In September 1906 the peace of the small town of Auburn, Nebraska was shattered by news of the murder of a ‘prominent farmer’ a few miles east near the even smaller settlement of Brownville. The farmer, Isaac Cock Williams, had been born in the Cornish parish of St Ewe, west of St Austell, in 1850. … Continue reading St Ewe man murdered! Two arrested
Morvah is easily overlooked. It’s one of Cornwall’s smallest parishes, hidden deep in West Penwith and comfortably tucked between St Just and Zennor. In the 1861 census Morvah unusually recorded only one labourer among its working age men. This was more a result of the very small holdings that needed little help beyond the immediate … Continue reading Morvah: the parish with no labourers
Nineteenth century Constantine was a parish of contrasts. North of the village granite quarries pockmarked the southern edges of the Carnmenellis upland and gave employment to many. To the south, rich farmland fell away to the woods and creeks of the Helford estuary. Workers at Bosahan Quarry in the parish Ann Williams was the daughter … Continue reading Contrasts at Constantine
By 1891 for every one boy in the 1861 Calstock database left in Cornwall, two could be found in the north of England. Although the numbers are too low to draw any hard and fast conclusions, it looks as if there was a marked propensity to move from Calstock to Northumberland and Durham in particular. … Continue reading Magnetic north
As we saw in the previous blog, some people in the Victorian Lives project left while others stayed. It’s gradually becoming clear that sons and daughters of farmers were less likely to leave Cornwall than the offspring of the poor or those from mining families. But there were exceptions. Here is the tale of two … Continue reading Absent husbands
Williams was (and probably still is) the most frequently occurring surname in Cornwall. The last blog looked at an exceptional family with this name. This one reviews the more common Williamses. Williams, like Thomas, Richards, Harris and others, is relatively common in Cornwall (as in Wales) because hereditary surnames were sometimes adopted later, when the … Continue reading Why are there so many Williamses in Cornwall?
The history of the Williams family of Caerhays in mid-Cornwall and Scorrier, Burncoose and Tregullow near Redruth is the story of Cornwall writ small. Emerging from obscurity in the later 1600s in the country between Redruth and Penryn, the family became Cornwall’s most successful mine managers and investors during the 1700s. It was John Williams … Continue reading From merchanting to gardening: the Williams dynasty of Caerhays
Some of our most common surnames in Cornwall were very uncommon 500 years ago. Take the names Williams and Richards for example. Nowadays these are the the most frequent surnames found among the native Cornish. In the 1540s there were hardly any examples of people named Williams or Richards. But of course there were scores … Continue reading When did William (or Richard or Robert or … ) add an -s to his name?