Views of Cornwall in 1919

Donald Shaw MacLaughlan (1876-1938) was an American artist (although born in Prince Edward Island, Canada). As a young man he followed the trail of many other artists from North America and travelled to Europe, basing himself thereafter mainly in France but travelling widely. Among his journeys he visited Cornwall, where he spent some time around … Continue reading Views of Cornwall in 1919

The gentry at home around 1800

Two hundred years ago life was hard for most people in Cornwall. But for a small minority fortunate enough to own land things could be lot more comfortable. Much time was spent visiting each other's houses. Staying at Tehidy, the home of the Bassets, in 1792 James Boswell described the: astounding variety of alcoholic beverages … Continue reading The gentry at home around 1800

Cornish and English in 16th century Cornwall

The surname Cornish was well established by the 1500s. Its presence outside Cornwall would be unsurprising, However, what requires more explanation is the considerable number of people in Cornwall itself with this name. Their presence in the 1500s implies its original meaning was not ‘someone from Cornwall’ as in Cornwall this would not be a … Continue reading Cornish and English in 16th century Cornwall

The mystery of the missing Irish

Recent blogs on this site have uncovered migrants from across the Channel who were living in Cornwall in the early 1500s. But what about migrants from the opposite direction, from across the Celtic Sea? There were a handful of people called Welshman in the early records, Walter and John Wylsheman at East Looe and another … Continue reading The mystery of the missing Irish

Boswell’s 1792 drinking tour of Cornwall

The following is an extract from Chapter 7 ('The plain an gwarry') of my The Real World of Poldark: Cornwall 1783-1820. Drink and the public house were accepted as central to popular culture in the eighteenth century. The involvement of publicans in the national sport of wrestling has already been noted. Many pubs would also … Continue reading Boswell’s 1792 drinking tour of Cornwall


Cornwall is a lot more than tourism as its history shows. On 65 hectares of the flat plateau of the Lizard peninsula at Goonhilly Downs there’s an unexpected listed building. This can be found in the shape of the first satellite dish built to receive the pathbreaking television images bounced across the Atlantic via Telstar … Continue reading Goonhilly