Bodmin, Cornwall Family History Guide

Fore Street Bodmin
Fore Street Bodmin

Bodmin is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Cornwall.

Alternative names: Bodmin Borough

Other places in the parish include: Nanstallon.

Status: Ancient Parish

Parish church: St. Petrock

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1558
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1608

Nonconformists include: Bible Christian Methodist, Countess of Huntingdon Methodist, Independent/Congregational, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Wesleyan Methodist, and Wesleyan Methodist Association.

Parishes adjacent to Bodmin

Parish History

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

BODMIN, a town, a parish, a subdistrict, and a district in Cornwall. The town stands in a hollow between two hills, near the centre of the county, 3½ miles WNW of Bodmin-Road r. station, and 22 SW of Launceston. A hermitage of St. Guron stood here about the beginning of the 6th century; and gave place, about 518, to a monastic cell founded by St. Petroc. This is thought by some, but erroneously, to have become the first seat of the bishopric of Cornwall; was occupied by old British or Benedictine monks till 926; and gave place then to a Benedictine priory, founded by King Athelstan. This was destroyed by Danish pirates in 981; yet continued to be a centre of monks till about 1120; and then was succeeded by an Augustinian monastery, founded by one Algar; and this passed, at the dissolution, to Thomas Sternhold, one of the translators of the Psalms. A Grey friary was founded by John of London, a merchant, and augmented by Edmund, Earl of Cornwall; was given, at the dissolution, to William Abbot; and passed, about twenty years after, to the corporation. Part of the refectory was afterwards used as the town hall. A lazar-house was founded, at an early period, in the north-western vicinity; refounded and incorporated by Queen Elizabeth; and endowed with property, yielding £140 a year; which came to be transferred to the infirmary at Truro; and some remains of the building, including several pointed arches, were not long ago standing. No fewer than thirteen churches or free chapels were at one time in the town and its environs; and one of these, an ivy-clad structure, called the chapel of St. Thomas, still adjoins the chancel of the parish church; while a tower, which belonged to another, called the chapel of the Holy Cross, stands on a hill about ½ a mile to the N. The town was so populous in 1351 as to lose 1,500 persons in that year by pestilence; and it was one of the places which had authority to stamp tin, but it lost that privilege in 1347. It owed its consequence mainly to the number and influence of its ecclesiastics; and it sank suddenly, at the Reformation, into much decay; but it revived during last century, was then made the seat of the assizes for the county, and has since enjoyed some prosperity as a provincial metropolis. Perkin Warbeck commenced his rebellion here, preparatory to his attack on Exeter; the Cornish and Devonshire men also commenced their insurrection here in the time of Edward VI.; and Fairfax took the town. Powers were obtained, in 1864 and 1867, to make railways from Bodmin to the Cornwall railway and to Wadebridge.

The town consists chiefly of one long street, running E and W; and a good view of it is got from Beacon-hill to the S. The county-hall contains two handsome courthouses, grand jury-room, indictment-room, and other offices. The mayoralty-house, with judges' lodging, was built in 1838. The county jail was rebuilt in 1859, at a cost of £40,000; and has capacity for 155 male and 42 female prisoners. The county lunatic asylum, as also the jail, stands in the outskirts of the town. The market house was opened in 1840, and is commodious. The county militia barracks are a recent erection. The parish church measures 151 feet by 63; was, save the tower and part of the chancel, rebuilt, in the perpendicular style, in 1472; has a square tower, formerly surmounted by a lofty spire, which fell by lightning in 1699; and contains a Norman font, some curiously carved old oak seats, and a large sculptured monument of Thomas Vyvyan, a prior who died in 1533. There are chapels for Wesleyans, Bible Christians, and Lady Huntingdon's Connexion. The town has a head post office,‡ a banking office, a literary institution, and two chief inns. There used to be annual races and occasional assemblies. A weekly market is held on Saturday; and fairs on 25 Jan., the Saturday before Palm Sunday, the Tuesday before Whit-Sunday, 6 July, and 6 Dec Bone-lace was formerly made in considerable quantity; and shoe-making is now carried on. The mines of Restormel, Messer, Carnvivian, Boconnoc, Great Treveddoe, West Fortescue, Wheal Fortescue, and Wheal Mandlin are near enough to have some influence on the trade. The town was incorporated by Edward III.; and it sent two members to parliament from the time of Edward I. till 1867, but was reduced, by the act of that year, to the right of sending only one. Its municipal boundaries comprise only the town, but its parl. boundaries comprise four parishes. It is governed by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors; and it is the seat of all the assizes and quarter sessions for the county and of county courts. Direct taxes in 1857, £2,481. Electors in 1868, 403. Pop. of the m. borough, 4,466; of the p. borough, 6,381. Houses, 794 and 1,191.

