Canon Diggens Archive


Michael Joseph

An Gof - St Keverne Cornwall At St. Keverne about the year 1496 lived a blacksmith (An Gof) named Michael Joseph. He appears to have been born in the place and is described by an historian as “a notable prating fellow who by thrusting himself forward on every occasion, and being loudest in every complaint against the government, acquired an authority among these simple people, and was ready to lead them to any desperate enterprise".

Thomas Flammock also, a lawyer, and a descendant of an ancient and wealthy family, living at Bocarne near Bodmin - the seat of his ancestors - was considered an oracle in the neighbourhood. He was very learned in the Law, and was enraged at a new tax that had been levied to defray the expences of a Scottish war.

The Cornish knowing the treasure Henry the 7th had amassed could ill-brook the imposition. They knew it was unjust, and grudged to pay £2,500 as their share of the subsidy, and being incited by Flammock and Joseph Michael they prepared for revolt.

The arrival of the collectors of the Tax was the signal.

They assembled at Bodmin to the number of 6,000 and without let from John Basset of Trehidy - the sheriff - marched under the leadership of Flammock and Joseph Michael through Cornwall and Devon, and took Taunton where they slew Provost Perrin, an Officer and eager commissioner who was collecting the Tax. Thence they marched on to Wells, where their party was strengthened by Lord Audley, who was made General. They then passed to Salisbury, thence to Winchester, and on to Kent encamping at Blackheath, four miles from London.

By this time the Lords and Commons were gathered in sufficient strength to meet them and a battle was fought in which 2,000 of the Cornish and their upholders were slain, albeit they shot arrows a cloth yard in length. Goldsmith says that the prisoners who were pardoned and dismissed were 16,000. Lord Bacon says the Cornish were a race of men, "stout of stomach, mighty of body and limb, and that lived hardly in a barren country".

From William of Worcestor's Itinerary 1478.

In 1202 Richard Flandrenses (supposed to have been of the Flamank family) was sheriff of Cornwall,

Richard was mayor from 1493 to 1497
John was mayor in 1534.

According to Polydore Vigil M.S. Michael Joseph left a badge of his trade on the church door of Horwood (near Bideford). The inhabitants show a piece of iron fastened to the door which they call Michael Joseph's badge.

Flammock   From History of Cornwall. Hitchins and Drew. page 480.

Towards the conclusion of the 15th Century, Henry VII was engaged with some unpleasant disturbances with the Scots. This was made by him an ostensible pretext for obtaining a vote of parliament to aid him with pecuniary supplies in order to reduce them to submission. The Cornish who had not yet wholly lost that spirit of daring independence which their British forefathers had submitted to them were the first to enveigh against the Tax,

The arrival of the collectors was for them a signal of revolt, for which they had previously prepared. The report of the collectors was that they found in Cornwall a big stout hardy race of men tumultuously assembled, "and inflamed by one Thomas Flammock a gentleman, and Michael Joseph, said to have been born in St. Keverne, a Blacksmith or farrier who seemed ready to lead them on to any desperate enterprise. Flammock was a descendant of an ancient and wealthy family, being as Holinshed said, "learned in the law of the realm". He persuaded the people that the resistance he waged was not only legal, but meritorious, and would ensure those engaged in it the praise of their countrymen and veneration of posterity-

The primary motive by which Joseph professed to be actuated was ambition. He hoped to immortalise his name by is personal exploits, and to transmit it to posterity with those laurels that bloom around, departed names. This was the import of his own declaration! when he was about to expiate his crimes by the forfeiture of his life.

Hals asserts that the real design of this insurrection was, to depose King Henry, and set up Edmund de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk sister's son to Ed. III and the true heir male of the house of York. The party at first amounted to 3,000 hut soon increased to 6,000. From Bodmin they inarched to Launceston, Their arms were chiefly bows and arrows - the latter full three feet long, Those who could not procure these carried such tools as they had been accustomed to use in their respective profession. Proceeding onwards through Devon and Somerset they arrived at Taunton, where finding a Commissioner of the odious Tax they put him to death (Provist Perrin).

