Volume 6 Part I.

Didymosphenia by VAC ©2013 Steve Edgar


This issue has a definite 'beery' flavour inasmuch as two articles reflect the editors other interest - namely ale. There's something comforting about sitting outside (or inside) a pub with a foaming glass of beer knowing that, in all likelihood, the crystal clear sparkling product owes its clarity to the diatom.
There are a number of new downloads available, updated 'Letters' and 'Links' sections and the addition of a 'News' page.
As with all previous issues it takes us some time to accumulate sufficient material to warrant a new issue. If you have something you would like to offer in the way of articles, photographs or notes then please send such. Contact details can be found on the 'About' page.

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New Downloads 

Some further works by Horace Barber
- a review by Mike Samworth

The work in front of me on the computer screen is another download on 'The Amateur Diatomist website'. Perhaps some sort of explanation is needed here. Some may remember that this ‘title’ started life in March 2002 with the publication of Number 1 within Volume 1 of an A5, well printed publication of some 40 pages. Instigated, inspired and industriously worked on by Steve Gill, with the help of others, the stated aim was to further the interest and study if diatoms, as the title suggests amongst principally the amateur naturalist. Initially free, the publication costs eventually resulted in a subscription fee, which some eighty-odd people signed up to. After 16 issues in all, production costs meant that in July 2009, the last physical issue went out. However, the publication has continued to exist on the internet, which of course allowed colour photographs and an almost unlimited size per issue.
To the credit of those concerned, the entire ‘back-catalogue’ of Volumes 1-4 is available as PDFs and an index allows some sort of search. Also on the website are a number of downloads of some publications that are quite varied. They range from a Diatom Glossary, to a scale utility program for use with measuring of microscopic objects. There is the mammoth tome 'An Introduction to the Microscopical Study of Diatoms’ by Robert B. McLaughlin which is a must for anyone with the slightest interest in diatoms, or microscopy in general for that matter, such is the scope of the work.
There are four works celebrating the work of the late Horace Barber, and the subject of this review is the fourth and latest of them. Horace was a remarkable man in many respects, and his very personality lives on in the numerous drawings of diatoms that he made, many of which are only being seen here by the good grace and kindness of his son Alan Barber and the unstinting efforts of the Editor in making them available.
The contents of this publication are something of a mixed bag. There are notes, illustrations and letters, most previously unpublished, that were found in Bernard Hartley’s archive of correspondence with Horace Barber.We should be grateful to the late Bernard Hartley that he kept these safe, and made plans for them to pass to other interested parties. Unlike the previous volumes these ‘papers’ relate to a wide range of sites rather than a single region. There are notes on fossil material from Russia and the States as well as notes on collections made at British Diatomist meetings. Also of interest are Horace’s opinion on ‘splitters and lumpers’. The multiple introductions to his “British Diatom Flora” are historically important in that none of these made their way into the publication "An Atlas of British Diatoms" published after his death.
I can only give a flavour here, but one or two things stand out. In 1982, the annual meeting of British Diatomists was held at The Leonard Wills Field Centre, Nettlecombe Court, Sussex. Attendance compised some forty-four persons including diatomists from overseas. During the weekend opportunity was taken to make a gathering of diatoms from a stretch of water known as Parsonage Pond, within the grounds. There is an illustrated account of the flora from filamentous algae. Also included is a photograph of the attendees, in which each has been named, quite a historical record in itself.
There was also a meeting at another FSC field centre, in 1981, at Malham Tarn. During this weekend, Horace did quite a thorough survey of the diatom flora, and the was published in the Quekett journal. Horace didn’t consider himself an expert at identification, and ascribed one form as ‘Kudbeowtii’. In 2000, another group of microscopists found themselves at this very same fine location, and a number set about teaching others of the joys of collecting, cleaning, viewing etc. A short report of this was given in ‘The Amateur Diatomist’ Vol 1 No. 2 and a comparison table shown of the species found in 1981 and 2000. In a similar vein, one form was given as ‘Noidea’.

For me, the most important aspect of this, and other works of Horace Barber, are the drawings themselves. Here, the originals have been cleaned up a little, to remove unnecessary annotations or marks, and they look absolutely splendid. They have an inimitable style that both sets them out as his, but at the same time gives a wonderful impression of the diatom. There are more detailed figures in many texts, but few can express the very soul (if it has one) of the diatom in question. Birdwatchers talk about the ‘jizz’ of a bird, and some illustrators have that skill of depiction and some don’t. In the case of birds, feather-perfect isn’t always best. Ennion, Tunnicliffe and Eade are names that keen birders would recognise as showing the personality of a bird, and to that we must add Barber for our favourite algae.
It is somewhat easy to recommend a publication that doesn’t cost anything. However, this is a very worthwhile publication, and I recommend it to you. If nothing else you can marvel at the artistry of the man and his interest in such small things that most folk don’t know exist all around them.

The Letters of Samuel Henry Meakin to Charles Leslie Odam

A Diatomist's Vade Mecum
by Cedric Norman Walter

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Cleaning Diatoms 
Zero-Chemical Diatom Cleaning


To clean living (or dead, or preserved) diatom material of all the cell contents without recourse to chemical cleaning of any description.


The method we are about to describe is known as 'Incineration'. This is, of course, not a new concept as it has been widely used in the distant and recent past by many diatomists. This extract from a letter to Klaus-Dieter Kemp from John Carter dated June 1987 amply confirms this:

Dear Klaus,

Having returned from my annual jaunt to the frozen north (and it did actually snow this year) I am now once again on the job and you wull no doubt be interested in this one. You will know that Hustedt in 1930, and 1966 also, tells us that Nav. perpusilla as well as N. gallica grow in chains. I sent you a slide of the latter some time ago and I have been fortunate to find the former in a gathering near here. Of course it's not on the cards to clean the stuff as the chains would disintegrate so I made one or two incinerations and here is one for you to amuse yourself with.

However, most descriptions of this incineration technique rely on the cleaner having access to Platinum (Pt) foil. No doubt there are those that would still be able to afford such a luxury (currently about £30 per gram) - the editors do not fall into this category.


  • A Blow Torch - a normal household decorating Blow Torch is ideal.
  • A Steel Plate
  • A Laboratory Tripod or Clamp Stand
  • A supply of 22x22mm coverslips (or larger)
  • A supply of 16mm coverslips
  • A small pipette
  • A cavity staining block (a square moulded glass type with deep smooth circular cell)
  • Some wooden toothpicks
  • A pair of coverslip forceps
  • A fine artists brush
  • A fresh diatom sample (an older untreated/unpreserved sample will do just as well)
  • A quantity of Distilled water
  • A hot plate
  • A ceramic tile
  • A suitable High Refractive Index Mountant


The melting point of the Silica frustule is circa 1500 degrees Celsius. This is well above the melting point of a conventional coverslip - which is well above the annealing point about 500 degrees Celsius.
I rarely use square or oblong coverslips but have aquired them at meetings when searching out circular coverslips. I often wondered what I would do with these and had considered putting them back out at a meeting. Thankfully I didn't do so!
Pleurax was the mountant we (Mike Samworth, Mike Woof and myself) chose to use, though ZRAX would have worked just as well (perhaps even better).


  • Place a 22x22mm coverslip on the steel plate.
  • Load the coverslip with as much material as possible using a suitable pipette.

  • The liquor used should be that produced by swirling the sample and taken a few moments later having let the heavier detritus sink to the bottom.

  • Fire up your Blow Torch!
  • Heat the sample from above. Don't use too fierce a flame as the sample could be blown from the coverslip whilst still wet.

  • As the sample dries out you can get closer to the coverslip and heat until everything turns white and even then carry on burning. Fresh material will turn black (in parts - as the image below) as the organics are reduced to carbon and further burning will cause it to return to a very light grey or white film.

  • Allow to cool. The cooling is very rapid and after a few second you can pick up the coverslip with a pair of coverslip forceps.

  • If you view the coverslip at this point you may well find it has 'domed' or 'rippled'. This isn't a problem because you are going to move the frustules from this coverslip.
  • Hold the coverslip over a staining block and add a little distilled water to the surface of the cover slip.
  • Carefully brush the fluid into the staining block and repeat until all material is removed.

  • Dilute the result as required to produce even strews on a circular coverslip (you may need to experiment with this by making a single mount to begin with - see below)
  • Place a number of (or just a single) round coverslip (16mm) onto the hotplate set at about 85 degrees Celsius. Using a small pipette add some of the liquor from the Staining block to the coverslip and allow to evaporate completely.
  • Slide the coverslip onto a ceramic tile and allow to cool.
  • Place sufficient mountant (we used two drops from a standard wooden toothpick) onto the centre of a 3x1" slide.
  • Pick up the coverslip with the coverslip forceps and place sample side down onto the mountant on the slide.
  • Place the slide on the same hot plate you were using to dry the coverslips. It will bubble vigorously as the solvent is evaporated. When it looks as if the bubbling has subsided somewhat remove the slide and place on the ceramic tile.
  • The bubbles in the mountant should disappear and have spread to the extremes of the coverslip. (If you have an excess of mountant this can be chipped off later or removed with the appropriate solvent.
  • That's the mount complete, apart from labelling. Check it under the microscope to see whether the strew density is right. If not dilute the material in the staining block with a little distilled water and try again.
  • The frustules (for they will be in the main complete and possibly even retaining their original relationship one with another) should have taken in the mountant and should appear uniform throughout with no air bubbles locked therein.

Note: With Melosira sp., and the like, it is particularly difficult to evacuate the air from complete frustules. If we had a vacuum jar and suitable pump we would certainly experiment with this as a means of ridding the frustules of air prior to heating the mountant.

If anyone has such a beast and wishes to contribute it to a noble and worthy cause please let us know.

After each sample carefully clean the artists brush with your fingers whilst it is under running water. Application of washing-up liquid is useful but make sure the brush is thoroughly rinsed thereafter. Also clean out the pipette. We use plastic disposable pipettes in an effort to avoid sample contamination.


All sample photographs ©2014 Mike Samworth

Nicely cleaned sample fully penetrated by mountant

Nicely cleaned sample not quite fully penetrated by mountant

Nicely cleaned sample many frustules retaining air pockets

Nicely cleaned sample fully penetrated by mountant but with residual detritus

Insufficiently incinerated sample


Generally this procedure produces nicely cleaned samples and a little care and extra attention during the mounting process removes a large number of the air inclusions. Despite the act of brushing the cleaned material from the coverslip the frustules often appear to retain their relationships on to another.
Whilst developing this procedure we sometimes encountered a problem when heating the material directly when wet. This sometimes resulted in the material being blown from the surface of the coverslip by the force of the blowtorch jet and occassionally the spontaneous shattering of the slip itself. By drying the material onto the 22x22mm coverslip on a hot plate and then removing to the steel plate for 'blowtorching' this event has not since occurred.
It should also be noted that Marine samples will need a jolly good washing in distilled water prior to incineration.

Note: This method was demonstrated at the Postal Microscopical Society meeting at Pool-in-Wharfedale on Saturday 11th October 2014 after which the attendees were invited to prepare samples and slides themselves. (See letters section)

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Heinr. Boecker's 1884 List 

Very little seems to be known about Boecker's Institute and what has been written is mostly surmise based on Catalogue dates and exhibit entries at various national and international shows.


An advertisement from The Journal of the Royal Microscopical Society 1883

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Brewery Filters 
Uses of Diatomite

For the following information, diagrams and photographs we are indebted to Ueli Schrader, P.Eng., Ph.D.; Beverage Engineering Inc. BEI. Consulting Engineers

The subject of this article is a filter device called the Candle Filter Machine.
These devices rely on 'candles' (vertical columns) of diatomaceous earth (cakes) to filter out yeast and other particulates from the final brew.
The following graph illustrates the particle size distribution in commonly used diatomaceous earth and perlite columns.

A candle filter for large breweries would be a quite bulky device similar to that illustrated below.

Smaller breweries might use a much more compact device.

The general prinicples of operation may be gleaned from the following schematic.

The actual columns (candles) can be seen with the cover removed.

The following image shows the inside of a candle filter, - the picture is taken through one of the sight glasses available. You can see the diatomaceous earth forming a cylindrical cake on the stainless steel candles. The stainless steel candles have slot width such that the Diatomaceous Earth is held back in a reliable manner. After the cake is formed using either water - as in this case - or filtered beer the water is pushed out with the beer and the filtration begins.

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Juniper Hall Microscopists' Weekend - August 2013 

Three of the four Editors of The Amateur Diatomist were amongst the somewhat jubilant throng that attended the annual microscopists jaunt to a Field Studies Centre over the August Bank Holiday of 2013.
The Centre chosen was Juniper Hall, a property owned by the Natinal Trust and occupied by the Field Studies Council.

Juniper Hall, Headley Road, Mickleham, Surrey RH5 6DA
Grade: II Listed Building
Date Listed: 28th November 1951
English Heritage Building ID: 289953
OS Grid Reference: TQ1725052707
OS Grid Coordinates: 517250, 152707
Coordinates: 51°15'41"N 0°19'15"W 51.2614°N 0.3208°W
Local Authority: Mole Valley District Council

Listed for historical reasons and on account of the interior of one room. The original portion of the building was on the site of the centre of the east wing, facing south. This was the Royal Oak Inn. The north-west wing was added by Sir Cecil Bis(s)hopp about 1762.

The inn was demolished and this portion of the house rebuilt and extended further east about 1870. At the same time the north west wing was mutilated. But this is the only position which has any C18 work in it. 3 storeys. 7 windows. Red brick. The brick-work probably dated from 1870 when 2 large and 2 small gables were substituted for the top storey of the C18 building which had a cornice and parapet. Large ugly bay of 4 windows at the north end of the front (The Sculptured Drawing Room). 3 round-headed doorway in the centre with semi-circular fanlight. This became the front door when the wing was built in 1762 but the front door was moved to the south front in the alterations of 1870. The only portion of the interior of interest remaining from the 1762 house is the ground floor room a the north-west corner of the North-West wing. This is called the Sculptures Drawing Room. The walls have plaster figures or plaques set in elaborate foliated borders, with ceiling and chimney piece to match. The room was possibly designed by Lady Templeton who is said to have designed a similar room at Norbury Park nearby. During the French Revolution Juniper Hall became the principle meeting place of some of the most distinguished émigrés which had left France on account of the political developments. Amongst others, Talleyrand, Narbonne, Madame de Stael, General D'Arblay, Lally Tollendal, Madame de Broglie and the Princess d'Henin all stayed there. It is on account of their associations with the house and the survival of the Sculptured Drawings Room that the house is listed. It was also occupied by Thomas Broadwood of Broadwood's pianos from 1814 onwards. The 9 fine cedars in the garden to the west of the house were probably planted by Sir Cecil Bis(s)hopp about 1762.

We didn't have any great ambitions for the weekend as the meeting was more of a social event, although a considerable amount of microscopy is undertaken by the various participants. Much of our time was spent under the massive canvas awning set out on the lawn in front of the house where we drank a few beers and discussed new microscopical related acquisitions, what our intentions were as regards studying the local fauna and watched the comings and goings. Due to the number of beers consumed during these discussions we only managed two collecting trips beyond the confines of the Hall grounds.

However, these samples proved ideal for our propsed mounting method.
We had decided on mounting uncleaned material in Pleurax. Our methodology was simple and has been described in previous articles in The Amateur Diatomist. A small sample of the material was placed on a slide. The slide was heated on a hotplate to drive off the water and then flooded with Iso-propyl alcochol. As this evaporated we added a drop of Pleurax mountant and applied a coverslip. This was then bubbled vigorously on the hotplate to expel as much air from the diatom frustules as possible, and then allowed to cool.

The diatom samples we collected were as follows:


River Mole @ bridge between Cowslip Farm and Lodge Farm (Downstream side) 51.263701, -0.335748


River Mole @ bridge between Cowslip Farm and Lodge Farm (Downstream side) 51.263701, -0.335748 (epiphytic diatoms)


River Mole @ bridge between Cowslip Farm and Lodge Farm (Upstream side) 51.263701, -0.335748


River Mole @ shingle bank – South of Leatherhead, near island. Filamentous 51.290251, -0.328195


River Mole @ shingle bank – South of Leatherhead, near island. Filamentous 51.290251, -0.328195


Abandoned bath in Juniper Hall vegetable garden. Collected by Barry Ellam. Scraping from side. 51.261398, -0.319322

The slides were checked and labelled.

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Further Notes on Skye Deposits 

Further to the article "Lealt Valley Diatomite Railway and Diatomite Extraction from Loch Cuithir, Isle of Skye" by John Noorani (The Amateur Diatomist Vol.4. Pt.1 p.27) the following extracts, in the main from Scottish newspapers of the period, may be found interesting, particularly in that they also mention other Skye locations and deposits on other islands.

Glasgow Herald, Wednesday, April 28th, 1886

Manchester Times, Saturday, May 15th, 1886

Aberdeen Weekly Journal, Tuesday, February 15th, 1887

Aberdeen Weekly Journal, Thursday, June 23rd, 1887
Aberdeen Weekly Journal, Saturday, June 25th, 1887

Aberdeen Weekly Journal, Tuesday, November 19th, 1889

Aberdeen Weekly Journal, Friday, April 28th, 1893

Birmingham Daily Post, Thursday, November 21st, 1889

The Dundee Courier & Argus, Friday, November 22nd, 1889
The Newcastle Weekly Courant, Saturday, December 28th, 1889

Aberdeen Weekly Journal, Wednesday, May 3rd, 1893

Glasgow Herald, Saturday, May 12th, 1900

The Courier and Argus, Saturday, May 12th, 1900

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What better combination is there than a decent diatom collecting site allied to an alehouse. After a strenuous morning collecting samples repairing to a good hostelry for a refreshing pint of best ale is a must.
Hopefully you will all share your favorite haunts. The only proviso is that the 'pub' should have on its doorstep a good collecting spot.

The Saracens Head
Symonds Yat East

The Saracens Head Inn, a centuries old establishment, lies immediately below Symonds Yat view point on the east side on the bank of the River Wye in Herefordshire. The river flows passed into a deep gorge in the Forest of Dean. The west bank and east bank are linked by a hand-ferry operated by the bar staff of the hostelry.

Immediately to its front is the landing stage for the Hand-ferry where scrapes may be had from the concrete fascia. If you care to take the hand-ferry I'm sure a plankton net trailed behind would pick up some interesting material. Just downstream Situated in the heart of the Wye Valley between Ross on Wye and Monmouth, this family run Inn is popular with walkers, cyclists, canoeists, fishermen and fans of good food and real ales; and offers Bed and Breakfast accommodation, with most rooms overlooking the River Wye. Eat and drink in the flag-floored bar, cosy lounge or the restaurant/dining room; or watching the ancient hand ferry from one of the riverside terraces.

Looking upstream (the landing quay is below the steps on the right, the Hand Ferry rope can be seen spanning the river)

Looking downstream

The rapids downstream of The Saracen's Head

The rapids downstream of The Saracen's Head

For further information visit their web site (opens in a new browser window)
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Steve Edgar's Diatom Gallery 
All images ©2014 Steve Edgar

Navicula sp. (VAC)

Melosira in Water (VAC)

Pinnularia alpina (VAC)

Pinnularia alpina (VAC)

Pinnularia alpina (VAC)

Stauroneis sp. (VAC)

Surirella biseriata (DG + VAC)

Surirella biseriata (Phase)

Shuettia annulata

Triceratium sp.

Triceratium sp.

Triceratium sp.

Hannaea arcus

Navicula sp. in Pleurax

from Loch na Cuilc

Surirella [bifrons?]
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Old Papers Revisited 
On Diatoms by Thomas Patridge

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Field Microscopes XI 
The "Boys'", "Youths'" and "School" Microscope

These little drum microscopes appear quite regularly on auction sites and antique fairs. They can usually be had for fairly little outlay. Care, however, must be taken to ensure that the little lenses (usually but not always) a triplet are intact.

Though they are not brilliant at resolving detail they are more than adequate to check out a sample in the field.

They should have a small wooden box that is ideal for resting in a coat pocket or the top of a rucksack. They are very light. The brass tube where it is cut away to house the stage has a tendency to bend if a box is not available. The more robust models with a little cast limb do not suffer from this to the same degree but bear in mind that the limb is affixed to quite thin brass tubing.

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My New Diatom Project (II) 
An Update by Maurice Vaughan

Now I am out of hospital and able to walk and drive, my hunt for diatoms begins in earnest with Autumn just around the corner. I have found a ford in a small village not too far from me at Alconbury Weston. It can be found on Ord. Sur. map Number 142. at grid reference 179 769. (52.377821, -0.270918)
So, armed with my small containers and a spoon I looked forward to a good collecting afternoon.

Photographs courtesy of www.alconbury-weston.org.uk

Either side of the road where the brook ran across it was untouched, with plenty of brown/green areas waiting to be studied. I have a problem in that I can not fully bend my right knee or place any weight on it without the knee collapsing. A brick covered in a thick slime, was sampled and went into one of my containers, lid shut, location noted on container and into the bucket.
Across to the other side, I was snookered as it was in the shape of a small weir with water running over the side. There was a lot of algae attached to the bottom and flowing along with the run of the river. I channelled the flow into a small gully in the weir and gave all the algae a good shake forcing all the diatoms and other aquatic bits into the gully and into a jar. When full the top was screwed on marked and into the bucket. By now my knee had really started to ache so I called it a day. On arriving home I sorted things out and reduced all my samples into a small amount of water, but full of stream rubbish.
I have taken a few photos to show my efforts. The main diatoms showing were Melosira, Tabellaria and loads of Navicula.

I have other planned attacks on other locations so I will keep you all informed.
Good hunting this Autumn.

[Editor's Note: The Alconbury Brook, a tributary of the Ouse, runs from the north-west to the southeast of the parish and then, turning south-west, forms the south-eastern boundary. The brook at Alconbury Weston flows across the green and through the middle of the hamlet.]

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Some Notes on John Ralfs 

John Ralfs (1807-1890)

John Ralfs, British Botanist, 1862

This is a Carte de Visite photograph by Webster

Original size: 100mm x 60mm


Samuel Ralfs

│    died of Typhus

│    Possibly bu. 29th December 1808 All Saint, Southampton, Hampshire

m. Mary ?Simpkins

│     probably m. 1804 All Saints, Southampton, Hampshire

├─Henry John Ralfs

│      Possibly bp. 24th July 1805 Christchurch, Hampshire

│                   (father – Sam Ralfs)

├─Mary Anne (Anne Mary) Ralfs b. 13th September 1806

│      bp. 29th December 1806 Millbrook, Hampshire

│           Parents – Samuel and Mary Ralfs

├─John Ralfs b. 13th September 1807 Mill House, Millbrook, nr Southampton

│  │   bp. 24th December 1807 at Millbrook, Hampshire.

│  │   Became Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1832.

│  │   Settled in Penzance in 1837.

│  │   In the 1841 Census @ Victoria Place, Madron, Penwith, Cornwall:

│  │      John Ralfs, Male aged 30 born Cornwall. Occupation - Independant.

│  │       Also present –

│  │        Mary Ann Davy, Female aged 55 born Cornwall, Occupation - Lodging Keeper

│  │        Elizabeth Davy, Female, aged 40 born Cornwall, Occupation - Lodging Keeper

│  │        Eliza Thomas, Female aged 8 born Cornwall.

│  │        James Thomas, Male aged 6 born Cornwall.

│  │        [It should be noted that for those individuals above the age of 16 the 1841 census rounded their ages down

│  │         to the nearest multiple of 5. Thus, John Ralfs age was given as 30 whereas he was actually 32. Also his place

│  │         of birth was incorrectly recorded.]

│  │   In the 1851 Census @ 15 St. Clare Street, Madron, Cornwall:

│  │      John Ralfs, a lodger, aged 44, a widower, M.R.C.S. & L.W.C.A., not practising, b. Mudeford, Hampshire

│  │        Also present:

│  │          Christian Hancock, aged 61, a widower, a Shopkeeper (Grocer), b. Crowan, Cornwall

│  │          Catherine Hancock (daughter), aged 31, a Grocer’s Assistant, b. Perranurhnoe, Cornwall

│  │   After losing his fortune, he was provided with an annuity from a relief fund set up by Thomas Henry Huxley

│  │       and Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1858. William Borrer (1781-1862), known as the Father of British Lichenology, is

│  │       mentioned as promising £30 towards the relief fund. In contrast Darwin is recorded as offering 3 guineas. Ralfs

│  │       corresponded with Sir William Jackson Hooker, Charles Darwin, The Rev. Miles Joseph Berkeley (Department of

│  │       Botany - Natural History Museum), Christopher Edmund Broome also of the Natural History Museum, and George

│  │       Arnold Walker-Arnott of the same.

│  │   In the 1861 Census @ 13 St. Clare Street, Madron, Cornwall:

│  │      John Ralfs, a lodger, aged 53, a Widower, a Surgeon, M.R.C.S., L.S.A., not practising, b. Millbrook, Hampshire

│  │        Also present:

│  │          Elizabeth Curnow, aged 36, a widow, a Grocer, b. Sancreed, Cornwall

│  │          Jane Curnow, aged 7, a Scholar, b. Southwark, London

│  │          Mary Ann Nicholas (step-sister), aged 21, a Linen Fraper’s Assistant, b. Kudgvan, Cornwall

│  │   Coulson's Directory of Penzance - 1864 St. Clare Street.

│  │      At No. 13 is Mrs. Curnow, Shopkeeper and John Ralfs, Esq.

│  │   In the 1871 Census @ 16 St. Calre Street, Penzance, Cornwall:

│  │      John Ralfs, a Lodger , Widower, aged  63, Author, b. MILLBROOK, Hampshire

│  │   In the 1881 Census @ 15 St. Clare Street (Madron) Penzance, Cornwall:

│  │      John Ralfs, Widower, aged 73. Male born Millbrook, Hampshire, England. Lodger.

│  │             Occupation - Medical Professor Not Practising M.R.C.S., L.& L.W.E.A.

│  │        Also present:

│  │           Elizabeth Eve Quick Unmarried aged 49 Female born:- Sennen, Cornwall, England.

│  │              Occupation: Lodging House Keeper

│  │           Mary Quick Widow aged 86 Female born:- Zennor, Cornwall, England Mother of Elizabeth Eve Quick

│  │   BMD Death, aged 83, September Quarter 1890 Penzance Vol.5c. pg.150.

│  │   d. 14th July 1890 @ Penzance

│  │   Probate: Ralfs, John (Personal Estate £96 7s. Granted 21st August 1890)

│  │                 Administration of the Personal Estate of John Ralfs late of Penzance in the County of

│  │                 Cornwall, Surgeon, a Widower, who died 14th July 1890 at Penzance was granted at

│  │                 the Principal Registry to John Henry Ralfs of 9 Denby Place, Edge Lane, Liverpool,

│  │                 Professor of Languages, the Son and only Next of Kin.

│  │

│  m. Laura Cecilia? Newman b. 26th December 1815, St. Mary's, Lambeth, Surrey

│  │     bp. 25th January 1816, Walworth Locks Field Chapel, York Street Independent, Southwark, Surrey.

│  │         Father - Henry NEWMAN

│  │         Mother - Anne Walker

│  │         Mother's Father - Robert WATSON

│  │    She is recorded in the International Genealogical Index as Lawra Cicilia NEWMAN.

│  │            Recorded in: Dr. Williams Library for England and Wales

│  │

│  └─John Henry (William) Ralfs b. circa 1836 Moretonhampstead, Devon

│     │   Probably bp. 4th August 1836 Moreton Hampstead, Devon

│     │             Parents – John and Laura Cecilia Ralfs

│     │   In the 1861 Census @ 4 Bell Yard, St. Clement Danes, Middlesex:

│     │      Henry Ralfs, aged 25, a Clothier’s Clerk and Cigar Dealer, b. Tavistock, Devon

│     │   In the 1871 Census @ 99 Greenway Road, Tranmere, Cheshire:

│     │      John W.? Ralfs, aged 35, a Professor of Languages, b. Moretonhampstead, Devon

│     │   In the 1881 Census @ 11 Beaconsfield Road, Poulton cum Seacombe, Cheshire:

│     │      John Ralfs, aged 40?, a Teacher of Languages, b. Lima, a British Subject???

│     │   In the 1891 Census @ 2 Fletcher Grove, West Derby:

│     │      John W.? Ralfs, aged 54, a Professor of Languages and Interpreter, b. Devonshire

│     │   In the 1901 Census @ 19 Heyworth Street, Everton, Lancashire:

│     │      John W.? Ralfs, aged 64, a Professor of Languages and Translation, b. Lynmouth, Devon

│     │   BMD Death, John William Ralfs, aged 67, March Quarter 1903 Birkenhead Vol.8a. pg.349.

│     │

│     m. Elizabeth Jane Channer b. circa 1839 London, Middlesex

│     │     m. 14th February 1859 @ Christ Church, Southwark, after Banns

│     │        John Henry Ralfs, of full age, a Bachelor, a Shipping Agent, of the Milby Hotel

│     │           Father – John Ralfs, A Surgeon

│     │        Elizabeth Jane Channer, of full age, a Spinster, of Edward Street

│     │           Father John Channer, a Builder

│     │        Both signed their name

│     │        Witnesses: Thomas Ridley and Mary Berrysman

│     │     BMD Marriage March Quarter 1859 St. Saviour Vol.1d. pg.3.

│     │     In the 1861 Census @ 4 Bell Yard, St. Clement Danes, Middlesex:

│     │        Elizabeth J. Ralfs, aged 22, b. Stepney, Middlesex

│     │     In the 1871 Census @ 99 Greenway Road, Tranmere, Cheshire:

│     │        Elizabeth Ralfs, aged 31, b. London, Middlesex

│     │     Possibly BMD Death, aged 29?, December Quarter 1875 West Derby Vol.8b. pg.371.

│     │         This stated age would fit in with a birth record:

│     │             BMD Birth September Quarter 1847 Lambeth Vol.4. pg.306.

│     │           but if correct would make her a minor when marrying and this is not stated to be the case

│     │

│     ├─Laura Fanny Elizabeth Ralfs b. circa 1865 Southampton, Hampshire

│     │  │   bp. 12th January 1866 All Saints, Southampton, Hampshire

│     │  │       Parents – John Henry and Elizabeth Jane Ralfs

│     │  │   BMD Birth December Quarter 1865 Southampton Vol.2c. pg.27.

│     │  │   In the 1871 Census @ 99 Greenway Road, Tranmere, Cheshire:

│     │  │      Laura Ralfs, aged 5, a Scholar, b. Southampton, Hampshire

│     │  │   In the 1881 Census @ 11 Beaconsfield Road, Poulton cum Seacombe, Cheshire:

│     │  │      Larua Fanny Ralfs, aged 15, a Scholar, b. Southampton

│     │  │   In the 1901 Census @ 1 Simms Road, West Derby, Lancashire:

│     │  │      Laura Gostiller, aged 35, a Shopkeeper on her own account, b. Southampton

│     │  │   In the 1911 Census @ 38 Dorset Road, Tue Brook, West Derby:

│     │  │      Laura F. E. Gostiller, aged 45, a widow, a Cook, b. Southampton, Hampshire

│     │  │   BMD Death, aged 87, December Quarter 1952 Liverpool North Vol.10d. pg.233.

│     │  │

│     │  m. Richard Gostiller b. circa 1854

│     │  │  │     BMD Marriage December Quarter 1892 Chorlton Vol.8c. pg.1158

│     │  │  │     BMD Death, aged 54, June Quarter 1908 West Derby Vol.8b. pg.351.

│     │  │  │     In the 1901 Census @ 1 Simms Road, West Derby, Lancashire:

│     │  │  │        Richard Gostiller, aged 47, a Plumber, b. Liverpool

│     │  │  │

│     │  │  previous m. ?

│     │  │  │

│     │  │  ├─Richard Gostiller

│     │  │  │     In the 1901 Census @ 1 Simms Road, West Derby, Lancashire:

│     │  │  │        Richard Gostiller, aged 21, a Plumber, b. Liverpool

│     │  │  │

│     │  │  └─Henry Gostiller b. circa 1884 Liverpool

│     │  │         BMD Birth September Quarter 1884 West Derby Vol.8b. pg.352.

