St Ives


The parish and Borough town of St Ives, (Cornish: Porthia), is situated in the Deanery and Hundred of Penwith. The parish is bounded on the north by the Bristol Channel, on the east by St Ives Bay and Lelant, on the south by Lelant and Towednack, and on the west by Towednack and the sea. The parish is named after St Ja or Ia, who was believed to have been an Irish saint. The story is that she missed the boat carrying her companions to Cornwall and so climbed on a leaf which arrived before them! She is believed to have died at Hayle about the middle of the 5th century. Further information on the history of St Ives is available.

St. Ives was a small inconsequential town in 1602 according to Carew. By 1700 Tonkin regards it as equal to several other corporations. In the Domesday Survey of 1086 it was taxed with Ludgvan Lees, being the senior manor which encompassed lands in Ludgvan, Lelant, St. Ives and Towednack. Another early manor from the Domesday Survey is Trenwith - legend has it that it was held from King Arthur's time. The parish was junior to Uny Lelant from at least as early as 1294 until 1869. The current building has parts that date back to the early C15th century (petitioned in 1408, built a little later). The town was known as Pendennis and the principle manor was "Porth Ia" - later "Porthia and Dinas". The earliest borough charter known was in the time of Charles I but probably existed before that. The hanging of the Mayor (Payne) was in Edward VI reign for being involved in the prayer book rebellion (1549).

The town contains a picturesque fishing port in the far west of Cornwall with special qualities of light that has inspired many artists to live here in the past. The new Tate Gallery (West) houses an exhibition of modern art and has an excellent refreshment room on the top floor overlooking the bay.

The parish of Halsetown was created from part of St Ives parish in 1849. However, by the early 21st century, St Ives increasingly has absorbed Halsetown, Lelant and Carbis Bay for civil purposes.

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)



  • Barnoon, is St. Ives oldest cemetery. It is an area of St. Ives on a steep hill above Porthmeor beach and was formed in 1855. The cemetery is located on the hill itself behind the Tate Gallery. Some monumental inscriptions at Barnoon are available on-line courtesy of West Penwith Resources.
    [All burials prior to Barnoon for St-Ives were at nearby churchyards. When all the plots at Barnoon were full or purchased, the next cemetery used from late 1950's was Longstones Cemetery at Carbis Bay. There is no church situated at either Barnoon or Longstones, however at Longstones there is a small chapel where services can be held].
  • Transcriptions from Barnoon and Longstones cemetery, in St Ives, are available on the Cornish Cemeteries site. A webcam view of Barnoon cemetery is also available.
  • The Cornwall Family History Society have published on-line Monumental Inscriptions
    • The Parish Church - 194 entries.
    • Barnoon Cemetery.
  • War Memorial inscriptions for St Ives parish are separately available.


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 church of St. Ives a beautiful structure of the age of Henry V, with a lofty tower, is dedicated to St. Ia the Virgin; the edifice is well worthy of the observation of those who are curious in ecclesiastical architecture: the living is part of the vicarage of Uly Lelant, but has lately been endowed, by a grant from Queen Anne's bounty, the maintenance of a perpetual curate; the present encumberant of the parish is Rev. Dr. Cardew, the curate is the Rev. C. Aldrich; the patronage of preferment is the diocesan bishop. There are two methodist chapels, one of which is the largest in Cornwall, and two others belong to Lady Huntington's sect." (Pigot & Co 1830 Directory of Cornwall).
    The parish church is located in OS Grid Square SW5140 and was dedicated to St Ia the Virgin. Further information on the churches of St Ives and Halestown is available. An extract from Blight's Churches of West Cornwall (1864) is also available.
    The church was built between 1410 and 1426. This is a large church, consisting of chancel, nave with western tower, north and south aisles to both, with porch, and a side chapel opening by an arcade of two into the eastern part of the south aisle. The east walls of the aisles and chapel are all flush with that of the chancel. The chapel was added, but the other portions of the structure appear to have been built according to one design, without any additions or alterations, excepting those which were barbarously effected in almost every church during Puritanical times. The roodloft staircase is at the north-west angle of the chapel. The roodscreen has been removed, but some of the carved oak benches remain.
    The tower, which is 119 feet in height is in four stages, buttressed on the square, and finished with battlements and battlement pinnacles. The belfry windows are unusually large and are transomed. The tower contains two bells and a clock.
    The parish is now part of the St Ives Team Ministry which is on-line.