The parish comprises 6,191 acres. Real property, £14,675; of which £11,940 are in the borough. Pop., 4,809. Houses, 864. The property is not much divided. Bodmin priory, on the site of the ancient monastery, passed from Thomas Sternhold to successively the Pescodes, the Rashleighs, the Penningtons, and the Gilberts. A trigonometrical station, 1 mile E of the town, is 645 feet high. A monument to the late General Gilbert, 144 feet high, is on the Beacon to the S. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Exeter. Value, £350. Patron, J. F. Basset, Esq. The subdistrict contains the parishes of Bodmin, Lanhydrock, Lanivet, and Withiel. Acres, 16,347. Pop., 6,524. Houses, 1,222.  The district comprehends also the subdistrict of Lanlivery, containing the parishes of Lanlivery, Luxulion, St. Winnow, and Lostwithiel; the subdistrict of St. Mabyn, containing the parishes of St. Mabyn, St. Tudy, Helland, Cardinham, Warleggon, Temple, and Blisland; and the subdistrict of Egloshayle, containing the parishes of Egloshayle, St. Minver, Endellion, and St. Kew. Acres of the district, 88,981. Poor-rates in 1866, £10,710. Pop. in 1861, 19,691. Houses, 4,019. Marriages in 1866, 100; births, 605, of which 42 were illegitimate; deaths, 365, of which 93 were at ages under 5 years, and 25 at ages above 85 years. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1,498; births, 6,385; deaths, 4,025. The places of worship in 1851 were 24 of the Church of England, with 6,065 sittings; 23 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 3,817 s.; 1 of Primitive Methodists, with 40 attendants; 19 of the Wesleyan Association, with 3,697 sittings; 14 of Bible Christians, with 1,659 s.; 1 of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, with 364 s.; 1 undefined, with 30 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 250 s. The schools were 28 public day schools, with 1,234 scholars: 50 private day schools, with 893 s.; 41 Sunday schools, with 2,482 s.; and 1 evening school for adults, with 12 s. The workhouse is in Bodmin.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].

Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales 1850

Bodmin, 234½ miles S.W. London. Market, Sat. P. 4643

Source: Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850.

Health and Housing

The following description of Bodmin has been extracted from the 1842 Sanitary Enquiry. It gives an invaluable insight into the living conditions of the inhabitants of the town.

Mr Ward, medical officer of the town of Bodmin, district of the Bodmin union, gives a return of 15 cases of typhus and 30 of synochus occurring in the old workhouse and town of Bodmin Mr Ward says -

In the outcases the majority occurred in St Nicholas street where more or less fever of a typhoid character generally prevails. At the rear of the houses there is a good deal of wood and thicket with considerable accumulations of filth from the houses, cowhouses, stables, pigsties, &c. The malaria arising from the decomposition of animal and vegetable matter is in my opinion the chief cause of keeping up the infection. Three of the five cases of death took place in this street in one family of five persons occupying one small room (having no other to sleep in) damp and ill ventilated.

Source: Local Reports on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of England 1842

Bankrupts

Below is a list of people that were declared bankrupt between 1820 and 1843 extracted from The Bankrupt Directory; George Elwick; London; Simpkin, Marshall and Co.; 1843.

Glynn Edmund John, Bodmin, Cornwall, banker, Nov. 4, 1823.

Harvey Samuel, Bodmin, Cornwall, builder, June 1, 1830.

Pearce William, Bodmin, Cornwall. chemist and druggist, March 5, 1830.

Searl Hugh, Bodmin, Cornwall, linen and woollen draper, Nov. 15, 1836.

Wright Edward and George. Bodmin, Cornwall, spirit dealers, Feb. 21, 1843.

