HOW THE CORNISH SOCIETY WAS FOUNDED
My route into family history started through my parents who in the 1970's did some research back to 1838 and then got stuck. I took this up in 1989 and soon was captivated by it. I first extracted from the IGI all Cornish entries entered them on computer. I also extracted from the St Catherine's House Index (the General Register Office Index for England & Wales) births, marriages and deaths from 1837-1982 and for births to 1992.
As I had collected quite a lot of information re Cornishes who were not obviously related to me I thought it was a shame not to make this available for others and thus help their research. I also want to avoid duplicating work that has already been done. What better way than to form a one name society to achieve this aim. I also think it will save all who join much time and expense.
So, in about March 1991 I sent out a circular letter to people in Devon, who either bore the name of Cornish or had registered their interest in the name in a family history journal or the like. The response was quite encouraging. It was clear that there was enough interest to start a one name society.
However there was one problem, which is common to most of us today: time and expense! By about October 1991 I had managed to get my act together well enough to send out the first batch of about 150 circulars inviting people to join the society. I sent to all those who had shown interest in my earlier letter plus Cornishes I picked up from some telephone directories. My children, who were 9 and 11 years old at the time, helped by folding letters, putting them in the envelopes, sticking them down, and stamping them. I remember having complaints about the taste of the glue!
Responses came in slowly. People may have been suspicious, and who can blame them, as there are so many con-men around trying to raise a quick buck! That was not my aim!!! I had invested a considerable sum of money in equipment such as a microfiche reader and computer which I will never recoup.
In June 1992 I read in a Guild Of One Name Studies publication, "Current Publications by member Societies", of a worldwide newsletter called the "Kiddlywink" dedicated to the CORNISH family, published by Eunice Cornish of Nebraska USA. I of course immediately wrote to Eunice. She replied saying that she had not published the newsletter for several years following a very unfortunate accident in which her daughter Susan sustained a severe head injury.
I was very grateful to Eunice for sending me a full 349 page copy of "THE HISTORY AND GENEALOGY OF THE CORNISH FAMILIES IN AMERICA" by Joseph E Cornish of Boston, Mass. 1907. The whole book has been transcribed onto computer and forms the basis of the Society’s American Records.
The first meeting of the Cornish Society was held on October 31st 1992 at Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex. The organisation and constitution of the society was discussed and some officers appointed. A small executive committee was formed in October 1993 to act as an advisory body to both officers and members. As distance and expense does not allow for regular meetings, business will be conducted by telephone or letter.
An annual gathering of Cornishes was held for several years in the UK and once in Australia. However 3 years ago it became very difficult for me to continue to organise these events and to continue publishing a journal on a quarterly basis. Although circumstances for me are now (2002) much better, I am still finding it difficult to publish a journal and at present am working on the next issue and from now on it will be an annual publication, unless volunteers can be found to do the work! Of course the creation of a web page removes the necessity of a journal for those with internet access.