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Porthleven, (Cornish: Porthleven), is in the Hundred and Deanery of Kerrier. The name is a compound of two words: 'porth' and 'elvan'. The word porth in the Cornish language meand port and elvan is the Celtic Saint who came to these shores in the 5th century along with many others to preach the Christian faith. St Elvan was about one and a half miles from Porthleven on the road to Sithney and there is still an area to the north of Porthlevan called St Elvan.

As a village, Porthleven was not important in the Middle Ages. There was no harbour there and the River Cober was navigable as far as Helston. Porthleven was bisected by the parish boundaries of Breage and Sithney, and the modern parish - formed in 1846 - took land from both. The facilities at the harbour were improved early in the 19th century and was completed in 1818 but it was never became very important as a trading port. It remained principally a fishing and boat-building port, which it continues today; it is the most southerly harbour in Britain.

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 (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 parish is available as follows:

Church History

Church Records

Civil Registration

The parish of Porthleven is in the Kerrier Registration District, and has been since its creation.

The address of the Registration Office is: The Willows, Church Street, Helston, TR13 8NJ.
Tel: 01326 562848.



Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

Porthleven parish became part of the Helston Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief on its creation in 1846.


Porthleven parish was created in 1846 from the parishes of Sithney and Breage. Its population before this date is included under Sithney. Porthleven is generally enumerated with Sithney.

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)
  • Population in 1851 - 1012 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 1259 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 1562 persons
  • Population in 1881 - 1873 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 1891 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 1974 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 1667 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 2002 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 1976 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 2098 persons
  • Population in 1961 - 2241 persons
  • Population in 1971 - 3024 persons
  • Population in 1981 - 3175 persons
  • Population in 1991 - 3145 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 3190 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 3094 persons


Sithney/Porthleven Board School Admissions - 1886-1921 are on-line, courtesy of the OPC. These give dates of birth.


The Porthleven Old Cornwall Society News Page is on-line.


The parish comprises 1749 acres of land.

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