The parish and Borough of Fowey (Cornish: Fowydh) is situated in the Deanery and Hundred of Powder. It is bounded on the north by the parishes of Tywardreath and St Sampson (Golant), on the east by Fowey Harbour which separates them from Lanteglos-by-Fowey, on the south by the English Channel, and on the west by Tywardreath. Fowey was rated in the Domesday survey of 1086 under the parish of Tywardreath. The market was first granted to the Prior of Tywardreath in 1316. The trade of Fowey in the 19th century was principally in the importation of timber, coals and lime; there was also a small fishery here. Fowey was a 'Rotten Borough' until the Reform Act of 1832. Up to this date, it had returned two members of parliament from 1570. The Dutch admiral, De Ruyter, made an unsuccessfull attempt on Fowey harbour in 1667.

Today, Fowey is a busy, sheltered, deep water working port offering extensive facilities for the visiting yachtsmen, popular with tourists. It is now a busy place, with an harbour full of pleasure craft in Summer. Fowey Town itself clings to the hill side. It is full of character having many narrow streets.



  • A Municipal cemetery was formed in 1873 on hills above the town which was under the control of a Burial Board of five members.
  • The Cornwall Family History Society have published Monumental Inscriptions for the Parish Church - 193 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:


Church History

  • Anglican. A Norman church was first built here in the 12th century. The parish church is located in OS Grid Square SX1251 and was initially dedicated to St. Finn Barr (Fimbarrus). Possibly the Church was destroyed by pirates and it had to be rebuilt in 1328. It was re-dedicated on 3rd July 1336 by the Bishop of Exeter. In reprisal for raids on the French coast by Fowey seamen, the town was attacked by the French in 1456 and was set on fire; during this action the Church was partially destroyed. The attackers were repulsed at "Place", the neighbouring great house, by Elizabeth Treffry (a member of the family who still live there), and she is reputed to have had molten lead poured over them! Some 130 years later, a major restoration took place. This work of restoration began about 1460 with the help of the Earl of Warwick, the Lord High Admiral of England, and lasted into the next century. The tower (the 2nd highest in Comwall) and the wagon roof date from this period The pulpit was made in 1601 from the panelling of the captain's cabin of a Spanish galleon. In 1876, another important restoration took place removing the western gallery, providing a new roof for the north aisle, a clergy vestry, choir stalls, as well as pews for the congregation.
    The church now comprises a chancel, nave, and north and south aisles. The chancel is lit by clerestory windows. The south arcade has one granite arch adjoining the chancel, and four lofty pointed and heavily champered arches of Pentewan stone, supported on octagonal piers without caps. The north arcade has four similar arches and piers of the same material. The tower is in four stages and is about 100 ft high to the tops of the pinnackles; it is strongly buttressed on the square. The tower contains six bells and a chiming clock.
  • Non-Conformist. In the parish are:
    • A Congregationalist chapel built in 1797.
    • A Bible Christian chapel built in 1883.
    • A Wesleyan chapel built in 1801.

Church Records

  • LDS Church Records.
  • The Cornwall Record Office holdings: Baptisms 1543 - 1967, Burials 1603 - 1970, Marriages 1568 - 1936, Boyd's Marriage Index 1568 - 1812, Pallot's Marriage Index 1790 - 1812, Non-Conformist records 1798 - 1836.
  • Some parish baptisms, marriages and burial (1568 to 1929) for this parish are on the Connors Genealogy Website.
  • Baptisms.
    • Baptisms 1681 to 1804 (Bishop's transcripts), and 1851 to 1875 (church registers), for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • Wesleyan Methodist (North Street) baptisms 1838 to 1914 in this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • The SOCIETY of FRIENDS (Quakers) - Christenings taken from Fowey Circuit Records, is available on-line, courtesy of the St Austell OPC. These include individuals from Fowey.
    • The Cornish Forefathers' Society have published on CD, baptisms 1730 to 1843 for this parish and these are available for purchase on Parish Chest.
  • Banns. Banns at Fowey 1803 to 1838 are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
  • Marriages.
    • The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Marriages 1568 to 1837, which is available in Book, CD or downloadable .pdf file formats.
    • The Bishops transcripts of marriages 1681 to 1804, Phillimore's marriages 1568 to 1812, and parish marriages 1702 to 1901, for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
  • Burials.
    • Burials 1681 to 1804 (Bishop's transcripts), and parish burials 1702 to 1873, for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Burialss 1813 to 1837, which are available in Book format.

Civil Registration

The parish of Fowey has been in the Registration District of St Austell continuously from 1st July 1837. There were sub-districts at Fowey, Grampound, Mevagissey and St Austell, but these have now been abolished. Parishes within the district were: Creed, Fowey, Gorran, Grampound, Mevagissey, Roche, St. Austell, St. Blazey, St. Dennis, St. Ewe, St. Mewan, St. Michael Carhays, St. Sampson, St. Stephen in Brannel, Tywardreath. The Superintendant Registrar can be contacted at: 12 Carlyon Road, St Austell, PL25 4LD. Tel: 01726 68974. Fax: 01726 68974.


Description & Travel

You can see pictures of Fowey which are provided by:



The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"FOWEY, a parish, ancient seaport, and market town, in the W. division of the hundred of Powder, but having separate jurisdiction, in the county of Cornwall, 22 miles E. by S. of Plymouth. It is situated on the right bank, and at the mouth of the river Fowey, which here expands its waters into a secure and spacious harbour, sheltered on both sides by lofty rocks, but extremely narrow at its entrance. In the channel and, opposite the town there are 3 fathoms at low water. On the W. side of the harbour stands St. Catherine's Castle, built in the reign of Henry VIII., and on the E. side are the ruins of St. Saviour's, an old church. The former was once a strong fortress, and stands on a pile of rocks of hard bluish slate, intersected by quartz. There are also ruins of two square stone towers erected for the protection of the entrance in the reign of Henry IV., the walls of which are 6 feet in thickness. Between these forts a chain originally extended across the entrance of the harbour as an additional security. The houses are built chiefly of stone, and extend more than a mile along the banks of the river; but the streets are so narrow and full of angles that a carriage of any description passes through them with great difficulty. The whole aspect of the town indicates the decay of trade, which, in the 13th and 14th centuries, rendered it a flourishing seaport, and enabled it to rank with Rye and Winchelsea as a cinque port. In the reign of Edward III. it sent 47 vessels for assisting in the siege of Calais, being a greater number than was furnished by any other port in the kingdom. The pilchard fishery, once the staple industry of this place, is now extinct; the only business at present is in the coasting trade and the shipment of copper ore, china clay, and paving stone. In the decennial period between 1851 and 1861 the population of the parish had decreased from 1,606 to 1,429.



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.


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 Fowey ecclesiastical parish:



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SX112522 (Lat/Lon: 50.339232, -4.65448), Fowey which are provided by:


Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • In 1894, Fowey parish was added to the St Austell Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief.
  • Overseers' Accounts (1765 to 1794) are available in the Cornwall Record Office.


These population figures include Polkerris.

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 1801 - 1155 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 1319 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 1455 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 1767 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 1643 persons
  • Population in 1851 - 1452 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 1414 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 1344 persons,
    plus 45 on shipping
  • Population in 1881 - 1515 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 1957 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 2258 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 2276 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 2388 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 2575 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 2347 persons
  • Population in 1961 - 2263 persons
  • Population in 1971 - 2369 persons
  • Population in 1981 - 2130 persons
  • Population in 1991 - 2121 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 2273 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 2395 persons


The parish comprises 1953 acres of land.