The 6 best free Cornwall family history websites

By Guest, 11 September 2019 - 11:10am

To celebrate the opening of Kresen Kernow in Cornwall, we reveal the best websites for unlocking your Cornish family connections

Cornwall history
Charlestown in Cornwall was historically a port for exporting china clay (Credit: Peter Thompson/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

The south-west peninsula of Cornwall is one of the most magical counties in Britain.

With its rich and unique culture and Cornish language, beautiful landscapes and historic fishing and mining industries, uncovering Cornish ancestry is a connection to a place like no other.

Read our full guide to Cornish family history in Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine August 2019

It’s now easier than ever to research your Cornish family history with the unveiling of a brand new archive centre at the former brewery site at Redruth.

Built at a cost of £21 million, Kresen Kernow had its grand opening on 7 September and opens to researchers today.

It holds 1.5 million manuscripts, records and papers going back 850 years, including medieval manuscripts, books, newspapers, glass plate negatives, maps, diaries, letters and much more.

It also features learning rooms and exhibition space and will host a wide programme of activities, including school outreach and volunteering opportunities.

If you can’t get to Kresen Kernow in person, you’re in luck – lots of vital records for finding your Cornish ancestors are now online, and you don't even need to pay a subscription.

We’ve picked six of the best websites to get you started.

1. Kresen Kernow

Kresen Kernow

The new archive centre is accompanied by a brand-new website, with a searchable list of the records and collections of historic photographs of major Cornish towns and industries, as well as schools and railways.

2. Internet Archive

Internet Archive Cornwall

This page of the Internet Archive leads to various volumes of parish register transcriptions and indexes that are now out of copyright and free to download. You can also search for a Calendar of Wills and Administrations Relating to the Counties of Devon and Cornwall, Proved in the Consistory Court of the Bishop of Exeter, 1532–1800.

3. Cornwall OPC Database

Cornwall OPC

Click the ‘Coverage’ tab on the Cornwall Online Parish Clerks website and you can explore parish-by-parish progress of births, banns, marriages and burials.

4. FreeCEN

FreeCEN

The free census website has 340,901 Cornish returns from 1841; 354,744 from 1851; 362,111 from 1861; 358,043 from 1871; 326,187 from 1881; and 318,637 returns from 1891.

5. FamilySearch

FamilySearch

FamilySearch has Cornish parish registers from 1538 to 2010.

6. The West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser

West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser

Browse birth, marriage and death announcements, news reports, court cases, notices, absconded apprentices and coroner’s inquests from the West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser, launched in 1810.

 

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