Mousehole, Saturday 17th April
This was a joint meeting with our host the Cornwall Association of Local Historians. The Methodist Church Schoolroom was filled to capacity.
We were welcomed by Mrs Joy Wilson, Vice Chairman of the Cornwall Association of Local Historians who introduced the first speaker, Margaret Perry. Mousehole to 1595 and the Spanish Raid was Margaret's theme, she told us:
The meaning of the name Mousehole pronounced Mowzel remains obscure as far as a Cornish derivation is concerned. However, the place name is likely to be English after the great cave in the cliffs nearby. The name was first recorded as early as 1242. Porthennis an alternative name, derives from the Cornish Porth Enys, island cove, a reference to the island close to the harbour entrance. Early use of the names suggest that Mousehole and Porthennis (the h is not pronounced) were adjoining places (Porthenys beside Mosehole, 1310) but by 17th century Porthennis was in use as a Cornish alternative.
Margaret put a great deal of emphasis that in earlier times Mousehole had Burgess status. In 1337 for instance when Edward Woodstock son of Edward III, became Duke of Cornwall, annual payments were levied on all ports and had to be paid to the Duchy. These were based on the number of boats fishing. In that year St. Ives was assessed at 120 shillings, Mousehole 100 shillings, Penzance 12 shillings and Newlyn 10 shillings. Thus it seems all went well for Mousehole until the Spanish Raid of 1595, after that things were never quite the same. Its importance was overshadowed by Penzance which grew to become one of the three towns in Penwith to achieve Borough status.
We were then told in more detail about the raid of four Spanish Galleys on Mousehole and adjoining Paul. This was a most interesting discourse, based on her recently published book Mousehole where you will not only find an English version of this raid, but also the viewpoint of the Spanish Captain, Carlos de Amezola, who commanded the four galleys and whose account was embodied in a report to the King of Spain. This should whet your appetite for Margaret Perry's book which I hope to see reviewed in our next issue.
Fishing is of course an integral part of the history of Mousehole and thus the next talk given by our Chairman Tony Pawlyn, Fishing out of Mousehole, covered the subject admirably.
We were first told of the fish tithe disputes:
November 1676 - John Gwavas to his elder brother William - lay impropriator of the Great Tithes of Paul, which included fish tithes: -
I have been several times in Paul where I find the loss you sustain by driving nets to be very great. You have lost this year above £400. For there are above 1000 hogsheads made by driving nets in Mousehole and Nuling this year..."
Jenkin Teage and 29 other fishermen and/or merchants are named in the 1678-80 tithe cause, which was won by William Gwavas.
Two generations later, William Kelynack, Richard Richards, Phillip Kelynack and 116 others, parishioners and fishermen of Paul, were cited in the 1724-30 tithe dispute, which was again won by the Gwavas family. The larger proportion of these worked out of Newlyn, where there were about 70 boats in 1750. But there would have then have been about 30 to 40 boats working out of Mousehole.
Tony went on to tell of the problems of building the quay at Mousehole and also gave a vivid description of two accounts of contemporary boat handling recorded by William Williams in 1782 and 1788. He also told of the account kept by James F. Ladner of the Mousehole lugger Arethusa of some of his voyages away from home.
I retrieved our Chairman's notes and they are so nicely detailed. With his permission I will endeavour to put a full version in this newsletter at a later date.
Suffice to say both the speakers were thanked for an enjoyable morning's presentation.
Taking time off for lunch, some taking advantage of the refreshments provided by the kind services of the Methodist's Women's Group and others repairing to the Pub where we thought this might cut out some of the walk to Paul Church later. It did, but only by a couple of hundred yards.
The visit to Paul Church was a bonus; we were met by John George one of the Wardens, he showed us around and gave us a short history and answered the many questions put to him. He did say he was new to the task of giving a guided tour to so many people. Nevertheless he did an excellent job and his enthusiasm helped to make it a memorable day out for us all.
Our thanks go to the Cornwall Association of Local Historians for inviting our Society to be part of it.
Reported by David Bailey
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