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
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
Two recent surname queries demonstrate how studying the early distribution of a name can complement the detailed researches of the family historian. The first query asked whether an ancestor in Manaccan on the Lizard in the late 1500s could have been linked to the Penrose estate near Helston. Penrose has featured here before and I … Continue reading Of Penroses and Provises
The surname Cornish was well established by the 1500s. Its presence outside Cornwall would be unsurprising, However, what requires more explanation is the considerable number of people in Cornwall itself with this name. Their presence in the 1500s implies its original meaning was not ‘someone from Cornwall’ as in Cornwall this would not be a … Continue reading Cornish and English in 16th century Cornwall
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
Last week we saw that Cornwall was the temporary home for many hundreds of young Bretons in the period from the 1460s to the 1540s. But Brittany was not the only country of origin for those who flocked to Cornwall in this period in search of work and a better life. While well over 95% … Continue reading The French connection
Apologies in advance for a rather rushed surnames blog this week. I’ve been nursing an ailing desktop computer and it’s finally given up the ghost and about to depart for the great computer scrapyard in the sky (actually to be reborn via recycling). This has forced me to use a small laptop before I can … Continue reading Places and surnames: why do some produce lots and others few?
The surnames Lawry and Lowry are both diminutives of the first name Lawrence. Adding -y to the first syllable of a male name was a popular device when forming surnames in medieval and early modern Cornwall, for example Eddy, Davy, Harry and, of course, Lawry. While Lowry was the preferred spelling in the north of … Continue reading Different spellings, same roots – Lawry/Lowry/Lory
This week ought to have seen the annual Trevithick Day, when Camborne celebrates its most famous son. By the middle of the 1800s Trevithick was a surname found in the greatest numbers in the Central Mining District of Camborne-Redruth, particularly in Camborne. Richard Trevithick had himself been born at Tregajorran, actually in Illogan parish, but … Continue reading Trevithick: an iconic surname with multiple origins
If your surname is Mason, Carpenter or Angove (Cornish for smith) you can be fairly sure that, at some point in the distant past, one of your ancestors was a mason, carpenter or a smith. But can the same be said about names such as King, Bishop, Knight, Squire, Chancellor and similar? Many of these … Continue reading Do surnames mean what they say?