Chev Matiz:- an owner's impression

The following is an Extract from "Richard Carew (1555 - 1620) The Survey of Cornwall "covering the mining of tin. (page 14 - 22)

Touching mettals: Copper is found in sundrie places, but with what gaine to the searchers, I haue not beene curious to enquire, nor they hastie to reveale. For at one Mine (of which I tooke view) the Owre was shipped to bee refined in Wales, either to save cost in the fewell or to conceale the profit.

Neither hath nature denyed Silver to Cornwall, though Cicero excluded the same out of all Britaine: and if wee may beleeve our Chroniclers reports, who ground themselues upon authenticall Records, king Edward the first, and king Edward the third, reaped some good benefit thereof. But for our present experience, what she proffereth with the one hand, shee seemeth to pull backe with the other, whereof some Gentlemen not long sithence, made triall to their losse: howbeit, neither are they discouraged by this successe, nor others from the like attempt.

Tynners doe also find little hoppes of Gold amongst their Owre, which they keepe in quils, and sell to the Goldsmithes oftentimes with little better gaine, then Glaucus exchange.

Yea it is not altogether barren of precious stones, and Pearle: for Dyamonds are in many places found cleauing to those Rockes, out of which the Tynne is digged: they are polished, squared, and pointed by nature: their quantitie from a Pease, to a Walnut: in blacknesse and hardnesse they come behind the right ones, and yet I haue knowne some of them set on so good a foile, as at first sight, they might appose a not vnskilfull Lapidarie.

The Pearle (though here not aptly raunged) breed in bigge Oysters, and Muscles, greater in quantitie, then acceptable for goodnesse, as neither round nor Orient. Perhaps Caesar spoyled the best beds, when he made that gay Coate of them, to present his graundame Venus.

Cornwall is also not altogether destitute of Agates [8] and white Corall, as by credible relation I haue learned.

But why seeke wee in corners for pettie commodities, when as the onely mynerall of Cornish Tynne, openeth so large a field to the Countries benefit? this is in working so pliant, for sight so faire, and in vse so necessarie, as thereby the Inhabitants gaine wealth, the Merchants trafficke, and the whole Realme a reputation: and with such plentie thereof hath God stuffed the bowels of this little Angle, that (as Astiages dreamed of his daughter) it ouerfloweth England, watereth Christendome, and is deriued to a great part of the world besides. In trauailing abroad, in tarrying at home, in eating and drinking, in doing ought of pleasure or necessitie, Tynne, either in his owne shape, or transformed into other fashions, is alwayes requisite, alwayes readie for our seruice: but I shall rather disgrace, then endeere it by mine ouer-weake commendation, and sooner tire myselfe, then draw the fountaine of his praises drie. Let this therefore suffice, that it cannot bee of meane price, which hath found, with it, Dyamonds, amongst it Gold, and in it Siluer.

The Cornish Tynners hold a strong imagination, that in the withdrawing of Noahs floud to the Sea, the same tooke his course from East to West, violently breaking vp, and forcibly carrying with it, the earth, trees, and Rocks, which lay any thing loosely, neere the vpper face of the ground.

To confirme the likelihood of which supposed truth, they doe many times digge vp whole and huge Timber trees, which they conceiue at that deluge to haue beene ouerturned and whelmed: but whether then, or sithence, probable it is, that some such cause produced this effect. Hence it commeth, that albeit the Tynne lay couched at first in certaine strakes amongst the Rockes, like a tree, or the veines in a mans bodie, from the depth whereof the maine Load spreadeth out his branches, vntill they approach the open ayre: yet they haue now two kinds of Tynne workes, Stream, and Load: for (say they) the foremencioned floud, carried together with the moued Rockes and earth, so much of the Load as was inclosed therein, and at the asswaging, left the same scattered here and there in the vallies and ryuers, where it passed; which being sought and digged, is called Streamworke: under this title, they comprise also the Moore workes, growing from the like occasion. They maintaine these workes, to haue beene verie auncient, and first wrought by the Iewes with Pickaxes of Holme, Boxe, and Harts horne: they prooue this by the name of those places yet enduring, to wit, Attall Sarazin, in English, the Iewes offcast, and by those tooles daily found amongst the rubble of such workes. And it may well be, that as Akornes made good bread, before Ceres taught the vse of Corne; and sharpe Stones serued the Indians for Kniues, vntill the Spaniards brought them Iron: so in the infancie of knowledge, these poore instruments for want of better did supplie a turne. There are also taken vp in such works, certaine little tooles heads of Brasse, which some terme Thunder-axes, but they make small shew of any profitable vse. Neither were the Romanes ignorant of this trade, as may appeare by a brasse Coyne of Domitian's, found in one of these workes, and fallen into my hands: and perhaps vnder one of those Flauians, the Iewish workmen made here their first arriuall.

