I can help with all resources marked , copyright permitting.
See also Links
Almost all of the links on this page are external to my site and somewhat beyond my control. If you discover one that is broken, please let me know and I will fix/remove it as soon as possible.
- Alias—There are many reasons (other than criminal) why some people had more than one surname and were recorded as “X alias Y.” One that I have recently discoverd is that, after 1660, it may occur if the parents of the person were not considered legally married because the event took place during the Commonwealth/Protectorate of the civil war. Other reasons are that it could be a transitional period of the adoption of surnames (early in England but as late as the mid C19th in Wales). It could be that due to local custom or confusion a person was known by a different name; this particularly applied to incomers. Another reason could be that a person has deliberately changed their name, for example to that of their wife’s family for reasons of respect or inheritance.
- Banns—From the Hardwicke Act of 1754, it was required that notice of an impending marriage should be read in the parish churches of bride and groom for three consecutive Sundays prior to the ceremony. This was supposed to be recorded in a register for the purpose, either separate or together with the marriage itself.
- Bastardy Bond—these were to protect the parish (or the county) from the cost of rearing an illegitimate child which would otherwise be chargeable to the parish (or county) and were brought in in the reign of Elizabeth I. When it was known that an unmarried woman was pregnant she was brought before the parish or the court and questioned under oath and asked to declare the name of the father of her child. The reputed father was then brought before the parish (or court) and required to “post a bond” to cover the cost to the parish, or county, of rearing the child. If he (the bondsman) didn't have the money, his father etc. (surety) could guarantee the bond. If the woman refused to name the father, she, her father, etc. could post the bond. However, if the woman refused to name the father, or post the bond, she could be sent to prison. Up to 1834 one can find these records in the parish chest documents and in the quarter sessions. After 1834 they can be found in the quarter sessions or the petty sessions. [thanks to Corinne Thompson for this summary]
- Bezants = these are the 15 gold circles on the badge of Cornwall. The origin of the word refers to a Turkish gold piece. 15 bezants was the sum raised from the Cornish by the Commissioners shaking the can to raise the ransom for Richard Couer de Leon. Even the poorest coughed up something, hence our motto, “One And All.” [slighly tongue in cheek description by Albert Jenkin]
- BT = Bishop’s Transcript—copies of the parish registers made each year and sent to the Bishop. Cornwall was part of the Diocese of Exeter until the middle of the last century so the “real” Bishops Transcripts were sent to the Bishop of Exeter, are called the “Exeter Transcripts” and are now kept at the DRO. There are copies at the CRO on fiche so they are catalogued under the title FET, by which name they are sometimes known. However the geography made travel difficult at the best of times so for long periods the responsibility was delegated to the Archdeacon of Bodmin. These are called the “Bodmin Transcripts” and are now kept at the CRO. The relevant periods are (approximately) Exeter mid C16th to 1673, 1737–1740 and 1773 to mid C19th. Bodmin 1674–1736 and 1741–1772. Not all survive!
- CFHS = Cornwall Family History Society, Truro, Cornwall. Much of their data is online at Family History Online.
- CFS = Cornish Forefathers Society, Truro, Cornwall. Now closed, but see this list of their publications.
- Cordwainer = A shoe maker. Usually, but not always, applied to the maker of better quality shoes rather than working boots. The name comes from the particularly fine leather that once came from Cordova in Spain.
- CRO = Cornwall Record Office, Truro, Cornwall. See also Cornwall County Council on the links page.
- CSL = Cornwall Centre/Kresenn Kernow (once the Cornish Studies Library), Redruth, Cornwall, now known as the Cornwall Centre. Their site has information about their holdings of trade directories, newspapers and maps. The catalogue for all Cornwall Libraries is online and searchable using the Online Public Access Catalogue. See also “Familia—Cornwall” and Cornwall County Council on the links page.
- D&CRS = Devon and Cornwall Records Society, Exeter, Devon.
- DRO = Devon Record Office, Exeter, Devon. This may seem a bit off track, but remember that all Cornish churches were in the Exeter Diocese until the middle of the C19th. and have a lot of BTs.
- Feet of Fines—The term “Fines” has its origin in the middle ages. After the Norman conquest, William the Conqueror took possession of all English property and all landowners became his tenants. If a knight wished to sell or transfer property to someone outside his family, he was required to pay a fine to the king, and later to the royal county court. So the term “fines” came to mean a registered deed of property. The parchment on which the Fines were recorded was split into three separate sections, and the details of the property ownership were inscribed on each section. The three sections were cut apart with a wavy cut, to discourage forgers. The upper two thirds were divided between the old owner and the new owner, while the bottom third (“foot”) was kept by the court. All that was meant by your ancestors’ possession of land “in the Feet of Fines” was that they owned property for which a registered deed existed. I found this on another web site for which I lost the URL. If anyone can attribute it I will gladly acknowledge the source. The Cornish Feet of Fines has been transcribed and published.
- FET (see BT above)
- FFHS = Federation of Family History Societies, mostly British ones. They publish a lot of introductory books, notably the Gibson and McLaughlin guides which are second to none for value. They have recently started an online co-operative for member societies (which includes the CFHS) at Family History Online.
- FHL = Family History Library of the LDS in Salt Lake City, Utah. The catalogue (only) is now available online as part of the Family Search site.
- FRC = Family Records Centre in Myddleton Street, London. They are responsible for preserving the records of Births, Marriages and Deaths since 1837, the Census since 1841 and some other records relevant to family history such as probate.
- GENUKI (Genealogy of the United Kingdom and Ireland) is a mine of information about all things genealogical in the UK and Ireland featuring many pages on Cornwall.
