I was delighted to be a speaker in mid-August at the 2014 International Gathering of the Cornish American Heritage Society. My topic, The Cornish Chronicle, tells the story of my native shire drawn from my historical novel The Miner & the Viscount.
A major purpose of the Cornish American Heritage Society is to help members track their ancestry and find out about their own family history. See www.cousinjack.org
Tracing family roots is a particular fascination for the Cornish people. We are, naturally, special. We are Celtic, a unique race with our own language, spiritual connections, culture, traditions, and character. Cornwall itself is remote, self-contained, with scenery that ranges from picturesque towns and villages, fields and woods to rugged moors and rocky cliffs. Perhaps our isolation instills our character. We Cornish are sturdily independent; some even say we are stubborn.
Why are we so fascinated with our antecedents? Perhaps it is because of the eternal questions we ask ourselves. What is the purpose of our existence? Why were we put upon this earth? What hereditary characteristics or abilities make us the way we are? What places do we came from, and what communities are we part of? Perhaps we validate ourselves by knowing about our origins. There are some excellent resources to aid our search. www.ancestry.com is an extensive general source. For the Cornish in particular, the Cornish Global Migration Programme is a treasure trove. It is based in Murdoch House in Redruth. It was founded by our family friend,Dr. F. L. Harris, and ably directed for many years by Moira Tangy (cousin of my friend Mary Tangye Fryer). Its current director, Mike Kiernan, is speaking to the International Gathering. Find out more at www.murdochhouse.org/CGMP
Murdoch House by the way was the first house in Britain to be lit by gas, another example of Cornish inventiveness.
For those of you who would like professional help in tracing your Cornish roots, try Rachael Eustice at http://www.cornish-cousins.com in Penzance. If you are interested in the great emigration to Australia take a look at the Heraldry and Genealogy Society of Canberra at www.hagsoc.org.au/
You will discover many, many resources as you follow the trails that most interest you. You might also want to look at my essay, entitled “ancestry.com,” which I’ve posted on this website under the Meet the Author tab.