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St John

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The parish of St John, (Cornish: Sen Jowann), is situated in the Deanery and Hundred of East. It is bounded on the north and west by the parish of Antony, on the east by Maker and Rame, on the south by the sea. Named after St John the Baptist, this parish is in the far south-east of Cornwall separated from Plymouth by a narrow stretch of water. Antony parish is on its northern boundary and Rame parish is to the south. There has been a settlement in this vicinity since pre-historic times. The high ground called Vanderbands, at the junction of St. John's and Penhale Lakes, was the site of an Iron Age castle.

Nordens Description of Cornwall 1728 makes reference to an Iron Age Castle at Vanderbands and gives some more interesting details of this area. The earliest that is known of people living in the vicinity of St. John is the Iron Age which dates from the 5th century BC to the arrival of the Romans in 43 AD. There was an Iron Age Castle on the high ground on the coast between St. John and Penhale lakes. Another more obvious one, was on Rame Head. In fact the Romans were slow to advance Westwards from their landings and probably never disturbed the inhabitants of the Castle and its immediate surroundings. The Iron Age people, Celts, cultivated land below their Castles and it is interesting to note that the larger scale Ordnance Survey maps name the ground to the East of Gooseford, 'Vanderbands', possibly indicating a memory of its earlier ancient inhabitants. The pattern of the fields thereabouts also suggests Iron Age inhabitants. Its long, narrow hedged fields are typical of the farms of that time.

The Saxons eventually succeeded the Romans and in the early 800's invaded Devon and Cornwall. They divided the land into Estates and Manors. The Saxon line of Kings ended in 978 and the Danes invaded and seized most of England. One of their raids was up the Tamar to Lydford and Tavistock and as a defence against further raids the Saxons held the Cornish side of the Tamar and Hamoaze as far as the St. John Parish Boundary. As part of Devon, travellers arriving at Cremyl to journey into Cornwall did not reach Cornwall until they arrived in St. John, hence the name 'St. John-in-Cornwall'.


The Cornwall Family History Society have published on-line Monumental Inscriptions for the Parish Church - 444 entries. Some photographs of gravestones are on-line.


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 St John is in the St Germans Registration District, and has been since 1st July 1837; there were sub-districts at Antony, St Germans and Saltash but they have now been abolished. Parishes within the district were: Antony, Botusfleming, Landrake, Landulph, Maker, Millbrook, Pillaton, Quethiock, Rame, St. Erney, St. Germans, St. John's, St. Mellion, St. Stephen's, Saltash, Sheviock, Torpoint.

The Superintendant Registrar of St Germans can be contacted at: Ploughastel Drive, Saltash, Cornwall, PL12 6DL. Tel: 01752 842624.

Description & Travel




Apprenticeship Indentures for St John (1816) can be found in the Cornwall Record Office.

Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

St John parish was part of the St Germans Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief.


  • Population in 1801 - 110 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 143 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 178 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 150 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 149 persons
  • Population in 1851 - 155 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 213 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 202 persons
  • Population in 1881 - 185 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 194 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 201 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 175 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 175 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 168 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 298 persons
  • Population in 1961 - 207 persons
  • Population in 1971 - 0 persons
  • Population in 1981 - 235 persons
  • Population in 1991 - 322 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 375 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 391 persons


The Rame Peninsula History Group was formed at its inaugural meeting on 30 January 2003. Its aim is to research, record and promote interest in the heritage of the Rame Peninsula.


The parish comprises 733 acres of land.

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