At Wells they were joined by Lord Audley a nobleman of ancient family whom they made General. At Blackheath they were attacked by Lord Daubery - the king's General. The conflict was severe and decisive. The Cornish army was overthrown with the loss of 2,000 men. The king lost only 500. The fugitives after wandering up and down for some time threw down their arms and begged for mercy. To those who were thought to have been deluded, the Royal Clemency was extended, but for all who were found to be either instigators or abettors, nothing but unmitigated punishment remained.

Lord Audley was first committed to Newgate, and from thence removed to Tower Hill (in his coat of armour painted on paper reversed and torn) where he was beheaded. Flammock, and Joseph were hung drawn and quartered, and their heads and quarters hung up in various parts of London. The event took place according to Hals in 1496 some say 1497. Goldsmith observes that the prisoners who were pardoned and dismissed amounted to 16,000 men.

Mychal Josef - An Gof - The Smith


In Sep. 1536 Sir John Tregonwell, the royal visitor writing from Penryn in Cornwall, reported that the country was as quiet and true to the king as any shire in the realm, and that the people were marvellously pleased that the king had allowed the 'festum loci' of every church to be kept holy at Cromwell's intercession. In April of the next year, however, Sir William Godolphin (Godolphan) informed Cromwell of an occurence which had the effect of making the government profoundly uneasy. The letter has been misdated a year by Froude who connects it with the so called Exeter conspiracy.

A certain Carpyssacke, a fisherman of St.Keverne, a parish which had been notorious in the 1497 rebellion, had commissioned a painter for a banner, in which they would have a picture of Christ with His wounds abroad and a banner in His hand, our lady in the one side holding her breast in her hand, St.John the Baptist in the other side, the king's grace and the queen kneeling and all the commonality kneeling with scripture above their heads, making their petition to the picture of Christ that it would please the king's grace that they might have their holidays! Carpyssacke also said that he and John Treglosacke had been at Harnell beside Southampton, selling their fish, and on being asked why they had not?, when the 'Northern' men did, replied that they had sworn before a book to help them and had bought two hundred jerkins, and that they would carry the banner on Pardon Monday and show it among the people.

Godolphin had made secret enquiry about the proposed stirring and would take care to stop it, for the county was in a marvellous good quiet. He begged Cromwell, however, to move the king that they might hold the day of the head saint of their church. On the 3rd May Godolphin assured Cromwell that he would follow his directions and arrest Carpyssacke when he returned from Southampton, but again added ”If you would move the King that they might have their holidays it would be a great stay.” He said Sir Piers Edgecumbe had been through the shire in accordance with the king's letter and asserted that there was no shire in the realm more conformable to be ordered further. The sheriff, Sir John Charmond, and the justice declared they had no authority to enquire for high treason, and Godolphin accordingly begged Cromwell to speak to the said justice that the traitor Carpyssacke might be hanged in chains at Helston.

On 28th August Godolphin again reported that owing to the plague no assize had been kept at Launceston whereby Carpyssacke should be judged and put to execution! The lord chief justice on being reprimanded, explained to Cromwell that the gentlemen of the county and the sheriff of Cornwall had asked the assize to be adjourned as they were dying fast at Launceston.


Robert Rawe or Rowe 1547

Kiltor in this parish, which lies between St. Keverne and Coverack was the birthplace of the noted Kiltor who was connected with the Cornish Rebellion in 1549.

He was a specimen of the sturdy strength and courage that St. Keverne has at times sent into the outside world. Courage bred in the clear air of the rocky cliffs and wild breazes from the sea. He must also have had great physical strength for in Carey's Survey (page 177) we are told that "for activity one Kiltor, committed to Launceston Gaol, for the last Cornish Commotion (1548) lying there on the Castle Green, on his back, threw a stone of some pounds weight over that tower top, (and that I assure you is no low one) which leadeth to the Park"!

