Timeline of Cornish History 1700 to 1800 AD

For details of holdings of Cornish newspapers referred to in the text, please see the Associated Links.


Sidney Godolphin becomes Lord Treasurer until 1710.  Sources of Cornish History - Sidney Godolphin

(27th - 28th August ) A violent storm, the tail end of an American hurricane results in damaged houses, ships being driven ashore and the destruction of Henry Winstanley's Eddystone Lighthouse.

Daniel Gumb is born at Linkinhorne. Raised as a stone-cutter, he makes a name for himself as a self-taught mathematician. He makes his home carving out a rock by The Cheesewring. The roof serves as an observatory, and the whole as a place where he can study uninterrupted but near to his work. He becomes more reclusive and the home also serves as a chapel for him as he was never seen to attend the parish church. His wife and several children also live in the rock dwelling.  Sources of Cornish History - Daniel Gumb

Grant to Anthony Nicoll for 2 fairs or markets at St.Tudy.
Grant in fee for Robert Hooker, gent. of 3 fairs at Camborne.
The thatched Friends' Meeting House at Come-to-Good, near Feock is built.
Antony House, the home of the Carews at Torpoint, begins construction, and is completed in 1721.
                                  Antony House Timeline : Antony House Timeline
(5th November) Charles Mohun, 5th Baron Mohun, is killed in a duel with the Duke of Hamilton.  Mohun has previously been tried and cleared (1692-3) by the House of Peers for the murder of William Mountford.  Sources of Cornish History - Charles Mohun
(3rd May) "The most celebrated eclipse ever recorded in England. Totality passed right across England from Cornwall to Norfolk". (More Eclipse dates)
                                  Old Picture of House : Trewithen House Timeline

The Lizard lighthouse is built.  It is altered in 1903.

Trewithen House near Probus is under construction, probably to the design of Thomas Edwards of Greenwich.   
John Anstis, born at St. Neot in 1699, (MP for St. Germans (1702) and Launceston (1713)) becomes Garter King at Arms.   Author of a number of heraldic works.
(27th Jan) Samuel Foote, playwright and comedian, is born at Truro. Sources of Cornish History - Samuel Foote

Thomas Newcomen comes to Cornwall to erect an atmospheric engine at Wheal Fortune in Ludgvan.

Thomas Pitt, otherwise known as 'Diamond Pitt', (1653-1726) buys Boconnoc, near Lostwithiel, and other manors in Cornwall with the proceeds of the sale of a famous 127 carat  diamond to the Regent of Orleans (later Louis XV)  in 1716 for approximately £125,000.   While Governor of Fort St George, Madras, he had bought it for around £20,400.  Thomas Pitt becomes the grandfather of William Pitt the Elder (statesman) and Great Grandfather of William Pitt the Younger (Prime Minister), and 2nd Baron Camelford (see 1775).
Ralph Allen devises the first cross-country postal service.  Known as 'The Man of Bath', he was born in St. Blazey in 1693,becoming Post Master in Bath; Contractor for Cross Posts (1722-1764) and Mayor of Bath 1742. Sources of Cornish History - Ralph Allen
                                   Ralph Allen : A Old Picture of Ralph Allen
Dolcoath, near Camborne, perhaps Cornwall's most celebrated mine, is already working and by 1778 is 160 fathoms deep. By 1864, equipped with its ten engines, seven water wheels, and a man-engine, it employs about 1200 people. Underground working ceases in 1920 by which time the bottom level is at 550 fathoms, the deepest of all the Cornish mines.
Mining is in operation by this time at Botallack Mine on the cliff's edge near St. Just, and by 1800 the workings extended to over 100 fathoms and a long distance beneath the sea. It becomes one of Cornwall's richest tin mines. Operations finally end in 1914.
                                  Crowns engine house : Picture of Crowns engine house on the coast

John Knill who instigated the 5-yearly celebrations at his mausoleum near St. Ives, is born at Callington.   He becomes Collector of Customs at St Ives and is elected Mayor in 1767  Resigning his Customs post in 1782 around which time he arranges the erection of a mausoleum on Worvas Hill as he "abhorred the practice of burial within the body of the Church" which prevailed in St Ives at the time.   He moves to London and buys chambers in Gray's Inn Square and is called to the Bar in 1787.    In 1811 he dies and is buried at Holborn, not St Ives.

