Is Cornwall really part of England?

So, is Cornwall really an English county or is it a Duchy? Can it be both? Is it a foreign country? I know it used to be treated as such, but was it ever offically annexed to England? Wales was (in 1536) and is still considered a separate nation. So what’s the status on Cornwall?

According to the Britannica the Duchy of Cornwall is a private estate given to the oldest son of the King of England. So, the Prince of Wales is also the Duke of Cornwall. What a heavy load!

Cornwall itself, again by Britannica, is just a plain vanilla English country.

A duchy is simply a territory ruled by a duke. Similarly, a county is ruled by a count, a barony by a baron, a principality by a prince, an earldom by an earl and a kingdom is ruled by a queen [:D]. Historically, most duchies, counties, baronies, etc. were not sovereign nations, but were part of a kingdom. There were and are exceptions, even in modern times, such as the Principality of Monaco.

Since there is a Duke of Cornwall (as David points out), there is by definition a Duchy of Cornwall (okay, that’s not necessarily 100% true, but 99.9% will suffice).

Counties may at one time have been ruled by a Count but nowadays the counties in the UK are just a local government administrative unit although the natives of Cornwall do say that when you cross the river (which is the county boundary) and enter Cornwall you are leaving England.

Talk about confusing the issue! Again in the imortal words of Oliver Hardy, “This is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into!”

To correct the whole sentence that I wrote above, what I tried to write was, “Cornwall itself, again by Britannica, is just a plain vanilla English county.

Or as the mayor’s daughter in The Music Man kept saying, “Yeeee gods!!”

Mmmmm, Cornwall, vanilla, mmmmm.
[sup](Cornwall is famed for its ice cream)[/sup]

Cornwall elects members of the UK parliament.
They enter the English County chess championships.
Sure, they’re English.

Wales might have a separate rugby team (who England just today beat 50-10!), but they’re not a separate nation. (I don’t think England is a nation, despite having a football team in the World Cup.)
Colin Jackson (world-class Welsh hurdler) represents the UK.

The confusion comes from the inherent ambiguity of words such as nation, state and country.

The status of Wales is certainly a bit murky, but it is generally thought to be a separate country (especially to us Cymry!). It has it’s own government (the National Assembly for Wales), it’s own laws and domestic policies. Certainly, the Assembly itself uses the term nation (from Wales World Nation):

However, it’s also lacks many of the apparuti of a conventional national government, relying on the British infrastructure instead.

Marquis Charles Cornwall was the guy who surrendered to Washington at Yorktown. Oh, wait a second, I thought the question was what Cornwall-is . . . never mind.
Gairloch is no longer in the building.

Let me add some more information which led to my question:
Cornwall has/had its own Parliment, the Stannery Parliament.
And historically, tin from Cornwall was taxed at twice the rate as that from Devonshire because Cornwall was a “foreign nation”
While I have no doubt that Cornwall is a part of the UK, is it truly part of England proper or is it like the Channel Islands, in that they “belong” to the ruler of England (or his/her heirs), but aren’t England per se.

If Cornwall was at one time a separate entity, how/when did this status change?

Gallant Freedom Fighters Defend Their Homeland Against English Oppression

Those who remember chemistry class may note that the Stannary Parliament gets its name from the same root as the symbol for tin, Sn. Understandably so, since it appears that the parliament had its beginnings in regulation of the tin trade by the locals.

A good article cited by Truth Seeker; it states among other things:


A relative of mine used to (still does?) sit on Cornwall County Council. He was also in touch with folk in Brittany, Wales, Ireland and Scotland who dreamt of setting up an independent Celtic nation. :rolleyes:

Last time I was there, I noticed the English rose logo on road signs indicating tourist attractions were sprayed over with a white cross on a black background (Cornwall’s supposed flag).

Anyway, as mentioned above - it’s a county. In fact, it’s the poorest county in England, with incomes barely 60% - IIRC - those in London. There’s little work, and locals can’t afford housing because people from London etc have pushed up prices so much.

But I recommend the Eden Project

Cornish flag**


Of course it is. A nation is a group of people who share a common culture, language, territory, history and who think of themselves as a unit. It has nothing to do with their political status. Wales and England aren’t nation-states, but they’re certainly nations.

The first thing to get your head around is that not all of the duchy of Cornwall lies within the county of Cornwall and not all of the county of Cornwall lies within the duchy. The duchy is simply those Crown lands which are traditionally granted to the monarch’s eldest son as Duke of Cornwall. Most of those lands do lie within the county of Cornwall but there are duchy estates elsewhere.

It is however true that there was a time when, for most administrative purposes, the duchy ran the county or at least had a considerable say in its affairs. This was not particularly unusual, as similar arrangements applied in other English liberties, such as the duchy of Lancaster, the prince-bishopric of Durham and the liberty of the Isle of Ely. Almost all the powers of such liberties were abolished in the nineteenth century. The duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster do retain a few local privileges but these are mainly just variations on privileges which are enjoyed by the Crown elsewhere.

In theory, the Stannary Parliament still exists, but none has been summoned since 1753 and it was never a Parliament for Cornwall, being merely the assembly which governed the tin mines. As there are now no remaining tin mines, any jurisdiction it once had is probably to be considered defunct.

In other words, Cornwall is as much a county of England as any of the others. That said, as some have already pointed out, there is a vocal minority within the county who want to see that changed.

Welllll… the south-western part of Britain, including what we now call Cornwall, wasn’t part of the original Heptarchy of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms which accepted Egbert’s overlordship in 829 (which is when “England”, as a political entity, really got started). Cornwall and Devon comprised the Celtic kingdom of Dumnonia, which wasn’t part of England until it was conquered by the Anglo-Saxons in 875. So, Cornwall is less English than places like Wessex and Mercia by a whole, oooh, forty-six years…

Can anyone venture an explanation of this?

I appreciate that Wales is certainly a nation under the above. (Incidentally, I think Welsh male voice choirs sound magnificent).
However I did say that terms like nation, state and country were ambigious. My dictionary defines them as follows:

country -

  1. territory of nation with its own government; a state
  2. national population (the country voted …)

nation -

  1. a group of people who share a common culture, language, territory, history, forming a state (my emphasis) or inhabiting a territory
  2. tribe of N. American Indians

state -

3. organised political community under one government; a commonwealth; a nation … community forming part of federal republic e.g. USA

So they all overlap, or indeed define each other!

Perhaps we don’t have enough terms. How do you define English, Welsh, Celtic, Channel Islander, Londoner, British, the Commonwealth, Quebec, Gypsy etc?

I like the term ‘nation-state’ - but how would you define it?

As a side note, there is an old rhyme that tells you certain types of names are always Cornish.

I can’t remember the rhyme but one of the pre-fixes is Tre-

So names like Tresize, Tremaine, Tremayne are Cornish.