I feel assured that the book will
afford valuable assistance to all who are inter-
ested in the past history as well as the future
prospects of this well-known southern sea-side

The carefully collated and admirably recorded
information contained in this work will not only
invite readers among the visitors in Cornwall, but
will, it is hoped, induce many, who otherwise
would remain in ignorance of the great advantages
possessed by Falmouth, to seek here benefits,
which in some respects exceed those which are

vi. Introductory.

still regarded as the exclusive property of the
shores of the Mediterranean, and obviate the
necessitv of seeking abroad that which can be
found at home.

Se'l mondo laggiu ponesse mente
Al fondamento che natura pone
Seguendo lui avria buona la gente.

{Paradise, Canto VIII.)

Those who enjoy historical research, alike
with others who seek a genial winter climate, are
much indebted to Miss Gay for her charming
book, and it will be well that her suggestions
regarding the expediency of preserving the
picturesque appearance of the locality may not
in its future development be overlooked.

J. Fayrer.


December, jgoj.


A FEW words as to the origin of the following pages.
An accumulation of *'odds and ends" of informa-
tion not generally known relating to Falmouth in former
days, led me to place them together in the form of a
small connected history, which might be useful to all
who are fond of the preservation of old records. While
writing this I found a mass of scattered information
among old documents, parochial histories, guide-books,
and the parish registers, which seemed to me well worth
sorting out and collecting together. A list of these
sources of reference would be somewhat tedious, and it
suffices to say that the late Earl of Kimberley gave me
courteous permission to examine any old records at the
Manor-office, and that I received kind assistance from
members of the Fox family, Mr. John D. Enys, Mr.
Thurstan C. Peter, the Rev. William Jago, and Mr.
Armitage, the present Town Clerk of Falmouth. Also
that I have examined works such as Boase and Courtney's
Collectanea Bibliotheca, Gilbert's History of Cornwall,
Parochial Histories, Oliver's Pendennis, etc.

In addition I received letters and details from mem-
bers of families connected with the old Packet Service,

viii. Old Fahnouth.

which gave me a few hitherto unpublished items. The
entries in the diaries written by Mrs. Niels F'alck, cover-
ing a period dating from 1778 to 1836 were unfortun-
ately far too brief and disconnected to give me what I
desired, — a complete and connected picture of life in
the palmy days of the " Racquets," and I have only
extracted what seemed of general interest in a few
fragments. No one seems to have left such a record.

The old Assembly-room still exists, the only testi-
mony remaining as to the former routs and gaieties, for
otherwise Flushing nestles under the hill as of yore, but
has long become silent and dumb and reveals nothing
of its old bustle and stir.

Yet papers and letters must once have been written
which would possess a priceless charm if they had only
been preserved. Possibly removals were responsible
for the destruction of old family papers, as they were
conducted at a time when many boxes were indeed
itnpcdimcnta, and therefore restricted to as few in
number as possible.

For Falmouth, though not an ancient town, and desti-
tute of antiquities, has been one of the most interesting
places on our western shores. Here resided genera-
tions of a Royalist family — long extinct — whose fortunes
and misfortunes were singularly intertwined with the
town they founded. Here was fought out, with extra-
ordinary resolution and courage, almost the last great
struggle between the troops of Charles I. and those
of Cromwell and the Parliament. Here grew and
flourished the largest Packet establishment in any port
in the kingdom. Here part of a fleet anchored, and
men of renown came and went. Brave Lord Exmouth

Preface. ix.

sailed in and out of our harbour, Nelson, Boscawen,
Cornwallis, and many another Admiral of fame and
name ; and most of the news of the great victories of
the Nile and elsewhere were brought first of all — to

Into our harbour came the transports conveying our
soldiers to the terrible scenes of the Peninsular War,
and when the work of that dread time was over, here
too sailed in the man-of-war bearing Napoleon to his
island prison at St. Helena.

Of Royal visits there have been several, some con-
nected with misfortune, — as in the case of the son of
Charles I., the Prince of Wales, — others, the later ones,
full of brightness and loyal welcome. While the Packets
bore all sorts of well-known personages, — among them
Byron and Disraeli, — to and from places abroad.

