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28 October 2014
BBC Cornwall Have Your Say BBC Cornwall Have Your Say
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Do you want a fully independent Cornwall?
Campaigners
Protesters against the south west assembly

How should our county be run? Have your say on self-government, a south west assembly, Westminster and the EU.

How can we preserve our unique culture and move forward in the 21st Century?


Do you support the aims of Mebyon Kernow for a legislative Cornish Assembly for self-government within the UK?

Or do you think greater independence could put off investment from the rest of the UK?

Would we be better off as part of a south west assembly or would we end up being governed by Bristol and Exeter?

Do you feel Cornish, British or both?

*latest mail from the top

Click here to have your say now.


Phil T – I was in the midst of gathering together the information concerning the Stannaries, which you requested, when Sandman posted his piece having a go at me. I therefore used some of that information to correct his misinformation. It is quite clear to me that Sandman knows virtually nothing about the history and laws of the Stannaries, apart from the bit about the (so called) Stannary Three, who themselves probably know as much about tin mining as I do about Tibetan Monasteries, i.e. next to nothing.

Before I start, I should perhaps present my own credentials. I am currently the vice president of a national mining history society, which has about 450 members from all over Britain (including Cornwall) and overseas, including many people in the metal mining industry and university professors specialising in mining, geology etc. My own area of specialism is the Tamar Valley Mining Field (in both Cornwall and Devon).

The first Charter pertaining to the tinners of both Cornwall and Devon was drawn up in 1198. It is clear from this charter that the tinners of Cornwall and Devon had enjoyed many rights and privileges, by custom and practice, for many centuries before this date. In this Charter, the Archbishop of Canterbury required the Sheriff of Devon and Cornwall to order the current administrator of the Stannaries (Lord Geoffrey Fitz-Peter) to hand over his responsibilities to William de Wrotham, who was given the title of Chief Warden of the Stannaries. There then follows a section covering the prescribed method of weighing the extracted tin following the first and second smeltings for the purposes of determining taxes to be paid to the King.

Then comes the pertinent section:- "All miners and buyers of black tin, and first smelters of tin and merchants of tin of the first smelting have just and ancient customs and liberties established in Devon and Cornwall. Likewise just and ancient weights of the first and second smelting of tin, determined by the oath of the above-mentioned jurors, and marked with the stamp of the Lord King, shall be kept. Also all men have the common right of buying tin by just, ancient, and free customs, as they are accustomed to have and ought to have, by the mark from any thousand weight of the second smelting."

The Stannary Charter of 1201 is a little more specific concerning the rights of the tinners:- "The King to the Archbishops, etc., greeting.... John, by the grace of God, King of England, etc., to the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, judges, sheriffs, foresters, and to all our bailiffs and faithful people, greeting. Be it known that we have granted that all tin miners of Cornwall and Devon are free of pleas of the natives as long as they work for the profit of our ferm or for the marks for our new tax; for the stannaries are on our demesne. And they may dig for tin, and for turf for smelting it, at all times freely and peaceably without hindrance from any man, on the moors and in the fiefs of bishops, abbots, and earls, as they have been accustomed to do. And they may buy faggots to smelt the tin, without waste of forest, and they may divert streams for their work just as they have been accustomed to do by ancient usage.

Nor shall they desist from their work by reason of any summons, except those of the chief warden of the stannaries or his bailiffs. We ha! ve granted also that the chief warden of the stannaries and his bailiffs have plenary power over the miners to do justice to them and to hold them to the law. And if it should happen that any of the miners ought to be seized and imprisoned for breach of the law they should be received in our prisons; and if any of them should become a fugitive or outlaw let his chattels be delivered to us by the hands of the warden of the stannaries because the miners are of our ferm and always in our demesne. Moreover, we have granted to the treasurer and the weighers, so that they might be more faithful and attentive to our service in guarding our areasure in market towns, that they shall be quit in all towns in which they stay of aids and tallages as long as they are in our service as treasurers and weighers; for they have and can have nothing else throughout the year for their services to us."

