Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for PENZANCE

PENZANCE, a town, a chapelry, a sub-district, and a district, in Cornwall. The town is in Madron parish; stands at the head of Mounts bay, and at the terminus of the West Cornwall railway, 9 miles N E of Lands-End, and 26 S W of Truro; derives its name, signifying "holy-headland, " from a chapel of St. Anthony, which stoodon a point adjoining the pier; is said to have had a castle on a site at the Barbican, near the quay; was burntby the Spaniards in 1595, and plundered by Fairfax in 1646; was a coinage-town from the time of Charles II.till 1838, when the tin dues were abolished; witnessedthe wreck of an Algerine corsair in its vicinity in 1760; was the birthplace of Lord Exmouth, Davies Gilbert, and Sir Humphrey Davy; received a charter of incorporation from James I.; is governed, under the new act, by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors; is a seat ofpetty sessions, a polling-place, a coast-guard station, and a head-port; enjoys a charming climate, delightful envirous, and good bathing appliances; attracts multitudes of strangers, both as summer residents, and as visitors of hundreds of rich scenes and interesting antiquities formiles all around it; presents, both in itself, and in combination with Mounts bay and St. Michael's mount, a picturesque appearance; consists chiefly of several well-built streets, meeting in a market-place; underwent important street improvements in 1865-7; includes two esplanades, one of them the best in the W of England, 23½feet above the railway, overlooking all Mounts bay, and designed, in 1867, to be lengthened 300 feet and otherwiseimproved; and has a head post-office, ‡ a railway-station with telegraph, three banking offices, six chief inns, a town hall and corn-market, an ancient market-cross, a public hall, a police station, a borough-jail, a custom-house, a magnificent pier, assembly and billiard-rooms, two churches, nine dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholicchapel, public libraries and reading-rooms, a literary in-stitute, a geological society and museum, a natural history society and museum, a school of art, a free school, alms-houses, and charities £28.

The market house was erected in 1838; and is a granitestructure, with tetrastyle Ionic portico and a dome. The public buildings were built in 1866, at a cost of £15,000; and contain an organ much larger than that in St. Jamesgreat hall, in London. The borough-jail has capacity for 9 male and 9 female prisoners. The pier is 600 feet long; was constructed in 1745-72, at a cost of more than £30,000; has an E arm, added in 1845; is protected from the sea by a cyclopean granite wall; abuts upon the railway -terminus; stands in a depth of from 9 to 13 feet of water; and has a lighthouse, erected in 1817, and showing a fixed light 29 feet high. A battery is on arising-ground, opposite the pier, and was completed in 1858. St. Mary's church was rebuilt in 1832; is in thelater English style; has a lofty tower, to which a good peal of bells was added in 1865; and contains about 2,000sittings. St. Paul's church was built in 1835, at a cost of £5,000; is in the early English style; and has tran-septs, an open roof, and excellent stained-glass windows. The Roman Catholic chapel was built in 1859; and is a fine structure, in the decorated English style. The house in which Davy was born still stands; and, thoughnew-fronted, is otherwise unaltered.

Markets are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays; fairs areheld on 25 March, Trinity Thursday, 8 Sept., and the Thursday before Advent; a weekly paper is publishedon Wednesday; races are held on the sands of the E Green in autumn; and a large trade is carried on in theimport of timber, iron, tallow, hemp, and other commo-dities, and in the export of potatoes, early vegetables, tin, and pilchards. The vessels belonging to the port, at the beginning of 1864, were 18 small sailing-vessels, of aggregately 507 tons; 73 large sailing-vessels, of aggregately 8, 689 tons, and 2 steam vessels, of jointly 216tons. The vessels which entered, in 1863, were 12 British sailing-vessels, of aggregately 2, 808 tons, from British colonies; 60 sailing-vessels, of aggregately 4, 170 tons, from foreign countries; 87 foreign sailing-vessels, of aggregately 12, 297 tons, from foreign countries; 1 British steam-vessel, of 22 tons, from British colonies; 2, 160 sailing-vessels, of aggregately 184, 885 tons, coastwise; and 302 steam-vessels, of aggregately 49, 658 tons, coast-wise. The vessels which cleared, in 1863, were 16 British sailing-vessels, of aggregately 2, 492 tons, to British colonies; 45 British sailing-vessels, of aggregately 3, 642tons, to foreign countries; 56 foreign sailing-vessels, ofaggregately 9, 298 tons, to foreign countries; 793 sailing-vessels, of aggregately 68, 393 tons, coastwise; and 200 steam-vessels, of aggregately 22, 846 tons, coastwise. The amount of customs in 1862 was £12, 947. Steamers sail regularly to Scilly, to Liverpool, and to Falmonth, Plymouth, and London. Acres of the borough, 486; of which 85 are water. Real property in 1860, £31, 999; of which £4, 300 were in the railway, and £175 in gas-works. Pop. in 1851, 9, 214; in 1861, 9, 414. Houses, 1, 941.

The chapelry is conterminate with the borough; and includes both the charge of St. Mary and that of St.Paul. The livings are p. curacies in the diocese ofExeter. Value of St. M., £300; of St. P., £120. Patron of St. M., the Bishop of Exeter; of St. P., Mrs. H. Batten The sub-district contains the parishes of Madron, Gulval, and Paul. Acres, 13, 971. Pop., 18, 741. Houses, 3, 849. The district comprehends also the sub-district of Marazion, containing the parishes of St. Hilary and Perranuthnoe, and the extra-parochial tract of St. Michael's Mount; the sub-district of St. Ives, containing the parishes of St. Ives, Zennor, and Towednack; the sub-district of Uny-Lelant, containing the parishes of Uny-Lelant, Ludgvan, and St. Erth; the sub-district of St. Just-in-Penwith, containing the parishes of St. Just-in-Penwith, Sancreed, and Mor-vah; and the sub-district of St. Buryan, containing the parishes of St. Buryan, St. Levan, and Sennen. Acres, 65,092. Poor-rates in 1863, £7, 975. Pop. in 1851, 53, 517; in 1861, 54, 554. Houses, 10, 806. Marriages in 1863, 496; births, 2,069, of which 109 were illegitimate; deaths, 1, 504, of which 808 were at ages under5 years, and 28 at ages above 85. Marriages in the tenyears 1851-60, 4, 314; births, 18, 129; deaths, 11, 134. The places of worship, in 1851, were 22 of the Church of England, with 11, 780 sittings; 3 of Independents, with630 s.; 4 of Baptists, with 1,045 s.; 2 of Quakers, with280 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 100 s.; 68 of Wesleyans, with 17, 912 s.; 10 of Primitive Methodists, with 2, 595s.; 15 of Bible Christians, with 2, 677 s.; 2 of the Wesleyan Association, with 640 s.; 2 of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, with 600 s.; 2 undefined, with 200 s.; 1 of Roman Catholics, with 320 s.; and 1 of Jews, with 36. The schools were 27 public day-schools, with 2, 493scholars; 146 private day-schools, with 4, 170 s.; 77 Sunday schools, with 8, 903 s.; and 2 evening schools foradults. with 20 s. The workhouse is in the rural part of Madron parish; has accommodation for 400 persons; and, at the Census of 1861, had 147 inmates.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a chapelry, a sub-district, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Penzance Ch/CP       Penzance PLU/RegD       Cornwall AncC
Place: Penzance

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.