Records are the foundation of your research as they provide the facts upon which your tree is based. You use these records to build your family tree, going back till you run out of information.

Census Reports – Available online (some are free), from subscription database and free from the Peoples Network computers in Cornwall’s public libraries. Census reports record individuals and where they were living on a specific date every 10 years. The records cover the period from 1841 to 1911 but the earlier ones carry less information.  A word of caution. These records produce names, addresses and later ages and occupations; you may find that there are some discrepancies. In my experience, people could not all write so the enumerator who collected the census had to fill in the details himself and sometimes wrote down information as it sounded and this may explain the miss-spelling of some surnames. I also believe people were not trusting of the census and sometimes vague about their age. I have also noted that often people would put their place of birth as the place they were currently living when I knew they were born elsewhere. Census information needs to be confirmed and not taken on face value.

Civil Registration – BMD’s; These are the Birth, Marriage and Death records for Anglicans which came into being in 1837 and continue to this day. They contain a wealth of information and are the backbone of any family history. These can be obtained from the General Registration Office via the internet or Local Registration Services for £9.25 each (currently).

Non-Conformist – (non Anglican) BMD Records from 1837 onwards are recorded under civil registration. Before that churches had to keep their own records and some can be missing. After 1754, marriages had to take place in Anglican Churches so there is a good chance records exist.

Parish Records –  Prior to 1837 our main source of information are the Church Registers. These again contain the Birth, Marriage and Burial records for each of Cornwall’s 257 parishes. These are held by Cornwall Record Office and searchable on microfiche. You may find that Local Family History Societies may also have some of these records. If you are fortunate you may be able to go back to late 1500’s but information and handwriting can be hard to decipher.

WW1 Records –  If you are looking for a relative who served in the First World War be warned, two thirds of the records for the First World War were destroyed by fire in the Second World War. You may be fortunate and certainly the Service and Pension Records would be the first you would look up. If your relative survived the war then also look up the Medal Cards, detailing who were awarded which medals.  The Silver Badge records are helpful as the Silver Badges were awarded to all who came home from the front unfit. They were worn so as to display that the wearer had done his bit and not a coward to receive a white feather. The London Gazette published acts of bravery and a Roll of Honour which was a record of all those who died during the First World War. Available online and through The National Archives.

Maps – It is always worth checking if there are maps available for the area you are researching as they can reveal some fascinating facts. There are differing sorts of maps, from Tax, Tithe, Railway and early Ordinance Survey. Held at Cornwall Record Office, Truro and Cornish Studies Library, Redruth.

Newspapers –  Many have been digitalised and so available online through a subscription service. More likely that detailed information about a Cornish relative will be found at the Cornish Studies Library, Redruth.

Trade Directories –  These began at the end of the 18th Century and the best known are Kelly’s and The Post Office but there are others. These are usually kept by the local archives but I have seen some extracts for Cornwall available online. Be warned, we do not have Directories for every year.

Electoral Registers –  By 1884 most men who had a job could vote but unfortunately women had to wait until 1918, if they were over 30 and held property. These should be held at the Local Studies Library and the British Library’s set of registers is currently being digitised.

Rate Records – These can be very helpful and tell you who was the owner and who was the occupier of a property. Records held in Truro.

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