The Charter of Edward I (1305) separated the Stannaries of Devon and Cornwall (which had previously been administered as one), but both Stannaries remained under the auspices of the Chief Warden of the Stannaries, and the ancient rights of the tinners were reaffirmed. In 1337, Edward III conferred upon his elder son the title of Duke of Cornwall, entitling him to estates in Cornwall and Devon, which had previously been held by the Earls of Cornwall. According to the late Paul Laity, the Duchy estates in Cornwall were based on "Ancient British Royal Territory".

His source for this statement is not given, nor is it stated how anyone at the present time knows what was ancient British royal territory. The estate in Devon, which the Duke inherited from the Earls of Cornwall, was the Parish of Lydford, which was the largest parish in England, as it included the whole of the central part of Dartmoor, known as the Forest of Dartmoor. The Parish of Lydford had been granted by Henry III to his brother Richard, Earl of Cornwall. In addition, further estates outside Cornwall (or Devon) were granted to the Duke. One of the chief officers of the Duchy was given the title of Lord Warden of the Stannaries, whose function it was to take over the dut! ies of the previous Chief Warden of the Stannaries, i.e. the governance of the Stannaries of Cornwall and Devon.

In 1496 there was a dispute between the Cornish Tinners and the Duke of Cornwall, which resulted in the suspension of the Cornish Stannaries (this did not affect the Devon Stannaries). In 1508, Henry VII signed the Charter of Pardon, which reinstated the Cornish Stannaries upon payment of a bond of £1,000, which was raised by a general levy on all Cornish Tinners. The Charter of Pardon reiterated that the Westminster Parliament could not institute statutes and ordnances, which infringed on the ancient rights of the Cornish tinners or the Cornish Stannaries.

Evidence that the Stannary Charters continued to be exercised is contained in the 1688 Bill of Rights, which included the clause:- "Provided always that nothing in this Act shall alter determine or make void the Charters granted to the Tinners of Devon and Cornwall by any of the Kings and Queens of this realme or any of the liberties, privileges or franchises of the said tinners or to alter determine or make void the laws, customs or constitutions of the Stannaries of Devon or Cornwall or any of them".

Stannary Parliaments, in both Cornwall and Devon, were convened from time to time over many centuries, in accordance with the procedures stipulated in the Stannary Charters, by the Lord Warden of the Stannaries. In Cornwall, each of the four boroughs of Truro, Lostwithiel, Launceston and Helston elected six Stannators to serve as Members of the Cornwall Stannary Parliament. In Devon, each of the four Stannary Towns of Tavistock, Plympton, Chagford and Ashburton elected twenty-four Stannators to serve as Members of the Devon Stannary Parliament. Such Parliaments had great authority, and their enactments passed into law after receiving Royal or Duchy assent.

The last Devon Stannary Parliament convened in 1749, and the last Cornish Stannary Parliament convened in 1753. Stannary Courts were convened in both Cornwall and Devon for the purpose of administration of the Stannary Laws. The tin coinage (taxation) was abolished in 1838 and Queen Victoria, and subsequent Monarchs and Dukes of Cornwall, have been compensated by a perpetual annuity, which was charged to the Duchy of Cornwall. None of the Stannary Charters have ever been repealed, so they are still valid today in both Cornwall and Devon.

As far as I can tell, the argument for Cornish independence, which has been extracted from the Stannary Statutes, Charters etc. is based on the premise that as the Stannary Laws encompass all tin extraction, smelting, weighing and valuing activities, and that as tinners have the right to carry out such activities in any part of Cornwall, then the whole of Cornwall comes under the jurisdiction of the Stannaries and therefore the Duchy of Cornwall (via the Lord Warden of the Stannaries). Whilst this may be theoretically correct, it must be borne in mind that Stannary Law only takes precedence over English and Welsh Law where it has direct bearing on such tin extraction activities. It could be argued that extrapolating Stannary jurisdiction to all activities in Cornwall, is stretching the boundaries somewhat beyond the intended and defined limits.

