Of blowing houses and tin smelters

If you wander through the highways and byways of Cornwall you may well come across the name Blowing House. Where does this come from? In former times ‘houses’ were built to smelt tin, transforming tin ore, or ‘black tin’, containing other chemical elements such as oxygen or sulphur, into purer ‘white tin’. Stannary law stated … Continue reading Of blowing houses and tin smelters

Feasting and fasting: eating and drinking habits of miners in the 1860s

In 1862 Philip Vincent, a surgeon to several mines in the Camborne district, gave evidence to the Commission enquiring into the condition of mines. Here’s two of his answers … Qu 10455: Who lives best; the miner or the agriculturist? – The miner is rather improvident about it; it is rather a feast and a … Continue reading Feasting and fasting: eating and drinking habits of miners in the 1860s

John Passmore Edwards: the Cornish philanthropist

Anyone who walks around Cornish towns with half an eye open cannot fail to spot the buildings adorned with the name ‘Passmore Edwards’. But who was Passmore Edwards? John Passmore Edwards was born on 24th March 1823 in a nondescript cottage in Blackwater, a mining village a mile or two east of Redruth on the … Continue reading John Passmore Edwards: the Cornish philanthropist

Why religious dissent didn't take off in 17th century Cornwall

On the 15th of March 1675, Hugh Acland of Truro reported ‘a great meeting of Quakers in a parish adjoining this town about seven last Friday evening where there were a great many others of young people that were not of their opinion but went out of curiosity. The room being full, one of the … Continue reading Why religious dissent didn't take off in 17th century Cornwall

Cornish surnames of the far west and the far east

One might be excused for assuming that the surname Sangwin must have a Cornish language derivation – gwin meaning white. However, its past geography quickly dispels such a notion. John Sangwin was found at Launcells, on the border with Devon, in 1525. The surname was recorded as early as the 1270s at Whimple in east … Continue reading Cornish surnames of the far west and the far east

The 1960s: when everything in Cornwall began to change

The Torrey Canyon begins to break up On March 18th 1967 the Liberian registered oil tanker, the Torrey Canyon, struck the Seven Stones reef west of Land’s End. Attempts to refloat the ship failed and it began to break up, releasing the 100,000 tons or so of crude oil on board. Attempts by the RAF … Continue reading The 1960s: when everything in Cornwall began to change

Cornish surnames with origins in Penryn, Devon and France

The next three in our rare Cornish surnames series originated in places far apart. In fact, sufficiently far apart that we are able to display all three migrations on just one map. Roskrow is a place near Penryn, meaning rough land or moor with a hut. Peter and John Rescrow in Penryn and St Gluvias … Continue reading Cornish surnames with origins in Penryn, Devon and France