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 situated to the south west of the small mining village of Perranporth. In 1871 she married William George at Perranzabuloe Church. The church in which William and Emma got hitched was a couple of miles inland, having been removed there in the early 1800s to escape the sand dunes overwhelming the medieval church to the east of the village. The sand had already buried the original chapels associated with the hyperactive saint who’d given his name to three Cornish parishes.

Perranporth then. A very early photograph of Perranporth in the 1840s

Perranzabuloe, now thronged with holidaymakers in the summer, was a very different place in the mid-1800s. Over half, or 58 per cent, of its men worked in the lead, copper and iron mines of the parish in 1861. However, these mines suffered badly from the contraction of mining in Cornwall after the mid-1860s. As a result, the parish, like other rural mining parishes such as Perranuthnoe, saw a very high level of emigration. Of the 27 Perranzabuloe children of 1861 who were still alive in 1891, 12 had emigrated. Four went to Australia, four to the United States, two to New Zealand, one to Canada and one to Chile, from where he returned to Perranzabuloe.

Dorothy Jenkin

One of those emigrants was the miner William Georgem who we met above. Within five years of their marriage, he and his wife Emma had left for Canada. They lived in New Brunswick from the late 1880s before moving to Maine in the US, where William died in 1886. Another was Dorothy Jenkin. Dorothy’s father was a mine agent, an occupation which was particularly mobile in the later 1800s. However, he died before Dorothy was 11. Brought up by her widowed mother at Liskey above Perranporth, she married John Trebilcock in 1873. A child was born to the couple at Perranzabuloe in 1878 but by 1880 they too had departed for New Zealand where they lived at Thames in North Island.

2 thoughts on “Perranzabuloe: leaving Poldark’s parish

  1. What an evocative picture of Perranporth. Amazing how it has changed, and the large rock formation looks like a man kneeling and begging for mercy!

    Perranporth was my family’s “go to” destination all through the 1940s and 50s and in later years my father often took me there, as I now take my children. I wish I had asked him about how Perranporth had changed over the whole time he knew it.


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