- GOONS = Guild Of One Name Studies.
- GRO = General Register Office who run the registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths. Their records (for public search) are looked after by the FRC (above).
- IHGS = Institute of Heraldic & Genealogical Studies, Canterbury, Kent.
- IGI = International Genealogical Index. An index, mostly of marriages and baptisms world-wide, published by the LDS Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah and available on computer in Family History Centers. Earlier editions, 1988 and 1992 organised by county, are widely available on microfiche in research facilities elsewhere. This is supplemented by the “Vital Records Index—British Isles” on CD-ROM. The first edition adds half a dozen parishes in Cornwall. The second adds a lot more including some in our area. It is now also available online (including the supplements) as part of the Family Search site.
- Impropriate Tithes—ones that have been given or sold to a lay person. The others are known as Vicarial or Great Tithes.
- Indenture—ofen applied to Apprenticeships but could be any legal document forming a contract. The document (at least the first page) was written two or more times on a single large sheet of paper/parchment and, when complete, was divided using a wavy cut or indenture. Each party then kept one part and in the event of a dispute the parts could be brought together again to verify that they were genuine.
- Kernowek—this is not the place for a lengthy discussion of the Cornish language, a subject covered much better elsewhere and at length. For place names there are four very important words which it is worth listing. Vean=Little or Small, Veor=Great or Big, Wartha=Higher and Wolla=Lower.
- LDS = Church of Latter Day Saints. HQ in Salt Lake City, Utah but with Family History Centers in many countries. The Cornish one is in Helston. Sometimes you will see reference to the Genealogical Society of Utah which is a branch of the same organisation.
- MI = Monumental (tombstone or cemetery) Inscription. Many can be found online via the CORNISH-L Library or Christine Uphill’s Cornish Cemeteries site which has an index.
- Moity or Moiety = a half share. It is commonly used in land deeds and leases and foxed me for ages!
- Morrab = The Morrab Library, Penzance, Cornwall. A private subscription library founded in 1818.
- ONS = Office of National Statistics who create the census, but old ones are placed in the care of the PRO (below) who make it available through the FRC (above).
- OPC = Online Parish Clerk. No connection with the Clerk to the Parish Council but a volunteer organisation of people who collect every record they can about their specialist parishes for the benefit of researchers.
- Peculiar—some parishes are designated “peculiars”. This means that they were outside the jurisdiction of the Bishop of the Diocese. Cornwall had a number of different types but in this area there is only the Royal Peculiar of the Deanery of St. Buryan comprising that parish, St. Leven and Sennen. This status ceased in the C19th, but now there is a similar situation (since April 2003) with St. Just in Penwith which is in the pastoral care of an Provincial Episcopal Visitor (Flying Bishop), the Bishop of Ebbsfleet.
- Phillimore = Cornish Parish Registers—Marriages; Phillimore, W.P.W et. al. eds., Phillimore, London:1900–35. 26 Volumes.
- PRO = The Public Record Office, Kew are well on their way to getting an online catalogue. The census since 1841 on film is now looked after by the FRC (above).
- Relict = Widow from the Latin Relicti = abandoned.
- RIC = Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro, Cornwall. This incorporates the Courtney Library and the Royal Cornwall Museum. See also Cornwall County Council on the links page.
- SoG = Society of Genealogists, London.
- Sojourner—in simple terms this just means someone who is a temporary resident, but in Parish Registers its meaning is a little more precise. When the Hardwicke Act was introduced in 1754, clerks were required to enter the parish for each party to a marriage. If they had been resident for more than 3 weeks then they were shown as “o.t.p.” (of this parish). However, for someone who had only taken up residence in lodgings to avoid the necessity for banns fees, this was frowned upon and the word “sojourner” was added to the entry to indicate that they had met the letter of the law but didn't really belong.
- Uxor = Wife from the Latin.
- WSL = West country Studies Library, the library of the D&CRS in Exeter, Devon.
Units of Measurement
The majority of the records and references on this site are old and therefore may use units of measurement which may be unfamiliar. This is a brief guide to some that you will find and aproximate conversions.
- Currency—The pound (£) sterling is the same as in the UK today, though the value will have changed over time. Prior to 1971 it was divided into 20 shillings (s) and the shilling divided into twelve pence (d). A farthing was a quarter penny and a guinea was 21 shillings. A crown was five shillings and a florin, two shillings. In very early records you may find a mark which was 13s. 4d and a groat (four pence).
- Length—The mile consists of 1760 yards each of three feet ('). A foot is 12 inches ("). Ocasionally you will find chains (22 yards) and furlongs (10 chains). Even rarer is the rod, pole or perch which was 5½ yards. For metric equivelents a mile is about 1.6km, a yard about 914 mm and an inch 25.4 mm.
- Area of land—The acre (a) was 4840 square yards. A quarter of a acre was called a rood (r) and there were 40 perches or poles (p) to a rood. Hence a perch was 30¼ square yards. There were 640 acres to a square mile. For a metric equivalent a hectare is about 2.5 acres and a perch about 25 sq. meters. Beware, though, that in very old records there were different acres used in different parts of the country. A virgate was 30 acres and a hide = 4 virgates but again this varied according to the quality of the land as it was a measure of the amount needed to support a family.
- Weight—One convenient measure is the ton which is almost identical to the metric tonne. It contained 20 hundredweight (cwt) each of 8 stones. A stone was 14 pounds (lb) which each contained 16 ounces (oz). You also sometime see a quarter which was 2 stone. Busshels varied according to what produce they were measuring. The useful metric equivalents are a pound = 454 grams, an ounce is 28 grams.