University of Exeter Press

The Maritime History of Cornwall

    • 496 Pages

    Cornwall is quintessentially a maritime region.  Almost an island, nowhere in it is further than 25 miles from the sea.  Cornwall’s often distinctive history has been moulded by this omnipresent maritime environment, while its strategic position at the western approaches—jutting out into the Atlantic—has given this history a global impact.

    It is perhaps surprising then, that, despite the central place of the sea in Cornwall’s history, there has not yet been a full maritime history of Cornwall.  The Maritime History of Cornwall sets out to fill this gap, exploring the rich and complex maritime inheritance of this unique peninsula.

    In a beautifully illustrated volume, individually commissioned contributions from distinguished historians elaborate on the importance of different periods, from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century.

    The Maritime History of Cornwall is a significant addition to the literature of international maritime history and is indispensable to those with an interest in Cornwall past and present.

    Winner of the Holyer an Gof Non-Fiction Award 2015.

    ‘There are some books which are a delight to hold, and to behold, even before one delves into their pages – and this is one of them. A pleasingly chunky volume, the front of the dust jacket features Joseph Southall’s The Three Masted Schooner, his limpid and evocative 1919 marine landscape of a marine vessel at Fowey which sums up so many of the themes coverd within, such as maritime trade, coastal communities, and Cornwall’s later promotion as a holiday destination. A well-chosen and effective pictorial overture!’
    ‘Each part is prefaced by an admirable joint essay by the editors’
    ‘This is a serious, substantial, yet readily readable volume, which comprises excellent essays by some of the UK’s foremost maritime historians.’
    (David Jenkins, The Mariner’s Mirror 102.1, Feb 2016)

    ‘[…] the book is handsomely produced and the editors are to be congratulated on a job well done.’
    (James H. Thomas, Southern History 37, 2015)

    ‘This hefty and handsome volume …
    ‘The editors are to be commended for pulling so many threads together in such a capable way, and their editorial contributions certainly make the volume much more coherent than is often the case with multi-author projects on this scale. The book sets some important standards for maritime-regional studies. It should be the first port of call for anyone interested in Cornwall’s history (maritime or otherwise), as well as for scholars seeking examples of long-term change in societies at the frontier between land and sea.’
    (Graeme J. Milne, The International Journal of Maritime History 27, 3 2015

    ‘An impressive team of authors has been assembled, with a number of highly regarded scholars contributing chapters on their specialist subjects.'  (Dr David J. Starkey, Maritime Historical Studies Centre, Hull)

    ‘Occasionally a book is published that can truly be described as seminal.’
    The Maritime History of Cornwall […] really does encapsulate 10,000 years of salty facts, figures, statistics, true stories, legends and anecdotes.’
    ‘A handsomely illustrated volume of commissioned contributions from distinguished historians.’ (Martin Hesp, Western Morning News, 19.11.14)

    ‘It is very difficult to do justice to the wealth of research, writing and organisation that has clearly gone into the production of The Maritime History of Cornwall. Everything about it screams quality, from the paper and the layout of the text on the page to the green cloth binding and the now-rarely-seen matching cloth bookmark. One very minor quibble: it would have been better if the twenty eight colour illustrations were scattered throughout the text, rather than confined to a block between pages six and seven. That aside, this is as close to perfection as any publication gets!’ (James Whetter, The Cornish Banner 159, February 2015)

    ‘This is an important and very well produced books, profusely illustrated, including 28 colour plates, and with abundant maps, prints, photographs, tables and figures.’
    ‘[…] they have taken pains to set the chapters of their work in context with five substantial, informative, wide-ranging introductions to the volume’s component parts… These indeed have been the key to making the volume work so well.’
    ‘[…] this is a quality production and a mine of knowledge presented in a readable and easily accessible way that those with an interest in the maritime history of the South West cannot afford to be without.’ (Michael Duffy, South West Soundings 98, March 2015)

    List of Editors and Contributors

    List of Illustrations

    List of Tables and Figures


    Introduction and Acknowledgements

    Part I: 'Window to a Wider World': Early and Medieval Cornwall

    1: Introduction   Philip Payton, Alston Kennerley, Helen Doe

    2: The Origins of Maritime Cornwall: Pre-Medieval Settlements and Seaways   Caradoc Peters