│     │  │         In the 1901 Census @ 1 Simms Road, West Derby, Lancashire:

│     │  │            Henry Gostiller, aged 16, a Plumber, b. Liverpool

│     │  │

│     │  ├─Ernest Laurence Gostiller b. circa 1893 Tue Brook, Liverpool

│     │  │     BMD Birth September Quarter 1893 West Derby Vol.8b. pg.613.

│     │  │     In the 1901 Census @ 1 Simms Road, West Derby, Lancashire:

│     │  │        Ernest L. Gostiller, aged 7, b. Liverpool

│     │  │     In the 1911 Census @ 38 Dorset Road, Tue Brook, West Derby:

│     │  │        Ernest L. Gostiller, aged 17, an apprentice Plumber, b. Tue Brook, Liverpool

│     │  │     BMD Death, aged 86, June 1978 Liverpool Vol.36. pg.0687.

│     │  │

│     │  ├─George Gostiller b. circa 1898 Tue Brook, Liverpool

│     │  │     BMD Birth December Quarter 1898 West Derby Vol.8b. pg.620.

│     │  │     In the 1901 Census @ 1 Simms Road, West Derby, Lancashire:

│     │  │        George Gostiller, aged 2, b. Liverpool

│     │  │     In the 1911 Census @ 38 Dorset Road, Tue Brook, West Derby:

│     │  │        George Gostiller, aged 12, at School, b. Tue Brook, Liverpool

│     │  │

│     │  └─Hilda Martha Gostiller b. circa 1900 Tue Brook, Liverpool

│     │         BMD Birth June Quarter 1900 West Derby Vol.8b. pg.615.

│     │         In the 1901 Census @ 1 Simms Road, West Derby, Lancashire:

│     │            Hilda M. Gostiller, aged 1, b. Liverpool

│     │         In the 1911 Census @ 38 Dorset Road, Tue Brook, West Derby:

│     │            Hilda M. Gostiller, aged 11, at School, b. Tue Brook, Liverpool

│     │

│     ├─B(a)(u)rrio Corbacho Henry John Ralfs b. circa 1867 Tranmere, Cheshire

│     │  │   BMD Birth December Quarter 1867 Birkenhead Vol.8a. pg.431.

│     │  │   bp. 5th April 1868 St. Mary, Birkenhead, Cheshire

│     │  │       Parents – John Henry and Elizabeth Jane Ralfs

│     │  │   In the 1871 Census @ 99 Greenway Road, Tranmere, Cheshire:

│     │  │      Barrio Ralfs, aged 3, a Scholar, b. Tranmere, Cheshire

│     │  │   In the 1881 Census @ 11 Beaconsfield Road, Poulton cum Seacombe, Cheshire:

│     │  │      Barrio C. H. J. Ralfs, aged 13, a Scholar and Office Boy, b. Tranmere, Cheshire

│     │  │   In the 1901 Census @ 30 Kinder Street, West Derby, Lancashire:

│     │  │      Henry Ralfs, aged 33, an Insurance Collector, b. Higher Tranmere, Cheshire

│     │  │

│     │  m. Annie Rowan b. circa 1870

│     │  │      m. 2nd July 1891 St. Peter, Birkdale, Lancashire, after Banns

│     │  │         Henry Ralfs, aged 23, a Bachelor, a Hotel Servant (Boots), of Bedford Road

│     │  │           Father – John Henry William Ralfs, a Teacher of Languages

│     │  │         Annie Rowan, aged 21, a Spinster, of Bedford Road

│     │  │           Father – Thomas Rowan, a Sailor

│     │  │         Both signed their name

│     │  │         Witnesses: William Vickers and Florence Ralfs

│     │  │      In the 1901 Census @ 30 Kinder Street, West Derby, Lancashire:

│     │  │         Annie Ralfs, aged 31, b. Birkenhead, Cheshire

│     │  │

│     │  ├─Laura Ralfs b. circa 1892 Manchester, Lancashire

│     │  │     BMD Birth, September Quarter 1892 Chorlton Vol.8c. pg.958.

│     │  │     In the 1901 Census @ 30 Kinder Street, West Derby, Lancashire:

│     │  │        Laura Ralfs, aged 8, b. Manchester, Lancashire

│     │  │

│     │  ├─Margaret (Maggie) Ralfs b. circa 1894 Manchester, Lancashire

│     │  │     BMD Birth March Quarter 1894 Chorlton Vol.8c. pg.888.

│     │  │     In the 1901 Census @ 30 Kinder Street, West Derby, Lancashire:

│     │  │        Maggie Ralfs, aged 7, b. Manchester, Lancashire

│     │  │

│     │  └─Kathleen Elizabeth Ralfs b. circa 1896 Manchester, Lancashire

│     │         BMD Birth June Quarter 1896 Chorlton Vol.8c. pg.879.

│     │         In the 1901 Census @ 30 Kinder Street, West Derby, Lancashire:

│     │            Kathleen Ralfs, aged 4, b. Manchester, Lancashire

│     │

│     ├─Donald Philip Ralfs b. circa 1869 Tranmere, Cheshire

│     │  │   BMD Birth September Quarter 1869 Birkenhead Vol.8a. pg.450.

│     │  │   bp. 12th September St. Mary, Birkenhead, Cheshire

│     │  │   In the 1871 Census @ 99 Greenway Road, Tranmere, Cheshire:

│     │  │      Donald Ralfs, aged 1, b. Tranmere, Cheshire

│     │  │   In the 1881 Census @ 11 Beaconsfield Road, Poulton cum Seacombe, Cheshire:

│     │  │      Donald P. Ralfs, aged 11, a Scholar, b. Tranmere, Cheshire

│     │  │   In the 1891 Census @ 2 Fletcher Grove, West Derby:

│     │  │       Donald P. Ralfs, aged 21, a Solicitor’s Clerk, b. Tranmere, Cheshire

│     │  │   Possibly BMD Death, aged 81, December Quarter 1950 Marylebone Vol.5d. pg.315.

│     │  │

│     │  ?m. Lillie Isabella Agnes (Agnes Isabella) Milward b. circa 1877

│     │  │

│     │  ├─female Ralfs

│     │  │

│     │  └─male Ralfs

│     │

│     ├─Florence (Helen or Ellen) Ralfs b. circa 1871 Tranmere, Cheshire

│     │     b. 8th May 1871

│     │     BMD Birth June Quarter 1871 Birkenhead Vol.8a. pg.533.

│     │     bp. 9th May 1873 Saint Peter, Liverpool, Lancashire

│     │         Parents – John William and Eliza Jane Ralfs

│     │     In the 1881 Census @ 11 Beaconsfield Road, Poulton cum Seacombe, Cheshire:

│     │        Florence H. Ralfs, aged 9, a Scholar, b. Liverpool, Lancashire

│     │     In the 1891 Census @ 2 Fletcher Grove, West Derby:

│     │        Florence H. Ralfs, aged 19, a Student, b. Tranmere, Cheshire

│     │

│     m. Alice Maude Millington b. circa 1856 Chester

│        │    BMD Marriage December Quarter 1880 Birkenhead Vol.8a. pg.777

│        │    In the 1881 Census @ 11 Beaconsfield Road, Poulton cum Seacombe, Cheshire:

│        │       Alice Ralfs, aged 26, b. Willaston, Cheshire

│        │    In the 1891 Census @ 2 Fletcher Grove, West Derby:

│        │       Alice M. Ralfs, aged 34, b. Chester

│        │    In the 1901 Census @ 19 Heyworth Street, Everton, Lancashire:

│        │       Alice M. Ralfs, aged 48, a Furniture? Dealer on her own account, b. Willeston, Cheshire

│        │

│        subsequent m.

│            BMD Marriage to George Jenny or A. N. Other, December Quarter 1910 West Derby Vol.8b. pg.858.

└─Sarah Elizabeth Ralfs

         Probably bp. 5th September 1808 St. Mary’s, Southampton, Hampshire

                       Parents – Samuel and Mary Ralfs


Mary Anne Ralfs and family


The Royal Cornwall Gazette, Falmouth Packet, and General Advertiser, Friday, January 23, 1863



The Report and Transactions 1890-91 contains an Obituary by Ernest D. Marquand which details the life of John Ralfs and is reprinted here. I have included additional notes and pictures accumulated during a holiday in Cornwall.

Members List 1890–91

John Ralfs, M.R.C.S.(Member of the Royal College of Surgeons), Penzance - Vice President 1880–82 & 84–89, President 1883/84 (13th September 1807–14th July 1890.)


In Memoriam
John Ralfs Born 13th September 1807; Died 14th July 1890.

All deaths are echoes but of His, in whom The life and death which crossed each other made The talisman of immortality. - Bailey.

To numbers of botanists, not only in England but abroad, the announcement of the death of Mr. John Ralfs, last July, must have come as a surprise; for he belonged to a generation of men who had reached the zenith of their fame at the middle of the century, and most of these have long since passed away. The book which made his name famous throughout the botanical world, and by which he will be best remembered by the students of the future, was published forty-two years ago. During the succeeding twelve or fifteen years he stood in the very front rank of living botanists; but ill health and other causes compelled him to narrow down his sphere of action; and to leave unfinished much that would have added to his renown. Living in retirement in the old Cornish town he loved so well, among his books and his little circle of intimate friends, untroubled by domestic cares, and free from the worries of public or professional life, Mr. Ralfs passed the last quarter of his life in repose and quietness occupying himself, as far as his health would permit, solely with work after his own heart; that is to say, first and foremost - the Penzance Public Library, which was unto him as a pet child; and, secondly, the compilation of an exhaustive Flora of West Cornwall, which unhappily he was not spared to complete. Simple in his tastes, peaceful in disposition, tender-hearted and generous, always ready to lend a helping hand in any deserving cause, passionately fond of children, the shyest of whom made friends with him at first sight - he endeared himself to all by the genuine honesty of his character; his occasional taciturnity in the presence of strangers was simply due to an innate modesty and diffidence which even advancing age could not conquer. Nothing afforded him greater pleasure than to gather round him a few "kindred spirits,'' and entertain them in his genial, homely way, comparing notes on matters scientific or literary, or discussing the current topics of the day; and he would enliven the conversation by relating in his own inimitable manner a few humorous incidents of early days, or an account of his walks and talks with scientific celebrities of a bygone generation. His fund of anecdote seemed almost inexhaustible, and few who participated in those pleasant gatherings will forget how rapidly the hours flew by. I made the acquaintance of Mr. Ralfs early in the year 1879, and during my subsequent residence of seven years at Penzance it was my privilege to enjoy his intimate friendship. Few days passed without our having a walk or a chat and a smoke together; for he was an inveterate smoker, and when in good health could seldom get on long in comfort without having recourse to his pipe. Once I asked him if he would furnish me little by little with notes and materials for the composition, at some future date, of a biographical memoir; but his tone and manner so plainly showed that the suggestion was exceedingly distasteful, that I never repeated the request. Unknown to him, however, I contrived to preserve much of our conversation that was worth remembering, and in time my jottings grew into a volume, from which source I cull the short sketch which follows. But I never knew how imperfect my notes were until I set myself to accomplish this task. John Ralfs was born at Hill House, Millbrook, near Southampton, on the 13th of September, 1807. He was the third child and younger son of Samuel and Mary Ralfs, and their home was at Mudeford, near Christchurch, where they owned some small property; but at this particular time Mrs. Ralfs was on a visit to her parents. The Ralfses were a Hampshire family, Samuel's father being a native of the historically interesting village of Porchester; the name, however, always seems to have been an uncommon one. The other children were Henry John, the eldest, who became a lawyer, but died young; Anne Mary, who was day for day one year older than John; and Sarah Elizabeth, who was born about twelve months later. Mr. Samuel Ralfs, the father, died of typhus fever shortly before the birth of the youngest child, so that neither John nor Sarah could remember him. The curious circumstance that Anne and John were born on the same day of the same month, and consequently had but one birthday to celebrate between them, was the cause of much dissatisfaction among the children, since by that coincidence they were deprived of one lawful birthday party annually. The two youngest members of the family attained a very advanced age; Mrs. Casey (Sarah) died at her home in Australia only a few months before her brother John, who thus outlived them all, though he had been the weakling of the flock. As a boy John was excessively shy and reserved, as well as notoriously headstrong; at school he seems to have been distinguished for his obstinacy. No amount of ill treatment, such as being lifted off the ground by his hair, could make him cry, or do what he had made up his mind not to do. He was frequently punished, sometimes wrongfully, but he would never lie or "peach.'' Peaceable by nature he avoided schoolfights, but once thoroughly aroused he would have gone on until death. He was fairly studious, but could not get on well with most of the other boys - he was too shy and too sensitive. After his father's death the mother had removed with the children to Southampton to be near her parents, and the first school John was sent to was Dr. Buller's, which he attended as a day scholar. The next was a boarding school at Bishop's Waltham, under the management of a Mr. Jennings; here, however, his mother did not allow him to remain long on account of the insufficiency of the dietary, and the difficulty of making satisfactory arrangements to suit his peculiar case; for Ralfs never ate meat until he was eighteen years of age, when they compelled him to do so under medical orders, as he was believed to be in a decline. The third and last school young Ralfs was sent to was at Romsey, under the headmastership of the Rev. J. Jenvey, M.A. It was one of the good old-fashioned sort, of some renown in the county; and here the boy went through the usual course of instruction very creditably. He endeared himself to the Jenveys, and they remained firm friends in after life. It had always been the boy's ambition to be a chemist, and accordingly his later studies were directed towards that object; but near the end of his school term an event happened which altered these plans. Whilst engaged in some outdoor game young Ralfs met with a serious accident; in leaping over a hedge he fell, dislocating his ankle besides sustaining a compound fracture of the leg. This laid him up for a twelvemonth. During his convalescence his medical attendant strongly advised him to study for the medical profession, which would prove in every way more advantageous than chemistry alone; and in the end it was decided that he should adopt this course. Accordingly he was articled to his uncle, a surgeon at Brentford, with whom he remained two years and a half, and afterwards spent a similar term at Winchester as pupil of Dr. Lyford, one of the leading practitioners in the county. He next went up to London, and entered Guy's Hospital. Here he suffered a severe attack of typhus fever, which disabled him from doing any work for months, so that two years elapsed between the passing of the Apothecaries' Hall and going before the College of Surgeons in 1832. Both at Hall and College he passed a brilliant examination, and was highly complimented by the examiners. After obtaining his diploma, Ralfs engaged himself as assistant to a medical practitioner at Towcester, in Northamptonshire, with whom he stayed about a year, and then entered into partnership with a surgeon at the East End of London, where he practised for a couple of years or so. About this time the conviction pressed itself upon him with great force that he was in a consumption. He consulted an eminent London specialist, and received the opinion that his condition was indeed very precarious. As residence in South Devon or some similar warm locality was imperative, and might prolong his life for yet a couple of years, but beyond this there was little hope. Being fortunately possessed of a moderate competency, Ralfs threw up his practice, quitted London, and moved down to Torquay. Thus ended his brief medical career. No doubt a man possessed of so much ability, energy, and perseverance, combined with an unwavering regard for truth, would have risen to distinction as a surgeon; but it is safe to affirm that botanical science has gained infinitely more than medical science has lost, through the circumstances which led John Ralfs to abandon his profession. Even as a schoolboy his love of wild flowers often got him into trouble. He was punished for spoiling his books by drying plants between the leaves. And during his residence at Towcester the beautiful tree lichens in Whittlebury Forest riveted his attention, and made him yearn for an opportunity to collect and study them. For Ralfs was essentially a lover of the country. The town, as such, presented but small attractions to a man of his disposition and tastes. Whilst conscientiously carrying on his practice among London bricks and mortar he was still

A lover of the meadows, and the woods, And mountains and of all that we behold On this green earth.

And yet his bias towards botany was not inherited, nor was it acquired from others; it grew up spontaneously. No member of the family, none of his ancestors as far as he could trace, had ever evinced the slightest predilection in favour of natural history, and he could never account for its having developed so strongly in him. He was far advanced before he had made the acquaintance of a single person of kindred tastes. The first one he became acquainted with was the Rev. M. J. Berkeley, already a botanist of repute: whose brother was fellow-student with Ralfs at Guy's Hospital. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship, though they never met in after life. Fifty years later, when Ralfs sent his photograph, to his aged friend, Berkeley wrote: "I recollect your coming with my brother Stafford (who has been dead more than forty years) to my mother's: in Mecklenburgh Street, but I have never seen you since." During his residence at Torquay Ralfs made the acquaintance of Miss Laura C. Newman, daughter of Mr. Henry Newman, of London, and after a short engagement, married that lady in 1835. In the following year a son was born, John Henry, now residing at Liverpool. Not long afterwards Mr. and Mrs. Ralfs separated; and the latter with the young child joined her parents, who were at that time living in France, and there she died about ten years later. It was in the autumn of the year 1837 that John Ralfs went down to reside at Penzance which he made his home for fifty-three years. There must be very few persons now living who can recall to mind the tall young stranger of those early days - thin, pale and haggard, for he was suffering from more than mere physical ailment; the invalid so frail, that when he went away for a change of air no one (as my old friend the late Mr. William Curnow has assured me) believed he would ever return to Penzance alive. His garden was his sole delight and pastime. He cultivated all sorts of curious plants. His flowers were his solace. One thing, however, caused him endless trouble, and that was the amazing numbers of snails which devastated his choicest beds. In vain he tried to exterminate them; they only seemed to increase in multitude; and years afterwards he discovered the cause. His kind-hearted neighbours, observing this poor sickly man assiduously gathering up snails day after day, supposed that he used them medicinally; so they collected as many as they could, and threw them over the wall each night, in order that the supply might not fail. Little by little health improved, and with returning energy Ralfs plunged once more into botanical work. The seaweeds were especial favourites and almost new, so that a splendid field opened up on the rocky shores of his new Cornish home. His earliest lessons had been received at Torquay, under the able guidance of Mrs. Griffiths, "facile regina of British algologists,'' as Harvey designated her. It happened one day as he was making a first start among the seaweeds on that lovely Devonshire coast, that a lady stranger came up and asked what he had found. Ralfs proudly showed the contents of his basket, which, as he thoughts comprised some wonderful things. "Oh," said the lady with a smile, "this is all worthless stuff," and unceremoniously threw everything away, greatly to the young beginner's vexation. "Take these instead,'' she added. "They are really good specimens. You will find enough here to lay out properly for one day. Come down again tomorrow, and we shall find more." This lady was Mrs. Wyatt, and through her Ralfs was soon introduced to Mrs. Griffiths, and they became friends. It was Mrs. Griffiths who induced him to write the first botanical paper he ever published, on the mode of growth of Alaria esculenta, a rare seaweed growing at St. Michael's Mount. In 1839 appeared the compendious and useful little Analysis of British Phaenogamous Plants and Ferns. In a French text-book which Ralfs was in the habit of using, there was an analytical key to the genera and species of flowering plants; this he translated and adapted to suit the English flora. Those persons to whom he occasionally lent this manuscript - among others his friend the Rev. H. Penneck, of Penzance - found it so helpful that they strongly urged him to print it, which at last he consented to do, after recasting the entire work. It may be mentioned here that Mr. Ralfs possessed a special aptitude for drawing up dichotomous keys from specific or generic descriptions. In his early papers we always find these keys employed, and also in the British Desmids; in fact, he usually constructed one for his own use whenever he was at work on a difficult genus. In his opinion no descriptive characters were accurate or sufficient unless they admitted of being skeletonised in this way. Few botanists equalled Ralfs in a knowledge of the flora of Dartmoor, that great stony heart of Devonshire , which half a century ago was but little known, especially from a botanical point of view. It was one of the favourite hunting grounds in which he spent a portion of every summer during these early years. In his solitary rambles among the tors, searching after mosses and lichens, he was continually meeting with examples of the freshwater algae, which seemed to defy identification, for at that period they were very imperfectly known, at least in this country, and the literature on the subject was most meagre. The more closely he examined the more confusing seemed to be existing descriptions until at last he determined to devote special attention to this obscure group of plants, in order to clear up some of the difficulty. Silently and steadily he plodded on, accumulating material and storing up facts for future use, communicating his discoveries to his trusted friend Berkeley, with whom he kept up an active correspondence. By-and-by Berkeley advised him to prepare a paper for publication, assuring him that he unquestionably knew more about the Desmids and Diatoms than any other botanist in England. "So much has been done since then," Mr. Ralfs used to say in his old age, in narrating these events, "that it is difficult to realise how little was known at that time". Acting on his friend's advice, a paper was written "On the Diatomaceae'' and another entitled "Remarks on Species of Desmidieae'' and forwarded to the Botanical Society of Edinburgh. These appeared in the Transactions early in 1843, with the accompanying plates of figures, and were received with acclamation, as well they might be, for the bulk was altogether new matter, and several of the species previously undescribed Encouraged beyond his expectations, Ralfs went on contributing papers on these and allied subjects for the next three years or so. During this time a young botanist, Mr. A. H. Hassall, was collecting materials for a monograph of the British freshwater algae, and he wrote to Ralfs begging his assistance. The latter complied on the basis of a division of labour; he would place in Mr. Hassall's hands the whole of his collected material and notes on the subject, with the exception of the Desmids and Diatoms, which he desired to reserve for himself; and if Hassall would agree on his side to hand over his results in those two families, and leave them out of his projected monograph, it would be a fair exchange on both sides. This arrangement was agreed to, and correspondence followed briskly; but after a while Hassall's prospectus appeared, announcing the forthcoming publication of his complete monograph of the freshwater algae, including the two reserved sections. Of course, Ralfs felt deeply hurt, and broke off all further correspondence with Mr. Hassall. In 1845 the work appeared, and in the preface the studied omission of the name of Ralfs, among those to whom the author returns his acknowledgments for assistance rendered, is the more conspicuous as his name is so frequently mentioned in the descriptive text. Angered at the thought that the accumulated labour of years had been thus unfairly appropriated, Ralfs wrote off a letter to his good friend Mr. William Borrer, stating he believed he had still in hand sufficient matter for an independent work of his own on the Desmids. No reply was received to this for a couple of months, and then came a letter from Borrer saying he had spoken to his friends and started a list of subscribers, adding, in his jocular way, "So you see you've committed yourself, and I've nailed you." A prospectus of the projected monograph of British Desmids was prepared and largely circulated mainly through the exertions of Mr. Borrer and Mr. Edward Jenner, with the result that the subscription list attained considerable dimensions comprising, in fact, some three hundred names. It speaks much for the regard in which Mr. Ralfs was held by European algologists that Kutzing, who was preparing a work on the Desmids of the world, and Brebisson who was also engaged on something of the same kind, both handed over to him voluntarily and unconditionally the whole bulk of their notes and drawings; and so did Professor Bailey of New York. The papers in the Transactions of the Edinburgh, Botanical Society, and the Annals of Natural History had made their mark. The monograph of the British Desmidieae - one of the finest scientific works that has ever been issued from the press - was published in 1848. Only five hundred copies were struck of, of which three hundred were subscribed for. Although it contained a good deal of matter not contracted for, so to speak, viz., descriptions and figures of all known ultra-British species, so that in fact it was a monograph of the Desmids of the world - the terms of the prospectus were adhered to, and the price remained one guinea. Nowadays a secondhand copy can but rarely be purchased for five times that amount. More than forty years have elapsed since its publication, and yet it remains unrivalled in clearness of style, terseness of specific definition, and beauty of illustration. When the author took up the study of these microscopic plants barely half a dozen were known to be natives of this country; seven years of patient research sufficed to raise the number of British species to nearly two hundred, besides adding immensely to what was known with regard to their mode of reproduction. The preface is worth perusal as exhibiting the author's characteristic fidelity in recording and gratefully acknowledging his indebtedness to all who even in the smallest degree assisted him in his scientific pursuits. Whilst this work was in progress Prof. William Smith was prosecuting his researches among the allied family of Diatomaceae, and a few years later published the results in another excellent monograph of two volumes. After acknowledging his obligations to several eminent botanists, Prof. Smith recognises of the labours of my predecessors, more especially those of Mr. Ralfs and Mr. Thwaites, to whom is due nearly all that has been known of our British species of Diatomaceae. How much is owing to the accurate and laborious researches of Mr. Ralfs will be better seen in my second volume, which will embrace the greater number of the genera to which he has directed his attention." About the year 1856 Mr. Andrew Pritchard resolved to bring out a fourth edition of his history of the Infusoria, and Ralfs engaged to revise and bring down to date the section dealing with the Diatoms. A long illness, however, impeded the progress of the work, and delayed the publication of the book, which came out in 1861. This compilation which was nothing less than a descriptive catalogue of every known Diatom, recent and fossil, involved an immense amount of labour, and admirably exemplifies the author's critical knowledge of the subject as well as his native talent for condensation. Even in its compressed form it had still to be curtailed and in some measure mutilated in order to bring it within specified limits. Much of the introductory portion relating to Diatoms is also from the same experienced pen. This work gave an enormous impulse to the study of these marvellously beautiful flinty organisms. New species were continually being discovered on our own shores, and in river mud and estuaries; whilst every gathering brought from abroad yielded something fresh. A host of undescribed forms of wondrous beauty were brought to light by Greville in the famous Barbadoes deposits. The journals were half filled with descriptions and figures of new Diatoms, so that very soon a supplement was required to include all the species described since the publication of the Infusoria. Again Ralfs set to work on the preparation of this supplement. He was fitted for the task, for he had been commonly regarded of late years as the leading English authority on the Diatoms, besides being in regular communication with all the best workers abroad. But, alas! the strain had told its tale with terrible effect - the sight of one eye was completely gone! So the microscope was put away, the pen laid down, the supplement remained unwritten; and from that day to this no one has been found with sufficient ability and courage to undertake a task which Mr. Ralfs was pre-eminently qualified to carry out. During the years which followed but little botanical work was accomplished. Seasons of protracted illness and mental depression left him no heart for study; and the imperative necessity of safeguarding the eye which remained unimpaired precluded the use of the microscope. And to all this there was yet a deeper sorrow superadded, which darkened the remaining years of his life like a thick black cloud. A crushing blow, terrific and sudden, had shattered his hopes, and left him bruised and spiritless almost to the verge of despondency. But one great source of pleasure remained undiminished, and that was, to impart to others some of his stores of knowledge, and encourage them in their studies; and no one who asked for help or guidance was ever sent empty away. Many of those who came down to West Cornwall to botanize were surprised to find at Penzance two such active veterans as Mr. Ralfs and Mr. Curnow, both of whom had at their fingers' ends the entire flora of the district, cryptogamic as well as phanerogamic, and who were always ready and willing to point out to a stranger more botanical rareties in a single day's excursion than he could have found by himself in a month. The Penzance Natural History and Antiquarian Society, which had been inactive for some years, was resuscitated in 1880, mainly through the efforts of Mr. Ralfs; and until he became enfeebled by age he was one of its staunchest friends and supporters, contributing to its Transactions a number of papers of great local and general interest. He was elected President of the Society in 1883. For several years at this period he devoted himself to a careful study of the Fungi of West Cornwall, of which he recorded over seven hundred species, many being either new to Britain or altogether undescribed. The various papers and lists on this subject in the Society's Transactions are among the most valuable products of his pen during the latter years of his life. It is greatly to be hoped that the Society, for which Mr. Ralfs did so much, will see its way to publish in extense and in proper form the manuscript Flora of West Cornwall, upon which he spent so many years of unwearying labour. The work was begun nearly twenty years ago, and occupied his leisure until he had passed the age of fourscore. The flowering plants occupy four volumes; the mosses, hepaticae, and lichens three more. These, neatly written in his fine, clear handwriting, were presented by him to the Penzance Public Library. The remaining sections, comprising the fungi, marine and fresh water algae, desmids and diatoms, are roughly drafted in book form; but the venerable author was unable to fair copy them for presentation. These are now in the possession of his son, Mr. J. H. Ralfs. Not only are all known West Cornwall species recorded in these volumes, with habitats and other local memoranda, but they are enriched with critical and analytical notes, and unpublished views as to nomenclature and classification; so that the entire work, if published, would be an invaluable addition to botanical literature. More than forty years ago Berkeley established the genus Ralfsia to include certain lichenoid marine alga, of which a few representatives occur on the British coast; and as a specific name, the terms Ralfsia and Ralfsiana will be found among the hepaticae, lichens, fungi, seaweeds, freshwater algae, diatoms, and desmids; so that the name of our distinguished friend will be perpetuated in the annals of botany. In 1889 the Royal Microscopical Society conferred on him (a little late in the day perhaps) the honour of electing him an Honorary Fellow, in recognition of his signal attainments as a microscopist. And it is not generally known that, shortly after the publication of the British Desmidieae the Linnaean Society made him the offer of an associateship, but for reasons best known to himself he declined to accept it. During the last two years of his life Mr. Ralfs' physical and mental powers became more and more feeble. His deafness gradually increased, until it became almost impossible to communicate with him by word of mouth. And towards the end his memory failed altogether, until - "last scene of all '' - he passed away quietly to his rest at his home, No. 15, St. Clare Street, Penzance on July 14th, 1890, in his eighty-third year. His remains were followed to the grave by many who silently mourned the loss of a respected neighbour, a valued friend, and a thoroughly upright and conscientious man. It is not necessary that I should enumerate in this place the various scientific papers of which Mr. Ralfs was the author. They make a pretty long list; most of the earlier ones relate to the alga, and even at this distance of time they may be studied with much profit. To several guides and handbooks connected with Cornwall he also contributed articles on local natural history; in fact he neglected no opportunity of imparting useful information on his favourite pursuit, because, as he used to say, he had himself as a young beginner received so much kind assistance, that he felt it to be a duty as well as a pleasure to help others whenever the occasion presented itself. Among the many old acquaintances to whom he had been largely indebted in many ways there was one of whom he always spoke in terms of affectionate regard, and that was Mr. William Borrer, the genial Sussex botanist. To him Ralfs dedicated his magnum opus. The way in which they became acquainted is worth recording, especially as it contains a moral. During a visit to Cornwall Mr. Borrer stayed some time with the Vicar of Sancreed (Editor’s Note: probably Rev. Reginald Basset Rogers, M.A., Sancreed, member of The Penzance Natural History and Antiquarian Society 1880–91) , an old friend of his, although no botanist. In the course of his rambles Borrer alighted upon the beautiful moss Hookeria laetevirens in a cave at Mousehole; and after his return home wrote to his clerical friend requesting him to gather a few additional specimens of this moss, as it was new to England and not known in any other habitat. The clergyman found the cave, and had no difficulty in distinguishing the desired plant, since nothing else grew on the perpendicular wall. But just here his zeal outran his discretion, for he calmly set to work to strip the wall bare, lest, as he explained, any other person but Mr. Borrer should possess even a scrap of such a prize! Borrer's feelings may be imagined. He sent a specimen to Mrs. Griffiths of Torquay, who at once informed Mr. Ralfs of the important discovery. The latter gentleman reminded her that he had sent her specimens months before from the Mousehole cave; but that by an oversight it had been described as growing on the right side of the cave instead of the left. This led to a discussion, in the course of which Borrer wrote to Ralfs direct. The result was the discovery that both had found the Hookeria, but in different caves, from one of which it was now and for ever eradicated! The moss continues to grow in Ralfs' cave, which remains to this day its only known English habitat.