The story of all interesting towns should I think be
preserved. Some hand, not too busy, should record it,
so that the history of its events and not only these, but
something of those who lived and died in it, and were
the actors in scenes of the past far different from our
present time, should be kept from entire oblivion. I
greatly fear the chapter on "Old Falmouthians" is
incomplete ; — it gave me considerable anxiety, — but if
so it has been through a lack of information which I
should have wished to obtain.

For the Chronology and the lengthy Appendix I
make no apology. They contain mainly merely historic
details, etc., such as could not be embodied in the pre-
ceding chapters, and a Chronology is always useful for
reference. In the latter portion of it valuable help
has been given to me by Mr. Wilson L. Fox.

X. Old Fabiionth.

I am indebted to many for illustrations, some of
which are now to Falmouth readers, and have referred
to those who have so kindly aided me in this matter in
the text. But I greatly regret being unable, after many
efforts, to produce a portrait of Colonel John Arundel.
None seems to exist.

Additions and corrections will be welcome, and if
sufficiently numerous will be printed on a sheet which
can be inserted at the end of the book.

I should add that this little work is simply a
Collectanea, and has no greater pretension.

S. E. G.


Near Falmouth,

December, igo2.



Introduction, by Sir Joseph Fayrer, Bart. v.

Preface - - - - vii.

I. Arwenack and Pendennis Castle - i

II. The Early Years of Falmouth - 31

III. The Last of the Killigrews - - 48

IV. Falmouth in the Eighteenth Century 67
V. Days of the Old Packet Service - 114

VI. Old Falmouthians - - - 145

Appendix . . . - 173

Falmouth Chronology - - 228

Mayors of Falmouth - - - 239

Rectors of Falmouth - - 245

Parliamentary Elections - - 246

Falmouth County Court - - 248

Recorders . . - - 248

List of Subscribers - - 249

Index _ _ . . 254



Sir Peter Killigrew - . Frontispiece

Pendennis Castle in 1734 - - . i

Arwenack in 1646 - - . II

The Killigrew Cup - - - 13

The Killigrew Brass, Budock Church - 22

General Fairfax - - - - 25

Captain Melvill - - . 29

Map of Falmouth Haven - - - 32

Early Houses in Falmouth - - 37

Arwenack as it is - - - - 49

Admiral Winchester's House - - 53

The Rev. Edward Walmsley - - 69

Bell's Court - - - . 85

The " Westmoreland " Packet beating off

A French Privateer - - - 95
Remains of the Banqueting Hall, Arwenack hi

The "Mercury" Packet - - 115

Captain John Goodridge - - - 121

Niels Falck, Senr. - - - 128

The Rogers Presentation Sword - - 128

Lord Exmouth - - - . 132


xiv. List of Illustrations.

Captain J. A. Norway, R.N. - - i34

Captains James and John Bull - 136

Captain William Kirkness - - - 138

Caitain a. R. L. Fassingham, R.N. - 138

Captain Green, R.N. - - - 140

Christopher Savekland - - - 143

George Croker Fox - - - 149

Anna Maria F'ox - - - 151

Robert Were Fox, F.R.S. - - - i53

Joseph Fox, Senior - - - 159

Mrs. Elliot - - - - 163

The Kent Medal - - - 163

Robert Richards Broad - - - 169

Silver Vase presented to Captain Birt Dyneley 201
William Bryce, Guard of the Falmouth

Mail Coach - - - 212

Old Falmouth.


Arwenack and Pendennis Castle.


AMONG the earliest recollections of my childhood
were visits to a place I thought very delightful,
because it combined the special charms of sea and
country. In those days I lived in a Midland city, in a
large house at the end of a terrace, where the rooms
were spacious and the garden small, and which looked
out upon a public road and the gravelled walk leading
to a pump-room. Hence when my parents, led by old
associations and familiar ties, took " the children " to
Falmouth, we enjoyed the rare freedom of frocks
bedabbled with sea-water, and little hands, embrowned
by the sun, which escaped being gloved. Well do I
remember the yellow shells — real treasures — picked up
on the beaches at the Bar, which no longer exist, and
the delightful pools left by the receding tide ! And
then the strolls up the " rope- walk," a tree-shadowed
lane where wild flowers grew in the hedges, and which
emerged by a curve into a winding road above, where
more wild flowers were to be found, and not the ghost
of a house was to be seen except Gylling Dune. And
then, too, the old walled garden in which we played.

