Cornish surnames and long-distance migration

As we have seen before, surnames that originate in placenames can give us useful clues about the migration of people in the past. Contrary to popular myth, even in the medieval period there was considerable movement within the British Isles. In Cornwall, there are several surnames that are based on places to the east of … Continue reading Cornish surnames and long-distance migration

Spelling variants and Cornish surnames: Cliffs and Curnows

Let’s catch up on a couple of surname queries, both of which involve spelling variants. The first is the name Cliff. There is general agreement that this is a topographical name, one taken from a feature in the landscape. The classic surname dictionary by P.H.Reaney confidently proclaims that Cliff and Clift are both variants of … Continue reading Spelling variants and Cornish surnames: Cliffs and Curnows

The history of two Cornish surnames, one common and one rare

There were two enquiries this week about surnames from the opposite ends of the spectrum. One is in my surnames book; the other isn’t. One is very common; the other very rare. The two surnames are Roberts and Matta. I've mentioned both before in these blogs but let's re-visit them. Robert was a personal name … Continue reading The history of two Cornish surnames, one common and one rare

Corruption in a Cornish borough

The following is an extract from Chapter 11 (The Borough) of The Real World of Poldark: Cornwall 1783-1820. The Reverend Richard Gurney, Vicar of Cuby, was at the centre of Tregony’s borough politics throughout the Poldark years. In 1792 he had been implicated in encouraging ‘mob uproar’. Three effigies representing gentlemen of Tregony who opposed … Continue reading Corruption in a Cornish borough

Penvoze and Trezona: a study in contrasts

Two enquiries recently received offer the opportunity to show the contrasting history of Cornish surnames. Although one of these surnames flourished and the other did not, they are similar in that both originated in a Cornish placename. Penvoze, spelt Penfos before the early 1500s, existed in five separate locations from the Roseland peninsula as far … Continue reading Penvoze and Trezona: a study in contrasts