Mining in the Blood
The notes below show tin mining has a long history in Cornwall:
Notes on the coinage of tin in Devon and Cornwall in 1595. As reported in the state papers of the Reign of
Elizabeth 1st of England.
45. Note of the ordinary days of coining tin in Devonshire and
Cornwall, for the Midsummer coinage, from 11 June to 9 July or
Cornwall, for the Midsummer coinage, from 11 June to 9 July or
46. Answers [by Thios. Myddletois I] to instructions concerning the
coinage of tin in Devonshire and Cornwall, Midsummer 1593. I have
attended the coinage, and kept a book of the weights, but found no
abuse. Midsummer coinage began at Chagford, 12 June, and ended at
Helstone, 9 July; but there is an after coinage, at which the officers
have 12d. for each piece of tin. Michaelmas coinage begins 15
September and lasts to 9 October, after which the accounts are
delivered to Wm. Nele, the Queen’s auditor. There is a part coinage
about Christmas, the Queen receiving 4 per cent, for licence, which is
001. a year, and the officers 12d. each piece of tin. Statement
1,3--15O lbs. The tinners cannot tell how much is exported, as merchants and pewterers sometimes deal for each other. It used to be all sent to France till the Rouen trade was stopped, and this price came down; then the Londoners bought for the Straits and the Low Countries; now it is sold in Turkey, France, and Flanders.
1703 AD:- Henry Vingoe's Tin Bounds.
There is very little history of mining in Sennen Parish. Whilst researching the Vingoe family line at the Courtney Library in Truro I found a document dated 1703 and was lucky enough to have the assistance of local historian, Mr. H. L. Douch. He gave us a quick translation of the main points in the document. You can click on the image to enlarge it
The document is a License agreement on tin bounds at a place called Gweal Vean and is a record of an agreement between a Henry Vingoe and, William Borlase, son of Joseph Borlase of St Just in Penwith, William Millett, son of Martin Millett of St Just in Penwith, and Henry's own son Henry Vingoe Jnr. The document was issued by the Stannary of Penwith in the name of John Grenville, who was the Custodian and Guardian of the Stannary. Other officers mentioned were Ephraim Weymouth and Noye Edwards and the document was signed by William Cock. The document dated 1703 is written in a kind of Church shorthand Latin and it also includes Cornish in the place names. The Henry Vingoe referred to was born around 1660 to John and Joan Vingoe of Sennen. This is the first record of any family links to tin and copper mining and, whilst the male line in this branch did not seem to follow the trade, the link with mining was to continue for around three hundred years in the various female lines.
Gweal is Cornish for field or place, whilst Vean means little. So the place referred to is Little Field at Trevescan in Sennen. The document states the bounds are bordered on the four sides by Carn Colwidrocke, Sowen Peddenantes, Vaan Vrease and Mean Sebmen. The last two might possibly be Vean Crease & Mean Sennen but so far we have been unable to locate any of these places today in order to find out just where the bounds were.
Anyone walking the coast path from Lands End to Porthcurno will pass the Nanjizal mine without even noticing the workings: their eyes will be on the beautiful scenery that surrounds the bay. When tin mining commenced here is unknown but it was in production in 1845 when Joseph Carne presented a paper at the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall. The following report comes from the Mining Gazette of the 8th of November 1845.
Further research turned up a document entitled:
1738 AD:- "A Survey of Tin Bounds, The Property of Sam. Borlase and Others."
This was also discovered in the archives of the Courtney Library. The date on this document is 1783 and in it we found just one mention of the Parish of Sennen. This appertained to bounds owned by John Pascoe and others which were mined by S Borlase 1/3, I Millett 1/3 and A Pearce 1/3. There is included a sketch map of the bounds showing it to be on Trevescan Cliff, with the tin load being shown as running North to South going out to sea to the East of Dr Syntax's Head. These Bounds took in the whole of what we would refer to as the Lands End and included in this is land that was owned by a Israel Vingoe on the 1838 Sennen Tithe Map and labelled as No. 481. We now need to find a link between Henry Vingoe's bounds and these later findings.
1871:- TOOLS OF THE CORNISH MINER
The Cornish miner had to find his way through rock of a very difficult character, consisting of solid granite or elvan rock of excessive hardness. His tools were few, but well adapted to their job; consisting, besides those represented in the following engraving, of a small wedge or two of steel, known as a gad, which was driven into the rock by the round end of the pick, for the purpose of splitting and detaching portions from the mass.
1. pick of the miner; 2. shovel; 3. sledge; 4. borer; 5. claying bar; 6. needle -called by some the nail; 7. scraper; 8. tamping bar; 9. tin cartridge, for blasting where the rock is wet: + horn to carry his gunpowder, rushes to supply him with fuses and a little touch-paper, or slow fuse.
In the 1858 the owners of Botallack Mine ordered work to commence on sinking a new shaft. This became known as the 'Boscawen Diagonal' and it was completed in 1862. The shaft ran at a gradient of thirty two and a half degrees. It total depth was 250 fathom below the adit, with the bottom of the incline being some half a mile out to sea. The boiler for the winding engine came from Pearce's shaft which became redundant when this shaft was opened.
Access to the entrance at the bottom of the vertical cliff face was via a rail track resting on timber trunking. Holman's of St Just made the the gig, a four wheeled iron box with four wheels which carried eight men up and down the steep incline. This gig was attached to the winding engine by means of a chain, which suddenly parted on the 18 April 1863, just after eight men and a boy were nearing the top of the incline shaft. The runaway gig carried all eight men and the boy to their deaths. Amongst the men was Michael Nicholas, who left a widow Martha and a son. The gig was sent back to Holman’s to be cleaned and straightened out and was used by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall for their trip to the mine two years later, although by now the chain had been pensioned off and replaced with a wire rope.
Another member of this tree who lost his life in a St Just mining disaster was James Vingoe Trembath who was killed in the Levant Mine. Whilst you can read about this disaster by clicking on the link below unfortunately James Vingoe Trembath was initially named as John in error
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