The parish of Morvah, (Cornish: Morvedh), is situated in the Deanery and Hundred of Penwith. It is bounded on the north by the sea and Zennor, on the east by Madron, on the south by Madron and St Just, and on the west by St Just/Pendeen and the sea. One interpretation of the parish name is sea-grave, and it is believed a saint's grave was once revered here. This parish is located on the north coast of the south-west 'toe' of Cornwall, between Zennor and Pendeen. Amongst spectactular scenery there is an abundance of prehistoric archaeological sites. Chun castle was a habited fort with surviving hut circles and stone walls. Other sites of interest are Chun Quoit, Lanyon Quoit and Gurnards Head Promontory Fort, which is one mile north of Porthmeor.

Villages in the parish are the Churchtown, Tregaminion, Trevowan, Trevean.

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:


Church History

  • Anglican. The parish church is located in OS Grid Square SW4035; it is now dedicated to St Bridget & Morwetha. It was dedicated on 7th April 1409 to St Morwetha. It was originally a daughter church of Madron (the two parishes were originally known as Morvah-with-Madron, and has been united with Madron ever since): it is a plain square structure of no pretention whatsoever. It was rebuilt in 1828, the Incorporated Society granting ¬£250, for which 292 addtional free sittings were claimed. The east window is of ornamented glass. There is a western gallery, a south porch and a north door. An ancient pew which had borne the the arms of 'Lanyon', and which had the initials " W.L. 1539" unfortunately has been destroyed. The tower is of two stages, and is finished with battlements and pinnacles; it contains three bells.
  • Non-Conformist. There was a Wesleyan Methodist chapel in the Churchtown; this was opened in 1810. There also used to be a Bible Christian chapel in the parish but this was altered to become a Board school before 1883.

Photographs of the church and chapel in Morvah are available.


Church Records


Civil Registration

The parish of Morvah 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.


Description & Travel

  • The OPC has transcribed John Norden's "Penwith" From Speculi Britanni√¶ pars: a topographical and historical description of Cornwall in 1610. (John Norden was topographer and was the first Englishman who designed a complete series of county histories and geographies (a gazetteer). The first part of his Speculum Britanniae in 1593 was of Middlesex, then Hertfordshire in 1598. Three of his studies were printed long after his death, Essex, Northamptonshire, finished in 1610, but only published in 1720, Cornwall also finished in 1610, published in 1728.).
You can see pictures of Morvah which are provided by:



The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"MORVAH, a parish in the hundred of Penwith, county Cornwall, 6 miles N.W. of Penzance, its post town, and 4 from St. Just. The village, which is of small extent, is situated on the coast of the Bristol Channel, and is wholly agricultural. The parish contains Castle-Chun, the most regular Danish fortification in the county, and near it is a cromlech. The soil consists of killas, with a subsoil of rock. The living is a vicarage annexed to that of Madron, in the diocese of Exeter. The church, which was rebuilt in 1828, is a stone structure with a square tower containing three bells. The interior of the church contains an ancient font and numerous monuments. A Sunday-school is held in the church. There is a school for both sexes."



  • 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 Morvah has provided a genealogical website for the parish.
  • The West Penwith Resources have also produced a website for Morvah to help family historians.

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SW409352 (Lat/Lon: 50.160361, -5.629457), Morvah which are provided by:


Poor Houses, Poor Law

Morvah parish was part of the Penzance Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief.



  • Population in 1801 - 282 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 273 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 325 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 377 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 407 persons
  • Population in 1851 - 367 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 380 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 356 persons
  • Population in 1881 - 184 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 172 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 116 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 105 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 112 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 86 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 72 persons
  • Population in 1961 - 65 persons
  • Population in 1971 - 77 persons
  • Population in 1981 - 65 persons
  • Population in 1991 - 80 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 79 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 49 persons

Probate Records


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 Penwith Local History Group aims:

  • To encourage and sustain public interest in the history of Penwith to provide mutual support and encouragement to members in their individual research projects, whether related to Penwith or of wider historical interest.
  • To work as a group on specific research projects, with the aim of publication to an academic standard.
  • To encourage the strong link with the Morrab Library, supporting the Library in its aims and activities.


The parish comprised 1270 acres of land, one acre of water and 14 acres of foreshore.



Entries from the Hearth Tax 1662 - 1664 for Morvah are availble on-line.