Visiting the Victorians: nineteenth-century Cornish life-cycles

In the 1800s why did some of our ancestors decide to leave for overseas and others go to places in the British Isles? Why did some stay put? How much was movement determined by factors such as occupation, gender, place of birth or upbringing? (For an overall summary of Cornish migration see the article below.) … Continue reading Visiting the Victorians: nineteenth-century Cornish life-cycles

Economic migrants from Brittany in early 16th century Cornwall

The lay subsidies of the early 1500s are lists of taxpayers. In the published versions (1524-25 and 1543-44) we find entries such as John Breton, at Truro in 1525. John was also classed as an ‘alien’. These entries therefore provide us with a valuable insight into the presence of Bretons in the Cornwall of the … Continue reading Economic migrants from Brittany in early 16th century Cornwall

‘The dialect of the people grew more provincial’: the east Cornish mining boom of the 1840s

The 1840s was the first decade for over a century in which population growth in Cornwall, fuelled by the growth of mining, abruptly slowed down. In the 1840s mass emigration began from Cornwall to places overseas. But that overseas movement, stimulated by the economic difficulties of the later 1840s, has masked a parallel contemporary migration … Continue reading ‘The dialect of the people grew more provincial’: the east Cornish mining boom of the 1840s

Who was living at Nampara in the 1800s?

When writing his Poldark books, Winston Graham made use of real placenames. Many will know that the name Demelza came from a place near Bodmin, originally Dyn Maelda, or Maelda’s fort. The Poldarks' home of Nampara was another real place, a small hamlet near Graham’s home. It was formerly Nansbara, or bread valley. By the … Continue reading Who was living at Nampara in the 1800s?

Surname turnover in 17th century Cornwall

Cornish surnames such as Chesterfield, Oxnam or Sturtridge hail originally from places well outside Cornwall. Their presence, sometimes for centuries, indicates that the horizons of people in the past were not confined entirely to their own small patch. Unlike the common misconception, this was a society on the move, although not usually the distances implied … Continue reading Surname turnover in 17th century Cornwall

Carbis Bay in 1891: de-industrialised and older, but still local

In 1861 the small community of Carbis Bay had been thriving, its young residents working in the nearby tin mines. A generation later in 1891 the mines had closed and the community been decimated. The 103 inhabitants of 1861 had fallen to a mere 45, living in 13 households. There was only one man left … Continue reading Carbis Bay in 1891: de-industrialised and older, but still local

Cornwall, the G7 Summit and stereotyping

The news that Cornwall will be hosting this year's G7 Summit (pesky viruses permitting) opens up all sorts of opportunities to ‘showcase the Cornwall brand’. Swarms of journalists will descend from across the globe eager for copy. But will all they devour be the same stale old imagery of Cornwall as just a tourist destination? … Continue reading Cornwall, the G7 Summit and stereotyping