Unravelling a group of Cornish surnames

Several surnames are supposed to have derived from the first name Bartholomew. These include Bartle, a short form, and Bartlett, a double diminutive. Actually, the double diminutive seems to have established itself first, with several examples of Bartlett in the 1500s strongly implying two points of origin in south east Cornwall and north east of … Continue reading Unravelling a group of Cornish surnames

Cornwall is ‘almost an island’

The visitor to Brittany cannot fail to notice the number of presqu’îles, or ‘almost islands’ dotted around its coasts. These are usually peninsulas jutting into the sea with only a narrow strip joining them to the land. We have no equivalent term in the English language but the whole of Cornwall could be viewed as … Continue reading Cornwall is ‘almost an island’

A game fit only for barbarians

It's the weekend, traditionally the time to play and watch sport, although at the moment watching is a mite more difficult than normal. Three hundred years ago the most watched sport in Cornwall would have been wrestling. The other sport associated with Cornwall was hurling. Here's an extract from chapter 7 of my forthcoming Poldark's … Continue reading A game fit only for barbarians

A Cornish colony in Mexico

In 1826 the West Briton carried a report from Redruth: a miner recently back from overseas had  ‘astonished the natives by appearing in the streets in the dress usually worn by the Mexican miners.’ The migration links between Cornwall and Mexico in the 1800s have been less often covered than the much more numerous flows … Continue reading A Cornish colony in Mexico