The parish is named after the Old Cornish for 'Dwelling place of Conoc' (Cornish: Boskennek). It is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Bochenod. At that time, it is recorded as having land for 8 ploughs but only one plough there with one slave. There were 2 villagers and 6 smallholders. The parish then consisted of 100 acres of woodland and 40 acres of pasture.
Boconnoc is situated in the Deanery and Hundred of West; it has on its north Broadoak (Braddock), on the east Lanreath, on the south St Veep, and on the west St Winnow. The parish essentially covers the Park and Estate of Boconnoc House, of which the parish church is part. The parsonage and glebe of Boconnoc were annexed to the park and grounds of Boconnoc House, by Act of Parliament, in 1806 when a new rectory house was built at Broadoak (Bradock) to serve both parishes. The old parsonage became the home of the Steward of the Boconnoc Estate, and is located behind Boconnoc House in a secluded valley, among majestic trees.
Three miles east of Lostwithiel, Boconnoc can trace its history back to the Normans. The estate and house were taxed in the Domesday Roll A.D.1087. The first recorded owners were the De Cant family (1268) and in 1320 - 1386, the Manor was owned by the Carminows. Latterly by Sir Oliver Carminow who married a daughter of Joan Holland (The Fair Maid of Kent), a grand-daughter of Edward I who then married the Black Prince as her second husband, for whom the Duchy of Cornwall was created. Through the centuries, Boconnoc has been associated with many of this country's famous names and history-makers including Lord Russell, Earl of Bedford who sold Boconnoc in 1579 to Sir William Mohun who rebuilt it. Later, Thomas Pitt purchased the estate with the proceeds of the famous Pitt Diamond which he sold to the Regent of France where it ended up in the hilt of Napoleon's sword. Pitt's grandson, William, became Prime Minister. Eventually, the estate was bequeathed to the Fortescue family who still own it although, since 1969 the house has not been lived in due to deterioration and subsidence.
During the Second World War, Boconnoc House and the surrounding buildings were occupied by American troops and the grounds used as an ammunition dump in preparation for the invasion of Europe in 1944. In the grounds (actually the largest park in Cornwall) can be seen the church, of which the dedication is unknown, but was thought to have been consecrated in 1413. The most prominent monument is the Obelisk which is 123 feet high and was erected in 1771 by Thomas Pitt, 1st Lord Camelford, in memory of his wife's uncle and benefactor, Sir Richard Lyttelton. It is situated between Boconnoc and Braddock churches in the middle of an old military entrenchment near to where the Battle of Braddock Down was fought in the Civil War 1642-1646. During this period Boconnoc was involved in two significant battles. In January 1643 the Parliament forces under Col. Ruthven impatiently attempted to enter Cornwall, which was strongly Royalist. The opposing forces met near Braddock Church, the Royalists being commanded by Bevil Grenville and Ralph Hopton (both subsequently Knighted) marching from Boconnoc Park where they had bivouacked overnight. In a short time the Parliament forces were routed. A more important clash took place the following year when the King's cause was beginning to wane. Lord Robartes of Lanhydrock (a sour Puritan) had indicated to the Earl of Essex, then commander-in-chief of the Parliament Army, that the Cornish were ready to surrender. Essex marched into the west, to be met by a strong force under Richard Grenville and Lord Goring and found he was pursued from the east by no less a person than the King with an a army of several thousands. The King made his headquarters at Boconnoc and the unfortunate Roundheads were gradually squeezed into Lostwithiel and Fowey, to their ultimate surrender at Castle Dore.
There are approximately 100 head of deer in the Deer Park contained within the grounds and also a garden of 20 acres which is open in the Spring for various charities. Boconnoc House and Park have been used for numerous film locations including the BBC Poldark series and scenes from the 1993 film of The Three Musketeers.
The village of Couches Mill lies three-quarters of a mile south of Boconnoc House and 3 miles east of Lostwithiel.
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)
The Cornwall Family History Society have published Monumental Inscriptions for the Parish Church - 420 entries.
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.
Specific census information for this parish is available as follows:
- 1841. The 1841 Census of Boconnoc (HO107/153), Enumeration District 1, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
- The 1851 Census of Boconnoc (HO107/1903), Enumeration District 5, 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; Boconnoc is listed in Volume 3-5. 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 Boconnoc (RG9/1532), Enumeration District 1, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
- 1871. The 1871 Census of Boconnoc (RG10/2244), Enumeration District 1, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
- 1881. The 1881 Census of Boconnoc (RG11/2288), Enumeration District 1, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
- 1891. The 1891 Census of Boconnoc (RG12/1813), Enumeration District 1, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
- Anglican. The parish Church is located in OS Grid Square SX1460, and it was first dedicated on 18th October 1321, although to whom is uncertain. In 1742, the parish was consolidated ecclesiastically with Bradock (Braddock) by Act of Parliament. The Church underwent considerable renovation and alterations in the early part of the 19th century. It comprises a chancel, nave, south aisle, and a very short north aisle. The south aisle has a light roof of open woodwork; it is separated from the chancel and nave by an arcade of six pointed four-centred arches supported by monolith granite pillars. The north aisle has two arches only, and the spaces between are filled with hansome gothic screens of woodwork in keeping with the older parts of the Church. At the west end of the church is a Minstrel Gallery. The Font has five suports as in the 13th century but tracery decoration of the 15th century.
