History of Falmouth

Falmouth is not as ancient as some Cornish towns but its harbour was mentioned by historians in antiquity such as Ptolemy and Strabo.

The Black Rock at the entrance to its harbour has been put forward as a possible location for the Isle of Ictis, where the Phoenicians visited to trade for tin.

Falmouth was first known as Smithwick. Maps from the time of Elizabeth I show only one house here - Arwenack Manor, home of the Killigrew family. Sir Walter Raleigh is believed to have visited here and prepared a report about the suitability of the area for the establishment of a town - he was a guest of Sir John Killigrew.

From 1613 onwards John Killigrew began to build houses near the foreshore but although his development was opposed by the more ancient towns of Helston, Penryn and Truro, King James judged in favour of the enterprise and Killigrew was allowed to continue. A new town was soon in existence. The houses which stood around the harbour were divided into two hamlets by a creek between them - Smithicke on one shore and Pennycomequick on the other.

Siege of Pendennis Castle by the Parliamentarians.

The town was granted the right to hold a market. Smithick became the new site for the Customs House after it was moved from Penryn.

King Charles II decreed that the two hamlets should be known as Falmouth.

Charter granted establishing a Corporation of Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses.

Falmouth became a parish in its own right, with its own parish church (built in 1663). There were around two hundred houses in the town.



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