Part of the Acorn Archive


Penzance, Cornwall

Architecture and Heritage

Richard Oxnam’s Ships

Richard Oxnam


Penzance in 1817

From the 1842 Tithe Map

Mincarlo & Scranton House

The whole site from Chapel street to the harbour front ( later Coulson's Wharf ) was under the ownership of the Oxnams, from the upper side of Nr 37 to Abbey Street. The water’s edge can be seen to be quite different from the present day scene. These two properties were originally constructed as one household.

There is a brick in Nr 45 (Mincarlo), which is dated 1734. Bricks were brought over from Holland in the 18th century, as ballast, at various times, and were bought up and used in a number of houses of the time in Penzance, to great effect. The precise location of the granite used in the building frontage is identifiable, when the rocks of Cairn Jenny in the harbour area were removed. The foundations of the basement appear much older than 1734, possibly the rest of the building is around 1734, probably built on the foundations of an earlier building. The brick fronted house (Millett, Penzance Past & Present 1880) at the corner of Abbey street was “built by one of the Oxnam family; but will be remembered as General Tench’s house. It was formerly approached by a double flight of steps, which protruded far into the narrow street. In the construction of the house, a great deal of the stone from Cairn Jenny was used. Cairn Jenny was a rock or group of rocks which, of old, was within the harbour, at no great distance from the Abbey slip. It proved inconvenient and dangerous to shipping and was gradually removed, though it did not entirely disappear until comparatively recent times. The stone was famous for making good hones, and now and then some carpenter alludes with pride to the fact of posessing a bit of the real Cairn Jenny. On the 23rd January 1796, there was a strong gale from the south and south south west, with very high tide, and a Bremen ship of about 300 tons, having with her cable hauled out a post upon the old pier, was stranded near Cairn Jenny. This misadventure seems to have suggested its removal.” Considering the family of the Oxnams, it seems the house (one property at that time) was built by the father of Richard Oxnam (born 1730) and grandfather of Richard Oxnam (born 1768).

The house built for Benjamin Batten 1840

on the site of the bank inaugurated by Richard Oxnam

The Bank

OXNAM, BATTEN & CO. Established in Chapel St. 1795

Founders : John Batten, William Carne and Richard Oxnam, merchants.

John Batten d 1810; Henry Boase (Alverton ) became a partner Sept. 1810; Richard Oxnam retired 1810 and d1844. Renamed BATTEN, CARNE AND BOASE 1810-1823; Henry Boase retired 1823; John Batten junior entered firm 1823; Joseph Carne (son of W. Carne) became a partner 1823. Renamed BATTEN, CARNE AND CARNE 1833; John Batten junior d 1834; William Carne d 1836; John Batten the third, also merchant of Penzance became partner 1834. Philip Marrack (Newlyn) employed by bank since 1810 left his position as manager, became a partner 1844; John Batten the third, retired 31 Oct. 1849 and d 1875; Joseph Carne, F.R.S. d 1858 and his daughter Elizabeth Catherine Thomas Carne became partner 12th Oct 1858; Thomas Hacker Bodilly, merchant, Penzance joined the firm 1859; John Josias Arthur Boase became a partner in 1859 and retired 30 June 1859; A new banking house was built in the Penzance Market, and opened 1864; Nicholas Berryman Downing ( a clerk since 1848 ) became manager 1861; Thomas Bodilly d 1873, his eldest son Thomas Hacker Bodilly received his father's share in the business 1873; Charles Campbell Ross, grandson of Joseph Carne; Nicholas Downing became partners 1872; Miss Carne d 1873 when her interest passed to Charles Ross; Nicholas Downing retired from the firm 1874.

The grand entrance

This building was, at one time,

The Office of West Penwith Rural District Council

Richard Oxnam

He was born 20th December 1768 and died at Wellington Terrace, Penzance on the 23rd August 1844.

He was the second son of Richard Oxnam, Merchant ( d 1793 aged 63)

He was married at Madron 12th August 1794 to Mary John

(she died at Rosehill 26th July 1812, aged 45.

Sheriff of Cornwall 1810

Lieutenant Colonel of Mount's Bay Regt. of Local Militia 1814.

Ship owner and general merchant.

Partner in Penzance Bank.  In commercial difficulties in 1817, and confined for many years in the King's Bench at the suit of George John, solicitor, Penzance.

Rosehill Manor was built for him, in 1814 by builder Robert Hitchens.

His Will shows the property of …

With 50 acres of land; Of Boscaswell in St. Just, being 26 acres in fee simple; Of the lease of two cellars at Sandybank, Pen­zance; Of the set of Wheal Reath tin mine in Towednack; Of the lease of a house at Chyandour; Of the lease of Kerris in Paul, being 58 acres; Of the Fee of the Long Cellar, Penzance; Of the Fee of a plot of ground opposite the Coinage Hall, Penzance; Of the Fee of a house in Chapel Street, Penzance; Of the Fee of 3 meadows at the Minney, being 3½ acres; Of the reversion of all Regent's Terrace, Penzance and the fields adjoining; Of seats in St. Mary's chapel and Madron Church. By his Will he left £5 per annum to the township of Newlyn, and £3 per annum to Mousehole.


John Cornish

John Cornish (grandson of William Cornish and Frances James) born 29th Oct 1759, son of Richard Cornish (tin smelter, merchant and seine owner). [John’s brother Richard Cornish was a lieutenant RN, sailed with Admiral John Jervis; he died 1786 of a severe injury in that his cheek was cut off by a mast splinter]. John Cornish was articled to Richard Oxnam senior, later became a partner in Oxnam & Cornish, coal, timber and iron traders, with Richard Oxnam, born 1768. John Cornish was manager of the mercantile and banking business in Penzance, carrying on the business when Richard Oxnam retired. John Cornish owned St Clare House, which passed to his son Richard Cornish in 1839. The family were mostly merchants and mariners.



Raymond Forward