Some Devon placenames that became Cornish surnames

Several surnames derived from placenames not found in Cornwall have either become numerous here or largely confined to Cornwall over the centuries. These have to all intents and purposes become Cornish surnames. some, such as Chesterfield or Kendal, may have origins many hundreds of miles away, but the largest number, as we might expect, originated … Continue reading Some Devon placenames that became Cornish surnames

Three obviously Cornish toponyms. Or are they?

Here are three Cornish surnames. Their early distributions, clustered in one district, is the classic sign of a toponym, a surname that has its origin in a specific placename. But things may be more complicated than they seem. Benallack is a placename that turns up in three Cornish parishes. It comes from the Cornish word … Continue reading Three obviously Cornish toponyms. Or are they?

Patronyms and the Cornish language

Does the presence of patronymic surnames (surnames derived from first names) tell us anything about the last days of the traditional Cornish language? I have argued elsewhere that the distribution of the most common surnames in nineteenth century Cornwall – Williams, Thomas and Richards – offers a good indication of the geography of the language … Continue reading Patronyms and the Cornish language