Morwenstow, Cornwall Family History Guide

Morwenstow is an Ancient Parish in the county of Cornwall.

Other places in the parish include: Eastcott, Woodford, Goosham, Gooseham, Woolley, Eastcot, Crosstown, and Coombe.

Alternative names: Moorwenstow, Moorwinstow

Status: Ancient Parish

Parish church:

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1558
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1597

Nonconformists include: Bible Christian Methodist and Wesleyan Methodist.

Parishes adjacent to Morwenstow

Parish History

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

MOORWINSTOW, or MORWENSTOW, a parish in Stratton district, Cornwall; on the coast, at the boundary with Devon, 6 miles NNW of Stratton, and 22 NNW of Launceston r. station. It contains the hamlets of Moorwinstow, Coombe, Crosstown, Eastcot, Gooseham, Woodford, and Woolley; and its Post town is Stratton, Cornwall. Acres, 7,956; of which 30 are water. Real property, £5,176. Pop. in 1851, 1,094; in 1861, 868. Houses, 189. The decrease of pop. arose partly from emigration. The property is divided among a few. Lea belonged to Lord Carteret, and Stanbury was the birthplace of Bishop Stanbury of Hereford. Chapel House and Cleave House are chief residences. The coast abounds in high cliffs and magnificent scenery; and the interior is furrowed by deep and finely wooded hollows. A striking example of curved and contorted stratified rocks occurs at Stanbury creek. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Exeter. Value, £276. Patron, the Bishop of Excter. The church stands near a cliff at Moorwinstow hamlet; includes very interesting portions of Norman architecture, particularly the entrance-doorway and the arcades; has a S aisle and a chancel of 1300, with subsequent additions and alterations; contains an elaborate screen, and costly old monuments of the Kempthornes and the Waddons; and was recently in bad condition. The churchyard contains some affecting memorials of boat-wreck on the adjacent shores. There are a Wesleyan chapel, a national school, and charities, £10. Sir W. Adams, the distinguished oculist, was a native; and the Rev. R. S. Hawker, author of "Echoes from Old Cornwall,'' is vicar.

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

The Cornwall Register 1847

MORWINSTOW, (written also Moorwinstow, Morewinstow, and by the Vicar, Morwenstow, i.e. the place of St. Morwenna,) is the most northern parish of Cornwall: bounded by the sea, Kilkhampton, and the Devonshire parishes of Bradworthy, Hartland, and Wellcombe. On the N.E. angle the rivers Torridge and Tamar take their rise. The cliff W. of Wescott, a fearful vicinity for the mariner, is 420 feet in perpendicular height. The manor of Eastway, which belonged to the Priory of Launceston, was one of those annexed to the Duchy of Cornwall, in 1540, in lieu of the Honor of Wallingford. The Manor of Stanbury, which belonged in ancient times to a family of that name, was the birth-place of John Stanbury, bishop of Hereford, who died May 11, 1474. He was confessor to King Henry VI. and made by him the first Provost of the College which that unfortunate King founded at Eton, in the 19th year of his reign, 1440 — 41. He was made Bishop of Bangor, May 4, 1448, and translated from thence to Hereford on Feb. 7, 1453. Little more seems to be known of this prelate, although he must have been a man of learning, and of much consideration in his time, and one who may fairly be reckoned among the distinguished persons of the County. Sir William Adams, Knt. the late eminent oculist, was also born at Stanbury.

The church is large and stands near the cliff, commanding a fine view of the sea. The portion of this parish, adjoining to the Irish Channel, partakes of the rugged grandeur common to this district.

GEOLOGY. Like the adjoining parish of Kilkhampton, Morwinstow is entirely confined to rocks of the calcareous series, known in Devonshire by the name of dunstone. The schistoze and compact varieties of this rock are extensively exposed on the shores, and in the precipitous cliffs of Stanbury Creek, where they may be seen curved and contorted in the most intricate manner. Hals's MS. relating to this parish is lost.

The church of Morwinstow was appropriated to the hospital of Bridgwater in 1290. The great tithes belong to Lord Clinton. The Vicar has the tithes of hay, and the great tithes of Stanbury, and some other lands. There was formerly a chapel at Milton, dedicated to the Virgin Mary: it was licensed March 20, 1408. The south doorway of Morwinstow church has a semicircular arch, ornamented with chevron mouldings and grotesque heads: the greater part of the church is also in the Saxon style. Part of an arch is etched by S. Lysons.

 Robert Stephen Hawker at the age of 61 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 Robert Stephen Hawker at the age of 61 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Court Town of Morwinstow, St. Gennys, and the whole Union of Stratton is inconveniently transferred beyond the Tamar to Holsworthy. Morwinstow is within the Hundred of Stratton, and the Eastern Parliamentary Division of Cornwall. The Polling Place is Stratton, where the Petty Sessions are holden and the taxes collected.

I have never been at the church of Morwinstow. I was once only in the parish, forty years ago, at the residence of the late Mr. Bethuel Hutchings. Mr. Hawker occupies a new vicarage house, and keeps the church and every thing about it in good order. He is the son of the late Vicar of Stratton, and grandson of Dr. Hawker; he married Miss I'Ans. There is a record of the following Vicars in the Registry at Bodmin.

1639May 31Christopher Brown.
1723Mar. 6William Whiteborne.
1741Jan. 27Oliver Rouse.
1781Feb. 6William Paul.
1787Feb. 8Roger Marney.
1788May 8Thomas Ley.
1807June 15Denys Yonge.
1834Dec. 31Robert Stephen Hawker.

Population, 1801, 874: 1841, 1,050.— Increase, 176.

Source: The Cornwall Register. Wallis John; Bodmin; Printed by Liddell & Son 1847.

Parish Records

Marriage Records

Morwenstow Marriages 1558 to 1812 - View and Download Free


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