They discouer these workes, by certaine Tynne-stones,lying on the face of the ground, which they terme Shoad, as shed from the maine Load, and made somwhat smooth and round, by the waters washing & wearing. Where the finding of these affordeth a tempting likelihood, the Tynners goe to worke, casting vp trenches before them, in depth 5, or 6. foote more or lesse, as the loose ground went, & three or foure in breadth, gathering vp such Shoad, as this turning of the earth doth offer to their sight. If any ryuer thwart them, and that they resolve to search his bed, hee is trained by a new channell from his former course. This yeeldeth a speedie and gaineful recompence to the aduenturers of the search, but I hold it little beneficiall to the owners of the soyle. For those low grounds, beforetime fruitfull, hauing herethrough their wrong side turned outwards, accuse the Tynners iniurie by their succeeding barrennesse.

To find the Load-workes, their first labour is also imployed in seeking this Shoad, which either lieth open on the grasse, or but shallowly couered. Hauing found any such, they coniecture by the sight of the ground, which way the floud came that brought it thither, and so giue a gesse at the place whence it was broken off. There they sincke a Shaft, or pit of five or six foote in length, two or three foote in breadth, and seuen or eight foote in depth, to proue whether they may so meete with the Load. By this Shaft, they also discerne which was the quicke ground (as they call it) that mooued with the floud, and which the firme, wherein no such Shoad doth lie. If they misse the Load in one place, they sincke a like Shaft in another beyond that, commonly farther vp towards the hill, and so a third and fourth, vntill they light at last vpon it. But you may not conceiue, that euerie likelyhood doth euer proue a certaintie: for diuers haue beene hindered, through bestowing charges in seeking, and not finding, and many vndone in finding and not speeding, whiles a faire show, tempting them to mvch cost, hath, in the end, fayled in substance, and made the aduenturers Banckrupt of their hope and purse.

Some have found Tynne-workes of great vallew, through meanes no lesse strange, then extraordinarie, to wit, by dreames. As in Edward the sixts time, a Gentlewoman, heire to one Tresculierd, and wife to Lanine, dreamed, that a man of seemely personage told her, how in such a Tenement of her Land, shee should find so great store of Tynne, as would serue to inrich both her selfe and her posteritie. This shee reuealed to her husband: and hee, putting the same in triall, found a worke, which in foure yeeres, was worth him welneere so many thousand pounds. Moreouer, one Taprel lately liuing, & dwelling in the Parish of the hundred of West, call'd S. Niot, by a like dreame of his daughter (see the lucke of women) made the like assay, met with the effect, farmed the worke of the vnwitting Lord of the soyle, and grew thereby to good state of wealth. The same report passeth as currant, touching sundrie others; but I will not bind any mans credite, though, that of the Authors haue herein swayed mine: and yet he that will afford his eare to Astrologers and naturall Philosophers, shall haue it filled with many discourses, of the constellation of the heauens, and the constitution of mens bodies, fitting to this purpose.

There are, that leauing these trades of new searching, doe take in hand such old Stream and Loadworks, as by the former aduenturers haue beene giuen ouer, and oftentimes they find good store of Tynne, both in the rubble cast vp before, as also in veines which the first workmen followed not. From hence there groweth a diuersitie in opinion, amongst such Gentlemen, as by, iudgement and experience, can looke into these matters; some of them supposing that the Tynne groweth; and others, that it onely separateth from the consumed offall. But whosoeuer readeth that which Francis Leandro hath written touching the yron mynerals, in the Ile of Elba, will cleaue perhaps to a third conceite: for hee auoucheth, that the trenches, out of which the Owre there is digged, within twentie or thirtie yeeres, become alike ful againe of the same mettall, as at first, & he confirmeth it by sutable examples, borrowed from Clearchus, of Marble, in Paros Iland, and of Salt, in India, deducing thence this reason, that the ayre and water replenishiing the voide roome, through the power of the vniuersall agent, and some peculiar celestiall influence, are turned into the selfe substance; and so by consequence, neither the Owre groweth, nor the earth consumeth away: and this opinion, Munster in his Cosmographie, doth seeme to vnderprop, affirming, that neere the Citie of Apolonia in Dalmatia, the veines whence Brasse is digged, are filled in like maner. So doth he report, that neere Ptolomais, there lieth a round valley, out of which glassie Sand being taken, the winds fill the pit againe, from the upper part of the adioyning mountaines; which matter is conuerted into the former substance and that euen Mettals throwne Into this place, doe vndergoe the like Metamorphosis.

