The Cornish in Latin America

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Graph showing percentage of migrants from the top three sub-registration districts to the top 4 destination regions

In order to ensure that population density did not skew migration figures to Latin America from each sub-registration district, these were calculated against the total population of each in 1871, the decade before population started to decline markedly. Only Gwennap, Redruth and Camborne, in that order of significance, were statistically visible. The top four Latin American receiving regions: Mexico, the Pacific Littoral, Brazil and Cuba, have been selected and the migration flows to these regions compared with flows from the top three sub-registration districts in Cornwall. Two of these, Camborne and Redruth, are parishes in their own right but Gwennap includes Stithians which, with a population that was about three times smaller than Gwennap’s in the mid nineteenth century, represents a mere 4 per cent of migration from the sub district of Gwennap. The migration flows from all three districts are extremely varied; this is all the more surprising when we consider that the four parishes that comprise the sub-districts in question cover an area of around 10 square miles.

Where migration from Gwennap to the Pacific Littoral accounts for almost half of the total migration from this sub-district to all seven Latin American regions, it sends a mere 3 per cent to Cuba. However, neighbouring Redruth sends only half the number of migrants to the Pacific Littoral as Gwennap, but the figure for migration to Cuba from Redruth, the sub-district that sends the majority of Cornish migrants there, is over eight times higher than that of Gwennap. A similar complex picture emerges for migration to Mexico that accounts for a staggering 66 per cent of all migration to Latin America from Camborne, yet Gwennap sends less than half this number, while Redruth sends around five times less. Camborne is the sub-district from which the majority of Cornish migrants to Mexico originated, with Gwennap next in order of significance. 

The data provides clear evidence for the existence of migration 'chains', networks that represent conduits of information and social and financial assistance shaping migration outcomes, ranging from no migration, immigration, return migration or the continuation of migration flows from parishes only a few miles apart.

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