The Bolithos are truly Cornish: early records of the family are derived from Wendron, Helston, Penryn, Launceston and Liskeard. They started business in Penzance in 1734, mainly as tin smelters and adventurers but also operating as general merchants with many other interests including shipping and fishing. The family and its business were located at Chyandour where, to this day, the Estate Office is located in a building originally constructed in about 1850-52 as the Count House for the smelting business. This was based principally in the Chyandour Smelting Works, across the road from the Estate Office.
In 1850, the freehold of the Chyandour Smelting Works was bought by the family and, in 1877, they acquired a joint use in the Trade Mark of “Lamb & Flag” for marking blocks, bars and ingots of tin. After the decline in tin mining, the Chyandour Smelting Works was closed down in 1911, with the six tall chimney stacks being felled in 1931.
In consequence of their smelting and other businesses, the family started to make loans and to take care of their customers’ financial deposits, out of which a banking business gradually arose; Bolitho Sons & Co. Based first at Chyandour, the Bank moved in 1834 into Penzance and, about the same time, became the Mounts Bay Bank. As the 19th century progressed, the Bank became stronger and larger, taking over other Banks in Cornwall and ultimately becoming Bolitho, Williams, Foster, Coode, Grylls & Co (the Consolidated Bank of Cornwall). In 1905 the Bank amalgamated with Barclay & Co, but retained a Bolitho on the Board of Directors until the retirement of Major Simon Bolitho in the 1980s.
100 years or so ago, there were many family members living in some of the larger houses around Penzance. Two of these remain in family ownership. Trewidden, near Buryas Bridge, which was bought and the garden created by Edward Bolitho around 1830. The magnificent gardens were further developed by his son T B Bolitho followed by his granddaughter Mrs Mary Williams and they are now open to the public. The house is now owned by Alverne Bolitho.
In 1867, Thomas Simon Bolitho, brother of Edward Bolitho of Trewidden, bought the Trengwainton Estate and the house there (near Madron). Having created the now world-famous gardens, his grandson Lieutenant Colonel Sir Edward Bolitho gave them to the National Trust in 1961. The house, which is not open to the public, is currently occupied by his grandson Colonel Edward Bolitho OBE.