Kiltor, like thousands of his fellow countrymen was smarting under the violent reformation methods of the previous reign. The dissolution of the Monastries was very unpopular for they had been the great mainstay of the poor, and had done all that the poor-law does now, and more. The monks were easy Landlords and kind neighbours. They kept open house. The sudden transfer of the enormous estates of the monastries to new holders had given rise to much distress, and heavily increased rents.

Under the guise of religion the courtiers of Henry 8th and Edward VI gorged themselves with the spoils of the Church; the Lands of the Abbeys; the property of the Guilds; the bells, and in many cases even the sacred vessels had been seized by this crew of spoilers, to say nothing of the countless treasures of Art and Learning.

The Bodmin Manumissions are almost the only exception. Even Bale, an enemy of the monks writes "To destroy all without consideration, is, and will be unto England for ever a most horrible infamy. Even the most notable works of the most excellent writers were not spared to posterity.

Opportunities for the improvement of men were wantonly thrown away, with a barbarity worthy only of savage races, in virtue of which was a terrible destruction of carved stone work in reredoes and screen and pillar conspicuous in many of our churches today.

During the short reign of Edward the sixth no less than 5 millions of our money had been taken by the wholesale confiscation of endowments and from the destruction of religious houses countless shrines, and hospitals.

The reformation had taken away a number of schools maintained by religious orders, and England found herself in spiritual and intellectual destitution.
All teaching of divinity ceased at the Universities. The libraries were in part scattered or burnt, and Ecclesiastical order was almost at an end. Politics were dying down into the squabbles of a knot of nobles over the spoils of the Church.

This exasperated Cornishmen beyond measure, for their profound love for their princely Churches had grown with years, and to see them thus desecrated was more than they could bear. "In one church in Portsmouth" says Strype "the image of Christ crucified was contemptuously used, one eye bored out and the side pierced. The ribbald insult to the old religion and the roughness of the Commissioners drove the whole monastic body to despair".

The Commissioner sent to Helston was William Body, lessee of the Archdeaconry of Cornwall. As he was in the act of smashing an image in the Church there, Kiltor, late priest of St. Keverne stabbed him in the back with a knife, of which he instantly died. He was accompanied by Martin Jeffery, late Vicar of St. Keverne, they were both taken to London, tried at Westminster Hall, found guilty of murder, and executed with several others at Smithfield.

Then the Cornish people flocked together in a tumultuous manner though the justices of the peace apprehended several of them and sent them to jail, yet they could not with all their power suppress the growth of the insurrection,

Humphry Arundel, Governor of St. Michael's Mount openly sided with them.
For Captains, Majors, and Colonels the following men were chosen,

John Rosogan
James Rosogan
Will Winslade, of Tregarrick, whose family were for generations Knights of the White Spur.
John Payne of St. Ives.
Robert Bochym of Bochym, and his brother.
Thomas Underhill
John Salmon
William Segar and others, together with several Priests, Rectors, Vicars and Curates, as

John Thompson
Roger Barret
John Wool cock
William Asa
James Mourton
John Barrow
Richard Bennet, and others

The following are the names of St. Keverne men as they appear in the Indictment, in 1549.

Many seem to be place names.

John Tregenna
Richard Rawe. Vicar.
Martin Resseigh
John Trylo, Senior.
Pascho Trevean
John Robert
Henry Trilever
Thomas Tyslandveas,
Maurice Triball
and Michael John.

The latter is the man who fought in 1536 rebellion with Carpysacke and Treglosack of St. Keverne,

John Piers (seaman)
Edmund Irrishe (smith)

John Payne, the Mayor of St. Ives, also joined, and Quarme,(sic) besides numbers of priests and dissolved collegiates. As they marched carrying their crucifix, something of the spirit of the next Century when Cornishmen cried out "And shall Trelawny die, then 20,000 Cornishmen shall know the reason why" burst into flame !

Instead of pressing forward on London Arundel, in an evil hour resolved on a Siege, the Siege of Exeter, So stoutly did the Cornish hold their ground they astonished even well trained soldiers. Not succeeding at first they began undermining the city walls, and burnt the gates. However the citizens resisted with counter mines and the fight became desperate.