It will appear almost incredible to the young microscopist of today that the whole of the work of the British Desmidieae should have been done with a simple microscope; but it was, and the instrument was a gift from Mr. Borrer. When they were in Wales together on a botanizing excursion early in the "forties,'' Borrer was in the habit of carrying about in his pocket an excellent triplet by Ross, a powerful but very small and compact affair, which he constantly used. When they parted he pressed Ralfs to accept it, and it was the only microscope the latter possessed until long after the monograph was written. This historical little instrument is now in the possession of the present writer, to whom Mr. Ralfs presented it some years ago, with these words: "I wish you to accept this little microscope of mine as a memento of me when I am gone. I had intended leaving it to you at my death, but I may just as well have the pleasure of giving it to you now. You must remember that it was with this that I did the whole of my work - all my papers and my Desmids so you see it has a history." The remarkable clearness with which Ralfs discriminated closely-allied forms is abundantly evident in all his writings; but the quickness and accuracy with which he did so was yet more striking to those who, like myself, had opportunities of working with him personally. He seized in a moment, as if by intuition, the one needful distinctive character, and fixed it in a single compact phrase. It was a special gift with him. At Aberfraw, in Wales, he found a curious foliaceous hepatic, which he perceived was new. Specimens were sent to Mr. William Wilson and to Dr. Taylor, who were at that time the two highest authorities on the hepaticae. Both pooh­poohed it, saying it was only a peculiar form of Fossombronia pusilla. An epistolary battle ensued, but Ralfs vanquished his opponents, and the plant was very properly named Jungermannia (Petalophyllum) Ralfsii. So again with regard to the astonishing discovery at Penzance of Liparogyra, a singular Diatom growing amongst moss on trees, which Ehrenberg had recorded from Brazil. Ralfs had a whole battalion of diatomists arrayed against him; but he succeeded in convincing them all that his view was correct, and they owned him victorious. One of his most formidable antagonists in this and one or two other instances was Dr. G. Walker Arnott, and he always regarded it as a prodigious triumph that he had defeated that redoubtable algologist on his own ground. During his working years Ralfs kept up a very large correspondence. There was probably not a single British botanist of repute with whom he was not in communication at some period or other; and after his publications became known he entered into regular correspondence with all the leading algologists abroad. In France there were De Brebisson, Chauvin, Montagne, LeNormand, Decaisne, De Bary, and Thuret, several of whom he knew personally, having visited them at their invitation in 1851; and his recollection of the weeks he spent with them supplied him with material for many an interesting anecdote. In Germany his principal correspondents were Kutzing and Braun; in Sweden he had Areschoug and Agardh; in Switzerland, Naegeli; in Italy, Meneghini; and in America, Professor Bailey, of New York. Most of these wrote their letters in French or Latin, both of which languages Ralfs read with fluency; but badly written German proved beyond his powers of decipherment, and until he could get Latin substituted he was obliged to get these communications translated by some friend, as his knowledge of German was very rudimentary. He himself never wrote except in English and he rarely read over his letters after they were written. I have made an indirect allusion to Mr. Ralfs' eccentricity, but he cannot fairly be described as eccentric; simply he was careless in his dress, and utterly unmindful of personal appearance. He would walk down a street with his coat disfigured with fresh mud, or his ample waistcoat buttoned all awry, or may be, as once happened, with his collar and necktie gone, without dreaming that anything was wrong. But he never forgot a promise, or failed to keep an appointment with rigid punctuality. In an obituary, published in the Journal of Botany for October, my friends, Messrs. H. and J. Groves, alluding to the time when Mr. Ralfs was assisting me in beetle collecting, have depicted him to the life in the following lines: "It was amusing to notice the wonder of a passer-by at seeing this grave-looking old gentleman, in the old time professional swallow-tail coat and black stock (which he never relinquished), squatting down by a roadside pool, eagerly examining the contents of his dredging net, and utterly oblivious of the muddy water dripping over his clothes." It was his unbounded enthusiasm and absorption in his pursuits that made him forgetful of everything else - even of his meals. His sitting-room was a typical naturalist's den, in which it was at times no easy matter to find a vacant seat; for, like that of Wordsworth's Solitary -

Scattered was the floor,

And, in like sort, chair, window, seat, and shelf,

With books, maps, fossils, withered plants and flowers

And tufts of mountain moss.


Occasionally things got inconveniently lost amid the general litter. One evening a gentleman called to see Mr. Ralfs and sent in his card, which somehow slipped out of sight before the name had been read. They passed a few pleasant hours chatting. The stranger was an agreeable conversationalist, and being interested in the botany of the Land's End, which he purposed visiting on the morrow, it was arranged that they should walk out together. The stranger was a famous walker, so at Tolpednpenwith they parted, he going on round the Land's End, and Ralfs returning home alone, pleased with the walk, but dreadfully fatigued, and still without the faintest idea who his companion was. Some days afterwards he was asked if his friend was "the great Mr. Mill.'' The room was at once ransacked to search for the lost card, which at last was found. To his amazement it bore the name of John Stuart Mill. Years afterwards Mr. Ralfs used to say, that had he known his companion was the celebrated logician, it would have made him extremely nervous and uncomfortable, and he would certainly have said but little during their walk. One of Mr. Ralfs' main characteristics was thoroughness. Whatever he happened to be engaged upon, whether a game of whist or chess (and he was an excellent player of both) or the arrangement of a children's party, or the composition of a botanical paper - whatever it was received for the time being his whole energy and undivided attention. It was a favourite saying of his, that he could never manage to do more than one thing at a time, but that whatever he undertook he wished to carry through to the very best of his ability. It always afforded him pleasure, even from his boyhood, to put any theory to a practical test; but he strongly deprecated all kinds of experiments on living creatures; and whilst readily admitting that the question of pain in the lowest animals was unsolved and unsolvable, he maintained that at least it could do no harm to suppose they do feel pain, though no doubt in a lesser degree than ourselves. I observed that Mr. Ralfs would leave of whatever he was doing to release an insect struggling at the window, or liberate a stray beetle; and when he aided me in my entomological work it was his habit to bring home the specimens alive in boxes and bottles in order that if not wanted they might be set at liberty. He always seemed to sympathise with dumb creatures even more than with human beings. The latter, he said, could make known their pain, and by that means obtain some sort of relief; but we could never know what a horse or a dog suffered. Mr. Ralfs was no ardent politician. I never heard him seriously discuss politics with any one, at least to any length; and I remember that during an election at Penzance a few years ago he said to me: "I am glad I have no vote, for if I had I am much afraid that local and personal, rather than political, considerations would influence me." He made no display of his religious views, and rarely conversed on the subject; but he deplored the spread of agnosticism, and the atheistic tendencies of the literature of the day. Here I bring to a close a very imperfect sketch of the life and career of John Ralfs, the botanist. To him I am indebted beyond measure for kindly help and encouragement in my studies; and I feel grateful that this opportunity has been afforded me of paying a humble tribute to the memory of one to whom I was attached by the strongest ties of personal esteem and affection.

ERNEST D. MARQUAND. Guernsey, December 1890.


from Hardwicke’s Science Gossip September 1890 p.213. DEATH OF MR. JOHN RALFS. - We regret to announce the death at Penzance on the 14th of July, of Mr. John Ralfs, the eminent botanist, at the advanced age of 83 years. Forty years ago he was one of our leading algologists, and his reseaches among the lower forms of vegetable life led to to the publication of his beautiful monograph of the British Desmids, a work which, of its kind, has never been surpassed. Ralfs also wrote the diatom portion of Pritchard’s Infusoria (last edition), and contributed from time to time papers to several of the learned societies. He was by profession a surgeon, but early in his career was compelled to relinquish his practice owing to ill-health.


from Nature July 24th 1890 p. 301. The death of Mr. John Ralfs, at Penzance, on the 14th inst., at the age of 83, removes one of the last survivors of a past generation of botanists. His “British Desmidieae” published in 1848, remains to the present time unsurpassed in botanical literature for the beauty and accuracy of its coloured plates. As it was the first British work (except Hassall’s “British Fresh-water Algae,” published three years earlier) which did any justice to this beautiful class of fresh-water organisms, so it remained the only one until the appearance of Dr. Cooke’s “British Desmids” in 1887. Mr. Ralfs also contributed several papers on Mosses, Fungi, and Algae of his native county to the Transactions of local scientific Societies. Of a retiring disposition, and practising as a surgeon in Penzance, he was but little known personally to his fellow-workers. Within the last two years he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society.


from The Cornishman Thursday July 17th 1890 Deaths Column: Page 5 RALFS - July 14 at 15 St. Clare-Street, Penzance. Prof. John RALFS, M.R.C.S., F.R.M.S.; 83 ­Funeral at the Penzance Cemetary to leave the house at 4.30 on Thursday.

also on Page 5 DEATH OF MR. JOHN RALFS, OF PENZANCE. In the town of his adoption, and in which he had carried on his studies and lived his peaceful life for half a century, died on Monday Afternoon Mr. JOHN RALFS, who had attained not only English but a European fame as a botanist, and who was as guiltless as the children of hom he was so fond. He had reached the venerable age of eighty-three. Up to seventy-five he actively pursued his outdoor botanical researches. Since he attained that age he had been able to accompany the Penzance natural-history society on its excursions and to do plodding valuable work on the catalogue and shelf book of his favourite urban resort, the Penzance Library; but for four or five years deafness and bodily weakness kept him much at home, until there came the second childhood, which those well stricken in years sometimes fall into, and the peaceful end. Mr. John Ralfs was born at Millbrook, near Southampton, September 13th, 1807. Left fatherless when twelve months old he and three brothers or sisters (of whom one, a sister, died recently in Australia) were brought up by a widowed mother. At eighteen he was placed with a Southampton surgeon. At his examination for surgeon in 1832 he was complimneted by the president of the Royal college for his botanical learning. He went into practice at Shoreditch and married a Miss Newman of Torquay, by whom he has a son. Becoming delicate and his wife having friends at Torquay Mr. Ralfs removed thither, and here and throughout the whole district of North and South Devon (including Dartmoor) he commenced those researches which brought him eventually a worldwide botanical fame. In 1837, Mr. Ralfs removed to Penzance, and there the wealth of its flora, the friendliness of the people, and the kindred taste and appreciation he met caused him to found the permanent home of fifty-three years. A complete list of the books, and more particularly the papers written by Mr. Ralfs would occupy more space than we can give. They can only be outlined. He wrote in 1838 the Botanical part of Mr. John Banfield, the bookseller’s Guide to Ilfracombe. In 1839, he had written on the British Phanagomous plants and ferns. Nine years later he had finished his great work by which he will long be known The British Desmidieae, the Drawings by Edward Jenner. In 1861 a History of Infusoria was issued. Mr. Ralfs contribution to this was the Diatomaceae. With reference to this Mr. Carruthers said that of Ralfs the English Stident of the diatomaceae is largely indebted. Together with the Rev. Henry Penneck he contributed the botanical account of the vicinity of Penzance to Mr. J. S. Courtney’s Guide; assisted Mr. Blight to the same extent in his Week at the Lands-End. On sea-weeds, fungi, mosses, lichens - these were ever being studied and their wonders and beauty unfolded and explained by Mr. Ralfs. The nine volumes of the Flora of West Cornwall presented by him to the Penzance Library attest his interest and confidence in an institution and whose welfare he had so much at heart (and on whose committee he served for 34 years) as well as his close observation the plodding way in which he recoded the accuracy of his statements, and the soundness of his deductions. Nor were the effects of Mr. Ralfs without practical use. His view of the potato disease in 1847 is proved to be a correct one to the present day. And he constantly tried to teach us that many esculent seaweeds and edible edible fungi are now wasted. The Linnean microscopical and other societies showed their esteem for Mr. Ralfs and his simple child like nature endeared him to all who knew him. During the writing of this he was in constant correspondence with the most eminent botanists in Europe and America and Professor Berkeley said of him that he was a most acute and accurate botanist whose discoveries among the minute algae, especially the diatomaceae, have thrown great light on that little known brand of botany.


The Hampshire Advertiser, Saturday, September 05, 1891

The Royal Cornwall Gazette Falmouth Packet, Cornish Weekly News, & General Advertiser, Thursday, July 17, 1890


The Pall Mall Gazette, Wednesday, August 20, 1890

The Pall Mall Gazette, Thursday, August 28, 1890



Published a set of British Algae. - BRITISH ALGAE, DRIED SPECIMENS OF MARINE AND FRESHWATER ALGAE, INCLUDING THE DESMIDIEAE AND DIATOMACEAE. Volume I, numbers 1-40. A set as above exists in the Farlow Herbarium - Harvard University, examples below:-Specimens are dried on paper.

Tabellaria flocculosa Wales

Gomphonema dichotomum England (Cornwall) Penzance

Tabellaria fenestratum Wales (Gwynedd) Dolgelley

Gomphonema geminatum Wales (Gwynedd) Dolgelley

Grammatophora juergensi England (Cornwall) Penzance

Encyonema prostratum England (Devon) Ilfracombe

Exilaria pulchella England (Cornwall) Penzance

Berkeleya fragilis England (Cornwall) Penzance

Achnanthes exilis Wales (Gwynedd) Dolgelley

Homoeocladia anglica England (Devon) Ilfracomb

Homoeocladia martiana England (Devon) Ilfracombe

The British Phaenogamous Plants and Ferns, arranged on the Linnaean system, and analyzed after the manner of Lamarck; with a short comparative analysis of the natural families, London, 1839. 8o.

Remarks on the species of Desmidium. 8vo, pp. 5, plate 1. London 1843.

On the Diatomaceae. Part 1. 8vo, pp. 11, plates 2. London 1843.

On the Diatomaceae. Part 2. 8vo, pp. 8, plate 1. London 1843.

On the British Diatomaceae. Part 1. 8vo, pp. 7, plate 1. London 1843.

On the British Diatomaceae. Part 2. 8vo, pp. 7, plate 1. London 1843.

On the British species of Meridion and Gomphonema. 8vo, pp. 11, plate 1. London 1843.

On the British Species of Grammonema and Eunotia. 8vo, pp. 5, plate 1. London 1843.

On the British Species of Acnanthes. 8vo, pp. 5, plate 1. London 1844.

The British Desmidieae. by John Ralfs. Drawings by Edward Jenner, London. Reeve, Benham and Reeve. 1848. 226p.. 35 plates

On the Nostochineae. 8vo, pp. 23, plates 2. London 1850.

Remarks on Dickieia. 8vo, pp. 2, plate 1. London 1851.

A History of Infusoria, including the Desmidiaceæ and Diatomaceæ, British and foreign. Fourth edition. Enlarged and revised by J. T. Arlidge; W. Archer; J. Ralfs (Diatomaceae); W. C. Williamson; and the author. Illustrated by forty plates. by PRITCHARD. Andrew, London, 1861. 8o. (Desmidiaceae and Diatomaceae drawn by J. Cleghorn)

The Flora of West Cornwall - Manuscript in the Morrab Library (formerly known as thePenzance Library - this is not the Free Public Library). The manuscript is in 8 uniform volumes (1878­1886), paginated and generally indexed. Volume I contains a Preface justifying the work. The contents are as follows:-

Volumes I and II - Flowering Plants and Ferns. Volume III - Sedges, Grasses, Rushes, Characeae (with flowering plants and ferns of Scilly) Volume IV - Mosses and Hepaticae Volume V (two parts) - Algae Volumes VI and VII - Lichens

Ralfs states in his introduction that the sections on Hepaticae and on the Genus Sphagnum among the mosses in Volume IV were mainly the work of William Curnow.

The Fungi of West Cornwall. - Manuscript in the Morrab Library (formerly known as thePenzance Library - this is not the Free Public Library). As two manuscript volumes (1880-1886).

Materials towards a Flora of the Scilly Islands. 1876. - Manuscript in the Morrab Library (formerly known as thePenzance Library - this is not the Free Public Library). 197pp with Index. Donated to the Library by Ralfs in 1876.

Report and Transaction of the Penzance Natural Hisory and Antiquarian Society 1882-83 - John Ralfs M.R.C.S., Vice President Also papers ‘The Lichens of West Cornwall.’, ‘Additions to the Fungi of West Cornwall’.

Marine Algal (Seaweed) Collections at the Natural History Museum, London (BM) Ralfs J. British Algae

Ralfs, J. 1843. On the Diatomaceae. Annals and Magazine of Natural History. Vol. 12, 104-111. pl2. (Tetracyclus lacustris J. Ralfs, 1843)



On the Disease of the Potato

My attention has frequently been arrested by the numerous causes assigned as productive of the disease that has been so destructive to the potato crop. In a notice of a Paper “On the complexity in the Condition of Animals” communicated to this society by J Couch Esq, I have seen it remarked that “it has been pretty clearly proved that it is owing to the destructive powers of an Aphis that we may attribute the late distressing failure in the potato crop.” As the above assertion is certainly incorrect, and as a conviction of its truth may operate injuriously in restricting the cultivation of this valuable esculent, I beg to offer a few remarks on the subject. So far from its being proved that an insect is the cause of the disease, I believe that not a single naturalist of any eminence, either botanist or entimologist, has concurred in Mr Smee’s view; and I shall endeavour, briefly, to say that such an opinion is erroneous.  In these remarks I lay claim to no views that have not be reputedly advanced by others, and I can only say they are corroborated by my own observations. The potato failure has been attributed by different persons to three causes. First, to the injury caused by aphis. This opinion, although the last advanced and the least probable, has attained much notoriety from the indefatigable activity of its author, Mr Smee. Injuries produced by the attacks of insects are always comparatively local; generally, only a single district suffers, and even the ravages of the locust, the most destructive of all insect pests, are confined within certain limits, whilst the potato disease is destructive in America as well as in Europe, and I need not say that it is utterly impossible for storms of aphids to cross from one continent to another.  If the failure was caused by the aphis, it would always prevail more or less; for, as an eminent entomologist, Mr Westwood, has shown, the potato aphis is not a new creation, but has always been a common insect in this country; yet, although we have before had partial failures of the potato crop, this disease was unknown until the present visitation. At Dolgelley, in North Wales, I observed during the last autumn several fields in which the potatoes had the worst form of the disease; but after careful search, I was unable to detect a single aphis; indeed, I only remember to have seen within healthy fields so free from them. Mr Moggridge, a gentleman of Swansea, who has paid much attention to the subject, informed me that he had seen potato crops which were infested by the insect, free from the complaint, whilst in other instances the plants, untouched by the aphids, were totally destroyed. A Mr Noye, a gentleman member of this society, found the aphis very abundant last summer, nevertheless his potatoes are in very good condition. That the aphis is generally present on affected plants, must be damaged; the insect, however, is not the cause, but the effect for, as Mr Westwood has truly stated, the aphis does not attack healthy plants, but only those in a debilitated state. It is well known to those who cultivate plants in pots, that, if from deficient light, or any other cause, the plant becomes unhealthy, the insect appears, and on the restoration of health speedily disappears. An instance of this account occurred last spring. The potato plants in various parts of the kingdom were injured by an east wind, and, in a single night, had the semblance of being diseased, and the newspapers contained numerous notices of the re-appearance of the pest; in this case, as usual, the weakened plants swarmed with aphids. Last June, I was present at a scientific meeting in London when Mr Smee, in illustration of his views, exhibited the potato and other plants covered with these insects; but it is now well known, that the distemper do not really commence until long afterwards. In fact, the plants recovered from the effects of the wind, and the plant louse (aphis) disappeared. The second cause of the failure of the potato has been attributed to the presence of a small fungus, Botrytis infestans. Although this opinion is much more plausible than the former, and has been advocated by the Rev M J Berkeley, and other botanists of the highest reputation, whose opinions deserve the greatest consideration, because their views are not mere hasty and crude guesses, but the result of careful observation, yet I must doubt its correctness, for nearly the same reason that I deny the agency of the aphis The disease has too wide a range, - the fungus is a very common one, and some years ago I observed it in greater plenty in this district than I have during the two last years; but, as I have just remarked, the disease is a recent visitation. I do not mean to assert that either the insect or the fungus is unnoxious. I believe that neither of them will attack a healthy plant; but as the plant attacked is already in an enfeebled condition, it may easily be conceived that these parasites will add to the injury, and render the destruction more certain and complete. It is the nature of most parasites to thrive best on an individual weakened from any cause. If sheep are debilitated by illness, they will be very liable to be infested with vermin; and it is well known that, persons feeble from old age, or reduced by illness, are more liable to such inflictions than when they are in vigorous health; and in such cases, the parasite is more difficult to eradicate.  The Algae afford excellent examples:  whilst young and in perfection, they are free from the growth of other algae; but no sooner do they pass maturity, than they become loaded with parasites. Many cases, too, have been recorded of fish in a sickly state becoming covered with parasitic Confervoe. The third explanation of the potato failure, is an epidemic visitation. This I believe to be the correct one. It is the view taken by Lindley and the greater number of the most distinguished botanists. It has long been my opinion that, not considering the maladies of vegetables, we too much disregard the light that may be derived from those of animals; we look upon them as having nothing in common with each other, and yet the better we understand their physiology, the more we admire their many points of agreement. The primary element of both animal and vegetable, is a simple cell. The seed of the plant corresponds with the ovum of the animal. Air, light, heat, food are necessary to both. Like animals, plants breathe and have a circulating fluid, and an internal heat, more or less independent of external influences. In the same individual, too, very different products are secreted from the same circulating fluid.  They are born, they grow, they die. With all these points in unison, is it not to be expected that their disease also will have some analogy? I believe that such is the case, merely modified, as in other particulars, according to their different conditions.  This view is not without its advocates, as may be seen by the following extract from the Times newspaper:-

“BRUSSELS, Oct 19 – REMEDY FOR THE POTATO DISEASE – a highly interesting paper appears in the “Agricultural Bulletin” from which it appears that a chymist (sic) named Eusebury Gris has been paying great attention to the disease, and has found a direct and radical remedy. This gentleman, got by analogy has compared the disease of this vegetable to the chlorosis which attacks the human frame and the idea suggested itself to him whether applying the very same remedies which improve the vitality of the blood, which restore its energy and its colour, might not be advantageously resorted to in re-animating the languishing vitality and tone of the discoloured leaves. He accordingly had recourse to application of salts of iron. He watered the plants with a solution of sulphate of iron, containing from 10-20 grains of the salt of iron to 1 litre of water, and moistened the leaves with a lighter solution, containing only about 3 grains to a litre of water.  This last method proved much more immediately the efficacy of the remedy than that of watering the plants, for in the latter case it might be attributed to a chymical (sic) reaction produced in the interior of the soil. A committee was appointed by the Royal Society to test the results of M Gris’s remedy. Experiments were made in various parts, some on an extended, some on a smaller scale. They were very successful in regard to the disease itself, and the committee reported that although some further trials were needed to prove the facts, yet it was thought probable that this solution might likewise be found valuable on sandy soil. Mr Gandry of Paris, was induced to try the remedy on some young chlorotic peach trees, and a fortnight after, when the committee of the Horticultural Society inspected them, they had entirely recovered.”

I do not concur with the writer of the above extract, as to the nature of the complaint, believing it to be more analogous to an epidemic. Compare it with an epidemic among animals. It is characteristic of epidemics that they come we know not how; they go we know not why; they appear in widely-separated countries. They are always most virulent at their commencement, become less and less destructive, and at last gradually disappear.  They seem comparatively uninfluenced by heat or cold, wet or dry; prevail in low marshes or by the seaside, and ascend into the mountains. So it has been with the potato murrain, which is as destructive in America as in Europe, on the mountains of Wales as near the sea in Cornwall:  it is equally capricious, leaving a district or even a field untouched, whilst committing havoc in adjacent parts, without any apparent cause. No, even the alleged causes help the resemblance. The cholera was attributed to the presence of minute insects, etc, by the ignorant; and, indeed, if we examine the records of any universal pestilence, we always find it attributed by some persons to such causes. Whether contagious diseases may or may not be communicated by the agency of insects, is an interesting point, the consideration of which is foreign to the present subject. I believe, however, that the  virulence of the disease is past. It appeared later this year, and has been far less destructive; and I firmly believe that we need entertain no dread for next year. I do not say that no traces of it may hereafter occur, but I am fully persuaded that the loss from this cause will be trivial indeed, and probably there have been few periods so encouraging to the cultivator as the present. After an epidemic has ceased, the produce is likely to be more than usually abundant, - the tuber to be of good quality, and as a less quantity will be cultivated, it will certainly command a more than average price, however, amply produced. I might bring forward many extracts from writers on this topic, in support of the opinions I have here maintained, but I shall content myself with the following one from Forbes’s British and Foreign Medical Review:-“The supposition of Mr Smee of the influence of an aphis in producing this result, scarcely needs a serious denial; and on the other hand, that the universal existence of a vegetable parasite (Botrytis infestans) be observed, and thought it be conceded that it is a true parasite, inasmuch as it subsists on living and not dead vegetable matter, yet for its finding a suitable pabulum, we are told that the plant must be in a feeble condition, and it is this aliquid prius which, in our opinion, is the disease, while, to use the words of Mr Wood, the fungi are, in effect, the result and not the cause. This disease has its parallel in the epidemics of man and animals. It has no affinity with these, but they are nevertheless its true analogies”. In the report of he Royal Polytechnic Society for 1845 is a paper by J Couch Esq., on the potato disease, which contains the fullest and most accurate description I have seen of the appearances presented by the infected plant in all its stages. The Author, when expressing an outside opinion on the cause of the disease, evidently inclines to the belief that it exhibits characteristics resembling those of an epidemic. Plants produced from seed are affected equally with those grown in the common mode from tubers. Those affected, and the occurrence of the disease in the native countries of the potato, disproves the supposition of its depending on deterioration of the plant by cultivation in an ungenial climate.

Nov 1847

Postscript -November 1848 Another year’s observation has confirmed the theory respecting the cause of the potato disease which I have advocated in the preceding Paper.  It may appear an overweening confidence in the opinion which I expressed respecting the probability of the disappearance of the disease to maintain that I was fully justified in the opinion after it has apparently been contradicted by the present failure of the crop: but I still think that under ordinary circumstances my anticipation would have been realised, and that sufficient reason can be shown, from the peculiarity of the seasons and the analogy of disease, why my expectations have been disappointed. The past summer and autumn have been most favourable for the occurrence of epidemics and analogous disorders – yellow-fever, typhus, dysentery, cholera and disease of a kindred type have ravaged the earth. In the vegetable kingdom the potato-disease has again extensively prevailed in both Europe and America: a crop of yams in many of the West Indian Islands has been destroyed by a complaint apparently identical with that which attacks the potato, and a disease of an epidemic character has committed so much havoc among the pines in the southern parts of the United States, as to threaten the destruction of entire forests. Our prognosis must be founded on experience and general laws, and these justify the anticipation that when an epidemic has disappeared from a district, it will not renew its attack during the same visitation; hence a town in which the cholera has ceased after having gathered its victims has usually been considered safe from its return. The past summer has, however, produced numerous exceptions to this rule. Moscow and several other towns in Russia, although they suffered from the cholera in 1847, have been again attacked this year, and the mortality has been far greater on its second occurrence. This striking instance of the deviation of a formidable epidemic affecting man may lead us to conclude, from analogical reasoning, that the potato-disease has reoccurred with equal irregularity: and again, the diffusion of this and other equally destructive vegetable diseases, over countries differing most widely in  situation and climate, not only forbid us to attribute the potato disease to either an insect or a fungus, but appear to me as conclusive evidence that it arises from atmospheric cause. I consider the following fact, although it throws no additional light on the causes, is too remarkable to be omitted whilst I am writing on this subject. At Dolgelley, my friend Mr Williams showed me an abundant and healthy crop of potatoes, the produce of planted shoots that had been taken from tubers lying in his cellar.  This crop consisted of several varieties intermixed. Adjacent patches, cultivated in the usual manner, were all more or less diseased.



1845-1850 (p.377)

List of Marine Algae found in West Penwith


In forming a catalogue of the marine algae of this district, I shall do so with reference to Miss Warren’s list of Falmouth species inserted in a former Report.  By proceeding in this way, I shall, I conceive, render the following list more interesting, and at the same time reduce its bulk, by omitting most of the plants that are common to both districts.

I have arranged the algae which I shall notice in 3 divisions.

In the 1st, are those species found at Falmouth, but not hitherto detected here.

In the 2nd, are the species found here, but not mentioned by Miss Warren.

The 3rd contains such species in Miss Warren’s list as are not of common occurrence, or have only lately been recognised as British plants.


1. Algae found at Falmouth, but not in this district:-

Mesogloia Griffithsione

*Asperococcus Turneri

*Dictyosiphon foeniculacea

*Cutleria multifida

*Sporochnus pedunculatus

*Fucus ceranoides

+Callithammion brachiatum


Griffithsia corallina

+Ceramium nodosum

Microcledia glandulosa

Dudresnia coccinum


+Kallymenia Dubyi

Nitophyllum Guelini


Laurentia tenuissima

Rytiphloea pinastroides

Polysiphonia fibrillose


Cladophora Hutchinsioe


+Cladophora gracilis



Conferva ceramicola

Ulva lactuca


*Algae which are usually found in sheltered bays or at the outlets of rivers, and therefore less likely to be bathered in West Penwith.

+Algae which could be expected to be met with on our coast.


2. Algae gathered in this district, but not mentioned in Miss Warren’s list:-

*Elachistea velutina

I always find this species accompanying E. scutulata

Ectocarpus pusillus

Land’s End and St Michael’s Mount, any time


Margins; spring




Common in Saccorhiza bulbosa in summer

Sphacelaria olivacea

St Michael’s Mount and Sennen Cove; autumn


St Michael’s Mount


Long Rocks; very scarce

*Myrionema Leclancherii




Ralfia verrucosa (R. deusta, Harv)

St Michael’s Mount and Mousehole; autumn

Chlorosiphon Laminarioe


*Striaria alternuata

Battery Rocks; very rare

Chorda tomentosa

Long and Battery Rocks; rare

Laminaria faccia

St Michael’s Mount etc; spring

Alaria esculenta

Mount’s-bay and Sennen Cove

Fucodium (Fucus) tuberculatus


+Callithamnion spongiosum

Whitsand Bay





*Ceramium acanthonotum






Dudresnia moniliformis


Halymenia furcillata


Rhodomenmta ciliata


Nitophyllum punctatum

Mount’s-bay; rare



Chylocladia parvula

Penzance; autumn

Gigantina acicularis



Long Rocks; rare

Gigantea pistillata

I have searched for this plant frequently, but always unsuccessfully

* Grateloupia filicina

St Michael’s Rock and Long Rocks; plentiful but small

Rytiphloea complanata

Land’s End

Polysiphonia parasitica

Mount’s Bay


Mount’s Bay





Dasya ocellata

Mount’s-bay; rare

*Cruoria pellita


*Catenella opuntia


*Bryopsis plumose


Codium tomentosum


Cladophora Brownii

Caves, Mousehole and Lamorna


St Michael’s Mount



*Conferva implexa




Lyngbya majuscula

St Michael’s Mount


Mount’s-bay; rare



*Rivularia atra


*Calothrix scopulorum





* These probably occur also at Falmouth

+ The more delicate species of Callithammion attain their physical size and beauty onlyin well sheltered spots, and consequently the specimens gathered in Mount’s-bay are usually inferior in beauty to those obtained at Falmouth.


3.            Algae met with in both districts, but which it is desirable to mention, either to indicate more particularly from stations, or to make some remarks upon them:-


Lichina pygmoea & L confines

 Most botanists now regard these plants as Lichens

Stilophora rhizodes

Mount’s-bay; Mousehole

Punctaria latifolia


Asperococcus compressus

Long Rocks; plentiful in spring

Ectocarpus bruchiatus




Myrotrichia filigormis



Rare; spring

Mesogloia virescens

More frequent than vermicularis

Callithamnion Brodioei



Sennen Cove


Sennen Cove

Glocosiphonia capillaries


Chondrus norvegicus


Rytiphloea fruticulosa


Polysiphonia spinulosa

Long Rocks; very sparingly

Dasya arbuscula

Land’s End; abundant

Codium adjoerens

Sennen Cove

Rivularia nitida

Long Rocks


*I to the Ectocarpus littoralis of British botanists, J. G. Agardh, in his Species Algarum, gives the name Ectocarpus firmus. He says that the true E. littoralis is confined to the Baltic and describes it as allied to Ebrachiatus, with opposite branches and roundish-oval fruit which is sessile on the ramuli.



