CORNWALL ONLINE PARISH CLERKS - helping bring the past alive

The parish of


a Parish in the far west of Cornwall with a fascinating history of human habitation stretching back at least five thousand years – the stuff from which myths and legends have evolved.

St. Buryan is both a village and a Parish in the Hundred of Penwith. The Parish encompasses St. Buryan Churchtown and the settlements of Alsa, Bolleigh, Boscawenoon, Boscawen-rose, Pemberth Cove, Rosemoddris, Selina, Treeve, Tregagwith, Trelew, Tregurno, Tevorga, and Trevorrian, as well as a number of farms.

Comprised of 6,972 acres of land, 3 acres of water and 18 acres of foreshore, it shares boundaries with the Parishes of Sancreed and St. Just in the north, Sennen and St. Levan in west, Paul to the east and is bounded by sea in the south. Most of the Parish lies on granite, but the black soil is fertile and well cultivated and there has always been an agrarian economy with the main activities being dairy farming as well as the raising of pigs and sheep with such crops as potatoes and cauliflower. Due to the influence of the North Atlantic Drift the average temperature in Cornwall is several degrees warmer than that further north, enabling spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils to bloom early – and growers in St. Buryan take advantage of this to supply the London and European markets with early daffodils.

The population in 1841 was 1911, but this gradually declined over the next two hundred years as the increased mechanisation of farming meant that fewer people were needed to work the land and many left to either seek work elsewhere or to emigrate. By 1971 there were only 971 persons living in the Parish, but the population is again on the increase with the 2001 Census recording a total of 1215. Due to its central location in West Penwith and its close proximity to popular tourist attractions such as the Minack Theatre and Lands End, St. Buryan enjoys a healthy income from tourism, and people are moving into the area.

According to local legend, St. Buryan was named after a 6th century Christian Missionary from Ireland named “Beriana”, of whom little is known. According to some she came across to Cornwall with St. Piran - while others say that she was a friend of St. Patrick. Another possibility is that “Bury-an” meant a “burial place”, and that the woman took her name from the village, rather than vice versa. It is said that she established an oratory where, again according to legend, the Saxon King Althensan made his communion before completing his conquest of Cornwall by capturing the Isles of Scilly from the Danes. In gratitude he endowed a Church in honour of Beriana in 930 AD, with a charter that established St. Buryan as one of the earliest monasteries in Cornwall.

Under the charter, the Collegiate Church of St. Buryan, and its daughter Churches of St. Levan and Sennen formed the Royal Deanery of St. Buryan - which was a Royal Peculiar and fell directly under the jurisdiction of the British Monarch, who claimed the right to appoint the Dean of St. Buryan, rather than under the jurisdiction of the Diocese, which meant that the Dean did not answer to the Bishop and there was no diocesan supervision.

The consequences of this for genealogists is that there are no early Parish Registers and there are no Bishop’s Transcripts of the Registers. The Royal Deanery of St. Buryan also had its own ecclesiastical courts for probate and other matters. And the consequence for the poor parishioners was that the Rectors, who were all holders of royal office, rarely, if ever, visited the Parish, leaving the daily affairs of the Parish to Prebends (who were almost never there) and to minor clerks.

Cornwall Online Parish Clerks

I am Corinne Thompson, the OPC for St. Buryan and I am here to help you in any way that I can, whether it is to research your family history or to learn more about this enchanting place from whence your ancestors came. So please email me – tell me the names that you are researching so that I can let you know as more information becomes available – or if you wish it, perhaps put you in touch with others researching your family. I would also be interested in learning what happened to your ancestors after they left St. Buryan.

For information about (and contact details for) the current parish council, please see this website.
Contact details for the church can be found by searching here.



Please visit COCP (Cornwall Online Census Project), which is complete for 1841 to 1891 and validated, FreeCens at Rootsweb - both are free, searchable databases - or check GenUKI for other alternatives.


For Parish Register information, please see our searchable database (C-PROP) which is updated frequently or GenUKI (link below).


For information, see GenUKI or visit the University of Leicester's Directories website, which has many directories online to view for free.


To view a Bastardy Bond, dated 19 Apr 1814, naming Susannah MARKS, Charles & James ELLIS, click here.

A Relief Order, dated 7 Jun 1843, naming John, Richard and Honor REMFREE.

1815-1830, a list of legal bills for settlement and bastardy, including names of the people concerned.