                                 John Knill's monument : A Picture of John Knill's monument

Tehidy House, Illogan, is built for the Basset family to the design of Thomas Edwards of Greenwich.   It is destroyed by fire in 1919. 
The Sherborne Mercury newspaper commences publication in Dorset. It includes Cornish news and advertising, and circulates throughout the south west of England. It continues until 1867.
Expansion of deep copper mining in Cornwall.  This heralds the Industrial Revolution in Britain.
                                 Winze shaft : Picture of man being lowereed doen the Winze shaft
John Williams is born. He becomes a successful mining engineer, and manager of Poldice and Gwennap mines. He is noted for driving the County Adit from Bissoe Bridge to drain the mines of Poldice, a task which lasts twenty years and the completed work, thirty miles long, takes in numerous branch adits and drains fifty mines. After profiting spectacularly from a sudden tin price rise, he builds Scorrier House, enlarging it substantially in 1845. After a serious fire in 1908, it is rebuilt.  Sources of Cornish History - The Great County Adit
John Wesley's Methodism becomes the dominant religious denomination.  This is his first of forty visits to Cornwall.
                                 J Wesley : John Wesley Timeline
William Cookworthy,  (a Kingsbridge Quaker who began a wholesale chemist's business in Plymouth around 1733), having researched the Chinese manufacture of porcelain, obtains kaolin from Virginia in America.   Around 1746 he locates china-clay and china-stone deposits on the western side of Tregoning Hill in Germoe parish, near Helston.   On a later journey to Cornwall he finds much larger quantities in the vicinity of St Stephen-in-Brannel and St Dennis, near St Austell.
Admiral Boscawen wins fame at Cape Finisterre by singly engaging the French fleet until the English fleet arrive
Sir William Lemon, who becomes MP for Penryn (1769-72) and the County (1774-1824), is born in Truro. He dies at Carclew, Mylor, in 1824.
A new church, designed by Thomas Edwards of Greenwich at the behest of the Earl of Godolphin replaces the old one at Helston.
The Cornish Stannary Parliament is suspended, subsequent to a dispute with the Lord Warden, Thomas Pitt, over the location of the Convocation in Lostwithiel contrary to the wishes of the Stannators.
(9th Sept) William Bligh, grandson of John Bligh of St Tudy is baptised in Plymouth. In 1787 he sets sail as Captain of the 'Bounty' to procure bread fruit trees from the South Sea Islands. Sources of Cornish History - Captain William Bligh
Henry Bone, enamellist, is born at Truro. He becomes enamel painter to the Prince of Wales in 1800, a Royal Academician in 1811, dying in 1854.

(1st November)   The Lisbon Earthquake strikes at about 09:40 hours.  Its magnitude is somewhere between 8 and 9 on the Richter Scale, the epicentre being some 200 km West of Cape St Vincent.  It has knock-on effects throughout Europe, mostly in the form of flooding.  Further damage is done by a Tsunami hitting the city & this is followed by several massive fires.   In Cornwall, at St Michael's Mount, at about 14:00 hours, the sea is observed to rise suddenly and then to retire. After 10 minutes the sea rises nearly 6 feet, very rapidly coming in from the South East; it then ebbs again to the West with the same speed for about 10 minutes, until it is nearly 6 feet lower than before. It returns again, and falls again in the same space of time, and continues to do so for some 5 hours after. In Penzance the tide rises some eight feet, at Newlyn Pier some ten feet.  The same effect is reported at St Ives & Hayle somewhat later.  Sources of Cornish History - The Lisbon Earthquake

The old church at Redruth is taken down and replaced by a new building in the classical style, although its C15 tower remains.
                                    Redruth Church : Picture of a Redruth Church
Rev. Richard Polwhele, who becomes the Vicar of Manaccan (1794-1821) and Newlyn East (1821-1838) and the author of a two-volume seven-part History of Cornwall, a similar work on Devon and many other books, is born at Truro.

Admiral Boscawen dies. A hero of his time, he assists in the capture of Porto Bello in 1740, commands a party which storms Carthagena in 1747 capturing two batteries, becomes Commander-in-Chief of the Navy in 1758, and, with General Wolff, captures Louisberg and in 1759 beats the French fleet in Port Lagos.  Sources of Cornish History - Admiral Boscawen

John Wesley first visits Gwennap Pit in 1762, and thereafter 18 times until his last visit in 1798 at the age of 86. In the entry in his Journal for Sunday 22nd August 1773 he estimates that 'two and thirty thousand' were present, and other dates record upwards of 20,000 in attendance. The pit we see today was remodelled by local tinners and their helpers, re-opening on Whit Monday 1807. The annual Whit Monday service is still a feature of the local Methodist calendar.  Sources of Cornish History - Cornish Methodism
Pencarrow, near Washaway, is built in the Palladian style.

                                  Black and White D Gilbert : image of Davies Gilbert Timeline 

Davies Gilbert (Giddy) PRS FAS FGS is born at St Erth.   He becomes a national figure of the Industrial Revolution, an antiquarian, the President of the Royal Society, and MP for Bodmin.   He chairs several parliamentary committees concerning, for instance, the building of roads, steam power, feeding the population, and the Poor Laws.    He moves in the same circles as Boulton and Watt, Peel and Canning, and Darwin, and many others;  he is patron of Cornish inventors like Trevithick and Hornblower;  and he discovers Humphry Davy.  Sources of Cornish History - Davies Gilbert

John Smeaton, noted for the Eddystone lighthouse, constructs a pier at St. Ives, since lengthened.
William Cookworthy takes out a patent for the making of porcelain using Cornish materials, and this and the establishment of a (short-lived) porcelain factory in Plymouth is greatly supported by the Hon. Thomas Pitt of Boconnoc (later Lord Camelford) who grants Cookworthy a lease on his land in St Stephen.
The Bodmin to Launceston turnpike road is opened.
The 123 feet high obelisk commemorating Thomas Pitt, Lord Camelford, is erected at Boconnoc.

