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The Pellowes of Penryn
a Family History by Dr E. F. Pellowe, 1964




(05) The putting together of a family history starts off as a hobby and then as years go by, becomes an all consuming passion and finally, if one is lucky and can get enough facts and figures, it becomes a scientific investigation. Inevitably, as one traces back through the generations, local and even national history comes into it and because here and there several items of local interest have arisen which may not normally be known, I have included these.

It appears from the record, that the Pellow family have lived and died in the Hundred of Kerrier for 600 years. This Hundred the most southern in England and wholly west of Truro, includes the barren Lizard peninsula, the old tin mining areas around Helston and Breage, the granite moorlands around Mabe. the little port of Penryn and the tidewater parishes of Gluvias, Budock and Mylor by the Fal.

The amateur historian starts off with the parish registers.

My father, grandfather and great grandfather, are all buried in the churchyard of St. Gluvias where their tombstones are to be seen; the record of their births, marriages and deaths can all be found at Somerset House. Before 1837, however, one is thrown back upon parish registers and fortunately for me, there are nearly two hundred Pellow entries in this voluminous and well kept set of registers at St. Gluvias.

One set of parish registers will not make a family tree even for a family which stayed put in that stable Cornish rural society before 1900, and the references in the Gluvias registers to adjoining parishes, led me to study those of Budock, Mylor and Mabe and finally, the whole 28 parishes in the Hundred of Kerrier.

Later, nearly all those for the County of Cornwall and some for Devon were examined but this was mainly to chase a few loose ends.

A total of about 750 baptisms, marriages and deaths were noted altogether and of these 66 per cent are in the four adjacent parishes of Mabe, Gluvias, Mylor and Budock and taking in (06) Breage as well, over 75 per cent of our total is recorded in the Hundred of Kerrier.

Having got as far as this, I concentrated on the four parishes and read as much as I could of the available history. Henderson has written a characteristic History of Mabe, 1 there is a rare and interesting History of Mylor by Olivey 2 and Peter's volume on Glasney College; 3 hut I could find nothing on the town of Penryn or the parishes of Gluvias and Budock. There are a few references in Elliot-Binns 'Medieval Cornwall' 4 but there is an obvious need for some professional historian to study this interesting area in detail.

In pre-Saxon times Cornwall was both Christian and Celtic, and each Community was served by an independent church based on a monastic foundation. Parishes were not defined and such definition was not necessary since the parish was an area for tithe collection purposes.

It is stated that the Norman Cathedral at Exeter and the Saxon see before it, were endowed with the lands of suppressed Celtic Monasteries and since Domesday Book shows that the Bishop of Exeter owned the Manor of Treliever in Mabe and since this included most of our four parishes, it is fairly certain that the whole area was a monastic and religious centre before the Saxon conquest. Elliot-Binns (p304) makes this point. i.e., that the land bonged to one or more Celtic monasteries but 'all trace of them had disappeared, even the names'. It looks as if this is wrong because on page 329 he quotes 'Behedlan'. This place is in St. Gluvias and is clearly marked on the 6 in. survey. I read the name as the 'old monastery in the woods or fields'. Henderson refers to Helland in Mabe as the old monastery so there are at least two place names in our area referring to monasteries.

Binns identifies St. Gluvias with 'Behedlan' exactly but does not give his authority, and the only one I can find is Jefferies (JRIC IX 1889 p. 480), who somewhat dogmatically, identifies St. Thomas of Penryn with St. Gluvias, (otherwise called Behethlan), and states that the latter was another old name for 'St. Gluvias, built in Behethlan fields.'

Jefferies would appear wrong with his identification by modern street names in Penryn, but Elizabethan town maps prove this error beyond doubt.

St. Gluvias was 'built new' in 1318 in the 'fields of the old monastery in the woods' (Behethlan) indicating that it was not on the same site. It is a matter for conjecture (but dare I suggest that it could be put to scientific proof by excavation?) that Behethlan was the real religious centre of the area; I have walked the sits and the shape of narrow fields, the lie of the land (07) even the varying width of the lane, suggest that on top of the hill, north of Penryn, lay an important place, possibly fortified.

The new St. Gluvias, built in 1318, down by the water, may have been a replacement of a small monastic cell, as indeed may have been the little church of Mylor and Budock. I can find no authority for Binns' statement that Budock was the 'Mother Church of the parish.'

Be all this as it may, the little town of Penryn at the head of the. creek owed its charter of 1236 to the Bishop, and its prosperity, to the fact that it was the administrative capital of the ecclesiastical lands.

Thurston Peter, in his History of Glasney College, describes the founding in 1265 of that Collegiate Church in the Park of the Bishop's Palace (South of Penryn) and there is no need to go into further detail here. It was a magnificent, fortified cathedral, the religious centre of the West of Cornwall.

Was this a deliberate replacement for Behethlan and a recognition of tradition?

The first of many great tithes to be appropriated to Glasney were those of Behethlan and Budock and, shortly afterwards, the new St. Gluvias was built.

The next thing which strikes me as curious are the parish boundaries.