    3: Coastal Communities in Medieval Cornwall   Maryanne Kowaleski

    4: Overseas Trade and Shipping in Cornwall in the Later Middle Ages   Wendy R. Childs

    Part II: 'The Age of Turbulence': Maritime Disorder in Tudor and Stuart Cornwall

    5: Introduction   Philip Payton, Alston Kennerley, Helen Doe

    6: Plunder and Prize: Cornish Piracy and Privateering during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries   John C. Appleby

    7: 'His Majesties Sea-Service in the Western Parts': Maritime Affairs in Cornwall during the English Civil War   Mark Stoyle

    8: Corruption and Inefficiency in the Cornish Customs Service in the Later Seventeenth Century   W.B. Stephens

    Part III: 'A Time for War and Trade': Cornwall in the Eighteenth Century

    9: Introduction   Philip Payton, Alston Kennerley, Helen Doe

    10: Cornish Tin Ships, 1703-1710   John Symons

    11: Cornwall and the Royal Navy in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries   N.A.M. Rodger

    12: Cornish Ports in the Eighteenth Century   Helen Doe

    13: Smuggling and Wrecking   John Rule

    14: The Cornish Arundells and the Right of Wreck: A Case Study in Landlord-Tenant Relations in the Long Eighteenth Century   Cathryn Pearce

    15: Navigation   Adrian James Webb

    Pat IV: 'Global Reach and Industrial Prowess': Cornwall in the Nineteenth Century

    16: Introduction   Philip Payton, Alston Kennerley, Helen Doe

    17: The Cornish Sea Fisheries in the Nineteenth Century   Tony Pawlyn

    18: Cornwall: An Inside-out Industrial Region   Bernard Deacon

    19: The Coastal Trade in Cornish China Clay    John Armstrong

    20: Cornish Maritime Steam   Roy Fenton

    21: Yachting in Cornwall before the First World War   Janet Cusack

    22: The Smuggler and the Wrecker: Literary Representations of Cornish Maritime Life   Simon Trezise

    23: Cornish Ports, Shipping and Investment in the Nineteenth Century   Helen Doe

    Part V: 'Inventing "The Cornish Riviera"': From Twentieth to Twenty-first Century Cornwall

    24: Introduction   Philip Payton, Alston Kennerley, Helen Doe

    25: Cornwall and the Decline of Commercial Sail   Alston Kennerley

    26: Maritime Cornwall in the Era of Two World Wars   G.H. and R. Bennett

    27: Cornwall's Trading Ports: twentieth-Century Decline into Diversity   Terry Chapman

    28: Twentieth-Century Maritime Tourism and Recreation   Philip Payton

    29: Cornish Fisheries in the Twentieth Century   Paul Willerton

    30: Epilogue   Philip Payton, Alston Kennerley, Helen Doe

    Select Bibliography


    Philip Payton is Emeritus Professor of Cornish & Australian Studies in the University of Exeter and Professor of History at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. He served in the Royal Navy for thirty years, a dozen as a regular and the remainder as a reservist, retiring in the rank of Commander. He was inter alia Senior Lecturer in the Department of History and International Affairs at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, 1989-91. Recent books include A.L. Rowse and Cornwall: A Paradoxical Patriot (2005, paperback 2007), Making Moonta: The Invention of Australia’s Little Cornwall (2007), John Betjeman and Cornwall: ‘The Celebrated Cornish Nationalist’ (2010), and Regional Australia and the Great War: 'The Boys from Old Kio' (2012).

    Alston Kennerley served in the Merchant Navy as a navigating officer, having spent his first year in the four masted barque Passat. After qualifying as a master mariner, he pursued an academic career at Plymouth teaching navigation to generations of students taking cadet, mate and master courses, and maritime history to nautical undergraduates, while researching nautical education and seafarers’ welfare for his research degrees. He retired from the University of Plymouth in 2000, the year he published The Making of the University of Plymouth, a history of tertiary education in south Devon since 1815. He has published extensively in academic journals such as History of Education and International Journal of Maritime History, mostly on topics of maritime social history.

