St Columb Major


Often referred to just as St Columb, the large parish of St Columb Major, (Cornish: Sen Kolomm Veur), is situated in the Deanery and Hundred of Pydar. It is bounded on the north by Little Petherick and St Issey, on the east by St Wenn, Roche and St Dennis, on the south by St Enoder and Colan, and on the west by St Columb Minor, Mawgan-in-Pydar and St Ervan. A whole area of North Cornwall bears the name of St Columb; it is divided between the parishes of St Columb Major and St Columb Minor. Until relatively recently these were known as Higher and Lower St Columb. These parishes are both named after their patron, Saint Columba.

William of Worcester wrote of an ancient castle at Carloggas, which was in ruins in the medieval period in which he lived; also of a turretted mansion, which had belonged to John Tregoos Esq., but of these no vestiges remain. About two miles south-east of St Columb town stands Castle-an-Dinas, which appears to have been from the pre-Roman Iron Age period. There are other relics from this period in the parish. The Arundells were the most influential family here; Sir John Arundell, who died in 1379, lies buried in the church.

The town of St Columb is built on an eminence, and had a number of good-quality houses. Edward III granted a market here to Sir John Arundell in 1333. A little below the town to the eastwards stood the St Columb Union Workhouse. The principal villages in the parish are: Glivian, Halloon, Lanhizey, Rosedinick, Rosevanion, Ruthvoes (or Ruthvos), Tolskedy, Tregamere, Tregaswith, Tregatilian, Trekenning, Trebadannon, Trevarron, Trevolgas and Trugo. A number of mines were worked in the parish - both tin and manganese; there was also much good farming.

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)



The Cornwall Family History Society have published on-line Monumental Inscriptions for the Parish Church - 350 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. The parish church is located in OS Grid Square SW9163 and is supposed to be dedicated to St Columba the Virgin, but there is no written record of this; adjacent to the parish is the smaller parish of St Columb Minor. It is not known whom St Columba was, but some historians believe she may have been a French saint. Like the majority of Cornish Churches, the Parish Church of St Columb is dedicated in the name of a Celtic Saint-Columba. She was a holy woman who probably came from Ireland to preach the Gospel to fellow Celts here and in Brittany. According to tradition Columba was pursued up the river by a heathen tyrant who wished her to marry his son, and was martyred at Ruthvoes, about 2 1/2 miles from St Columb Town. (Columba in Latin means a Dove- the emblem of tenderness and purity).
    The church occupies a splendid position at the head of the Vale of Lanherne. The site was quite possibly a large tumulus or burying place in pre-Christian times. but we know that a church has occupied it for at least 1000 years.
    The church building has a cathedral-like appearance; it was erected in about the 12th century. It comprises a chancel, north and south chancel aisles, north and south transepts, nave, and north and south aisles. The chancel arcades are of two arches each, and the nave arcades each of three lofty pointed arches. The material is chiefly Pentewan stone, but occasionally Caen stone is used. The aisles are separated from the transepts by transverse arches. The south chancel aisle was formerly a peculiar chapel for the Arundell family, and thereunder several of them are buried. In 1676 some youths set fire to a store of gunpowder which was kept in the church for defence which resulted in their death and great damage to the church. Money was raised locally and the church was rebuilt. In the course of further repairs in 1846, much medieval frescos (wall paintings) were discovered.
    The tower stands about 80 feet in height and is unusually built with a passage beneath, wide enough to admit carts; it formed a right of way to parishioners to the college. It is of three stages; the first stage is open - having north and south arches. It is buttressed on the square, has battlements and pinnacles and contains eight bells. The tower was damaged by lightning in 1690.

    A chapel in this parish, dedicated to St Thomas, was licensed on 21st December 1374. The Arundell chapel, attached to the church, is said to have been built by Refry Arundell, who died in 1310, and for whom there was formerly a memorial in the church.
  • Non-Conformist. There were several non-conformist chapels in the parish.

Church Records

  • LDS Church Records.
    • The LDS Church batch numbers for St Columb Major are: C031221, Bethesda Chapel Independent C065381. These are searchable by surname.
    • The IGI coverage of this parish is 1540 - 1780; it is NOT believed to be fully included in the LDS Church's International Genealogical Index (IGI).
  • The Cornwall Record Office holdings: Baptisms 1540 - 1964, Burials 1539 - 1965, Marriages 1544 - 1970, Boyd's Marriage Index 1539 - 1812, Pallot's Marriage Index 1800 - 1812, Non-Conformist records 1795 - 1837.
  • The Cornwall Family History Society have published on-line transcripts of:
    • 1813-37 Marriages
    • 1813-37 Burials
  • Baptisms.
    • Baptisms 1683 to 1772 (Bishop's transcripts), 1813 to 1850, and 1862 to 1911, for this parish are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • St Columb Wesleyan Methodist baptisms 1839 to 1853, Wesleyan baptisms 1908 to 1912, Newquay and St Columb Wesleyan Methodist baptisms 1857 to 1902, are available on-line through the OPC search Facility - (C-PROP).
    • The Cornish Forefathers' Society have published on CD baptisms 1680 to 1780 for this parish which can be purchased on Parish Chest.
  • Marriages.
    • Marriages 1683 to 1772 (Bishop's transcripts), Phillimore's marriages 1781 to 1812, and parish transcriptions 1650 to 1824 and 1837 to 1900, 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 1544 to 1837, which is available in CD or downloadable .pdf file formats.
    • The Cornish Forefathers' Society have published on CD marriages, 1598 to 1780, for this parish which can be purchased on Parish Chest..
  • Burials.
    • Burials 1539 to 1551, 1571 to 1930, and 1683 to 1772 (Bishop's transcripts), 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.
  • Other Non-Conformist Records. OPC Coverage of Non-Conformist records of this parish is available.
  • Mixed Records.
    • The registers of the parish of St. Columb Major, Cornwall, from the year 1539 to 1780, by Arthur A. Jewers (Published 1881), are available on-line, courtesy of the Old Cornwall Society.
    • Esther Scott has produced a list of some baptisms, marriages and burials, which are recorded in the St Columb Major parish registers.