2 Old Falmouth.

with the httle pointed shells in the gravel paths, the
great box-borders enclosing beds of Nile lilies in full
bloom, the myrtles, and the mingled scent of flowers,
and rope, and tar which came in whiffs from the old
sheds near the entrance-pillars to the rope-walk, with
their two great stone balls. That was the Killigrew
entrance-gate through which members of the family
long ago once walked or drove. What a sweet little
world it was, and how full of charm, and many things
dear to childish hearts !

In an old building at the top of the garden there
was the dusty model of a full-rigged ship, cabins, ropes,
blocks, guns, and all, a grand spectacle, but too heavy
to move to the shore, and far too big to sail in a tub.
I pleaded for the beautiful ship, but its size again stood
in its way and it was sold with house and garden and
disappeared. Finally the garden itself vanished and
was built over, nothing remaining but a forlorn and
neglected remnant which I can no longer recognise.
And the little villa, once in the country, and looking
out on elms and fields, and hedgerows, became more
than ever surrounded with bricks and mortar, and had
a forlorn dilapidated look like one that has known
better days and regretfully remembers them.

Then there was the old Woodlane, which ended
about halfway of its present length, in grassy banks
and wild flowers, no house on the upper side having
been built beyond. It had the air of a country walk,
leading towards Swanpool. Some of the older resi-
dents still dwelt in Arwenack Street, a place of note in
the earlier annals of P'almouth, and looked out upon
the beautiful water of the harbour, undisturbed as yet
by docks or rail. A small coasting steamer, the Sir
Francis Drake, took from Plymouth to Falmouth,
passengers, who had the choice of this or of pro-
ceeding through Cornwall by coach. The steamer was

Arwenack and Pendennis Castle. 3

quicker, but she was an ill craft in an easterly breeze,
and I believe we only took passage once, and never

Among my early memories are visits to Boslowick,
nestling among orchards, with my mother and great-
aunt (Miss Falck), where I remember Mrs. James Bull,
nee Tippet, the widow of the lawyer, — the old lady
sitting in the pretty wainscotted parlour, with white
cap and a black velvet ribbon across her forehead, —
and to the Cottage, where the climbing roses attracted
my attention,— then tenanted by Mr. William Carne
and the Bouldersons. The rope-walk and its tarry
sheds, and the men with the yarn around their waists
spinning marvellous and endless cords, — the obelisk,
and the ponds at Grove Hill, — all impressed themselves
on my mind as special marvels which Falmouth
alone produced. It was all so sweet, homelike, and
picturesque !

The winding street, following the twists and turnings
of the original lane which led from Arwenack Manor to
the Market Strand, was a kind of meeting-place, where
folks exchanged news and sailors stood in groups at the
"little opes" running down to the water's edge, with
their eyes blinking on the ships in the harbour. There
were many stoppages as I held on to my great-uncle's
hand on the way to the " News Room," and progress
used to be leisurely then for a good many of the
inhabitants. At last one summer we came down when
the first train ran into the new Falmouth station, and I
remember the engine decorated with evergreens, and
conveying a group of enraptured gentlemen, waving
their hats, to a banquet in the goods shed.

An excited Cornishwoman, followed by two or three
others too late for the crowd at the station, fled along
the rope-walk as the whistle sounded, exclaiming —
" Oh ! my dear ! Come along quick ! the steamer's

4 Old Falmouth.

a-coming — yes, sure, there she he ! " — and the httle
gatheriii!4 cheered lustily at the spectacle of the
smokin<4 locomotive.

But alas ! — steam proved as unruly as the prophet
Balaam, only inverted. It cursed rather than blessed.
Falmouth had to deal with ships rather than railways,
and instead of a fleet of vessels sailing with their white
wings into the beautiful harbour, came steamers, more
or less occasional in their appearance. Sometimes they
did not call at all and went up channel. The docks
made no fortunes. And worse still, the great ocean-
hners of later years naturally cut off a corner and saved
time by dropping anchor in Plymouth Sound. No
acceleration of the Cornish trains over the picturesque
valleys spanned by high viaducts, and round the wooded
Cornish hills, could safely compete at last with the
direct route of the great mail steamers and their triple
expansion engines which tore through the waves and
landed their mails for the special express to the metro-
polis. Nature had hedged in the old town with natural
beauties, but given her no passport to becoming a
commercial centre. She was far west, — set in the heart
of the hills which divided her from the mother-land,
and born in a region where the mild laving of the
Gulf-stream gave promise of a health-resort, but hardly
the prophecy of a great port.

