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Falmouth Town

Falmouth (Cornish: Aberfal) was originally called Peny-cwm-cuic, which became 'Pennycomequick'. It was formed from the older parish of Budock in 1661. The borough of Falmouth is on a peninsula at the west side of the entrance to Carrick Roads, a large natural harbour on the south coast of Cornwall fed by the river Fal. It is situated in the Deanery and Hundred of Kerrier, and is bounded on the north and north-east by the harbour and which separates it from Mylor, St Just-in-Roseland and St Anthony-in-Roseland, and on the east, south and west by Budock.

Henry VIII built a fort here at Pendennis Point and another on the opposite shore at St. Mawes, both of which are still in excellent condition. Apart from a harbour at Falmouth Haven, the only other place was Arwenack Manor - the home of the Killigrew family. The main town was then at Penryn.

During the English Civil War of 1642-45, Charles I's Queen, Henrietta Maria, fled into exile via Pendennis Castle. At the end of the War, the King being a prisoner, his heir did the same, planning before he left to build a chapel for public worship... and when the war ceased, to send an able on conscientious chaplain to preach God's word therein. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Sir Peter Killigrew had a long-standing ambition to found a town and church on Falmouth Haven (as the harbour here was then called). So he sent an emissary to the new King at his new court in London, seeking the grant of a Charter for the town. He also offered to give land for a church, parsonage and a churchyard if the King would sponsor the project. Owing partly, perhaps, to his diplomatic dedication of his new church to the King's martyred father, Sir Peter succeeded in modifying the royal vow and received much help from King Charles II and his brother, the Duke of York.

Falmouth became the largest port in Cornwall whose real prosperity began in 1688 when it became a Post Office packet station. Brigantines sailed with mail to Spain, Portugal, West Indies and North American Colonies until 1852, when mail traffic was transferred to Southampton. The port and shopping area are on the north side of the peninsula, while on the south coast are sandy beaches and hotels.

Today Falmouth is a combined holiday resort, fishing port and ship repairing centre. Ambitious plans to transform the waterfront will no doubt increase its attractions as a tourism centre in the future.

The town of Falmouth is situated on the south-westyern side of the harbour and stetches along its shore for more than a mile. The old town received a charter of incorporation from King Charles II in 1661. There appears to have been no plan on the laying out of the buildings. On the adjoining hills, with every advantage of space, air and picuresque scenery scarcely to be equalled, the town was extended into open terraces. These extentions added much respectability to the appearance of the town. The Church of King Charles the Martyr lies on the main street running through the town.

Archives & Libraries

The National Maritime Museum, Cornwall
Discovery Quay
TR11 3QY

Tel.: +44(0)1326 313388;

The Museum contains the Bartlett Library which makes available key maritime reference books, which are necessary to trace the maritime achievements of Cornish men and women. The Library includes an extensive run of Lloyd's Registers from 1764 to 2002. Archive material includes the Falmouth Harbourmaster's Daily Records from 1880 to 1990. In addition, there are several databases, the most important of which covers all vessels built in Cornwall between 1776 and 1914. The Library also includes the Martime Censuses of Falmouth.

The Library will undertake research for enquirers, although the cost of extensive research will be charged. Entry to the Library is free and it is normally opened five days a week from Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 5 pm. The telephone number of the Library is: +44(0)1326 214579.



Census information for the town of Falmouth (1841 - 1901) is held in the Cornwall Record Office. The Cornwall Family History Society offers a census search service for its members. The Cornwall Family History Society have also published on-line census detail by surname on the FamilyHistoryonLine site.

Specific census information for this borough is available as follows:

Church History

Church Records

Civil Registration

The town of Falmouth is in the Falmouth Registration District, and has been since 1st July 1837; there were sub-districts at Constantine, Falmouth, Mylor and Penryn. Parishes within the district are: Budock, Constantine, Falmouth, Mabe, Mawnan, Mylor, Penryn, Perranarworthal and St. Gluvias.

The Superintendant Registrar can be contacted at: Berkely House, 12-14 Berkeley Vale, Falmouth, TR11 3PH. Tel: 01326 312606.

Description & Travel



OPC Assistance. The On-line Parish Clerk (OPC) scheme operates a service to help family historians; the OPC pages for Falmouth parishes is available on-line under each of those listed under Church History, from where the OPC can be contacted by email.


Merchant Marine

The Bartlett Library in the National Maritime Museum has information about the Falmouth Packet Boat Service.


Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.


  • Population in 1801 - 4849 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 5307 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 6374 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 7284 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 7695 persons in the parish,
    14 persons in the Town prison and
    86 persons in the Union Workhouse
  • Population in 1851 - 8151 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 9392 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 10471 persons
  • Population in 1881 - 12131 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 11662 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 10715 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 13132 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 13322 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 15220 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 16975 persons
  • Population in 1961 - 17621 persons
  • Population in 1971 - 18041 persons
  • Population in 1981 - 18160 persons
  • Population in 1991 - 19470 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 20775 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 21385 persons


The Penryn & Falmouth Old Cornwall Society News Page is on-line.


The Town and civil parish of Falmouth comprises 989 acres of land.

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