Wright Thomas Mountsteven, Bodmin, Cornwall, linen draper, Dec. 11, 1829.

Prisons

Bodmin County Gaol and House of Correction

The following description of the gaol is taken from the Reports from Commissioners 1863

Committed in the last year Males: 642 Females: 265 Total: 907 

Greatest number at any one time Males: 115 Females: 34 Total: 149 

Average daily number 122 

Average annual charge per prisoner 32 8s 6d 

This prison has been entirely rebuilt and was finally completed in 1861. Its construction exhibits all the more recent improvements in prison building, the part devoted to criminal prisoners being entirely on the separate system The drainage of the prison is excellent, and the water supply of good quality and practically unlimited in quantity. The accommodation for prisoners consists of 141 cells for males and 59 for females all of which are certified for separate confinement. There are also four cells for male prisoners affected with contagious diseases. There are six punishment cells for males and two for females, and the number of reception cells for prisoners of either sex are seven and five. There are two day rooms for male and two for female debtors, and the sleeping accommodation consists of 20 separate cells for males and five for females. Coals and gas light are supplied to the debtors by the county, and no charge is made for lodging or furniture. The cells of all the criminal prisoners are lighted with gas after dusk. Separate infirmaries are provided for male and female prisoners.

Hand mills for grinding corn and dressing the meal, of which there are four, are the only form of hard labour provided for male prisoners. The other employments are carpentry, masonry, stone breaking and the labour of the blacksmith, shoemaker, and tailor. Those whose health requires exercise in the open air are employed in gardening. For females washing and turning the wringing machine are considered to be the only kinds of hard labour, but they are also employed in washing, ironing, mangling, needlework, knitting and other suitable employments. There is a single hard labour machine in the prison which is scarcely ever used. Ten thousand revolutions are regarded as a day's labour. Nothing has yet been realised by the labour of the prisoners, but it is hoped that when the system is fully organised their work may be productive of profit to the county.

The Chaplain reads a selection of prayers from the liturgy every week day at 9 o clock, on Sundays there are two full services. Shortly after prayers on week days he visits the male prisoners separately in their cells, and at 11 he instructs a portion of them in the chapel. The school is visited as often as the Chaplain thinks desirable; on the days that the school is not visited, the prisoners recently admitted are admonished. In the afternoon the women are visited, and such prisoners as are to be discharged on the next day admonished. The sick and those under punishment are visited daily. The Chaplain generally devotes Saturday to visiting the debtors and such prisoners as have been admitted during the latter part of the week. 

The schoolmaster is required to keep school daily from 10 am to 12 o'clock and from 1.30 pm to 5.30 except on Wednesday afternoons when he changes the books in the cells, and on Saturday mornings when he examines all the books in chapel and obliterates all the marks that may have been made upon the seats. He also acts as chapel clerk. The Chaplain regrets that as yet there is no schoolmistress but he believes the visiting justices will soon take this deficiency into consideration. The prison is very sufficiently supplied with books both religious and secular. A new school room has been made with 15 separate boxes for male prisoners. The Chaplain is not aware of any society for helping discharged prisoners. If a Roman Catholic prisoner wishes to see a clergyman of that communion his wish is complied with, but it does not appear that the claims of Protestant Dissenters to see their several teachers is recognised as required by the Statute 4 Geo IV cap 64 sect 31.

The condition of the prisoners generally as to health during the year was good but two deaths occurred one from gastric fever and the other from pulmonary consumption. Two male prisoners were pardoned on medical grounds. A single case of smallpox on the 7th of May last, in a woman who had been received on the 24th of the previous month, but the disease did not spread in the prison.

Two soldiers and two seamen from the royal navy were committed for felony during the year, and 25 merchant seamen for infraction of the Mercantile Marine Act. The dietary is that prescribed by the regulations for prisons and all the necessaries are supplied by contract, no officer of the prison deriving any profit directly or indirectly from the supply of any article of consumption.