The colour both of the Shoad and Load, resembleth his bed, as the Sea sand doth the Cliffes, and is so diuersified to reddish, blackish, duskie, and such other earthy colours.

If the Load wherein the Tynne lieth, carrieth a foote and halfe in breadth, and be not ouerbarren, it is accompted a verie rich worke: but commonly the same exceedeth not a foote, vnlesse many Loads runne together.

When the new found worke intiseth with probabilitie of profit, the discouerer doth commonly associate himselfe with some more partners, because the charge amounteth mostly verie high for any one mans purse, except lined beyond ordinarie, to reach vnto: and if the worke doe faile, many shoulders will more easily support the burthen. These partners consist either of such Tinners as worke to their owne behoofe, or of such aduenturers as put in hired labourers. The hirelings stand at a certaine wages, either by the day, which may be about eight pence, or for the yeere, being betweene foure and sixe pound, as their deseruing can driue the bargaine: at both which rates they must find themselues.

f the worke carrie some importance, and require the trauaile of many hands, that hath his name, and they their Ouerseer, whome they terme their Captaine: such are the Pel, Whilancleuth, in English, The worke of the Ditches: Pulstean, that is, The myrie head: Crueg braaz, The great Borough: Saint Margets, and many surnamed Balls, which betoken the Vales where the works are set on foote.

The Captaines office bindeth him to sort ech workman his taske, to see them applie their labour, to make timely prouision, for binding the worke with frames of Timber, if need exact it, to place Pumpes for drawing of water, and to giue such other directions. In most places, their toyle is so extreame, as they cannot endure it aboue foure houres in a day, but are succeeded by spels: the residue of the time, they weare out at Coytes, Kayles, or like idle exercises. Their Kalender also alloweth them more Holy-dayes, then are warranted by the Church, our lawes, or their owne profit.

Their ordinarie tooles, are a Pick-axe of yron, about sixteene inches long, sharpned at the one end to pecke, and flat-headed at the other, to driue certaine little yron Wedges, wherewith they cleaue the Rockes. They haue also a broad Shouell, the vtter part of yron, the middle of Timber, into which the staffe is slopewise fastned.

Their maner of working in the Loadmines, is to follow the Load as it lieth, either sidelong, or downe-right: both waies the deeper they sincke, the greater they find the Load. When they light vpon a smal veine, or chance to leefe the Load which they wrought, by means of certaine firings that may hap to crosse it, they begin at another place neere-hand, and so draw by gesse to the maine Load againe. If the Load lie right downe, they follow it sometimes to the depth of fortie or fiftie fathome. These Loadworkes, Diod.Sic.l.5.cap.8. seemeth to point at, where hee saith, that the Inhabitants of Veleriumm Promontorie, digge vp Tin out of rockie ground. From some of their bottomes you shal at noone dayes discrie the Starres: the workmen are let down and taken vp in a Stirrup, by two men who wind the rope.

If the Load lie slope-wise, the Tynners digge a conuenient depth, and then passe forward vnder ground, so farre as the ayre will yeeld them breathing, which, as it beginneth to faile, they sinke a Shaft downe thither from the top, to admit a renewing vent, which notwithstanding, their worke is most by Candle-light. In these passages, they meete sometimes with verie loose earth, sometimes with exceeding hard Rockes, and sometimes with great streames of water.

The loose Earth is propped by frames of Timber-worke, as they go, and yet now and then falling downe, either presseth the poore workmen to death, or stoppeth them from returning. To part the Rockes, they haue the foremencioned Axes, and Wedges, with which, mostly, they make speedie way, and yet (not seldome) are so tied by the teeth, as a good workman shall hardly be able to hew three foote, in the space of so many weekes. While they thus play the Moldwarps, vnsauorie Damps doe here and there distemper their heads, though not with so much daunger in the consequence, as annoyance for the present.

For conueying away the water, they pray in aide of sundry deuices, as Addits, Pumps &. Wheeles, driuen by a streame, and interchangeably filling, and emptying two Buckets, with many such like: all which notwithstanding, the Springs so incroche vpon these inuentions, as in sundrie places they are driuen to keepe men, and some-where horses also at worke both day & night, without ceasing, and in some all this will not serue the turne. For supplying such hard seruices, they haue alwaies fresh men at hand.

