A decade ago I wrote a few short articles for a local Cornish magazine. It was an interesting enough task: find out something about the locality and form a 500 word article about it. The first published one focused on a link between the Saltash in Cornwall to the Saltash settled in the American colonies in the 18th Century.
In 1761, in the American colonies, a charter was granted for a new town. Its name? Saltash – named in honour of the original Saltash of Cornwall, though separated by more than 3,100 miles (which roughly equates to journey from the Penn-Symons memorial to Plymouth Hoe and back again about 318 times).
The American Saltash was granted to 64 people, headed by Jeremiah Hall, by the Governor of New Hampshire, Benning Wentworth (1796-1770). Wentworth was a controversial character. Governor between 1741-1766, he managed to create friction between the colonies in establishing Saltash and other settlements. He gave the land to Vermont, despite it actually belonging to New York colony.
Wentworth curried favour by naming these new towns after wealthy investors (such as Rutland after the 3rd Duke of Rutland, and Bennington after himself), and caused a stir when handing out important positions in his government to relatives who were not up to the job. Such incidents forced his resignation in 1767 – his reputation not aided when marrying at the age of 64 to his much younger housekeeper.
However, the connection to the old Cornish community of Saltash proved a brief one. Before the end of the eighteenth century the town’s name was changed to none other than Plymouth. The same name from across the Tamar that had dwarfed Saltash for centuries had seemingly bested her again in the New World. Despite being deprived of its town name, the Saltash relationship lives on in one place: Saltash Mountain. It is the highest point in the town at 3,000 feet high – confirming that here in the New World Saltash in fact dwarves Plymouth.
Although the charter was granted in 1761, the first settlements were not erected until 1777; the change of name occurring in 1797. It was a tumultuous period for the colonies: the 1760s saw the imposition of various taxes on the American people, leading to the Revolution and Declaration of Independence. The British were expelled and a brand new nation was born: the United States of America.