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

Illustration of Chun Quoit

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.

13 thoughts on “Borlase

  1. “By the way, do feel virtually free to wander around Penzance.”
    My remark’s got nothing to do with phonetics:
    I don’t know what people in Penzance think about this ‘service’ provided by Goggle [sic], nor do I know if His Phonetic Highness has any objections to the idea that some day his Chateau Maidment can be spied from anywhere on the globe. I feel very uneasy about the idea that anyone from anywhere can take a virtual stroll around my house. So I objected to the publication of photos of my house.

  2. Cnut battling the waves, I feel.
    BTW, Chateau Maidment looks very nice!

  3. Hello!

    I am a Borlase, born in Britain , and have lived in Canada most of my life.

    I wish to thank you for your interest in the history of the family and I am grateful that you have taken the time to make available
    this view of J.B. Borlase’s former establishment.

    An upcoming visit to Cornwall is definitely on the agenda.


    Janet Borlase

  4. Hello
    I am a New Zealand born Borlase.John Bingham Borlase was my
    great,great,great,great grandfather,born in Penzance on the 8th of February 1753.His only son was Charles Bonython Borlase who was an officer in the East India Company, and died in India on the 26th of September 1819.His only son was also named Charles Bonython.He was brought up and educated in Cornwall and became a Lawyer and with his wife immigrated to New Zealand in 1848. He became Mayor of Wellington,and also a member of parliament.

  5. Hi,
    Planning a trip to England in May, my first. My Grandparents and Dad were from Redruth. We’re planning a swing through the western part of England to get a feel for were my Dad was from. I was poking around on the internet trying to find out a little bit about the name and am surprised it’s such a common name there. Thanks for the posting.

  6. Hi,
    As previously posted, I’m planning a trip to England in May and plan on spending time in Cornwall. I don’t have any idea if I have family still there. My dads name was Rodney, his parents were Harry Borlase/Dorothy Drew. Harrys dad was Edwin and his Parents were William and Sahra Pill Borlase. I would appriciate any info anyone would have about possible family…Bob Borlase

  7. Just wondering if Bob Borlase had made new discoveries about the Borlase Family while on holiday last year.

  8. Bill Borlase, We have the same great, great, great grandparents. Do you have any further information on Charles Bonython Borlase? regarding his mother from India- regards Danae

  9. My grandfather Edward Norris Borlase (Brother to William Rawson Borlase) kept entries going in the family book Borlase of Borlase, A history of the Borlase family, these handwritten details continue up until around 1953.
    Also have copies of the huge family tree., with the coat of arms etc.

  10. Does anyone know why this family members consistently died so young?

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