Apprenticeship Indentures:

These usually name the local Justices of the Peace, Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor

  1. dated 3 Apr 1783, John CARNE to Joel ROGERS
  2. dated 28 May 1783, Ann GARTRELL to John THOMAS
  3. dated 29 May 1783, Robert CARNE to James PERMEWAN, Junr.

Memorial Inscriptions:

  Crows-an-Wra Methodist Chapel A few photographs are available here.


Settlement Documents:

  22 Nov 1815, Elizabeth TONKIN (& Penzance) Mar-Apr 1843, William & Alice NICHOLAS & family (& Madron)


A list of available Wills and Probate Documents. Copies of those marked as CRO can be ordered from here using the appropriate reference.  For those marked as NA enter the reference in the search box on this page and follow the onscreen instructions.

  16 Jan 1599, Richard OLDE/OLD Proved 10 Sep 1836, John HARVEY
  5 Nov 1744, Thomas TRESILLIAN 22 Sep 1836, bond relating to property of Richard ANGWIN
  1 Jan 1793, John HICKS, proved 1806 Proved 22 Sep 1836, William LEATHAN
  Proved 11 Jun 1811, John HARVEY Proved 23 Mar 1837, William JELBART
  Proved 7 Apr 1823, Mary MILLMAN Proved 14 Apr 1838, William TREGEAR
  Proved 7 Aug 1823, Elizabeth WALLIS Proved 4 Jul 1839, Thomas GWENNAP
  Proved 28 Jul 1825, Sampson HUTCHENS Proved 4 Jul 1839, William HUTCHENS
  24 Aug 1826, Thomas OSBORN Proved 4 Jul 1839, William Eddy WILLIAMS
  Proved 24 Jan 1828, John WEYMOUTH Proved in 1841, Margaret WALLIS
  Proved 13 Mar 1828, John WILLIAMS Proved 3 Jan 1843, James PERMEWAN
  Proved 16 Oct 1828, John BERRYMAN Proved 12 Jun 1843, Pee PERMEWAN
  Proved 19 Oct 1829, John PERMEWAN Proved 27 Dec 1843, Henry WEYMOUTH
  Dated 4 Mar 1830, Jane HODGE 17 Dec 1844, Peter WALLIS
  18 Mar 1830, bond relating to property of Thomas STEPHENS Proved 27 Aug 1845, William HOSKEN
  Proved 10 Jun 1831, George SEARLE Proved 27 Aug 1845, William NICHOLAS
  Proved 10 Jun 1831, Thomas TONKIN Proved 22 Jun 1846, James RICHARDS
  Proved 24 Nov 1831, John TREWEEK 7 Jan 1847, bond relating to property of Thomas WALLIS
29 Mar 1832, bond relating to property of John HUTCHENS 13 Feb 1847, bond relating to property of James HOSKING
  Proved 4 Oct 1832, Charles JACKA Proved 25 Oct 1847, John MANN
  Proved 11 Jul 1833, Thomas WALLIS/WALLISH Proved 25 Jul 1848, Martin THOMAS
  Proved 22 Aug 1833, John JENKIN Proved 28 Dec 1848, James TREGURTHA
  27 May 1834, bond relating to property of William MATTHEWS 1 Apr 1850, John ROGERS
  5 Mar 1835, bond relating to property of Pascoe ELLIS Proved 8 August 1850, George BOSPIDNECK
  Proved 28 May 1835, Thomas PERMEWAN Proved 5 Sep 1850, Richard NICHOLAS
  Proved 7 May 1836, James PERMEWAN Proved 10 Nov 1857, Robert HARVEY

For more information regarding history, population, etc., visit GenUKI.


Map of the Parish of St Buryan, courtesy of Rick Parsons.

For a zoomable and printable map of Cornwall please visit Cornwall Council’s mapping website. To see the Parish boundaries, click on the Layers Tab for Government Boundaries.

For maps and satellite images use Google Maps.

To enjoy a "walk" around this parish, search for St Buryan at, then drag the person icon from above the zoom commands and place it at a specific location on the map.


St Levan, Sennen, St Just in Penwith, Sancreed and Paul.


  1. St Buryan (Burian) is included in The Parochial History of Cornwall, Volume I by Davies Gilbert, William Hals, Thomas Tonkin, Henry Samuel Boase, originally published in 1838 (page n178). Also downloadable as a pdf.
  2. A detailed history of the Church, with illustrations, is included in Churches of West Cornwall by J T Blight.
  3. Phillimore's Marriages Vol III transcripts including St Buryan (transcribed and in our database)
The Parish Church
© Anthea Augustson
The Parish Church interior
© Anthea Augustson