The parish of Liskeard, (Cornish: Lyskerry), which also includes the borough, is situated in the Deanery and Hundred of West. It is bounded on the north by St Cleer, on the east by Menheniot, on the south by Morval, St Keyne, Duloe and St Pinnock, and on the west by St Neot. The origin of the name 'lys', means court or seat of Justice, and 'Kerryt', means a local chief or king. This suggests that Liskeard has always been an important local administrative centre.

The town is mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086: Merleswein held it before 1066, and paid tax for 2 H; 12 h. there, however. Land for 60 ploughs; in lordship, 3 ploughs; 20 slaves; 1h.
35 villages and 37 smallholders with 13 ploughs & 11 h. A market which pays 4s.; a mill which pays 12s; woodland, 400 acres; pasture, 4 leagues long and 2 leagues wide. Formerly £8; value now £26, less 20d. 8 unbroken mares; 10 cattle; 250 sheep.

From 1294, Liskeard returned two members to Parliament.

The town is situated on the A38 which is the main southern route into Cornwall. The town's early growth was fostered by the wool trade with Tavistock and later became the main mineral market for south-east Cornwall. The town of Liskeard stands on a hill, the summit of which is divided into two eminences; on the eastern eminence stand the church and churchyard, and on the western and intervening valley the chief or business portion of the town. The ancient village of Dobwalls was in this parish; however in the 20th century a separate civil parish of 'Dobwalls and Trewidland' was created. Other villages in Liskeard parish are Trevelmond, Moorswater, Trewidland, and Lamellion.

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)


Archives & Libraries

The Liskeard and District Museum have a database of parish records for Liskeard and St Keyne. They can be contacted by e-mail; the address is: museum[at]liskeard.gov[dot]uk.





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. There are three Anglican churches in the parish:
    • Parish Church. The parish church is located in OS Grid Square SX2564, and is dedicated to St Martin. The church is the largest in Cornwall, apart from Bodmin. It consists of a chancel, nave, north aisle, south aisle, extreme south aisle (or Lady Chapel), and vestry. The north and south arcades each have seven four-centred arches; five of lofty proportions on each side of the nave, and two much lower on each side of the chancel. The extreme south arcade consists of three lofty four-centred arches. The chancel and the chancel ends of the north and south aisles are separated from the other parts of the church by transverse arches. The material throughout is chiefly granite. The whole length of the extreme south aisle is occupied by a second floor of seating called the Ladies' Gallery; in the nave is the organ loft. There is a south porch. The tower is of four stages, and is 57 feet in height; like the church, the tower is battlemented.
    • Dobwalls. There was a separate chapel of ease at Dobwalls, attached to Liskeard. It is a building of stone in the Early English style, consisting of chancel and nave, and a turret containing one bell, and was opened for divine service in 1839, at a cost of £640, of which about £220 was raised by subscription, and the remainder defrayed by the Bev. James Frederick Todd, then vicar.
    • Merrymeet. The chapel of ease of St Mary the Virgin, situated in Merrymeet, was erected in 1905, at a cost of about £750. It was licensed and opened for divine worship in February 1st of that year; there are about 100 sittings.
  • Roman Catholics. The Church of Our Lady and St. Neot was the first to be built following the 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act. A helpful coincidence occurred around that time: the conversion to the Catholic faith of Sir Harry Trelawny of Trelawne (between Poperro and Looe) and a commencement of a mission there. The Trelawny's French chaplain, Fr. Oleron, purchased a house in Redcow Lane (now West Street) in 1830 and this became the original foundation, sufficing as a place of worship and a school. When Fr. Oleron departed, Liskeard was served by visiting priests. Eventually the Misses Trelawny handed over Sclerder Farm, Looe, to the Franciscans, and one of the friars came to Liskeard each Sunday to say Mass.
    In 1863, due to the influx of Irish miners, the Catholic population needed a larger Church. The present building adjoins the original, which now acts as a small hall and overflow seating area. The design and specification of the 1863 Church were by Mr. Joseph Hansom. The first regular parish priest was Fr. George Poole of Torquay. Bishop Cyril Restieaux consecrated the Catholic Church in Liskeard, together with its new granite altar, on 17th September 1983.
  • Non-Conformists.
    • The Independents, or Congregationalists, re-opened an old chapel in 1806; this chapel had been used as a Presbyterian chapel since 1701. In 1867-68, the Congegationalists built a new Gothic chapel in Dean Street to where the previous chapel was removed.
    • The first Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built near Dean Street in 1800; two other chapels were built in succession in Lamellion Street. There were also chapels belonging to the Wesleyan Methodists at Trevelmond, and the Wesleyan Methodist Free Church had chapels at Trewidland and Green Bank.
    • The Wesleyan Association chapel near Five Lanes was built in 1838.
    • The Bible Christians also built a chapel in Lamellion Street in 1855.
    • In the same street there was also a Baptist chapel.
    • The Primitive Methodists also had a chapel at Roseland Vale.
    • A Presbyterian Church was built in 1701.
    • There has been a Citadel of the Salvation Army in Liskeard since 1887.
    • The Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah's Witnesses is a 20th century addition in the south of the town.
  • Quakers. The Quakers were one of the earliest dissenters in this district. Quakerism was introduced here by George Fox himself. They built a chapel here in 1688-89, and was used until a new chapel was built in 1796; this was enlarged in 1826. Until it burned down in 1899, the Friends Meeting House stood in Friends Place, off Pound Street.
  • Further information on Liskeard's churches at the beginning of the 21st century is available.

