BORLASE, WILLIAM (1695-1772), English antiquary and naturalist, was born at Pendeen in Cornwall, of an ancient family, on the 2nd of February 1695. He was educated at Exeter College, Oxford, and in 1719 was ordained. In 1722 he was presented to the rectory of Ludgvan, and in 1732 he obtained in addition the vicarage of St Just, his native parish. In the parish of Ludgvan were rich copper works, abounding with mineral and metallic fossils, of which he made a collection, and thus was led to study somewhat minutely the natural history of the county. In 1750 he was admitted a fellow of the Royal Society; and in 1754 he published, at Oxford, his Antiquities of Cornwall (2nd ed., London, 1769). His next publication was Observations on the Ancient and Present State of the Islands of Scilly, and their Importance to the Trade of Great Britain (Oxford, 1756). In 1758 appeared his Natural History of Cornwall. He presented to the Ashmolean museum, Oxford, a variety of fossils and antiquities, which he had described in his works, and received the thanks of the university and the degree of LL.D. He died on the 31st of August 1772. Borlase was well acquainted with most of the leading literary men of the time, particularly with Alexander Pope, with whom he kept up a long correspondence, and for whose grotto at Twickenham he furnished the greater part of the fossils and minerals.
Borlase's letters to Pope, St Aubyn and others, with answers, fill several volumes of MS. There are also MS. notes on Cornwall, and a complete unpublished treatise Concerning the Creation and Deluge. Some account of these MSS., with extracts from them, was given in the Quarterly Review, October 1875. Borlase's memoirs of his own life were published in Nichol's Literary Anecdotes, vol. v.