The Isles of Scilly
These islands form an archipelago off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain. The group consists of 5 inhabited islands, 140 others
- Called by the Greeks Hesperides and Cassiterides
- Romans called them Sillinœ and Silurœ insulœ,
- Written in ancient records Sully or Sulley
- Cornish: Syllan or Enesek Syllan
- The name 'Scilly' comes from SULLY meaning the Sun Isles which describe its climate with an excellent sunshine record
- Capital city - Hugh Town
- County Flower -
- People from the Scilly Islands are called - "Scillonian" is sometimes used for people or things related to the archipelago.
- Natural England have designated the Isles of Scilly as National Character Area 158
- Language: It is not known when the islands' inhabitants stopped speaking the Cornish language, but the language declined in Cornwall in the Late Middle Ages; it was still dominant between the islands and Bodmin at the time of the Reformation, but declined quickly afterwards. The islands appear to have lost the old Celtic language before parts of Penwith on the mainland.
- Bird watching
- Area 16.03 Sq km2 (6.19 Sq mi)
- Places of Interest
- Appletree Bay
- Bant’s Carn burial chamber and Halangy Down Bronze Age village
- Bronze Age tomb on Tregarthen Hill Tresco
- Cromwell's Castle
- Granite stacks of Shipman Head
- Innisidgen Burial Chambers
- King Charles's Castle
- Old Man of Gugh, an ancient standing stone
- Tresco Abbey Gardens
- Valhalla, the shipwreck museum
- St Mary's, (Cornish: An Nor)
- Holy Vale
- Hugh Town
- Old Town
- St. Mary's
- Tresco, (Cornish: Treskaw)
- New Grimsby
- Old Grimsby
- St Martin's, (Cornish: Breghyek)
- Higher Town
- Lower Town
- Middle Town
- The Town
- St Agnes, (Cornish: Pennpras)
- Another island of Samson was inhabited by one family in 1669; this had increased to six dwelling houses and 30 inhabitants in 1794. By 1829 there were 36 residents on Samson. In 1855, the last 10 residents were ordered to evacuate the island; the remains of their houses can still be seen.
- Uninhabited Islands
- St. Helens
The Isles of Scilly are still part of the ceremonial county of Cornwall, and some services have been combined with those of Cornwall.
Since 1890 the islands have had a separate local authority. Since the passing of the Isles of Scilly Order 1930, this authority has had the status of a county council and today is known as the Council of the Isles of Scilly.
The Duchy of Cornwall owns most of the freehold land on the islands. Tourism is a major part of the local economy, along with farming and agriculture.
Isles of Scilly Families
- Auterson - David Auterson (Abt 1800 -1867) http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ricksmith61/scilly/gedcom/auterson.html
- Deason http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ricksmith61/scilly/deason/wc_toc.html
- Ellis- Frost- http://www.ellis.genproxy.co.uk
- Legg http://gjlegg.com
- Nance http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nancegc/
- Tregarthan http://www.tregarthen.com
- Woodcock http://www.cwoodcock.com
- Various http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ricksmith61/scilly/wc_toc.html
There were early trading connections with the Phœnicians and Romans and they were occasionally appropriated by the Romans as a place of banishment for state criminals.
The first mention of the Scilly islands in history is in the tenth century, when they were subdued by King Athelstan
Olaf Tryggvason became King Olaf I of Norway in 995. Born c. 960, Olaf had raided various European cities and fought in several wars. In 986 he (supposedly) met a Christian seer on the Isles of Scilly.
In Snorri Sturluson's Royal Sagas of Norway, it is stated that this seer told him:
Thou wilt become a renowned king, and do celebrated deeds. Many men wilt thou bring to faith and baptism, and both to thy own and others' good; and that thou mayst have no doubt of the truth of this answer, listen to these tokens. When thou comest to thy ships many of thy people will conspire against thee, and then a battle will follow in which many of thy men will fall, and thou wilt be wounded almost to death, and carried upon a shield to thy ship; yet after seven days thou shalt be well of thy wounds, and immediately thou shalt let thyself be baptised.
