Researching Cornish ancestors

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At the moment, I only have one ancestor from Cornwall. He is John Boyd, born in Maker, Cornwall but on his convict record his native place was Plymouth, Devon (across the river from Maker). When he married in VDL he was a carpenter which was a great trade at that time of building in Tasmania.

I’m late to the session tonight – I have none in Australia but I have 3 Cornish lines via my American ancestry – Ladock – Anne Courtenay Mylor – Gilbert Holcombe Warleggan – William Parker – I haven’t researched these lines yet so this session will help

My one Cornish Ancestor migrated to South Australia. That’s all I know. More to research on him after tonight

My James Henry Trevaskis and Elizabeth Rosewarne both from St Hilary parish Cornwall married in Moonta South Australia

Places my ancestors and their families resided include Rose in Perranzabuloe, Falmouth, & Cape Pennance in Budock. They migrated to NZ, to continue mining in Wales and Montana in the USA. More distance relatives, I have not researched, went to South Aust.

I have three brothers who came together then later they were joined by sisters and their husbands

Cornwall! Yay! My Cornish ancestors were a recentish discovery. From West Cornwall: Penzance, Newlyn, Paul, Perranuthnoe – only know 1 occupation, builder/stonemason. Blewetts of Penzance (some of) arrived in Melbourne 1853

Secombe from Mawgan in Meneage and Ruan Minor to Wauhope near Port Macquarie. Other surnames Williams, Gyles, Thomas.

Occupations = a thatcher, a brick maker. farmer. The youngest to emigrate was Josiah Secombe aged 14 years who became a travelling Methodist minister after arriving in the Port Macquarie area.

My great grandfather migrated to NZ from Cornwall. He was a tailor where most of his family were miners in his and earlier generations. I was told we had no other Cornish ancestors in NZ however I have found a brother and sister that also migrated

I have a 2nd great grandmother from Cornwall but haven’t as yet done any research on her line. Looking forward to all your research tips tonight

I have so many ancestral lines in America where my Cornish lines fit that I set up a page “Origins of my Adams Brown Ford Ancestors before they came to America”…

My second great grandfather was an agricultural labourer from Cornwall. He emigrated to Sydney and worked as a labourer on various railway projects such as the Woy Woy Railway Tunnel. He was also a gardener.

ASUKLTD / Pixabay

What record repositories or sources help with ancestors research in Cornwall or overseas where they migrated?

GENUKI – Genealogy for UK and Ireland – Cornwall specifically

Online Parish ClerksCornwall specifically

Dusty docsCornwall specifically

Cornwall family history society which has both free and paid information available

Transcriptions from some Cornish newspapers

Cornwall council including museums, archives and libraries

Cornish surnames website

Cornish descendants and diaspora – beware all the ads

Cornish associations – New Zealand, Victoria, New South Wales,

Cornish Downunder facebook group – this is private and you will need to ask to join

Cornish mining sites in Australia

Cornwall’s archives called Kresen Kernow

Philip Payton’s book The Cornish Overseas talks about it being not uncommon for people to go home and migrate again.

I have recently spoken about the Blewetts of Penzance to the Cornish Association of Victoria, online here: – my sense of Cornish identity, how I researched them etc. A great resource for maps of all types, covers the UK and wider afield.

MonikaP / Pixabay

Is there anything unique or to consider especially with regard to Cornish research? Have you had any unusual finds?

My only unusual find was that the 14 year old who immigrated to NSW with his older brothers was baptised at his mother’s funeral. She took her own life after his birth. her 13th child. V sad

Cornish people migrated to many places so your research can expand to places you never thought you would be researching. Makes for interesting #familyhistory when you follow down new paths.

I always look for chain migration now Fran. My Cornish rellos came in 3 waves to Victoria, 1853, 1854 and 1859. One went back to Cornwall for a year or two and returned to Melbourne, married, in 1862 (& promptly died)

Interesting that town names of Launceston and Falmouth are places in Tasmania, there may have been a Cornish influence there

To track families over time, I like the Eng & Wales census for its data every 10 years. It’s found at big paid for, FH websites. FamilySearch provides interesting data and the family tree can give you useful hints to check out. + OPC

Cornwall OPC has been mentioned. I’ve found limited, but fantastic, information on my family in Cornish newspapers via FindMyPast/BNA

most of my Cornish anomalies are around the spelling of Trevaskis and Rosewarne. So many variants to search for

I have found watching the TV series Poldark has helped me to visualise what it would have been like for my Cornish miners

NSW Archives has been helpful (e.g. for shipping records.) Trove. NSW Registry of BDM (e.g. for death certificates, which showed places of birth). I learnt a lot about my 2nd grt g’father through these certificates, including who he worked for. @nlagovau

My ancestor’s family name was Soady. The name was spelt differently at times, e.g. Soddy, Sody. No unusual finds just yet.