Coming suddenly upon Falmouth, in ignorance of
its geographical position, one would have wondered
that a harbour so large and so secure could at this date
remain so silent, and at times so empty of ships. But
not only has steam been its enemy, but the colossal
size of the new departures in vessels. When the rare
event takes place of a visit from an ocean liner, the big
ship remains far out in the outer roads, and cannot
even be seen from the town. Though the graving-
dock will admit a vessel of the size of the Egyptian

Arwenack and Pendennis Castle. c

Monarch, the harbour-dues are not to be paid for
naught.* These things have left Falmouth almost as
beautiful as of yore. The hills enclosing the harbour
still wave with corn-fields and are green with meadows,
and the wood at Trefusis grows emerald in the spring,
and flushes ruddy with autumn tints as it did centuries
ago, delighting as before the lover of nature and the
artist, and offering a sweet ramble to the visitors in the
yachts which moor at its feet. The one or two new
houses perched along the shore are well-devised and
do not crowd each other, and view the water and its
many small craft pleasantly in the summer season.

The failure of commercial interests and the rare
temperate nature of the climate, with its freedom from
fog, have been the cause of another ambition, — that
the old town may yet rear its head among health-
resorts. Into this question I will not enter since it is
hedged round with weighty considerations. If it mean
the destruction of the unique old cliff-walk, sheltered,
charming, and beloved of every genuine resident in the
place, and the obliteration of greenery by mere garden-
less bricks and mortar and beach erections such as are
popular at Ramsgate or Boulogne, we can only say —
*' Alas!" If it mean the increase of pretty houses and
sweet gardens such as only southern Cornwall can pro-
duce, a clean and inviting embankment below the town,
the planting of trees along roads that have ceased to be
winsome lanes, and are hot and dusty without shade —
we say '* Ay ! " with all our hearts. To win the traveller
from the Swiss valley, or Mentone, Falmouth must
preserve its special charm and wear that country air
which never fails to wile the dweller in cities from his

* For repairing ships the docks are admirably adapted, and their
situation in a port which is a sort of "first and last house" should give
them every advantage. They are very large — one being 537 feet by 71 —
the largest but one in the Channel.

6 Old Falmouth.

haunts. To his eyes, flowers, grass-grown hedges, and
the cottage style of residence, sweet sights and sweet
scents, are thi- happiest of contrasts to his city sur-
roundings ; and to his ears, accustomed to the best
bands that Europe can produce, the songs of the birds
in the spring are sweeter music still. The success of
no place hitherward depends upon much building, or
is a matter of mere cash. It must have something of
its own to offer, which will captivate as well as provide
for life's necessaries. If a born gardener like Mr.
Howard Fox had the laying out of all that remains of
the as yet untouched land, he would do more to make
Falmouth popular than all the voices of the doctors or
the advertisements of the press. He would turn it all
into a great garden, in which houses would nestle
temptingly, sheltered by piiiiis insiguis, a.nd ornamented
by the draccena, the aloe, and masses of escallonia.

It would become " fashionable " through its engaging
rusticities, and the contrast it would offer to the plan-
nings of some of those other towns by the sea. In thus
pleading the cause of my native town I am a voice for
many of its visitors who are dumb, but far from being
in accord with any schemes that would sacrifice its
simple country air to rows of uninviting edifices that
house, and pay the owners, and do no more.

But we have wandered for a moment from our
subject into the deep waters of discussion, while our
business is with the past. The first event recorded
relating to the place is the naming Gyllyng Vase in
1 1 20, after Prince William (son of Henry I.), who with
his sister and several Norman nobles were wrecked off
Barfleur,— the prince being buried at Gyllyng Vase, or
William's grave. Gyllyngdune meant " William's Hill,"
so runs the story, but 1 do not know whether it is
corroborated by any authentic document. All around

Arwenack and Pendennis Castle. y

must have been wild woods and downs, unbroken by
any dwelling. And thus it remained until Arwenack
House was built. Three hundred years ago Falmouth
consisted of a little handful of primitive houses, not far
from the old Manor House of Arwenack.* They had
grown around the old home of the Killigrews, a family
which owned land not only adjacent to it, but far
afield, in Budock,t in fact, originally as far as the
Helford river, and even on the other side of the har-
bour, since they owned the Manor of Mylor.