Any such extrapolations would also apply to Devon of course. If Phil T (or anyone else) can find anything in the Stannary Charters and Laws, which would support a case for violation of human rights to be taken to the European Courts, then I am sure that the people of Cornwall (and Devon) would be very interested to hear about it. Incidentally, it is interesting to note that in the Charter of 1198, reference is made to the Sheriff of Devon and Cornwall. Surely, if Cornwall had been regarded as a separate country at that time, such a title would not have existed. This does not mean that I would not support devolution for a Cornish Region, if that is what the Cornish people want.
Bob Burns, Barton-upon-Humber


Steve Garrett, none of us is disputing the fact that Liverpool, or any other part of the UK for that matter, has experienced extreme poverty and decay in recent years. However, your argument that your area is poor is not a justifiable reason why the Cornish people should remain silent and accept their situation as being unchangeable. If you are not happy with your own situation then try and do something about it but do not condemn us for trying to improve our own standards of living by whatever means is necessary. If devolution is the answer for us then we shall pursue it. Bob Burns, the same applies to you. Cornwall has an undeniable historical AND economical reason for self determination. Devon could also make a similar case if the people of Devon wished it. Whether MOST Devonians want it or not, has not been successfully argued on this site, but it may well have been argued successfully on the Devon site. But, just because you have a grievance with the British Government, don't condemn us just because we ARE trying to doing something about it. By the way, I work in Oman, but I still live in Cornwall, where I have a wife and four kids.

Phil T, Cornishman in Oman


Tim, below is an economic comparison with some small countries throughout the world. Luxembourg is the most relevant as it is almost identical in size and population to Cornwall. It is also a Duchy. Cornwall earns a relatively high proportion of its GDP from three sectors – mining and quarrying; distribution, hotels and catering; and agriculture. In 1996 Cornwall's Gross Domestic Product was estimated to be £3,680 million. Cornwall had a population of 485,600 in 1997. Cornwall's population has grown by 27% since 1983 and its working population has risen by 24% in this same period.

Tourism is the only traditional industry which is currently expanding. There are now an estimated 4 million visitors a year spending some £930 million, although only about a third of this is retained in Cornwall. The industry accounts for around 30,000 jobs with many more at the peak of the season. In 1997 87.1% of Cornish employees worked in small firms with fewer than 10 employees, more than the 83.6% equivalent for the UK. In 1996/7 21% of the workforce were self employed, nearly double the UK average of 11.6%.

Cornwall National name: Kernow Area: 1370 sq.mi (3550 sq.km) Population: 485,600 in 1997 Density per sq mi: 1.4 people per hectare, 363 per sq. mi Economic summary: GDP/PPP: 1996 Gross Domestic Product est.£3,680 million ($6 Billion) ; per capita: £7,614 ($12,410) Real growth rate: 1.9% Inflation: 2.3%. Unemployment: 4.8% Jan 2001 Industries: Distribution & catering (25.3%), Other Services (30%), Construction (9.3%), Banking & Finance (7.7%), Agriculture Forestry & Fishing (6.0%), Other manufacturing (5.4%), Manufacturing metal etc (5.1%), Transport (5.1%), Mining (2.8%), Energy & Water (1.2%)

Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Ruler: Grand Duke Henri (2000) Premier: Jean-Claude Juncker (1995) Area: 998 sq mi (2,586 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 448,569 Density per sq. mi.: 449 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est.): $15.9 billion; per capita $36,400. Real growth rate: 5.7%. Inflation: 7.8%. Unemployment: 2.7%. Labour force: 248,000 (of whom 70,200 are foreign cross-border workers primarily from France, Belgium, and Germany) (2000); services 83.2%, industry 14.3%, agriculture 2.5% (1998 est.). Industries: banking, iron and steel, food processing, chemicals, metal products, engineering, tires, glass, aluminium. Natural resources: iron ore (no longer exploited), arable land. Exports: $7.6 billion (f.o.b., 2000): machinery and equipment, steel products, chemicals, rubber products, glass. Imports: $10 billion (c.i.f., 2000): minerals, metals, foodstuffs, quality consumer goods. Major trading partners: EU, U.S

