On the accession of James I. a large number of the landed gentry of the County were summoned to attend the coronation, and to receive the honour of knighthood on that occasion. It is believed that each person so knighted had to pay to the king’s treasury a good round sum, and that tithes were frequently sold when funds were required. Among those summoned to attend the coronation of King James was John Stephens of St. Ives, an ancestor of the Stephens’ of Tregenna, but he refused to obey the command, and for his refusal had to pay the sum of sixteen pounds. The receipt was in existence very recently, and ran as follows:—

22nd October, Ano Dom 1603.

“Received of John Stephens, of the Borrough of St. Ives in the Hundred of Penwith, within the County of Cornwall, Gentleman, for his composition with His Majesties Commissioners for his not appearing at the coronation of our said souveraigne Lord the King, for to receive the order of knighthood according to his Highness’ Proclaymasion in that behalf the sum of sixteen pounds.

I saye received £16.

We find this entry in our records:—

“Paid Danyell Sprigge, for making the Cuckinge Stoole, and all things thereto belonginge 5/5.”

This cucking stool, or ducking stool, was an apparatus once in use in England for the punishment of scolding wives. The practice was continued in isolated cases even into the present century, the stool at Leominster being used as recently as 1809. The apparatus consisted of a rough strong chair attached to one end of a beam, into which the unfortunate woman was securely fastened, the people would then take hold of a chain at the other end of the beam, and give the scold a ducking on the see-saw principle.

In September, 1608, regulations were made by the Portrieve for the prevention of the plague. No inhabitant was allowed to receive a stranger coming from an infected district, and persons arriving by sea from such districts, were to remain in their ships. A fine was imposed for importing beer into the port.

“Paid a Captaine for respite of post horses who came to search for pirates. Received by a rate for suppressing the Turcks, £10 19 2.”

There are many references to the Turks, i.e. the Barbary Rovers who infested the coast at this time, and this rate was evidently made for the fitting out vessels against them. In 1635, a Turkish pirate of twelve guns and about ninety men was brought into the harbour. This ship had previously taken three small vessels belonging to Looe and Fowey, in which were twelve men and two boys who were made prisoners and their vessels turned adrift. Whilst the pirate was afterwards cruising in the channel, the captives conspired against the Turks, and being, luckily, all on deck, a signal was no sooner given than the captain was knocked down with a capstan bar and thrown overboard. The other pirates were driven below deck, and the cabin and forecastle seized by the Cornishmen, who immediately sailed for St. Ives, which port they reached in safety, although their enemies below continued to fire shot through the deck during the perilous passage. The ship was immediately seized by the vice-admiral, who maintained the Turks in the town for some months, and is supposed to have afterwards sent them to their own country.

We find instances of the spread of Puritanism in the town in the regulations made against any work being done on the sabbath.

“It is agreed, by general consent, that henceforth no owner of boats or nets, shall drive or set their nets, or any owners of seans row to stem the Sondaye night, or any time before the daye of that night, and whereas upon consideration taken of the great abuse committed by the Millards of our parish in grinding of corne upon the saboth daye, and carrying of it home, we, the Portrieve and twelve men of our town and parish of St. Ives, for the taking away of this great abuse, have constituted that if any Millard shall henceforth grind any corne upon the saboth daye, or shall carry to and from their mills upon the saboth daye, that for every offence shall pay 2/6 lawful monie, to be taken and levied upon their goods by the wardens of the poor and by them an account to be given for employment thereof to the use of the poore.”

In 1626 a tariff of Harbour Dues is made:

“Forasmuch as it is chanced that our peere or kaye of St. Ives is much decayed, the posts wasted, and the sands much annoying about the porth and the houses and cellars adjoining, for and towards the repairing and remedy whereof, we the Portrieve, and most part of the twelve and chief inhabitants of the town, do hold and agree.

Then follows the schedule of rates. In the same year further rules are agreed to for the better regulation of the fisheries:—

“Mr. John Paynter for the faults of his servants in shipping their sayne boats before daye on the Sunday night is fined 2/6, and Henry Baylie is fined 15/- for setting nets on the Sunday night. Paid the Bedman for ringing the Curfue Bell 4/-”

This is the only reference to the Cerfew Bell at St. Ives.

A further sign of the times is the resistance by the burgesses of the vicar’s claim for tithes:—

“In 1634 there was collected by John, the son of Henrie Stephens, and Margerie, the daughter of Edward Hammond, chosen lord and ladie, the sum of 14/- and by them delivered to the overseers of the poor.”

In 1638 we find several entries concerning the Cage in which offenders were confined. It stood in the market place along with the whipping post, the pillory, and the stocks. Fortunately these instruments for punishment have long been abolished by a more humane and enlightened people.

“Paid for a beame for the cadge, 4/-; for a lock and key, 10d.; for culleringe the cadge, 1/6; to the carpenter for making the cadge, 12/-; to John Anthonie for placing of a beam in the wall for the cadge, 1/-;”

In the year 1639 St Ives was made a municipality, with a mayor, recorder, town clerk, and a corporation consisting of twelve aldermen and twenty-four burgesses. The charter, which was obtained by Sir Francis Bassett from King Charles I, confirmed all the privileges granted to the town by previous sovereigns.

