St Winnow, Cornwall Genealogy

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St Winnow Church Cornwall.jpg

Parish History

The parish of St Winnow (Cornish: Sen Gwynnow) dates back at least 1000 years and is mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086.  The area is just over 5000 acres.  There are two churches, and the St Winnow Parish Church is in the extreme south of the parish at approximate grid reference 115570.  More centrally located is the Church or Chapel of St Nectan (also called St Nighton's) at approximate grid reference 128600.  This latter is part of the St Winnow Parish and is known as a "chapel of ease" (or "chapel of convenience").  Portions of the St Winnow Church date from Norman times and both churches are largely from the 15th century.  St Nectan's Church was significantly damaged during the civil war in 1644 and alterations have been made.  There was also a restoration at St Winnow's Church during the 19th century, but the essential character of the building was not significantly changed.  Glass windows honoring both saints are found in the parish church of St Winnow.

The parish is rather sparsely populated (fewer than 1000 inhabitants), with the largest center of population at Bridgend, which, although part of St Winnow parish, is now usually considered to be a part of the town of Lostwithiel, which is across the Fowey River bridge.  Until 1 July 1936, the parish was in the Bodmin Civil Registration District, but since that date has been in the Liskeard Civil Registration District.  Other than Bridgend, the parish is mostly agricultural with little industry or commerce. With more of the population living in Bridgend, St Saviour's Church Center was established there in the early 20th century.  Baptisms performed there date from about 1930.

From its construction in 1866 until it was sold in 1949, there was a chapel associated with the St Faith's Home for "wayward girls" where a number of baptisms took place.  This was a refuge or "reform school" institution with suitable or motivated girls rescued from Bodmin Gaol, and the girls worked in a laundry facility there.  However, most of the girls who were there were not necessarily native to the parish, and their age at baptism was generally from early teens to about 30 years of age.   

A mission chapel was also established at Respryn (on the edge of the hamlet of Waterlake), and there are entries in the parish baptismal register with the annotation that the baptism was done at Respryn which date from the early 20th century.  That chapel is no longer in ecclesiastical use, but has passed into private hands as a store/garage.  The oldest parish registers for the parish of St Winnow include only events at St Winnow and St Nectan's churches.

Neighboring Parishes

Adjacent parishes beginning on the north going clockwise are  Cardinham, Cornwall, Broadoak (Braddoc) Broadoak, Cornwall, EnglandBoconnoc, Cornwall, EnglandSt Veep, Cornwall,  (Golant) St Sampson, CornwallLanlivery, CornwallLostwithiel, Cornwall, and  Lanhydrock, Cornwall.  The hamlet of Lerryn straddles the River Lerryn with part of the homes in St Winnow parish and the other part in St Veep parish.  The parishes of St Sampson and Lanlivery are separated from St Winnow by the River Fowey, and there has been less interaction than is found with the other neighbouring parishes.  Lostwithiel, Lanhydrock, and Cardinham are connected by bridges over the Fowey, which has allowed for more association and movement than with the former parishes over the river.  Lostwithiel has always been the nearest center of commerce for St Winnow, especially Bridgend, which is in St Winnow parish but in some respects is part of the town of Lostwithiel. 



There are cemeteries at both the St Winnow and the St Nectan's Churches.  Both are still in use and maintained to a modest degree.

Parish Records

Some records have been filmed by the GSU and are in the LDS Family History Library, but the coverage is far from complete.  The Cornwall Record Office collection is much more nearly complete, and is open to the public by appointment.  The remainder of the records in the CRO were filmed by Family Search in 2011, but have not yet been made available to search.  A few images of burial records from 1684-1782 are online in the Family Search Historical Record collection (unindexed), but there is a possibility that additional records may appear there in the future and that they would ultimately be indexed and searchable. 

The Cornwall Family History Society has indexes available for marriages 1622-1837 and burials 1813-1837.  These can be purchased in booklet, CD, or PDF download form.  The Cornish Forefathers' Society has published transcriptions of baptisms (christenings) from 1708-1850 on CD.  St Winnow has an online parish clerk who can be contacted through their website at  This is a volunteer position, and he has access to some parish records, as well as some transcriptions of non-conformist records.  He will answer inquiries as time and availability of records permits.  Some of the parish records have also been put into the Cornwall Online Parish Clerks database (access through the same interent link) and can be viewed directly.  The Cornwall Online Parish Clerks' database does not publish records less than 100 years old to be viewed online, but the OPC does have more recent records (as late as 1971 for baptisms), and information for more recent events can be obtained by contacting him directly. 

Non-conformist records up to 1900 have also been published on CD and are available from commercial sources, such as Cornwall Legacy.  Most non-conformists were Methodist or Bible Christian.  The jurisdictional boundaries for these groups do not coincide with those of the Anglican parish.  Records will usually be found in the circuits of St Austell, Bodmin, and Liskeard. 

Census Records

The census enumerations of 1841-1911 can be found on the commercial sites, such as Ancestry and FindMyPast, and they include images of the census pages.

The most accurate census transcriptions (because they were done by Cornish people familiar with the names and places) are found at the Cornwall Online Census Project at Cornwall Online Census Project.  This is a free site.  

The UK Census Online (FreeCEN), while not uniquely Cornish, is also valuable and will often yield positive results when other sites providing the census fail to find the person sought, because the search function allows a phonetic search of surnames.

Poor Law Unions

Bodmin Poor Law Union


England Jurisdictions 1851

St Nectan's Chapel Cornwall.jpeg

Genealogy and History Websites

Extensive information specific to the parish is found on the GENUKI pages for St Winnow at

One should also note the links on the main page for Cornwall, as well as an overview of Cornish research on the sub-heading page of this wiki at Cornwall Genealogy

All of the films that have been microfilmed and released into the Family History Library have been transcribed and are searchable in the Cornwall Online Parish Clerks Database at