30/01/2017
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How to trace your Cornish ancestors at Cornwall Record Office

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Find out how to trace your Cornish ancestors with our guide to family history resources held at Cornwall Record Office.

Cornwall Record office is home to a wide range of records from the twelfth century through to the present day.  The archive documents the people, places, buildings, and events across Cornwall through written records on paper, parchment, volumes, maps, plans, prints, drawings, photographs and digital records.

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Cornwall Record Office holds various records to help the family historian trace their family roots and these include:

  • Baptisms, Marriages and Burial records for Church of England from 1538 -1992
  • Non-Conformist from 1837 (most of these records have been filmed and available on microfiche)
  • The Society of Friends (Quaker) 1609-1837 and cemetery records

Other useful records include: Probate and Cornish wills (1600-1857), census,school admission books, workhouse, asylum, prison, Quarter Sessions for criminal records, bastardy bonds, settlement, apprenticeships, militia, and muster rolls. Maritime records includes crew lists for merchant and fishing boats.

Cornwall Record Office also holds records that can help the family historian to find where their ancestors lived. The Tithe Maps and Apportionments (c1840) are available for every parish.  These have been digitised and can be accessed on computer in the search room. The tithe apportionment which accompanies the map lists property, names of landowners and occupants and tithe packages consisting of 2 CD’s (map and apportionment) are available to purchase. 

Other useful sources include the District Valuation map and Doomsday book dated c1912, (gives similar information as the tithe), Register of Electors 1922-1980, deeds and leases found within Family and estate collections and solicitor records.

Industrial records

Cornwall is renowned the world over for its deep mining and steam engineering and various company and industrial records are held at the Record Office.  Stem books (wages) for some mines are available listing employees and wages paid. 

Cornwall Record Office’s electronic catalogue can be found on the website and can be accessed in the search room on the public computers (or at home).  You can search by keyword, theme or category.  The advanced search facility allows you to refine or restrict your search.

Visiting Cornwall Record Office

The Cornwall Record Office building is constructed on one level for easy access. Toilets and a seating area are available in the foyer.  Refreshments are available at a supermarket nearby. There is a car park opposite the building and there are disabled parking spaces immediately outside. It is always advisable to pre-book a visit to ensure we have space to accommodate you.

Documents can be pre-ordered to be ready for you on the day. You can read a guide on how to prepare for a visit on our website.

For first time visitors, will be asked to register for a reader’s ticket, so bring some ID (with name, address and signature). Only pencils are permitted for writing your notes and you can bring a laptop, notepad and camera. Wi-Fi is available.  If you have never used the Record Office before the staff on duty will be happy to give you advice on how to get started with your research.

We also offer a research, copy/digital order service if you are unable to visit in person.  Details of this service are on our website. Cornwall Record Office also runs an extensive programme of learning events, volunteer projects and exhibitions.

In 2018, Cornwall Record Office will move into a brand new purpose-built building, called Kresen Kernow (see artist's impression on the left). More details can be found on the project website.

Opening Times:

Tuesday to Friday 9.00 to 4.30pm. Cornwall Record Office is closed to the public for the first full week of every calendar month and opens on occasional Saturdays.  A calendar of the opening hours is available on website.

Cornwall Record Office, Old County Hall, Truro, Cornwall TR1 3AY; tel: 01872 323127; e-mail; website.

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