Traditionally the main branch of
the Colenso family is believed to be native of the town of
The only previous records in
Madron related to the family are the burials of John Callynsowe
Record-keeping started in Madron
in 1577, but the christenings appeared to be lost from this date until 1592.
However marriages and burials have been retained since 1577. The first family
marriage in Madron appears to be Thomas Culensoe and Katheren Trewhella on the 17th
September in 1638. The groom could be Thomas born in 1614 or Thomas, the son of
Other parishes have retained older records and provide evidence that an Alan Collensaw (various spellings) had children in St Erth and Ludgvan between 1568 and 1581. Alan may have been the father of Jane, mentioned previously. John Calensowe had children in Mawgan in Meneage between 1568 and 1579.
In the Cornwall Muster Roll of 1569, three men are mentioned John Calensow of Mr Vyvyan’s men in Mawgan in Meneage, Alan Kelansawe of St Erth and Harry Kelensawe of Uny Lelant.
Prior to this Muster Roll Jenkin Kelensow of Uny Lelant is
mentioned in the 1545 Subsidy, Reynold Kelensoe of St Hilary is mentioned in the Military Survey
of 1522. A Thomas Kellensow of
Many of the histories of the Colenso family record that the surname is derived from the Cornish words ke lyn su, dark hedged pool, or possibly callen-su, dark layer of iron-ochre on a rock-face. There is also the possibility that the name was taken from the Manor of Colenso in the parish of St Hilary. However, the theory put forward by George Colenso Carter in the 1920s is more interesting.
The major physical characteristic that has been carried over the last two hundred years is a long Hispanic face – in fact several accounts of family history have included stories about Spanish sailors and the Armada, but the previously mentioned records predate this.
The Colenso Manor did not exist
when the Doomsday Book was compiled in 1086. The surname is not mentioned until
1522, with only two men mentioned from St Hilary and
The manor of Calenso appears to have been part of the Estate of Francis Tregian (1548-1608) of Golden, near Probus. He was banished from Elizabeth I’s court on trumped up charges and imprisoned for 21 years. Released under James I, he died at a Jesuit Hospital at St Roque in Lisbon and was buried standing up because “he stood up to Elizabeth and her heresies”. His son Francis (1574-1619) was a composer and was also imprisoned for recusancy.
The Tregian Estates were forfeited to the Crown on the 1st April 1577. They appear to have been acquired by the Rashleigh family in 1610 and then by the Buller family by 1635 as part of what they called the Shillingham Estates. The parcel also included Golden, the principle Tregian Manor. The Calensoe Manor was sold to tenants after 1917 and exists now as three farms.
An interesting titbit is that Sir Redvers Buller, who commanded the British forces at the Battle of
Colenso, during the Boer War, owned the Colenso Manor in