The following is the list of prisoners in custody on the last day of inspection 14 October 1862 
 

Felons for trial Males: 16 Females: 8 Total: 24

Misdemeanants for trial Males: 7 Females: 2 Total: 9

Felons convicted at assizes and sessions Males: 14 Females: 6 Total: 20 

Misdemeanants convicted at assizes and sessions Males: 8 Females: 3 Total: 11 

Convicted under the Criminal Justice Act Males: 4 Females: 3 Total: 7

Other summary convictions Males: 34 Females: 14 Total: 48

Total criminal prisoners Males: 83 Females: 36 Total: 119

Sherift's debtors Males: 1 Females: 0 Total: 1

County Court do Males: 4 Females: 2 Total: 6

Grand total Males: 88 Females: 38 Total: 126

Employment of Criminal Prisoners 

Males 

Hand corn mill 26 

Masoning 0 

Stonebreaking 0 

Blacksmithing  0

Shoemaking 0

Cooking and baking 2

Cleaning &c 26

Not employed 23 

Excavating &c 0 

School 5 

Total 83 

Females

Cleaning &c 13 

Needlework 8 

Laundry 2 

Mangling 2

Washing 0

Not employed  11

Total 36 

The following extract from a letter of the governor explains the cause of the number of unemployed prisoners being so large. 

"It being the first day of our Quarter Sessions there is a large number of persons both male and female returned as "unemployed;" this you will see includes the prisoners for trial who are down at the assize hall in the cells there provided, and where they have to remain during the continuance of the sessions, being taken down each day in the prison van, and brought back when the court rises every evening, their dinner meals being brought to them through the agency of the county police. The van is also 'horsed' by the constabulary during sessions and assizes; this we find answers remarkably well, and a saving of expense to the county.

"You will also observe that there are no men returned as out stonebreaking, masoning, or excavating; this also is consequent on our session work, during which time no work is done except actually within the building, such as corn grinding, shoemaking &c.; many of the warders being required at the assize hall, and consequently the prisoners left in the gaol are supervised by those officers left behind under the chief warder during my absence at the court. 

At the last October sessions the following order was made to take effect from the 14th Oct 1862:- 

"It is ordered that the boroughs within this county which do not contribute towards the county rates, be from this time charged after the rate of 1s 9d per day for maintenance of prisoners committed by the authorities thereof to the county prison." 

Sheets are not used in the prison except for the female prisoners and the debtors. I would strongly adviseth at their use should be extended to male prisoners also; first for the sake of cleanliness and to avoid the communication of infectious disease, and secondly for economy by saving the necessity of frequent washing of the blankets by which they are rapidly deteriorated and destroyed. 

Parish Records

Bodmin Parish Registers

Bodmin Marriages 1559 to 1812 - View and Download Free

FamilySearch Catalog

Census

Census returns for Bodmin, 1841-1891

Church Records

Births and baptisms, 1804-1837 Author: Bodmin Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (Cornwall)

Bishop's transcripts for Bodmin, 1683-1773 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Bodmin (Cornwall)

Church records for Bodmin Methodist Circuit, 1938-1979 Author: Methodist Church. Bodmin Circuit (Cornwall)

Church records for Bodmin United Methodist Circuit, 1892-1964 Author: United Methodist Church. Bodmin Circuit (Cornwall)

Church records for Bodmin Wesleyan Methodist Circuit, 1837-1960 Author: Wesleyan Methodist Church. Bodmin Circuit (Cornwall)

Church records for Lostwithiel and Bodmin United Methodist Circuit, 1866-1934 Author: United Methodist Church. Lostwithiel and Bodmin Circuit (Cornwall)

Church records for Luxulion Bible Christian Circuit, 1837-1964 Author: Bible Christian Church. Luxulion Circuit (Cornwall); Bible Christian Church. Bodmin Circuit (Cornwall)

Church records for Pool Street Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Bodmin, 1934-1964 Author: Pool Street Chapel (Bodmin, Cornwall : Wesleyan Methodist)

Church records, 1826-1837 Author: Providence Chapel (Bodmin, Cornwall : Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion)

Church records, 1826-1837 Author: Providence Chapel (Bodmin, Cornwall : Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion)

England, Cornwall, Bodmin, bishop's transcripts, 1596-1836 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Bodmin (Cornwall); Devon Record Office (Exeter)

England, Cornwall, Bodmin, parish registers, 1884-1990 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Bodmin (Cornwall); Cornwall Record Office

Marriages at Bodmin, 1559-1812 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Bodmin (Cornwall)

Parish chest materials, 1712-1844 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Bodmin (Cornwall)

Parish registers for Bodmin, 1469-2000 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Bodmin (Cornwall); Cornwall Record Office

Parish registers of Bodmin, Cornwall, England Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Bodmin (Cornwall); Glencross, Reginald Morshead

Transcripts of parish registers and Bishop's transcripts, 1523-1837 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Launcells (Cornwall)

Computer printout of Bodmin, Cornwall, England

Parish of Bodmin Author: Ivall, Dennis Endean; Thompson, Gillian; Ivall, Dennis Endean, Mrs.