    Helen Doe gained her PhD in Maritime History from the University of Exeter after an international career in marketing. She is a Fellow at the University of Exeter and her research interests are in the field of maritime business history and Cornish maritime history. She has published widely with articles in the Economic History Review, International Journal of Maritime History, the Journal of Transport History and theMariner’s Mirror. Her recent books are Enterprising Women in Shipping in the Nineteenth Century andFrom Coastal Sail to Global Shipping a history of a mutualmarine insurance club. She is co editor with Professor Richard Harding of Naval Leadership and Management, 1650-1950 published in 2011.


    John Armstrong recently retired as Professor of Business History at Thames Valley University (now the University of West London). He is interested in the history of all modes of transport and particularly the British coastal trade, on which he has published extensively. He was joint editor with Andreas Kunz of Coastal Shipping and the European Economy, 1730-1980, published in Mainz in 2002. For more than a dozen years he edited the Journal of Transport History and until last year he organised the British Commission for Maritime History's seminars held at King's College London. He is a fellow of the British Commission of Maritime History. His two most recent books are The Vital Spark: The British Coastal Trade, 1700-1930, published in Newfoundland in 2009, and The Impact of Technological Change: The Early Steamship in Britain, in 2011 with David M. Williams.

    John Appleby is a senior lecturer in History at Liverpool Hope University. He works on early modern English maritime and colonial history. He was a contributor to Volume I of the Oxford History of the British Empire and is the author of Under the Bloody Flag: Pirates of the Tudor Age (Stroud, 2009).

    Dr G.H. Bennett is a reader in history at the University of Plymouth, where he has worked since 1992. Dr. R. Bennett is a former merchant seaman and reader Emeritus at the University of Derby. Their work together includes Survivors: British Merchant Seamen in the Second World War, Continuum, London and Rio Grande, 2007, and Hitler's Admirals, United States Naval Institute Press, Annapolis (MD), 2004.

    Terry Chapman retired to Cornwall after more than thirty years as an aircraft engineer in the Royal Navy. He then read Contemporary History with English in the University of Plymouth before beginning his postgraduate work on the National Dock Labour Scheme in Cornwall with the University of Exeter's Institute of Cornish Studies at Tremough. Awarded his PhD in 2006, he maintains an interest in researching, speaking and writing around his thesis.

    Bernard Deacon recently retired as Lecturer in Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter's Institute for Cornish Studies, based at the Tremough campus. He was Programme Director for the Institute's innovative, flexibly delivered Master's degree in Cornish Studies. Among other things, he has written on the history of the family in Cornwall, the Cornish identity and Cornish nationalism and the fishing industry of Newlyn. His book Cornwall: The Concise History was published by University of Wales Press in 2007. At present he is working on the origin and spread of Cornish surnames.

    Wendy Childs is Emeritus Professor in the School of History, University of Leeds.  She has worked on England's overseas trade in the later Middle Ages for over forty years and has published on particular commodities, overseas markets and English ports. These publications include an edition of The Customs Accounts of Hull 1453-1490 (1986) and contributions to The New Maritime History of Devon, Vol. I, ed. M. Duffy et al. (1992) and England's Sea Fisheries, ed. David J. Starkey et al. (2000).

    Janet Cusack. The late Janet Cusack gained her doctorate from the University of Exeter and was a specialist on the history of yachting, one of the very few scholars working on this topic. She submitted her contribution on the history of yachting in Cornwall following a conference held at Exeter in 2001.

    Roy Fenton is a researcher, author and publisher; co-editor of the journal Ships in Focus Record; a director and trustee of the World Ship Society; and frequent contributor to maritime history conferences. His specialism is the steam cargo ship, on which he has written or co-authored some twenty-five books and many articles. In 2005 he was awarded his PhD for a thesis on the transition from sail to steam in the coastal bulk trades.

    Maryanne Kowaleski is Joseph Fitzpatrick SJ Distinguished Professor of History at Fordham University. She is author of Local Markets and Regional Trade in Medieval Exeter (1995) and editor of Local Port Customs Accounts of the Port of Exeter1266-1321 (1993) and The Havener's Accounts of the Earldom and Duchy of Cornwall 1287-1356 (2001).

