PENRYN, a sea-port, borough, and market-town, in the parish of Gluvias, union of Falmouth, E. division of the hundred of Kerrier, W. division of Cornwall, 2 miles (N. W.) from Falmouth, and 266 (W. S. W.) from London; containing 3337 inhabitants. This place, comprising the manors of Penryn Borough and Penryn Forryn, has from time immemorial belonged to the bishops of Exeter, who had formerly a residence here, and under whose patronage the town first rose into importance. Bishop Bronscombe, in 1258, procured for the inhabitants the grant of a weekly market and an annual fair; and, about the year 1270, founded a collegiate church at the place, for a provost, eleven prebendaries, seven vicars, and six choristers, which he amply endowed and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and St. Thomas of Canterbury, and which continued till the Dissolution, when its revenues were valued at £210. 13. 2. An additional fair was obtained in 1312, by Bishop Stapleton, privy councillor to Edward II., and lord high treasurer of England. During the civil war of the seventeenth century, Penryn was garrisoned for the king, but being attacked by the parliamentary forces, it surrendered to Sir Thomas Fairfax, in 1646.

The town is pleasantly situated on the declivity of an eminence, at the head of an inlet from Falmouth harbour, and consists principally of one spacious street, from which others diverge at right angles. The houses are in general neatly built; the town is paved, and lighted with gas, and the inhabitants are supplied with water by streams issuing from the adjacent heights, one of which in its descent forms an interesting cascade. The adjacent country is well cultivated, and interspersed with gentlemen's seats; and the scenery, including some fine views of Falmouth harbour and the coast, is varied and picturesque. A new road has been formed from Falmouth and Redruth, to avoid the steep streets of the town; and another to avoid the hill called Antron, adjoining the town on the Helston road. The quay, also, has been extended to nearly twice its original length, and an iron swing-bridge constructed over the river, within the last few years. The port is a member of that of Falmouth, and has a considerable trade in the shipping of granite from quarries in the neighbourhood (of which large quantities are sent to London), arsenic, leather, and paper; and in the importation of flour, corn, coal, timber, and saltpetre. There are warehouses on the quay for flour and grain, which are brought from Ireland, Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight, this place being the granary for supplying the adjoining mineral district. An act for forming basins, docks, and other works, was passed in 1845. The manufacture of paper, woollen-cloth, arsenic, and gunpowder, is carried on; and in the neighbourhood are some tanneries, breweries, and corn-mills. The market is on Saturday, and is well supplied with meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables. Fairs for cattle are held on the Wednesday after March 6th, on May 12th, July 7th, October 8th, and December 21st.

Penryn is a borough by prescription; it received its first charter of incorporation from James I., and a second one was bestowed by James II., in the first year of his reign. The government is now vested in a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors, under the act of the 5th and 6th of William IV., cap. 76; the mayor, the late mayor, and others, are justices of the peace, the county magistrates having concurrent jurisdiction. Though it is said to have made a return to parliament in the reign of Edward VI., the town appears to have regularly exercised the elective franchise only since the first year of the reign of Mary: by the act of 1832, the limits of the borough, which contained 250 acres, were extended so as to include the town of Falmouth; the mayor is returning officer. There was formerly a chapel in the town, but it long since fell into decay, and the inhabitants attend the parochial church of Gluvias, which is not more than 100 yards distant from the town. The Bryanites, Independents, and Wesleyans have places of worship. A free grammar school was founded by Queen Elizabeth, and endowed with a rent-charge of £6. 13. 4., but it is now discontinued; a national school, erected in 1837, is supported by subscription. John Verran, in the year 1758, bequeathed £1000, which have been invested in the three per cents., for the support of eight men or women; and James Humphrey, Esq., in 1823, left £3000 to be invested, and the dividends appropriated to the payment of certain annuities, and, on the death of the annuitants, paid in sums of £10 per annum to individuals in reduced circumstances.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.