St Austell, Cornwall Genealogy
Guide to St Austell, Cornwall family history and genealogy: parish registers, transcripts, census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records.
AUSTELL, ST. (The Holy Trinity), a markettown, parish, and the head of a union, in the E. division of the hundred of Powder and of the county of Cornwall, 34 miles (S. W.) from Launceston, and 252 (W. S. W.) from London. There are places of worship for Baptists, Bryanites, Calvinists, the Society of Friends, Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists, Warrenites, and Plymouth Brethren. 
A once-large parish of 11,450 acres, located in the hundred of Powder, on the south-eastern coast of Cornwall, St Austell did not appear in the Domesday book, but by 1292 was recognized as a separate entity, part of the territory held and administered by Tywardreath priory until the dissolution of the monasteries. There were also manors of Tewington and Trenance, as well as Treverbyn.
The main town also carries the name, and when most people refer to St. Austell now, they most often intend to refer to the town.
The parish church, originally dedicated to Saint Austell (Austol, Austle), an Irish mendicant who arrived in Cornwall with St. Mewan, was re-dedicated to the Holy Trinity, perhaps when the church tower of Pentewan stone was erected in the 1480's. It has been called "a bible in stone", with sculptures illustrating not only the Holy Trinity, but all the apostles, and the 2 Irish saints as well. The church was remodeled in the 1490's, and again in the mid 1840's by St. Aubyn in his well-known style, but some remnants of the original church remain.
The parish was of modest importance until Wm. Cookworthy discovered the use of china clay in 1759, and shortly thereafter it was discovered the parish was rich in this resource; it has since been proven to be one of the top 5 sources of pure china clay in the world. Previously, tin and copper mining had been a mainstay of the parish, but their importance diminished while the china clay mines grew. In 1804, it was estimated 1,400 persons lived in St. Austell. In 1844, when the market for Cornish tin crashed, and subsequently miners found themselves out of work, the china clay mines continued producing - and people moved into the parish, raising the population to over 10,000.
Today, the population is estimated at over 28,000; it is the largest town in Cornwall.
Church Records, Registers, and Chapels in the Parish
St Austell, Cornwall Genealogy parish registers of christenings, marriages and burials are available online for the following years:
|St Austell, Cornwall Genealogy Parish Online Records|
In July of 1837, births, marriages and deaths were required to be reported to government Registrar(s), and various non-conformist churches were licensed to conduct such services. Prior to that date, from 1565 to 1837, the Holy Trinity Church of England registers contained almost all the vital statistics for the parish. These registers have been transcribed, and are available for free look-up either on the St. Austell Genealogical and Historical website, or in the OPC free database, which include various non-conformist registers as well. These registers have been filmed by LDS; see the library section for information. CFHS has booklets available for purchase, with very helpful information on cemeteries, and has BMD information in their database on Find My Past, for a fee.
By 1848, the parish was divided into 3; Charlestown was taken from the portion following the bay, while Treverbyn was carved from the "china clay" upper-area. Various other political division took place over the years; in 2009, St. Austell parish was once again divided, but these changes should not affect genealogists.
There were very active Bible Christian chapels, as well as Wesleyan Methodist, Primitive Methodist, and Free Methodist congregations; in 1837, there were 27 Wesleyan chapels alone. St. Austell was the home of Loveday Hambley, of Tregongeeves, the "Quaker Saint" and friend of George Fox, whose family donated land for a burial ground. Unfortunately, that burial ground no longer exists, as it was subsumed by road expansion. However, the manor house still stands, and the headstones were removed to the Friend's Meeting House, which is still in operation.
According to the 1873 Kelly's Directory, there were 31 non-conformist chapels in the town and parish; unfortunately most have been re-purposed or closed, and many records have been lost. Included amongst these were the "Tabernacle" of the Congregational church, and several Baptist chapels, as well as Bridge United Free Methodist Chapel of Mount Charles, demolished in 1985.
Burials were conducted in the Holy Trinity churchyard until 1880, when the community cemetery was opened. During various remodelings and highway alterations, the graves & bodies were removed, and the headstones crushed and buried in a corner of the property. High Cross Cemetery, with 485 memorials,has since been changed into Cemetery Park, across from the railway station; remaining headstones have been arranged near the stone walls. The larger, roomier St. Austell Cemetery on Eastbourne Road, also known as "Watering Hill" cemetery, once on the edge of town, remains open and available. It has 4,103 memorials. Records for this burial ground are maintained by the local government; due to recent changes, procedures to obtain information are uncertain. (late 2009)
PLEASE NOTE: While FreeCEN is incomlete throughout the UK, IT IS COMLETE FOR CORNWALL. Therefore, it's an invaluable free resource; please be sure to access it, and try several variations of any name, as transcribers entered the exact spelling used by the enumerators.
Census records from 1841 to 1911 are available online. For access, see England Census Records and Indexes Online. Census records from 1841 to 1891 are also available on film through a Family History Center or at the Family History Library.
