Cornish Roots: First Edition 1998 produced by Cornwall Business Systems, Albany Road, Redruth, Cornwall, England TR15 2HY. 1996. £29.95 plus £2 p&h.

The opening screen on this CD-ROM is a map of the county with two columns of buttons below. The program immediately starts into a photographic slide show with dots on the map moving from place to place to indicate its location. The Chacewater Carnon Male Voice Choir provides background music for the show.

The buttons below the map, arranged in two columns, include census, gazetteer, emigrants, places, maps, famous people, introduction, slide show, family names, place names and subscribers.

The introduction was worth listening to as it clearly describes the capabilities and limitations of the program.

Location Features

There are a variety of features dealing with locations on this disc. These include a 15,000 place gazetteer, modern road maps of the county, information and photographs of a variety of places within the county. One useful feature of the gazetteer is that it provides the Ordnance Survey Gazetteer grid reference so that the place can readily be located on the LandRanger (1:50,000) or the Pathfinder (1:25,000) maps of the area. Unfortunately, it does not tell you on which of the LandRanger or Pathfinder maps it is to be found.

The place-name section lists over 200 places with their meaning in English. The Family Names section is a database of over a 1,000 names providing their original Cornish spelling, the Cornish meaning, areas where the name is found and whether the name is related to a particular place.

1851 Census information

The 1851 census provides information on 356,641 people, approximately one-fifth of the population of Cornwall at the time. Ray Woodbine of Tywadreath has extracted all of the registration districts of Bodmin, Liskeard, St Columb and the Fowey Sub-District of St Austell. For each person the entries provide the name, occupation, address, name of spouse, relationship to head of household, birthplace, age and the piece, schedule and folio number so that you can examine the original record. Since this is a transcription by an individual you should certainly check the originals for possible errors and additional information.

To search for your ancestors you can scroll through the surnames or enter the surname to search for. This is the only section of this database indexed. By selecting the Reports section you can do more complex searches. For example all the Henry's, with surnames beginning with Chap, over the age of 30. This will search the complete database and display a table of results. You can select each choice in turn for further information. This is a very useful database if your ancestors are within the geographic territory covered by these districts.

Emigrants Database.

This is a database of 31,351 people, who immigrated to the USA between 1825 and 1916, and was created by the Cornish-American Connection in Redruth. The information is drawn from a wide range of primary and secondary sources.

You can search on a surname using a scroll bar or from the report screen you can make more complex searches, similar to the census search. The information provided can vary, but can be very informative. For example, Stephen Chenhalls was born 21 June 1824 in St. Agnes, Cornwall and immigrated 14 April 1842 from St. Agnes to Iowa County, Wisconsin via Padstow and Buffalo NY. He married Jane Truran in 1850, in Lafayette County, Wisconsin. He moved in 1878 to Ireton, Iowa where he died 21 January 1903. The sources given include obituaries in the Iowa County Democrat and Wisconsin Declarations of Intent. This is very useful information, providing lots of clues, if this is your ancestor. More often the information is not as complete but still provides good clues for places of origin in Cornwall.

One limitation of the database is that there is a one way linkage between married couples. The men know who their wives are, but the women do not show connections to their husbands.

There is no option to print any of the information, figures or maps in the program.

This is a good tool for researchers in Illinois and Wisconsin because of the high number of Cornish who came to this area. This may provide the clue you need to find the place of origin in Cornwall.

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.7 no.2, 2000