There is a south porch and a west door which is blocked. It does not appear that there ever was a tower. There were once three bells hung in a low shed, but two were removed and the third was hung in a turret at the south-west corner of the Church.
- Non-Conformists. There was a chapel for the Wesleyans here and one for the Bible Christians at Couches Mill.
- LDS Church Records.
- The LDS Church batch numbers for Boconnoc are: C052691, E052691, M052691. These are searchable by surname.
- The IGI coverage for this parish is 1709 - 1850.
- The Cornwall Record Office holdings: Baptisms 1709 - 1918, Burials 1709 - 1812, Marriages 1709 - 1839, Boyd's Marriage Index 1608 - 1664, BTs 1608 - 1664.
- Baptisms 1709 to 1850 are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
- The Cornish Forefathers' Society have published on CD baptisms 1736 to 1843 for this parish and these are available for purchase from Parish Chest.
- Marriages 1712 to 1850 are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
- Callington Area Heritage Centre (broken link) have placed on-line marriage records for Boconnoc parish 1813 to 1837.
- The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Marriages 1608 to 1836, which is available in Book, CD or downloadable .pdf file formats.
The parish of Boconnoc has always been in the Liskeard Registration District. There were sub-districts at Callington, Lerrin, Liskeard and Looe. Parishes within the district are: Boconnoc, Broadoak, Callington, Calstock (1837-60), Duloe, East Looe, Lanreath, Lansallos, Lanteglos, Linkinhorne, Liskeard, Liskeard Borough, Menheniot, Morval, Pelynt, St. Cleer, St. Dominick, St. Ive, St. Keyne, St. Martin's, St. Neot, St. Pinnock, St. Veep, Southill, Talland and West Looe. The Superintendant Registrar can be contacted at: Graylands, Dean Street, Liskeard, PL14 4AH. Tel: 01579 343442.
- Ask for a calculation of the distance from Boconnoc to another place.
"BOCONNOC, a parish in the hundred of West, in the county of Cornwall, 4 miles to the E. of Lostwithiel, its post town. Lead was procured here in small quantities in the 17th century, and traces of the works still exit. The living is a rectory consolidated with that* of Broadoak, in the diocese of Exeter, of the value of £378, in the patronage of Lady Grenville. Boconnoc House, the property of Lady Grenville, is situated in a fine park of great extent, and considered the most magnificent in Cornwall, adorned with rich old woods and well-stocked with deer. The house was originally erected by the Mohuns, who were for a long time the proprietors of the place. In 1718 it passed by purchase to Thomas Pitt, Governor of Fort St. George, who enlarged and reconstructed the mansion. It was further enlarged and improved by the first Lord Camelford. The picture gallery contains some interesting portraits, among which are those of the Duchess of Cleveland, by Lely; Governor Pitt, by Sir Godfrey Kneller; George, Lord Lyttelton, by the same artist; and William, Earl of Chatham. Here are preserved, too, a table and chair made from the material of the cradle of Queen Elizabeth. During the Civil War, in 1644, Charles I. took up his quarters at Boconnoc House for a short time, and narrowly escaped being shot in the park. At this seat was born, in 1708, the great Earl of Chatham, who was the grandson of Governor Pitt. The famous diamond brought to England by the latter weighed 433 grains, and fetched the fabulous price of £135,000. The purchaser was the Duke of Orleans, Regent of France. On an elevated spot in the park is an obelisk 123 feet in height, erected in 1771 to the memory of Sir Richard Lyttelton."
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 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 Boconnoc ecclesiastical parish:
- Boconnoc (Botchonod, Bochenod), Grid Reference 147606.
You can see the administrative areas in which Boconnoc has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.
Boconnoc can trace its history back to the Norman Conquest.
- The estate and Manor were taxed in the Domesday Roll. The Lord of the Manor at this time was Offers or Osferd, who held it under the Count of Mortain.
- The next recorded owners were the De Cancia family.
- 1318 to 1397. The Manor was owned by the Carminows, latterly by Sir Oliver Carminow who married a daughter of Joan Holland (The Fair Maid of Kent), a grand-daughter of Edward I, who married The Black Prince as her second husband, for whom the Duchy of Cornwall was created.
