Civil War Skirmish 1643
St Minver was not untouched by the Civil War. This event is retold in "The Charm of North Cornwall" by Frank Maycock, 1937.
"In this connection the following notes supplied verbally by the late Mr Jonathan Buse shortly before his death will be of great interest, and are here set down in his own picturesque language.
"The old men told me - my grandfather, uncles and the old men about seventy or eighty years ago - that when the King was defeated, the enemy came into Cornwall. They had a terrible fight at Endellion, and the enemy nearly beat the Cornish, and so many were killed at Endellion that the hill leading to Plain Street ran red with blood, and the stream was choked with dead bodies. The Cornish were driven back and lost terribly, as as they were driven back the old people, men, women and children too, went with the Cornish fighters. Another stand was made above Lundy Hole, near Galloping Field, on a neck of land dividing Polzeath from Lundy but the enemy came on so fiercely that the Cornish were driven towards Pentire. The enemy then, after pursuing such a distance, stopped fighting and said, 'Tomorrow morning we will put them all to death or drive them into the sea.' The Cornish were like rats in a trap. So the enemy camped for the night somewhere near Pentire Glaze, among the houses of the Cornish people who had lived there.
"That night they are and drank and made merry, but they were so sure of finishing the Cornish on the morning that they forgot to keep their powder dry! (Powder? What do you mean? How and they powder? Why, I mean their slings and bows.
"But the Cornish took refuge on the cliffs at the Rumps and were so desperate when they saw there was nothing before them but to be driven into the sea, that all of them set to work, men, women, and children, though only a small handful, and during the night threw up, with the stones and earth there, the three great hedges of banks with the ditches between, one behind the other, During the night there was a great storm and it rained terribly. The Cornish worked all the night in getting up the hedges, and behind them they had their stones for slinging gathered together, and the women and children helped.
"In the morning, when it was light, the enemy, who had drunk a lot during the night , said 'Now we will finish the Cornish,' but they had forgotten to 'keep their powder dry.' So they came on 'certain sure' that they would wipe out the Cornish, but when they came to the great mounds, the Cornish met them with their slings, bows and arrows, and spears. The enemy could only sue their spears because their slings and bows were too wet. They tried to get in at them, but they did not know of the deep ditches behind. The earth that had been thrown up was wet and the slopes were slippery with the wet earth. When the enemy got to the top they found they had to go down to the other side, and when they were in the ditch the Cornish on top of the next slope attacked them with their weapons so fiercely that they could not get away and they were slain with great slaughter. Then the enemy, frightened to find the Cornish so ready for them, fled. The Cornish lost no men and the men of war went out in pursuit after the enemy up the hill, and slew nearly all who fled until they finished them at Pentire Farm, and the great mound in the field behind the farm was put their either to celebrate the victory or to mark that the bodies of the enemy were buried there.
"So the people of the Cornish King conquered his enemy."" [end of extract]
From the Parish Register, it would appear that this occurred around 14 February 1643 (as per Julian Calender, 1644 as per Gregorian Calender), 9 deaths of adult men and women are recorded in the burial register, probably as a result of the action in St Endellion. This is an abnormally large number of burials for one day. The spellings are as seen in the register and are all from St Minver, except for Katheren Dimond. The Parish Records and Bishop's Transcripts for St Endellion are missing for 1643/4, so a corresponding large number of adult burials for this parish cannot be verified.
Beniamin Penkevill, Gent*[Administration]
John Hender* [Will]
Richard Downinge (Hender crossed out and Downinge written above)
Constance Guy, widow* [Administration]
*Wills/Administration for these people on this website. The two administrations suggest that death was not expected.
C S Gilbert's Historical Survey of the County of Cornwall (1817,1820) also contains a reference to this event.
"In a field opposite Endellion church, quantities of human bones have, of late years, been discovered. These are supposed to have been the remains of men slain there in the civil wars, as many of these high spots were alternatively fortified by the royalists and the rebels. The workhouse of Endellion is said to have been a garrison".
It is also mentioned in "A compendium of the history of Cornwall" by John Jeremiah Daniell. Joseph Henry Collins, published 1880
St Endellion .. "Bones and human skeletons have been dug up in a field near the church, and there is a tradition that it was the scene of a great fight in the rebellion."
Page created March 2006