In or before the reign of Edward the Confessor, some of the islands, and their tithes, had been given to certain monks or hermits who lived in the island of St. Nicholas, now Trescaw. King Henry the First granted all the churches of Suliye to the abbot of Tavistock and the land which had belonged to the monks, or rather hermits, in the reign of King Edward, when Burgald was Bishop of Cornwall.
Pope Celestin, in 1193, confirmed to the abbey the islands of St. Nicholas, St. Sampson, St. Elid, and St. Teon, the island called Nullo, with all their churches and oratories, as well as certain lands in other islands.
Reginald Earl of Cornwall granted all wrecks, except whole ships and whales, in Kentemen and Nurcho to the monks, and the isles of St. Lid, St. Sampson, and St. Teon.
With the Norman Conquest, the Isles of Scilly came more under centralised control. At the time the Domesday survey was conducted - the islands would have formed part of the "Exeter Domesday" circuit, which included Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, and Wiltshire.
---12th Century In the mid-12th century there was reportedly a Viking attack on the Isles of Scilly, called Syllingar by the Norse, recorded in the Orkneyinga saga— Sweyn Asleifsson "went south, under Ireland, and seized a barge belonging to some monks in Syllingar and plundered it." (Chap LXXIII)
"...the three chiefs—Swein , Þorbjörn and Eirik—went out on a plundering expedition. They went first to the Suðreyar [Hebrides], and all along the west to the Syllingar, where they gained a great victory in Maríuhöfn on Columba's-mass [9 June], and took much booty. Then they returned to the Orkneys."
It is generally considered that Cornwall, and possibly the Isles of Scilly, came under the dominion of the English Crown late in the reign of Athelstan. In early times one group of islands was in the possession of a confederacy of hermits. King Henry I gave it to the abbey of Tavistock who established a priory on Tresco, which was abolished at the Reformation.
The first proprietor mentioned as holding under the Earl, is Robert de Wick, who, by an ancient deed, without date, conveys to the monks of Scilly the tithes of those islands, which he had unjustly detained from them. Drugo de Barentin was governor of the Scilly islands, in the reign of Henry III but it isn't known whether he had any property in theIslands.
In the reign of Edward I Ralph de Blanchminster held the castle of Ennor, in the Scilly islands, by the service of finding 12 armed men to keep the peace in those islands: complaint was made that he had not only failed in this service, but had committed the King's coroner, who came to the island for the purpose of holding an assize, to the prison of La Val.
In 1314, Ralph de Blanchminster had the King's licence for embattling his castle of Inor, in the isles of Scilly. In 1345, Ralph de Blanchminster held the isles of Scilly under the duchy of Cornwall, as of the honor of Launceston, by the annual render of 300 puffins at Michaelmas.
1305 - William le Poer, coroner of Scilly, is recorded as being worried about the extent of wrecking in the islands, and sent a petition to the King. The names provide a wide variety of origins, e.g. Robert and Henry Sage (English), Richard de Tregenestre (Cornish), Ace de Veldre (French), Davy Gogch (possibly Welsh, or Cornish), and Adam le Fuiz Yaldicz (Spanish?).
In the reign of Henry VI, the rent was only 50 puffins, or 6s. 8d. The islands were then the property of Sir John Coleshill, representative of the Blanchminsters: their annual value in 1484 was estimated at 40s. in time of peace.
Sir Francis Godolphin received a lease on the Isles in 1568.
The Scilly islands belonged to Davers and Whittington, a branch of the Arundells which inherited the estates of the Coleshills and Blanchminsters. In the reign of Edward VI., Thomas Lord Seymour, the Lord Admiral, became proprietor of the Scilly islands. One accusation charges him with having gained the isles, "bought of divers men, (viz. the heirs of Danvers and Whittington". The Lord Admiral was beheaded and attainted in 1549, when the temporal property of the Scilly islands fell into the duchy.
During the English Civil War, the Parliamentarians captured the isles; their garrison mutinied and returned the isles to the Royalists. In 1645 they provided a temporary protection to Prince Charles and his friends, Lord Hopton and Lord Cape.
In 1649, Sir John Grenville fortified and held them for King Charles the Second.
