If your surname is Mason, Carpenter or Angove (Cornish for smith) you can be fairly sure that, at some point in the distant past, one of your ancestors was a mason, carpenter or a smith. But can the same be said about names such as King, Bishop, Knight, Squire, Chancellor and similar? Many of these … Continue reading Do surnames mean what they say?
One of the iconic dates in the Cornish sporting calendar is the annual rugby match between Camborne and Redruth, held on Boxing Day. Sometimes, the two teams also met on Easter Monday to renew their competition. On occasion however, this resulted in more than friendly local rivalry between two neighbouring towns. Take this fixture from … Continue reading Camborne versus Redruth: Regrettable scenes
Cornwall’s central spine is made up of four granite outcrops, from Bodmin Moor in the east through Hensbarrow and Carnmenellis to West Penwith at the Land’s End. It is said that every Cornish person also has a granite core. Easy-going on the surface, we can be obstinate and unmoveable if pushed too far. Cornishmen combined … Continue reading Cornwall’s granite backbone
The 1840s was the first decade for over a century in which population growth in Cornwall, fuelled by the growth of mining, abruptly slowed down. In the 1840s mass emigration began from Cornwall to places overseas. But that overseas movement, stimulated by the economic difficulties of the later 1840s, has masked a parallel contemporary migration … Continue reading ‘The dialect of the people grew more provincial’: the east Cornish mining boom of the 1840s
The Godolphins were typical of many Cornish landed gentry. The family was an old one, rooted to a spot to the west of Tregonning Hill in the parish of Breage. Fortune had smiled on them in the sense that underneath their land lurked rich tin reserves. As mineral lords they were due a proportion of … Continue reading Godolphin House
The Real World of Poldark is now published and should be available on amazon at some point over the Easter weekend. There is a paperback version of 201 pages at £9.99 and an e-book version for £4.99. It can be ordered in the UK here and in the States here. The book includes a preface … Continue reading No April fool. The Real World of Poldark
When writing his Poldark books, Winston Graham made use of real placenames. Many will know that the name Demelza came from a place near Bodmin, originally Dyn Maelda, or Maelda’s fort. The Poldarks' home of Nampara was another real place, a small hamlet near Graham’s home. It was formerly Nansbara, or bread valley. By the … Continue reading Who was living at Nampara in the 1800s?
It’s fair to say that Winston Graham’s Poldark saga, the story of a minor gentry family from the 1780s to 1820, has sometimes elicited a love-hate response from Cornish insiders. This is despite the fact that the history Graham included in his books provided, on the whole, a fair picture of the life of those … Continue reading Rescuing Poldark from the tourist gaze
Cornish surnames such as Chesterfield, Oxnam or Sturtridge hail originally from places well outside Cornwall. Their presence, sometimes for centuries, indicates that the horizons of people in the past were not confined entirely to their own small patch. Unlike the common misconception, this was a society on the move, although not usually the distances implied … Continue reading Surname turnover in 17th century Cornwall
The moors of West Penwith sloping southwards towards Mounts Bay have more than their fair share of archaeological treasures. This fragile moorland and its prehistoric remains have in the modern period been threatened first by mining, then by industrialized farming methods and finally by the pressures of tourism and, according to some, by unsympathetic environmental … Continue reading The Men Scryfa