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Title: Kinship and strategies for family survival on Bodmin Moor during the long nineteenth century (1793-1911)
Author: Crossley, Gary
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 6979
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis has used family reconstitution techniques in order to analyse kinship patterns for the Bodmin Moor parishes of St Neot and Bolventor in Cornwall. A kinship database of more than 13,000 individuals was created and kinship links between households in 1793, 1851 and 1911 were then measured. The results revealed the persistence of dense kinship networks that were very different from those found in English studies, and similar to those found in Wales and Brittany. Twelve factors were identified that contributed to the creation and persistence of high kinship densities. However, the principal underlying reason was the remarkably consistent spatial pattern of Cornish rural society. St Neot and Bolventor, with their structures of hamlets and small, isolated farm settlements, matched the pattern found across most of Cornwall. It was a structure that enabled people to find both marriage partners and employment in close proximity to their places of birth. Kinship densities were reinforced by remnants of ancient Cornish manorial systems that survived until the end of the eighteenth century, and then by the ultra-local structures of Methodism in the following century. The latter grew at the same time as the rapid expansion in copper mining. Surprisingly, migrating miners from mid and west Cornwall were also found to have dense local kinship networks. Enclosure also reinforced kinship patterns because of the security of tenure offered to occupiers of the newly created moorland farms, and also because the spatial pattern of settlements repeated the structure of lowland communities enclosed in the medieval period. The collapse in mining and the greater general mobility of the population did result in a weakening of kinship densities towards the end of the nineteenth century. Despite this, first-order kinship links at the beginning of the twentieth century remained higher than for any comparable study of modern or early modern agricultural or mining communities in England, yet remarkably similar to those in Wales. This shared Welsh and Cornish kinship culture provides fresh evidence, along with other factors such as religious experience and a Brittonic language heritage, to support a Celtic narrative for Cornwall that is perhaps more comprehensive and enduring than has sometimes been supposed.
Supervisor: Tiller, Kate Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: reconstitution ; Cornwall ; Cornish ; micro-history