Civil Registration

The parish of St Columb Major was originally in the St Columb Registration District. There were sub-districts at Newlyn, Padstow and St Columb Major, but these have now been abolished. It is now in the Registration District of St Austell. Parishes within the old St Columb district were: Colan, Crantock, Cubert, Little Petherick, Mawgan-in-Pydar, Newlyn, Newquay, Padstow, St. Breock, St. Columb Major, St. Columb Minor, St. Enoder, St. Ervan, St. Eval, St. Issey, St. Merryn, St. Wenn.

The Superintendant Registrar of St Austell can be contacted at: 12 Carlyon Road, St Austell, PL25 4LD. Tel: 01726 68974. Fax: 01726 68974.


Description & Travel

  • The registers of the parish of St. Columb Major, Cornwall, from the year 1539 to 1780, by Arthur A. Jewers (Published 1881), is available on-line, courtesy of the Old Cornwall Society.
  • Photographs of St Columb Major are available on-line.
  • There is a website devoted to St Columb Major, which includes some items of historic interest.
You can see pictures of St Columb Major which are provided by:



The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"ST. COLUMB MAJOR, a parish and market town in the hundred of Pyder, middle division of the county of Cornwall, 29 miles SW. of Launceston. The parish is of large extent, and the surface rests on igneous rocks containing tin, copper, cobalt, bismuth, and various minerals. The town contains about 1,400 inhabitants, and is situated on a hill. There area market-house, bank, five chapels, and Union poorhouse. It is the head of new County Court and registration districts, which coincide with the limits of the Poor-law Union, comprising 17 parishes. Petty sessions are held in the town, which is one of the polling places for the county elections. The inhabitants are chiefly engaged in agriculture and the mines. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Exeter, value £1,515, in the patronage of the Rev. Dr. Walker. The church, dedicated to St. Columba, is a fine old structure, with pinnacled tower, and was formerly collegiate. It contains a brass and other monuments to the Arundells of Llanherne, who formerly held the manor, and of which family was Bishop Arundell, who died in 1504. The charities produce £50 per annum. In the vicinity are many interesting antiquities of the early Britons--as, Retalloek barrow, Castle-an-Dinas camp, the Coyt, King Arthur's stone, with the imprint of four horses' hoofs upon it, the stones called the Nine Maidens, and other Druidical remains. Thursday is the market day, and fairs are held on the Thursday after Mid-Lent Sunday, and the third Thursday in November.



  • 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.
  • British-Genealogy also have a mailing list for those wanting to discuss ancestry in St Columb Major.

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 St Columb Major ecclesiastical parish:


Land & Property

Family Deeds. The Family Deeds Project provides a large amount of FREE online information to help you with your family history using information contained in our collection of old deeds and documents. These documents can contain a wealth of information for family historians and so the Family Deeds project was created with the aim of trying to preserve some of that information and make it easily available to all. The deeds relating to St Columb are on-line.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SW916630 (Lat/Lon: 50.429976, -4.936048), St Columb Major which are provided by:


Poor Houses, Poor Law

  • St Columb Major parish was part of the St Columb Major Union for Poor Law administration and parish relief; this workhouse was located within this parish.
  • The St Columb Major Union Workhouse was built in about 1840 on a site at the north of St Columb Major. It was designed by George Gilbert Scott and his partner William Bonython Moffatt who were also the architects for other Cornish workhouses. Intended to accommodate 150 inmates, the Poor Law Commissioners authorised the sum of £5,150 on its construction.
    The Union comprised the parishes of St Breock, St Columb Major, St Columb Minor, Colan, Crantock, Cubert, St Ervan, St Eval, St Enoder, St Issey, Little Petherick, St Merryn, Mawgan-in-Pydar, Newlyn East, Padstow and St Wenn.
  • Overseers' Accounts (1828 to 1856) for St Columb Major parish are available in the Cornwall Record Office.


  • Population in 1801 - 1816 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 2070 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 2493 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 2790 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 3064 persons plus 82 in the St Columb Major Workhouse
  • Population in 1851 - 2930 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 2875 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 2752 persons
  • Population in 1881 - 2739 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 2612 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 2260 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 2640 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 2880 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 3051 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 3151 persons
  • Population in 1961 - 3441 persons
  • Population in 1971 - 3953 persons
  • Population in St Columb parish (less village) in 1981 - 2670 persons
  • Population in St Columb village in 1981 - 1871 persons
  • Population in St Columb parish (less village) in 1991 - 3165 persons
  • Population in St Columb village in 1991 - 2320 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 3984 persons
  • Population in 2011 - 4587 persons


The St Columb Major Old Cornwall Society News Page is on-line.



The parish comprises 12875 acres of land and 9 acres of water.