It is generally considered that parish boundaries were drawn somewhere about 1100 but whether those shown on the old ordnance maps bear any relationship with those of medieval times, I do not know. All I can say is that the boundaries of Penryn Borough with St. Gluvias on the north side, i.e., around of Behethlan are rather complicated and St. Gluvias was in fact, cut into three parts by the town boundary and the site of Behethlan itself is just outside the civil parish of Penryn.

But we must get back to our parish registers. The Bishop in his Palace at Penryn in 1315 made Gluvias and Budock a united benefice and the vicar lived at Gluvias (in the 'damp and gloomy vicarage' as Boswell says). His domain covered an area from Pendennis Head to Ponsanooth and no doubt, it was for this reason that the voluminous registers carry so many names for the garrison at the castle, names from Essex and names from Wiltshire.

Probably at about the same time, Mylor was united with Mabe but this was not such a happy arrangement, and indeed Mabe was a much neglected and inaccessible place.

The St. Gluvias Registers begin in 1601 for burials but there are leaves missing from 1629-36. The baptisms begin in 1599, but a leaf has been removed between 1633 and 1635. The marriages are missing from 1605 to 1645. The St. Budock baptisms (08) begin in 1649 and the burials in 1643 and there are no gaps after these dates but earlier St. Budock entries may be in the Gluvias registers.

The Mylor Registers begin in 1673 but several years are missing. So far as possible, gaps have been filled from Bishops' Transcripts. Some of the early Mylor records are shockingly miss-spelt, and worse than average.

The Mabe Registers begin in 1654, and there is an undated note in volume one of the original to say that it is a transcript from an old book of paper very much decayed and torn, 'for that several years in the beginning is omitted here as being wholly defaced and obliterated in said paper book. Therefore, if any persons are desirous to have any name registered and can certainly remember the year and time of the marriage, baptism or burial of those whom they are desirous to insert, there are blanks left for that purpose.'

As will appear later, the Mabe Registers are very important to our study and they were important to the Pellowes at the time of the above notice (circa 1700) for no less than two Pellow marriages were inserted before 1670, three Pellow baptisms and fourteen burials.

The gaps in Mabe and Mylor Registers are somewhat of a hindrance but fortunately, the Subsidy Rolls for the Hundred of Kerrier were in good order and these helped.

One last register, i.e., that of Breage is mentioned here because it is important to the earlier history of the family. The baptisms begin in 1603 but the leaves at the beginning and at the end of the first volume, have perished. The marriage and burial registers begin in 1559, unusually early for our area, but there are several missing pages and several partially illegible entries.


In addition to the parish registers, many other registers have been consulted and these sources are listed below:-

1. At Bodmin are to be found the wills for the parishes under the Aegis of the Archdeacon and there are 27 of these, but since our four parishes are Bishop's Peculiars, these wills only help us as far as Breage is concerned, and also to tell us a little about the 'splinter groups' in other parishes.

2. At Exeter are extensive records and much information has been culled from these sources. All the territorial records of the Bishops of Exeter were taken over by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in the last century. There is a great mass of documents of the Bishop's Consistory Court and these have given us some information. There is a further mass of records from the principal registry of the Bishop, cleared out (09) from time to time and housed in one of the Cathedral Chapels. When the Cathedral at Exeter was damaged by enemy action in 1942, this Chapel was damaged but most of the records were recovered. These records mostly related to wills which were contested or proved and some information has been obtained from them but the actual wills themselves were in the probate registry and perished in the fire of 1942. We do have a calendar of such wills proved in the Consistory Court and there are 22 for the Pellows of our four parishes between 1614 and 1798; the wills themselves have gone forever.

Also at Exeter there are various deeds in the City Library which will be referred to later together with deeds in private collections.

At the same place are to be found a printed list of the Constantine Subsidy Rolls and a militia list of County Musters at the time of Henry VIII (Exchequer Treasury Receipt. Vo1.53).

3. In London, the Church Commissioners Records were examined. There are no Manorial records for Penryn but about 100 leases of the late 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. A great deal of this would be useful information for the historian of our four parishes.

4. At the Public Record Office in London, the following printed material has been examined:-

(a) Calendar of Close Rolls Henry III to Ed. IV
(b) Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry III to 1563.
(c) Calendar of Fine Rolls to 1471.
(d) Index Early Chancery Proceedings Vol. 1.
(e) Index Early Chancery Proceedings 1625-1649
(f) Index Early Chancery Proceedings Elizabeth I.
(g) Cal. of Inquisitions post Mortem.

Manuscripts studied included:-

(a) Subsidy Rolls for Kerrier (and latterly Black Torrington) as follows :-

1 Edward III, 6 Henry IV, 15 Henry VIII, 16 Henry VIII, 35 Henry VIII, 36 Henry VIII, 37 Henry VIII, 1 Edward VI, 3 Edward VI, 6 Edward VI and various others from 4 Phillip and Mary to 14 Charles II.

(b) Court Rolls for Hundred of Kerrier held at Penryn :-

50 Edward III, 14-15 Charles I, and various state papers which will be referred to later.

5. The Catholic Record Society. Miscellanea 3 London 1906. (10)


1. Mabe Church and Parish by C. Henderson, Kingstone Press.
2. Notes on the Parish of Mylor - Olivey 1907.
3. History of Glasney Collegiate Church, T. C. Peter, 1903.
4. (4 p6)



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