Copyright: Maxwell Adams 2003-2005

Version 3

Lelant has two saints, Uny and Anta. I discuss Uny and mention Anta in the article Uny.

Anta is usually described as a woman and it is this that I am going to look at in this article.

We first meet Anta, also known as Ansa, as a separate personal name rather than as possibly part of the name of Lelant, at the end of the fifteenth century when a fraternity of Lelanters set up a chapel dedicated to the saint and it is this reference that makes us question. We do not know exactly where this was though it was near the seashore. There is a headland at the river mouth apparently called after Anta which seems a likely place geographically and toponymically. The chapel was still in existence in 1573/74 as there are two references in the Penheleg manuscript to it in that regnal year. These references are likely to be only to the remains of the building as the fraternity was presumably ended by the Chantries Act of 1547.

The arrangements are recorded between 1496 and 1501 in the register of Richard Redmayne, the bishop of Exeter. The arrangement of the register means that the exact date is unclear. They are in Latin and that is what alerts us to Anta's sex. Latin has different forms of a word depending on whether it applies to males or to females. The Latin word for a male saint is slightly different from the word for a female saint.

In the entry in the bishop's register it says "sancti Ante," of saint Anta. Sancti is written in abbreviated form. Sancti is the genitive form of the word used for a male saint, sancte for a female. The register says "of male-saint Anta." When he made a note of this early last century Charles Henderson recorded it as "sancte Ante." That means "of female-saint Anta" and it seems to have influenced people ever since. For those who learned classical Latin, medieval sancte Ante is sanctae Antae.

Whether the register writer used sancti or sancte would be decided by what he believed was the actual sex of Anta.

What about the word Anta (and Ansa)? Latin names for men typically end in us and for women in a. Anta looks in form like a female name, but then so do the Roman emperor names Galba and Caracalla and they were certainly men. A few Latin words like sailor and farmer (and perhaps Anta) end in a and look feminine in form but are definitely masculine so the word Anta tells us nothing for certain. It hinges on sancti and a single letter.

Yes, I think it does say sancti not sancte in the register. However, it is handwriting of five hundred years ago and, like most medieval handwriting writing, it is abbreviated. It is possible that the writer made a mistake, meaning to write sancte but putting i instead. However, the word sancti comes immediately before the word Ante and I think the writer would have noticed straightaway if he had made a mistake and would have corrected it. What we could do with are more Latin references to St Anta but life is not like that.

We have to assume rationally that the writer of the contemporary entry in the bishop's register knew how people of the day thought of Anta when he wrote sancti, masculine. There is a slight ambiguity about his gender (assuming, of course, that he existed) but I think on the evidence available to us we have to say that Anta was a man not a woman.

Incidentally, both Lanante and Lalant are written in this entry in the register. We are on the cusp of change in the village name, a change from Lanant to Lelant, made while the villagers spoke Cornish rather than English as their first language.


Devon Record Office, Diocese of Exeter Collection, Bishop Redmayne's Register, 1496-1501, Chanter 12, folio 36 verso

POOL P.A.S. 'The Penheleg manuscript' in the Journal of the RIC 1959, 163- 228

ORME Nicholas (2000) The saints of Cornwall OUP


This is the agreement establishing the chapel. It is in the register of bishop Redmayne, Chanter 12, folio 36 verso.

The transliteration of the original abbreviated and the expanded Latin, and the translation into English, were done by Brooke WESTCOTT, December 2003

The surname Tywaruchy? is probably Tywarnehayle.