Republic of Iceland
National name: Lydveldid Island President: Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson (1996) Prime Minister: David Oddsson (1991) Area: 39,768 sq mi (103,000 sq km)1 Population (2002 est.): 279, Density per sq mi: 7 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est.): $6.85 billion; per capita $24,800. Real growth rate: 4.3%. Inflation: 3.5%. Unemployment: 2.7% (Jan. 2001). Labour force: 159,000 (2000); agriculture 5.1%, fishing and fish processing 11.8%, manufacturing 12.9%, construction 10.7%, other services 59.5% (1999). Industries: fish processing; aluminium smelting, ferro-silicon production, geothermal power; tourism. Natural resources: fish, hydropower, geothermal power, diatomite. Exports: $2 billion (f.o.b., 2000): fish and fish products 70%, animal products, aluminium, diatomite and ferro-silicon. Imports: $2.2 billion (f.o.b., 2000): machinery and equipment, petroleum products; foodstuffs, textiles. Major trading partners: EU, U.S., Japan.

Principality of Liechtenstein
Ruler: Prince Hans Adam II (1989) Head of Government: Otmar Hasler (2001) Area: 62 sq mi (160 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 32,842 Density per sq mi: 532 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (1998 est.): $730 million; per capita $23,000. Real growth rate: n.a. Inflation: 0.5% (1997 est.). Unemployment: 1.8% (Feb. 1999). Labour force: 22,891 of which 13,847 are foreigners; 8,231 commute from Austria and Switzerland to work each day; industry, trade, and building 45%, services 53%, agriculture, fishing, forestry, and horticulture 2% (1997 est.). Industries: electronics, metal manufacturing, textiles, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, food products, precision instruments, tourism. Natural resources: hydroelectric potential, arable land. Exports: $2.47 billion (1996): small speciality machinery, dental products, stamps, hardware, pottery. Imports: $917.3 million (1996): machinery, metal goods, textiles, foodstuffs, motor vehicles. Major trading partners: EU and EFTA countries.

Principality of Andorra
National name: Valls d'Andorra Head of Government: Marc Forné Molné (1994) Area: 181 sq mi (468 sq km) Population (2003 est.): 69, Density per sq mi: 379 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (1996 est.): $1.2 billion; per capita $18,000. Real growth rate: n.a. Inflation: 1.62% (1998). Unemployment: 0%. Labour force: 30,787 salaried employees (1998); agriculture 1%, industry 21%, services 72%, other 6% (1998). Industries: tourism (particularly skiing), cattle raising, timber, tobacco, banking. Natural resources: hydropower, mineral water, timber, iron ore, lead. Exports: $58 million (f.o.b., 1998): tobacco products, furniture. Imports: $1.077 billion (c.i.f., 1998): consumer goods, food, electricity. Major trading partners: France, Spain, U.S.

Principality of Monaco
National name: Principauté de Monaco Ruler: Prince Rainier III (1949) Minister of State: Patrick Leclercq (2000) Area: 0.75 sq mi (465 acres) (1.95 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 31, Density per sq mi: 42,485 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (1999 est.): $870 million; $27,000 per capita. Real growth rate: n.a. Inflation: n.a. Unemployment: 3.1% (1998). Labour force: 30,540 (Jan. 1994). Natural resources: none. Exports: n.a. Imports: n.a. Full customs integration with France, which collects and rebates Monegasque trade duties; also participates in EU

Most Serene Republic of San Marino National name: Repubblica di San Marino Captains Regent: Giuseppe Maria Morganti and Mauro Chiaruzzi (2002) Area: 24 sq mi (61.2 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 27, Density per sq mi: 1,174 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est.): $860 million; per capita $32,000. Real growth rate: 8%. Inflation: 2.2% (2000). Unemployment: 3% (1999). Labour force: 18,500 (1999); services 60%, industry 38%, agriculture 2% (1998 est.). Industries: tourism, banking, textiles, electronics, ceramics, cement, wine. Natural resources: building stone. Exports: trade data are included with the statistics for Italy: building stone, lime, wood, chestnuts, wheat, wine, baked goods, hides, ceramics. Imports: trade data are included with the statistics for Italy: wide variety of consumer manufactures, food.

