The villages and hamlets dotted around the moors and valleys of Sancreed parish in the heart of West Penwith in the mid-1800s housed a population of miners (around half of the labour force), farmers and labourers. In this part of Cornwall, the boundaries between these occupational groups were quite porous. The majority of farmers only … Continue reading Sancreed: dairy farming and baby farming
Saltash is known mainly for its twin bridges rather than for its architectural splendour or the historical significance of its built environment, which now sprawls voraciously and unstoppably into the nearby countryside. In 1859 Brunel’s Royal Albert Bridge across the River Tamar was opened and trains began to cross to and fro from England into … Continue reading Saltash: just passing through
The small parishes of Ruan Minor and Ruan Major should not be confused with Ruanlanihorne. (Ruan was a saint – in Old Cornish Rumon.) Ruan Major and Minor will be treated together here as they are neighbouring parishes on the Lizard peninsula, now combined with a third parish to make up the modern Grade-Ruan. Around … Continue reading Running from Ruan?
Ruanlanihorne, on the eastern side of the Fal estuary, is one of those places that might strike the casual visitor as warranting the epithet ‘timeless’, essentially unchanged since the 1800s. In one sense this could be true. Unaffected by the ups and downs of mining and well away from the major communication routes, with no … Continue reading Ruminating at Ruanlanihorne
Roche in mid-Cornwall is on the northern edge of the clay country. At the time the children in our database were born in 1850/51 the extraction of clay was only just beginning to scar the landscape. The creation of the white mountains of the clay country and the sterilisation of many square miles of countryside … Continue reading Clay labouring families at Roche
We have seen that the preferred destination of the majority of Redruth’s sons and daughters in the mid-1800s was the United States. Most of them would have begun their journey by travelling north to embark from Liverpool. Meanwhile, others went north and stayed there. Ellen Chegwidden was the daughter of a sawyer in Redruth in … Continue reading Redruth, Cymru and Cumbria
Occasionally, peering through the routine pages of the nineteenth century censuses examining the lives of our predecessors can seem to veer perilously close to prurient curiosity. Perhaps we discover something that they tried hard to hide – an illegitimate child brought up by the grandparents, a deserted wife describing herself as a widow, a bigamist … Continue reading Some Redruth folk’s marital issues
Redruth had been at the heart of Cornwall’s central mining district in the 1700s. In the days of copper, it was surrounded by the riches of Gwennap to the east and the mines of Illogan to the west. As copper faded after the 1860s and the centre of Cornish metal mining shifted westwards towards Camborne’s … Continue reading Redruth: America’s 51st state
Rame is tucked away in the far south-east of Cornwall. Sometimes dubbed Cornwall’s forgotten corner, the district is possibly one of the least familiar in Cornwall to most residents, even those who might pride themselves on their knowledge of Cornwall. Despite its proximity to the busy city of Plymouth across the Tamar estuary, Rame has … Continue reading Rame: a forgotten corner of Cornwall?
We have seen in these blogs that many people left Cornwall in the nineteenth century. By now, all but the most casual reader will be aware that those from mining families were more likely to leave. But not everyone did. So why did some emigrate and others didn’t? Let’s look at an example from Quethiock, … Continue reading Quethiock – the importance of the family context