Notes on the Growth of Maize by J Ralfs Esq MRCS etc Honorary Member of the Society

On my return to Penzance in the autumn of 1851 my attention was attracted by the unproductive manner of cultivating maize here, so different from what I had seen in France.  I am therefore induced to offer to the society a few remarks upon the subject. Maize is much cultivated in France, not only as a grain, but also for fodder.  In the north of France it is useful merely for the latter purpose, as there it ripens only in very fine seasons, and even so far south as the Department of the Dordogne it does not constantly ripen upon the higher grains. Its cultivation therefore will, I am persuaded, be unprofitable in this neighbourhood unless fodder be the principal object. Cattle thrive well upon it, and the French farmers consider the leaves one of the best kind of grain feed for dairy cows. In giving it to cattle, however, one precaution is necessary, - it must not at first form their entire sustenance, but be introduced gradually.  It is best to sow the seeds a greater distance apart than has been done in the trials about Penzance. The French say, “he who sows thick will reap thin, and he who sows thin will reap thick”. (qui sème dru, récolte menu; qui sème menu; récolte dru.) It is necessary to keep the grain carefully weeded, but after three or four weedings the French often sow between the rows either beans, haricots, or field peas; these, however, must not be staked so as to shade the maize. The maize is a monoecious plant, - that is, the barren and fertile flowers are apart; the latter are situated near the base, the former are terminal on a leaf stem which rises considerably above the fertile flowers. As soon as the barren flowers have scattered their dust, having performed their office, they fade.  Here they have suffered to remain; the case is otherwise in France.  When this part is no longer required the French pluck the stem which is above the fertile spikes, and these not only obtain a large quantity of excellent fodder but all the nourishment is directed to the grain, the heat of the sun is better able to reach it, and consequently it ripens earlier, - a matter of great importance in our climate. In France, the corn, when gathered is sometimes put into an oven for twenty-four hours on a heat about equal to that for baking bread; treated in this way, it dries and keeps better, but as its vitality is destroyed, it is of course useless for sowing.



1851-1865 (p 23)

Additional Notes of Algae in Mount’s-bay


Griffithsia corallina


Ceramium nodosum

on Zostera

Microcladia glandulosa


Nitophyllum gmelini

Newlyn; cast up after storms

Polysiphonia fibrillose

Long Rocks

Zonaria parvula

Sides of rock uncovered only at the lowest tides

Dictyota atomaria

Occasionally cast up after storms

Ectocarpus simpliausculus

Parasitic on Stilophora rhizodes and Cystoseira ericoides

Leathesia Berkeley

Sides of rocks, not common

Ceramium fastigiatum

On Zostera

Chylodadia reflexa

Pools in the rocks; plentiful

Naccaria Wigghii

Occasionally cast up after storms

Stenogramma interrupta

A solitary specimen cast up on the beach after a storm

Polysiphonia obscura

Battery Rocks

Calothrix lamellose Harv M.S.S. (Calothrix semiplena, Phy. Brit)

Mousehole; the plant found at Falmouth and Mount’s-bay, and called in the former lists, Polysiphonia spinulosa, is now considered by Professor Harvey as a distinct species, which he names P simulanus



1851-1865 (p 100)

Notes of a Botanic Excursion in Cornwall, in a letter to Mr Ralfs from J Woods Esq


Priory Crescent, Lewes My Dear Ralfs Partly through laziness, and partly through the habit of not examining the plants I collect in a journey till they are all perfectly dry and ready for the Herbarium, I have neglected to write to you till your Letter gave a fillip to my good intentions. To begin at the beginning:-The Physospermum Cornubiense grows in the upper part of the Wood at Calstock Church, just below the road leading to Harewood. At Fowey I noticed Fedia auricula (a plant probably often overlooked as F. dentate), Lotus hispidus, and Erythroea pulchilla. At Falmouth, Fedia carinata probably escaped from some garden, as the Lamb’s Lettuce is this species as often I believe as F. olitoria. In St Agnes, of the Scilly Islands, I gathered as you know Euphorbia peplis and E. portlandica. The Gallium we found at Land’s-end is clearly G. Vaillantii; it is true the knots are often hairy, but this is also the case with the specimens from Saffron Walden.  The Linaria which I gathered by Looe, Helstone, having the leaves of L. Elatini and the flowers nearly of L. spurum, with a spur sometimes but not always curved, is the same as that which I have gathered in France, and believed to be L. Prestrandrioe, but I have never seen any authorized specimen, and am not certain of being right. The seeds are pitted but the pits are often confluent and between these confluent pits and the winding interrupted furrows of L. Elatini the difference is very small.  If not a species it is however worth notice as a variety. The morning after you left me at St Ives I walked as far as the Ferry towards Hayle, but instead of crossing to the Causeway I landed on the Towans, and that day and the next had a good hunt over them without much success. I hunted also the Black cliff and the cliffs of Gwithian for the Adiantum, but in vane. It seems to grow at a tufo formed by the action of the water and the shelly sand, but I hardly found any such combination of shade and moisture as to promise well, I was however prevented by the tide from coasting the whole length of the rocks at Gwithian. After sleeping at Hayle, I took the Rail to Angarrack and walked to Connor down, where I saw plenty of Erica vagans and of Gnaphalium dioicum, and some plants of Gentiana campestris; the latter I saw again at Denzell down near St Columb. From Connor down I proceeded to Farnham down, which is covered with Ulex Europoeus, and yielded me nothing; but from Nanterro towards Gwithian, in a hedge on the right hand, I found one or two plants of Agrimonia odorata. ———

-As I found this species again near Start point, I suspect it to be not very uncommon in the west of England, but passed over, as A. Eupatoria. By Tregors moor, near St Columb, I noticed Sparganium natans and Mentha pulegium: Lastroea Foenisecii as very abundant in that neighbourhood. Near Tintagel I only got Statice Dodastii (not occidentalis): Scilla autumnalis is abundant in many places. ————— You know I suppose that Allium Schenoprasum (or Sibirieum) grows there below the church. On leaving Trevena for Bude my driver (the Master of the Inn at Trevena) told me of a woody plant, called by the country people Beck, which grows at the mouth of a little nameless stream between Trevena and Trevalga.  He described it as an evergreen, growing about a foot high, with leaves having three points, and resembling, in appearance, a plant which he pointed out in the gardens, which is frequent in Cornwall and is, I believe, the Veronica dicussita. Indeed, he seemed inclined to believe it was the same species, thought not growing so large, and having a differently-shaped leaf.  He said it had been brought into the gardens but had died. He had never seen either the wild or the garden plant in flower. The place pointed out is a very wild one, where you can hardly move five yards in any direction without a climb or a scramble. In returning I left the Great Western line and went to Dorchester and the Isle of Purbeck, but my botanizing was not more successful there than in Cornwall. I wanted the fruit of the Oenanthe rivularis, but the flowering-stems had all disappeared, -Phalaris paradoxa, but the field was ploughed up, -Trifolium resupinatum, but I could see nothing of it, and the only plant of any scarcity was the Erica ciliaris, which I traced from Corfe Castle almost to Wareham.

Yours truly




1851-1865 (p 162)

List of Algae found in the District during the present year


Mesogloia Zostere, Aresch

Frond slender, smooth or with a few simple branches, villous, perpheric filaments longer than the diameter of the axis; cells twice as long as broad. On the leaves of Zostera near the Long Rocks


Abundant near the Long Rocks

Sporochrus villosus

A solitary specimen cast up near the Long Rocks

Laurencia coespitosa

Common in Mount’s-bay

Nitophyllum Bonnemaisoni

Cape Cornwall; not uncommon


Cape Cornwall; not uncommon

Rhodymenia jubata

A single specimen found in Mount’s bay, by Dr Fox

Dudresnaie divaricata

Mount’s-bay; not infrequent

Nemaleon lubricum


Griffithsia equisetifilia


Halymenia ligulata

A few specimens cast up at the back of the Old Pier

Killimenia babyi

Occasionally in Mount’s-bay but more plentiful near Cape Cornwall

Cladophora diffusa

Scarce near Cape Cornwall

Conferva Melagonium

Plentiful near Cape Cornwall


Clive Moncrieff of the Natural History Museum has been cataloguing Pritchard's correspondence between 1858 and 1865.
Amongst the letters are some from Ralfs.


Penzance Sep 15th 1860

My dear Sir,

I think the title page will do very well.

Let me have the printed sheets as soon as you can.

I remain

yours very truly

John Ralfs


Diatom Species Named for Ralfs

Asterionella formosa var. ralfsii [(W. Sm.) Wolle 1890]

Asterionella ralfsii [W. Sm. 1856]

Asterionella ralfsii var. americana

Actinocyclus ehrenbergii var. ralfsii [(W. Sm.) Hust. 1929]

Actinocyclus octonarius var. ralfsii [(W. Sm.) Hendey 1954]

Chaetoceros ralfsii [Cleve 1873]

Campylodiscus decorus var. ralfsii [(W. Sm.) Kisselev 1950]

Campylodiscus ralfsii [W. Sm. 1853]

Eupodiscus ralfsii [W. Sm. 1856]


Genus Named for Ralfs

Ralfsia sp.


Diatom Species - Authority cited as Ralfs – either originally or as a modified description.

Actinocyclus crassus [(W. Sm.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Actinocyclus ehrenbergii [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Actinocyclus fulvus [(W. Sm.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Actinocyclus moniliformis [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Actinocyclus ralfsii [(W. Sm.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Actinocyclus ralfsii var. sparsus [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Actinocyclus subtilis [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Actinocyclus tesselatus [(Roper) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Actinoptychus splendens [(Shadb.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Actinoptychus undulatus [(J.W. Bail.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Amphora gregorii [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Asteromphalus arachne [(Breb.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Asteromphalus heptactis [(Breb.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Aulacodiscus kittonii [Arnott ex Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Auliscus sculptus [(W. Sm.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Bacillaria socialis [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Biddulphia obtusa [(Kutz.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Caloneis hebes [(Ralfs in Pritch.) Patr. in Patr. & Reimer 1966]

Campylodiscus ovatus [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Cerataulus laevis [(Ehrenb.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Cerataulus smithii [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Chaetoceros lauderi [Ralfs in Lauder 1864]

Ctenophora pulchella [(Ralfs ex Kutz.) Williams & Round 1986]

Cymatopleura solea var. apiculata [(W. Sm.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Diatoma minima [Ralfs 1846]

Dickieia pinnata [Ralfs 1851]

Dimeregramma fulvum [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Dimeregramma marinum forma. marinum [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Dimeregramma minor var. minor [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Dimeregramma nanum [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Donkinia angusta [(Donk.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Donkinia carinata [(Donk.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Eunotia pectinalis var. undulata [(Ralfs) Rabenh. 1864]

Eunotia robusta [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Eunotia robusta var. diadema [(Ehr.) Ralfs

Eunotia robusta var. tetraodon [(Ehr.) Ralfs

Eunotia ehrenbergii [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Eunotia hemicyclus [(Ehrenb.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Fragilaria virescens var. virescens [Ralfs 1843]

Fragilaria pectinalis var. undulata [Ralfs 1843]

Fragilariforma virescens [(Ralfs) Williams & Round 1988]

Grammatophora oceanica forma. subtilissima [(J.W. Bail. ex Ralfs in Pritch.) Hust. 1931]

Grammatophora oceanica var. subtilissima [(J.W. Bail. ex Ralfs in Pritch.) Grun. 1881]

Grammatophora subtilissima [J.W. Bail. ex Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Melosira granulata [(Ehrenb.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Melosira arenaria [Moore ex Ralfs 1843]

Melosira arctica [(Ehrenb.) Dickie ex Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Melosira crenulata var. laevis [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Meridion circulare var. constrictum [(Ralfs) Van Heurck 1885]

Meridion constrictum [Ralfs 1843]

Navicula cincta [(Ehrenb.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula elginensis var. elginensis [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula digito-radiata var. digito-radiata [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula directa var. directa [(W. Sm.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula anglica var. anglica [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula distans [(W. Sm.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula ergadensis [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula fortis [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula fusca [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula gracillima [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula gregorii [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula hebes [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula inflexa [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula integra [(W. Sm.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula longa [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula marina [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula nitescens [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula parvula [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Navicula retusa var. gregorii [(Ralfs in Pritch.) R. Ross in Hartley 1986]

Navicula tumida var. anglica [(Ralfs in Pritch.) Gutwinski 1891]

Nitzschia constricta [(Kutz.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Nitzschia insignis var. smithii [(Ralfs in Pritch.) Grun. in Van Heurck 1881]

Nitzschia smithii [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Nitzschia spectabilis [(Ehrenb.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Petroneis marina [(Ralfs in Pritchard) Mann 1990]

Pinnularia parvula [(Ralfs in Pritch.) A. Cleve-Euler 1922]

Pleurosigma acutum [Norman ex Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Pleurosigma normanii [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Podocystis adriatica [(Kutz.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Plagiogramma grevillei [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Plagiogramma interruptum [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Plagiogramma laeve [(Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Ralfsia hyalina [(Kutz.) O’Meara 1876]

Ralfsia minima [(Ralfs) O’Meara 1876]

Rhizosolenia robusta [Norman ex Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Stauroneis gregorii [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Stephanopyxis turris [(Grev. & Arnott in Greg.) Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Surirella smithii [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Synedra pulchella var. pulchella [Ralfs ex Kutz. 1844]

Synedra robusta [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Synedra smithii [Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]

Synedra superba var. robusta [(Ralfs in Pritch.) Grun. 1862]

Tetracyclus lacustris [Ralfs 1843]

Toxonidea insignis var. undulata [(G. Norman ex Ralfs in Pritch.) Cleve 1894]

Toxonidea undulata [G. Norman ex Ralfs in Pritch. 1861]




J. RALFS: The British Desmidieae

I N T R O D U C T I O N.

UNTIL a recent period, the study of the minute objects which form the subject of this work had been more neglected in this kingdom than almost any other branch of Natural History, and I commenced my researches with the intention of acquiring for myself some fuller and more satisfactory information in regard to disputed points in their history, and also with the hope that I might be able to present to the British Naturalist such a description of our species as seemed necessary towards making the knowledge of them at home keep pace with its advance on the Continent. I soon discovered not only that we possessed many species hitherto undescribed, but that various points in their economy, not devoid of interest, remained still unexplained or doubtful; and, rewarded beyond my expectations, I hastened to communicate the result of my investigations in a series of papers to the Botanical Society of Edinburgh. As these memoirs have received the gratifying approbation of distinguished naturalists, both in this country and abroad, I have been induced, at the solicitations of my friends, to publish as complete a monograph of the British species as the present state of our knowledge will permit. The Desmidieae have been for a long time a common territory, claimed both by zoologist and botanist. In consequence, a greater number of persons have devoted themselves to their study, and as they have often entered on the subject with different and conflicting views, every fact relating to their history has undergone a more rigorous examination. The Desmidieae are of an herbaceous green colour; a few only of the Closteria have the integument coloured, but in all the internal matter is green. All the family are inhabitants of fresh water. Mr. Thwaites indeed has gathered two or three species in water slightly brackish, but the same species are also found in localities remote from the sea. Certain marine objects that have been classed with the Desmidieae have the internal matter of a brown colour, but these, in my opinion, belong to the Diatomaceae. Their most obvious peculiarities are the beauty and variety of their forms and their external markings and appendages; but their most distinctive character is the evident division into two valves or segments. Each cell or joint in the Desmidieae consists of two symmetrical valves or segments, and the suture or line of junction is in general well-marked; in a few instances however, as in Scenedesmus, it is determined principally by analogy. In Pediastrum its situation is shown by a more or less evident notch on the outer side, but no separation has been noticed. The structures of Scenedesmus and Pediastrum are in fact less known than those of the rest of the family; and of their modes of reproduction we are altogether ignorant. In the other genera the suture eventually opens and allows the escape of the contents, and it is indicated by either a transverse line or a pale band, and usually also by a constriction. An uninterrupted gradation may be traced from species in which these characters are inconspicuous to those in which they are fully developed: thus in Closterium and some species of Penium there is no constriction; in Tetmemorus, in some Cosmaria, and in Hyalotheca, it is quite evident, although still but slight; in Didymoprium and Desmidium it is denoted by a notch at each angle; but in Sphaerozosma, Micrasterias and some other genera, the constriction is very deep, and the connecting portion forms a mere chord between the segments, which appear like distinct cells, and are so considered by Ehrenberg and others. When the papers on the Desmidieae were publishing in the 'Annals of Natural History', I stood alone in regarding the frond as a single cell, differing on this point not only from Ehrenberg, but from every author whose works I had seen. Professor Kützing, however, in his ´Phycologia Germanica,' has by independent observations arrived at the same conclusion; an important corroboration of the correctness of the opinion I then advanced. That the frond in Euastrum and allied genera is really a single constricted cell, and not a binate one, will, I am persuaded, be apparent to any one who traces the gradations mentioned above; but as the. opinions of such distinguished naturalists as Ehrenberg and Meneghini are deservedly of much influence, and the subject is so important, - since upon the view which we take of it depends the explanation of the division of the frond presently to be described,-I shall proceed to notice some facts which seem to me quite decisive. In Navicula and other genera of Diatomaceae the frustules are often truly binate, and, as each frustule is complete in itself, though they be separated from each other their respective contents will still be protected on all sides ; and even should one be broken the contents of the other will be undisturbed. In the Desmidieae, on the other hand, as there is no septum between the segments, if these separate, or an opening be made in one, the contents of both will escape;and I have more than once observed the minute granules passing from one segment through the connecting tube into the other. The conjugation of the fronds and formation of sporangia I believe to be altogether irreconcilable with the supposition of binate cells. For in the simple Algae are many examples where the contents of two cells meet and form a compact seed-like mass ; but I know of no instance in which the contents of more than two cells are thus united : nor does it appear probable that the process of reproduction in either an animal or a vegetable should require, or indeed permit, the conjunction of. four individuals for that purpose; but if the fronds were binate, it must follow that the cooperation of four individuals would be necessary for the continuation of the species. In Didymoprimum Grevillii the reproductive body is contained within one of the coupling joints; so that if they were binate we should have the contents of two cells passing into two other cells, the contents of all four uniting into one body, two of the cells at all events forming a single chamber. It may indeed be suggested that the joint in Didymoprium differs from the frond in some of the other genera; but such a supposition is utterly untenable, and will never be advanced by any one acquainted with these objects.. In both the endochrome is divided into two by a pale transverse band marking the junction of the valves; and here they in both eventually open, and permit the escape of their contents. In the one case, as in the other, the coupling bodies alike communicate at this point, and the entire process is essentially the same. I will now presume that I have proved that the bipartite Desmidieae are truly cells more or less constricted, and in the following details I shall so designate them. In the Desmidieae the multiplication of the cells by repeated transverse division is full of interest, both on account of the remarkable manner in which it takes place, and because it unfolds, as I believe, the nature of the process in other families, and furnishes a valuable addition to our knowledge of their structure and physiology. The compressed and deeply constricted cells of Euastrum offer most favourable opportunities for ascertaining the manner of the division ; for although the frond is really a single cell, yet this cell in all its stages appears like two, the segments being always distinct, even from the commencement. As the connecting portion is so small, and necessarily produces the new segments, which cannot arise from a broader base than its opening, these are at first very minute, though they rapidly increase in size. The segments are separated by the elongation of the collecting tube, which is converted into two roundish hyaline lobules. These lobules increase in size, acquire colour, and gradually put on the appearance of the old portions. Of course, as they increase the original segments are pushed farther asunder, and at length are disconnected, each taking with it a new segment to supply the place of that from which it has separated. It is curious to trace the progressive development of the new portions. At first they are devoid of colour, and have much the appearance of condensed gelatine, but as they increase in size the internal fluid acquires a green tint, which is at first very faint, but soon becomes darker; at length it assumes a granular state. At the same time the new segments increase in size and obtain their normal figure; the covering in some species shows the presence of puncta or granules; and lastly, in Xanthidium and Staurastrum the spines and processes make their appearance, beginning as mere tubercles, and then lengthening until they attain their perfect form and size; but complete separation frequently occurs before the whole process is completed. This singular process is repeated again and again, so that the older segments are united successively, as it were, with many generations. In Sphaerozosma the same changes take place, and are just as evident, but the cells continue linked together, and a filament is formed, which elongates more and more rapidly as the joints increase in number. This continued multiplication by division has its limits; the segments gradually enlarge whilst they divide, and at length the plant ceases to grow ; the division of the cells is no longer repeated; the internal matter changes its appearance, increases in density, and contains starch-granules which soon become numerous; the reproductive granules are perfected, and the individual perishes. In a filament the two oldest segments are found at its opposite extremities; for so long as the joints divide they are necessarily separated further and further from each other. Whilst this process is in progress the filament in Sphaerozosma consists of segments of all sizes ; but after it has reached maturity there is little inequality between them, except in some of the last-formed segments, which are permanently smaller. The case is the same with those genera in which the separation of the cells is complete. I admit that the division of the cells just described apparently differs greatly from that in other simple Algae; but I believe that the process in all is essentially the same, and that whatever differences exist are modifications necessarily resulting from the different forms of the cells. In the examples already given the cell itself consists of two distinct portions, having a constriction between them; hence each of the new-formed portions is similarly distinct from the older one which forms it and to which it is united. In order fully to elucidate the subject, cells may be distributed into three principal kinds, distinguished by their form:

1st. Bipartite cells, already described, and. more or less constricted at the middle;

2nd. Cells globose or rounded at the ends, or having the extremities attenuated;

3rd. Cylindrical cells.


Bipartite cells belong only to the Desmidieae; cells globose or roundish at the ends are seen in the Nostocs and Palmelleae; attenuated cells in the Desmidieae; and cylindrical ones in the Conjugatae, Tiresias, &c. It is obvious that the new portions must arise from the whole of the junction margin of the original valves; consequently when the junction occupies only a part of the breadth the new portion will be narrower than the old; but when the junction of the valves is as broad as the cell, the new portion will from the beginning be of the same breadth. From this important fact, we may explain the different sorts of division. Since in the two latter kinds of cell the valves are united by their entire breadth, the new portions cannot be distinguished by their size, we must therefor have recourse to other aids to enable us to trace the changes and satisfy ourselves of their real identity with that already described; and I hope to be able to show that this identity does exist. In Nostoc and Anabaina the cells are globular, and as there is no constriction we might remain ignorant of the real method of division; but, guided by the analogical process, in the Desmidieae, I hope to make it sufficiently plain. The hemispheres are thrust apart by the new formation; but now it is the outer rounded margin that we look to for an explanation. If a globe be cut into two equal portions, each will represent half a circle. By comparison with the neighbouring cells, we find that these two half circles remain unaltered, and are mere1y separated from each other, for if again brought together they would reconstitute the former globe. The new formations however separate them further and further, until the intervening space equals that occupied by the original globe, and then we find two globes exactly like the primary one, the internal half of each being the newly-formed one. During this time the inner portions, as they extend, develop more and more of the circle, until each becomes, as I have stated, a perfect hemisphere. The whole process cannot, of course, be seen in the same cell; but in a dividing filament some joints may be observed in one stage and some in another, which renders the evidence complete. When the cell is oblong, or only rounded at the extremities, the process, though similar, is less evident: the cell at first seems merely to elongate until it obtains nearly twice its original length, when the division commences and the rounding of the new ends becomes apparent. The tapering cell presents but little difference, for the separation takes place before its extremities are fully developed. Sometimes these cells. separate obliquely, as in Spirotaenia and Scenedesmus. I ought to state however that the opinions advocated above do not agree with those of M. De Brébisson, who has attained so high a reputation for his intimate acquaintance with the freshwater Algae, and to whose kindness I have been so often indebted during the progress of the present work. He considers that there is an essential distinction in the mode of division between the Desmidieae and Nostochineae (including in the latter the Palmelleae), and that from it indeed differential characters are obtained by which we can distinguish these nearly-allied groups. He observes of Hormospora mutabilis, Bréb.[*Annales des Sciences Naturelles, Jan. 1844.] , " Ils sont le plus souvent géminés, se multipliant par une division spontanée (déduplication) transversale, comme cela arrive dans quelques autres Pleurococcoidées. Une division analogue a lieu dans les Desmidiées, auxquelles on serait d'abord tenté de rapporter les Hormospora; mais les demi- corpuscules (hémisomates) des Desmidiées développent à leur point de séparation une nouvelle portion semblable à la première, tandis que, dans l'accroissement des Nostocinées, les corpuscules sont divisés en deux par un étranglement transversal, sans qu'il s'ensuive une reproduction sur chacun des points de rupture. Il y a dans ce cas, comme je l'ai dit ailleurs, déduplication simple. Dans les Desmidiées, il y a deduplication et réduplication." It is with unfeigned diffidence that I venture to dissent from the opinion of one possessing so profound a knowledge of these tribes, and I do so only from conviction, the result of close and repeated investigations. I have stated my belief that the same changes occur in both the Desmidieae and the Nostochineae. A cell in Micrasterias has two hemispheres, just as a joint in Anabaina has;in both these separate, and in both each hemisphere becomes again a perfect sphere; and if in Micrasterias the two hemispheres. were united by their whole bases, there would not remain even an apparent difference between them. The form of the cylindrical cells no longer helps us in tracing the method of division. In Penium as in the Conjugatae, they seem merely to elongate and then divide. As I formerly suggested, in a paper read before the Botanical Society of Edinburgh, I consider it extremely probable that in all the simple Algae the cell or joint consists of two valves, and that additions occur at their junction, the original parts remaining unaffected: but this it may never be possible to demonstrate satisfactorily, unless a species of Conferva with a coloured integument should be detected, or some means can be devised for permanently colouring the filaments without impairing their growth. Then indeed the question might be determined; at present I can merely show the probability that the cell in cylindrical species of Desmidieae agrees with the joint in a Zygnema or Tyndaridea; since whenever the covering is colourless and free from markings not the slightest difference can be perceived. This is the case in a few species of Penium; and hence Penium Brebissonii is by some authors placed in the Palmelleae. In Penium margaritaceum and Penium Cylindrus the integument is coloured, and we are enabled, by means of the paler appearance of the newly-formed portions, to satisfy our-selves that in these also each half of the original cell is acquiring during the division a new partner. In Didymoprium the same fact is rendered apparent, because the suture passes between minute teeth ; these teeth recede from each other, and the new teeth which appear between them show the place where the separation of the joint has occurred. The spontaneous division of the frond is included by some writers amongst the modes of reproduction; but this is not strictly correct, for it is rather the manner in which the individual plant grows, since all the cells arrive at maturity nearly at the same period and terminate their existence about the same time. The Desmidieae are most probably reproduced only in two modes; one by the escape of the granular contents of the mature frond, and the other by the formation of sporangia, the result of the coupling of the cells. When the cells approach maturity, molecular movements may be at times noticed in their contents, precisely similar to what has been described by Agardh and others as occurring in the Confervae. This movement has been aptly termed a swarming. It has been seen by numerous observers, in this country by Messrs. Dalrymple, Jenner, Thwaites, Sidebotham, Dr. Dickie, and others. The cause of this sudden commotion cannot be ascertained ; but I have met with it more frequently in specimens that have been kept some days than in fresh-gathered ones. When released by the opening of the suture, the granules still move, but more rapidly and to a greater distance. With the subsequent history of these granules I am altogether unacquainted, but I conclude: that it is similar to what has been traced in other Algae. The second mode of reproduction is by coupling, and the formation of sporangia. A communication is established between two cells and a seed-like mass is formed in the same manner as in the Conjugatae. This is green and granular at first, but soon becomes of a homogeneous appearance and of a brown or even reddish colour. There are however some variations in the process , in the two families which require notice. In the Conjugatae, the cells conjugate whilst still forming parts of a filament; but in the Desmidieae the filamentous species almost invariably separate into single joints before their conjugation, and in most of the species the valves of the cells become detached after they are emptied of their contents. In many genera the sporangia remain smooth and unaltered; in other they become granulated, tuberculated or spinous; the spines, being either simple or forked. at the apex. In fact a sporangium may pass successively through all these stages, and hence may so change its appearance that its different states are liable to be taken for sporangia belonging to different species. In Tiresias also we sometimes meet with sporangia bearing spines, but in that genus they are arranged like the spokes of al wheel, and not scattered as in the Desmidieae. What is the nature of the sporangia, and why so complicated a process is necessary, since the species is also propagated by means of the granules or zoospores which escape from the ruptured cell, are questions to which we cannot, in the present state of science, return a satisfactory answer. The sporangia I consider capsules; and this view seems to be confirmed by the experience of Mr. Jenner, who informs me that the covering of the sporangium swells, and a mucus is secreted, in which minute fronds appear and, by their increase, at length rupture the attenuated covering [* An example of this condition occurring in Closterium acerosum is figured in the Plate containing that plant.]. That some purpose distinct from that performed by the zoospores is served by the coupling of the cells and formation of the sporangium cannot be doubted: for, where we can trace the operations of nature, we find that nothing is useless or in vain; nor is it reasonable to suppose that this complicated process should fulfil no other purpose than one already provided for without it. The sporangia are most abundant in spring before the pools dry up; and I would suggest, as no improbable conjecture, that the zoospores may be gemmae, analogous to those present in Marchantia polymorpha and Lunularia vulgaris, and that they possess merely a limited vitality, which is destroyed unless they are at once placed in circumstances favourable to their growth, whilst on the other hand, in the conjugated cells some important change takes place during the co-mingling of their contents and the formation of the sporangium, like what happens in the production of seeds in general, which renders the sporangia capable of retaining the vital principle uninjured throughout long periods of drought. That the Closteria couple and produce sporangia, in a manner similar to the Conjugatae, has been recorded by Turpin and other writers. Correct figures of some species in that state are given by Ehrenberg in his 'Infusoria,' and Meneghini mentions that Brébisson had detected it in Desmidium, but I am not aware that the conjugation of other Desmidieae was noticed by any writer before I published in the 'Annals of Natural History' full descriptions of the formation of sporangia in Tetmemorus granulatus and Staurastrum mucronatum. Subsequently examples have been detected in almost every genus, and we cannot hesitate to consider it characteristic of the family. In this country the conjugation of about forty species has been noticed by different observers, and M. De Brébisson informs me that he has gathered sporangia of the following species in France: Hyalotheca dissiliens, Didymoprium Grevilli, Staurastrum pygmaeum, S. controversum, S. muticum, Cosmarium Botrytis, Closterium Lunula, C. setaceum, C. acutum, and C. lineatum. In defining the genera and species, I have made no use of the reproductive bodies, for as yet too little is known about them to render them available for that purpose, and in many cases we are still uncertain whether the mature form is yet known. They are likewise so early detached from the emptied cells, that it is often very difficult to determine to what species they belong [* A principal use of generic and specific characters is to enable us to identify the species we meet with ; and although a genus may be accurately defined by characters taken from the reproductive parts, yet if that definition can be tested only in a few rare instances, it will be inferior in real value to one which is derived from less important parts that are always present. My wish has been to render the present work a practical one, useful in the fields as well as in the study : I have therefore omitted the employment of such characters, and endeavoured to express those which I have adopted as concisely as may be compatible with usefulness.]. I have gathered sporangia of other species besides those mentioned in this work; but whenever they were not still adherent to the fronds I have thought it best to pass them over, lest I should be the cause of error. That the orbicular spinous bodies so frequent in flint are fossil sporangia of Desmidieae cannot, I think, be doubtful when they are compared with figures of recent ones. Indeed one celebrated geologist, Dr. G. Mantell, who, in his 'Medals of Creation,' without any misgiving had adopted Ehrenberg's ideas concerning them, has changed his opinion, and in his last work regards them as having been reproductive bodies, although he is still uncertain whether they are of vegetable origin. Ehrenberg and his followers describe these bodies as fossil species of Xanthidium, but no doubt erroneously, since their structure is very different. For the true Xanthidium has a compressed, bipartite, and bivalved cell, whilst these fossils have a globose and entire one. The fossil forms vary like recent sporangia in being smooth, bristly, or furnished with spines, which in some are simple, and in others branched at the extremity. Sometimes too a membrane may be traced, even more distinctly than in recent specimens, either covering the spines or entangled with them.

