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Cornish Americans are citizens of the United Statesmarker who describe themselves as having Cornish ancestry. Cornish ancestry is not recognised on the United States Census, although the Cornish people are recognised as a separate ethnic group in the United Kingdom Census.

Cornish emigration to the United States

Tangier Island is an island in lower Chesapeake Bay in Virginiamarker: some inhabitants have a Cornish accent that traces back to the Cornish settlers who arrived there in 1686.

The coinciding of the decline of the mining industry in Cornwallmarker in the 19th century and the discovery of large amounts of mineral deposits abroad meant that Cornish families headed overseas for work. Each decade between 1861 and 1901, a fifth of the entire Cornish male population migrated abroad – three times the average for Englandmarker and Walesmarker. In total, the county lost over a quarter of a million people between 1841 and 1901.

Large numbers of Cornish people moved to the United Statesmarker, and while some stayed in New York Citymarker and other East Coast ports after arriving, many moved inland to mining areas in Californiamarker, Wisconsinmarker, Pennsylvaniamarker and Michiganmarker. One such area was Mineral Point, Wisconsinmarker, in which the largest group of immigrants were Cornish miners attracted to the lead mining opportunities, and by 1845 roughly half of the town's population had Cornish ancestry. Today the Cornishmarker town of Redruthmarker is twinned with Mineral Point.

Cornish culture in the United States

Mineral Point, Wisconsinmarker claims to serve authentic Cornish food, such as pasties and figgyhobbin, and Cornish pasties are sold at ex-Cornish mining towns in America.

In Californiamarker, statues and monuments in many towns pay tribute to the influence of the Cornish on their development. In the city of Grass Valleymarker, the tradition of singing Cornish carols lives on and one local historian of the area says the songs have become "the identity of the town". Some of the members of today's Cornish Carol Choir are in fact descendants of the original Cornish gold miners. The city holds St Piran's Day celebrations every year, which along with carol singing, includes a flag raising ceremony, games involving the Cornish pasty, and Cornish wrestling competitions. The city is twinned with Bodminmarker in Cornwallmarker.

Cornish culture continues to have an influence in the Copper Country of northern Michiganmarker, and the Iron Ranges of northern Michigan and Minnesotamarker.

Noted Cornish Americans

Cornish Americans were either Cornish by birth and took American citizenship or had Cornish ancestors.

See also


  1. Cornish ethnicity data from the 2001 Census
  2. Tangier Island
  3. BBC - Immigration and Emigration - I'm Alright Jack
  4. "Pendarvis - Shops & Restaurants"
  5. Calyfornya Kernewek (California Cornish)
  6. Grass Valley's St Pirans Day Celebration -

Further reading

  • Cornish, Joseph H. The History and Genealogy of the Cornish Families in America. Higginson Book Company. 2003. ASIN: B0006S85H6.
  • Ewart, Shirley. Highly Respectable Families: the Cornish of Grass Valley, California 1854-1954 (Nevada County Pioneers Series). Comstock Bonanza Press. October 1998. ISBN 978-0933994188.
  • Magnaghi, Russell M. Cornish in Michigan (Discovering the Peoples of Michigan Series). Michigan State University Press. October 2007. ISBN 978-0870137877.
  • Payton, Philip The Cornish Overseas. Cornwall Editions Limited. April 2005. ISBN 978-1904880042.
  • Rowse, A. L. The Cornish in America. Redruth: Dyllansow Truran. June 1991. ISBN 978-1850220596.
  • Todd, Arthur C. The Cornish Miner in America: the Contribution to the Mining History of the United States by Emigrant Cornish Miners: the Men Called Cousin Jacks. Arthur H. Clark (publisher). September 1995. ISBN 978-0870622380.
  • White, Helen M. Cornish Cousins of Minnesota, Lost and Found: St. Piran's Society of Minnesota. Minnesota Heritage Publications. 1997. ASIN: B0006QP60M.

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