They cal it the bringing of an Addit, or Audit, when they begin to trench without, and carrie the same thorow the ground to the Tynworke, somewhat deeper then the water doth lie, thereby to giue it passage away.

This Addit, they either fetch athwart the whole Load, or right from the braunch where they worke, as the next valley ministreth fittest opportunitie, for soonest cutting into the Hil: and therfore a Gentleman of good knowledges, deduceth this name of Addit, Ab aditu ad aquas.

Surely the practice is cunning in deuice, costly in charge, and long in effecting: and yet, when all is done, many times the Load falleth away, and they may sing with Augustus bird, Opera & impensa periit. If you did see how aptly they cast the ground, for conueying the water, by compassings and turnings, to shunne such hils & vallies as let them, by their two much height or lownesse, you would wonder how so great skill could couch in so base a Cabbin, as their (otherwise) thicke clouded braines.

As much almost dooth it exceede credite, that the Tynne, for and in so small quantitie, digged vp with so great toyle, and passing afterwards thorow the managing of so many hands, ere it come to sale, should be any way able to acquite the cost: for being once brought aboue ground in the stone, it is first broken in peeces with hammers; and then carryed, either in waynes, or on horses backs, to a stamping mill, where three, and in some places sixe great logges of timber, bound at the ends with yron, and lifted vp and downe by a wheele, driuen with the water, doe breake it smaller. If the stones be ouer-moyst, they are dried by the fire in an yron cradle or grate.

From the stamping mill, it passeth to the crazing mil, which betweene two grinding stones, turned also with a water-wheele, bruseth the same to a fine sand: howbeit, of late times they mostly vse wet stampers, & so haue no need of the crazing mils, for their best stuffe, but only for the crust of their tayles.

The streame, after it hath forsaken the mill, is made to fall by certayne degrees one somwhat distant from another; vpon each of which, at euery discent lyeth a greene turfe, three or foure foote square, and one foote thick. On this the Tinner layeth a certayne portion of the sandie Tinne, and with his shouell softly tosseth the same to and fro, that through this stirring, the water which runneth ouer it, may wash away the light earth from the Tinne, which of a heauier substance lyeth fast on the turfe. Hauing so cleansed one portion, he setteth the same aside, and beginneth with another, vntil his labour take end with his taske. The best of those turfes (for all sorts serue not) are fetched about two miles to the Eastwards of S. Michaels Mount, where at a low water they cast aside the sand, and dig them vp: they are full of rootes of trees, and on some of them nuts haue beene found, which confirmeth my former assertion of the seas intrusion. After it is thus washed, they put the remnant into a wooden dish, broad, flat, and round, being about two foote ouer, and hauing two handles fastened at the sides, by which they softly shogge the same to and fro in the water betweene their legges, as they sit ouer it, vntill whatsoeuer of the earthie substance that was yet left, be flitted away. Some of later time, with a sleighter inuention, and lighter labour, doe cause certaine boyes to stir it vp and downe with their [13] feete, which worketh the same effect: the residue after this often cleansing, they call blacke Tynne, which is proportionably diuided to euerie of the aduenturers, when the Lords part hath beene first deducted vpon the whole.

Then doth each man carrie his portion to the blowing house, where the same is melted with Char-coale fire, blowne by a great paire of Bellowes, mooved with a water-wheele, and so cast into peeces of a long and thicke squarenesse, from three hundred to foure hundred pound waight, at which time the owners marke is set thereupon. The last remooue, is to the place of Coynage, which I shall touch hereafter. I haue alreadie told you, how great charge the Tynner vndergoeth, before he can bring his Owre to this last mill: whereto if you adde his care and cost, in buying the wood for this seruice, in felling, framing, and piling it to bee burned, in fetching the same, when it is coaled through such farre, foule, and cumbersome wayes, to the blowing house, together with the blowers two or three Moneths extreame and increasing labour, sweltring heate, danger of skalding their bodies, burning the houses, casting away the worke, and lastly their ugly countenances, tanned with smoake and besmeared with sweate: all these things (I say) being duly considered, I know not whether you would more maruaile, either whence a sufficient gaine should arise to counteruaile so manifold expences, or that any gaine could traine men to vndertake such paines and perill.