“Given to Mr. Robert Arundel when he brought the cupp given by his master to our towne, £2.”

This was the renowned Loving Cup, presented to the borough by Sir Francis Bassett, and still in the possession of the corporation. The Loving Cup bears the following inscription

“Iff any discord ’twixt my frends arise,
Within the Burrough of beloved St. Ives,
Itt is desyred that this my cupp of love
To everie one a peacemaker may prove;
Then am I blest to have given a legacie
So like my hartte unto posteritie.”


In the year 1641 a new gallery was set up in the parish church; it was erected in the tower arch at the west end, and was used by the singers and musicians down to about 1840; it was highly decorated in front, and bore a painting of the royal arms. The whole cost as appears in the records was £23 3s. 3d.

During the three years, 1642, 1643, and 1644, not a single entry was made in the borough records, and these blank pages, which were left in the book evidently with the intention of writing up the accounts at a later period, speak more eloquently of the troubles resulting from the great rebellion than any descriptive narrative could possibly do; they are silent witnesses to the fact that men’s ordinary avocations were put aside and their attention devoted exclusively to the great struggle between the Parliament and the King.

As we have already said, St. Ives was the noteworthy exception to the general loyalty of the County, and this was probably owing to the fact that the local leaders of opinion happened to be Puritans and Parliament men. Major Peter Ceely was a fierce Puritan and Roundhead, and to the same party belonged the Stephens, Sises, and others, who in the end succeeded in securing the town for the Parliament. It was Major Ceely (afterwards made vice-admiral of the district by Cromwell) who destroyed the chapel over the Holy Well at Madron, and it was doubtless under his direction that the organ was removed from St. Ives church; this was probably the first organ ever put up in Cornwall, and is said to have cost £300. In the borough accounts for 1647, there is a charge for taking down the organ and palings of the church, £1 15s. 7d.

Early in the war St Ives was rated for the maintainance [sic] of the king’s army, and furnished daily 46 pounds of bread, 40 pounds of butter, 30 pounds of cheese, 30 pounds of beef, and 50 pounds of bacon. We can well imagine with what reluctance the Puritans of St. Ives furnished these supplies to the royal army, but they bided their time, and in 1644 assembled on Longstone downs, with the men of Towednack and Zennor, about 200 in all, under the command of Captain Francis Arundell. Sir Richard Grenville marched against them with 600 horse and foot soldiers, and the St. Ives men, seeing the superior numbers of the enemy, prudently fled over the country in different directions, and through such bye-ways that no horse could overtake them, and only three or four men on both sides were killed. The king’s troops afterwards entered the town, and Sir Richard Grenville lodged at the mayor’s house, and for not keeping his rebellious people in order, the mayor (Mr. Edward Hammond) was fined £500, and for refusing to pay the fine was committed to Launceston goal, where, after three month’s confinement, he was released by order of Prince Charles. Sir Richard Grenville before he left the town ordered one Phillips, a constable of Zennor, to be hanged, and the next day he ordered a St. Ives man to be hanged at Helston, and another suffered death at Truro. Captain Arundell was proclaimed a traitor and ordered to be hanged whenever taken, but he escaped by sea to Bridgwater, where he joined, the Parliamentary army under General Fairfax. Nothing daunted by these severities, the St Ives men prepared to give a warm reception to the Royal troops under Colonel Goring on their march to the town. The inhabitants stopped up the roads with pilchard hogsheads filled with sand and made such a determined stand behind these barriers that the Colonel and his men retired to Penzance.

On January 30th, 1648, the day on which King Charles was beheaded, a great storm raged over the west, and a ship riding in St. Ives Bay, having on board the King’s wardrobe and other property, broke from her moorings, and was wrecked on Godrevy Island. Of 60 persons on board all were drowned excepting one man and a boy. A wolf dog also swam to the Island, and with the man and boy lived two days among the rocks. As soon as the storm abated they were brought to St. Ives, where Mr. Hicks had an opportunity of conversing with them. In 1653 St. Ives beheld a very different scene. The militia of the town, 100 strong, are called out under the command of Major Ceely. They march through the streets in warlike array to the admiration of their fellow townsmen. Every soldier wears two yards of ribbon, one white, the other blue. They form into line, and a document is read to them. Oliver Cromwell is proclaimed Lord Protector of the Realm. The St. Ives men present their muskets and fire three volleys. St. Ives has got the best of it after all for a time. The monarchy is suspended, and the Commonwealth under Cromwell takes its place. Our Mr. Hicks, who was evidently a Royalist, says that several hogsheads of beer were given to drink the “old rebel’s health.” Major Ceely was a lucky man by sea as well as by land. Next year his privateer, fitted out at his own cost, brought five French barques into St. Ives. He was made Vice-Admiral of the District under Cromwell, and this stern old Puritan ruled the inhabitants with a rod of iron. Captain Arundell seems to have escaped the hanging which was promised to him by the Royalists, as well as the chances of war, and he was sent by Ceely with a squadron to Penzance, and quartered upon the inhabitants. Penzance men were seized by the press gang and sent to serve in the ships of the Commonwealth. As already mentioned, the Holy Well at Madron was destroyed, but it is, at all events, satisfactory to know that the destruction of antiquities in Cornwall by the Puritans was not to be compared with the ruin caused by them in other parts of the country.