TimHill / Pixabay

Have you been and what do you love most about Cornwall? Or do you have a different favourite county or country for researching?

Back in 1990 on my first big trip overseas, I drove from John O’Groats in Scotland down to Land’s End in Cornwall

Yes! Penzance in 2017, a quick trip to the archives in Redruth, walked to Mousehole through Newlyn & to St Michael’s Mount! Have been enjoying the Portillo series on SBS on Cornwall and Devon

Cornwall is a stunning place. I went down to research the family for a few week back in early 2009 and ended up staying 7 months. I found so much material at the various repositories. Some items in Cornwall record office I held in my hand (gloves on) were 15C

Ah Poldark. Hadn’t read the books or watched the series before I visited Cornwall, but have now read/watched several times. I think Winston Graham was an excellent researcher

Since I discovered my great grandfather came from Cornwall I feel attracted to the place. I have visited a number of places family lived although no buildings survive.

I had planned a research trip to Cornwall last year but it was cancelled. I have researched in other counties and perhaps my favourites are Hampshire, Kent and Sussex (where Morton farrier researches!)

I was quite thrilled to discover via Ancestry DNA that I have 14% ‘ethnicity’ from Cornwall (reflected in the records). Can’t explain this thrill really, Cornwall just speaks to me

I should follow this up Sharn. In the talk given recently by A/Prof Cate Frieman she noted that re the genetic profile of the British Isles shows that the Cornish basically marry other Cornish people – always unique and different! There you go, something unique

I had a look at Ancestry and I have East Cornwall as a Community.

It has a certain romance to it as a place Helen. Pirates and smuggling and breathtaking scenery

I haven’t been to Cornwall but it looks beautiful. I spend most of my English research time in Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire.

Probably evident that Cornwall is my favourite place (after Victoria) to research; very happy to connect with any #ANZAncestryTime researchers with Cornish ancestors to compare notes and research strategies

If any of our overseas friends drop by later I would love recommendations of a good on the ground researcher in Cornwall I could pay to research things I can’t because the likelihood of doing it in person is very slim now (thanks pandemic) – Helen

From this link you can search for researchers who are members of @RegQualGenes who might be able to help

I visited Cornwall in 1987 – my favourite places were St Ives, St Annes, Penzance, St Davids and Tintagel – I’d love to return one day – maybe in 2023

Cornwall is on my list of places to visit in 2022 – probably on my way to visit my first grandchild who will be born in Sweden next year.

I haven’t been to Cornwall, and the one time it might have been possible (UK conferences in 2017), everything was CRAZY expensive there, and I couldn’t afford the side trip. Would love to go one day.

Babyboomer100 / Pixabay

Great chat here:

Cornish Pastie! My favourite. I have been thinking of it since we started. Would love one now

Sharn, I watched a TV show just a few days ago, and there was this Cornish lady making pasties, amazing how much work went into getting the pastry just right

Ha! Yes, via the Cornish Association of Victoria I discovered the Aussie Oggie Pasty Co in Ballarat – & get them home delivered sometimes 😀

Something my mum said to me (not a Cornish gene in her body) is that they must have swede in them! Every family probably had its particularities

It’s one of the things I had to have when visiting. Wanted one with savoury at one end and sweet at the other like the miners apparently ate.

If you come to Bendigo and do an advanced mine tour, they give you a traditional Cornish Pastie for lunch. Loved the tour and the pastie

We really have ‘degenerated’ into food haven’t we?! But that is part of the fun of family history research. I state on my website blurb that I’m a family historian (jam first) – the Cornish know what I mean!

I have no Cornish family, but I do have ancestors from Devon. So that explains the cream first leanings in this household. (Also my artistic daughter says the pop of red on top of the cream is more aesthetically pleasing.)

Readers: Have you been to Cornwall or do you have any ancestors from Cornwall?