But there let vs leaue them, since their owne will doth bring them thither. During the Tinnes thus melting in the blowing house, diuers light sparkles thereof are by the forcible wind, which the bellows sendeth forth, driuen vp to the thatched roofe. For which cause the owners doe once in seuen or eight yeeres, burne those houses, and find so much of this light Tynne in the ashes, as payeth for the new building, with a gainefull ouerplus. A strange practise (certes) for thrifts sake, to set our house on fire. Others doe frame the Tunnels of the Chimnies verie large and slope, therein to harbour these sparkles, and so saue the burning. This casualtie may bee worth the owner some ten pound by the yeere, or better, if his Mil haue store of sutors. But sithence I gathered stickes to the building of this poore nest, Sir Francis Godolphin, (whose kind helpe hath much aduanced this my playing labour) entertained a Duch mynerall man, and taking light from his experience, but building thereon farre more profitable conclusions of his owne inuention, hath practised a more sauing way in these matters, and besides, made Tynne with good profit, of that refuse which the Tynners reiected as nothing worth.

We will now proceede, to take a view of the orders and customes most generally vsed among the Tynners.

Their workes, both Streame and Load, lie either in seuerall, or in wastrell, that is, in enclosed grounds, or in commons. In Seuerall, no man can search for Tynne, without leaue first obtained from the Lord of the soile; who, when any Myne is found, may worke it wholly himselfe, or associate partners, or set it out at a farme certaine, or leaue it vn wrought at his pleasure. In Wastrell, it is lawfull for any man to make triall of his fortune that way, prouided, that hee acknowledge the Lordes right, by sharing out vnto him a certaine part, which they call toll: a custome fauouring more of [14] indifferencie, then the Tynners constitutions in Deuon, which inable them to digge for Tynne in any mans ground, inclosed, or vnclosed, without licence, tribute or satisfaction. Wherethrough it appeareth, that the Law-makers rather respected their owne benefit, then equitie, the true touch of all lawes. The Wastrel workes are reckoned amongst chattels, and may passe by word or Will. When a Myne is found in any such place, the first discouerer aymeth how farre it is likely to extend, and then, at the foure corners of his limited proportion, diggeth vp three Turfes, and the like (if he list) on the sides, which they terme Bounding, and within that compasse, euery other man is restrained from searching. These bounds he is bound to renew once euerie yeere, as also in most places to bestow some time in working the Myne, otherwise hee loseth this priuiledge. The worke thus found and bounded, looke how many men doe labour therein, so many Doales or shares they make thereof, and proportionably diuide the gaine and charges. The Lord of the soyle is most-where allowed libertie to place one workman in euerie fifteene for himself, at like hand with the aduenturers, if hee be so disposed.

They measure their blacke Tynne, by the Gill, the Toplisse, the Dish and the Foote, which containeth a pint, a pottel, a gallon, and towards two gallons.

Townes specially priuiledged for the Coynages, are Helston, Truro, Lostwithiel, and Liskerd. The times of Coynage come twise in the yeere, Viz. about Midsummer and Michaelmas: but because it falleth out verie often that the Tynne which is wrought, cannot be blowen and brought thither, against the limited dayes, there are, in fauour of the Tynners, certaine later times assigned, which they terme Post-coynages.

The officers deputed, to manage this Coynage, are, Porters, to beare the Tynne, Peizers to weigh it, a Steward, Comptroller, and Receiuer to keepe the accompt, euerie of which haue entertainement from her Maiestie, and receiue a fee out of the coyned Tynne.

For the maner of Coynage: the Blockes or peeces of Tynne, are brought into a great roome ordained for that purpose, and there first peized, then tasted, that is, proued whether they be soft Tynne or hard, and after, marked with their Maiesties stampe.

To the hard (lesse worth by fiftie shillings in the thousand than the soft) the letter H. is added, e're it come from the blowing-house. Each thousand must answere fortie shillings to the Queene, which with the other incident fees being satisfied, then, and not before, it is lawfull for the owner to alienate and distract the same.

But about the price there groweth much adoe, betweene the Marchants and the owners, before they can iumpe to an agreement. The Marchant vnfoldeth his packe of strange newes, which either he brought with him from London (where most of them dwell) or forged by the way, telling what great likelyhood there is of warres, what danger of Pirates at Sea, how much of the fore-bought Tynne lieth on their hands, &c. The owner, on,the other side, stoppeth his eares against these charmes, answeres his newes with the Spaniards, Credo en Dios, encounters his reasons, with the present scarcitie and charges of getting and working Tynne, and so keeping vp the price, Iniquum petit, ut aequum ferat. In the end, after much bidding, and louing, varying, and [15] delaying, commonly that Marchant who hath most money to bestow, and that owner who hath most Tynne to sell, doe make the price, at which rate the Marchant is bound to yeeld present payment for so much Tynne as shall be brought him, and, of necessitie, must bargaine for tenne thousand at the least. Others notwithstanding are not bound to buy or sell at this price, but euerie man left at libertie, to make his best market.

