About

Welcome! My name’s Francis, and I was born and raised in Camborne, though for some years now I have lived “upcountry”. I moved away after completing a BA and MA in English Literature. (Upcountry is, as every Cornish person knows, any settlement located north of the Tamar.)

Camborne, Trelowarren Street, 1866. Courtesy of Kresen Kernow, ref. corn05773

I am incredibly proud of my Cornish roots, and have been able to trace my Family Tree back to Mawnan Smith in the 1740s. For more information on my ancestry and genealogical research, see my “Family Tree” post.

Although I have a deep and vested interest in my birthplace, nowadays I’m a visitor, exile, or Cousin Jack, the nickname once given to miners who sought work abroad in the 1800s. You might argue that I’m an emmet, a pejorative Cornish dialect word for “ant”, referring to the tourists or emmets that swarm the county every summer. This duality, coupled with the fact that my home town, Camborne, once at the centre of British mining, has now one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, has made me particularly aware of the economic challenges post-industrial Cornwall faces.

Dolcoath Mine, Camborne, looking east, 1890s. By J.C. Burrow. Source: Wikipedia
The same view, 2021. By the author.

And it’s this contrast, exemplified in the pictures above, that I want to write about, especially the forgotten Cornwall of miners, smugglers, wreckers, fishermen, criminals and rioters. (For more on my literary motivations, see my “Cornwall Writer” post.)

So what have I written then?

~ I researched, wrote, and successfully launched a website dedicated to The Camborne Riots of 1873. Read my blog post for more information.

~ I’ve also written a novel, based on the Camborne Riots, which is currently awaiting a publisher. Read my blog post for more information.

~ I’m having an article published, Two Shillings and Sixpence: A Cornish Wife Sale, in the Cornwall Association of Local Historians Journal, in 2022. See my blog post to find out more.

~ And there’s more in the pipeline! I’m currently researching the Cornish food riots of 1847. See my blog post entitled Bread and Soap.

What People Say…

That’s a great site.

Lee Trewhela, Chief Reporter, Cornwall Live, on The Camborne Riots of 1873 website

…strong and rumbustious… worth offering to an independent television producer.

Ian Grant, Chief Editor, Cornwall Editions Publishers, on The Camborne Riots of 1873 novel

…meticulously researched…a fascinating account of a little-known event in the town’s history.

Facebook post, Camborne Old Cornwall Society, 22 April 2021, on the Camborne Riots site

Can I write something for you?

Is there a project, topic, or research in yours or Cornwall’s past you would like me to undertake? Please contact me to discuss! Though I have a BA and an MA, I hasten to add that I’m not a qualified historian. That said, I’m a working-class Cornishman: I don’t work for free! If you’re an editor or publisher, do commission me after your normal fashion. Otherwise, I’ll weigh up the amount of work and time required for each piece and you a quote.

I hope you enjoy my site, and look forward to hearing from you soon!