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

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 is currently under development and 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 will include 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. There is also a searchable database of over 3,000 Cornish mineworkers who migrated to Latin America, which has been painstakingly compiled from countless sources during 25 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

 

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

Feb
14

Cornish mineworkers in South Africa

Cornish mineworkers in South Africa A talk to the Toronto Cornish Association “When the button is pressed in South Africa, the bell rings in Cornwall” © Sharron P. Schwartz     I recently gave a ‘zoom’ lecture to the members of the Toronto Cornish Association, entitled, ‘The Cornish Experience of South Africa in the Nineteenth… Read More »Cornish mineworkers in South Africa

Feb
03

Brass Band Competition

A Blast from the Past! Bodmin Town Band represented Bodmin and the whole of Cornwall in the Wychavon Brass Band Competition in November 2023. Their programme showcased our Cornish mining heritage   Musical director and conductor Colin Hudson said: “Usually there’s a set test piece for bands to perform at a ‘closed audition’. Months are… Read More »Brass Band Competition

Aug
13

The Wicklow Lead Mines revisited

The Wicklow Lead Mines Revisited In July, I was invited to lead a guided walk to the Glendalough mining landscape. This was part of a five-day symposium which considered the cultural, social, environmental, and economic crises associated with extractivism, held under the aegis of the ‘Post-extractivist legacies and landscapes: Humanities, artistic and activist responses’. This… Read More »The Wicklow Lead Mines revisited

Aug
02

Heartlands: Major New Mining Migration Exhibition Opens

Major new Cornish mining migration exhibition opens A major new exhibition and documentary film focusing on Cornish mining migration was officially opened on Friday 9 July on behalf of the Heartlands Trust at the Heartlands site at Pool, by Karen Maddocks, H.M. Ambassador to Montenegro. This permanent new feature is the result of a significant… Read More »Heartlands: Major New Mining Migration Exhibition Opens

Mar
03

Animate the Past

  Bringing the Past back to Life   Excited to have been trying out some new functions on the My Heritage website.  One function allows for the colourisation and enhancement of old Black and White photographs.  But one of the newest functions (Deep Nostalgia) allows the animation of an uploaded photograph. The software recognises faces… Read More »Animate the Past

Mar
02

Welcome to my new website

Welcome to my new website about Cousin Jack and his World Delighted to launch my new website about Cousin Jack and his World.  In this website you will find a summary of Cornish mining migration, interactive maps and details of some of the most important places that they traveled to during Cornwall’s Great Migration.  The… Read More »Welcome to my new website

Mar
02

Kresen Kernow Talk

Online Kresen Kernow Talk Join me at a Kresen Kernow talk to discover how the Cornish came to dominate the global metalliferous mining industry for over a century. Inspired by Kresen Kernow’s (closed) exhibition focusing on Cornwall at Home…and Away, Sharron will explore the history of Cornish miners and their role in a global industry.… Read More »Kresen Kernow Talk