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Legacies of Cornish Mining Migration

Unless otherwise stated, all content is © Sharron P. Schwartz and may not be reproduced without permission


The expertise and reputation of Cornish mineworkers spread across the globe from the early nineteenth to the mid twentieth centuries.  During this period, the Cornish could be found working at mines in every habitable continent. The legacies of this migration are evident, both overseas and at home in Cornwall.

Obvious impacts overseas are relict mining landscapes, which include the quintessentially Cornish-type masonry buildings constructed to accommodate steam engines used for pumping, winding, crushing and stamping. Equally significant is the proliferation of Cornish cuisine, especially in the form of the Cornish pasty, which is now globally known and a multi-million pound industry. Important too are the imprint of Cornish surnames and place names, many derived form the ancient Cornish language, and the popularisation of sports such as rugby and football, folklore, music and the carol tradition.

Over 30 years of research in Cornish mining migration means I have acquired insight into the drivers, effects and the legacies of Cornish mining migration. Unfortunately, few people now work in the mining industry in Cornwall, but the legacies of their forbears can be seen everywhere. In the following pages, I explore some of these, and hope that you, the reader, can add to these findings. 

Foreign House Names

Many returning Cornish migrants named their houses for the places that they worked in overseas. Today the legacy of Cornish mining migration are scores of surviving houses with foreign house names. But the installation of double glazing, or purchases by those unaware of the houses’ heritage, has resulted in the dramatic decline of these names in recent years.

Click here to learn more about foreign house names in Cornwall, browse and search my database (login required)

Migrants to and from Mexico

Journey by diligence from Veracruz to Mexico City 1867

Detailed analysis of shipping records from Mexican newspapers has identified a wealth of information about Cornish mine workers and their families who traveled back and forth to Mexico in the nineteenth century. Explore my database  to see if your ancestors are recorded here.

Click here to learn more about migrants to and from Mexico (login required)

Cornish Engine Houses

Burra engine house, Australia

There over 150 Cornish style engine houses outside Cornwall. Explore this legacy of Cornish expertise in high pressure steam engines.

Click to search and learn about Cornish Engines outside Cornwall

Latin America

Cornish miners and locals in Chile

Coming soon due to popular demand! During well over 30 years of research on Cornish mining migration, I have recorded the details of names, dates, place of birth, destinations and family details of over 3,000 people who migrated to work in Latin America (primarily the Spanish Americas).