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Around Truro

The Hornblower Family introduced the Baptist religion to Cornwall.

Around Truro

By Ashley Rowe

Penrose Family Publication ---


The Baptist Chapel, founded at Chacewater, in 1768, was one of the first of this denomination in Cornwall. Three years earlier a Baptist Chapel was established in Marketstreet, Falmouth, the first minister there being a young Cornishman, Matthew Anstis, born at St. Germans, in 1740. He was then only 25 years of age and had studied for two years at the Baptist Academy in Carmarthen, Wales. It is possible that the HORNBLOWER family were the cause of the introduction of this denomination into Cornwall. The Baptists did not make any great headway in the county until the coming of the Rev. Opie Smith to Redruth in 1801, when congregations were formed in several towns. Till that time there appears to have been chapels only at Falmouth, Chacewater, Truro, and probably at Penryn. The Rev. J. Hodge Morcom was the first minister at Chacewater, coming there the year after the chapel was built. In 1739 [typo in original] the Rev. Robert Redding came to Cornwall to be the first minister of the Baptist chapel at Kenwyn-street, Truro. He is said to have been born in Worcestershire in 1755, though the place of his birth is uncertain. He was related by marriage to the HORNBLOWERS before coming to Cornwall, having married Jonathan’s eldest daughter, Johanna, eight years older than himself. Soon after coming to Truro he was appointed minister at Chacewater, and conducted services at Truro and Chacewater alternatively.

. . . . .

On his first visit to Cornwall James Watt had found accommodation with Mr. Wilson, the superintendent of Chacewater Mine. The following year, 1778, he came again to Cornwall to erect the new engine for Ting-tang, work on which had been delayed owing to the non-arrival of the necessary materials from Birmingham. This time he took up his residence at Plain-an-gwarry, Redruth “as being more convenient for Ting-tang than Chacewater.” Possibly the actual reason was that Chacewater was too definitely Hornblower territory! It is unfortunate that most of the information, and very scanty information it is, to be obtained about the Hornblowers is through the medium of James Watt’s letters. There is room for considerable research into the actual work done by this family of engineers which made Chacewater one of the best-known mining centers of Cornwall in the eighteenth century. The terms on which Watt erected the engines were peculiar. When Boulton and Watt first began the manufacture of steam engines they were mainly concerned to get orders, and were not very precise as to the terms on which they would be supplied, and the first ones were erected without any definite agreement. It was only after they were successful that the question of terms was raised. Watt proposed that as one of the principal merits was the saving of fuel, Boulton and Watt should take one-third of the value of such savings by way of royalty.

[Ashley Rowe, born in London in 1833 of a Cornish mother and a Devon father, became a well-known and respected local historian living at Mount Hawke. He was made a bard of the Cornish Gorseth in 1933, taking the name Menhyryon. He was widely known as a writer and lecturer to Old Cornwall Societies, and contributed to the West Briton’s weekly “Cornish men and Matters” column for over 25 years. His library was purchased by the former Cornwall County Library following his death in 1965. It consists of about 800 volumes and a considerable number of pamphlets.]

Owner/SourceSusan Woodland Howard
Linked toJoanna Hornblower; Jonathan Hornblower, Sr

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