Carew, Survey of Cornwall, 1602. Newquay, Newe Kaye

Newquay Harbour Postcard Old

In 1602 Carew made a complete Survey of Cornwall, in which Newe Kaye (Newquay) was visited. This is a fascinating book as it’s the earliest complete book written about Cornwall by somebody who travelled round the county writing about the people, the places, the industries, the lives and games of the population.

Newe Kaye

In Carew’s 1602 book, he said of Newquay (Newe Kaye):

Neyther may I omit newe Kaye, a place in the North coast of this Hundred, so called, because in former times, the neighbours attempted, to supplie the defect of nature, by Art, in making there a Kay, for the Rode of shipping, which conceyt they still retayne, though want of means in themselues, or the place, haue left the effect in Nubibus: and onely lent them the benefit of Lestercockes and fisher-boates.

Translated (roughly), this says:

I mustn’t forget Newe Kaye, a place on the North coast of this region, called Newe Kaye because in the past the locals applied to build a quay there to facilitate shipping.  They still believe it can be done; although they’ve no money for it, the idea’s still up in the air and all they’ve got in the harbour is Lestercockes (a type of fish) and fishing boats.

This reference is to the first, small harbour, built in Newquay in 1493.  It wasn’t possible until a London speculator, Richard Lomax, had the money available to build a large harbour, although it still wasn’t finished by the time he died in 1836. The first stone was laid on the South Quay on 12 July 1832. The North Quay was built by the next owner of the Harbour, Mr Joseph Treffry, in about 1839, with the railway tunnel beside the Rowing Club being built to bring the railway lines down to the harbour in 1844.

Often overlooked by the masses, most later books all refer back to Carew’s 1602 Survey of Cornwall when they’re writing their books. His book was the starting point for all those later adventurers in the 1700s and 1800s that wrote popular books about the ancient stones, history, myths and legends of Cornwall.

Since the first edition of 1602, there’ve been some updates to his original book.

You can still buy original copies of the 1602 first edition of Carew’s Survey of Cornwall, but you could expect that to cost you close to £800-1000, which, for most people, is of no benefit. This is an edition for collectors only. What IS achievable though is to obtain a reprint, which tends to cost about £20.

Richard Carew was born on 17 July 1555, at East Antony in Cornwall and died on 6 November 1620. He was a Cornish translator and antiquary. Educated in Oxford, his Survey of Cornwall (1602 and 1603) was the second ever English county history that appeared in print. Later editions were updated and printed in 1723, 1769 and 1811.

Richard Carew was High Sheriff of Cornwall twice, in 1586 and 1596. He was also the MP for Saltash in 1584. Richard Carew knew Newquay well as his wife was the eldest daughter of Sir John Arundell of Trerice; Trerice is today a National Trust property just outside Newquay.

From the above, you can see that Richard Carew’s book, Survey of Cornwall, was a really well-written and informed piece of work – and if you’re interested in the history of Newquay, or the history of Cornwall, then it’s a book well worth having on your shelves for an intriguing “dip into” to get a better feeling of how things used to be. The book has been republished and can be picked up easily online:

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Image: harbour.

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