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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the Welsh Cornish family come from? What is the Welsh Cornish family crest and coat of arms? When did the Cornish family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Cornish family history?

The surname Cornish is a Welsh name that was first held when the Cornish family lived in the English county of Cornwall. As a general rule, the greater the distance between individuals and their homelands, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, people who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came. Consequently, the name Cornish was not originally applied to a lifelong resident of Cornwall, but rather to someone who emigrated from Cornwall to another region.

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Compared to other ancient cultures found in the British Isles, the number of Welsh surnames are relatively few, but there are an inordinately large number of spelling variations. These spelling variations began almost as soon as surname usage became common. The most obvious reason was the challenge of translating from Welsh into English. As a result, people could not specify how to spell their own names leaving the specific recording up to the individual scribe or priest. Those recorders would then spell the names as they heard them, causing many different variations. Later, many Welsh names were recorded in English. This transliteration process was extremely imprecise since the Brythonic Celtic language of the Welsh used many sounds the English language was not accustomed to. Finally, some variations occurred by the individual's design: a branch loyalty within a family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations were indicated by spelling variations of one's name. The Cornish name over the years has been spelled Cornish, Cornishe, Corniss, Cornise, Carnish, Cornich, Corniche, Cornick and many more.

First found in Devon, where they held a family seat from very ancient times.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cornish research. Another 231 words(16 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1375, 1450, 1685, 1677 and 1689 are included under the topic Early Cornish History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 111 words(8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cornish Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many people from Wales joined the general migration to North America in the 19th and 20th centuries, searching for land, work, and freedom. Like the many other immigrants from the British Isles, they made a significant contribution to the development of Canada and the United States. The Welsh and their descendents added a rich cultural tradition to the newly developed towns, cities, and villages. An investigation of the immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Cornish:

  • James Cornish was the first Schoolmaster and Town Clerk in Westfield, Massachusetts

Cornish Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Thomas Cornish, who arrived in Virginia in 1620
  • Samuel Cornish, who landed in Salem, Massachusetts in 1637
  • Samuel Cornish was one of the first settlers in North America, settling in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637
  • Robert Cornish, who arrived in Maryland in 1650
  • John Cornish, who landed in Maryland in 1651


Cornish Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Walter Cornish, who arrived in New England in 1720
  • James Cornish, who arrived in New England in 1730

Cornish Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • F Cornish, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • H Cornish, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • Frederick G Cornish, who landed in Colorado in 1881
  • Andrew I Cornish, who landed in Iowa in 1882

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  • Joe Cornish (b. 1958), British landscape photographer
  • Abbie Cornish (b. 1982), Australian actress
  • Francis Evans Cornish, Canadian politician
  • Hubert Cornish, Australian television presenter
  • Joe Cornish (b. 1968), British comedian
  • Professor William R Cornish, Professor of English Law, London School of Economics
  • Professor Ronald J Cornish, distinguished Municipal Engineer
  • Geoffrey S. Cornish (1914-2012), Canadian golf course architect, author, fellow of the American Society of Golf Course Architects who designed over 200 courses


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  1. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  2. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  3. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  4. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  6. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  9. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  10. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  11. ...

The Cornish Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Cornish Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 22 December 2013 at 11:11.

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