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This a listing of some the wives known to have remained in Cornwall when their husbands left to work abroad. Note: a wife may be listed more than once if she appears in more than one source. More names will be added to the list over time - see explanation and guidance below.
Surnames starting:

Where this information has come from and how to use it


The research database from which this data has been extracted was originally based on the transcriptions produced by the Cornwall Online Census Project (COCP) who generously gave permission for their material to be used for this research. The listing includes all the wives whose husbands are recorded as being abroad in the census returns for Cornwall between 1851 and 1891. It also includes all women whose husbands are described as gold or diamond miners even if they are not specifically noted as being abroad, but it does not include the wives of men known to have been at sea (as fishermen, sailors etc.). (Research has shown that the wives whose husbands are recorded as being abroad in the census represent only a small fraction of the thousands of wives 'left behind' in Cornwall. In the majority of cases the husband is simply absent.)


Additional entries have since been created for wives known to have had husbands aboard from other references encountered in my research, such as in newspapers. It is hoped to expand this list over time to include additional wives identified as having been 'left behind' by emigrating husbands from other sources.


As part of the project many of the wives identified as having remained in Cornwall while their husbands were abroad were researched in more detail using a variety of sources, creating a mini-biography for each woman. However, it was not possible to cross-check every entry, or include all the information found, and it is strongly recommended that you use this listing as a guide to point you in the direction of sources that you should check for yourself to confirm details and see what additional information they contain about the individual of interest.


Note: There may be more than one entry in the listing for a woman you are interested in if references to her husband being abroad have been found in different sources. Such entries have only been combined into a single biography if research has proved that it is the same individual as there were many women in these communities with the same name.

Want to know more?


Explore what life was like for the thousands of wives who remained in Cornwall while their husbands worked abroad in the 19th century through the pages of The Married Widows of Cornwall. Available in bookshops and via Amazon online. See more

Married Widows Front cover.jpg
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