A map of the date of 1580, showing Arwenack
House, with the lawn in front bounded by a battle-
mented wall at the water's edge, the " windmill " field,
the cross at the end of the present Woodlane, and
Glasney College, gives the names of various small
houses scattered about Budock, among them Rescar-
rock, Prislow, Penans, Trescobeas, etc., amid fields.
The map extends no farther to the west than " Cor-
gillick " (Kergillick). Trescobayes was the dwelling
of William Gross, "who married Erisey, widow of
Charles Vyvyan of Merthen, mother of Sir Richard
Vyvyan, Bart.," etc. Gross died in 1693. A place
beyond this was Trewoon, the seat of the Carnsews
of Carnsew in Mabe. Rosmeryn was formerly a seat
of the Killigrews, and was finally purchased by Captain
Bown, in 1773, and became the property of Peter
Bown Harris. The ownership of the Killigrew family
did not apply to the estate of Penwarne, owned origin-
ally by a very ancient family, whose name in fact was
given to the surrounding district, (called long ago Pen-
warren). Nicholas de Penwarne lived in the earlier
part of the reign of Henry IV. The estate was taxed
in Domesday Book in 1087. So also was Budock.

* When Sir Walter Raleigh visited Arwenack only one little house
I existed.

f Swanpool was a swannery of the Killigrew family.

8 Old Falmouth.

And the Killi^rews were ori<4in:illy the patrons of the
Hvin<^ of Hudock.

Another landowner in Biidock was Lord Godolphin,
stated in 1761 to have been the owner of several estates
in the parish, and also to have held the Royalty of Fal-
mouth harbour, and some leagues along the bay.*

In an old Cornish MS. of the Creation of the World
(a play produced in Oxford in 1450) — which is still
preserved in the Bodleian Library, the following lines
occur relating to the rewards assigned to the builders
of the universe : —

" Blessing of the father on you
You shall have your reward,
Your wages are prepared,
Together with all the Fields of Bohellan,
And the wood of Penrin entirely
The Island t and Arwinick
Tregember and Kegillack
Of them make you a deed or charter."

"John of Arwennack" is mentioned in an old deed
of the date of 1264, and Ralphe Killigrew, Lord of
Killigrew and Arwennack, lived in the time of Henry IIL
The old deed is so brief that it may be given in full, as
it is less tedious than such documents usually are, and
it has the recommendation of being translated from the
Latin by Mr. Thurstan C. Peter, who extracted it from
Bishop Bronescombe's Register, Bronescombe, it may
be added, was Bishop of Exeter from 1257 to 1280.

" The same day and year the Lord Bishop, with the
consent of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter, delivered
all his land of Arwennack in farm to Richard, Rector
of the Church of St. Columb Major, in form following :

" To all the faithful in Christ under whose inspec-
tion these presents shall come, Walter by the grace of

* Some land has also long been in the possession of the Vyvyan

t Enys, which means island.

Arwenack and Pendennis Castle. 9

God, Bishop of Exeter (desires) health eternal in the

" Know ye all that we have, with the full consent of
the Dean and Chapter of the Church of Exeter, granted
and delivered to Richard de Laherne (hodie Lanherne),
Rector of the Church of St. Columb Major, all our
land of Arwennack, with all its appurtenants, for the
term of his life with the Common pasture on the West,
lying between the house of John of Arwennack and the
sea, he yielding to us and our successors 30 shillings
sterling every year in equal portions on the ist of May
and the ist of November, in satisfaction of all service,
actions, claims, demands and suit of Court : except
that the said Richard must twice a year, to wit, at the
Michaelmas and Easter sittings, attend our Court at
Penryn either personally or by attorney.

" And if the said Richard, or his attorney, shall
incur any penalty, the amount thereof shall be fixed
by his peers according to the offence. After the resig-
nation* of the said Richard the whole of the said Land
of Arwennack, with all its appurtenants, shall without
denial revert to ourselves or our successors, saving only
his crop and other moveables on the said land. More-
over it is lawful for the said Richard whenever he shall
be so pleased at his freewill to remove, bequeath, give
away, and without challenge assign to whomever he
shall desire all his moveable goods on the said land, so
nevertheless that the said rent be regularly paid each

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Online LibrarySusan E. (Susan Elizabeth) GayOld Falmouth → online text (page 1 of 22)