State of Qatar
Emir: Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (1995) Prime Minister: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani (1996) Area: 4,416 sq mi (11,437 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 793, Density per sq mi: 180 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est.): $15.1 billion; per capita $20,300. Real growth rate: 4%. Inflation: 2.5%. Unemployment: n.a. Labour force: 233,000 (1993 est.). Industries: crude oil production and refining, fertilisers, petrochemicals, steel reinforcing bars, cement. Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, fish. Exports: $9.8 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.): petroleum products 80%, fertilisers, steel. Imports: $3.8 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.): machinery and transport equipment, food, chemicals. Major trading partners: Japan, Singapore, South Korea, U.S., UAE, UK, Italy.

State of Bahrain
Emir: Sheik Hamad ibn Isa al-Khalifah (1999) Prime Minister: Sheik Khalifah ibn Sulman al-Khalifah (1970) Area: 257 sq mi (665 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 656, Density per sq mi: 2,742 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est): $10.1 billion; per capita $15,900. Real growth rate: 5%. Inflation: 2%. Unemployment: 15% (1998 est.). Labour force: 295,000 (1998 est.); industry, commerce, and service 79%, government 20%, agriculture 1% (1997 est.). Industries: petroleum processing and refining, aluminium smelting, offshore banking, ship repairing; tourism. Natural resources: oil, associated and non-associated natural gas, fish, pearls. Exports: $5.8 billion (f.o.b., 2000): petroleum and petroleum products, aluminium. Imports: $4.2 billion (f.o.b., 2000): non-oil, crude oil. Major trading partners: India, Saudi Arabia, U.S., UAE, Japan, South Korea, France.

State of Brunei Darussalam
Sultan: Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (1967) Area: 2,228 sq mi (5,770 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 350,898 Density per sq mi: 158 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est.): $5.9 billion; per capita $17,600. Real growth rate: 3%. Inflation: 1% (1999 est.). Unemployment: 4.9% (1995 est.). Labour force: 144,000 (1995 est.); note: includes foreign workers and military personnel; government 48%, production of oil, natural gas, services, and construction 42%, agriculture, forestry, and fishing 10% (1999 est.). Industries: petroleum, petroleum refining, liquefied natural gas, construction. Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, timber. Exports: $2.55 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.): crude oil, natural gas, refined products. Imports: $1.3 billion (c.i.f., 1999 est.): machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, food, chemicals. Major trading partners: Japan, U.S., South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, UK, Malaysia.

Bermuda
Status: Overseas territory Governor: Sir John Vereker (2002) Premier: Jennifer Smith (1998) Area: 21 sq mi (53.3 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 63,960; Density per sq mi: 2,817 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est.): $2.1 billion; per capita $33,000. Real growth rate: 1.5%. Inflation: 2.7%. Unemployment: negl. (1995). Labour force: 35,296 (1997); clerical 23%, services 22%, labourers 17%, professional and technical 17%, administrative and managerial 12%, sales 7%, agriculture and fishing 2% (1996). Industries: tourism, finance, insurance, structural concrete products, paints, perfumes, pharmaceuticals, ship repairing. Natural resources: limestone, pleasant climate fostering tourism. Exports: $56 million (2000 est.): re-exports of pharmaceuticals. Imports: $739 million (2000 est.): machinery and transport equipment, construction materials, chemicals, food and live animals. Major trading partners: UK, U.S., Mexico.

Republic of Estonia
National name: Eesti President: Arnold Rüütel (2001) Prime Minister: Siim Kallas (2002) Area: 17,462 sq mi (45,226 sq km) Population (2002 est.): 1,415, Density per sq mi: 81 Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2000 est.): $14.7 billion; per capita $10,000. Real growth rate: 6.4%. Inflation: 4.1% (1999 est.). Unemployment: 11.7% (1999 est.). Labour force: 785,500; industry 20%, agriculture 11%, services 69% (1999 est.). Industries: oil shale, shipbuilding, phosphates, electric motors, excavators, cement, furniture, clothing, textiles, paper, shoes, apparel. Natural resources: shale oil (kukersite), peat, phosphorite, amber, cambrian blue clay, limestone, dolomite, arable land. Exports: $3.1 billion (f.o.b., 2000): machinery and equipment, wood products, textiles, food products, metals, chemical products (1999). Imports: $4 billion (f.o.b., 2000): machinery and equipment, chemical products, foodstuffs, metal product, textiles (1999). Major trading partners: Finland, Sweden, Russia, Latvia, Germany, U.S., Japan.

