Sources for Cornish Family History, 35 pp. Paperback. c. 1988, revised January 1996. £4 surface mail and Guide to Sources at the Cornwall Record Office, 80 pp. Paperback. c. Nov. 1995. £7 surface mail. Both obtainable from Cornwall Record Office, County Hall, Truro TR1 3AY, Cornwall, England.
Sources for Cornish Family History begins with a brief introduction to records typically used by the family historian such as: parish registers; census returns; probate and poor law records; deeds; pedigrees; etc. The bulk of this guide is taken up with two long listings. The first list presents the beginning and ending dates of the registers for the Church of England parishes, along with whether the marriages are included in the Phillimore Marriage Index. This listing can be found in other resources. The second listing provides information on over 500 surviving registers for the different branches of Methodism and their circuits. This is an important resource because it is calculated that by 1851 64% of churchgoers in Cornwall attended Methodist services and only 28% attended the established church. The remainder of the guide lists smaller record groups for other Nonconformists, and brief information on other depositories having Cornish collections.
Guide to Sources at the Cornwall Record Office is where you need to turn after you have done the basics. This excellent guide is divided into sections examining records from the public, local government, Church of England, businesses and industries, family and estate, nonconformist, voluntary organizations, printed sources, and sources elsewhere. This book is organized by the group that contributed the records and so certain types of records will appear in different record classes depending on who had custody of the records at the time of deposition. The good index will help you find similar records deposited by different groups. The origin and purpose of each record group is described and for me provides one of the best resources I have come across for information about a lot of different record groups for use by the family historian. The descriptions will provide you with lots of ideas on what exists for what time period and where to go next in your research.
This excellent guide to the records of Cornwall will certainly take you beyond the basics and into resources that will certainly provide lots of background information about your ancestors life and possibly your ancestor. Many of these records will not be available in the US so you will need this guide to plan your next trip to Cornwall or to have research done for you in Cornwall. The book concludes with a long and excellent bibliography organized by topic to get you deeper into your research.
The County Record Office does provide research services at £12 per hour, with copies extra. Contact Paul Milner if you are interested in further information on services provided.
Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.3 no.6, 1996