Some writers describe the fossil forms as having been siliceous in their living state, but Mr. Williamson informs me that he possesses specimens which exhibit bent spines and torn margins, and thus wholly contradict the idea that they were siliceous before they were imbedded in the flint. In the present state of our knowledge it would be premature to attempt identifying the fossil with recent species: it is better therefore, at least for the present, to retain the names bestowed on the former by those who have described them. A paper on fossil Xanthidia by Mr. H. H. White, containing descriptions of eleven supposed species, accompanied by characteristic figures, may be consulted with advantage[* Microscopic Journal, vol. ii. p. 35.]. In all the Desmidieae, but especially in Closterium and Micrasterias, small, compact, seed-like bodies of a blackish colour are at times met with. Their situation is uncertain, and their number varies from one to four. In their immediate neighbourhood the endochrome is wanting, as if it had been required to form them, but in the rest of the frond it retains its usual colour and appearance. I cannot satisfy myself respecting the nature of these bodies, but I believe them either to arise from an unhealthy condition of the plant, or else to be parasitic. The only account I have seen of the discovery of fossil fronds of Desmidieae is by Professor Bailey, who detected various species of Closterium and Euastrum in calcareous marls, collected in New Hampshire and New York by Professors Hubbard. and Hall, and also in marl at Scotchtown, New York, by Mr. Connors [* American Journal of Science and Arts, vol. xlviii. p. 340.]. Professor Bailey informed me, that the specimens from the last-named station, and in which he found several Closteria, Euastra, &c., were taken from below the bones of the Mastdon giganteus. As sporangia of the Desmidieae and other membranous bodies in a fossil state have lately been detected by Mr. Deane and Dr. G. Mantell in the grey chalk of Folkestone, it is probable that a careful search in that neighbourhood would also bring to light the fossil fronds of the Desmidieae. The production of the Desmidieae in newly-formed collections of water is involved in obscurity. The late Mr. Miller of Penzance pointed out to me an instance of this kind well-worthy of notice. He found Hyalotheca dissiliens and other species of this family in an old water-butt, which stood in a yard remote from any apparent station for the Desmidieae, and derived its water from the clouds alone; and the question naturally arises, How came the Algae there ? The theory of spontaneous generation has never obtained currency in this kingdom, and for my own part I am not unwilling to acknowledge that there are mysteries in nature which we cannot penetrate. I can therefore only attempt to account for the appearance of the Desmidieae under such circumstances in two ways, - by supposing either that the atmosphere contains countless myriads of the sporules of the Desmidieae and other Cryptogamia, which vegetate only when they meet a congenial situation, or that the seeds are conveyed by means of aquatic insects, many of which, it is well known, roam during the night by means of their wings from one piece of water to another. The latter I consider the more probable conjecture. The entire question of the vegetation of the conjugating Algae is far from being understood. A few years back I paid considerable attention to the subject, but without arriving at any satisfactory conclusion. The Staurocarpus caerulescens is not uncommon near Penzance, is generally in large quantity where it occurs, and, from its peculiar colour, cannot escape detection; on these accounts I made it a principal subject of my observation. Although I have yearly gathered it in several pools, and the sporangia are always abundantly produced, I have particularly noticed during five or six years' observation, that it has never in a single instance reappeared in the same pool. At Dolgelley, where also in some years it is common, I met with the same result, with a single exception when I gathered it in one pool for two successive years. I have noticed the same fact with regard to Zygnema curvatum, and I believe it holds good in regard to most if not all the other Conjugatae ; but as they are more liable to be overlooked, I cannot speak of them with the same certainty as of the above-mentioned species. Algae in running water commonly recur every season. I called Mr. Jenner's attention to the subject: we were alike unsuccessful in our attempts to ascertain the cause of this singularity. His observations in general agreed with mine, that the plant will not appear in the same pool for two successive years; but he found too many exceptions to justify any certain conclusion. All the Desmidieae are gelatinous. In some the mucus is condensed into a distinct and well-defined hyaline sheath or covering, as in Didymoprium Grevillii and Staurastrum tumidum; in others it is more attenuated, and the fact that it forms a covering, is discerned only by its preventing the contact of the coloured cells. In general its quantity is merely sufficient to hold the fronds together in a kind of filmy cloud ,which is dispersed by the slightest touch. When they are left exposed by the evaporation of the water, this mucus becomes denser, and is apparently secreted in larger quantities to protect them from the effects of drought. I have observed more especially that Tetmemorus granulatus and Penium Brebissonii, under such circumstances, form a distinct mucous stratum ; and on this account some authors have placed the latter with the Palmelleae, although when it occurs in water it is less gelatinous than many other species belonging to the family of the Desmidieae. I have never obtained a clear view of the circulation witnessed by various authors in species of Closterium and Docidium, but I have no doubt that it is correctly described in the following account by Mr. Dalrymple of his own observations: - "A circulation of the fluids within the shell was observed independent of the active molecules; this was regular, passing in two opposite currents, one along the side of the shell, and the other along the periphery of the gelatinous body [* Annals of Natural History, vol. v. p. 416.]." Professor Bailey observes, that "The account by Mr. Dalrymple agrees with what I have witnessed in several species. The currents are very distinct; so much so in fact, that they attracted my attention before I was aware that they had been noticed by others [† American Journal of Science and Arts, vol. xli. p. 300.]." Dr. Williams of Swansea has kindly translated from the German a paper on this subject by Labarzewski [‡ Linnaea, 1840, p. 278.], but it is too long for insertion here, nor would it be intelligible without the accompanying figures. Labarzewski's observations were made on specimens of Closterium Lunula. The circulating fluid was clear and thick, and filled the space between the covering an the central mass of green granular material, from which granules detached themselves from time to time, and after moving along the margins, returned to their former situation. The current was quickened at the ends and near the suture, where it was lost, but reappeared in the other segment. The circulation was intermittent, lasting each time about seven seconds. I now approach a question on which I feel the greatest anxiety, lest I should not do justice to the arguments of those from whose opinion I may differ, or should fail satisfactorily to impress upon my reader the reasons which have appeared to my own mind incontrovertible. The question is, - are the Desmidieae animals or vegetables? The arguments I have seen advanced in support of their animal nature appear to me so inconclusive, when contrasted with those adduced in favour of their being vegetables, that, although in the course of a long scientific correspondence I have sought to become thoroughly acquainted with the facts relied upon by the advocates of the former opinion, I have at times almost doubted whether my distance from the metropolis may not have precluded me from the opportunity of hearing others of a more convincing description. I will however claim the merit of being at least desirous of stating the case impartially, and I have in vain consulted some distinguished naturalists who differ from me, that I might learn whether their opinions were supported by other reasons than those which are so generally known, and to which I shall presently refer. I will also add, what may be a fact of some weight, that I formerly considered the Desmidieae animals, and the Diatomaceae vegetables, and that careful observations alone have in a great measure reversed my opinions. The Desmidieae I now believe have as strong a claim as the Conjugatae or Palmellae can have to rank with the Algae. On the other hand I consider the proper station of the Diatomaceae very doubtful. They have at least as much right to a place in the animal as in the vegetable kingdom; and perhaps the safest course would be that adopted by several celebrated continental naturalists, who regard them as belonging to a distinct and intermediate group, and partaking almost equally of the characters of animal and of vegetable. The chief reasons advanced by Ehrenberg and others for placing the Desmidieae in the animal kingdom are the following: - that they exert a voluntary motion; that they increase by transverse self-division; and that the Closteria have at their extremities apertures and protruding organs continually in motion. Although two of these reasons apply only to the genus Closterium, I freely admit that if the Closteria can be proved animals, the question as to the other genera will be decided. Few indeed hint at such a motive for adopting the opinion, nevertheless I feel persuaded that the animal-like forms of the Desmidieae have had a great, though not avowed, influence on the determination of this question. Did we trust solely to the eye. we should conclude that objects so different in form and variable in appearance, were far more like animals than vegetables. Their symmetrical division into two segments; the beautiful disciform, finely-cut and toothed Micrasterias, the lobed Euastrum, the Cosmarium glittering as it were with gems, the Xanthidium armed with spines, the scimitar-shaped Closterium embellished with striae, the Desmidium resembling a tape-worm, and the strangely insect-like Staurastrum sometimes furnished with arms, as if for the purpose of seizing its prey; - all these characters seem indeed to pertain more to the lower animals than to vegetables. We are thus induced, however unconsciously, to judge before examination, and we naturally search for arguments in support of our preconceived opinion instead of those which may elicit the truth. But experience has proved that form alone is a most deceptive guide, the implicit dependence on which has, in many similar instances, been the cause of error ; and I believe that if a person unacquainted with what has been written respecting the two groups should look at the representations of the Desmidieae, and examine the graceful and arborescent Zoophyte, having its branches to all appearance loaded with fruit that is periodically produced, matured, and shed, he would without hesitation place the Desmidieae in the animal, and the Zoophyte in the vegetable kingdom. Nor could we wonder at such a decision, since in former times, even observers of high scientific attainments, judging by external appearances, did in fact class Zoophytes with the Algae. Again, Ellis, who first established the animal nature of the Zoophytes, and thus dispelled one error, presently committed a similar fault by transferring along with the Zoophytes (simply on account of their agreement in certain external characters), Corallina and other genera which, it is almost unnecessary to add, have not until a recent period been restored to their proper place amongst the Algae [* See the introductions to Johnston's admirable works on the British Zoophytes and Corallines.]. The above is a sufficient illustration of the danger of trusting solely to the evidence of sight : I shall endeavour to show that it would in the present case also lead to an incorrect conclusion. That the Desmidieae have been so long associated in the same family with the Diatomaceae, whose proper position is so doubtful, presents another obstacle to the recognition of the claims of the former to rank with the Algae. For when so many eminent observers, -botanists and zoologists, notwithstanding they differ widely in respect of the department of Natural History to that there must be valid reasons for such a course. I shall therefore point out the distinctions between these groups, and show that, at all events, they can no longer be united in one family, but must be separated, as they have been by Kützing in his more recent work, as well as by others. I have shown that the cell in the Desmidieae consists of two valves united by a central suture, and that during its division the new-formed portions are interposed between these valves. The Desmidieae are membranous, or should a few species contain silica, it is not present in sufficient quantity to interfere with their flexibility. They rarely have acute angles, and are seldom (if ever) rectangular. They are often deeply incised or lobed, warted or spinous. The internal matter is of a herbaceous-green colour, and starch vesicles abound in the mature cell. They couple and form either orbicular or quadrate seed-like bodies, and are remarkable for the resistance which they oppose to decomposition. In all these respects they differ from the Diatomaceae. In the latter each frustule consists of three pieces, one central and ring-like or continuous all round, and the others lateral. The division is completed by the formation of new portions within the enlarged central piece, which then falls off, or else by a new septum arising at the centre; but I believe that, in every case, the separation commences internally before it extends to the covering [* For detailed descriptions of the mode in which cells are multiplied by division in the Diatomaceae, see the Transactions of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh, vol. ii. p. 37.]. Their coverings, with very few exceptions. are siliceous, withstand the actions of fire and acids, and may be broken but not bent ; the frustules are often rectangular in form, are never warted, and scarcely ever spinous. Their internal matter is usually brown when recent; and, although some species are greenish, or become green after they have been gathered, none are of a truly herbaceous colour. Their vesicles bear some resemblance to those in the Desmidieae, but, they are of a yellower colour, and no starch has been detected in them. The Diatomaceae do not conjugate [† Since the above was in type Mr. Thwaites has detected four species of Diatomaceae in a conjugated state; the sporangia are elongated and in pairs, and the internal matter is similar to that of the frustules.], and in general they very soon give out an offensive odour. I have preferred treating of these topics first and at some length, because I wish the reader to enter upon the subject unprejudiced, so that after a fair examination of the conflicting arguments he may be ready to surrender his judgement to that which is supported by facts of greater weight. The first reason advanced by Ehrenberg in support of the animal nature of the Desmidieae is, that they possess a "voluntary motion ;" but I must protest against his use of the term voluntary as prejudging the matter in dispute and assuming more than in the present state of knowledge can be ascertained; more indeed than he has attempted to prove. That the Desmidieae move must be admitted; for this fact has been noticed by too many accurate observers to permit any doubt of its truth, and although I have myself failed to perceive their actual movement, I have sufficient evidence of its occurrence. But, whilst making this admission, I must still maintain that in the lower tribes of organic life motion is not an indubitable sign of an animal nature [* "Motum non determinare limites regni animalis exinde patet, quod sunt animalia, quae non moventur, vegetabilia in quibus motum vividum videmus." Agardh, Conspectus Diatomacearum, p. 4. "The active motions in plants and their parts, especially in Algea, ought not to give rise to the supposition of an animal nature, even when they are called infusorial or animal motions." - Ehrenberg, Taylor's Scient. Mem. vol. i. p.], and that the movements of the Desmidieae most be very sluggish, or exercised only under peculiar circumstances, since I have never witnessed it, notwithstanding I have almost daily living specimens under my inspection. Mr. Jenner has been equally unsuccessful, and several friends, experienced in the use of the microscope, either have not seen it or speak of it in uncertain terms†. [†I subjoin the opinions of various observers : -" Actual motion, arising from internal causes, I saw only in Sphaerastrum ; and the slight movement, supposed to have been observed in some of the genera, is certainly of the same description as that of some Confervae."- Meyen, I839, as quoted in Pritchard's Infusoria, p. 180. "These are animals instead of plants, if the faculty of locomotion will entitle them to that rank."-Carmichael, in Hook. Br. Fl. vol. ii. p. 398. "It was impossible to determine whether the vague motions of Closterium were voluntary or not."--Dalrymple, see Annals of Nat. Hist. vol. v. p. 417. "Motions apparently voluntary are easily seen . . . . I have seen Euastrum margaritiferum move quite distinctly." - Bailey, American Bacillaria. "Elles n'ont pas un mouvement sensible sur le porte objet du microscope. Cependant il est facile de remarquer dans les localités où elles vivent où dans les vases où on les conserve, qu'elles se dirigent vers la lumière et se rapprochent en pellicules où en sortes de pinceaux d'un beau vert, réunies entre elles au moyen d'un mucus qui les entoure ordinairement." -- Brébisson, in Chevalier's 'Des microscopes et leur usage.' "The various species of Closterium, as well as the closely allied Euastra have a distinct motion which cannot be referred to any extrication of gas. I have had species of Closterium and Euastrum confined in a compressor, in water perfectly free from other bodies, and they moved so fast that I found it impossible to sketch their forms by the camera lucida until they were killed." - Professor Bailey in lit.] Professor Bailey states that "their power of locomotion may be rendered apparent by taking a portion of mud covered with Closteria, placing it in water exposed to light, and then if the Closteria are buried in the mud they will soon work their way to the surface, covering it again with a green stratum [*American Bacillaria, in American Journal of Science and Arts, vol. xli. p. 300.]." I have myself frequently observed this fact, especially in Tetmemorus granulatus and Penium Brebissonii; but I presume that it is owing to the stimulus of light rather than to any voluntary effort; at any rate the same result will follow if an 0scillatoria be substituted for the Closterium. In like manner, in some species of Nostoc, Anabaina, and Palmella, the filaments or cells throng towards the light; and should the specimen he turned over, they will in a few hours appear on the new surface, whilst they have become less numerous on the previous upper one. Of course the gelatine must be in a sufficiently lax state to permit such a movement. Another proof of their power of locomotion is afforded by their retiring, in some instances, beneath the surface when the pools dry up. I have taken advantage of this circumstance in order to obtain specimens less mingled with foreign matters than they would otherwise have been. If a species be much mixed with mud, I take a saucer, fill it with earth made into a paste with water, and cover it with a piece of linen; over this I spread a thick layer, containing the Desmidieae, and allow it to become nearly dry; within a few days the specimens will form a stratum on the linen, and may be scraped off with a knife. This plan however proves successful only with the smaller species, and minute Algae accompany the Desmidieae which are so obtained. It is thus evident that whatever be the motive power of the Desmidieae they possess it only in common with acknowledged Algae, and in a less degree than either the Diatomaceae, the Oscillatorieae, the sporules of various Algae, or indeed their own sporules. Ehrenberg considers that increase by voluntary division is the character which separates animals from vegetables [† Annals of Natural History, vol.ii. p.123.], and, in fact, he produces no other reason for denying the vegetable nature of some genera. But it will probably be thought a sufficient answer to mention that Meyen and others have proved the growth by elongation and bisection of the cells to be very frequent, if not universal, in the more simple Algae [* "The increase by self-division occurs in all these genera; this process is looked upon by Ehrenberg as one of the strongest and most decisive characters of animal nature; but I have elsewhere proved, in the most satisfactory manner, that self-division is very common, both in the lowest plants as well as in the elementary organs of the more highly developed ones." - Meyen, 1839 ; see 'Pritchard's Infusoria, p. 180. ] . Meyen remarks that Ehrenberg has interpreted " all the facts known as if these creations were undoubtedly animals, whilst the same facts would indicate quite a different signification if we proceeded upon the supposition that they were nothing but plants [† See Pritchard's Infusoria, p. 178.]," In the present instance we have a striking example of the truth of this observation, since Ehrenberg, on observing that division occurs in the lower animals, too hastily draws the inference that only animals can be the subjects of it. 0n the other hand, Mr. Shuttleworth, in a letter to Mrs. Griffiths, written in the spring of 1842, described the growth of the simple Algae by repeated spontaneous division of their cells, and illustrated it by sketches of Zygnema nitidum, &c. He states that the process is most evident in the 0scillatoriae, in Conferva fugacissima, in Lyngbya muralis, and in the Conjugatae; and, after noticing the similar process in the Diatomaceae, he adds, " I trust that now their vegetable nature is beyond all doubt; " thus showing that from the same premises two able observers came to exactly opposite conclusions. It is right to mention that Mr. Shuttleworth did not claim the credit of being the original discoverer, but merely said that he had convinced himself of the correctness of the facts published. To Mr. Hassall is justly due the credit of first directing the attention of British naturalists to this mode of growth; and, as it appears he was not aware that it had previously been noticed by continental botanists, another proof is thus afforded that it has attracted the attention of independent observers. The fact of the transverse bisection of the Algae is now so well established that this character is employed by J. G. Agardh, in his generic definitions [* " Tiresias, fronde tota homogenea et articulis omnibus continua subdivisione iterum iterumque divisis, atque coniocystis inclusis insigne." --Ag. Icon. Alg. Ined.]. In a preceding part of this introduction, I have endeavoured to show that in the Desmidieae the process is the same as in all the simple Algae. If some should think that I have dwelt too long upon this topic, I trust I shall stand excused when it is considered that the celebrated Ehrenberg places much reliance upon this character, and that great weight is justly allowed to the authority of one who has devoted so much time and skill to the examination of the Desmidieae; moreover, that his arguments are familiar to the British naturalist, and his opinions extensively embraced, whilst the opinions of those who differ from him on this subject are comparatively unknown. I am not in a position either to deny or to affirm with confidence the presence of openings in the extremities of the Closteria, for in objects so minute it is very difficult, frequently perhaps impossible, to distinguish between a depression and an opening [† " No one accustomed to the use of the microscope can be otherwise than aware how much very minute objects seen under a high power are apt to assume a character in accordance with preconceived notions."--J. T. Smith, in Annals of Natural History, vol. xix. p. 2.]. It appears indeed to me that in Closterium there is a slight notch, or more usually the rudiment of one, at the apex of the segments, a mere indication in short of what is fully developed in Tetmemorus and Euastrum; for in C. Dianae, and some other species, there is an evident though minute notch, and in Penium not even a trace of it can be detected. In no instance can any portion of the contents of the cell be forced out from the extremities. Mr. Dalrymple believes that orifices exist which are closed by internal membranes. Ehrenberg, on the contrary, describes not merely open orifices, but protruding organs or feet immediately behind them, and thus affords an example of his want of caution when he gives the rein to his poetic fancy; for in this instance at least he is clearly in error. Mr. Dalrymple, whose remarks on the Closteria are the undoubted result of careful examination, carried on with the desire of recording actual facts rather than of supporting a theory, denies the existence of any papillae or proboscides at this part, and also the supposition of Ehrenberg, that the moving molecules seen near the extremities constitute the basis of such papillae. This admission is the more valuable as coming from a person who is not only an accurate observer but a believer in their animal nature. Professor Bailey also informs us that he has failed to detect them. In most of the Closteria there is at each extremity of the endochrome a distinct globule containing moving granules. Ehrenberg seems to have mistaken these for organs of motion. In Closterium rostratum and C. setaceum these granules are situated at a distance from the extremities, and, as they are apparently not contained within a globule, move more freely and afford better opportunities for observing them than those in the other species do. In one instance I saw them continue to move after escaping from the frond. Did the Closteria possess mouths we should expect to find them in every species; but Penium interruptum, in which there are conspicuous terminal globules and moving granules, has decidedly nothing of the kind; and as its end view is circular and rather turgid no more desirable plant could be selected for examination. If mouths are present they ought to be visible in this and the allied species, but not a single punctum can be detected in the end view of the empty frond. I have now passed in review the four points advanced by Ehrenberg in support of the animal nature of the Desmidieae, and I submit that I have shown that from them no evidence approaching to a satisfactory proof of his position can be deduced. In offering these remarks I hope I shall not be suspected of the least wish to undervalue Ehrenberg's discoveries. I believe that he is sometimes too hasty in arriving at his conclusions, and that his knowledge of the Desmidieae is less accurate than of the Diatomaceae and other tribes which have come under his observation. When we consider the extent of his researches, it is not surprising, eminent as he is, that be should fall into some errors, which a person inferior in ability, but confining his whole attention to a comparatively smaller range, is likely to detect. Nor even in respect of this family, although I must consider it the most defective portion of his great work, are the obligations slight which we owe to Ehrenberg : for not only has he enlarged our knowledge of the Desmidieae by the discovery of many new facts, by his discrimination of the species, and by producing better representations than those which previously existed, but be has given an impulse to the study, and rendered it popular. The fifth volume of the 'Annals of Natural History [*P.415. ]' contains an abstract of a paper by Mr. Dalrymple on the Closteria, read before the Microscopical Society of London, from which I quote the following reasons for placing them in the animal kingdom:--" 1st. That while Closterium has a circulation of molecules greatly resembling that of plants, it has also a definite organ, unknown in the vegetable world, in which the active molecules appear to enjoy an independent motion, and the parietes of which appear capable of contracting upon its contents. " 2nd. That the green gelatinous body is contained in a membranous envelope, which, while it is elastic, contracts also upon the action of certain reagents whose effects cannot be considered purely chemical. " 3rd. The comparison of the supposed ova with cytoblasts and cells of plant precludes the possibility of our considering them as the latter, while the appearance of a vitelline nucleus, transparent but molecular fluid, a chorion or shell, determines them as animal ova. It was shown to be impossible that these eggs had been deposited in the empty shell by other infusoria, or that they were the produce of some entozoon. " 4th. That while it was impossible to determine whether the vague motions of Closterium were voluntary or not, yet the idea the author had formed of a suctorial apparatus, forbad his classing them with plants." I confess I am unable to refer to any example in other Algae of terminal globules like those present in the Closteria, bot neither can one be found amongst animals; and if in some respects they have an analogy with organs belonging to the latter, in others they agree better with vegetable life. The contained granules seem to me to differ in no respect, except in position and uninterrupted motion, from other granules in the same frond, and, as I have already stated, I once saw the motion continue after their escape from the cell precisely as in other zoospores. Meyen observes that "the functions of these bodies is very difficult to determine, but they are to be found in very many Confervae, and are perhaps to be likened to the spermatic animalcules of plants." The contraction of the internal membrane of the Closteria, or the expulsion of their contents on the application of iodine or other reagents, cannot be relied upon as a satisfactory test for determining their nature, for the blandest fluids will, in some cases, occasion violent action. If fresh water touches Griffithsia setacea, the joints burst and spirt out their contents; and if it be applied to a species of Elachistea, the granular contents are instantly thrown into commotion. In certain conditions of the Closteria themselves, water will produce effects like those attributed to reagents. I have frequently witnessed that by the addition of water to specimens of Closteria, which had for some time been kept merely in a damp state, the frond has been ruptured and the endochrome has escaped with considerable force. This is especially the case with Closterium Lunula; and the same circumstance occurs in most of the Desmidieae, although in none of the others so remarkably as in that genus. Mr. P. Grant has favoured me with an account of numerous experiments which he instituted to determine the effects of different substances on the Desmidieae, Conjugatae, &c. From these it seems that the action of a reagent cannot be predicated with any certainty, and that the molecular motion is not affected by several strong poisons, whilst it yields to other substances less generally deleterious. With regard to the " supposed ova," I fully agree with Meyen that " they are similar to the green corpuscles found in the cells of the Confervae," and, when both are removed " from their cells, I am persuaded that it would be impossible to distinguish between them. That they contain amylum has been, with good reason, pointed out by Meyen as decisive against the notion that they are eggs. The latest advocate of the animal nature of the Desmidieae is C. Eckhard, in his memoir 'on the Organization of the Polygastric Infusoria,' published in Weigmann's Archiv, part 3, 1846. With this memoir I am acquainted only through the medium of a translation by Dr. J. W. Griffiths in the 'Annals of Natural History [* Vol. xviii. p. 433.].' It is apparently written for the purpose of confirming Ehrenberg's views, and accordingly defends his accuracy in every respect. So far as regards the Desmidieae, Eckhard notices only the Closteria, and he advances nothing additional except an opinion that the transverse suture is a fissure or mouth. In order that both sides of the question may be compared, I extract his remarks, and merely point out that he has left unnoticed the facts on which botanists place their chief reliance : --"The grounds for their being of animal nature are derived partly from their motion, partly from their organization. On the leaves of Ceratophyllum, I observed the manner in which several Closteria adhered elegantly by one extremity; in about a quarter or half an hour many of them were situated in the same manner upon a higher part of the leaf: not a single animalcule was found on the side of the leaf, nor adherent longitudinally to it. They had evidently moved during the above time from the lower to the upper part of the leaf. If we observe their motions under the microscope they are not so rapid as those of many other polygastric infusoria, but the motion is always evidently animal. They swim, especially in summer, in the most varied directions, and I have frequently seen Cl. acerosum and Lunula swim against the current when the water on the object-holder was flowing towards one side, whilst fragments of plants, various kinds of Spirogyra and Oscillatoria were carried away. It is difficult here to discover anything but animal motion; to explain this however by electricity, as Turpin attempted, is unnatural, and not less absurd than that of the muscular fibre by the same natural agent by Strauss. But the relations of the organization of the Closterina are likewise in favour of their animal nature. In illustration of this I shall confine myself to Cl. acerosum. We see that the animal,which is expanded in the middle, is elongated symmetrically on each side. In the middle there is a transverse fissure, which probably serves for the admission of nourishment; since, when this animal is kept for some time in coloured water, we perceive little accumulations of the colouring matters. At the extremities we see on each side a vesicle, in which minute granules (?) incessantly move. In other species there is moreover a small aperture; it is situated more posteriorly, and is perhaps connected with the cell. Ehrenberg twice saw in this animalcule filaments (feet ?) project from it. Internally there are on each side two or four cords, and a row (in other kinds several) of granular bodies. In the species figured, I have so often seen the above change in relative position, that I have been compelled to wait until they again appeared in their original position in order to delineate them. All this is not plant-like ; and if the carapace of the Closterina should prove to be of a horny nature, as would appear to be the case from their becoming wrinkled when heated, they would be removed from the vegetable kingdom with still greater certainty." Although at first sight it seems to indicate the contrary, the swarming of the zoospores or granules really affords a strong confirmation of the vegetable nature of the Desmidieae. This swarming has been noticed in the Algae by many eminent observers, and notwithstanding the extraordinary phaenomena which it presents, no fact in their history is more firmly established. Hence J. G. Agardh, who so worthily emulates his father's fame, has been induced to apply the name of "Zoospermeae" to one of his three primary divisions of the Algae. In this country the swarming has been witnessed by Mr. Borrer, the Rev. M. J. Berkeley, Mr. Hassall, and others. I have frequently seen it in Sphaeroplea crispa and Draparnaldia tenuis. A commotion arises within the cell as if all its contents were suddenly endued with life; the disturbance increasing, the cell, opens, when the zoospores hasten from their prison, and, apparently enjoying their newly-acquired liberty, dart about in every direction, until, tired of their sport, they at length resume a quiescent state [* The fullest details accessible to the English reader will be found in Mr. Harvey's excellent introduction to his ´ Manual of British Algae,' and in the introduction to Hassall's ´British Freshwater Algae.']. This description has such a marvellous character that the reader may suppose it is somewhat indebted to the imagination, and I believe no one can witness the occurrence for the first time without being startled and almost led to doubt the evidence of sight. Such movements are so contrary to our ordinary experience of vegetable life, that we involuntarily hesitate to admit their compatibility with it; and on the continent many eminent naturalists, unable to find a satisfactory explanation, consider that in this stage the zoospores are really animals, and do not acquire their vegetable nature until a subsequent period. This opinion never obtained countenance in this country: yet a Berkeley did not esteem its refutation unworthy of his pen, and a Harvey thought it necessary to record his dissent from it and his belief that the phenomenon must be regarded as a "strictly vegetable peculiarity." All that I have alluded to as happening in the Algae occurs also in the Desmidieae; but no similar motion has ever been observed in the contents of an animal after their escape from the individual, and I therefore claim its presence in the Desmidieae as a strong presumptive evidence in support of their vegetable nature. Starch has been observed in the Desmidieae by many persons, and I am not aware that its occurrence is now denied by any one. I should therefore have supposed that it hardly required further proof, but as the subject is altogether unnoticed by most writers on the opposite side, it becomes necessary to bring it fully before the reader. Meyen first directed attention to the presence of starch as a conclusive proof that the Desmidieae are Algae. He states that in several genera he has "distinctly seen that the large and small granules contained amylum, and were sometimes even entirely composed of it [* See American Journal of Science and Arts, vol. xli. p. 298.]," and that " in the month of May he had observed many specimens of Closterium in which the whole interior substance was granulated, and all the grains gave with iodine a beautiful blue colour, as is the case with starch, which is not an animal product." I know not that Ehrenberg or his followers have ever repeated Meyen's experiments or taken the slightest notice of them, important as they are to the solution of the disputed question. In this country, Mr. Dalrymple at first failed to detect starch in the Closteriae, but afterwards observed it in specimens of Closterium (Penium) Digitus, which I sent him, and acknowledged its presence in the following terms: - "I have examined the specimens sent up, and in several I can detect the blue colour of the iodide of starch; this is by no means however universal, some being merely stained yellowish-brown; but in those instances there appears to be an absence of granular matter, the fact of blue granules in some is however decisive of the presence of starch."

