An eighteenth-century Cornish strongman

In 1758 the Universal Magazine published an account from William Borlase which related the ‘manners of the inhabitants of Cornwall’. Among several far-fetched stories it included the following as an example of the strength of Cornish people …

A Cornish wain

On Tuesday March 22,1757, John Chilew [normally spelt Chellew] of the parish of Ludgvan, carrier, aged 41 years, walking by the side of his wain, accidentally fell on his back in the way of the wheel, which, before he could extricate himself, pressed on his left shoulder, broke his collar-bone and went off just below his right armpit. The wheels were about three inches and a half wide, shod with iron plates and nails in proportion thereto. The whole weight of the wain, at a moderate computation, was 600 lb. wherein were four blocks of tin, each of 310 lb, a cask of brandy 250 lb. and some baskets with trifling weights, which may be reckoned at 20 lb. The road on which he lay was so level, that his chest had the full pressure of one half at least of 2110 lb, during the passage of the wheel and yet, on Friday April 1, he was able to come on foot to church, half a mile from his own habitation. He only complained of his chest being sore, which he attributed to the buttons on his coat being pressed inwards by the run of the wheel; and he has ever since, without any inconveniency, followed his calling as he did before.

They bred them tough in those days!

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