Ever wondered how Lemon Street in Truro got its name?
As well as adding to the wealth of established families, mining financed the rise of new families. Even before the 1780s, the Lemons had shown in spectacular fashion how Cornwall’s mines could provide a route into the landed class. In 1774 William Lemon’s election as one of Cornwall’s two ‘county’ Members of Parliament broke the hold of the traditional Cornish parliamentary gentry. Yet Lemon’s grandfather, also named William, had come from a somewhat obscure ‘humble’ background. This had not prevented him getting a basic education and becoming an office clerk and then the manager of a tin smelting works near Penzance. William Lemon, later dubbed ‘The Great Mr Lemon’ nevertheless owed his rise to traditional means as well as intelligence. In 1724 he married and his wife – Isabella Vibert – brought with her sufficient capital for Lemon to invest in the tin mine Wheal Fortune between Marazion and Helston. This aptly named mine then made him his fortune, with over £10,000 in profits (more than £2 million nowadays). He then moved to Truro and from there invested in the Gwennap copper mines just as they were beginning to boom. Luck and marriage were clearly important components in his rise. Twice mayor of Truro, he bought his country estate at Carclew in 1749. His grandson William was in contrast educated at Oxford, did his Grand Tour of Europe and became an MP, to all intents and purposes indistinguishable from other gentry.from The Real World of Poldark, chapter 2