As we’ve researched stories and photographs, we’ve found that many soldiers originally from Cornwall signed up when overseas. This is because very many people emigrated in the years before World War One. Jobs were scarce in Cornwall and times were hard. Newspaper ads encouraged people to go.
- 250,000 Cornish people emigrated between 1815 and 1914
- 1815 was a significant year – the end of the Napoleonic Wars. This led to high unemployment as soldiers returned from the battlefields
- The potato famine in the 1840s in the south west and the high price of corn meant that many people went hungry
- These years marked the start of the decline in Cornish mining. By 1860/70 tin and copper reserves were greatly depleted.
- It was more profitable to mine for these metals in other parts of the world e.g. South Africa, California, Australia. As new reserves were discovered, ‘rushes’ occurred e.g. the Gold Rush to California in 1849
- These markets needed a new, skilled labour force. Cornish miners were highly skilled in ‘hard rock’ mining using explosive.
- The rise of the Methodist Church in southwest England during this time urged ‘self-improvement’ and encouraged emigration.