In 1886 the British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone was described as an ’old man in a hurry’ as he toiled without success to get his Irish Home Rule Bill through Parliament. Gladstone duly lost power but only finally retired in 1894, after another spell as Prime Minister and at the ripe age of 85. … Continue reading An old man in a hurry to depart
The first major revivals took place at St Just in Penwith in 1782 and St Austell in 1785, indicating that Methodism in those places had already reached the numbers necessary to support the phenomenon. The two ‘great’ revivals of 1799 and 1814 burned across the land in mid and west Cornwall as village after village … Continue reading The Great Revival of 1814
With local elections in the offing, it seems an appropriate time to ask whether there is any relationship between surnames and politics, or at least with those men and women standing for election to Cornwall Council next month. In 1889, when Cornwall County Council was set up, over two thirds, or 71% of the newly … Continue reading The politics of surnames. Or the surnames of politicians.
A recent academic article raises the case of the Church of England’s ‘resource church model’. This mission scheme has been rolled out in many parishes across England and Cornwall, but not without some internal criticism and debate. One criticism is that it tends to ignore people’s sense of place. In an article reviewed in more … Continue reading ‘Transforming mission’ or transforming Cornwall? The Church of England and Cornwall
I'm using this last blog of 2020 to thank all those who have visited this site this year and contributed so many interesting comments - apologies if I haven't responded to every request for information on a particular surname. You may be interested to learn which blogs were the most read in 2020. Here they … Continue reading New year greetings
What was Christmas like a hundred years ago? Let’s look at the Cornishman newspaper in 1920 for a few clues. Overall, it was generally quiet. At Penzance it was reported as ‘celebrated somewhat quietly’ while over and at Helston it also ‘passed off very quietly’. We might have expected that people would have been celebrating … Continue reading Christmas in west Cornwall in 1920
Before hereditary surnames there were second names that changed from one generation to the next. Before that, people just had one name. This was the case for most in Cornwall before the mid-1300s. Go back another 200 years to before the arrival of the Normans and we meet the names chosen by Cornish-speaking natives. Into … Continue reading Cornish names before the conquest
Why exactly would someone in the 13th or 14th centuries be given a nickname from a type of fish? Yet this is one of the possible explanations provided for the origin of Basset, from bass. Possibly more credible is a derivation from Middle English or Old French bass, meaning low, short or humble. The name … Continue reading Three Cornish surnames from nicknames
Durham University's Department of English Studies is hosting two public lectures on the 16th, one of which concerns Causley's poetry in relation to wartime trauma. If you're interested see the details in the poster below.
Two booklets have appeared recently on the subject of the Cornish language and here I provide a review and summary of them. Rod Lyon’s Colloquial doesn’t mean Corrupt: Observations on contemporary revived Cornish is a searing indictment of the stilted and unconvincing spoken Cornish of many Cornish users. This is something Rod argues is the … Continue reading The Cornish language: polemics and plans