Devon and Cornwall form a distinctive region of England — one, indeed, which challenges comparison with Wales rather than with any other region of the country to which it belongs. Like Wales, because of the difficult nature of much of its terrain as well as because of its comparative remoteness, this western peninsula of England long resisted complete penetration by invading peoples from the lowlands to the east. Barren moorland proved an obstacle to agricultural settlement, and even in the nineteenth century, as in Wales, farming was much more pastoral than arable in character. Agricultural society also tended rather more to the Welsh than to the southern English pattern ; for the bulk of the farmers were small tenants, working their own land with limited assistance from labourers. Nonconformity, likewise, was almost as strong in Cornwall and Devon as in Wales: in Cornwall, a vigorous Methodist revival which originated in the mining districts came to dominate the entire county; in Devon, the older Dissenting sects had long been influential. In Cornwall, as in Wales, a Celtic language survived until modern times. Mention of language, however, at once brings us to points of contrast. Unlike Welsh, which became the language of national revival in the nineteenth century, Cornish died out finally in the eighteenth century, and survives only in the form of unusual place-names.


Eighteenth Century Private Tutor Social Geography Home Rule British Election 
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© Henry Pelling 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry Pelling
    • 1
  1. 1.St. John’s CollegeCambridgeUK

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