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Help and advice for Morwenstow

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The parish of Morwenstow, (Cornish: Lannvorwenna), is situated in the Deanery of Trigg Major, and Hundred of Stratton. It is bounded on the north by the Devon parishes of Wellcombe and Hartland, on the east by the Devon parish of Bradworthy, on the south by Kilkhampton, and on the west by the sea. The parish name is of English origin: 'St Morwenna's holy place'. This most northerly parish of Cornwall is near the Devon border and has a rocky coast with high cliffs. The eccentric Robert Stephen Hawker was vicar here from 1834 to 1875. He wrote many poems and hymns, one of which is Trelawney, which is often regarded as the National Anthem of Cornwall. He is said to have had ten cats which sometimes followed him to church.

On the north-eastern quarter of the parish rise the rivers Torridge and Tamar. Tourism is replacing farming as the important industry in the area. Among the chief villages are the Churchtown, Gooseham, Woodford, Eastcot, and Wooley.

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 Morwenstow (HO107/151), Enumeration Districts 5 to 7, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
  • 1851.
    • The 1851 Census of Morwenstow (HO107/1897), Enumeration Districts 1a, 1b and 1c, 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; Morwenstow is listed in Volume 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 Morwenstow (RG9/1512), (Enumeration Districts 5 to 7), is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
  • 1871. The 1871 Census of Morwenstow (RG10/2214), Enumeration District 5 to 7, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
  • 1881. The 1881 Census of Morwenstow (RG11/2269), Enumeration Districts 5 to 7, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.
  • 1891. The 1891 Census of Morwenstow (RG12/1796), Enumeration Districts 5 to 7, is available on-line from the Cornwall Online Census project.


You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Morwenstow area or see them printed on a map.


Church History

  • Anglican. The parish church is located in OS Grid Square SS2015, and is dedicated to St Morwenna.It was appropriated by Peter Quivil, Bishop of Exeter, who died in 1291, to St John's Hospital at Bridgewater. In a document dated 1296, the church was referred to as an 'old and well-known structure'. Although this is a Norman church, it clearly must have replaced an earlier Saxon structure. It consists of a chancel, nave, and north and south aisles. The chancel is separated from the nave by a richly-carved screen erected in 1575 at the expense of the Kempthorne family. The arcades consist of seven arches, some of which are semi-circular, and others pointed. They are supported on piers and pillars, one of which bears the date 1475. The entrances to the body of the church are via a south porch and a priest's door; the former has a fine Norman doorway. The tower is of two stages and is finished with pinnacles; it had four bells.
  • Non-Conformist. There was a Bible Christian chapel at Woodford. There were also Wesleyan Methodist chapels at Woodford and a replacement Wesleyan chapel at Shop.

Church Records

  • LDS Church Records.
    • The LDS Church batch numbers for Morwenstow are: C002132/4, M002133, P002131. These are searchable by surname.
    • The IGI coverage of this parish is 1558 - 1875.
  • The Cornwall Record Office holdings: Baptisms 1558 - 1956, Burials 1558 - 1863, Marriages 1558 - 1812, Boyd's Marriage Index 1558 - 1812, Pallott's Marriage Index 1790 - 1812.
  • The Cornwall Family History Society have published on-line transcripts of:
    • Pre 1813 Marriages
    • 1813-37 Marriages
    • 1813-37 Burials
  • Baptisms.
    • Baptisms 1558 to 1902, and 1676 to 1805 (Bishop's transcripts - with gaps), for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • The Cornish Forefathers' Society have published on CD, baptisms 1778 to 1840 for this parish which can be purchased on Parish Chest
  • Banns. Banns 1755 to 1806 for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
  • Marriages.
    • The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Marriages 1558 to 1837, which is available in CD or downloadable .pdf file formats.
    • Phillimore's marriages 1558 to 1812, an index of marriages 1558 to 1901, and Bishop's transcripts of marriages 1676 to 1805 (with gaps), for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
  • Burials.
    • The Cornwall Family History Society have published transcripts of: Parish Burials 1813 to 1837, which is available in Book format.
    • Burials 1559 to 1901, and Bishop's transcripts of burials 1676 to 1804 (with gaps), for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).

Civil Registration

The parish of Morwenstow is in the Stratton Registration District, and has been since 1st July 1837; there were sub-districts at Kilhampton, Stratton and Week St Mary but these have now been abolished. Parishes within the district are: Jacobstow, Kilkhampton, Launcells, Marhamchurch, Morwenstow, Poughill, Poundstock, St. Gennys, Stratton, Stratton and Bude, Week St. Mary, Whitstone. The Superintendant Registrar can be contacted at: The Parkhouse Centre, Ergue Gaberic Way, Bude, EX23 8LF. Tel: 01288 353209.


Description and Travel

    You can see pictures of Morwenstow which are provided by:



    Ask for a calculation of the distance from Morwenstow to another place.

    Click here for a list of nearby places.



    • 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.
    • There is a mailing list for Morwenstow. The list discusses all genealogy to do with the town and parish. To join or leave a list, send an email to: eng-cornwall-morwenstow-l[at]rootsweb[dot]com with the single word 'subscribe' or unsubscribe (as appropriate) in the text. The subscribing/unsubscribing (joining/leaving) process is entirely automatic. It should be realised that there isn't any person involved in adding or subtracting list members, so such messages should not be sent to the mailing list itself; they will not be actioned.

    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 Morwenstow ecclesiastical parish:

    • Lee (Lega, Lege), Grid Reference 228123.
    • Milton (Middeltona, Mideltone), Grid Reference 244144.

    You can see the administrative areas in which Morwenstow has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.




    Poor Houses, Poor Law etc.

    • Morwenstow parish was part of the Stratton Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief.
    • Overseers' Accounts (1741 to 1837), Settlement Papers (1721 to 1844) and Bastardy Bonds (1716 to 1819), are available in the Cornwall Record Office.
    • Some Bastardy Bonds for this parish can be found on-line.


    • Population in 1801 - 874 persons
    • Population in 1811 - 940 persons
    • Population in 1821 - 1091 persons
    • Population in 1831 - 1102 persons
    • Population in 1841 - 1050 persons
    • Population in 1851 - 1094 persons
    • Population in 1861 - 868 persons
    • Population in 1871 - 847 persons
    • Population in 1881 - 810 persons
    • Population in 1891 - 701 persons
    • Population in 1901 - 633 persons
    • Population in 1911 - 603 persons
    • Population in 1921 - 597 persons
    • Population in 1931 - 584 persons
    • Population in 1951 - 1515 persons
    • Population in 1961 - 569 persons
    • Population in 1971 - 554 persons
    • Population in 1981 - 610 persons
    • Population in 1991 - 695 persons
    • Population in 2001 - 768 persons
    • Population in 2011 - 837 persons


    The parish comprises 8196 acres of land, one acre of water, one acre of tidal water and 242 acres of foreshore.