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

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

Views of Cornwall in 1919

Donald Shaw MacLaughlan (1876-1938) was an American artist (although born in Prince Edward Island, Canada). As a young man he followed the trail of many other artists from North America and travelled to Europe, basing himself thereafter mainly in France but travelling widely. Among his journeys he visited Cornwall, where he spent some time around … Continue reading Views of Cornwall in 1919

The gentry at home around 1800

Two hundred years ago life was hard for most people in Cornwall. But for a small minority fortunate enough to own land things could be lot more comfortable. Much time was spent visiting each other's houses. Staying at Tehidy, the home of the Bassets, in 1792 James Boswell described the: astounding variety of alcoholic beverages … Continue reading The gentry at home around 1800

The mystery of the missing Irish

Recent blogs on this site have uncovered migrants from across the Channel who were living in Cornwall in the early 1500s. But what about migrants from the opposite direction, from across the Celtic Sea? There were a handful of people called Welshman in the early records, Walter and John Wylsheman at East Looe and another … Continue reading The mystery of the missing Irish

Boswell’s 1792 drinking tour of Cornwall

The following is an extract from Chapter 7 ('The plain an gwarry') of my The Real World of Poldark: Cornwall 1783-1820. Drink and the public house were accepted as central to popular culture in the eighteenth century. The involvement of publicans in the national sport of wrestling has already been noted. Many pubs would also … Continue reading Boswell’s 1792 drinking tour of Cornwall

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