By 1651 Sir John Grenville, the Royalist governor, was using the islands as a base for privateering raids on Commonwealth and Dutch shipping. The Dutch admiral Maarten Tromp sailed to the isles, arriving on 30 May 1651 and demanded compensation. As there was no compensation or satisfactory reply he declared war on England in June. It was during this period that the Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years' War started between the isles and the Netherlands.
In June 1651, Admiral Robert Blake recaptured the isles for the Parliamentarians. At first Blake's attack on Old Grimsby failed, but the subsequently was more successful, taking Tresco and Bryher. Grenville and Blake negotiated terms that permitted the Royalists to surrender honourably. The Parliamentary forces then fortified the islands. They built Cromwell's Castle— now referred to as King Charles's Castle.
On the night of 22 October 1707 a naval disaster took place when out of a fleet of 21 Royal Navy ships commanded by Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, six were driven onto the cliffs. Four of the ships capsized, with at least 1,450 dead, including the admiral, who was murdered by robbers on the beach. The probable cause was poor navigation.
In 1834 Augustus John Smith acquired the lease from the Duchy for £20,000. He set about changing the islanders' way of life, expelling those who could not find a job locally and evicting some of the inhabitants of smaller islands, in a manner similar to that practised in the Scottish clearances. In 1855, he expelled the ten inhabitants of Samson, in order to turn the island into a deer park (the deer did not like the habitat, and escaped).
Smith created the quasi-aristocratic title Lord Proprietor for himself, and many of his actions were unpopular. Besides building a new quay at Hugh Town on St. Mary's, he sowed gorse and trees to provide shelter for the agricultural land. He built schools on the well-inhabited islands.
Governors of Scilly
An early governor of Scilly was Thomas Godolphin, whose son Francis received a lease on the Isles in 1568. They were styled Governors of Scilly and the Godolphins and their Osborne relatives held this position until 1834. In 1834 Augustus John Smith acquired the lease from the Duchy for £20,000. Smith created the title Lord Proprietor of the Isles of Scilly for himself, and many of his actions were unpopular. The lease remained in his family until it expired for most of the Isles in 1920 when ownership reverted to the Duchy of Cornwall. Today, the Dorrien-Smith estate still holds the lease for the island of Tresco.
- 1568–1608 Sir Francis Godolphin (1540–1608)
- 1608–1613 Sir William Godolphin of Godolphin (1567–1613)
- 1613–1636 William Godolphin (1611–1636)
- 1636–1643 Sidney Godolphin (1610–1643)
- 1643–1667 Sir Francis Godolphin of Godolphin (1605–1667)
- 1667–1712 Sidney Godolphin, 1st Earl of Godolphin (1645–1712)
- 1712–1766 Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin (1678–1766)
- 1766–1785 Thomas Osborne, 4th Duke of Leeds (1713–1789)
- 1785–1799 Francis Osborne, 5th Duke of Leeds (1751–1799)
- 1799–1831 George Osborne, 6th Duke of Leeds (1775–1838)
- 1834–1872 Augustus John Smith (1804–1872)
- 1872–1918 Thomas Algernon Smith-Dorrien-Smith (1846-1918)
- 1918–1920 Arthur Algernon Dorrien-Smith (1876-1955)
To participate in any project
- you do need to first be a collaborator - so join the project. See the discussion Project Help: How to add Text to a Project - Starter Kit to get you going!
How to Participate
- If you have any queries please start a discussion linked to this project. (See the menu top right).
- Please add related projects to the menu on the right.
- If you have links to related web pages that would be of interest to others please add them in the relevant section at the bottom of the page. In order to do this use the drop down menu at the top left of the screen and Join the Project. If this option is not available to you then contact a collaborator and ask to be added to the project. As a collaborator you will be able to edit this page.
- Add any documents of interest using the menu at the top right of the page, and then add a link to the document in the text under the heading below. If you do not know how to do this please contact one of the other collaborators to assist you.
-  Anderson, Joseph (Ed.) (1893) Orkneyinga saga. Translated by Jón A. Hjaltalin & Gilbert Goudie. Edinburgh. James Thin and Mercat Press (1990 reprint). ISBN 0-901824-25-9