St Agnes: let’s not forget first names

Anyone who has spent hours ploughing through nineteenth century census records cannot fail to notice the arrival of a greater range of first names in the latter decades of the century. While there is a voluminous academic literature on surnames, their origins and their distribution, there is much less on first names. Yet the names … Continue reading St Agnes: let’s not forget first names

South Petherwin: fleeing the farm

The farms, hamlets and cottages scattered across the rolling countryside of South Petherwin just south of Launceston hid a growing crisis in the 1870s. Those farmers that had previously thrived on their earnings from growing cereal crops began to see the price of wheat tumble dramatically. Railways and steamships were combining to bring cheap grain … Continue reading South Petherwin: fleeing the farm

Sheviock and the shock of the excavators

Sheviock is a small and relatively obscure parish on the coast of south-east Cornwall. Undisturbed by the main currents of history, it relied on farming for centuries before tourists and second homes began to infiltrate its quiet villages and hamlets. However, in 1861 it was probably a lot livelier than nowadays. The largest occupational group … Continue reading Sheviock and the shock of the excavators

Sennen and seven sorts of cousins

Just a few miles to the west of Sancreed, we arrive at our next parish, Sennen, the most westerly in Cornwall. This is Cornwall’s pedn an wollaz, the land’s end, although unfortunately far from the end of this series of blogs. As the nineteenth century proceeded, Sennen, or at least its fishing cove, became increasingly … Continue reading Sennen and seven sorts of cousins

Sancreed: dairy farming and baby farming

The villages and hamlets dotted around the moors and valleys of Sancreed parish in the heart of West Penwith in the mid-1800s housed a population of miners (around half of the labour force), farmers and labourers. In this part of Cornwall, the boundaries between these occupational groups were quite porous. The majority of farmers only … Continue reading Sancreed: dairy farming and baby farming

Saltash: just passing through

Saltash is known mainly for its twin bridges rather than for its architectural splendour or the historical significance of its built environment, which now sprawls voraciously and unstoppably into the nearby countryside. In 1859 Brunel’s Royal Albert Bridge across the River Tamar was opened and trains began to cross to and fro from England into … Continue reading Saltash: just passing through