OLD Falmouth – Page 1

By admin | May 27, 2011
Under: History
Found this online – left it fairly in tack – just cleaned it up a bit and put in order :)




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 interested in the past history as well as the future prospects of this well-known southern seaside resort.

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 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.

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.


A FEW words as to the origin of the following pages. An accumulation of *’odds and ends” of information 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 members of families connected with the old Packet Service, which gave me a few hitherto unpublished items. The entries in the diaries written by Mrs. Niels F’alck, covering a period dating from 1778 to 1836 were unfortunately 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 testimony 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 destitute of antiquities, has been one of the most interesting places on our western shores. Here resided generations of a Royalist family — long extinct — whose fortunes and misfortunes were singularly intertwined with the town they founded. Here was fought out, with extraordinary 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 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 Falmouth.

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 conected 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 preceding 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.

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.

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

S. E. G.
Near Falmouth,
December, 1903.

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