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
Or at least a version of Brittonic Celtic, the language that was spoken, along with Latin, when the Romans left Britain in the early 400s. Within a relatively short time the whole of what became England, or at least its southern part, was speaking English. We know this because the number of Celtic placenames in … Continue reading Why don’t the English speak Cornish?
For a lot of us the debate over the proper base for the revived Cornish language is about as relevant as medieval theologians arguing over the number of angels that can stand on the head of a pin. Nonetheless, the Cornish language, revived or not, is of considerable symbolic importance for Cornwall and its identity … Continue reading Has the Standard Written Form of Cornish failed?
A research article by Siarl Ferdinand published online last year provides some intriguing results of a survey into attitudes towards the revived Cornish language. The good news for the revivalists is that there was a broadly positive view of Cornish, with a majority of respondents declaring it was either ‘interesting’ or not being bothered either … Continue reading Love it or hate it? Attitudes towards the revived Cornish language
Fanfare in order. This is the first of my on-demand surname blogs, where I respond to requests for information on surnames in Cornwall that do not appear in my The Surnames of Cornwall or in any previous blog. If you’re interested in any such surname let me know and I’ll see what I can find … Continue reading Two surnames; two questions
The origin of Whitehair would seem to be obvious – a nickname for someone with white or grey hair. Not so. According to the guru of English surnames, P.H.Reaney, this is a version of the original Whityer, an occupational name for a white leather dresser. His theory would appear to be backed up by the … Continue reading From rarer Cornish surnames to surnames on demand
To explain the origin of the following three surnames we have to negotiate various spelling changes over the centuries. In the 1500s we find no-one called Weary until Richard Weary was baptised at St Pinnock, near Liskeard, in 1598. On the other hand, there were many Werrys. As the surname Weary appeared in broadly the … Continue reading Rarer Cornish surnames continued
Sometimes surnames prove to be more common in Cornwall than elsewhere, even though they look to be anything but Cornish. Waddleton is one. This was probably a local spelling for the surname Waddington, named after a number of places in northern England and in Surrey. The first Waddleton appears in 1744 in the Antony marriage … Continue reading Two unexpected Cornish surnames and a relic of the old language
The following three surnames are all a little puzzling. Trevan looks like a classic trev- name, but it isn’t. There’s a place called Trevan at Probus. However, this was originally Tolvan (from tal and ban, meaning brow of a hill). That placename also occurred at Constantine, Illogan and St Hilary in west Cornwall. In those … Continue reading Three Cornish surname puzzles
Often, the surnames we have nowadays can differ from their ancestors of half a millennium ago. In the case of the three below the difference is subtle but nevertheless significant in identifying their origin. There is a place called Trengrove in Menheniot, near Liskeard. But this was not the origin of the surname Trengrove. The … Continue reading When surnames mutate – why spelling matters