- 1450. Margaret, daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Carminow married Sir Hugh Courtenay (killed at the Battle of Tewesbyry (sic) in 1471), son of Sir Hugh Courtenay of Haccombe and Boconnoc, brother of the 3rd Earl of Devon.
- 1471. Sir Hugh's grandson, William, Earl of Devon married Katherine, daughter of Edward IV; their son Henry (a potential claimant to the throne, was created Marquis of Exeter in 1525.
- 1539. Henry, Marquis of Exeter, was beheaded for conspiring to put Reginal Pole on the throne. All his estates, including Boconnoc, became vested in the Duchy of Cornwall. Boconnoc was granted to John Russell, ist Earl of Bedford.
- 1579. Francis Russel, 2nd Earl of Bedford, sold Boconnoc to Sir William Mohun, co-heir of William Courtenay, the last Earl of Devon. He rebuilt Boconnoc House and his so, Sir Reginald (who was made a Baronet in 1612, suceeded him. Sir Reginald's son, John, was created Baron Mohun in 1628.
- 1712. Charles, 4th Baron Mohun (c.1675-1712) was killed in a duel with the 4th Duke of Hamilton. His Cornish estate passed to his wife.
- 1717. The Estate was sold to Thomas Pitt, late Governor of Madras, for £54,000. He raised the purchase price by selling the Pitt Diamond which he had bought from an eminent diamond merchant in India in 1701.
- Robert Pitt suceeded his father. He had two sons: Thomas (born Boconnoc 1775) who owned Boconnoc and William, who became Prime Minister and later first Earl of Chatham. Thomas married Christian, daughter of the first Lord Lyttelton. His son made additions to Boconnoc House. He was also responsible for some of the landscaping gardening. Owning land near St Austell, it was he who opened the way for the china clay industry.
- 1784. Thomas was created Lord Camelford.
- 1793. Thomas died and was succeeded by his son, Thomas, 2nd Lord Camelford.
- 1804. Thomas was killed, aged 29, in a duel with Captain Best. The Estate passed to his sister, Anne who was married to William Wyndham, Lord Grenville, Prime Minister who died in 1834.
- 1864. On the death of Lady Anne Grenville, the Estate was bequeathed to George Matthew Fortescue, son of Lord Grenville's sister, Hester, who had married the first Earl Fortescue of Castle Hill, Devon.George had married Louisa Elizabeth, daughter of Dudley Ryder, Earl of Harrowby in 1833 and they had been living at Boconnoc since then.
- 1871. Death of George Matthew Fortecue; he was succeeded by his son, Cyril, who was an officer in the Coldstream Guards.
- 1891. His younger brother, John Bevill Fortescue, who was the High Sherriff, succeeded.
- 1938. George Grenville Fortescue, the eldest son, succeeds.
- 1942 to 1945. Boconnoc House and its buildings were occupied by American troops. Much of the ground was used as an ammunition dump in preparation for the invasion of Europe.
- 1967. The Estate passes to John Desmond Fortescue JP, High Sherriff.
- 1995. His son, Anthony Desmond Grenville Fortescue, took over the running of the Estate.
- In 2001, work started on the restoration of Boconnoc House, which had suffered considerable decay.
- Map of the Liskeard Registration District in which the parish lies.
You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SX155596 (Lat/Lon: 50.407571, -4.598048), Boconnoc which are provided by:
- Google Maps
- StreetMap (Current Ordnance Survey maps)
- Bing (was Multimap)
- OldMaps (Old Ordnance Survey maps.)
- Old Maps Online (Other old maps.)
- National Library of Scotland (Old Ordnance Survey maps)
- Vision of Britain (Click "Historical units & statistics" for administrative areas.)
- English Jurisdictions in 1851 (Unfortunately the LDS have removed the facility to enable us to specify a starting location, you will need to search yourself on their map.)
- Magic (Geographic information) (Click + on map if it doesn't show)
- GeoHack (Links to on-line maps and location specific services.)
Apprenticeship Indentures for Boconnoc (1802 - 1828) can be found in the Cornwall Record Office.
Boconnoc parish was part of the Liskeard Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief. Overseers' Accounts 1812 to 1837 are available in the Cornwall Record Office.
In the May of 1641 it was agreed and ordered that every Member of the House of Commons and House of Lords should make a protestation (declaration of loyalty) to the crown. The Protestation was printed and then distributed by the Members to their counties. The Protestation was to be made by everyone and the Rectors, Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor, had to appear before the Justices of the Peace in their Hundred to make their protestation and, on returning to their parishes, any two of them were to witness the taking of the Protestation Oath by all males over the age of 18 years. All names were listed and anyone who refused was to be noted.
The Protestation Returns of 1642 for Boconnoc are available on-line.