The parish of Gwithian (Cornish: Sen Goedhyan) is situated in the Deanery and Hundred of Penwith. It is bounded on the north by the sea and the parish of Camborne, on the east by the parishes of Camborne and Gwinear, on the south by Phillack, and on the west by St Ives Bay. Named after a little known saint, possibly Breton, the picturesque little village of Gwithian is near Hayle on the north Cornish coast. Gwithian Churchtown is a little village lying almost at sea-level on the coast between Hayle and Portreath; it has a a church and an inn. The surrounding area of dunes and beach are very popular for camping-caravaning and there are several sites in the locality as well as a chalet park.

In mediaeval times this was an important settlement area, but was always subject to shifting sand, which eventually claimed the once prominent village in the parish, that of Conerton, now buried. The sand dunes (towans) of Gwithian are found all along the shores of St. Ives Bay on the north coast of Cornwall. These here make up the second largest sand dune system in Cornwall and are one of the largest systems to be found on the west coast of the United Kingdom. They are also comparable in size to their counterparts in Europe. The system is approximately 5 kilometres long by 2 kilometres wide and is aligned from north-east to south-west. The sand has, in recent times, attracted the surfers.

Mines that were important in the past have now been replaced by tourism and agriculture. Because of its exposed position to the Atlantic, the rocks at Godrevy have seen many wrecks in the past. In January 1858, the foundations of the lighthouse was laid, and it was first lighted on 1st March 1859. This area of sea is now guarded by an automated lighthouse. An ancient oratory is believed to be buried under the shifting sands near the Red River.

The civil parishes of Gwinear and Gwithian were combined to form Gwinear-Gwithian in 1934.

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)





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 Gwithian (HO107/142), Enumeration Districts 9 and 10, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
  • 1851.
    • The 1851 Census of Gwithian (HO107/1916), Enumeration Districts 2a, and 2b, 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; Gwithian is listed in Volume 38. 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 Gwithian (RG9/1585), Enumeration Districts 9 and 10, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
  • 1871. The 1871 Census of Gwithian (RG10/2329), Enumeration Districts 10 and 11, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
  • 1881. The 1881 Census of Gwithian (RG11/2338), Enumeration Districts 10 and 11 [including Merchant Shipping], is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
  • 1891. The 1891 Census of Gwithian (RG12/1852), Enumeration Districts 10 and 11, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.

Church History

  • Anglican. The parish church is located in OS Grid Square SW5841 and was dedicated to Saints Felix and Gocianus (Gothian). The church was rebuilt in 1864, previous to which it comprised a chancel, nave, north transept, south aisle, with porch and tower. The building was originally cruciform, and it is said that the removal of the wall in the south transept caused the downfall of the chancel arch, of which traces remain. The aisle was added in the 15th century. The column of the arcade were of simple character; the carches were four-centred and moulded. The opportunity was taken to reduce the size of the church because of a falling population in the parish. In the rebuilding work, the aisle was taken down but the arcade was carefully preserved.
  • Non-Conformist. In Connor Downs in this parish, the United Methodist Free Church built a chapel.

Church Records

  • LDS Church Records.
    • The LDS Church batch numbers for Gwithian are: C025171/2, M025173. These are searchable by surname.
    • The IGI coverage of this parish is 1560 - 1895; it is NOT believed to be fully included in the LDS Church's International Genealogical Index (IGI).
  • The Cornwall Record Office holdings: Baptisms 1560 - 1894, Burials 1560 - 1916, Marriages 1560 - 1837, Boyd's Marriage Index 1560 - 1812, Pallot's Marriage Index 1790 - 1812.
  • Baptisms.
    • Baptisms 1560 to 1911 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • The Cornish Forefathers' Society have published on CD baptisms 1716 to 1845 for this parish and these are available for purchase on Parish Chest..
    • Baptisms (1560 - 1769) occurring in Gwithian, are available on-line.
  • Banns. Banns 1754 to 1770 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
  • Marriages.
    • Marriages 1560 to 1812 (Phillimore's), and 1560 to 1837, for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Marriages 1660 to 1837, which is available in Book, CD or downloadable .pdf file formats.
    • marriages (1560 - 1759) occurring in Gwithian, are available on-line.
  • Burials.

Civil Registration

The parish of Gwithian is in the Penzance Registration District, and has been since 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. The enhanced parish of Gwithian-Gwinear is now part of the Penzance Registration District. Parishes in this registration district were: Camborne, East Phillack, Gwennap, Gwinear, Gwithian, Illogan, Phillack, Redruth, St. Sithian's, West Phillack.

The Superintendant Registrar of Penzance can be contacted at: Alphington House, Alverton Place, Penzance, TR18 4JJ. Tel: 01736 330093.


Description & Travel

You can see pictures of Gwithian which are provided by:



The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"GWITHIAN, a parish in the E. division of the hundred of Penwith, county Cornwall, 7 miles W. of Redruth. The village is situated near the bridge over the river Gwithian, which falls into St. Ives Bay. This parish extends along the coast of the Bristol Channel, and has been partly inundated with shifting shell sand. To protect the village from a similar Me, the sea-rush has been planted in sufficient quantities to bind the loose sand. The subsoil is slate with veins of copper, which was formerly more extensively worked than at present. The tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £234 19s. 6d. There are quarries of good building stone, and of a peculiar variety of sandstone, which is used instead of bricks in the construction of chimneys. The living is a rectory annexed to that of Phillack. The church is dedicated to St. Gothian. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans. In the vicinity are extensive earthworks called Trevarnon Rounds."

"GODREVY, a village and low island situated N. of St. Ives Bay, in the parish of Gwithian, county Cornwall, about 9 miles W. of Redruth. It is the property of the Basset family. Off the shore here is a reef that renders the approach to the island somewhat dangerous."



  • 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 for Gwithian has produced a genealogical website for the parish.
  • Persons living in a parish but born elsewhere are known as "Strays". Some Strays found in other parishes but stating they came from Gwithian are listed on-line.

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 Gwithian ecclesiastical parish:


Land & Property

Landholders in Gwithian in 1522 are listed on-line.


Law & Legislation

Some depositions taken on persons resident in Gwithian are available on-line.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SW587413 (Lat/Lon: 50.22236, -5.383945), Gwithian which are provided by:


Poor Houses, Poor Law

Gwithian parish was part of the Redruth Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief.



The civil parishes of Gwinear and Gwithian united to form 'Gwinear - Gwithian' in 1934. However, population figures were combined from 1901 for the joint Gwinear-Gwithian civil parish.

  • Population in 1801 - 329 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 372 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 412 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 539 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 625 persons
  • Population in 1851 - 629 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 774 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 691 persons
  • Population in 1881 - 614 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 2197 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 2123 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 2068 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 1956 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 1868 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 1869 persons (Gwinnear-Gwithian)
  • Population in 1961 - 1693 persons (Gwinnear-Gwithian)
  • Population in 1971 - 1701 persons (Gwinnear-Gwithian)
  • Population in 1981 - 2255 persons (Gwinnear-Gwithian)
  • Population in 1991 - 2815 persons (Gwinnear-Gwithian)
  • Population in 2001 - 3032 persons (Gwinnear-Gwithian)
  • Population in 2011 - 3177 persons (Gwinnear-Gwithian)

Probate Records


Religion & Religious Life

The Protestation Returns of 1642 for Gwithian are available on-line.



The parish comprises 2420 acres of land.



The Hearth Tax entries for Gwithian (1660-1664) are available on-line.