For six weeks the Cornish besieged the town until the famine was so sore, that the people were fain to eat horse-flesh, and to make bread of bran, bound with cloths, otherwise it would not hold together, and the Cornish from without did taunt them saying they would shortly measure all their silks and satins by the length of their bows. After much hot encounter with the armies of Lord Grey and Lord Russel, the Cornish again rallied their forces, but were set on again by the King's Army, which was composed of some German Troops, whom the Government had hired as a standing Army.

At Honiton a drawn battle was fought - the memorable battle of "St. Mary Clyst". The Cornish fought valiantly, and even took the Royal Canon, but were at last defeated, and 4,000 men were slain, the rest fled.

John Payne, Mayor of St. Ives and Master Bowyer, Mayor of Bodmin were hanged, Jonn Vinslade, Esq., also suffered death, and his estates were forfeited.

His son led a wandering life, going to gentlemen's houses with his harp where by his active qualities he was called "Sir Tristram"

1547 - 1548 From Acts of The Privy Council   Page 554.

"To the Commissioneres in Cornewall to procead with as convenient speede (sic)

as might be to the executiones of the traitores there, as they tendred the King's Majeste's pleasure; albeit some of them, the number appointed to be executed there was over greate, yet they were required to proceed to the execution of his Majestie's commandmente without delay, and to the intente they might be certayne of the nombre and persones appointed to suffer and in what places the same should be executed".

1547. Page 555.
Letters to Sir William Godolphin.
Sir John Milton thanking them for their paines taken in appeasing the tumulteous assembly.

Amongst the Domestic Papers of Edward 6th is one still preserved. An answer of King Edward to the rebels of Devon and Cornwall, in reply to their supplication for redress of grievences. It is supposed to have been drawn up by Bishop Cranmer July 8 1549.

On June 24 1549 Instructions were given to Lord Russell (Lord Privy Seal) for the Government of the Western Counties of Devon and Cornwall for suppressing the disaffection and commotion there.

From Acts of the Privy Council, page 222,
A letter to Justice of Assize in Cornewale for the giving of order to staye certain accions waeged against certein persons rebellours in Cornewels whose pardon were Given by the Lord Privy Seale by (sic) Harry Tredennyck, William Tredennyck, William Viell, Robert Whettell, Thomas Calwin and others.

The Gear Rout 1640
From The Circle edited by Penalune, Helston 1819.

"At the time of the rebellion in the reign of Charles I a number of men under the command of Mr. Bogans of Treleague in St. Keverne, who had accepted a commission from Charles I posted themselves in a most advantageous situation at Gear in Mawgan with an apparent detinnination of defending that important pass.

But the parliament troops advancing, and shewing themselves in much greater force than was expected, Major Bogan's men deserted him without coming to action. Some betook themselves to The Dinas, the greater part dispersed and Major Bogans himself fled to Kilters Cave in this parish, and concealed himself in a cave in the rocks.

This event is still remembered in Meneage by the name of The Gear Rout. Charles I.

Guizot in his History of the English Revolution points out how terribly the Cornish peasants hammered the Parliamentarians. "If the English" says he "had fought as well for Charles I as the Cornishmen the fate of the Civil War would have been otherwise". Charles recognized their loyalty and sent a letter to those who fought so bravely for him.

See Pedigree of Sandys Lakes History.
Three sons engaged on the King's Side.
St. Anthony. Charles I.

Near the Church is the earthwork known as Castle Dinas where Sir Richard Vyvyan with 26 guns and a considerable body of men maintained a stout resistance against the Parliamentary soldiers in 1646. It is believed to have been the last stronghold in Cornwall that held out except St. Michael's Mount and Pendennis.

The Royalist troops were probably driven back through Roswick where small Canon balls have been found, past the Deadman where there are remains of earthworks and where tradition says many bodies be buried and down to St. Anthony.

For the story of Sir John Arundell of Trerice, the aged commander of Pendennis Castle who would not surrender - see Thurston Peter's History,