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Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 2, by William Bottrell, [1873], at

Boleigh or Boleit.

Although we never heard of any Household Stories connected with this interesting spot, yet we cannot pass it without some notice of its prehistoric remains.

Our antiquaries follow the fashion of spelling the name of the hamlet on the hill as above yet everyone here who ought best to know the name of the place in which they live, call it Bolé. Most likely it has been thus pronounced from long before it was ever written. All sorts of contradictory meanings have been given for the name of this noted place as the dairy-house place of slaughter, &c. It was once the residence of an old Norman family, whose name, spelt Bolleit, may be seen on a long coffin-shaped slab, which lay on the floor within the tower of Buryan Church a short time ago. The inscription in old Norman-French which borders the edge of this curious tomb says that


This means, in plain English, to say † "Clarice, the wife of Geoffry de Bolleit, lies here: God on her soul have mercy: Who prays for her soul shall have ten days’ pardon." * Now the "Bo" we know to be another form of Beau, in ancient French names. Leit may be a variation of lieu. The provincial pronunciation of Beaulieu is, in many parts of Northern France, simply Bolè.

p. 30

[paragraph continues] And this is the nearest approach to the proper sound of the name that a Cornish man would be likely to turn his tongue to form. This old Norman family, as in many other instances, might have done their best to give to their new inheritance a name which was a common one in their former home. This conjecture respecting the derivation is at least as probable as the others. We know of no Cornish name which terminated in leit, yet, if the name be Cornish, it is safer to take the traditional pronunciation of those who live in Buryan than to go by any mode of spelling.


29:* It is somewhat curious to notice that no one who has written on the parish of Buryan, in speaking of the Boleit tombstone in the church, has pointed out that the inscription is, in accordance with a very common custom, in verse, namely in a triplet followed by a distich. It reads thus:—

Clarice, la femme Cheffrei
de Bolleit, git ici,
Dieu de lalme eit mercie.
Ke pur lalme punt
Di for de pardun aveunt.

The word punt in the fourth line is short for prierunt. Probably there is now, or at all events, has been at some time, in the original, a small letter r above the word between the p and the u. An r has been similarly omitted in aveunt. This somewhat primitive epitaph may be thus literally translated into equally primitive English:—

Clarice, the wife of Jefferei
Of Bolleit, here doth lie.
God of her soul have mercie.
For her soul whoever prays
Shall have pardon for ten days.
                      From One and All.

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