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British Industrial History

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Messrs. Bolitho

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The Bolitho family's growth to prominence started with Thomas Bolitho (1765–1868). The family were initially tanners, who moved into lime-burning and tin smelting before becoming bankers. Their Bank eventually merged with Barclays in 1905

In about 1769, Thomas Bolitho - one of a family of Penryn tanners - came to live in Penzance. The family became important merchants, involved in many businesses in the area, from pilchards, to tanning, tin-smelting and banking. Thomas' eldest grandson bought the land at Trewidden in around 1830, building a house there soon after.

Edward Bolitho (1804 - 1890) started the Garden in the second half of the 19th Century, planting woodland cover and then filling it with plants recently introduced from Asia and the Southern Hemisphere. He was fortunate to have working for him an outstanding head gardener, one George Maddern (1828 - 1894) who even merited an obituary in the Gardener's Chronicle, having been a gardener at Trewidden for 45 years. By the time owner and head gardener had died, the garden is believed to have been roughly the size it is now and in fine shape.

Edward's son, Thomas Bedford Bolitho (1835 - 1915) succeeded his father and he continued to enhance the Garden. In particular, he filled the old opencast mine with tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica), newly imported from Australia by Treseder's Nursery and bought for £1-2 for 2-3 foot ferns. They have been described as the best stand of tree ferns in the Northern Hemisphere.

T.B. Bolitho, for many years MP for St Ives and great benefactor in the area, also bought Greenway, by the River Dart in South Devon in 1882 and developed the Garden there. His daughter Mary married Charles Williams (son of the famous gardener J C Williams of Caerhays, another wonderful Cornish garden) and they moved to Greenway, as Charles was MP for nearby Tavistock. In 1937, they sold the house (bought a year later by Agatha Christie and now in the possession of the National Trust) and moved to Caerhays, where they lived until Charles' death in 1955

MOUNT'S BAY COMMERCIAL BANK established at Chyandour in 1807 by Thomas Bolitho (The Coombe) and William Bolitho (Gulval), merchants.

Renamed BOLITHO, SONS & CO. 1810;

In 1834 the bank was moved from Chyandour to Market Jew Street;

Renamed MOUNT'S BAY BANK; merchants Richard Foster Bolitho (only son of William Bolitho), Edward Bolitho and Thomas Simon Bolitho (sons of Thomas Bolitho) became partners 1838;

William Bolitho the first d 1836; Thomas Bolitho d 1858;

A new banking house for BOLITHO, SONS & CO built and opened 1863 at 9 Market Jew Street; William Bolitho the second (son of Thomas Bolitho) and John Sargent Bedford (son-in-law of William Bolitho the first) entered the firm 1849; J. S. Bedford managing partner d 1856; John Sampson Courtney became acting manager 1856, d 1881; William Bolitho the third and Richard Foster Bolitho the second (sons of R. F. Bolitho the first), Thomas Bedford Bolitho (son of Edward Bolitho), and Thomas Robins Bolitho (son of T. S. Bolitho) became members of the firm 1880; Richard F. Bolitho d 1882; Thomas S. Bolitho d 1887; Issued the notes of the East Cornwall Bank, in which they were partners until 1 April 1887.

Branches opened at St. Ives 1835; St. Just and Hayle 1863; Helston 1876; St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly 1890 (?).

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Trewidden House
  • [2] Banking History of Cornwall