    Tony Pawlyn was born in Penzance and raised in Newlyn, and comes from a line of Cornish fishermen, mariners, shipowners and fish-merchants. He went to sea on the Newlyn trawlers as a lad in 1959. After spending some years on the Penzance to Isles of Scilly run on Scillonian (No. 2) he gave up the sea for a career with Post Office Telephones, later British Telecom. A recipient of the Royal Institution of Cornwall's Henderson medal in 1998, he has written extensively about Cornish fisheries, Cornish luggers and other local fishing craft, and the celebrated Falmouth Packets. He currently heads the team of volunteers who staff the Bartlett Library at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

    Cathryn Pearce is an honorary research associate with the University of Greenwich's Greenwich Maritime Institute and is a retired university lecturer. She grew up on the Alaskan coast, which gave her an appreciation for the sea and for maritime history. She received her Ph.D. from Greenwich Maritime Institute, where she investigated the actual practices of Cornish wrecking, as opposed to the folkloric narratives. Her previous history qualifications include a BA in History from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and an MA in British and Maritime History from the University of Victoria in Canada. She was an associate professor of history and head of social sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage-Kenai Peninsula College before relocating to England.

    Caradoc Peters is theleader of the archaeology degree and foundation degree programmes at Truro College (University of Plymouth Partnerships). His research interests include regional archaeology in Cornwall and the use of 3D digital visualisation techniques in heritage. His more recent publications include The Archaeology of Cornwall (2005), and a joint article on archaeological education in Cornwall with Hilary Orange of University College London. He is also chairman of the Council for British Archaeology’s South West committee.

    N.A.M. Rodgeris a Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and was formerly Professor of Naval History in the University of Exeter. He is at work on the third volume of his ‘Naval History of Britain’, of which two volumes have been published already: The Safeguard of the Sea (1997) and The Command of the Ocean (2004).’

    John Rule was born in Redruth, Cornwall and became Professor of History at the University of Southampton. A social historian of life and labour in Victorian and Georgian Britain he died in 2011. He was one of a group of younghistorians who worked under the famous historian E.P. Thompson at the University of Warwick in the 1960s. Among Rule's many academic achievements is his chapter on ‘Wrecking and Coastal Plunder’ in Albion's Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth-Century England (1975). Other publications includeThe Vital Century: England’s developing economy (1992) and Cornish Cases(2006).

    W.B. (Bill) Stephens has, over a career as Deputy General Editor of the Victoria County Histories, Reader in the University of Leeds and Hon. Research Fellow at University College London, published widely on the economic, urban, maritime and educational history of the 17th-19th centuries. His Sources for English Local History and his Sources for U.S. History: Nineteenth-century Communities (most recent impressions:  CUP 2003 and 2002) are standard guides to the study of English and American local history. He has been a visiting professor at universities in the US and Australia and twice British Academy Hon. Research Fellow at the Newberry Library, Chicago. He is Plymouth born and was President of the Devon History Society, 1999-2003.

    Mark Stoyle is Professor of early modern history at the University of Southampton. He has written many books and articles on popular politics and religion in Tudor and Stuart Britain, including West Britons: Cornish Identities and the Early Modern British State (2003); and Soldiers and Strangers: An Ethnic History of the English Civil War (2005).

    John Symons is a retired Royal Air Force engineering officer. In 1996 he entered University College Worcester where he received a first class honours degree in History and IT. He subsequently gained an MPhil and a diploma in local history at the University of Oxford.

    Simon Trezise. The late Simon Trezise was Lecturer in English in the Department of Lifelong Learning at the University of Exeter. Among his numerous publications are The Westcountry as a Literary Invention: Putting Literature in its Place (2000) and the posthumously published Thomas Hardy’s Cornwall: The Story of the ‘West of Wessex’ Muse (2006).

    Adrian Webb joined the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office in 1988 and is currently Archive Services Manager. His PhD thesis is entitled ‘The expansion of British Hydrographic Administration, 1808-1829’ and he has published numerous papers on aspects of nineteenth century hydrography and charting in national and international journals. He has edited the series of volumes for the Somerset Record Society, as well as the series of volumes of studies into the maritime history of Somerset. His latest publication is a study of Illogan and its rectors.

    Paul Willerton qualified as a Master Mariner before embarking on an academic career. For the latter years of his work in the University of Plymouth he taught and researched in the subject area of Fisheries Science with special reference to the International Public Law of the Sea and Fisheries Management.

      • 496 Pages