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St Just-in-Penwith

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St Just-in-Penwith, (Cornish: Lannyust), is, as its name suggests, located in the district of Penwith on the far western tip of Cornwall. It should not be confused with St Just-in-Roseland which is to the south of Truro. Of the two parishes, this is more commonly referred to as 'St Just'. It is situated in the Deanery and Hundred of Penwith, and is bounded on the north by the sea and Morvah, on the east by Madron and Sancreed, on the south by St Buryan and Sennen and on the west by the sea. Land's End lies just to the south of the parish, the area is hilly open moorland with some farmland on the coast. It is probable that both parishes derive their names from Justus or St. Just, who was sent to England by Pope Gregory in A.D. 596, with St. Augustine and many other monks, to convert the Saxons. He was consecrated bishop by St Augustine in A.D. 604, and appointed to the See of Rochester by King Ethelbert. In A.D. 616 he was made Archbishop of Canterbury; and died in November 627.

Very little is recorded of St. Just, but that little is entirely to his praise; at the command of Pope Gregory the Great, he undertook the perilous but successful service of converting the English Saxons; he attained the highest ecclesiastical dignity from the suffrages of those who had been brought by the labours of St. Augustine and his followers, within the pale of the church; and he obtained deserved commendation from Pope Boniface the III. or IV. who, with one intermediate Pope, were the successors of St. Gregory, when the apostolic confirmation of his appointment to the metropolitan See was given, and himself honoured by the investiture of a pall. The Saxon Chronicle, literally translated, states: ' Justus the Archbishop forth stepped', i.e. died, on the fourth of the Ides of November; the 10th of November is consecrated to him in the Roman Calendar. The parish feast however, is celebrated on the Sunday nearest to All Saints' day, namely November 1st.

The parish extends along the coast from seven to eight miles in length, and is from two to three miles wide. It is separated from the adjoining parishes of St. Buryan and Sancreed by a high ridge of barren hills which slope gradually towards the rocky cliffs of the sea. The cliffs, though not very high, are precipitous, craggy, and picturesque, and unapproachable even by small vessels, excepting in very fine weather. A great portion of the surface of the parish is uncultivated common, yielding but a scanty subsistence to a few sheep belonging chiefly to cottagers renting houses, in right of which they claim a limited share of the pasture. Its temperature is some degrees colder than that of the south coast, being exposed to north and northwest winds. Sea fogs coming from the south are prevalent and somewhat unpleasant, but they are temperate; and, unlike those arising from marshes, contain no miasma so are not unwholesome. The air is much charged with saline particles, producing verdure through the greater part of both summer and winter.

The soil in general is shallow and light, consisting of decomposed granite and peat-earth, consequently not adapted to produce heavy crops of wheat, but it is good grazing land, and yields fair crops of barley, oats, turnips, and potatoes; the last named especially is extensively cultivated. St Just is one of the oldest mining parishes in Cornwall. In the mid-1880s, it was a real mining-boom town having grown steadily over the previous half century. Mines had sprung up all over the district and there was plenty of work for everyone. As the Corninsh mining industry collapsed in the late 19th century there was a mass exodus of miners to the new world as a desperate poverty settled over those left at St Just. Many remains of very ancient workings are now scattered over the parish.

The town of St Just is the most westerly one in Britain; in size it would appear to be a village but it has its own Town Hall, town clock and a town council. It now comprises several streets diverging from a triagular space in the centre. At the end of the 20th century, regeneration started to improve the town whilst preserving its charms. The most important village in the parish was Pendeen. This became the centre of a new parish of Pendeen which was created from part of St Just in 1849.

There is a small airport at St Just where flights to the Isles of Scilly arrive and depart.


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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:

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Church History

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Church Records

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Civil Registration

The parish of St Just-in-Penwith has been in the Penzance Registration District continuously from 1st July 1837. There were originally sub-districts at Marazion, Penzance, St Buryan, St Just, St Ives and Uny-Lelant but these have now been abolished. Parishes within the district are: Gulval, Ludgvan, Madron, Marazion, Morvah, Penzance, Perranuthnoe, St. Buryan, St. Erth, St. Hilary, St. Ives, St. Just in Penwith, St. Levan, St. Michael's Mount, St. Paul, Sancreed, Sennen, Towednack, Uny-Lelant, Wolfe Rock Lighthouse, and Zennor. The Superintendant Registrar can be contacted at: Alphington House, Alverton Place, Penzance, TR18 4JJ. Tel: 01736 330093.

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Description & Travel

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Historical Geography

The Domesday Settlements of Cornwall, a study undertaken by the Cornwall Branch of the Historical Association, has identified and located settlements listed in the Exeter and Exchequer Domesday Survey of AD 1086. The following places have been identified in St Just-in-Penwith ecclesiastical parish:

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A website dedicated to the history of St Just is available.

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Land & Property

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The Manorial Documents Register (MDR) maintained by the Historic Manuscripts Commission notes that, so far as can be established, the parish of St Just in Penwith contained the manors of: Bojewyan, Kelynack, Laffrander (also known as Lafronda), St Just in Penwith and Trewellard.

The MDR contains the following information for these manors:

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Names, Personal

Information about the GRENFELL (GREENFIELD, GRENFIELD, GRINFIELD, GREENFILL) family of St Just is available on the Grenfell Family History Site. These include: baptisms, marriages, burials and census information.

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Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

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The parish of Pendeen was created from part of this parish in 1849.

  • Population in 1801 - 2779 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 3057 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 3666 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 4667 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 7047 persons
  • Population in 1851 - 8759 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 9290 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 9011 persons
  • Population in 1881 - 6409 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 6119 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 5646 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 5753 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 5030 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 4359 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 4125 persons
  • Population in 1961 - 3642 persons
  • Population in 1971 - 3576 persons
  • Population in 1981 - 4020 persons plus 2485 in St Just Town
  • Population in 1991 - 4475 persons plus 2725 in St Just Town
  • Population in 2001 - 4690 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 4637 persons

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Probate Records

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The parish comprises 7622 acres of land, 12 acres of water and 117 acres of foreshore.

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