Lelant: disturbing the order of things

Why does a parish with a name that begins with an L appear between Tywardreath and Veryan? Did I omit it by mistake last year? No, it’s because Lelant appears in the census as Uny Lelant and is listed as that in my migration database, which I was too lazy to amend. Uny or Euny was one of the two saints associated with Lelant, the other being Anta, after which the parish was known as Lananta in 1170.

Nowadays, the holidaymakers, stuck in the traffic inching its way towards St Ives through the parish of Lelant might be equally surprised to discover that Lelant has an industrial past. In the nineteenth century the parish was home to a large mining population, over two thirds of its adult men being employed in the local mines. As most of these concentrated on extracting tin rather than copper they managed to survive the 1860s in a rather better shape than at Tywardreath, our previous parish.

Nevertheless, the proportion of Lelant’s children in our database who died overseas was in fact very similar to that at Tywardreath at around a third. A classic example from Lelant was provided by Thomas Strick. Thomas’s father – also named Thomas – was a mine labourer at Sancreed to the west in 1851, but by 1861 he and his family had moved to Lelant where he became a farm labourer at Nance in the upland part of the parish. The younger Thomas was also employed as a farm labourer in that year.

Thomas junior married young and he and his bride departed for Cumbria around 1870. There he found employment as an iron miner at Egremont. However, that was not the end of their travels. In 1884 they left for the USA, settling in California at San Diego where Thomas was recorded as a miner in 1901.

What would Cordelia have made of these strange goings-on at Trencrom Hill? Bards gather in 1953.

Most of those left behind in Cornwall had to find other ways to make a living. Cordelia Uren grew up on a farm her father rented in the parish. At around 20 acres it was little more than a smallholding, insufficient to produce much of a surplus for the family, which included Cordelia and her eight siblings. Cordelia took the obvious option and left to find work as a domestic servant. In 1881 she was working as a chambermaid at Truro’s principal hotel of the time – the Red Lion in Boscawen Street. However, during the 1880s she moved back to live nearer to her birthplace at Trencrom Hill keeping house for her older brother – a tin miner in 1861 but a potato hawker by 1891, a sign of the times.

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