    A second church dedicated to St Nicholas was built in 1903/04; details about the plans of this modern church are also available on-line.
  • Roman Catholic. The Roman Catholic Church in St Ives is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the patroness and name saint of St. Ives, St. Ia. A legendary biography of St. Ia was mislaid or spoilt in the Reformation, but a few details exist. St. Ia was apparently, one of a group of Irish missionaries who came to Cornwall about 460 A.D. The saint found herself separated from her companions, but after praying she spotted a coracle, (some legends tell of an enormous leal), which carried her safely to the port of Hayle. She built an oratory in St. Ives, now the site of the present Parish Church. St. Ia worked hard to foster the Christian faith in this part of Cornwall. She was martyred with several other missionaries on the orders of Theodoric, a local chieftain who had a castle in Hayle. Her relics were placed in the oratory which she had founded. During the fifteenth century a new Parish Church was built and her relics were laid there. St. Ia's feast is recorded in the liturgical calendar on 3rd February. The following Sunday a special Mass and procession are held in her honour in the Catholic Church here and then the whole town celebrates a public holiday "Feast Monday".
    During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries St. Ives seemed to have completely broken with the Roman Catholic Faith which it had formerly cherished. Foreign visitors, Breton fishermen, Irish workers, shipwrecked sailors had to go as far as Penzance for Mass. In 1901 a site in Street-an-Pol, once used as a shop and warehouse, was bought by a rich Catholic convert who then presented it to the Canons Regular of the Lateran for a new "Mission". The first Mass was celebrated on 16th February 1902 with only a very few people present. As time went on Mass attendance increased and it became necessary to find a more suitable location at the top of Skidden Hill facing Tregenna Hill. The new Church was blessed on 21st September 1908 by Bishop Charles Graham and solemnly opened with the celebration of Pontifical High Mass on 24th September 1908.
    The Church has fulfilled an artistic role, past and present, in this renowned part of Cornwall. The memorial plaque, already mentioned, was made by a Benedictine monk, Fr. Charles Norris of Buckfast Abbey. Other artists' work can be seen in the interior. The wooden statue of St. Ia was carved by a parishioner, Faust Lang of Oberammergau, from a thick section of Austrian Oak found floating in St. Ives Bay. Near the statue are seventeen painted panels, in the style of El Greco, depicting Our Lord with the Twelve Apostles and four Latin Doctors of the Church: St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Augustine of Hippo, Pope St. Gregory the Great and St. Jerome. The panels were a gift of the late Mr. & Mrs Philip Hill for the Consecration of the Church on 8th May 1946.
  • Non-Conformist. There were a number of Non-Conformist chapels in St Ives. The Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion had a chapel in Fore Street which was built in 1800. The Wesleyan chapel in Chapel Street is a large building capable of seating 750 persons. The Primitive Methodists also had a chapel in Fore Street, erected in 1831, which is capable of accommodating 800 persons. The Bible Christians built a chapel in Back Row for 400 persons, in 1858. The Methodist New Connexion also had a chapel in Chapel Street.

Church Records


Civil Registration

The parish of St Ives 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

  • A history of the parishes of St. Ives, Lelant, Towednack and Zennor in the county of Cornwall by J. H. Mathews (Published 1892), is available on-line, courtesy of the Old Cornwall Society.
You can see pictures of St Ives which are provided by:



The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"ST. IVES, a parish, seaport, market town, and parliamentary borough, locally in the hundred of Penwith, county Cornwall, 18 miles W.N.W. of Falmouth, and 20 W. of Truro. The nearest railway station is at St. Erth, on the West Cornwall line, about 3 miles distant. It is situated on the W. shore of a spacious bay of the same name, on the N.E. coast of Cornwall. The harbour is commodious and safe, and the bay is about 12 miles deep by 3½ wide from St. Ives Point to Godrevy Island. An excellent pier, defended by a battery, has been recently constructed, at the extremity of which is a lighthouse. The anchorage outside the pier is in 6 fathoms, but it is exposed to N. winds and moving sands. There are several steamers and about 150 sailing vessels belonging to the port, to which St. Agnes, Hayle, and Portreath, are subports. The principal trade is the pilchard fishery, of which from 12,000 to 20,000 hogsheads are caught from July to October, and sent for the most part to the Mediterranean. Shipbuilding is also extensively carried on, and considerable business is done in the coasting trade. Many of the inhabitants are employed in the extensive brewery, &c., or in connection with the mining speculations, of which the Trelvyan Consols, Trenwith and St. Ives Consols, are the principal mines now in operation. The metalliferous veins chiefly occur in the N.E. part of the parish, where the substratum is composed of compact and slaty felspar, abounding with actynolite, and intersected by veins of copper and tin; the subsoil in the other districts is granite or slate. The limits of the borough, which includes Lelant and Towednack, are much more extensive than those of the parish, which is bounded on the S. and W. by the above-named places, and on the other sides by the Irish Sea. The population of the parliamentary borough in 1851 was 9,872, and in 1861, 10,353, while the municipal borough contained in 1851, 6,525, and in 1861, 7,027.



  • 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 West Penwith Resources have a genealogical website giving further information on St Ives.

Land & Property

Information on the sale of Tregenna Castle and Estate in 1871, is available on-line. All the property concerned is in the parishes of St. Ives and Uny Lelant and totals about 470 acres freehold which was sold as one lot. Also included are the manor of Dynas Ia & Porth Ia which are described in great detail including all the leaseholders, lives and tenants - virtually a census of St. Ives for 1871 which can be compared with the official census. There is also some details of the manor of Lelant & Trevethow, some Mine Setts owned by the estate and some leasehold property held under Lord Wellesley.



The Manor of Ludgvan Lese covered parts of the parishes of Ludgvan, St. Ives, Zennor and Towednack. The abstracts of the Manorial Records 1688-1739, which are taken from LDS film #1471491, are available on-line.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SW506400 (Lat/Lon: 50.207026, -5.496968), St Ives which are provided by:



Information about the St Ives, Zennor, St Erth Mines, is available on-line.


Poor Houses, Poor Law

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



Halsetown was created from part of St Ives parish in 1849. From 1924, St Ives increasingly included the parishes of Lelant, Carbis Bay and Halsetown

  • Population in 1801 - 3797 persons
  • Population in 1811 - 4461 persons
  • Population in 1821 - 4797 persons
  • Population in 1831 - 6378 persons
  • Population in 1841 - 7678 persons
  • Population in 1851 - 8815 persons
  • Population in 1861 - 9346 persons
  • Population in 1871 - 9143 persons, plus 54 on shipping
  • Population in 1881 - 8162 persons
  • Population in 1891 - 7533 persons
  • Population in 1901 - 8090 persons
  • Population in 1911 - 8769 persons
  • Population in 1921 - 8614 persons
  • Population in 1931 - 8159 persons
  • Population in 1951 - 9051 persons
  • Population in 1961 - 9346 persons
  • Population in 1971 - 9839 persons
  • Population in 1981 - 10350 persons
  • Population in 1991 - 11085 persons
  • Population in 2001 - 11165 persons (including Lelant and Carbis Bay)
  • Population in 2011 - 11226 persons (including Lelant and Carbis Bay)

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 St Ives are available on-line.



  • The St Ives Trust is a charitable organisation which was set up in 1967 to educate the public in geography, history, natural history, and architecture of St Ives and District. Since 1997 it has supported the Archive Study Centre. It is located on the first floor of the Public Library in Gabriel Street.
    The Centre is a community-based project linked to the local Public Library, St Ives Museum, the County Record Office and other like organisations.
    Further detail is given on its website (given above).
  • Recently terminals/PCs, containing information from the Cornwall Family History Society, have been provided to the Archive Study Centre.
  • 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 1890 acres of land.