Parish register printouts of Bodmin, Cornwall, England (Lady Huntingdon's Church, Providence Chapel) ; christenings, 1826-1837 Author: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Department

Parish register printouts of Bodmin, Cornwall, England (Wesleyan) ; christenings, 1804-1837 Author: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Department

Correctional Institutions

The history of Bodmin Jail Author: Johnson, Bill (William Henry)

Prisoners in Cornwall County gaol at Bodmin Author: Pocock, Sally J.

Court Records

Borough records, 1661-1850 Author: Bodmin (Cornwall : Borough)

Transcripts of parish registers and Bishop's transcripts, 1523-1837 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Launcells (Cornwall)

Directories

The Bodmin register : containing collections relative to the past and present state of the parish of Bodmin, and also a statistical view of the twenty-eight parishes within a circle of eight miles round Bodmin Church

Genealogy

History of Bodmin Author: Maclean, John, Sir, 1811-1895

History

Bodmin's own "Big Brothers" Author: Hamley, Ernest

The book of Bodmin : a pottrait of the town Author: Willmott, James

History of Bodmin Author: Maclean, John, Sir, 1811-1895

Manors

Manorial documents, 1539-1705 Author: Manor of Nanstallon (Cornwall)

Manorial documents, 1548-1742 Author: Manor of Bodmin (Cornwall)

Various manorial records from Cornwall, 1624-1839 Author: Manor of Ruthvose (Cornwall); Manor of Selena (Cornwall); Manor of Bridge End (Cornwall); Manor of Skewis (Cornwall); Manor of Tregorrick (Cornwall)

Poorhouses & Poor Law

Borough records, 1661-1850 Author: Bodmin (Cornwall : Borough)

Poor law records, 1673-1749 Author: Bodmin (Cornwall)

Public Records

Borough records, 1661-1850 Author: Bodmin (Cornwall : Borough)

Cornwall

England, Cornwall Parish Registers, 1538-2010

Cornwall Online Parish Clerks

Cornwall Parish Register Index

FreeREG

Cornwall Burials A-Z index of surnames of people buried in Cornwall

Records for England

Births and Baptism Records

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England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

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England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005

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Death Records

England Death Records, 1998-2015

England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991

Great Britain Deaths and Burials, 1778-1988

England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

England and Wales, National Index of Wills and Administrations, 1858-1957

England and Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1640-1660

Non-Conformist Records

England and Wales Non-Conformist Record Indexes (RG4-8), 1588-1977

Census

England and Wales Census, 1841

England and Wales Census, 1851

England and Wales Census, 1861

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England and Wales Census, 1881

England and Wales Census, 1891

England and Wales Census, 1901

England and Wales Census, 1911

Occupations

United Kingdom, Merchant Navy Seamen Records, 1835-1941

War and Conflict

Great Britain, War Office Registers, 1772-1935

United Kingdom, Chelsea Pensioners' Service Records, 1760-1913

United Kingdom, Royal Hospital Chelsea: Discharge Documents of Pensioners 1760-1887 (WO 122)

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

United Kingdom, Militia Service Records, 1806-1915

United Kingdom, World War I Service Records, 1914-1920

United Kingdom, World War I Women's Army Auxiliary Corps Records, 1917-1920

Newspaper Archives

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Family History Links

FamilySearch – Birth Marriage & Death records, Census, Migration & Naturalization and Military records – Free

Maps

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Administration

County: Cornwall
Civil Registration District: Bodmin
Probate Court: Court of the Bishop (Consistory) of the Archdeaconry of Cornwall
Diocese: Exeter
Rural Deanery: Trigg Minor
Poor Law Union: Bodmin
Hundred: Trigg
Province: Canterbury