Family History and Genealogy in Cornwall

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:

  • Public Records including Court Records pre 1858
  • Mining Records from the Stannary Court
  • Shipping Registers from 1786
  • Census Returns from 1801
  • Local Government records including Parish Council and administrative records
  • Church of England records including Parish Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths for parishes around Cornwall with some records still available from 1538. The majority of records are for the period from 1837 onwards.
  • Family and Estate records including manorial records, personal papers and records for more than 40 Cornish gentry families
  • Nonconformist records for church records for Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists, Roman Catholics, Society of Friends(Quakars) and Jews.
  • Records of Voluntary Organisations including Charities, Hospitals, Schools and Societies.

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:

  • Camborne Redruth Packet from 1955 onwards Cornish & Devon Post from 1877 to date
  • Cornish Echo (formerly Falmouth & Penryn Weekly Times) 1895 to 1952 Cornish Guardian 1901 to date
  • Cornish Post and Mining News 1889 to 1944
  • Cornish Telegraph 1851 to 1915
  • Cornish Times 1857 to date
  • Cornish Times (Launceston edition) 1857 to 1859
  • Cornishman 1878 to date Cornubian (formerly Redruth Times) 1850 to 1925
  • East Cornwall Times 1859 to 1877
  • Falmouth & Penryn Weekly Times (Cornish Echo) 1861 to 1895
  • Falmouth Packet & Cornish Herald 1829 to 1848
  • Lake's Falmouth Packet 1858 to date
  • Launceston Weekly News 1856 to 1931
  • Newquay Express 1905 to 1945
  • Newquay Guardian (formerly Newquay Express) 1946 to 1955
  • Penzance Gazette 1839 to 1858
  • Penzance Journal 1847 to 1850
  • Redruth Independent 1879 to 1895
  • Redruth Times (continued as the Cornubian) 1867 to 1879
  • Royal Cornwall Gazette 1801 to 1951
  • St Austell Star 1889 to 1915
  • St Ives Times 1913 to 1971
  • St Ives Weekly Summary 1893 to 1918
  • Sherborne Mercury 1737 to 1867
  • West Briton 1810 to date
  • Western Echo 1899 to 1957
  • Western Star 1894 to 1895



More Books for Cornwall Family History Research


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

Census Online

My Trees

International Genealogical Index Family Search

Shipping Lists to Australia from 1788

Find your family's past Trace your ancestors and build your family tree. It's easy and reliable

National Archives

WorldGenWeb Project




Family History Databases

Ancestral Findings

Available for everyone, funded by people who are Into Cornwall.

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Things to do
in Cornwall


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:

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