The Tynne so sold, hath vsually amounted heretofore to the worth of thirtie or fortie thousand pound in money, and carried price betweene twentie and thirtie pound the thousand, sometimes higher, and sometimes lower, according to the quicke vent and aboundance, or the dead sale and scarcitie; wherein yet some haue obserued, that this so profitable, and vendible a marchandize, riseth not to a proportionable enhauncement, with other lesse beneficiall, and affected commodities, and they impute it partly to the Easterne buyers packing, partly to the owners not venting, and venturing the same.

Here I must either craue or take leaue of the Londoners, to lay open the hard dealing of their Tynne Marchants in this trade. When any Western Gent, or person of accompt, wanteth money to defray his expences at London, he resorteth to one of the Tynne Marchants of his acquaintance, to borrow some: but they shall as soone wrest the Clubbe out of Hercules fist, as one penie out of their fingers, vnlesse they giue bond for euerie twentie pound so taken in lone, to deliuer a thousand pound waight of Tyn at the next Coynage, which shal be within two or three months, or at farthest within half a yeere after. At which time the price of euerie thousand, will not faile to be at least twentie three, prehaps twentie five pound: yea, and after promise made, the party must be driuen (with some indignitie) to make three or foure errands to his house, ere hee shall get the money deliuered. In this sort, some one Marchant will haue 5. hundred pound out beforehand, reaping thereby a double commoditie, both of excessiue gaine for his lone, and of assurance to be serued with Tyn for his money. This they say is no Vsurie, forsooth, because the price of Tynne is not certainely knowne beforehand: (for once onely within these twelue yeeres, of set purpose to escape the penaltie of the Law, they brought it a little vnder twentie pound the thousand:) but if to take aboue fiftie in the hundred be extremitie, whatsoeuer name you list to giue it, this in truth can bee none other, then cutthroate and abominable dealing. I will not condemne all such as vse this trade, neither yet acquite those who make greatest pretence of zeale in Religion: and it may be, that some vpon by-respects, find somwhat friendly vsage in Vsance, at some of their hands: but the common voice saith, that for the most part, they are naught all.

nd yet how bad soeuer this fashion may justly bee accompted, certaine of the same Countrymen do passe farre beyond it, as thus: The Marchant, that hee may stand assured to haue Tynne for his money, at the time of Coynage or deliuerance, besides his trade of lone abouementioned, layeth out diuers summes beforehand, vnto certaine Cornishmen, owners of Tynworkes, or otherwise of knowne sufficiencie, who are bound to deliuer for the same, so many thousands of Tynne, as [16] the money shal amount vnto, after the price agreed vpon at the Coinages.

To these hungrie flies, the poore labouring Tynner resorteth, desiring some money before the time of his pay at the deliuerance: the other puts him off at first, answering he hath none to spare: in the end, when the poore man is driuen through necessitie to renew his suite, he fals to questioning, what hee will do with the money. Saith the Tynner, I will buy bread and meate for my selfe and my houshold, and shooes, hosen, peticoates, & such like stuffe for my wife and children. Suddenly herein, this owner becomes a pettie chapman: I will serue thee, saith he: hee deliuers him so much ware as shall amount to fortie shillings, in which he cuts him halfe in halfe for the price, and four nobles in money, for which the poore wretch is bound in Darbyes bonds, to deliuer him two hundred waight of Tynne at the next Coynage, which may then bee worth fiue pound or foure at the verie least. And as mischiefe still creepes onward, this extreme dealing of the London Marchant and Countrie chapman, in white Tynne is imitated (or rather exceeded) by the wealthier sort of Tynners themselues in the blacke, by laying out their money after thus much the marke: which trade, though subtill and darke, I will open as plainely as I can.