                        Mr. Dalrymple is so careful and accurate an observer, that I doubt not his failure was caused by the immature state of the specimens on which be experimented, as he indeed subsequently allowed might have been the case. Professor Bailey of the U.S. Military Academy, in an article on the American 'Desmidiaceae' [* American Journal of Science and Arts, vol. xli. p. 287.], gives copious extracts from Mr. Dalrymple's paper on the Closteria, accompanied by his own remarks. He bears testimony to the general correctness of Mr. Dalrymple's observations, but with regard to those on the action of iodine, he says, "I cannot otherwise account for Mr. Dalrymple's statement, that iodine , 'in no instance produced in the Closteria the violet or blue colour indicating starch,' than by supposing that the specimens he examined were not in the proper state to exhibit it. Meyen expressly states that it is , 'at certain times, particularly. in spring ,' that the starch may be detected. I am able by conclusive experiments to confirm Meyen's statement as to the presence of starch in these bodies. In specimens gathered in November I find no difficulty in producing the blue colour with tincture of iodine. Sometimes however the specimen becomes so opake by the action of this reagent, that the purple colour of the granules can only be detected after crushing the specimen by means of the compressor. The characteristic colour of iodide of starch is then shown most distinctly. I have repeatedly treated in this way Closterium Trabecula, as well as others, and have uniformly found that a portion of the interior takes the purplish colour [† Ibid, p. 301.]." I have myself repeatedly noted the effects of iodine on many of the Desmidieae. In a young state the cells are filled with a green homogeneous fluid, which as the plant approaches to maturity becomes granular. Scattered amongst this minutely granular matter, larger granules, or rather vesicles, make their appearance. These Ehrenberg calls ova; but I cannot perceive the slightest difference between them and the granules present in the higher Algae. On applying diluted tincture of iodine to different species of the Desmidieae, the granules become very dark with a purplish tinge showing the presence of starch. When the tincture of iodine is used in its undiluted state, the colouring matter becomes nearly black and conceals the bluish tint; in some specimens too this tint is hardly perceptible, whilst in others it is very apparent. In no instance have I found the presence of starch indicated unless granules were present, as the fluid colouring-matter always becomes brownish. The application of iodine to Conjugatae in different stages of growth was followed by a precisely similar result. In the young plant no starch was detected, but the colouring matter changed to an orange-brown. On the other hand, in the conjugating filaments the granules became blue, and the sporangia especially acquired the very dark colour observed in the Desmidieae, and did not exhibit the iodide of starch until they were crushed. Professor Bailey's testimony is the more satisfactory because it is not the evidence of a partisan, but the admission of one inclined to regard the Desmidieae as pertaining to the animal kingdom. Although he does not " consider the presence of starch in these bodies as conclusive evidence that they are plants," yet as a professor of chemistry he is aware that starch is not an animal product, and he suggests therefore, with some ingenuity, " Is it not possible that they are animals which feed, wholly or in part, on amylaceous matter extracted from the aquatic plants among which they live ? if so, the detection of starch in their stomachs is not surprising." In the young cell there is no starch, but after its first appearance it continues to increase and is most plentiful in the sporangium; facts quite incompatible with Professor Bailey's suggestion, but strictly analogous with its presence in the Conjugatae, and indeed in plants in general, for it is well known that starch is often most abundantly produced in the seed. Of all the facts which indicate the vegetable nature of the Desmidieae, this is undoubtedly the mast important, since it is the most easily subjected to the test of experiment. The swarming of the zoospores is seen only now and then, and it is not always easy to trace the process of coupling; but every person can apply the test for starch, and needs only to bear in mind that unless granular matter be present there is no starch [*After the diluted tincture of iodine is applied, the free iodine should be removed by the aid of heat, occasionally adding a little water to facilitate its removal. This in great measure removes the brownish stain which obscures the purple tint, and then on applying the highest powers of the microscope, the peculiar colour of the iodide can in general be easily perceived.]. The conjugation of the fronds in this family supplies an equally striking fact in proof that it belongs to the vegetable kingdom. I have already mentioned that we have amongst the Algae many examples of the junction of two individuals [†So far as relates to the formation of the sporangium, each joint in the Conjugatae must be considered a distinct individual. On the contrary, in the Desmidieae, each frond resulting from division is merely a portion taken from the original one, and like a graft or slip from an apple, a willow, or a carnation, retains every accidental peculiarity of the variety from which it parted. Thus one pool may abound with individuals of Staurastrum dejectum or Arthrodesmus incus, having the mucro curved outwards ; in a neighbouring pool every specimen may have it curved inwards; and in another it may be straight. The cause of the similarity in each pool, no doubt is, that its plants are offsets from a few primary fronds. The above fact, I must further remark, often renders it very difficult to decide whether a particular form be really a distinct species or merely a variety, since its abundance will not suffice to establish its claim to the rank of a species.], and the commingling and union of their entire contents into a seed-like body for the purpose of reproduction. The case of the Conjugatae is well known, and Mr. Hassall has proved that the same phenomenon takes place in other genera. In the Desmidieae, in like manner, a bag or cell forms between two individuals, and the entire contents of both these (or indeed of four, if we regard the fronds as binate) pass out and unite together to form one reproductive body, which becoming detached, leaves the parent corpuscles altogether empty. Such an occurrence is, I believe, not only unknown amongst animals, but is contrary to all our notions of animal propagation. Among the Conjugatae, Tyndaridea has an orbicular sporangium, Staurocarpus a cruciform or quadrate one; in Zygnema it is formed within one of the coupling cells, and in Mougeotia it is situated in the connecting tube. The Desmidieae present us with corresponding variations. Their sporangia are generally orbicular, but Staurastrum, Tetmemorus, Closterium and Penium afford examples of cruciform and quadrate ones: and although the reproductive body is usually contained in the connecting tube, yet in Didymoprium Grevillii it is placed in one of the conjugating cells. Lastly, we have the Didyoprium Borreri, in which the conjugated filaments form a kind of network in the same manner as in Mougeotia. That the Desmidiae resist decomposition, exhale oxygen on exposure to the sun, preserve the purity of the water containing them, and when burnt do not emit the peculiar odour usually so characteristic of animal combustion, are other facts respecting this family, which taken singly might have less value, but in their combination furnish a most important support to the arguments already adduced. On the foregoing statements I rest the claim of the Desmidieae to be considered Algae ; and I confidently appeal to any impartial person whether they do not at least require to be answered before the conclusion which I have drawn can be rejected. But on consulting the works of those who profess to prove the contrary, we find that the important facts which I have here investigated are either altogether overlooked, or passed by without an attempt to controvert them. For my own part I believe them to be unanswerable. I have pointed out that the swarming of the granules occurs in acknowledged Algae as well as in the Desmidieae; and that nothing which can fairly be compared with it occurs in the animal kingdom. Can either of these assertions be disproved? Again, it has been seen that starch is abundantly produced in this family. Can a single example be referred to where it is an animal product? I have shown that the reproductive body is formed in a manner well known amongst the Algae, but never detected in animals. Until these facts have been denied, or the arguments deducted from them refuted, I shall presume that the claim of the Desmidieae to be considered vegetables is firmly established [* Since the above was written, a friend has furnished me with the translation of a passage from a recent work of Meneghini, which is so appropriate in support of my views that I gladly introduce it here: - "The Closteria and the Desmidieae are universally plants and not animals. In the actual state of science we are obliged to admit this proposition. The organic structure, the physiological phaenomena, the history of their development, their chemical composition, manifest in these beings a perfect correspondence with others, which, under all their aspects, are comprised in the abstract idea of a plant. On the other hand, what they present in common with those beings evidently animal is but an appearance, or at most a similarity of external form. Ehrenberg was deceived by this appearance, and, guided by this fallacious resemblance, thought he discovered even in the Desmidieae the same organic peculiarities which prove the animality of other beings. What must we infer from this ? That even the most accurate observer and man of genius may err. This can never diminish his merit or render less important the services which he has rendered to Science. The loss will fall only on those who, averse to the fatigue of observing, content themselves with the authority of the master, and embrace without distinction his real discoveries and his errors. Thank Heaven, the epoch of authority is passed, and whoever submits to its yoke may be allowed to err, because science will not advance the less for him, and may even derive advantage from those very errors. From the study of the Desmidieae, and from their being brought into comparison with animals, valuable notions upon the intimate structure of vegetables have already been derived." - Sulla Animalita della Diatomee, p. l72.]. The Desmidieae I regard then as Algae, allied on the one side to the Conjugatae by similarity of reproduction, and on the other to the Palmelleae, by the usually complete transverse division and by the presence of gelatine. Indeed the relation to the latter is so intimate, that it is difficult to say to which family some genera belong. Thus Merismopaedia, placed by Meneghini and Kützing in the Desmidieae, I believe, with Meyen, to belong properly to the Palmelleae. On the other hand, Cylindrocystis, placed in the latter by Meneghini and Brébisson, has been rightly removed to the Desmidieae by Kützing and Hassall. Brébisson's discovery of conjugated specimens of Coccochloris protuberans and Cocc. rubescens brings to our notice another link connecting these families, whilst some species of Scenedesmus may be allowed to have an almost equal claim to rank with either. Respecting the uses of the Desmidieae little is known. Doubtless, in common with other aquatic vegetables, they tend to preserve the purity of the water in which they live, and Mr. Williamson has ascertained that to a great extent they furnish food for the bivalved mollusks which inhabit fresh waters. As the Desmidieae are unattached and very minute, they are rarely gathered in streams : nevertheless interesting species may occasionally be obtained where the current is so sluggish as to permit the thin retaining mucus to elude its force. In small shallow pools that do not dry up in summer they are most abundant; hence pools in boggy places are generally productive. The Desmidieae prefer an open country. They abound on moors and in exposed places, but are rarely found in shady woods or in deep ditches. To search for them in turbid waters is useless: such situations are the haunts of animals, not the habitats of the Desmidieae, and the waters in which the latter are present are always clear to the very bottom.

M. de Brébisson informs me that in France, calcareous districts, which are so favourable to theDiatomaceae, are very unproductive of Desmidieae. I have myself had no opportunity of ascertaining whether the same fact obtains in England. Mr. Thwaites and Mr. Jenner have indeed furnished me with fewer habitats from calcareous soils, but the less frequent occurrence of small pools and bogs in such districts may perhaps partly explain the deficiency. In the water the filamentous species resemble the Zygnemata, but their green colour is generally paler and more opake. They often occur in considerable quantity, and, notwithstanding their fragility, can generally be removed by the hand in the usual manner. When they are much diffused in the water, I take a piece of linen about the size of a pocket-handkerchief, lay it on the ground in the form of a bag, and then, by the aid of a tin box, scoop up the water and strain it through the bag, repeating the process as often as may be required. The larger species of Euastrum, Micrasterias, Closterium, &c., are generally situated at the bottom of the pool, either spread out as a thin gelatinous stratum, or collected into finger-like tufts. If the finger be gently passed beneath them they will rise to the surface in little masses, and with care may be removed and strained through the linen as above described. At first nothing appears on the linen except a mere stain or a little dirt ; but by repeated fillings-up and strainings a considerable quantity will be obtained. If not very gelatinous, the water passes freely through the linen, from which the specimen can be scraped with a knife and transferred to a smaller piece ; but in many species the fluid at length does not admit of being strained off without the employment of such force as would cause the fronds also to pass through, and in this case it should be poured into bottles until they are quite full. But many species of Staurastrum, Pediastrum, &c. usually form a greenish or dirty cloud upon the stems and leaves of the filiform aquatic plants, and to collect them requires more care than is necessary in the former instances. In this state the slightest touch will break up the whole mass and disperse it through the water. I would recommend the following method as the best-adapted for securing them. Let the hand be passed very gently into the water and beneath the cloud, the palm upwards and the fingers apart, so that the leaves or stem of the invested plant may lie between them and as near the palm as possible; then close the fingers, and keeping the hand in the same position, but concave, draw it cautiously towards the surface, when, if the plant has been allowed to slip easily and with an equable movement through the fingers, the Desmidieae, in this way brushed off, will be found lying in the palm. The greatest difficulty is in with-drawing the hand from the surface of the water, and probably but little will be retained at first ; practice, however, will soon render the operation easy and successful. The contents of the hand should be transferred at once either to a bottle or, in case much water has been taken up, into the box, which must be close at hand, and when this is full it can be emptied on the linen as before. But in this case the linen should be pressed gently and a portion only of the water expelled, the remainder being poured into the bottle, and the process repeated as often as necessary. Sporangia are collected more frequently by the last than the preceding methods. When carried home, the bottles will apparently contain only foul water, but if it remain undisturbed for a few hours, the Desmidieae will sink to the bottom, and most of the water may then be poured off. If a little fresh water be added occasionally to replace what has been drawn off and the bottle be exposed to the light of the sun, the Desmidieae will remain unaltered for a long time. I have now before me some specimens of Euastrum insigne, the fronds of which are in as good condition as when I gathered them at Dolgelly five months ago. Mr. Thwaites's kindness has enabled me to render this introduction more complete by the following account of two methods adopted by him in mounting minute Algae for the microscope, which he has drawn up at my request. The remarks which I have appended have been derived from other sources, as well as from my own experience: -"In making preparations of the Algae for the microscope, there are two things which principally require to be attended to: first, to obtain a fluid which shall preserve the plant as little altered as possible from its appearance when living; and secondly, to adopt the best means for preventing the escape of this fluid after the object has been mounted in it. With respect to the first point, the fluid which I have found to answer best is made in the following way: - To sixteen parts of distilled water add one part of rectified spirits of wine and a few drops of creosote sufficient to saturate it; stir in a small quantity of prepared chalk and then filter : with this fluid mix an equal measure of camphor-water (water saturated with camphor), and before using strain off through a piece of fine linen. "This fluid I do not find to alter the appearance of the endochrome of Algae more than distilled water alone does after some time, and there is certainly less probability of confervoid filaments making their appearance in the preparations; and there would seem to be nothing to prevent such a growth from taking place when the object is mounted in water only, provided a germ of one of these minute plants happen to be present, as well as a small quantity of free carbonic acid. "Fluids containing a larger quantity of spirits of wine, and consequently of creosote also, than the one of which I have given the formula, produce a greater change in the appearance of the endochrome. I at one time thought that by increasing the density of the mounting fluid, the endochrome of the plant might be less disturbed, and I dissolved a small quantity of sugar in the fluid; but this made the cell-membrane too transparent, and rendered completely invisible the gelatinous sheath with which many species of Algae are furnished. " I now proceed to describe my method of making cells in which to mount preparations of Algae. Some objects require very shallow and others somewhat deeper cells. The former may be made with a mixture of japanners' gold-size and litharge, to which (if a dark colour is preferred) a small quantity of lamp-black can be added. These materials should be rubbed op together with a painter's muller, and the mixture laid on the slips of glass with a camel-hair pencil as expeditiously as possible, since it quickly becomes hard; so that it is expedient to make but a small quantity at a time. For the deeper cells marine-glue answers extremely well, provided it is not too soft. It must be melted and dropped upon the slip of glass, then flattened, whilst warm, with a piece of wet glass, and what is superfluous cut away with a knife, so as to leave only the walls of the cell; these, if they have become loosened, may be made firm again by warming the under surface of the slip of glass. The surface of the cells must be made quite flat, which can be easily done by rubbing them upon a wet piece of smooth marble covered with the finest emery powder. "When about to mount a preparation, a very thin layer of gold-size must be put upon the wall of the cell as well as on the edge of the piece of thin glass which is to cover it; before this is quite dry, the fluid with the object is to be put into the cell, and the cover of thin glass slowly laid upon it, beginning at one end: gentle pressure must then be used to squeeze out the superfluous fluid, and, after carefully wiping the slide dry, a thin coat of gold-size should be applied round the edge of the cell, and a second coat so soon as the first is dry: a thin coat or two of black sealing-wax varnish may then be put on with advantage, in order to prevent effectually the admission of air into the cell or the escape of fluid out of it. "I at first mounted objects for the microscope without enclosing them in a cell previously prepared for their reception, but merely by laying them on the slip of glass with a drop of the fluid, and then covering them up with a piece of thin glass or talc, and afterwards surrounding the latter with a border of thick gold-size, in order to prevent the evaporation of the enclosed fluid. Preparations so made will frequently last some considerable time; but eventually the contraction, as it becomes dry, of the outer surface of goldsize forces the remainder, which still continues soft, between the two glasses, and the mounted object is thus injured. I found the same thing frequently to occur when the cells were made of gold-size only without the litharge; but this inconvenience seems to be completely obviated by the plan I have recommended above. "I would remark that the gold-size employed should be of the consistence of treacle ; when purchased it is usually too fluid, and should be exposed for some time in an open vessel, a process which renders it fit for use." Mr. Sidebotham also has favoured me with directions for mounting the Desmidieae. His method is nearly similar to that employed by Mr. Thwaites, but when the last coat of varnish is nearly dry, he applies a fine bronze with a camelhair pencil.This not only has a neat effect, but prevents the risk of adhesion consequent on the softening of the varnish in warm weather. Mr. Sidebotham uses distilled water as the mounting fluid, but although his specimens retain the green colour of the endochrome better than any other I have seen, yet, for the reason assigned by Mr. Thwaites, I doubt whether such a mode is suitable for their permanent preservation. Mr. Thwaites' fluid is superior to camphorated-water and various other liquids which I have tried; but as it requires more time for its preparation than may be at all times convenient, I find the following the best substitute: -Bay-salt and alum, one grain each, dissolved in an ounce of distilled water. Goadby´s solution acts too powerfully on freshwater Algae, and corrosive sublimate injures the specimens. In mounting the Desmidieae great attention is necessary to exclude air-bubbles, which cannot be avoided unless the fluid completely fills the cell; and also not to use too much fluid, as in this case the smaller species will often be washed away on the escape of the superfluous portion. As the cells cannot be sealed whilst any moisture remains on their edge, it should be removed by blotting-paper, which is preferable to any other mode. The thin glass manufactured for the purpose is preferable to talc for covering the specimen, and should always be used by those who possess an achromatic microscope; but with a simple instrument the triplet can be used only when talc is the covering. Specimens are frequently spoiled by the intrusion of the gold-size into the cell. Experience will best teach how this accident is to be avoided; attention however to the following particulars will assist the inexperienced. The cells should be prepared some days before they are used, in order that their walls may become firm. When the cell is closed the brush should be passed round the edge of the cover, with just sufficient size to prevent the admission of air into the cell; and upon the operator's care in this respect will depend his success. If too little size be used the air finds admission, and if much be put on, or if the cell be not completely filled with fluid, the size will enter and spoil the specimen. When the first layer of size is quite dry, he should proceed as directed by Mr. Thwaites. Mr. Topping has kindly sent me a description of his method of preparing cells for mounting microscopic objects. He uses strips of plate-glass of an uniform size (three inches by one), and marks on them the size of the cell, by taking two thin pieces of mahogany of the size of the glass, each having a hole (circular, oval or square, as may be desired) cut in its centre, the smaller corresponding with the inner margin of the cell, and the larger with the outer. These, when laid over the glass, offer a ready means of tracing with a diamond the space around the cell, which must then be filled up with japan. This is next hardened by placing the glasses in an oven, the heat of which should be raised gradually, as otherwise the japan will blister; but if care be taken in this part of the process the cells will resist the action of proof spirit. The fluid which Mr. Topping has used for mounting consists of one ounce of rectified spirit to five ounces of distilled water, which he thinks superior to any other combination. To preserve delicate colours however, he prefers to use a solution of acetate of alumina - one ounce of the acetate to four ounces of' distilled water. Of other solutions, he says that they "tend to destroy the colouring-matter of delicate objects, and ultimately spoil them by rendering them opake [* Whilst my best thanks are due to Mr. Topping for this account of his mode of preparing the cells, I must observe that the neat execution of them requires more skill and leisure than most persons possess, and therefore presume I shall render an acceptable service to my readers by mentioning that cells of any shape or size that may be required, and also the thin glass necessary for closing them, are supplied by Mr. Topping. In justice to Mr. T., whose cells I have used extensively, I must bear testimony to their beauty and utility. His address is No. I York Place, Pentonville, London.]." To those who will read a book on this subject, it is quite unnecessary to enter upon a formal vindication of the study of the lower tribes of organized life. I shall content myself with the observation that, whilst this study is not wanting in those qualities which recommend the other branches of Natural History as a means of intellectual improvement, it has a peculiar claim on account of the light which it reflects on the ultimate organization of living bodies in general. Physiologists have of late pursued the investigation of the structure and development of cells, both animal and vegetable, with the greatest zeal; and with good reason, since it is obviously most desirable that we should thoroughly understand these elements of organization before we attempt to explain its more complicated arrangements. For the attainment of so important an object, the Desmidieae furnish the most valuable assistance. If the view which I have taken be correct, their frond, in most of the genera at least, consists of a single cell, which, although it is certainly more complex than cells in general, enables us to trace its own history with ease and certainty, and reveals to us that of forms still more simple. It may suffice thus briefly to show the utility of such inquiries; but the improvements which the microscope has received in modern times may well suggest a wider application of the language in which the illustrious Ray vindicated his favourite pursuits [† (p. 44) "Non deerit qui me vanae curiositatis arguat, quòd res adeò viles et abjectas, nullius in vita usûs, indagaverim, iisque describendis tantum temporis et operae impenderim. Cui respondeo, quòd Dei opera sunt in quibus contemplandis memet exerceo; quòd Divinae Artis et Potentiae effecta, quibus exquirendis subsecivas horas addico; quòd Ille me in hunc mundum intro-duxerit, tam inexplicabili rerum varietate instructum et ornatum; quòd oculis, quos mihi contulit, ea videnda, animo consideranda objecerit. In Dei ergo contumeliam redundat, quòd haec, quae eum creâsse negare non audes, supervacua et inutilia esse affirmes." -Hist. Plant. v. 3. praef. p. ii. ] (p. 45). What the Allwise did not disdain to create cannot be unworthy of our notice; and if in the minute Desmidieae, so long concealed from the unassisted eye, we have been at length enabled to recognize objects as carefully organized as the bulky elephant or the majestic oak, and as happily adapted to their position in nature, possessing too an economy whose laws are no less constant and regular, shall we not gladly examine this fresh evidence of an Almighty hand, as distinctly impressed on them as on the rest of his creation? "To Him no high, no low, no great, no small; He fills, He bounds, connects and equals all."




Top left: Morrab House entrance

Top right: Morrab House from the gardens

Bottom left: Fountain

Bottom right: Garden



Headstone - Plot 1F7 Penzance Cemetery

This is situated on the right side of the entrance.







Species named after Ralfs:

The genus Ralfsia (although Chapman and Chapman 1973 are claiming that Ralfsia is named for a certain G. Ralfs.)

Enteromorpha ralfsi Halecania ralfsii (Salwey) M. Mayrhofer.


References to Ralfs in Charles Darwin’s Correspondence

Charles R. Darwin to Joseph Dalton Hooker, 2nd November 1858 On moving the natural history collection of the British Museum to Kensington.

Charles R. Darwin to W. D. Fox, 13th November 1858 Has suggested WDF's name to Hooker and Henslow, who are sending a circular for aid to John Ralfs.

John Ralfs to Charles R. Darwin, 9th July 1874

Sends specimens of Pinguicula and observations made on them. [See Insectivorous plants, pp.

390--1. - reproduced below]


Charles R. Darwin to John Ralfs, 13th July 1874

Discusses specimens of Utricularia.

Mentions John Ralf's work on desmids [The British Desmidieae (1848)].


Ralfs correspondence with Darwin resulted in his being mentioned in Darwin’s Insectivorous Plants as follows:-

Page 390

PINGUICULA GRANDIFLORA. This species is so closely allied to the last that it is ranked by Dr. Hooker as a sub-species. It differs chiefly in the larger size of its leaves, and in the glandular hairs near the basal part of the midrib being longer. But it likewise differs in constitution; I hear from Mr. Ralfs, who was so kind as to send me plants from Cornwall, that it grows in rather different sites; and Dr. Moore, of the Glasnevin Botanic Gardens, informs me that it is much more manageable under culture, growing freely and flowering annually; whilst Pinguicula vulgaris has to be renewed every year. Mr. Ralfs found numerous insects and fragments of insects adhering to almost all the leaves. These consisted chiefly of Diptera, with some Hymenoptera, Homoptera, Coleoptera, and a moth. On one leaf there were nine dead insects, besides a few still alive. He also observed a few fruits of Carex pulicaris, as well as the seeds of this same Pinguicula, adhering to the leaves. I tried only two experiments with this species; firstly, a fly was placed near the margin of a leaf, and after 16 hrs. this was found well inflected. Secondly, several small flies were placed in a row along one margin of another leaf, and by the next morning this whole margin was curled inwards, exactly as in the case of Pinguicula vulgaris.

PINGUICULA LUSITANICA. This species, of which living specimens were sent me by Mr. Ralfs from Cornwall, is very distinct from the two foregoing ones. The leaves are rather smaller, much more transparent, and are marked with purple branching veins. The margins of the leaves are much more involuted; those of the older ones extending over a third of the space between the midrib and the outside. As in the two other species, the glandular hairs consist of longer and shorter ones, and have the same structure; but the glands differ in being purple, and in often containing granular matter before they have been excited. In the lower part of the leaf, almost half the space on each side between the midrib and margin is destitute of glands; these being replaced by long, rather stiff, multicellular hairs, which intercross over the midrib.


Utricularia neglecta—Structure of the bladder—The uses of the several parts—Number of imprisoned animals—Manner of capture—The bladders cannot digest animal matter, but absorb the products of its decay—Experiments on the absorption of certain fluids by the quadrifid processes—Absorption by the glands—Summary of the observation on absorption— Development of the bladders—Utricularia vulgaris—Utricularia minor—Utricularia clandestina. I WAS led to investigate the habits and structure of the species of this genus partly from their belonging to the same natural family as Pinguicula, but more especially by Mr. Holland’s statement, that “water insects are often found imprisoned in the bladders,” which he suspects “are

destined for the plant to feed on.”(The ‘Quart. Mag. of the High Wycombe Nat. Hist. Soc.’ July 1868, p. 5. Delpino (‘Ult. Osservaz. sulla Dicogamia,’ &c. 1868-1869, p. 16) also quotes Crouan as having found (1858) crustaceans within the bladders of Utricularia vulgaris.

I am much indebted to the Rev. H.M. Wilkinson, of Bistern, for having sent me several fine lots of this species from the New Forest. Mr. Ralfs was also so kind as to send me living plants of the same species from near Penzance in Cornwall.) The plants which I first received as Utricularia vulgaris from the New Forest in Hampshire and from Cornwall, and which I have chiefly worked on, have been determined by Dr. Hooker to be a very rare British species, the Utricularia neglecta of Lehm. I subsequently received the true Utricularia vulgaris from Yorkshire. Since drawing up the following description from my own observations and those of my son, Francis Darwin, an important memoir by Prof. Cohn on Utricularia vulgaris has appeared;* and it has been no small satisfaction to me to find that my account agrees almost completely with that of this distinguished observer. I will publish my description as it stood before reading that by Prof. Cohn, adding occasionally some statements on his authority.


Places referenced:

Penzance Public Library

Now known as The Morrab Library. One of only 19 independent libraries in the UK. Founded in 1818 it moved to its current location - Morrab House - in 1889 the year before Ralfs died, at which juncture it changed its name. It is a registered charity.



The library houses a number of collections and many unique manuscripts including those of Ralfs. At the time of my visit access could be had to the archives on a Friday, though no copying or photography was allowed except by their own appointed photographer. Unfortunately the prices charged were considerable and the author of this article could not justify the considerable expense.


St. Clare Street

St.Clare Street looking toward Penzance Centre


On my visit (2007) No. 14 St. Clare Street was on the market at just short of 140,000 pounds. I took the opportunity to get the details as these would indicate what size of property Ralfs was then living in. There are two living floors, a ground floor and a first floor each with a total area of approximately 28 feet square. The ground floor layout has undoubtedly changed from Ralfs time and the exact layout is uncertain. However, the first floor, with the possible exception of the bathroom, are probably similar to the layout in Ralfs tenure. There were probably three rooms:-a reception room, a study and a bedroom. A similar layout might have existed on the ground floor.


Victoria Place, Madron (Ralfs 1841 census)

A note in “A Brief History of Penzance” by Tim Lambert, records Victoria Place as having been built in 1829.




The parish of Madron (or St Madron) is situated in the deanery of Penwith, and in the western division of the Hundred of Penwith. Named after an unknown saint, this parish is located north­west of Penzance with pleasant views across Mounts Bay and St Michaels Mount.



It was formerly known as Madderne. It comprises two parts: the larger is bounded by Gulval to the north, to the east by the Borough of Penzance and the sea, to the south is Paul and Sancreed and on the west is Morvah. The lesser detached part is bounded on the east, south and west by Gulval and to the north by Zennor. Madron is not mentioned as such in the Domesday Survey of 1086; Madron Church, Tregwainton and Landithy were originally part of the Manor of Roseworthy in Gwinear. However the rest of the parish was taxed under the jurisdiction of the Manor of Alverton. Its history goes back into the early middle ages. It possesses the mother church of Penzance and the famous holy well of St Madron, where it is claimed many miraculous cures took place. North of Madron is the prehistoric holed stone known as Men-an-Tol, also believed to have had the power of healing. Naked children suffering from rickets were passed through the hole three times in the hope of restoring their health. Madron is also sometimes known as Landithy.


Notes on Penzance during Ralfs residency (1837-1890)

from Pigot’s Topography and Gazetteer of England (c1841) Penzance is a sea-port, corporate town and chapelry in the parish of Madron and hundred of Penwith, 282 miles from London and 109 from Exeter, situated on the north side of Mount’s Bay; around it the country, though mountainous, is remarkably fertile. Within the last twenty years the town has signally improved: in general the houses are neat and convenient, and the streets well paved. In proportion to size and population, few places are more prosperous. Its maritime trade comprises the export of tin, in blocks, ingots and bars, to foreign countries - and coastwise of copper, tin, leather, &c. to London, Liverpool, Bristol and Wales; of oil to Ireland, and pilchards to the Mediterranean. It imports, from St. Petersburgh, tallow, hemp and iron, and timber from Norway, Prussia and America; and coastwise, iron and coal from Wales - corn and flour from Norfolk, Sussex, Hampshire and London - salt and bale-goods from Liverpool - groceries, bale-goods, wines, spirits and porter, by regular traders, from London, Bristol and Plymouth. Nearly two-thirds of the tin furnished by the mines are exported from hence - it is, therefore, one of the coinage towns. The municipalact of 1835 vested the government of the borough in a mayor, six aldermen and eighteen councillors, and styled the corporate body ‘the mayor, aldermen and commonalty of the town of Penzance;’ the same act divided the town into two wards, and bestowed upon it a commision of the peace. ..........



from Kelly’s Post Office Directory of Cornwall  1856 ....The Town or Guildhall is a building of granite, in the Doric style, and stands upon the site of the old market-place, at the top of Market Jew-Street; it was built in 1837. Surmounting the building, and in the centre, is a handsome dome, the interior of which is used for the Natural History and Antiquarian Societies’ Museum; and from this room the finest views around Penzance are to be seen.



Immediately beneath the dome is the Butcher’s Market, which is spacious and well regulated; there are 54 stands. Tuseday, Thursday and Saturday, are market days; but Thursday is the chief market. The Guildhall or justice-room is to the front of the building, approached by a flight of steps, covered with an Ionic trastyle portico, in which is an illuminated clock; this room is used for holding the sessions, county courts, and for all magisterial business. The police offices and council chambers adjoin; in the latter there is a painting representing ‘the Daughter of Herodias receiving from a page the head of St. John the Baptist on a charger’. In another portion of the room is a painting by a native artist, the subject is ‘the Departure of the Queen and Prince Albert from St. Michael’s Mount’....... In a large building in Parade-street is the Public Subscription Library, the Institute News-room, and the Savings Bank. The Royal Geological Society, in North Parade, wasestablished in 1814 by Dr. Paris, then resident in this town, who was aided by the nobility, gentry, and mine agents of the county; it now ranks amongst the most distinguished institutions in the kingdon. In connexion there is an elegant and extensive museum and library; and in the room below stairs is a private subscription news-room........ The Public Baths, on the Esplanade, is a neat and commodious building, replete with every convenience and comfort; there are warm, cold, shower, fresh and salt water baths; also waiting and reading rooms, and library for the use of subscribers. At each end of the baths, and communicating therewith, is a respectable lodging house. The railway station is at the east end of the town for the West Cornwall Railway - open from Penzance to Truro. A mail (sailing) packet leaves twice a week for the Isles of Scilly, when the weather will permit. The distance to St. Mary’s, Scilly, is about 40 miles. Mount’s Bay is a large expanse of sea bounded by Tol Pedn Penwith on the west, and the Lizard on the east; it is noted for its invariable mild and even climate. The principle feature in the bay is St. Michael’s Mount. There are numerous delightful walks around Penzance; and the locality is generally prescribed to invalids suffering from pulmonary complaints. ...... The population of Penzance is 9,214.

from Kelly’s Directory of Cornwall 1883 Much as above plus: The Public buildings, in Alverton Street, begun in 1864 and completed in 1867 from the designs of the late Mr. John Matthews, then surveyor of the town, cost nearly £13,000, exclusive  of furnishing, and are built entirely of granite, in the Italian style: the east wing is occupied by the Corporation offices proper, the centre by a large concert hall, known as ‘St. John’s hall’, seating 850 persons, and containing a fine organ, and a smaller or lecture hall, seating 300, and above the main entrance is the Public Library, consisting of nearly 16,000 volumes, for the most part standard and valuable books; chess and whist clubs, a debating society, masonic lodge and other societies meet here: the west wing is devoted to the purposes of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall: in the courtyard in front is a fountain, the basin of which (nearly 12 feet in diameter) is cut from one block of granite. ..... The Natural History and Antiquarian Society, founded in 1839, occupy rooms in the east wing of the Public Buildings; the collection is chiefly of local interest.

