Google Street view of Market Jew Street, Penzance
The red-painted shop front to the left of the picture is Peasgood’s pharmacy, which once housed the apothecary’s shop owned by one John Bingham Borlase, who in 1795 took on an apprentice called Humphry Davy, who, you probably know, became very famous in later life for inventing a miner’s safety lamp and discovering all sorts of chemical elements. If you turn to the right in the street view, you will see Davy’s statue.
|Illustration of Chun Quoit from
Antiquities of Cornwall
Borlase is a famous name in these parts. One holder of the surname was William Borlase (1696-1772), an antiquary and naturalist, who published a tome entitled Observations on the Antiquities of Cornwall and another called The Natural History of Cornwall (read it online), which contains observations on the state of the Cornish language and the Cornish people.
The surname Borlase comes from a place-name, the family’s original home. It means “green hummock”. I don’t know what exact connection John Bingham Borlase had with the family. There is now a rather fanciful picture of Humphry Davy in the window of the pharmacy. It has a legend which announces that Davy was apprenticed to the “apothocary”. Sigh.
By the way, do feel virtually free to wander around Penzance.