Returning to the year 1647, we find that in April of that year St. Ives was visited by the plague, which swept away 535 people before the month of October, out of a total population of about 1500. One half of the people fled from the town, the markets were closed, and the country people were so afraid to come in with provisions that supplies were brought on either side of the parish to two streams of water, one at Pulmanter, and the other at Carbis Valley, and there deposited with the prices affixed. These supplies the inhabitants took away, leaving their money in the brook. The Stephens family are said to have retired to their farm at Ayr, and avoiding all communication with the town, escaped the contagion. More people would have died of famine than of the plague had not a vessel belonging to Mr. Opye of Plymouth, laden with wheat and some butts of sack, unexpectedly come into the harbour. The cargo was purchased for £196 by the Mayor and Corporation, who distributed the wheat gratis, and sold the wine at twelve pence per quart. Notwithstanding this visitation of the plague the town generally was very healthy. Mr. Hicks, the historian, who lived at this time, observes that:— “In the town lives no doctor, surgeon, or apothecary, the air being very healthy, many of the inhabitants being above 50 years of age, I have known very few to be blind, the inhabitants of the lower part of the town doe eat more sand than salt, and seldom or ever are any troubled with the ague: their physic anciently being two pennyworth of aqua vitæ, a pennyworth of treacle, water mixed together, which they did take, and sweat with, and so were cured.”

The following extracts relating to the time of the plague and famine will prove interesting:—

“Received at several times of Mr. George Hickes for Corn monie £142 11s. 4d.”

These were contributions towards the Relief Fund:—

“Received of Mr. Henrie Sterrie from a collection at St. Just parish £1 17s. 8d.

“Received of Mr. Hammond for a butt of Town sack, i.e. Wine from Opie’s vessel £18.

“Paid to Major Ceely towards the corn for Mr. Opie £135.”

In the year of the plague the merchants of St. Ives fitted out a ship called the “James” for the West Indies. On her homeward voyage she was captured by the Spaniards and sent to Spain.

Oliver Cromwell died on September 3rd, 1658, and we read:—

“Paid the 11th September, 1658, to the gunners and drummer at proclaiming the Lord Richard his Highness Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, the sum of 5/-

“Paid for beere for the Ringers and others that daye 12/-

“Paid Mr. Payne for drawing the address of the Corporation to His Highness the Lord Protector 2/6.”

The following is an extract from this address:—

“We are thankfully sensible that whereas the ways of Zion might be mourning, and judgment been turned backward, we are defended in our Religious and civil Liberties, sitting under the vines and figtrees none making of us afraid.”

On the 31st December, 1658, the Mayor, Thomas Sprigge, and the Capital Burgesses elected John St. Aubyn and Peter Ceely to represent the borough in Parliament. This Parliament met on January 29th, 1659, and was the last Commonwealth Parliament. John St. Aubyn, Recorder of the Borough, was a Republican, and Peter Ceely, as we have already seen, was the fierce Puritan leader of the district under Cromwell. Two years later, however, the St Ives people, with every outward manifestation of joy, welcomed the restoration of monarchy. Charles II was proclaimed King on May 8th, 1660, and we read in our records:—

“Spent when the news came that the King and Parliament was agreed by the Mayor and the brethren £1 10/-

“Spent then on the Ringers at John Hawkins’ house 15/-

“Paid Morrish Dyer for powder the same day 8/-

“Spent at Pollard’s house the day the King was proclaimed 15/-

“Spent then in beer one barrel 15/.

“Spent on the Ringers 10/-

“Spent the King’s Coronation day to Cockin to bear the drum 2/6.

“Paid for cutting the King’s Arms in the Mace 4/-”

The town maces were presented by Richard Hext, the first Mayor, in 1639, and bear that date within the royal arms and the name of King Charles I, so that I do not quite understand what this cutting of the King’s arms on the mace can mean, unless, as is very likely, the royal arms were erased during the Commonwealth, and cut again on the accession of Charles I[I]. On May 21st, 1662, King Charles married Catherine of Braganza, which event created some stir at St. Ives, and the occasion, like most others, was seized upon as an excuse for conviviality:—

Spent at Mr. Hammond’s rejoicing at Her Majesties’ arrival £3.

“Paid Edward Payne for beer the Musketteers and Ringers had then £2.

“Paid the Drummer at the time 2/6.

“Paid the Piper 2/6.

“Paid the Fiddler 1/-”

There appears to have been quite a military band at St. Ives at this time.

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