The origin of name 'Port Isaac', (Cornish: Porthusek), is obscure but is believed to have originally been Port Izzard; in early times it was known as Portissyk. This port dates from Saxon times, but by the 16th century, its trade was mainly in pilchard fish; this reached a high point in the 19th century for which extensive cellars were built. In 1850 there were 49 fishing boats here. Delabole slate was also exported from here. This quaint fishing village with narrow streets is on the north coast between Padstow and Tintagel. The pier was constructed during the reign of Henry VIII, and still visible, and the coming of the railway increased its prosperity. Although the railway was closed in 1966, it is still well served by a local coach firm. THe village grew steadily from the 18th century; John Wesley visted the village in 1750 when he complained that the Meeting House was too small.
With its sister port, Port Gaverne, Port Isaac is totally surrounded by open countryside and both lie in an area of outstanding natural beauty and is a Heritage Coast area. The character of the old fishing village conservation area, and its setting, is the subject of many planning and development constraints.
The ecclesiastical parish was created in 1913 from St Endellion. Other hamlets here are Trefeock and Trewetha. Today the parish is again part of St Endellion.
Most parish and church description(s) on these pages are from Lake's Parochial History of the County of Cornwall by J Polsue (Truro, 1867 - 1873)
Census information for this parish up to, and including 1901, is with St Endellion. The Cornwall Family History Society offers a census search service for its members.
Specific census information for this parish is available as follows:
1841. In 1841, Port Isaac was enumerated as part of St Endellion.
1851. In 1851, Port Isaac was enumerated as part of St Endellion.
1861. In 1861, Port Isaac was enumerated as part of St Endellion.
1871. In 1871, Port Isaac was enumerated as part of St Endellion.
1881. In 1881, Port Isaac was enumerated as part of St Endellion.
1891. In 1891, Port Isaac was enumerated as part of St Endellion.
1901. In 1901, Port Isaac was enumerated as part of St Endellion.
Anglican. In June 1913, Port Isaac was formed into a separate ecclesiastical parish. The parish church is located in OS Grid Square SW9980 and was dedicated to St Peter. It was built between 1882 and 1884. It is constructed of granite and stone in the early English style, and consists of a chancel, nave, north portch and a turret containing one bell. The registers date from 1913.
Non-Conformist. A Quaker Meeting House, the first in Cornwall, was built in 1806. It started in the village but it lacked support and in 1832 it was being used by the Baptists; they failed too and the building became a private house in 1871. It was rebuilt in 1885.
The Wesleyan Methodists had a chapel here, and another belonging to the United Wesleyan Methodist Free Church which was registered here in 1846. Today there are still two chapels: a United Methodist chapel, at the bottom of Rosecarrock Hill, was built in 1846, and the Wesleyan chapel in the valley.
There are no holdings of parish registers in the Cornwall Record Office. It is assumed, therefore, that the registers are still with the church. The ecclesiastical parish is now part of St Endellion, Port Isaac and St Kew.
Since its creation in 1913, the parish of Port Isaac has been in the Bodmin Registration District. There were sub-districts are Bodmin, Egloshayle, Lanlivery and St Mabyn but these have now been abolished.
The Superintendant Registrar of Bodmin can be contacted at: Lyndhurst, 66 Nicholas Street, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL31 2AG. Tel: 01208 73677.
Description and Travel
You can see pictures of Port Isaac which are provided by:
OPC Assistance. The On-line Parish Clerk (OPC) scheme operates a service to help family historians; the OPC page for St Endellion (including Port Isaac) is available on-line, from where the OPC can be contacted by email.