Church Records

  • LDS Church Records.
  • The Cornwall Record Office holdings: Baptisms 1539 - 1911, Burials 1539 - 1940, Marriages 1539 - 1958, Boyd's Marriage Index 1597 - 1665, BTs 1597 - 1665, Non-Conformist records 1806 - 1837, Liskeard Bible Christian registers 1863 - 1870, Liskeard Primitive Methodist Registers 1856 - 1924.
  • The Cornwall Family History Society have published on-line transcripts of the:
    • 1813-37 Marriages
    • 1813-37 Burials.
  • Baptisms.
    • Baptisms 1695 to 1773 (Bishop's transcripts), 1669 to 1729 and 1771 to 1815, for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • Callington Area Heritage Centre (broken link) have placed on-line baptism records for Liskeard Wesleyan Circuit 1819 to 1834.
    • Liskeard Wesleyan-Methodist Chapel baptisms 1834 to 1836 are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP). NOTE: Liskeard Bible Christian chapel baptisms can be found under the page for St Neot.
    • The Parish Chest have published, on two CDs, baptisms 1669 to 1840 for this parish.
  • Banns. Banns 1887 to 1911 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
  • Marriages.
    • Marriages 1695 to 1773 (Bishop's transcripts), 1539 to 1837 and 1876 to 1911, for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • Callington Area Heritage Centre (broken link) have placed on-line marriage records for Liskeard parish 1813 to 1837.
    • The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Marriages 1538 to 1837, which is available in CD or downloadable .pdf file formats.
  • Burials.
    • Burials 1695 to 1773 (Bishop's transcripts), 1669 to 1687 and 1882 to 1911, for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Burials 1813 to 1837, which is available in CD or Book formats.

Civil Registration

The parish of Liskeard has always been in the Liskeard Registration District. There were sub-districts at Callington, Lerrin, Liskeard and Looe, but these closed in the 1930s. 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.


Description & Travel

You can see pictures of Liskeard which are provided by:



21st August 1858
Front page, 1st column
(Letter to the Editor of The Times.

Sir, I perceive in the Registrar General's quarterly report, just issued, the following:- Liskeard - Deaths during the quarter ending June 1856, 146. 1857, 186. 1858, 248. I beg to offer you the following remarks from my diary of June 1858, as to this Cornish town, made during my 14 days holyday in Cornwall:-

"Liskeard seemed under a cloud; it is sickly, and children are sent out of it to save their lives. The town stands well - upon seven hills, they say; it is not flat in the midst of a flat. Nature has not forgotten Liskeard, but man has; well, the law says, 'He shall suffer'. In this little town, getting richer and larger from the proximity of successful mines, the open pond receives and retains the refuse of houses and slaughtering places; and the hot weather in telling its tale in the shameful destruction of human life. It is the old story, the rulers sin, and the pestilence visits the people. Here are gullies badly formed and full of solid filth steaming in the sun; here semi-solid refuse slowly runs down before the houses, and well-nigh all is evaporated and taints the air before it can reach the equivocal gully. In one house I found one child dead, one also dead in the next house, another in one of these houses hopelessly ill with a putrid disease; the house is close, the roof very low, the ventilation scanty; six families live here; the three houses drain into one large cesspool, which also receives a tributary drain from a neighbouring street. The opening of this great pool of filth stands untrapped at the door, and sends its pestilential messages in where the head and dying children are; a vile smell often comes up, is in fact coming up now; there is a well in the yard; the people have ceased to use it; it stands almost under the same roof, side by side with the privy pit. In front of this poor mans house is a very characteristic drain, so rough, so wide, that, although this 'tanyard hill' is steep, the liquid evaporates and leaves a black, offensive deposit putrefying in the sun. The very prosperity of the place is against it; money is obtained, but health is sacrificed, the people are sadly overcrowded, and the doctors are from these causes powerless in the presence of disease they could otherwise most readily cure. Such was Liskeard at my visit a few weeks since. No wonder that measles is putrid, that this new low charactered disease of the throat prevails. If the pestilence would but stalk in and press his hand upon a few leading men of the place, these evils might be attended. I fear not else. I am glad to get out of Liskeard, and I pity my friends there."

Such were my words; and I now hear that the deaths are occurring amongst the better classes. Lest the cause of these visitations should be overlooked and disregarded, I pray you, sir, to give this note a place in your column, it will reach even Liskeard through you.

