This page was originally created by Brian Jelbert.

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A Topical and Historical Description of Cornwall in 1650 by John Norden

I have taken John Norden's description of Cornwall as a starting point for this page as it is of the same period as the early J*lb*rt family ancestries. The extracts consist of a brief description of the County as a whole and a more detailed description of Penwith Hundred (the far south west peninsula) and some of the villages mentioned in the early parish records. It should be remembered that the distance from Penzance (Pensans) to Land's End is only ten miles.

Cornwall is the farthest part of Britaine towardes the Weste, extending it selfe in a promontorie Primaidis formae, whose Base is founded Vpon the Riuer Tamar, which diuideth the Duchie from Devon for the moste parte ; ther spreading it selfe from Ramehead in the Sowthe, to Morwinstowe in the Northe 40 cornish myles : And thence extendeth to the Landes end about 70 myles. The whole circuite 243 of the same myles. But were it measured, by the Statute myles the Lenght woulde be founde aboue 100 myles.

It is on three sides bounded with the mayn Ocean, namely, on the sowth with the Britishe, on the weste with the Sea which the Countrie people and their Sea-men call Lethowsow, of the supposed drowned lande of Lioness : On the north with the Virgiuie or Irishe Sea.

Penwith Hundred

Penwith signifieth the head of ashen trees, and is the most westerne and farthest hundred of all the Dukedom of Corn-wall, extending it selfe to the Landes ende : bounded with the sea North-weste, and partely south ; vpon which parte also it lyeth vpon Kirrier hundred : in the Easte towching Pyder hundred.

This hundred is ill stored with woode, but less with timber : It is verie mountanous and rockye. Within this hundred are manie tynn mynes, and some copper mynes.

Guluall, a parishe standinge in the bottome of Mountes baye, nere Pensans.

Hillary, called St Hillarye, a parishe nere Mountes bay.

Maderne, called also St Maderne, a parish situate vnder the craggie hills north of Pensance, nere which is a well called Maderne Well, whose fame in former ages was greate ; for the supposed vertue of healinge, which St Maderne had therinto infused : And manie votaries made annale pilgrimages vnto it, but of late St Maderne hath denied his or hers (I know not whether) pristine ayde ; and as he is coye of his Cures, so now are men coye of cominge to his coniured Well ; yet soom a daye resorte.

Moruath, a parishe standinge vpon the Irishe sea, in a moste colde seat in winter : It longs to Madern.

Pensans, It signifieth the head of the sande ; and so it standeth in the botome of Mountes baye, adjoining vnto the sand. It is a market towne, but of late verie muche defaced, being also burnt by the Spaniardes in 1595. It is in Madern parishe.

St Burien A greate parishe nere the Landes end, wher kinge Athelstane buylded a colledge for preistes after his conqueste of the Sillyes, which he vowed to doe vpon his victorie : This Churche was consecrated to a holy Irishe woman, one Buriena.


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