Mapping Methodism – Knave-Go-By Wesley’s Tree

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Knave-Go-By (also known as Knave-go-bye or Knave Go By) is a village located on the outskirts of Camborne. This profile of Knave-Go-By Wesley’s Tree has been compiled by Jo Lewis and Tony Mansell.


The origin of its name has been subject to speculation. It refers to an incident involving the founder of the Methodist church, the Reverend John Wesley. Wesley came to the village several times in August 1743, it is supposed that he took the route to avoid the warden of the neighbouring parish. He preached to the local population from a split Elm Tree in the village centre.

After crowds gathered there to watch John Wesley, an incident occurred by which the village was named, however, the exact details of what happened are subject to speculation. According to locals, one supposed version is that during one of Wesley’s missionary visits, a woman leaned from her cottage window and shouted, “Let the knave go by”, a comment for Wesley to move on. This is based on the supposition that the local Anglicans referred to Wesley as a Knave on account of his faith.

Another possible version is that Wesley was heckled by a drunk “knave” during a sermon, and when the crowd tried to detain the troublemaker, Wesley is reputed to have said, “Let the knave go by”. The area has been known as Knave-go-bye ever since, although the spelling has varied.

Unfortunately, the story about the name appears to be just that – a story – the name was recorded as Never-go-by, before Wesley’s time, because it was relatively little visited. However, Wesley did preach at the Elm Tree in the village. John Wesley’s Elm Tree named Wesley’s Tree stood in the village until it died and blew over on Camborne Festival Day, circa mid-1980s. No new tree has been planted at the site to replace it. (Wiki)


1 thought on “Mapping Methodism – Knave-Go-By Wesley’s Tree

  1. I well remember my father and Uncle Reg talking about John Wesley’s influence on so many Cornish folk. But being just a lad I didn’t really take it in.
    Have to say had never heard of Knave-Go- By; what a charming name for a village. Pity the Elm tree has never been replaced.

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