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.
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
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
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:
- The 1841 Census of St John (HO107/135), Enumeration
District 10, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
- The 1841 Census of St John is also available from the Cornwall Family History
- The 1841 Census has also been filmed by the LDS church - film No. 241259.
- The 1851 Census of St John (HO107/1900), Enumeration
District 4a, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
- The New Zealand Society of Genealogists have compiled separate surname
indexes of the 1851 Census for each Cornish registration district; St John is listed in
Volume 8. The booklets are available in Cornwall at the
Cornwall Centre, (formerly known as the Cornish Studies Library), and is
also available in the Cornwall FHS Library.
- 1861. The 1861 Census of St John (RG9/1522), Enumeration
District 6a, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
- 1871. The 1871 Census of St John (RG10/2228), Enumeration District 6 [including Barracks], is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
- 1881. The 1881 Census of St John (RG11/2280), Enumeration
District 6 [including Schools], is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
- 1891. The 1891 Census of St John (RG12/1806), Enumeration
District 6, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
- Anglican. The parish
church is located in OS Grid Square SX4053 and was dedicated to St
John. The Church was at various times dedicated to St. John the Evangelist and
St. John the Baptist but at some time after 1912 the dedication was changed to
St. John the Baptist, to whose dedication the church remains.
of St. John-in-Cornwall is so called since when the County of Devon included
much of the Rame Peninsula, St. John was on the Cornish border.
A Church certainly existed here in 1080, if not earlier, for it is recorded
that Abbot Geoffrey of Tavistock (1082-88) gave up his Cornish Manors to the
Knight of Erbenald, he reserved the ownership of the Churches of Antony,
Sheviock and St. John-in-Cornwall. In 931 a Diocese of Cornwall was created with the Bishop's See at St. Germans. The parish system was reorganised and the boundaries firmly defined at this
time. Probably those of St. John were also fixed then. About 1040 Cornwall lost
its Bishop and St. Germans, its Cathedral status. The Diocese was combined with
that of Devon under the Bishop of Crediton. Ten years later the See was moved
to Exeter. It was to be another 800 years before Cornwall had its own Diocese
again, that of Truro.
The original Church appears to have been rebuilt about 1150. In 1155-60, the Abbot handed over the
endowments of the three Churches he retained 'in farm' (long lease) to the Dean
of Petherwin and possibly St. John's Church was rebuilt at this time.
The present Church has a Norman Tower dating back to c. 12 century. Until 1866
it had a west door, now blocked off, and arch of the early English shape. There
is a fairly complete list of Rectors, from 1270, on the West wall of the Tower.
There are three bells hung in the tower: the oldest, the Treble, being
pre-reformation; one of about only 50 in Cornwall. The Treble, having a wooden
frame, is from the Exeter foundry, dating from c. 1450-1500 and is inscribed
sante ora pro nobis. The second, cast in 1682, is by Christopher
Pennington. The Tenor is by two other Penningtons named, Christopher and was
cast in 1743. The ancient bellframe is probably 16th century, perhaps dating
from just before the reformation, and is massively built of oak. The Nave and
Chancel, with perhaps the exception of the north wall, appear to have been
rebuilt in about the early part of 14th century. There is a brief reference to
this in the Churchwardens' accounts in 1749.
The simple nave and chancel with West Bell tower occurs in a number of churches
erected under the influence of the Norman manorial Lords and the Church at St.
John may owe its shape to this. The nave and chancel appear to have been
rebuilt a number of times possibly starting about 1150 when the Abbot leased
the three churches to the Dean of Petherwin. The Churchwardens' Accounts of
1749/50 indicate the taking down and rebuilding of the nave and chancel and
there was further restoration of the pews, roof and other internal fittings
were carried out in 1868. The church is now united with Millbrook and is
known as the 'United Benefice of St. John with Millbrook'.
- Non-Conformist. In the village of St Johns was a Wesleyan Methodist chapel.
- LDS Church Records.
- The LDS Church batch numbers for St John are: P021941. These are searchable by surname.
- The IGI coverage of the parish is 1675 - 1772.
- The Cornwall Record Office holdings: Baptisms 1582 - 1970, Burials 1621 - 1980,
Marriages 1621 - 1978, Boyd's Marriage Index 1611 - 1673, BTs 1611 - 1673.
- The Cornwall Family History
Society have published on-line transcripts of:
- 1813-37 Marriages
- 1813-37 Burials in the parish
- Banns. Banns 1757 to 1861 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
- Marriage transcripts 1655 to 1811, 1837 to 1907, and 1677 to 1772 (Bishop's transcripts), for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
- (See the on-line parish records for the Rame peninsular parishes).
- The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Marriages 1612 to 1837, which is available in Book, CD or downloadable .pdf file formats.
- Burial transcripts 1652 to 1796, 1800 to 1911, and 1677 to 1805 (Bishop's transcripts, for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
- (See the on-line parish records for the Rame peninsular parishes).
- The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Burials 1813 to 1837, which is available in Book format.
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.
- ePodunk's Cornwall page - providing general, plus some historical and genealogical information, about Cornwall and its parishes, together with links (mainly relating to general sites and services, rather than ones that are specific to Cornwall or particular parishes).
- OPC Assistance. The On-line Parish Clerk (OPC) scheme operates a service to help family historians; the OPC page for this parish is available on-line, from where the OPC can be contacted by email.
- The OPC has produced a genealogical website for the parish.
Apprenticeship Indentures for St John (1816) can be found in the Cornwall
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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