Cornish families can be identified by their surnames: Borlase; Tonkin; Killigrew, Trelawney; Davey; Trevithick; Arundell; Boscawen; Bray; Carew; Godolphin; Vivian; Penrose; Hocking; Polwhele are some of the famous ones. By Tre, Pol and Pen you shall know the Cornishmen. Chances are that if your family name is something like this then you have Cornish ancestors.
Researching your family tree and discovering your ancestors can be a fascinating pastime and captures the imagination of many.
Many families left Cornwall during the 19th century. The depression in the mining industry meant that as mines closed in Cornwall and families found themselves without the ability to make a living, they sought new employment opportunities, heading for a new life in the United States, Canada, Australia, South America, Africa.
Skilled workers such as Cornish miners and engineers were eagerly prized around the world for their skill and knowledge, to the point that it is often said that wherever there is a hole being dug in the ground you will find a Cornishman in the bottom of it.
Men and women of Cornish descent can now be found across the world. In may of these places there are active Cornish Associations (see our Cornish Culture page for a list of Cornish Associations).
The links below will help you whether you are tracing your Cornish ancestry or if you are generally wanting to uncover your family history.
Parish churches can often be the first step in tracing your family history. Visit our Churches in Cornwall page to view the list of Parish churches.
Cornish Family History Links
Cornwall Record Office
Address and contact details:
The County Archivist
Cornwall County Council
Old County Hall
Tel: +44 (0)1872 323127
Fax: +44 (0)1872 322292
To view the Online Catalogues of the Cornwall Record Office please click on the following links:
The Cornwall Record Office(CRO) contains a wealth of information including the following archives:
For an overview of all the services offered by the Cornwall Record Office click here
For an introduction to Family History in Cornwall
Cornwall Centre (Kresenn Kernow) houses the Cornish Studies Library.
Address and contact details:
Alma Place, Redruth, TR15 2AT
Tel: +44 (0)1209 216760
Fax: +44 (0)1209 210283
The Cornwall Centre in Redruth and The Cornwall Library Service contains an archive of newspapers and periodicals dating from as early as 1737.
Titles held include:
More Cornish Family History Links
Searchable database of Parish Records in Cornwall
The Cornwall Family History Society provides information and an access point to Parish Registers
Cornwall Online Parish Clerks provide information and an access point to Parish Registers
Genuki Guide and information on UK Genealogy
Cornwall Online Census Project
Parish Records for some of Cornwall's Tamar parishes are held in Devon Archives
Transcriptions of West Briton Newspaper 1837 - 1887
Cornwall Registration Service has records for the eleven registration districts in Cornwall including marraiage records for all religious denominations.
The Royal Cornwall Museum houses a fine library and archive of information of interest for family tree researchers
General Genealogy Links
National, Academic and Specialist Library Catalogue
International Genealogical Index Family Search
Shipping Lists to Australia from 1788
Ancestry is a mostly subscription based website which can be accessed free from specialist and branch libraries in Cornwall
Family History Databases
Things to do
Maps of Cornwall :
The Ordnance Survey publishes the Explorer series of maps which are
ideal for walkers.
Scale 1 : 25 000
2.5 inches to 1 mile /
4cm to 1km.
Available in local bookshops or click on the links below to order online.
Those covering Cornwall:
Map of Isles of Scilly:101 Isles of Scilly
For more information: www.ordsvy.gov.uk