Some people of Poughill (that’s Poffill)

Poughill is located in north Cornwall. Nowadays, it’s often overlooked, merely a part of Bude-Stratton civil parish and waiting with trepidation for the inevitable time it will be overwhelmed by the housing sprawl oozing out from the precocious resort town of Bude. But in the 1800s it was a proudly independent ecclesiastical parish of its … Continue reading Some people of Poughill (that’s Poffill)

Pillaton and steam power

The railway was the Victorians’ internet, speeding up communications, formerly dependent on horses and sail, and bringing in its wake the telegraph and global communications. But the railway also acted as a route out of a life of farm labouring for Victorian men, offering new, sometimes better paid but certainly more secure job opportunities. A … Continue reading Pillaton and steam power

Philleigh’s farm labourers: mainly short-distance movers

Philleigh, a small parish on the edge of the Roseland east of Truro, provides a nice contrast with Perranzabuloe and Phillack, dependent as it was on farming rather than mining or engineering. Indeed, four of the five Philleigh children in the Victorian Lives database were from families of farm labourers. The exception was Lydia Stephens, … Continue reading Philleigh’s farm labourers: mainly short-distance movers

Hayle: powerhouse of Cornish engineering

In 1779, John Harvey, a blacksmith in the parish of Gwinear, moved to Hayle and established a small foundry there. His son Henry worked to transform this into Cornwall’s major engineering works, by the nineteenth century employing hundreds of men. To the east of Harvey’s foundry was Copperhouse Foundry, originally a copper smelting works begun … Continue reading Hayle: powerhouse of Cornish engineering

Perranzabuloe: leaving Poldark’s parish

Perranzabuloe became the home in the 1930s of Winston Graham, the author of the Poldark series of novels. A few local placenames then made an appearance in his novels, Nampara for instance being used as the name of Ross and Demelza’s home. Emma Hoskin had been born in the real hamlet of Nampara, which was … Continue reading Perranzabuloe: leaving Poldark’s parish

Perranuthnoe: what to do when the bal is scat

A rural parish to the east of Penzance and Marazion, Perranuthnoe is now merely a place to ‘escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life … [an] ideal destination for a coastal retreat’, its heritage forgotten, its history unlamented. That’s a far cry from Victorian days when the parish was better known for its mines … Continue reading Perranuthnoe: what to do when the bal is scat

Perranarworthal: fitting engines and feeding boarders

We arrive at the three parishes named after Perran, who has become Cornwall’s patron saint. Perranarworthal (Perran at the manor of Arworthal, meaning by the marsh), on the western bank of the Fal estuary upriver from Penryn, was one of Cornwall’s more industrial parishes in Victorian times. It was here that the Foxes had financed … Continue reading Perranarworthal: fitting engines and feeding boarders

Penzance: my brother was a baron

Among the roughly 4,500 Cornish men and women captured in the Victorian Lives database it’s not that common to come across someone with connections reaching into the Privy Council and the heart of the British establishment. But that’s exactly what we find in Penzance. In 1850 Louise d’Este Courtney was born at New Street, Penzance, … Continue reading Penzance: my brother was a baron

Migration from Mount’s Bay

The neighbouring parishes of Penzance and Paul were among Cornwall’s most populous in the Victorian period. That also means they provided more children for the Victorian Lives database, in fact a total of 133. Of those, just over three quarters (102) have been traced through to 1891 or their death. (Health warning: those of a … Continue reading Migration from Mount’s Bay

Penzance’s ‘truly independent cordwainers’

Penzance was a diverse place, containing a variety of occupations. The largest occupational sector in the town was craftsmen, accounting for almost a half of the adult men. Indeed, this was the largest of any Cornish parish in 1861. Among them were shoemakers. The shoemakers of Penzance had been described in1845 as ‘the bravest of … Continue reading Penzance’s ‘truly independent cordwainers’