I am,
your most obedient servant,

Medical Officer of Health, St George's Southwark August 14th.



The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"LISKEARD, a parish, market town, municipal and parliamentary borough, locally in the hundred of West, but having separate jurisdiction, in county Cornwall, 15 miles S.W. of Launceston, 18 from Plymouth, and 225 W.S.W. of London. It has a station on the Cornwall and West Cornwall railway, which passes through the parish at Moorswater. This place was anciently called Liskerrett, and was given by William the Conqueror to Robert, Earl of Mortaigne, from whom it came to the earls of Cornwall, and was, by Act of Parliament, annexed to the duchy in the reign of Edward III. The castle, of which there are still some vestiges, was occasionally the residence of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, and King of the Romans. During the Civil War the parliamentary forces were routed here by Sir Ralph Hopton, who took possession of the town for Charles I. Liskeard is one of the most ancient and considerable towns in the county, having been one of the four coinage or stannary towns. It was first chartered by Earl Richard in the reign of Henry III., and re-chartered by Queen Elizabeth. From the time of Edward I. till the passing of the Reform Act it returned two members to parliament, but since that event only one, the boundaries of the parliamentary borough being extended so as to include the whole of the parish. The population of the municipal borough in 1861 was 4,689, and of the parliamentary 6,704. Under the Muncipal Reform Act it is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors, with the style of "mayor and burgesses of Liskerret, otherwise Liskeard." The revenue of the borough, chiefly arising from the town lands, is about £560, and its acreage 8,129 acres. The town, which is chiefly built on steep hills at the upper extremity of a valley, stands near the turnpike road from Plymouth to Falmouth. It is irregularly laid out, but the streets are well paved, and lighted with gas.



  • 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 Liskeard ecclesiastical parish:



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SX251645 (Lat/Lon: 50.454116, -4.464956), Liskeard which are provided by:



The following Newspapers covered this region:

  • Cornish Times. (December 1856-1859). This newspaper was published in Liskeard and Callington, with a free supplement of the Launceston News. The Cornish and Devon Post offices hold copies from May 1857, but will not allow filming. The newspapers are wrapped in brown paper parcels, which are rather dirty and crudely wrapped, but the newspapers themselves are in quite good condition.
  • East Cornwall Times. (1859-1877). This newspaper was a continuation of the Cornish Times, but is now published in Launceston. An incomplete set for three years out of the first eight was found in the Cornish and Devon Post offices; there may be more, but the bundles were large and dirty, and the missing years could not be found. The British Library Online Newspaper Archive (BLNL) holds the last 10 years, i.e. 1867-1877, and it would be desirable to get a microfilm of the first eight years, and of its predecessor the Cornish Times; it should be noted that, as with the early years of the Launceston Weekly News, only the first page held any local news - the remainder was a pre-printed sheet from London, containing only national and international news.
  • Cornish and Devon Post. (1877-to date). This is a continuation of the above, this can only be filmed to 1934 as the offices have refused permission to film more recent editions. The BLNL hold a set from 1877, which would require approximately one reel/year to film, i.e. approximately 57 reels, to 1934. The offices hold a complete set, including the BLNL's missing year (1895), but this set is in poor condition.
  • Cornish Times and General Advertiser. (1857-to date). This title has been filmed, complete, by Wessex Microfiling from a set in very poor condition now held in inaccessible store in the Cornwall County Library. Unfortunately the film is poor, the originals were poor and unprepared, and the reduction is too great. The Cornish Times offices hold a file "complete from the 1900s" but this has not been examined as the BLNL holds a complete file (lacking 1872 and 1897) which years are available at the Cornwall Centre, (formerly known as the Cornish Studies Library) in Redruth.

Acknowledgements are made to the British Library Board for permission to reproduce the gist of this text.



  • Apprenticeship Indentures for Liskeard (1696 - 1833) can be found in the Cornwall Record Office.
  • Information about the Caradon and Liskeard Mines is available on-line.

Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • Liskeard Borough and parish were part of the Liskeard Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief. 1881 Census information on the staff and inmates of the Workhouse are available.
  • The Workhouse was located in Station Road, and was built in 1839 at a total cost, including the site, of about £7,500. It stood on about 2½ acres of land and was intended to hold 350 inmates.
  • Overseers' Accounts for the parish (1722 to 1842), Settlement Papers (1727 to 1835) and Bastardy Bonds (1747 to 1826) are available in the Cornwall Record Office.


  • Population in 1801 - 2708 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 2884 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 3519 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 4042 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 4287 persons
  • Population in 1851 - 4386 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 4689 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 4700 persons
  • Population in 1881 - 4536 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 3984 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 4010 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 4371 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 4377 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 4071 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 4467 persons
  • Population in 1961 - 4524 persons
  • Population in 1971 - 4741 persons
  • Population in 1981 - 6345 persons
  • Population in 1991 - 7657 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 8656 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 9301 persons

Religion & Religious Life

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 Liskeard are available on-line.



The parish comprises 8223 acres of land.