Cornish and Devon Migrants 1815 – 1914

Cornish and Devon migrants, where did they go?

Cornish family history and Devon family history research will probably have long arms reaching out across the world, to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada, as miners and their families migrated in pursuit of work.

Background to the mass migration from Devon and Cornwall.

  • 250,000 Cornish people emigrated between 1815 and 1914
  • End of the Napoleonic war, led to high unemployment as soldiers return
  • Potato famine in 1840’s in the south west and high price of corn cause famine
  • Cornish and Devon copper and tin reserves largely depleted by 1860 – 1870
  • Discovery and development of new reserves around the world of copper, gold, tin, lead, diamond, leading to ‘rushes’
  • Skilled labour force needed in these emerging new markets
  • The rise of the Methodist church in south west England urged  ‘self improvement’ and encouraged emigration
Cornish and Devon Migrants
Cornish Miners
Intriguing Connections:
  1. How did people know discoveries of metal ores had been found around the world?
  2. How did they afford the passage?
  3. When they arrived in their new country, how did they find their way to the mineral fields?
  4. The emigration generated it’s own trade in the south west, as people diversified to supply the growing needs of those emigrating, including, shipping and coaching agents, provisioners, mine managers and dock workers.

Discover more resources on our sister site Intriguing Family History

Useful resources and sources on Cornish and Devon emigration: if you would like to find some further curated resources that will be useful to your research on emigration, take a look at Intriguing Family History/Resources/historical context, use the links below and related posts suggested below:
For information on ships, ports and people visit

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