Whetter at St Michaels Mount4

Dr James Whetter
at St Michaels Mount


The Roseland Institute


Trelispen Caravan & Camping Park

Cornish People in the 18th Century

Cornish People in the 18th Century

It was my old friend Dr. Rowse who put me in mind to write these essays. In a review in The Cornish Banner several years ago I said that 19th century history bored me. Well, the fact was that for my "O" and "A" levels we had made a close study of British and European history in that period, the Reform Bill, the Corn Laws, Education, Palmerston's foreign policy, the causes of the First World War etc. etc. At university I must say I found medieval history more appealing and it continues to exercise a considerable pull for me. However, misunderstanding me somewhat, Dr. Rowse was critical of my remarks and told me how many notable people Cornwall had produced in that period, Henry Martyn, Sleeman in India, Grenfell in the Congo, Ernest Braddon the writer and so forth. To rectify things I began to write up some of them for the Banner starting with Martyn. I found myself extending my field into the 18th century, which, in any case, was a century that I was interested in, with its British overseas successes, the renaissance in English literature, “the Age of Reason”, the rise of the novel etc., a period of which British people could be proud. The end result was a series of articles on and about Cornish people in the two centuries. I present as a collection here those relating to the 18th century, part of a trio with my earlier studies of the 15th and 17th centuries.
    It does not pretend to be a comprehensive survey of Cornish people in the century. It is naturally a selection, people who caught my eye, about whom books and records were to hand. In some cases a newer biography has been published than the one that I have used, e.g. I have based my article on Edward Pellew on Edward Osler's work of 1835. Closer to the time of his life I felt this may give a more authentic feel than C. Northcote Parkinson's biography of 100 years later. Several of the subjects did not spend much of their time in Cornwall but I hope something of the flavour of the period comes across in the work; that it gives some idea of what it was like to be alive two to three hundred years ago, men and women with Cornish connections.
2000, 20

Cornish People in the 18th Century