A foote of blacke Tynne (as is before said) containeth in measure two gallons; the waight vncertainely followeth the goodnesse. A foote of good Moore-tyn, (which is counted the best sort) will way about foure-score pound. Of the Myne Tynne (which is meaner) fiftie two pound: of the worst fiftie pound. Two pound of good blacke Tynne, being melted, will yeeld one of white: twentle eight or thirtie foote of the best, fortie: of the middle, 52. of the meanest, a thousand. Now the wealthier sort of Tynners, laying out part of their money beforehand, buy this black Tynne of the poore labourers, after so much the marke: that is, looke how many markes there are in the price, made at the Coynage for the thousand, so many two pence halfepenie, three pence, or foure pence, partly after the goodnesse, and partly according to the hard conscience of the one, and necessitie of the other, shal he haue for the foote: as if the price be twentie sixe pound, thirteene shillings & foure pence the thousand, therein are fortie markes: then shall the poore Tynner receiue of him who dealeth most friendly, for euerie foote of his best blacke Tynne (of which as was said, about thirtie will make a thousand) fortie times foure pence: viz. thirteene shillings and foure pence, which amounteth to twentie pound the thousand: whereas that foote at the price, is worth aboue fiue pence the marke. Likewise will hee pay for the meaner blacke Tynne (of which about fortie foote will make a thousand) three pence the marke, which is ten shillings the foote, and so shall he haue also after twentie pound for the thousand: for the worse they giue lesse, rateably. By which proportion, how vncertaine so euer the goodnesse of the Tynne, or the greatnesse of the price do fall, their gaine of a fourth part at least riseth alwaies certainly. Whereto adding, that they lay out beforehand but a portion of the money due, and that onely for some small time, you shall find it grow to the highest degree of extremitie.

But whether it proceedeth from this hard dealing, or for that the Tynners whole familie giue themselues [17] to a lazie kind of life, and depend only upon his labour and gaynes; which often ill succeeding adventurers, & such ouer-deare bought Tynne daylie impaire, or from both these together; once it hath beene duly obserued, that the parrishes where Tynne is wrought, rest in a meaner plight of wealth, then those which want this dammageable commoditie: and that as by abandoning this trade, they amend, so by reuiuing the same, they decay againe; whereas husbandrie yeeldeth that certayne gaine in a mediocritie, which Tynneworkes rather promise, then performe in a larger measure.

et vs now examine what course of Iustice is held for deciding such controuersies as befall in Tinne causes, and with what priuileges they are endowed and encouraged.

After such time as the Iewes by their extreame dealing had worne themselues, first out of the loue of the English inhabitants, and afterwards out of the land it selfe, and so left the mines vnwrought, it hapned, that certaine Gentlemen, being Lords of seuen tithings in Blackmoore, whose grounds were best stored with this Minerall, grewe desirous to renew this benefit: and so vpon suit made to Edmond, Earle of Cornwal, sonne to Richard, king of the Romans, they obtayned from him a Charter, with sundrie Priuileges: amongst which, it was graunted them to keepe a Court, and hold plea of all actions, life, lymme, and land excepted: in consideration whereof, the sayd Lords accorded to pay the Earle a halfpeny for euery pound of Tynne which should be wrought; and that for better answering this taxe, the sayd Tynne should bee brought to certayne places purposely appointed, and there peized, coyned, and kept, vntill the Earles due were satisfied. Againe, the Lords of these Tithings, were, for their parts, authorised to manage all Stannerie causes, and, for that intent, to hold parliaments at their discretion, and in regard of their labour, there was allotted vnto them the toll-Tynne within those Tithings, which their successours doe yet enioy. This Charter was to be kept in one of the Church steeples, within those Tithings, and, the Seale had a Pick-axe and Shouell in saultier grauen therein. This I receiued by report of the late master William Carnsew, a Gentleman of good qualitie, discretion, and learning, and well experienced in these mynerall causes, who auouched himselfe an eye-witnesse of that Charter, though now it bee not extant. Howbeit, I have learned, that in former time, the Tynners obtained a Charter from king Iohn, and afterwards another from king Edward the first, which were againe expounded, confirmed and inlarged by Parliament, in the fiftieth yeere of Edward the third, and lastly strengthened by Henrie the seuenth.

King Edward the firsts Charter, granteth them liberty of selling their Tynne, to their best behoofe. Nisi (saith he) nos ipsi emere voluerimus. Vpon which ground certaine persons in the Reignes of K. Edward 6. & Queene Marie, sought to make vse of this preemption, (as I have beene enformed) but either crossed in the prosecution, or defeated in their expectation, gaue it ouer againe; which vaine successe could not yet discourage some others of later times from the like attempt, alleadging many reasons how it might proue beneficiall both to her Highnesse and the Countrie, and preiudiciall to none saue onely the Marchants, who practised a farre [18] worse kind of preemption, as hath beene before expressed. This for a while was hotely onsetted and a reasonable price offered, but (upon what ground I know not) soone cooled againe. Yet afterwards it receiued a second life, and at Michaelmas terme 1599. the Cornishmen, then in London, were called before some of the principal Lords of her Maiesties Council, and the matter there debated, by the Lord Warden, in behalfe of the Countrie, and certaine others deputed for the Marchants, who had set this suite on foote. In the end it grew to a conclusion, and Articles were drawne and signed, but they also proued of void effect.