The Institute, established in 1848, has also reading and lecture rooms in the Public Buildings. On the right hand side of the principal entrance and on the opposite side is the Penzance News Room, more recently established.


The West Cornwall Infirmary, established in 874, and the Dispensary, an older institution, dating from 1809, now form one establishment in St. Clare street; supported by voluntary contributions and is efficiently conducted.


...the population of the borough in 1871 was 10,414; and in 1881, 11,684.




from A Brief History of Penzance by Tim Lambert

In 1801 Penzance had a population of 3,382. In the early 19th century it began to grow rapidly.

By 1851 the population of Penzance had reached 9,214. Penzance has an unusually mild climate and it grew as a health resort. Many new streets were built including North Parade in 1826.....

Clarence Street was built in 1827. Victoria Place followed in 1829. Adelaide Street was built in 1835 and Regent Square in 1839.

Perhaps the most famous house in Penzance is the ‘Egyptian House’ which was built in 1838.


In 1852 a railway from Penzance to Redruth was opened. It was later extended all the way to London.


The port continued to boom. Tin was still the main export. The Albert Pier was built in 1847. In 1853 the old pier was extended and in 1855 a lighthouse was built on the end. Wharf Road was built in 1866. Ross Bridge was built in 1881 to connect the piers to the railway station. A floating dock was built in 1884.


In 1830 Penzance gained gas street lighting. Also in 1830 Penzance gained apiped water supply. At first it was supplied by a private company but the corporation took it over in 1852. Also in the 1850s a network of sewers wascreated. Penzance gained its first newspaper in 1839. A Promenade was built in Penzance in 1844


The first cemetery in Penzance was opened in 1856. A modern fire brigade was formed in 1860.

An infirmary opened in Penzance in 1873. Morrab Gardens opened in 1889.


Half a Century of Penzance (1825-1875)

-A description of Penzance in the middle years of the 19th century by Louise Courtney based on notes made by her father, J. S. Courtney.

1st edition published by Beare and Son, Penzance, 1878


Half a Century of Penzance

IN September, 1823, I came from Falmouth to Penzance. The only mode of travelling at that time was by mail coach or van. The first was very dear, and the second very slow; consequently when the distance was not long anyone who was able walked from one town to another. At that time the mail coach from Penzance to London went by way of Helston, Falmouth, Truro, and through the middle of the county to Launceston. Letters for Truro and the intermediate districts were conveyed by mail cart. Until after the Hayle Causeway was built (about 1825) the most frequented road to Camborne was through Goldsithney, Relubbus, Gwinear, etc. In 1825, and for many years after, the houses at Chyandour were very small and dilapidated. The two large houses now occupied by Mrs. Trevithick and Mr. Milton were built about this time; the granite house next to Mrs. Trevithick’s was for many years one of the best lodging houses in this neighbourhood. On the other side of the road opposite the granite house was a good-sized garden, now taken away to make room for the railway. Between these houses and Penzance were on the right hand fields, and on the left a hedge; seaward of the hedge the ground sloped down to the beach. Penzance town began about the corner of what is now the Railway Hotel; the road was very narrow, just allowing two carts to pass abreast. On the right hand, as the traveller entered the town, was an old dilapidated tan yard, belonging to a Mr. Cunnack, and on the other side some of the pits belonging to the tannery. The tan yard extended nearly to John’s Place (there was only one house between), but at this time I believe it was not worked. The property was afterwards bought by the Messrs. Bolitho, who sold it again in building plots, when the town purchased a slip of the land to make the road wider. From John’s Place to Causewayhead there was but one opening, that which is now called Wood Street. The houses in Market-jew Street with few exceptions were small, and there were no shops of any consequence until you came to the Market Place: north of Market-jew Street there was not a house in Penzance, excepting two in the Back Lane (Bread Street), until you came to Causewayhead, then commonly called Caunsehead. About the middle of the north side of Market-jew Street, in a house on the site of which Mr. Cunnack, the ironmonger’s shop is built, used to live three maiden sisters named Read. They were due attendants at church; at such times the eldest always came out first, then the second-born, and lastly the youngest. In this order they walked to church, and in the same order they returned. The arrangement of their tea-table was also very peculiar, each sister having a separate tea-pot. Two of them, Joan and Ann, left a sum of money, the income of which was first to be applied to the keeping in order of the family vault, then a certain sum to the clergyman, churchwarden, and sexton of St. Mary’s. The balance of Joan Read’s legacy to be given in bread to the poor on Christmas Eve; that of Ann Read’s in money or otherwise at the discretion of the trustees. Rather further up on the same side of Market-jew Street was the Old Poor House, formerly an Alms House, built in 1660 by Francis Buller, of Shillingham, whose initials were on the front of the house. The front was of granite, of the peculiar kind called Ludgvan stone: some of the stones of the old building are worked into the front of the house that was built on its site. This house was used for a long period as the Poor House, and from twenty-five to thirty-five people received shelter in it. In 1826 it ceased to be the Poor House. Sometime after, the corporation rased it to the ground, and granted a lease of the site for building at £10 : l0s. a year to Mr. H. W. Runnalls, who built thereon two shops now occupied by Mr. James Runnalls and Mr. Kinsman (the second-hand bookseller). The shop occupied by Mr. J. S. Harvey, chemist, was formerly a dwelling-house belonging to the family of Sir Humphry Davy, and was for many years the residence of his sister Miss Kitty Davy, who died there. She at one time lived in a cottage at New Town Lane, on the south side of Market-jew Street. Sir Humphry Davy according to some accounts was born in a house nearer the Market, torn down since 1825, and the shop now occupied by Mr. Oppenheim stands on its site. The Terrace in Market-jew Street has been much changed since I came to Penzance; it has been cut back and the road widened. Formerly there was a gradual slope, leaving a narrow cartway on the south side: at one time there were trees planted from the Market House until nearly opposite Jenning’s Lane, but they were all gone before my arrival,—indeed the last trees were cut down in 1805. The iron railing on the Terrace is a recent improvement. On the left hand of Market-jew Street after passing a few old houses one came to Neddy Betty’s Lane, now very much altered and made into Albert Street. At the eastern corner of this lane was an old thatched house, the remains of Betty’s Inn, kept at one time by Edward Betty, from whence came the name of the inn and the lane. At this house the corporation in former times occasionally refreshed themselves. On the opposite corner of Neddy Betty’s Lane was the Long House (so called in the deed of conveyance); both these buildings remained for nearly forty years after my coming to Penzance. From the appearance of Neddy Betty’s Lane it seemed to have been at one time the eastern entrance to the town. A little further up the street was the Independent or Congregational Chapel, on the same site that it now occupies, though it has undergone many alterations. This chapel was built in 1807; before that time the Independents had a chapel which stood on the open space between the present building and the street. In 1825 Mr. Foxell was minister, and this post he held for more than forty years: his portrait is in the Penzance Library, of which institution he was for some years librarian. For nearly a century after the Independents were established here their minister resided with the Pidwell family; this custom was discontinued when Mr. Foxell married Miss Borlase, though Mr. Samuel Pidwell, one of the representatives of the family, still continued to be a great supporter of the chapel. Close to the Independent Chapel came an opening leading to New Town Lane, why so called I could never find out. In this lane were two pretty cottages, one for many years inhabited by Mr. Foxell, the other by the Misses Kitty and Mary Davy, sisters of Sir Humphry Davy; and in this cottage they must have been living at the time of their brother’s death. The building of the Gas Works and the formation of a Ship-building Yard (now the Foundry) destroyed the beauty of this spot. That part of Market-jew Street on the west side of New Town Lane is described in an old deed as Street Mihale. The next thing of interest on this side of Market-jew Street was the Prince of Wales Inn; this inn is part of a large house formerly the property of the Beauchamp family. The next opening was Jenning’s Lane: when first I knew it the left-hand side was entirely built, but there were some vacant spots on the right. At the bottom of the lane was an old dissenting chapel; this was rarely used, and is now a store-house. In the beginning of this century Public Baths were erected close to the beach; they were then open to the sea, but now, when the quay is so enclosed, the building is perfectly useless as a bathing establishment: at no time indeed were they much used.

The eating-house in Market-jew Street, at the right-hand corner of Jenning’s Lane, was formerly the house of the Tonkin family, now represented by the Rev. John Tonkin. A short distance up the street was the old portico or balcony of the Star Hotel, under which there were generally to be found two or three people gossiping: this balcony was removed about 1860. There was another at one time in Market-jew Street in front of the “Ship and Castle,” but this had gone before I came to Penzance. These balconies or projecting rooms were very common in Penzance. Besides those named there was one in Chapel Street, the supports of which were knocked down by an ox wain which had become unmanageable, and another was in the Green Market. Of these, says the Rev. C. D. Le Grice,

“Of porticos that used to meet More than midway in the street, Forcing horsemen, gigs, and chaises To whirl through crinkum, crankum mazes,— Or heavy pent-houses, which frowned A shadowy horror on the ground,— No trace remains, but all are bare And smooth as cheek of lady fair.”

Close to the balcony of the “Star” was a horse block or epping stock. In 1825 the Wesleyan Quarterly Meetings were held in this hotel, and the preachers often dined there. Next came New Street, a thoroughfare that was very little used; there were houses on the left-hand side of the street nearly all the way to the bottom, but on the right were many vacant places. All the populous courts on the left have been built since 1825. On the same side near the bottom was Capt. Cundy’s lodging house, at that time the best in Penzance; this house still stands, but has been much altered, and is now occupied by Mr. Frank Cornish. Now came the Market Place,—most of the shops were in this quarter. The Market House was a low oblong building with pent-houses on the north and east sides, but it was not sufficient for the trade of the town, and several of the butchers had stalls in the street, placed against the shop now occupied by Mr. F. J. Clarke, the draper, and the two houses above. The upper part of the Market House was used as a corn chamber, in which a large quantity of corn was exposed for sale on market days; and at the west end of this chamber was the Guildhall. At the east end of the Market House was a vacant covered plot where on Thursdays the Pig (carcase) Market was held: this open space was a great thoroughfare, and in it stood the stocks. East of all came the house where Sir H. Davy served his time and made his earliest experiments. Soon after I came to Penzance this house was occupied by Mr. Eva, painter and earthenware dealer, and on market-days he used to expose his wares on a narrow pavement in front of his shop. There was a low shop or two at the north-east end, and some rooms let to John Thomas, conveyancer, usually known as the French king. In a corner in the middle of this group was run up a very narrow house commonly called the bird cage. In the Market House was also the town prison, then called the clink. All these were taken down in 1835, when the New Market was begun under the superintendence of Mr. John Pope Vibert. On market-day many stalls stood around the Market House. The space on the south side was covered by the shoemakers’ stalls and the fisherwomen with their cowals, barely leaving room for a cart to pass: they claimed this as a right until the mayoralty of Mr. J.

N. R. Millett, who, in 1839, by sheer force compelled the former to go to the Pork Market. Theshoemakers were so numerous that they had a special benefit society, called “The Shoemakers’ Club.” In 1839 there were in the market from thirty to forty stalls, and some would hold over two hundred pairs of boots and shoes: of all these only two remained in 1875. On the north were curriers’ stalls, with leather to sell to the country people for repairing their shoes; at the south­east were the women with butter and eggs; fish stalls with fresh and salted fish, and jars of train oil for supplying lamps used in cottages, were on the pavements both on the south and west. In the corner by Mr. Care’s (then Mr. Small’s) shop stood a dyer, ready to take the knitted woollen stockings to be dyed black and returned in a week or two, having also with him a well-filled basket of worsteds of all colours for knitting and mending purposes. In the spring, trays full of grass seeds were sold by men who were guiltless of any farming knowledge; whilst in front of one at least of the drapers’ shops sat near the door, occupying good part of the pavement, an old woman selling the hessian which formed the coverings of the bales of drapery,—the said bales themselves often completely filling up the footways on both sides of the street near to what is now called Queen Square. This does not half exhaust the different articles exposed for sale on market-day; it seemed as if everyone who had goods to sell, and did not keep a shop, availed himself of this opportunity of coming before the public. Occasionally in the midst of this scene would appear a pack of mules laden with copper ore, threading their way through the crowd and sometimes being a little restive. Several of the houses in the Market Place dated from 1614, when the corporation purchased from Mr. Daniel a three-cornered plot of ground, on a portion of which the Old Market was built. All these houses have disappeared or been so altered as to show nothing of their former condition. The last to be modernised was the fifth from the Green Market (north side), now in the occupation of Mr. F. J. Clarke, draper; this was one of the largest houses in the town, and when built had an extensive orchard on its eastern side. At the corner of Market Place and Causewayhead was a low shop occupied by Mr. Branwell; this was taken down about 1829, and while being rebuilt the business was carried on in a wooden shed in the Green Market. On the south-west corner of the Market Place stood as at present a draper’s shop, then occupied by Mr. Broad; this house was rebuilt not long before 1825. At one time there was an old inn on this site, and a granite doorway belonging thereto is built into some of the back premises. Turning towards Chapel Street, still keeping the same side, were some old shops which were purchased by Mr. R. Coulson. In 1827 he built on part of their site what was then considered a very fine shop, but some of the old premises were not torn down for several years after, when Mr. John Coulson, a druggist and grocer (a combination of trades not uncommon in Penzance), built thereon a shop for himself. Both these houses are now united, and form the premises of Messrs. Victor. At the west side stood what was at one time Common’s Hotel, the hotel of the town; but before my coming to Penzance it had been converted into two shops. There was a level platform in front of this building, terminating towards Chapel Street in a flight of steps: on this platform the gentlemen and tradesmen of the town used to meet and discuss the news. While occupied as the hotel, the band of the old volunteer corps played in front of it. At one time this was the mansion of the Tremenheeres. The platform and the shops were pulled down about 1832, and on the ground stand the premises of Messrs. York and Cornish. Next below was the shop of Mr. John Harvey, druggist; he had not long succeeded his father, who had carried on the business for nearly half a century. The Harvey family still continue to be druggists, and are the oldest in the town, dating from 1772; they are with one exception the only tradesmen who have followed the same occupation for three generations,—the other being the Branwell family. The outside of this building dates from about 1822, but inside the shop remain the old beams in their original state. A year or two after my coming to Penzance Mr. John Harvey became famous as the author of the Canorum Conclave, a very clever and amusing satire on the Wesleyans, who at that time moved the purchase of an organ for their chapel. One of the oddities of the town, Dick Rostrum, was for many years employed by the Harvey family. Many jokes were played on this man, and sometimes the tables were turned on the jokers. When asked by two gentlemen who took him each by the arm whether he was a rogue or a fool, he replied, “I believe I’m betwixt the two,” to the amusement of those standing by. This probably gave rise to the saying, “Betwixt and between, says Dick Rostrum.” At the corner of what is now Queen Square stood the shop of Mr. Molyneux, draper; this had been a very fine private house at one time, occupied by Mrs. Treweeke, the leader of fashion in Penzance. It was converted into a shop not long before my coming to the town. This was the first instance in Penzance when the lower part of a house was taken away, leaving the upper part standing. It was successfully done by Messrs. James and Edward Harvey, the immense weight being kept up by large girders supported by iron pillars: the operation attracted considerable attention, and the result was the finest shop in the west. The original plan has since been largely changed; at present the shop is in the possession of Mr. Prockter, chemist. A large garden belonged to this house, though not adjoining it, on a portion of which is built the chapel in Parade Street. From Market Place one passed into the Green Market, some idea of which may be gathered from a view by Skinner Prout, taken in 1828. All the houses in this place have either been rebuilt or much altered. At the corner opposite Messrs. Branwell’s was a shop with a projecting upper story, supported by pillars, which stood some time after the other old houses had gone. Next came the Three Tuns Inn, a long low house with a balcony over the entrance; this was torn down about 1831. At the north-west corner was the Shoulder of Mutton Inn, an extremely low thatched house, and by the side of it, forming part of the entrance to what is now called Bromley’s Square, was the prison of the manor of Conorton. This prison was a most wretched place. In 1775 it was visited by John Howard, who found one prisoner in it in a most distressing state. A description of this visit may be found in Brown’s Memoirs of John Howard. The last person confined here for any length of time was a man from St. Just, and while in the prison a bed was lent to him by a Mrs. Crocker, whose son gave me this information. The manor of Conorton with many privileges extended from Gwithian, or perhaps farther, around to the Land’s End and Mount’s Bay,—in fact it included nearly the whole of West Penwith. Before the County Court came into existence the lord of the manor held a monthly court for the trial of small cases of debt, trespass, etc., not criminal. This court was for a long time presided over by Mr. Aaron Scobell, solicitor, as the lord’s deputy. The manor of Conorton was for many years held by Mr. Francis Paynter, of Penzance, solicitor. Every butcher in Penzance used to pay annually, at Christmas, to the bailiff of the manor of Conorton a marrow-bone or one shilling; this custom was continued until about thirty years ago. The granite-fronted house in Bromley’s Square, which seems so strangely out of character with the other buildings, was at first approached from Alverton Street, and was considered a very respectable residence; this entrance was blocked up some time before 1825 by the building of the house now occupied by Mr. Hobley, confectioner. At the west side of the Green Market where Mr. N. J. Hall’s shop now stands was a large brick house; this house has been much altered and reduced in size, and made narrower to give more room to the entrance to Alverton Street. At one time Mr. Barnaby Lloyd kept a draper’s shop on these premises. A grove of fir trees called Barnaby Lloyd’s Grove, which stood until a few years since at Madron Well, was planted by him. On the south side stands the one house which has not changed since 1825,—the Commercial, formerly the Fire Engine Inn. This inn was not called after the engine employed to put out fires, but after the steam engines used in mines, which were at first commonly called fire engines. In 1825, and for many years after, a great part of the Green Market was occupied by stalls of vegetables. Until about 1820 it was the Cattle Market. The pigs for sale were tied to the old cross which then stood where the stone cross is let into the ground. On market-days Mr. Barnaby Lloyd used gallantly to escort his lady customers across the place. On some market-days the space at the west end was filled with earthenware, offered for sale by travelling dealers from the potteries; these men usually stopped at the “Shoulder of Mutton.” An auction for all sorts of odd things was often held near the same place, whilst an itinerant knife grinder would occupy some convenient corner. I do not remember this man’s name, but he was ambitious of having a very long word painted on his machine to announce his trade. This word puzzled me, and I enquired what it meant the man said he did not know, but it was the longest word that could be found— the word was ‘Honorificabilitudinitas.’ He was also a corn doctor, and one of his patients informed me that he was a very skilful operator. From this and the account of Market Place it will be seen that in 1825 the Penzance Markets contained “a little of everything and something more.” The cross since I have been in Penzance has twice changed its place: in 1825 it stood in the Green Market, then it went to the side of a house at the bottom of Causewayhead on the west side, and finally to a recess at the west end of the Market House. I have been told by the Rev. C. V. Le Grice that when the cross was removed from the Green Market the following inscription, perfectly legible, was found near its base:—“Hic procumbant corpora piorum.” It has been supposed that the cross at one time stood on the top of a pyramidal pile of steps like the one in Buryan church-yard; in this case the inscription would be on a level with the kneeling suppliant.

The West of the town

Going westward on the left hand of Alverne Lane, at present called Alverton Street, were several low thatched houses now all removed; but those from opposite Clarence Street (west) are just the same as they were in 1825. On the right-hand side one soon came to a granite-fronted house, the lower part of which was and is still covered with myrtle. For very many years this has been the residence of the Pascoe family, and the appearance of the house has not changed since I first saw it. At the back is a large garden running behind Clarence Street, and on one side abutting on Causewayhead; in front of the house, on the opposite side of the road, is a piece of ground covered with shrubs, and enclosed with an iron railing; this belongs to the same property, and I have been told was retained by the builder for the sake of the sea view, which before the building of the North and South Parades must have been very fine. Where Clarence Street opens was the Old House described by the Rev. C. V. Le Grice: it was taken down in 1824–5, and in 1826 Clarence Street was laid out. The Western Hotel was the first house built, the other part of the street was not completed for more than twenty years after; the church at the top was built at the sole expense of the Rev. Henry Batten, and opened in 1844; the Baptist Chapel in the same street was completed in 1836. Next came several low houses, and the field now covered by the Public Buildings. In this field, named Parc-an-Vounder (the lane field), a temporary church was erected while the present St. Mary’s Church was being built. In the open space now reached, the Corpus Christi Fair was held for many years; until being found very inconvenient, and a great annoyance to the neighbouring houses, it was moved, for one year only, to the ground since covered by Mount Street; after that it was held for a considerable time in the field covered by the Public Buildings; it has since gone to three other fields. At one time the fair was about the Market Place, and through all the changes some confectioner’s stalls still take a position against the south-west corner of the market. A show or two frequently used to establish themselves opposite the Star Hotel. The open space in Alverton is not of ancient date. At the beginning of this century there were two narrow lanes leading westward, the space between them being filled up by a blacksmith’s shop. The house now belonging to Mrs. Bellringer in 1825 was inhabited by Captain Gudgeon, RN. A garden was at one time before this house, and I dare say before the others, but they had all disappeared when I came to Penzance. Mrs. Gudgeon used to express herself strongly about educating servants. “Bother your education, bye and bye the servants behind your chairs will be correcting your grammar;” this was related to me in 1876 by a lady, who observed, “and it is come to pass.” Wellington Place and Terrace, Herbier House, Bellair House, Alverne Hill, and Alverton Vean. were all built from 1812–1823 mostly before 1820. Herbier was in the possession of Mr. Boase, who was a great supporter of the Wesleyans; and when an organ was determined on for the chapel he was chosen to buy it, accordingly he is one of the characters introduced into the Canorum Conclave. The cottage. now West Lodge, has been built long since 1825, likewise Trevear and some other houses on the north side. Alverton Vean was built by Mr. T. F. Barham, whose father for many years resided at Leskinnick. Hawke’s cottage, tradition says, was once the home of Admiral Pellew (Lord Exmouth). Captain Coffin built Alverton Cottage, and on this account it was called by the Rev. C. V. Le Grice “Sepulchre Hall.” In it have lived a Mr. Collins, an artist, and for many years Mrs. William Peel, who took great pleasure in her garden, and introduced into it many foreign shrubs not usually grown in England in the open air. The Orchard was erected by Mr. Sam John, solicitor. Alverton House, built about two hundred years ago, has undergone many alterations and enlargements. These three last houses are on the lands of the Hawkin’s family. Between the gardens of the Orchard and Alverton House was for many years a woollen cloth manufactory. but this gradually died away, and finally came to an end in 1830. Alverton on the right, after passing the houses, has been much changed; there was a field, not separated from the road by any hedge, commencing where Polwithen Ledge now stands, and then came a narrow pathway with trees on both sides, ending near Alverton House, at the town boundary, in a picturesque stile. This pathway was much higher than the present terrace. After some time it was cut down and the road widened, but this did not happen until I had been in Penzance many years; in fact the road was not much wanted, as the carriage traffic was very little, and the copper ores, etc., from St. Just, were brought to town for shipment on mules’ backs. Hichens, of Lanyon, kept a large number of mules for that purpose.

