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