The Cornish in Western Australia, 1850 to 1930

Author: Anthony Nugent

Nugent, Anthony, 2020 The Cornish in Western Australia, 1850 to 1930, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

Terms of Use: This electronic version is (or will be) made publicly available by Flinders University in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. You may use this material for uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material and/or you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact with the details.


While the Cornish contribution to European settlement in South Australia has been extensively researched and documented, this is not the case for Western Australia. Apart from some local histories concerning long-abandoned mining communities and the rare publication of family histories, the historiography of the Cornish in Western Australia is noticeably sparse. This thesis will, therefore, seek to address this somewhat perplexing admission by opening a window on Western Australia’s significant Cornish heritage. With that goal in mind, it is the intention of this thesis to emphasise the vital contribution made by Cornish-Australians to the development of Western Australia during a formative stage in its history. Moreover, the findings in this thesis confirm the view that the Cornish, and their offspring, were largely responsible for creating Western Australia’s mining industry.

Nevertheless, mining was only one crucial aspect of the Cornish-Australian contribution to Western Australia’s economic development. This thesis has revealed the extensive contribution that Cornish-Australians made to the cultural, social, religious and political growth of Western Australia. It has also identified the subtleties inherent in the myth of Cousin Jack and Cousin Jenny where mutual aid and assistance reinforced the Cornish conception of ‘One and All’. In sum, this thesis will contribute to a better understanding of the vital role that Cornish-Australians played in the early European history of Western Australia.

Keywords: Western Australia, Cornwall, Cornish, Mining

Subject: History thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2020
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Philip Payton