Last of all, the said Lord Warden, in the beginning of Nouember 1600. called an assembly of Tynners at Lostwithiel, the place accustomed, impanelled a Iurie of twentie foure Tynners, signified her Maiesties pleasure both for a new imposition of six pound on euerie thousand, that should bee transported (ouer and aboue the former fortie shillings, and sixteene shillings alreadie payable) as also that her Highnesse would disburse foure thousand pound in lone to the Tynners, for a yeres space, and bee repayed in Tynne at a certaine rate.

By the foreremembred ancient Charters, there is assigned a warden of the Stanneries, who supplieth the place, both of a Iudge for Law, and of a Chancellour for conscience, and so taketh hearing of causes, either in Forma iuris, or de iure & aequo.

Hee substituteth some Gentleman in the Shire of good calling and discretion, to be his Vice-Warden, from whom either partie, complainant or defendant, may appeale to him, as from him (a case of rare experience) to the Lords of the Councill, and from their Honours to her Maiesties person: other appeale or remoouing to the common law they gaynsay.

The Gayle for Stannery causes is kept at Lostwithiel, and that office is annexed to the Comptrolership.

The Tynners of the whole shire are diuided into foure quarters, two called Moores, of the places where the Tynne is wrought, viz. Foy moore, and Blacke moore: the other, Tiwarnaill and Penwith. To each of these is assigned by the L. Warden, a Steward, who keepeth his Court once in euery three weekes. They are termed Stannery Courts of the Latine word Stannum, in English Tynne, and hold plea of whatsoeuer action of debt or trespasse, whereto any one dealing with blacke or white Tynne, either as plaintife or defendant, is a party. Their maner of triall consisteth in the verdict giuen by a Iurie of sixe Tynners, according to which the Steward pronounceth iudgement. He that will spare credit to the common report, shall conceiue an ill opinion touching the slippings of both witnesses and iurours sometimes in these Courts: For it is sayd, that the witnesses haue not sticked now and then to fatten their euidence, rather for seruing a turne, then for manifesting a truth, and that the Iurours verdict hath fauoured more of affection then of reason, especially, in controuersies growne betweene strangers and some of the same parts. And such fault-finders vouch diuers causes of this partialitie: One, that when they are sworne, they vse to adde this word, my conscience, as the Romans did their Ex animi mei sententia, which is suspected to imply a conceyted enlargement of their othe: Another, that the varietie of customes, which in euery place (welneere) differ one from another, yeeldeth them in a maner an vnlimited [19] scope, to auerre what they list, and so to close the best Lawyers mouth with this one speech, Our custome Is contrary. And lastly, that they presume upon a kind of impunity, because these sixe mens iuries fall not within compasse of the Star-chambers censure, and yet the L. Wardens haue now & then made the pillory punishment of some, a spectacle, example, and warning to the residue. For mine owne part, I can in these Tynne cases, plead but a hearesay experience, and therefore will onely inferre, that as there is no smoke without a fire, so commonly the smoke is far greater then the fire. Strange it were, and not to be expected, that all poore Tynne Iurours and witnesies, should in such a remote corner alwayes conforme themselues to the precise rule of vprightnesse, when we see in the open light of our public assises, so many more iudicious and substantiall persons now and then to swarue from the same.

In matters of important consequence, appertayning to the whole Stannery, the L. Warden, or his Vnderwarden, vseth to impannell a Iury of foure and twenty principall Tynners, which consist of sixe out of euery quarter, returnable by the Maiors of the foure Stannery townes, and whose acts doe bind the residue.

Next to the liuelesse things, follow those which pertake a growing life, and then a feeling.

The women and children in the West part of Cornwall, doe vse to make Mats of a small and fine kinde of bents there growing, which for their warme and well wearing, are carried by sea to London and other parts of the Realme, and serue to couer floores and wals. These bents grow in sandy fields, and are knit from ouer the head in narrow bredths after a strange fashion,

I hope you find the information useful and enjoy the site. If you have any suggestions or comments or would like to contact me then please e-mail me
Rob Oats
Sept 2007