Transcriptions on the St. Austell Genealogy and History website contain baptism, marriage, and burial records from 1565 to 1900 from Holy Trinity Church of England registers, as well as several Non-Conformist chapels and Society of Friends, for Free. The same site has the 1841 Tithes Index, Manorial records of tenants, Voter registrations, and entries from "Directories" 1797 through 1875, as well as many other records. The Cornwall OPC database has some of the same records for Free viewing, as well as records from the rest of Cornwall, which can be very helpful to researchers should their families move. The Cornwall Family History Society has put their transcriptions of BMDs on the fee-based site, Find My Past. They also have completed the St. Austell section of their Memorial Index project, which may be of great help to a researcher since many cemeteries have closed, moved, and even been turned into a park.
Should a problem or question arise, it may be advisable to seek assistance from Cornwall Archives and Libraries for examination of the original entry in the volume of the registers.
St. Austell Union Workhouse
The St. Austell Union Workhouse was built in 1837, with a capacity for 300 residents and the capability of serving several parishes until 1930, when all such workhouses were abolished. Afterward, the building fell victim to an arsonist. According to the Cornwall Record Office, workhouse information regarding individual inmates in the form of records such as admission and discharge registers no longer exist. All that remain deal with buildings and finance, which would not be of interest to a genealogist.
Census data from 1841 through 1891 is available on the St. Austell History and Genealogy website, as well as FreeCENS. A photograph of the workhouse, and a sample diet, is also available on the St. Austell Genealogy site.
St. Austell Registration District
After births, marriages, and deaths were required by law to be reported to governmental Registrars in 1837, Registration Districts were established. One of these was named "St. Austell". It should not be confused with the parish.
When utilizing the FreeBMD database at Rootsweb, the Registration District will be shown. Any of the parishes in the District may have the desired information.
As of 2002, the Registration District comprised the following parishes:
- Grampound with Creed
- St. Austell (St. Austle)
- St. Blazey (St. Blaise)
- St. Columb Major
- St. Columb Minor
- St. Dennis
- St. Enoder
- St. Ewe
- St. Goran
- St. Mewan
- St. Michael Caerhays
- St. Sampson
- St. Stephens in Brannel
- St. Wenn
As any of these parishes might contain the requisite information, it might be best to access the Cornwall Online Parish Clerk database as it covers all of Cornwall, rather than an individual parish.
References and Recommended Reading
- Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848), pp. 112-116. Date accessed: 20 March 2013.
- Percival Boyd, A List of Parishes in Boyd's Marriage Index (London: Society of Genealogists, 1987). Digital version at FamilySearch Books Online.
- 'Coverage by Parish,' Cornwall Online Parish Clerks, accessed 2 December 2013.
- 'Cornwall Baptisms', Find My Past, accessed 25 November 2013.
- 'Cornwall Marriages', Find My Past, accessed 25 November 2013.
- Cornwall Coverage', FreeREG, accessed 18 November 2013.
- 'England, Cornwall and Devon Parish Registers, 1538-2010', FamilySearch, accessed 26 November 2013.
- St. Austell Area Parishes - Genealogy', RootsWeb, accessed 26 November 2013.
"CORNWALL and It's People", A.K. Hamilton-Jenkin, David & Charles, London, 1945 & 1988
"ST. AUSTELL: Church, Town, and Parish", A.L. Rowse, H.E. Warne, LTD, 1960
"ST. AUSTELL, A Cornish Parish" Canon Joseph Hammond,L.L.B., Skeffington & Son, London, 1897
"A CORNISH CHILDHOOD" A.L. ROWSE, Clarkson N. Potter, Inc/Crown Publishers Inc, New York. 1942 & 1979
"HISTORIC CORNWALL - St. Austell" , Kate Newell, Historic Environmental Service, Cornwall County Council, 2004, at http://www.historic-cornwall.org.uk/csus/towns/staustell/staustell [If this address does not work, go to historic-cornwall.org.uk, and click on Cornwall and Scilly Urban Survey, then "towns"; you can then enter "St. Austell" to see the reports and download a map of the area circa 1907]
"The Archaeology of the St. Austell China Clay Area" P. Herring and J. Smith, Historic Environment Service, Cornwall County Council, 1991
- Includes Free transcriptions of manorial records, wills, all BMDs for C. of E. and non-conformist churches 1565 to 1900, photographic "trip" through the parish, War Memorial transcriptions, indexes of directories from 1798 to 1873, Voters Lists 1850-1864, Protestation Returns, Poll tax and Hearth tax returns, etc. Data is added regularly.
- Cornwall Online Parish Clerks database. Includes for Free all BMD data found on the site above, with some differences, Poll and Hearth tax returns, and Voter Lists. Covers all of Cornwall, not one parish.
- An index of all names from Registrar's data, starting in 1837 to this date, showing the location of the information so that researchers may order copies of certificates.
- Transcriptions of the 1841 through 1891 censuses, checked by 3 persons; searchable database. All transcriptions include original misspelling, age differences, etc. (they were transcribed as written, when the writing could be deciphered.) Please try alternative spellings.
- Searchable transcriptions of the newspaper, 1836 to 1887, which includes all Court cases, news of the day,BMDs published in the paper, various advertisements, etc.