The North and South of the town

So far has been chiefly taken up with old Penzance on its east and west sides; the north and south streets now come under notice. The north side of Penzance, Caunsehead (now Causewayhead or North Street), is very different now to what it was in 1825. In that year all the trading part of Penzance disappeared soon after passing Messrs. Branwell’s corner. The houses from that corner up to Back Lane (Bread Street) have been entirely rebuilt. The London Inn and the houses as far as the “Duke of Cumberland” were only erected about 1820–1822; they were built on an old garden bounded towards the street by a thorn hedge, and on the site of a ruined building called by the neighbours “the castle.” The London Inn was in 1825 kept by Mr. Stephen Weaver, who was also a teacher of music and dancing, a dealer in music and musical instruments, was licensed to let out post horses, and contractor for conveying prisoners to Bodmin. The “Duke of Cumberland” for many years after it was built stood apart. At the top of Causewayhead on this side was the Cattle Market, an unenclosed space; just above, on a corner plot, a man named Bellman built what was then called a large house; it was considered so far out of town, and so exposed, that for many years it was known as Castle Windy, or Mount Whistle. The row of houses between Castle Windy (Clare Villa) and Union Terrace were built about the time I came to Penzance;—beyond these houses were fields. On the left-hand side at the bottom of Causewayhead, opposite Bread Street, was an old inn called the Royal Oak, and close to it was the town shoot, the water coming from the reservoir at the top of the street. This shoot was removed about 1830; the water then and until the erection of the present corner shop in the Green Market, passing through jets built up close to the side of the house. The old shoot took up a large piece of the breadth of the road. Between this and the reservoir, on the same side of the street were some small houses, and then came fields. York House was commenced in 1825 by a Mr. Pope, who had been in New York and accumulated much money. He died before its completion, and left it to one of his relatives, Mr. John Pope Vibert, who carried on the work. The Rev. C. V. Le Grice named this house “The Vatican.” Its first occupant was Mrs. Rogers, widow of John Rogers, Esq., of Penrose. Chapel St. Clare was merely a cottage in 1825; some parts of the old building still remain at the back of the present house. Chapel Street (the best street on the south), described in old deeds under the name of Our Lady Street, as leading to the chapel of St. Mary, was for many years the most important in the town, and even when I came to Penzance might be described as the court end. On the left-hand side of the street, near the top, was the house wherein Mr. Price, the father of Sir Rose Price, had lived. In 1825, and for some time before, it had been the residence of the Giddy family, a name which occurs frequently amongst the mayors of the town. On the death of Sir Rose Price, in 1834, his son, Sir Charles, had the fine old house torn down, and on its site and the gardens belonging thereto are built Prince’s Street, the Prince’s Market, and the two houses in Chapel Street next above the Union Hotel. In Prince’s Street was also built a new room to supersede the Assembly Rooms, but, though often used for concerts and exhibitions, it did not altogether succeed, and now after sundry changes it is the Billiard Room of the Penzance Billiard Club. In 1825 the Union Hotel, originally the house of the Hitchens family, of Poltair, was the hotel of the town; behind it was the Assembly Room, etc., built by subscriptions 1791. The balls—they had winter balls then in Penzance—were always in this room, which for the size of the town might with its pendant glass chandeliers be justly called handsome. One of the rooms in the hotel had a very good ornamented ceiling. In the yard over the stables was the Penzance Theatre; of course there was rather a flavour of the stables, but in other respects it was tolerably suitable for its purpose. I remember once seeing an American negro perform Othello at this place; the elder Kean also paid Penzance a visit, and played on these boards. The Fisher Company who played at Penzance, Falmouth, etc., early in this century, had many good performers amongst them; some in after years becoming metropolitan stars. Incledon the famous singer, a native of St. Keverne, sometimes sang in this company. The stage end of the theatre was afterwards made into the Masonic Hall, and the auditorium was converted into a Billiard Room. The front of the Union Hotel has been taken down, and the house much altered since I first saw it. On the same side of the street, not far from the Union Hotel, was Custom-house Lane, so called from the Custom-house having been there at one time. Before 1825 it had been in two other places—Quay Street, and the back of that street where it still is. Opposite the Wesleyan Chapel was an old inn, the Turk’s Head, about 1820, and for some years after, kept by Holloway, father of the famous pill manufacturer. Behind this inn was the old Concert Room of the town. Concerts were given in Penzance by local performers long before the close of the last century. Dr. Giddy was for many years their president. They had a very good musical library,—two complete sets of overtures and symphonies, and very many books of trios for two violins and violoncello. When Dr. Giddy died there was a cessation of these meetings. An unsuccessful attempt to revive them was made in 1827, and in 1840 the Penzance Harmonic Society was formed, giving concerts during each winter for about five years. After that, the organist of St. Mary’s, Mr. Viner, gave a series of subscription concerts for four years; and for the last twenty the Penzance Choral Society has been doing good work in keeping up the standard of musical taste in Penzance. But to return to Chapel Street, the granite-fronted house just below the “Turk’s Head” was in 1825 the residence of Mrs. Carveth; the entrance was then in the middle of the house, and was reached by a flight of steps thrown from the street across the area. The house below it was a lodging house, and in it Skinner Prout lodged when he first came to town, in 1827. Next came what is now Abbey Street, then I think known as New Street Slip: the house at the bottom was called by its present name—The Abbey—before 1825, a title which is said to have originated from the house having been at one time inhabited by two maiden ladies who lived very secluded lives. The brick house in Chapel Street immediately after Abbey Street was built by the Oxnams. In 1825 it was occupied by General Tench, who wrote a book on New South Wales, where he was stationed. The front door was approached by a double flight of steps, removed some years after; the building is now divided into two houses. This property came into the hands of the Rev. Thos. Vyvyan, who, about 1834, sold a portion of the garden attached to it, and on the ground the National Schools were erected; the garden was still further curtailed by the building of the New Connexion Chapel. Next came some small houses, and then the houses opposite the church, which have not been altered since 1825; this latter part was known as the Church stile. The large granite-fronted house now in the occupation of Mrs. Coulson was built by Mr. Ben Batten many years after I came to the town. Beginning again at the top of Chapel Street the first thing of interest was the brick house nearly opposite the Union Hotel; this house was at one time the residence of some of the Tremenheere family. It must have taken the place of another and older building. In the back may still be seen a fine old wainscotted chamber, known as the Mayor’s Parlour; and in the front rooms two good carved chimney pieces. In 1825 this house was I believe inhabited by a Mr. Branwell, whose son built an office in the adjoining lane for his business as a solicitor. From that circumstance it was called Chancery Lane,—a name it still bears. Between this lane and the Wesleyan Chapel scarcely any alterations have taken place for the last fifty years. The Wesleyan Chapel, built in 1814, has undergone many alterations and been considerably enlarged, the colonade in front of the building is a very modern addition. The chapel is now one of the largest in the county. Next came the two houses occupied by the Wesleyan ministers, and then back from the street in a paved court stood the remains of the residence of the Gwavas family. One of the members of this family was famous for his knowledge of the old Cornish language. The last bearer of the name died in North Parade about thirty years ago. On the site of these three houses the Wesleyan Schoolroom now stands. The two brick houses adjoining the schools were in 1825 one large house; it was for a long time uninhabited, and was believed to be haunted. Several old houses in Penzance had this reputation, and the belief in ghosts was almost universal amongst the lower classes. One special legend was “The Heavy Coach.” This mysterious vehicle, drawn by headless horses, drove through the town in the middle of the night with a heavy rumbling noise. No one in modern times ever saw this coach, though some old folks say they have heard it. This particular house was haunted by Mrs. Baines, who was condemned to spin black wool into white. This ghost delusion was I have heard kept up for some time by Captain Carveth, who lived nearly opposite, and operated with a magic lantern. However, after many changes, a portion being at one time let for a cooperage, the house was then divided, and the lower half bought by Mr. Richard Pearce, many times mayor of Penzance, who resided therein; and the upper part taken for the Penzance Dispensary, an institution founded in 1809, principally through the influence of Mr. Hoare, a gentleman from London, at that time living in Penzance. Next came Vounderveor Lane, which was originally the only carriage road from Penzance to Newlyn, Paul, Mousehole, etc. The word lane is superfluous,—vounder being the Cornish for road, and veor meaning great. Vounderveor is therefore the great road; in this road is is now the School of Art, established in 1852; its first meetings were held in the Temperance Hotel, Prince’s Street. On the other side of the lane was a large low stone house with a very massive chimney abutting at one end, then came a house occupied by the Penzance Dispensary; when this institution was removed to another part of the same street, this house was known as the Old Dispensary. Both these buildings were bought by Mr. Richard Pearce, and on their site are two new houses facing Chapel Street, while a third stands on part of their garden at the entrance of Regent Square: a narrow strip of land was sold to the town council in order to widen Chapel Street. After this came the large stone house at that time the dwelling place of the Dennis family, who lived here for many years after 1825; it has been altered in appearance by the insertion of new windows. On the garden opposite the front door stood an old carpenter’s shop. The block of brick houses adjoining the church are very nearly the same as they were in 1825; for a long time they were known as Rotterdam Buildings, tradition having said that they were built by money obtained from Dutch prizes taken by a Penzance privateer. The back doors opened into the church-yard, and until the new church was built access could be obtained to them at all hours. The Post-office was in one of these houses, nominally kept by Mr. N. Phillips, but really by his wife and her assistant, Miss Swain. On Mr. Phillips resigning, Miss Swain became his successor, remaining for a time I believe in the same house. She then migrated for a short period in Alverton, but soon returned to Chapel Street, first to the house formally occupied by the Gwavas family, and afterwards to the house next above the “Turk’s Head.” In Chapel Street, in 1825, were the two banks of the town—Messrs. Batten, Carne, and Carne, and Messrs. Boase, Grenfell, and Boase. The Messrs. Bolitho were at Chyandour until 1834. The Church, a little low building with a spire but no tower, came much more out towards the street than the present one. The principal thoroughfare for passengers to the Quay was up a flight of steps at the corner of Rotterdam Buildings, and round the south side of the church to another long flight of steps opposite Quay Street. The church-yard was open at all times, and was a favourite spot with old sailors, etc., from the Quay, who used to sit in the sun on the tombstones, or on the wooden seat in the porch, which was a warm sheltered corner for the old men; the boys from the neighbourhood also used this place as a play ground, and many good games of marbles have been played there. The view from the church-yard towards the east has not much changed, but the completion of Regent Terrace has altered it in that direction. In the autumn of 1825 when the first steam-boat came into Penzance, I stood with many others in the church-yard watching its approach. Although the church-bell figures in the corporation account, it was not used in 1825 for calling people to worship; that was done by the town crier, Mr. Sampson Reynolds, who was also the clerk, he went through the streets every Sunday ringing his bell as he walked: his course began with the house of the mayor, and ended with the church. As most of the church goers were known to the old man. his round was not of great length, being the upper part of Market-jew Street. the Green Market, a little way up Causewayhead, Alverton, and finishing with Chapel Street. The Rev. C. V. Le Grice held the living of St. Mary’s in 1825; on his resigning he was succeeded by the Rev. Thomas Vyvyan. Immediately after, the old church was pulled down, and the new one begun in its place. The architect was Mr. Hutchens, at that time resident in Plymouth, but originally from the Land’s End; and the clerk of the works was Mr. John Pope Vibert. The new church of St. Mary’s was opened in 1835 by the Rev. C. V. Le Grice and his old clerk Mr. Sampson Reynolds; Dr. Wesley presided at the organ, and some choristers from Exeter Cathedral came with him. The anthem selected was “When the Son of Man shall come in His glory.” The organist of the old church was Miss Jaques, but after the erection of the new organ a public competition was held for the post of organist, and Mr. Viner, of Bath, was selected from the competitors. The theme he chose for the display of his musical abilities was the Portuguese hymn “Adeste fideles,” with variations. Quay Street and the houses about the Quay have very little altered since 1825, but commercially it is quite a different scene now to what it was at that time. Then, and for many years after, all the merchandize was loaded and unloaded at the Old Pier, and thence came to the town through Quay Street and Chapel Street; now the greater part of all the trade is carried on at the Albert or New Pier. The Old Quay has been largely extended since 1825, and the road running between the Dolphin Inn and the sea was made on reclaimed land in 1838. The high wall seaward was designed by Mr. John Pope Vibert. During its erection it was two or three times washed down; it was built with the object of preventing the spray of the sea from breaking so heavily over the Dolphin Inn. Near the Old Pier head was a pile of porphyry rocks called Carn Jenny, pieces of which were much prized by carpenters and others who used it to sharpen their tools; this rock was blasted when the new extension was built. At Sandy Bank, then literally a bank, were some old cottages pictured by Skinner Prout about 1830; the place where boats are moored at the Battery is Cribben Zawn. For centuries a fair has been held at the Quay on Midsummer-day. In 1825, and for many years after, it was very largely attended, and the crowd was so great that you could only get along by much exertion. Two of the chief attractions at this fair were the large quantities of strawberries that were exposed for sale, and the going out for a short cruise in the fishing boats. This was familiarly known under the name of “a penorth of sea.” At this fair, until within the last few years, the public-houses at the quay remained open all night. The stalls began just below the church, and were on each side of Quay Street, leaving a very narrow thoroughfare in the middle the shows were grouped on the Quay. This fair has latterly diminished in importance, and is now but thinly frequented. I remember one thing of interest about the Quay. In 1829 or 1830 there was a rising of the tinners at St. Just. They marched to Penzance, and seizing a cargo of barley that happened to be in the Quay, brought the whole on shore; but on being assured that the corn should not be sent out of the district they were satisfied, and returned quietly to their homes. Before going to any other part of Penzance it may be well to mention the New Pier, although it did not exist until long after I came to the town. The Old Quay, in 1825 the largest in Cornwall, could never afford sufficient accommodation, and the shipping was much exposed to the gales from the south-east. Another pier was therefore after much consideration determined on. The foundation stone was laid with great ceremony on July seventh, 1845, and it gradually progressed with little delay from bad weather or other causes. Early in September, 1846, I believe on the first of the month, the Queen and Prince Albert visited Cornwall. They came to Penzance, and the Prince landed on the Pier, then not completed; it was resolved on that account to call it the Albert Pier. Mr. Edward Bolitho was the mayor on that occasion. The outer end of the Pier differs very little from its original design; a breakwater stood for some years near the end at right angles to the Pier, but this was found to be filling the Harbour with sand, and was removed. The part of the Quay near the shore has been altered for the railway terminus, and by the wharves carried around under the town. This Quay affords so much accommodation for discharging and unloading, is so conveniently near the Railway, besides sheltering the ships from the south-east, that it has taken away a great deal of business from the Old Quay. During the rejoicings consequent on laying the foundation stone, a dreadful murder was committed in Rosevean Road, by a man named Ellison; the murdered person was a Mrs. Seaman with whom he lived. After the New Pier was completed, a piece was added to the Old Quay, known as the New Extension. Besides the four principal Streets of Penzance, there are some other places that deserve to be mentioned. The small open space at the top of Chapel Street, now called Queen Square, in 1825 had no such name, but was considered to be a part of Parade Street. The Globe Inn at the corner of this square and New Road, a very old licensed house, had at the beginning of this century railings at the front and side. New Road, or Queen Street, was opened to make a more direct route to Newlyn than that through Vounderveor. In the New Road was the old Wesleyan Chapel, vacated when the large one in Chapel Street was built, and soon after occupied by a Baptist congregation. After some other changes it is now converted into warehouses. In 1825 the Penzance Grammar School, of which the Rev. George Morris was the master, stood at the bottom of New Road: the Grammar School for a short time ceased to exist, and in that interval the corporation sold the premises to Mr. James Pentreath, who converted them into a dwelling house which he named Penhale House, the house at the head of the moor. On the opposite side at the bottom, were some very low small houses which remained for a great many years after I came to Penzance, but are now gone; and in their place stands the National School for boys, which was completed in 1872. Soon after passing the Grammar School was the entrance to Regent Terrace; this, as its name implies was begun to be built during the Regency at the latter part of the reign of George the third. For many years it consisted of about a dozen houses, and the east was garden ground. In 1836 the other houses were commenced, and in 1839 they were finished. Behind Regent Terrace was a green field up to 1806. I remember the late Mr. John Matthews, many years surveyor of the town, showing me at the end of the preceding year the proposed plan for building Regent Square. In that field all the Sunday School children of Penzance and the neighbouring villages took tea I think in 1835, at a festival in memory of the first establishing of Sunday Schools. In front of Regent Terrace was South Terrace, known in 1823 as Captain’s Row, almost every house being then inhabited by captains of vessels. When I first came to Penzance these were the only houses built close down to the sea. Again returning to the town,—at the top of Chapel Street was the entrance to Parade Street; on the left-hand side was a large brick house, in 1825 occupied, I believe, by Mr. Beard, town clerk, and publisher of the Penzance Charter. This house, like many others, was said to be haunted; but whether the ghosts saw a long way ahead, and were afraid of the coming lawyers, I cannot tell at any rate of them by the nothing was seen people who lived there many years prior to its becoming the offices of Messrs. John and Rodd. Westward from this house was an opening leading to a building used early in this century as a Baptist Chapel, but before I came to Penzance turned into a carpenters’ shop. St. Mary’s Terrace and Place were not built for some years after 1825, indeed the lower houses of the terrace have been built within the last dozen years. After this opening was a cottage or two, and then the Jordan Baptist or Octagon Chapel. The noted “Boatswain Smith” preached at this chapel when first I came to the town; soon afterwards he left Penzance and remained away some years, but ultimately returned and died in Jordan House (Wesley Villa). The Commercial Buildings which now stand at the left-hand corner of Parade Street were built very soon after 1825; in them were the Penzance Library (founded in 1818 through the instrumentality of Sir Rose Price and Dr. Forbes, a physician, who practised for some time in the town), Savings Bank, and Commercial News Room. The Library was here for nearly forty years, until its removal to the Public Buildings; the Savings Bank is still in this place. The Commercial News Room was established in 1826, and existed for many years, but has now quite disappeared, and its place is supplied by the Penzance Institute. On the right-hand side of Parade Street there was nothing of any importance; the chapel is comparatively of very recent date. The houses at the South Parade were just the same as they are now, but they had an uninterrupted view towards the sea and Newlyn. Between these and Newlyn there were but three houses,— Redinnick House, built by Mr. Edistone, but inhabited in 1825 by the Rev. George Morris, master of the Grammar School; the cottage at the Minney; and a hovel, it could hardly be called a cottage, close to what is now Wherrytown. In front of South Parade was the pathway leading to Newlyn; on each side was a high thorn hedge, and the passengers could not see the lower part of the houses: where this lane ended was a flight of steps, and then came fields. Not far from the South Parade was the North; this was begun in 1815, and finished in 1826. The Geological Museum, founded in 1814 principally through the exertions of Dr. Paris and Mr. Ashhurst Majendie, occupied the first floor of the large house in the upper half of the Parade. Mr. Davies Gilbert was the first president of this Society. In rooms in the same house were the Gentlemen’s News Room (now in the Public Buildings), and the Penzance Library. The Geological Society and the Gentlemen’s News Room occupied this house for just half a century; the Library was there a few years, when it was removed to the Commercial Buildings. Park Corner, Union Street, and Buriton Row have not altered since 1825. At Buriton Row lived when I first came to Penzance, and for many years after, Captain Thomas Curtis, the man who first worked the Wherry Mine. Parade Passage, first commonly known as Clerk’s Row, from the number of clerks living there, was not a passage, as the road terminated with the last house. The opening leading from the east end of North Parade to Market Place, Harvey’s Ope, was a narrow, crooked, dark, and dirty place; it has been widened and made straighter. This I think finishes the whole of Penzance as it existed when I first knew it.

Additions since 1825

SINCE 1825 many new streets and terraces have been built. I have said before that South Terrace was the only row immediately in front of the sea. In 1826 Marine Terrace was begun, and was at first inhabited by masons, carpenters, and small tradesmen; the idea of lodging houses in such a locality would at that time have been considered absurd. The Mount’s Bay House, Queen’s Hotel, and Mineral Shop adjoining the hotel are much more recent, having been erected within the last twenty years. A Mr. Burt built the middle part of the Baths about 1840; there was then no Promenade in front of it, and the house stood at the edge of the high-water mark. The Baths were afterwards much enlarged by Mr. Norton. In 1825 a great part of the present Promenade consisted of a succession of sand hills, covered at intervals with a short green turf, hence the name of the Western Green: the Promenade as it now stands was not completed until 1844. All the rows of small houses at the back of Marine Terrace, and going further east—Coulson’s Terrace, Coulson’s Place and Buildings, have been built within the last fifty years. Continuing along the Promenade, in a field where the lower part of Cornwall Terrace and the Queen’s Hotel now stand, was held in 1829–30 the last wrestling match, on a large scale, in Penzance. At the bottom of Cornwall Terrace (right-hand corner) stood the Folly; this was the remains of a pleasure garden which was surrounded by a brick wall, and some portions of it existed until a few years since; even now there may be seen adjoining the field and facing the Promenade, part of a small house with some ornamental brick work. The wall around the garden was decorated in the same way as this little house. I cannot say who was the original builder of the place, but in 1760 an Algerine crew who were wrecked near the Battery Rocks were kept there for some time in quarantine, as the inhabitants of Penzance feared the plague. This was the South Folly, to distinguish it from another building known as the North; the latter I believe stood in Causewayhead, where is now the London Inn and some other houses, but all traces of it disappeared before I came to the town. A large pear tree which once stood in the garden of the North Folly was when cut down given to the owner of the Duke of Cumberland Inn, who had it made into a kitchen table. Cornwall Terrace has been built in three distinct blocks,—first in 1827 the small houses in the middle, then those nearer the sea, and lastly the upper part. The top house long stood detached, and on its garden about 1860 were erected the larger houses of Cornwall Terrace. At the west of the Promenade is Wherrytown. In the beginning of this century Captain Curtis started a Mine at this place, but it soon ceased to be worked, and for nearly thirty years was idle, until in 1836 it was resumed by a company. After a year or two it was again stopped; the mine buildings were utilized by Mr. J. J. A. Boase, the owner of the soil and lord of the Wherry Mine. He turned the counting-house into the house which was long the residence of the officer of the coast-guard, and is now occupied by the chief boatman. Mr. Boase afterwards built a row of cottages for the coast-guard men, and within recent years cottages have been built by other people. Alexandra Road was opened by the Princess of Wales in 1865, and two or three houses have been built in it. On the north of the town many new buildings have sprung up. Going from the east towards the west the first places are Penrose and Trewartha Terraces; these were begun in 1834. Penrose Terrace was slowly completed, but Trewartha, commenced at both ends, is still unfinished. The first house in this terrace was begun by Mr. P. B. Harris, but he died before its completion; the first tenant was Mr. Joel Lean, a quaker, brother of Captain Thomas Lean, reporter of duty done by Cornish Steam Engines, etc. Opposite to Penrose Terrace are Albert Villas, begun in 1865. East Terrace, Leskinnick Street and Terrace, all date from about 1834; the upper part of the last-named place was formerly called Jerusalem Terrace, from its proximity to the Jews’ burying ground. Between Adelaide and Mount Streets, at the foot of the hill, is a small row of houses known as Gothic Row; this was part of a large plan devised by Mr. Francis Paynter, solicitor, and Mr. H. M. Moyle, and was built to form a sort of screen to larger houses which were to rise in crescents and terraces on the slope upon which Adelaide and other streets stand. Some dispute, however, arising, Mr. Moyle contented himself with building the houses in Adelaide Street, east side from Market-jew Street to Gothic Row; the remaining ground was then let in plots, and Adelaide, Camberwell, Mount, and Penwith Streets are the result. The first houses in Adelaide Street were erected in 1828, but it was a dozen years before the whole street was completed; the other places soon followed. On the fields which were between Bread Street and Taroveor Road (formerly Bull’s Lane), have been built, at different times in the last twenty years, Victoria Square, Albert Terrace, Alma Terrace and Place, St. James’ Street, Belgravia Street, and High Street,—all these with the exception of the last-named place are on the property of the Tonkin family. Where High Street stands was for several years the Corpus Christi Fair, it was then the town field; at the top of it was a wide opening leading into Taroveor Road, and a narrow passage at the bottom into Bread Street. The row now called Taroveor Terrace was built about 1840 by Mr. J. B. Pentreath, of the firm of Luke, Pentreath, and Co., brewers; for many years it was known as Pentreath’s Cottages. For a long time these were the only houses on the right-hand side of Taroveor between Causewayhead and Adelaide Street. On the left-hand were but two small cottages, until about forty years ago, when Bellevue Terrace and Rosevean Road were begun. Rosevean Road was laid out for the purpose of making a carriage drive to the Rev. Canon Rogers’ property, at Lescudjack Castle, which was to have been covered with villas; and a very pretty plan was sketched out for that purpose, but it never came to the desired end. However, Rosevean Road gradually extended and some detatched houses such as Rosevean, Penare, etc., were built. Besides the houses, the Roman Catholic Church was erected; this was done principally through the instrumentality of the Rev. Father Young, an Irishman. Father Young began his mission in a small building, originally a school-room, on the spot where Scott’s marble yard stands, in Victoria Place; he was a most enthusiastic man, and devoted himself entirely to the cause; his work was known as “The Cornish Mission.” Falmouth, having had a church many years before Penzance, was not included in the father’s district. The building of the Roman Catholic Church happened in this way.—I was at the bank when Father Young brought a small sum of money to be at the disposal of a young woman who had opened a shop on the terrace for the sale of Roman Catholic books. Shortly after, I was told the money was towards building the church, and weekly I was to pay the young woman for the work done. The shop was soon closed, and the woman gone; the men then came to me for their wages, and before long I found it almost a matter of necessity that I should superintend the building. Father Young did indeed try to get Dr. Hockin, who took great interest in the building of St. Paul’s Church, to overlook the matter, but he declined; and in the end it all rested with a young exciseman, named Mac Enerny, and myself. The funds were supplied in a marvellous manner, remitted from all parts of the kingdom. We never had a month’s pay in hand,—often at the end of the week scarcely a pound; but yet it went on, and the masons’ and carpenters’ work was done. Before everything was ready for the opening, the building was handed over to the order of “The Immaculate Conception,” whose head-quarters were at Marseilles. Bishop Aubert, of Marseilles, came to open the church, and the Rev. Father Daly was appointed to the charge of it. Some nuns were located in Medrose Cottage, but did not stay long in the town. After a short time, the expenditure exceeding the income, the organ and some other things were obliged to be sold, and by some means the connection with the order of “The Immaculate Conception” ceased. I have forgotten who had the charge when Mr. Daly removed, but since 1858 it has been held by the Rev. Canon Shortland. There is little to say beyond what has been already written of the northern part of the town. St. Clare Street on the right extended someway up the hill before I first knew it, but the garden at the back of Castle Windy, now Clare Villa, has been covered with houses, and a chapel, opened by the Wesleyans in 1888, has been erected on part of the ground. Continuing on the same side, Union Terrace, the houses behind it, and St. Michael’s Terrace are new since my coming to the town; they were begun in 1828, but St. Michael’s Terrace was not finished until 1870. The left-hand dates from 1826, excepting some of the lower houses, which are rather later. The Poor House is of the same date, this is now used as the Penzance Infirmary and Dispensary; and the Prison which was near to the Poor House, has been altered and made into a school. Clarence Street has already been mentioned, but not Clarence Terrace and Place; the former of these was built in 1832, and the latter soon after. There remain to be noticed the houses in Victoria Place and the Morrab fields, begun in 1829, but only lately completed; and lastly, that great ornament to the town the Public Buildings. These are situated in Alverton, on what were the Church fields. The foundation stones were laid in 1864, and the buildings opened with much ceremony in 1867. Under the same roof are St. John’s Hall, a Lecture Hall, Guild-hall and Police Courts, Corporation Offices, Penzance Library, Institute and News Rooms, Geological and Natural History Society, and rooms of various other societies. Mr. John Matthews was the architect. One building I had almost forgotten, the Pork or Shamble Market; it was erected soon after the Market House, and the south entrance was designed by Mr. John Pope Vibert. A few words must be said about the paving of the streets and some other subjects. In 1825 nearly all the footpaths of the streets were pitch-paved; the flat paving was begun about 1826 or 1827. Mr. Jacob Corin and Mr. John Pope Vibert were at that time waywardens, the latter being the acting man. To prevent any break in the plan the above-named persons were elected waywardens for several years in succession. Mr. Vibert was the originator of all public improvements for many years. Penzance in 1825 was behind several towns in the county in its lighting. At that time there was no gas in the town, but a few oil lamps here and there; these were paid for by a subscription from the inhabitants. The Gas Company was formed in 1830, and in the following year gas lamps were introduced into the streets. I have mentioned, in the remarks on Causewayhead, the reservoir at the top of the street, constructed in 1757. When I came to Penzance this supplied the whole town; the water was brought there in pipes and open gutters from Madron Well, and then conveyed to the bottom of the street, where the pavement abruptly terminated at a height of nearly three feet above the level of the road. In the end of the pavement facing south were two granite troughs through which the water poured, and to this place all the people who had not a well in their own premises were obliged to come with their pitchers to supply their wants.* The water fell from the granite troughs into a slight hollow, and then by a watercourse through Chapel Street, and so on to the sea. In winter the supply was quite sufficient, but in summer there was often a great want of water, especially in 1826, when there was no rain from April to October. People were sometimes obliged to wait nearly an hour before it came to their turn to fill their pitchers. About thirty years since the scarcity of water was so severely felt, although in the meantime several wells had been sunk, that the corporation resolved to purchase another stream. Polteggan was obtained, and water could then be carried into every house in the town. The water supply and a comprehensive scheme of sewerage were carried out by the town surveyor, the late Mr. John Matthews. Nothing has changed more in the last fifty years than the postal arrangements throughout the kingdom. In 1825 a letter from London to Penzance cost one shilling, and took two days to do the journey. So few letters came to the town that for many years after I was in Penzance, and probably until the days of the Penny Post, they were delivered by one old woman who carried them about in a basket; and there was only one delivery a day. Correspondence was extremely limited, and for short distances the common carrier conveyed the letters done up in small parcels. At St. Ives I have been told that the postman could not read, but had his letters arranged for him, and each person on having his or her letter told him who was to follow. In 1825 Penzance booksellers professed to have a monthly parcel from London, but it often came a fortnight behind the proper time. Early in this century the use of wheeled vehicles was rare in Cornwall. Mr. Dennis, an old agriculturist well known in his time in this neighbourhood, has often told me that he remembered the first cart west of Penzance. Before I came to the town carts were common, and the farmers and their wives came in them to market; the gigs and other carriages now seen on market days would astonish these old people. At Wall, in Gwinear, lived in 1837 a Mr. Hale, who was the first wheel-wright in this district for anything but the roughest work; he began business at the end of the last century. It is not more than twenty years ago that the first cab plied for hire in Penzance; and so little was the demand at that time, that some of the members of the corporation guaranteed to make up any loss the man might suffer. Two or three customs have died out since 1825, and notably the guise-dancing at Christmas. This lasted every evening from Christmas until Twelfth Day. The performers, if I may use the word, tried to dress in such a way as to deceive if possible their friends or acquaintances; they walked about the town and into the houses of those they knew, but they often abused the liberty accorded them by making horrid noises and trying to frighten the people. Guise-dancing is now prohibited by the authorities, and so also is the acting of the old Cornish play of “St. George and the Dragon,” which was generally performed in the public-houses at Christmas. Again, Shrove Tuesday from mid-day until night was a day of disorder; about noon the fire engines, under the superintendence of Mr. George Giddy, were taken out and tested, and the water very liberally distributed over the persons of the unwary. Some of the roughs used to get soot and grease on their hands, and coming behind the backs of the passers covered their faces with the disagreeable compound. In the evening boys often opened doors and threw in handfuls of wrinkle shells or sometimes more annoying things. The next morning signs and gates would be found anywhere but in their proper places. On Easter Monday a small sort of raffle was held in front of many of the houses, especially in Market-jew Street. The articles raffled were of various descriptions, but consisted principally of cups and saucers, small articles of earthenware, squares of ginger-bread, Easter buns, etc. This custom has disappeared for some years, but the May-day observances are still carried on with great vigour. During the last days of April the boys in the town go about blowing tin horns, and arranging with their comrades for excursions on May-morning. On that day from early morn all sleep is banished by the noise they make with these horns, trumpets, conch shells, etc., They visit many houses of the town and ask for money, and then go into the country to partake of junket, milk and cream; about nine they return with flowers and branches of sycamore, locally called “May,” and as a rule again perambulate the town. In former times the respectable town’s-people were accustomed to form breakfast parties at farm houses, and the amateur boatmen rowed to Mousehole Island, where lighting a fire they prepared a breakfast which was heartily enjoyed after their row. The fires at Midsummer and St. Peter’s Eves are still kept up with some of the old spirit, but the custom of parties of men and women starting from the Quay, and being augmented as they went through the streets threading the needle, is extinct. The children on Midsummer-day used to wear garlands of flowers—a pretty custom that has almost entirely gone. Some comparison between the prices of provisions in 1825 and the present time may be interesting. When first I came to the town, and for some years after, beef and mutton were sold at from three-pence to four-pence a pound; in 1839 they had risen to six-pence, at which price they remained for a considerable time. Pork was sold by the side at two-pence half-penny and three-pence a pound; this had risen in 1839 to four-pence half-penny and five-pence. Fowls were never more than one shilling each; eggs when plentiful were sold at four-pence a dozen, and in the winter went up to seven-pence. Butter in the summer was seven-pence and eight-pence a pound, and in the winter was sold for one shilling. A pound of butter in 1825 weighed eighteen ounces; in the year 1839 the sixteen-ounce pound averaged eleven-pence. Large bakes were to be had at six-pence each, and other fish in the same proportion. The best potatoes could be bought at from four to six shillings the Cornish bushel, and other vegetables and fruits were equally cheap. The following is the Penzance market list for June 20th, 1878—pork 6¼d. to 6½d. per pound, wholesale; beef 9d. to 10d.; mutton 9d. to 10d.; lamb 10d.; veal 7d. to 8d.; fowls 4s. to 6s. per pair; butter 13d.; and eggs 1s. per dozen.

Market Gardens of Penzance

LARGE pieces of ground about Penzance are laid out in market gardens, in which potatoes and brocoli are especially cultivated. Early potatoes were sent out from this neighbourhood in great quantities as far back as 1820. Soon after that time I recollect the carts from Penzance (twenty or thirty on a market-day), coming to Falmouth. Besides the potatoes consumed in the town, large quantities were taken abroad by the Falmouth packets. In 1828 some brought to Falmouth found their way to London by the steamers from Dublin, which used to touch at that port; still the greater part of the market produce was disposed of in the county. A new business was added about 1838, and it began in this way; Mr. Dupen, the steward of the Herald and afterwards of the Cornwall steamer, which went from Hayle to Bristol, took up to the latter port some early brocoli, and they sold so well that he continued his adventure season after season. Of course this did not escape observation, and others tried the experiment, and so far succeeded that they carried their trade to London, and far into the midland districts of England. The trade in brocoli and potatoes gradually increased as facilities for sending them away became more fully developed, and now above 2,000 tons of brocoli are disposed of yearly. In 1838 new potatoes were I believe first sent direct from Penzance to London; at this time the best potatoes were to be had in July and August at four-pence to six-pence the gallon, and the later kinds mostly consumed at home ranged from four shillings and six-pence to eight shillings the Cornish bushel of twenty-four gallons; the latter was considered an enormous price. Now in the early potatoe season buyers are here from Leeds, Manchester, Hull, Wolverhampton, London, etc., and the quantity sold is very large. I have known one dealer to send away in a few weeks more than £3,000 worth. Besides potatoes and brocoli large quantities of fruit are sent at times from this district to the midland counties, and even as far as Glasgow. Forty years ago fine strawberries were sold in Penzance at two-pence and three-pence a quart. The cultivation of this fruit largely fell off, but lately gardeners in the higher part of Gulval and Ludgvan have again been turning their attention to it, and from Tremenheere many baskets have been sent to London. Onions and asparagus are also often sent away from this neighbourhood. At Penzance an exhibition of flowers, fruits, and vegetables is held every year in connection with the Western Cottagers’ Gardening Society; this society was instituted in 1836, and its first exhibition was held in the Assembly Room, at the Union Hotel.


Excepting that they still make mackerel and pilchards the great object of their fishing, everything is changed in the Mount’s Bay fishing since 1825. The boats then were good buoyant vessels and very seaworthy, but they were much smaller than those now used, and afforded but little shelter for the men. The produce of their fishing was mostly consumed near home, and it was only when larger quantities were taken that they went to Plymouth and Bristol; the prices therefore were usually very moderate. The mackerel fishing began in March or April. In the winter the boats were hauled up on the beach between Lariggan and Newlyn; instead of a seawall there was then a sloping beach from the road down. I remember in 1831 standing and watching men playing bat and ball on a flat space outside the wall, and I have also seen them winnowing corn near the same spot. In May, 1826, some boats first went from here to Ireland for the herring fishery; one of the Kelynacks, a name well known in Newlyn, was the person to propose this expedition. In 1847 they began to fish for herring off the coast of Yorkshire. Sometime before 1838, fast-sailing smacks came here to carry mackerel to Bristol market; Peacock, of Bristol, was then the great fish buyer. When the steam-boats ran from Hayle to Bristol, that means was adopted to bring fish with certainty early to the market, and on steam-boat days the price would probably be from twenty shillings upwards for 120, whereas on other days it was not half as much. The line of rail direct from Penzance to London and all the great manufacturing towns has given further facilities for sending away fish. Buyers come here every season, and ordinarily purchase many thousands of pounds worth of mackerel. This increased demand has not benefited the Penzance consumer, who now pays nearly double what he did. It is much easier to sell in a large quantity to the London buyer than to hawk them about from door to door, indeed the supply of fish in the town is not equal to what it was half a century ago. With the termination of the mackerel fishing the buyers depart for other places. The pilchard fishing which comes on in July, and continues until November or December, is very little altered since 1825; the whole quantity taken is either consumed near at hand or salted and prepared for exportation to Italy. The prices however paid for the fish for exportation are higher than they used to be. In the last year or so the small pilchards, formerly of hardly any value, have been preserved in oil and sold as Cornish sardines; this has been done at Newlyn and also at Mevagissey. At times during the pilchard fishery large quantities of hakes are taken, these are mostly sent to distant markets; a hake which used to be bought for four-pence, at present costs at least a shilling. Hakes which were formerly salted and dried, and sold during the winter months, are now rarely seen; twenty-five years ago many hundreds were sometimes brought to Penzance on a single market-day. The fishing-boats are much larger than they were, and are made for fast sailing; during the mackerel season they often fish at thirty leagues from Penzance, some way west of Scilly. The boats then meet at those Islands, and two steam-boats are constantly running between them and Penzance with the fish; thus the fish taken ninety miles at sea, is often in London in less than twenty-four hours. The boats being larger there is more accommodation for the men, and they have good berths in which they can rest when tired. In 1825, and for years after, all the nets were made of Bridport twine, and the fishermen’s wives used to make or “breed” them; now a large quantity of cotton netting is used, and the making of nets at home is quite gone out. For fully forty years after I came to the town there was no trawl boat belonging to the place, but a good deal of fish was then taken and is now caught by the hook and line.



Penzance Natural History and Antiquarian Society

Society Chronology:-Society founded on 20th November 1839 by Richard Moyle, Mayor of Penzance, in response to a petition drawn up at a meeting held on the 4th of November at which there were 69 signatories The first report was published on the 12th September 1845 In 1855 the final transaction in the first series was printed and the Society went into a period of dormancy due to lack of members, until 1862 when it was revived and publications resumed. This continued only until 1865 when publications again ceased. However, excursions continued. In 1872 the Society once again languished. This might have been caused by debts incurred when new premises were acquired. On the 26th April 1880 the Society was once again revived with the aid of public subscription and a grant.


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Professor Noidea's Diatom Column 

There is much speculation about the origins of life on Earth. Did meteorites bring the building blocks of life or did they bring more than that - life itself? Ideas concerning the presence of diatom frustules on meteorites abound.
This made me wonder what life might be like on the bodies from which these meteorites originated - perhaps a landscape composed entirely of diatoms.

Image composed by Dean Beckton
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