The St Columb Canal, proposed by John Edyvean, is authorised and planned to run from Mawgan Porth through parishes inland and to return to St Columb Porth.   Its purpose is to import sea-sand for manuring to improve land.   Two sections are built.   One, from Trenance Point to near Whitewater, and the other from Lusty Glaze to near Rialton Barton in St Columb Minor.

William Cookworthy passes his patent for making porcelain from Cornish china-clay to Richard Champion, prompting the interest of Josiah Wedgwood, the distinguished Staffordshire potter.    Following a legal battle, Champion loses his monopoly over the Cornish materials.
(28th July) Richard Hussey Vivian (afterwards General Lord Vivian) is born at Truro.  During a distinguished military career he became MP for Truro (1820-25) and Windsor (1825-30), and later a Privy Councillor (1834), Master General of Ordnance (1835) and MP for East Cornwall (1837-41) at which time he was created Baron Vivian of Glyn.

Sir John Call's mansion at Stoke Climsland is built.   It is demolished in 1912.

Thomas Pitt, 2nd and last Baron Camelford is born at Boconnoc, near Lostwithiel.   He becomes a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, leads a short but remarkably adventurous life,  and is mortally wounded in a duel with a friend Captain Best in 1804, behind Holland House, London.    

                                   Timeline Lady : Dolly Pentreath Timeline
Dolly Pentreath, who dies in 1777, is often claimed to be the last speaker of Cornish. However, William Bodener who dies in 1794 knows five people in Mousehole who speak the language. Others claim knowledge of it as late as the 1890s. It is probably safe to say that the last native speakers are alive in the late 19th century.  However, the Education Act of 1870 makes the teaching of English compulsory in all schools. Sources of Cornish History - The Cornish Language
James Watt erects his first pumping engine in a Cornish mine at Great Wheal Busy near Chacewater, one of the oldest of Cornwall's copper mines. It replaces a Newcomen engine installed by John Smeaton. By now, the mine has worked at various times from 1700 and continues to do so until 1900.
Scottish engineer, William Murdoch, (born in Ayrshire in 1754) comes to Cornwall in the employment of Boulton & Watt.
William Murdoch makes a small steam locomotion which he tries successfully in Redruth in Church Lane.
John Silk Buckingham, MP, journalist and reformer, is born at Flushing. Sources of Cornish History - John Silk Buckingham
Jonathan Couch, FLS, author and naturalist, is born at Polperro.
Bread riots in Truro at the outbreak of the French Revolution - the tinners are nearly starved
 Mr Charles Rashleigh commences creation of the new port of Charlestown for the shipment of china stone to Liverpool for Worcestershire or Staffordshire porcelain manufacturers.
Cornwall County Library is founded at Pydar Street, Truro, with nearly 30 subscribers, minimum subscription 1 guinea, and survived until 1920. In that time the library moved to Princes Street and then to the Public Rooms, situated between Quay Street and the Green

James Ruse, a Launceston man, is deported on the first Australian convict ship. Sources of Cornish History - Australian Convict

William Murdoch lights Redruth house by gas, the foundation for today's gas industry. Sources of Cornish History - William Murdoch

A public meeting is held at Bodmin which resolves that a canal linking the Wadebridge River to the Fowey River would be advantageous.   Sir William Molesworth arranges surveying and costings and plans are sent to John Rennie for comment.   It all comes to nothing, but Marc Isambard Brunel surveys the Padstow - Fowey route in 1825 for a ship canal., proposing one 13 miles long.   This too is not taken further.
                                  Old Pic of an Engraving : Engraving of Boscawen Street Timeline
In Truro the building of Boscawen Street and Lemon Street is started.

                                  Truro In Old Times : Lemon Street Timeline                                             Passing of the Truro Paving & Lighting Act enables the Corporation to improve Boscawen Street by pulling down Middle Row and to lay out and build Lemon Street (after Sir Charles Lemon).

Lanherne at St. Mawgan in Pydar, formerly the home of the Arundells, becomes a convent.

Billy Bray, Cornish evangelist, is born at Twelveheads, near Chacewater.                                   Billy Bray's Chapel Timeline : Billy Bray's Chapel Timeline


The American engineer and inventor, Robert Fulton, with the surveyor Charles Moody, examined the practicality of building a canal from the Helford River at Gweek to the Hayle River near St Erth.   It was not proceeded with.

"On Saturday 20th August at 20 minutes past 2 o'clock (p.m.) a slight Shock of an Earthquake was felt at St. Hilary, which lasted 2 or 3 seconds being in the middle space of a rumbling Noise which attended it and which lasted 6 or 7 seconds. The Motion was from East to West. The Air was still. The Thermometer at 70" - St. Hilary parish records.

This information was collated by the Cornwall Centre, Redruth, telephone +44(0)1209 216760. If you know of an interesting date that we have missed, please let us know.