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St Michael Penkivel

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The parish of St Michael Penkivel (or Penkevill), (Cornish: Pennkevyll), is situated in the Deanery and Hundred of Powder. It is bounded on the north by St Clement's Creek and Merther, on the east by Lamorran, on the south by Lamorran Creek, which separates it from Philleigh, and on the west by the river Fal, which separates it from Kea. The parish is named after the dedication of the church to St Michael, and the name of the manor Penkivel. This unspoilt village lies hidden in woods between the Truro and Fal rivers. The house at nearby Tregothnan was built in 1816 and was designed by William Wilkins, who also designed the famous gothic screen fronting King's College, Cambridge. Much of the woodland of the parish is managed by the Tregothnan estate, whose sawmills provide sawn wood and wood products. Tregothnan House, the residence of the Boscawen Family, was built c.1818 by Edward Boscawen, fourth Viscount and first Earl of Falmouth. Lake's 'Parochial History of Cornwall' states:

The structure....comprises a main body with lateral extensions, the whole supported and tastefully ornamented with octagonal turrets, enriched chimney stacks, and battlemented parapets. A broad terrace protected with massive iron railing extends along the front and the chief entrance is a projecting porch with open arches....the grouping is rendered still more interesting by the beautiful parish church, the tasteful and commodious school premises, erected in 1844, and the neat rectory house.

The Rt. Hon Admiral Boscawen was born here. In 1740 he assisted in the capture of Porto Bello and in 1741 bravely attacked a took a battery of fifteen 24-pounder guns at Carthagena. He distinguished himself in Lord Anson's actions at Finisterre in which he was wounded. In 1758 he was appointed commander-in-chief of the British naval forces in America. He assisted in the reduction of Louisberg and the island of Cape Breton. For these duties he was nominated a Privy Councillor.

St Michael Penkivel parish has the villages of Tregonian, Tregothnan, Nancarrow and Penkevel.


The Cornwall Family History Society have published Monumental Inscriptions for the Parish Church - 208 entries.

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Census information for this parish (1841 - 1901) is held in the Cornwall Record Office. The Cornwall Family History Society offers a census search service for its members. The Cornwall Family History Society have also published on-line census detail by surname on the FamilyHistoryonLine site.

Specific census information for this parish is available as follows:

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Church History

Anglican. The parish church is located in OS Grid Square SW8542; it was dedicated to St. Michael on 13th August 1261 by Walter Bronescombe, bishop of Exeter. In 1319 the patron, Sir John de Trejago founded a chantry here, and bishop John Stapledon of Exeter made the church into a collegiate foundation with four priests. The archpriest was to have the 'cure of souls' and the other three were to serve chantries in the church.
The existing church was built in 1862-66 on the site of the old one. It consists of a chancel, nave, and north and south transepts. The pulpit consists of an alabaster basement surmounted with a tracery of Pentewan stone supported on serpentine pillars. The tower consists of two stages, the first being heavily buttressed; it is surmounted by a steeple. The belfry contains four bells. There is a record that the old tower was lowered at the order of Admiral Boscawen in 1761 so that it could not be used as a landmark for the enemy (presumably the French). The church contains many monuments to the Boscawen family who have lived at Tregothnan in the parish for many centuries. Entrances are by a south porch and a north door.
There is an Indulgence in favour of this church 'given at Avignon the 4th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1335, and the Pontificate of our Lord Pope Benedict the 12th, the first.' Various duties are outlined, and the observer of these 'should have forty days indulgence from the penances enjoyned upon them.' This indulgence may have been granted to augment the incomes of the priests, but the Black Death (1349) and the rise in prices seem to have sealed the fate of the 'archpresbytery' which before 1426 was a Rectory once more.
The parish is now part of the Lamorran with Merther, Tresillian and St. Michael Penkivel Team Ministry.

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Church Records

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Civil Registration

The parish of St Michael Penkivel has been in the Truro Registration District continuously from 1st July 1837. There were sub-districts at Kea, Kenwyn, Probus, St. Agnes, St. Clement and St Just-in-Roseland, but these have now been abolished. Parishes in this registration district are: Cornelly, Cuby, Feock, Gerrans, Kea, Kenwyn, Ladock, Lamorran, Merther, Perranzabuloe, Philleigh, Probus, Ruan Lanihorne, St. Agnes, St. Allen, St. Anthony in Roseland, St. Clement, St. Erme, St. Feock, St. Just in Roseland, St. Michael Penkevil, Tregavethan, Tregony St. James, Truro St. Mary, Veryan.

The address of the Registration Office is: Dalvenie House, New County Hall, Truro, TR1 3AY.
Tel: 01872 322241.

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Description & Travel

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OPC Assistance. The On-line Parish Clerk (OPC) scheme operates a service to help family historians; the OPC page for this parish is available on-line, from where the OPC can be contacted by email.

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Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

St Michael Penkivel parish was part of the Truro Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief. Overseers' Accounts (1766 to 1828) are available in the Cornwall Record Office.

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Lamorran and Merther parishes were included into St Michael Penkivel for civil purposes in 1934.

  • Population in 1801 - 154 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 178 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 167 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 179 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 163 persons, plus 12 persons on shipping
  • Population in 1851 - 201 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 194 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 179 persons
  • Population in 1881 - 153 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 142 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 156 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 171 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 109 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 136 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 341 persons
  • Population in 1961 - 251 persons
  • Population in 1971 - 208 persons
  • Population in 1981 - 205 persons
  • Population in 1991 - 210 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 213 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 204 persons

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Religion & Religious Life

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The parish contains approximately 1000 acres of land.

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The Hearth Tax entries for St Michael Penkivel (1660-1664) are available on-line.

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