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Common Cornwall Historical Forenames and Surnames

The following are the most commonly used forenames and surnames in Cornwall. These were compiled from Cornwall baptism records.

Male Forenames

Pre 17001700 to 1813Post 1813
JohnJohnWilliam
ThomasWilliamJohn
WilliamThomasJames
RichardRichardThomas
JamesJamesRichard
GeorgeHenryHenry
HenryGeorgeCharles
NicholasEdwardJoseph

Female Forenames

Pre 17001700 to 1813Post 1813
MaryMaryMary
JaneElizabethElizabeth
ElizabethJaneJane
MargaretAnnEliza
GraceGraceSarah
AnnMargaretMargaret
AnneAnneGrace
JoneSusannaAnnie

Surnames

Pre 17001700 to 1813Post 1813
JohnWilliamsWilliams
ThomasJamesRichards
JamesThomasThomas
WilliamsRobertsJames
WhiteHarrisRowe
MichellJohnRoberts
MartynRichardsMatthews
MathewPearcePearce

Cornish personal names in the 10th Century.

Many Cornish surnames derived from the ancient Cornish language. Cornish is the native language of Cornwall and was spoken in Cornwall until the 18th century. Cornish names are far move common in West Cornwall than East Cornwall. In the 1327 lay subsidy 94% the of those with a place name surname lived in that place. When they moved to a different location they often changed their surname. In the seventeenth century the vast majority of surnames in Cornwall were patronymic or derived from place names. Other common surnames derived from occupations and nicknames. Common Cornish surname prefixes are derived from place names:

The Cornish continued to use the traditional patronymic naming system later than the rest of England. Children took the forename of the father. For example: John James, son of James Richards. Patronymic naming in Cornwall continued as late as 1522. The reason for the continued use was because of the local use of the Cornish language. As a result, patronymic surnames are relatively common in Cornwall. The suffix "ow" or "a" was sometimes added to the surname to indicate "son of".