A Cousin Jacks Headstone, Silver Plume, ColoradoCousin Jacks mines a Cornish Pasty in AustraliaCousin Jacks built Hughes's engine house, Moonta Mine, AustraliaMountain Mine, Allihies, Ireland. Cousin Jacks worked in most of the Irish minesCousin Jack Cornish miners at Tamarack, Keweenaw, MichiganThe Cornish Engine at O’kiep, Namaqualand, Northern Cape, South Africa. Erected by Cornish migrantsChinese and White laborers in a gold mine in South Africa, probably Cornish minersLots of Cornish miners migrated to work in the Moonta Mine, AustraliaCousin Jacks built the engine house at Burra Mine, AustraliaCousin Jack lived in houses like these in Cornwall. Pendarves House and Trelawney House, Cornish miners houses, Mineral Point, Wisconsin.Cerro Blanco ghost mining town, Chile. Cousin Jack would have found it hot here!Pozo Ancho Mine, Linares, Spain, Many Cornish migrated to work in Spanish mines

Cousin Jack miners at O'Okiep mine, South Africa, 1890

Cartoon satirising the cult of Cousin Jack in Australia

The Migration of Cornish ‘Cousin Jack’ Mineworkers

This website aims to provide resources to explore the migration of Cornish mineworkers, primarily in the century after 1815. This is the period commonly referred to as Cornwall’s Great Migration, during which time the Cornish dominated the global hard rock mining industry, giving rise to the ‘cult’ of Cousin Jack.

The Cornish are often statistically invisible, designated as English in official documentation. But the Cornish are not English, and this fact was finally confirmed in 2014 when the Cornish people were recognised and afforded protection by the UK Government under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. My work, and that of other Cornish scholars, has sought to demonstrate the significant Cornish contribution to the British development of nineteenth century world mining resources.

Although recent postcolonial studies have begun to cast doubts on the prevalent triumphant and over-celebratory narratives of Cornwall’s role in the nineteenth century colonisation of nations across the globe (and this website does not shy away from discussing such issues), it is beyond question that the Great Migration has had a profound impact on modern Cornwall, and on many places around the world.

This website aims to tell the remarkable story of how a small nation from the south west corner of Britain aided the development of the modern global hard rock mining economy, and managed to dominate it for near a century.

It includes interactive maps showing many of the places to which they migrated. Some of the most important or less well known destinations will have detailed illustrated histories. Currently in development is a searchable database of over 3,000 Cornish mineworkers who migrated to Latin America, which has been painstakingly compiled from countless sources during 30 years of research.

Being Cornish born and bred, and having many hundreds of ancestors on both sides of my family tree who contributed to the movement of mining families to and from Cornwall, I have amassed a lot of information on this period. I feel strongly that we should all share in the dissemination of information concerning this important chapter of our nation’s history. It is a heritage that belongs to ‘One and All.’

I very much hope that you too will contribute to the update of content on this website through the submission of information about the migration of Cornish miners, and by sharing any photographs, plans, maps, letters or diaries you might have.

In the meanwhile you are are welcome to look at the history of Cornish mining migration or explore some of the places where the Cornish went. You can also register as a subscriber to get updates and contribute to this website here

 

Latest posts

 

Jun
24

Migration: Crown of Cornish Achievement, or Architect of its Decline? A Throwback in Verse

Migration: Crown of Cornish Achievement, or Architect of its Decline? A Throwback in Verse Sorting through my research and old teaching notes, I happened upon this absolute gem that was written by one of my students. It was penned in response to my course on Cornwall’s Great Migration and the advent of peripherality due to… Read More »Migration: Crown of Cornish Achievement, or Architect of its Decline? A Throwback in Verse

Jun
18

Third of three films Celebrating 200 Years of the Cornish in Real del Monte-Pachuca, Mexico

The Bicentennial (1824-2024): Celebrating 200 Years of Cornish Mineworkers in Real del Monte-Pachuca, Mexico Two hundred years ago, the first group of Cornishmen had arrived at the silver mines of Real del Monte-Pachuca in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Orientale. In the final episode, we discover what occurred when the men arrived there and what subsequently happened… Read More »Third of three films Celebrating 200 Years of the Cornish in Real del Monte-Pachuca, Mexico

May
29

Second of three films Celebrating 200 Years of the Cornish in Real del Monte-Pachuca, Mexico

The Bicentennial (1824-2024): Celebrating 200 Years of Cornish Mineworkers in Real del Monte-Pachuca, Mexico Two hundred years ago, the first group of Cornishmen had arrived at Tampico and were en route to the silver mines of Real del Monte in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Orientale. In this episode, using the diary of one of the men… Read More »Second of three films Celebrating 200 Years of the Cornish in Real del Monte-Pachuca, Mexico

Apr
20

First of three films Celebrating 200 Years of the Cornish in Real del Monte-Pachuca, Mexico

The Bicentennial (1824-2024): Celebrating 200 Years of Cornish Mineworkers in Real del Monte-Pachuca, Mexico Two hundred years ago, the first group of Cornishmen arrived at the silver mines in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Orientale to begin work for the Real del Monte Mining Company. Their arrival began a remarkable story that has bound the mining nations… Read More »First of three films Celebrating 200 Years of the Cornish in Real del Monte-Pachuca, Mexico

Apr
13

Happy Birthday to Richard Trevithick, a ‘Professor’ in Peru

Happy Birthday to Richard Trevithick: Cornwall’s most famous engineer and migrant Richard Trevithick was born this day (April 13) in 1771. His name is synonymous with Cornish engineering, as he successfully harnessed high-pressure steam that was utilised by Cornish beam engines, and trialled the world’s first practical steam locomotive in Camborne in 1801. This has… Read More »Happy Birthday to Richard Trevithick, a ‘Professor’ in Peru

Apr
10

‘Roman’ through Kresen Kernow to a mine in South West Portugal

‘Roman’ through Kresen Kernow to a mine in South West Portugal On a recent research visit to the excellent Kresen Kernow at Redruth, Cornwall, which houses a superlative collection of documents and other artefacts of relevance to the Cornish nation, I came across a very fragile and puzzling drawing. It related to the installation of… Read More »‘Roman’ through Kresen Kernow to a mine in South West Portugal

Mar
15

The Lidjessy silver-lead mines in Turkey

Not so Turkish Delight! Everyone has heard the old adage, ‘Wherever there is a hole in the ground, there’ll be a Cornishman working at the bottom of it.’ Looking at my map of the nineteenth century mining world, that comment certainly does not seem to be too wide of the mark. The stories of Cornish… Read More »The Lidjessy silver-lead mines in Turkey

Feb
20

Two Hundred Years of the Cornish in Mexico

The Cornish in Mexico: Celebrating Two Hundred Years of Shared History This year marks the bicentenary of the arrival of the first Cornish mineworkers in Mexico. After visiting several mining areas within Mexico on two separate trips, and having an ancestor who participated in the migration to the Real del Monte silver mines, I am… Read More »Two Hundred Years of the Cornish in Mexico