"Compositio vicarii Lalant

Compositio et amicabilis convencio inter Magistrum Johannem Carew vicarium ecclesie parochialis sancti Euinni iuxta Lanante et parochianos ibidem silicet Stephanum Calmady Henricum Greger Johannem Trewaruchy? Johannem Bawdon Johannem Edward Warinum Tomkyn Henricum Hycke Henricum Nicholas Johannem Plymyn Johannem Tremure Thomam Gay Petrum Unwyn David Unwyn Richardum Boschabordow et Stephanum Thomas

De quadam Fraernitae cuiusdam capelle sancti Ante alias Ansa infra eandem parochiam prope ripam maris infra fines et limites ecclesie parochialis Sancti Euinni predicte

Ita quod prefati parochiani et Fratres Fraternitatis predicte guadebunt et infuture habebunt omnes oblaciones tam maiores quam minores prefato Capello oblatas tam de legatis mortuorum quam de totis vivorum in et infra eandem Capellam ut predicitur oblatis legatis sive datis quecumque

Habendum percipendum et occupandum ex consensu vicarii predicti omnibus et singulis confratribus et parochianis fraternitatis predicte ac eorum successoribus ad usum proficuum fraternitatis Capelle predicte

Proviso quod prefati parochiani et Fratres Fraternitatis predicte reparabunt suustenabunt ac de novo edificabunt si necesse fuerit sumptibus suis propriis et expensis

Tum reddendum prefato magistro Johanni Carew moderno vicario ac eorum successoribus annuatim vj s viij d"

This is the typically abbreviated original Latin

"Compoo vii Lalant

Compositio et amicabilis convencio inter Magr Johem Carew vicariu ecclie pochialis sancti Euinni iuxa Lanante et pochianos ibm silicet Stephm Calmady Henricum Greger Johem Trewaruchy? Johem Bawdon Johem Edward Warinu Tomkyn Henricu Hycke Henricu Nicholas Johem Plymyn Johem Tremure Thoma Gay Petru Unwyn David Unwyn Ricm Boschabordow et Stephm Thomas

De quad Franitae cuiusdam capelle sci Ante als Ansa infra eandm pochia ppe ripam maris infra fines et limites ecclie pochis Sci Euinni pdict

Ita qd pfati pochi et Frat Fratnitatis pdict guadebunt et infutur hebunt omes oblaciones tam maior qm minor pfat Capello oblat tam de legat mortuor qm de totis vivorum in et infra eandm Capellam ut pdicit oblat legat sive dat quecumq

Hend pcipend et occupand ex consensu vicarii pdci omib et singlis confratribus et pochianis fratnitatis pdict ac eor successori ad usum pficuum fratnitatis Capelle pdict

Proviso qd pfati pochiani et Frat Fratnitatis pdict repabunt suustenabunt ac de novo edificabunt si necesse fuit sumptibus suis ppriis et expens

Tu reddend pfat mro Joh Carew moderno vicario ac eor successorib annuati vj s viij d"


"Composition of the vicar of Lelant

Composition and friendly agreement between Master John Carew, vicar of the parish church of Saint Uny by lanante and the parishioners in the same place, that is to say, Stephen Calmady, Henry Greger, John Trewarnehayle, John Bawdon, John Edward, Warin Tomkyn, Henry Hycke, Henry Nicholas, John Plymyn, John Tremure, Thomas Gay, Peter Unwyn, David Unwyn, Ricard Boschabordow, and Stephen Thomas

Concerning a certain fraternity of a certain chapel of Saint Anta, otherwise Ansa, within the same parish, near to the sea shore, within the bounds and limits of the parish church of Saint Uny aforesaid

Such that the aforementioned parishioners and the brothers of the fraternity aforesaid shall enjoy and in the future have all oblations both greater and lesser offered to the aforenamed chapel both of legacies of the dead and of all those of the living whatsoever offered bequeathed or given in and within the same chapel as is aforesaid

To have receive and occupy with the consent of the vicar aforesaid to all and singular the confreres and parishioners of the fraternity aforesaid and their successors to the use and profit of the fraternity of the chapel aforesiad

Provided that the aforesaid parishioners and the brothers of the fraternity aforesaid shall repair maintain and build anew if it shall be necessary at their own cost and expenses

Besides yielding annually to the aforenamed Master John Carew the present vicar and his successors 6s 8d."