Today at Mousehole people celebrate Tom Bawcock’s Eve. Children parade, paper lanterns aloft. Traditional songs such as ‘Tom Bawcock’s Eve’ are sung, starry-gazy pie will be eaten. This age-old festival has its roots extending deep into the past. But how deep? The event is said to commemorate the actions of Tom Bawcock, a fisherman who … Continue reading Who was Tom Bawcock?
There are several surnames that give few hints of their Cornish provenance. It often comes as a surprise to learn that they have impeccably Cornish pedigrees. The name Hurdon for example has a long history. William Hurdon was living at Lezant, next to the Tamar, in 1544 and he had a namesake in the neighbouring … Continue reading Some surnames that don’t look Cornish but are
The 19th of December will be remembered by any Cornish person in their 50s or above as the day when, 38 years ago, the crew of the Penlee lifeboat at Mousehole lost their lives. They had put to sea to go to the aid of the bulk carrier, the Union Star, which was in difficulties … Continue reading The Penlee lifeboat disaster
The statue of Penzance’s most famous son looks east down Market Jew Street, where he was born on this day in 1778. But it also looks further east, past St Michael’s Mount, across the Tamar and upcountry, where he made his name, and then across the sea to where he ended his days. His parents … Continue reading Humphry Davy
I’m straying into an area where I admit I know little. But Christmas is the season for carols and Christmas carols are a distinctive element of traditional Cornish culture. The carols composed and sung in the Camborne-Redruth district were carried across the world by emigrants and turned up in places as far apart as California … Continue reading Cornish carols
Two of the next three in my ‘rare Cornish surnames’ series have their roots east of the Tamar or straddle the border, while the third may possibly also fit that same category. There is a small hamlet called Crowden near Northlew, a few miles north west of Okehampton. This name, spelt Growden, was already found … Continue reading Cornish names with Devon roots
From 2011 to 2018 the number of people in Cornwall grew from 534,000 to an estimated 566,000. This was a faster rate of growth than the other parts of Great Britain. The number of houses built in Cornwall grew even faster. Interestingly, while the growth in the number of dwellings in England was less than … Continue reading Housing and population: how Cornwall compares
Camborne in the 1870s, a time of economic depression, could be a rough place. Here’s one incident reported in the West Briton of March 26th, 1874. A man named Webster, a resident of Crowan, who has not the reputation of being the quietest character in the neighbourhood, and who, on account of certain pugilistic propensities, … Continue reading A disturbance at Camborne in 1874
Edward Bickerley was buried at St Ives in 1854. A few years later the only three Bickerley households appearing in the 1861 census were found less than ten miles to the east, at Gwinear. Was this distinctively Cornish yet very rare family name a respelling of Bickley (from the placename in Devon)? There were early … Continue reading Rare Cornish surnames explained. Perhaps.
What is it about mid-Cornwall that produces such prolific authors? The Hocking siblings, from St Stephen in Brannel, wrote almost 200 novels. A century later Alan Kent, who grew up in the clay country, is giving us scores of novels, plays, poems and histories. Not to mention Jack Clemo and Anne Treneer. And then there … Continue reading A.L.Rowse