Phil T, Cornishman in Oman


First, Happy New Year to One and All!

Second, congratulations to BBC Cornwall for revising the introductory texts leading to this web page.

Third, poor old Steve Garrett is proving what a poor debater he is by completely ignoring (or, more likely, failing to grasp) Sandman's susbtantive points. I wonder if 'Private Eye' might take a more intelligent view, Sandman, and print such a piece? They would certainly be interested in the inappropriate (and highly unusual) use of a Public Interest Immunity Certificate in the case of the Truro Three. And they would probably investigate this abuse of state power by the authorities in London, in the public interest for all in the UK and not only Cornwall.

Fourth, thank you, Bob, for a very measured response to Sandman, and, yes indeed, lets get back to the debate about the Government's plan to abolish Cornwall (and Devon) and replace it with a giant new Region based in Bristol serving the interests of Swindon more than Plymouth or Penzance (and physically much closer to Dover than to Penwith). And thanks, Tim, too, for common sense as ever.

For all those in Cornwall, or outside, who wish to stop the Government from trying to abolish Cornwall, and prefer to see a devolved, directly elected more powerful new Cornish Assembly to replace the current very weak County Council, you can sign an e-petition to John Prescott demanding a referendum on the question in Cornwall by visiting the website of the Cornish Constitutional Convention. Or you can write to John Prescott. Or do both. Apparently the Deputy Prime Minister is consulting the public currently on these questions, although you would be forgiven for not noticing!
Kernow bys vikken!
Adrian Watts, Flushing, Falmouth


Tim, thanks for the clarification concerning the ownership of the Duchy lands. That obviously makes a difference. Bob and Adrian, some of the historical facts that you have been pointing have led me to think that maybe we could take our case to the European Court of Human Rights. It seems to me that there are some basic rights here which are not being met. Could this be a way of forcing the British Government into listening to the Cornish demands? It's just a suggestion.
Phil T, Cornishman in Oman

Interesting point about Cornwall and the Czech lands, Adrian, because Richard of Cornwall was also king of Bohemia! I've seen charters signed by him issued to towns there. Luckily, I don't suppose for a moment that Blair, Two-Jags et al. are planning to exterminate us - they merely intend to push through their plans as if we weren't there. My experience in talking with ordinary English people is that the overwhelming majority wish us well and thing that it is only fair for us to administer our own affairs. The problem is that their will counts for nothing with their political masters. The status of Cornwall is far from being the only manifestation of the democratic deficit that afflicts our neighbours quite as much as it inflcts us. It just occurs to me that I may have missed a crucial point that concerned Phil T. The thing is, Phil, that Charles Windsor is not the owner of the Duchy Patrimony in the way that you own your house, or Lord St. Edgecumbe owns his estate. Windsor's lackey's spin the tale that the Duchy is a private estate with no Cornish connections because it is in fact by way of a stipend, vested in him to enable him to carry out his duties in defence of the Cornish and their rights. This is established law, which the Duchy's legal officers have successfully defended against the Crown of the Protecting Power. It's ineresting, however, that they are prepared to acknowledge the truth when it suits them. During Charles Windsor's divorce proceeding, his lawyers succesfully fought off claims from his then-wife for a larger share of the loot on the grounds that the Duchy asstets are NOT his private property.
Tim, Caerdydd

Yes indeed, Tim. As I understand British, Cornish and European constitutional law, the Prince of Wales as Duke of Cornwall (uniquely in mainland Britain) is the Sovereign in Cornwall, and takes precedence over the King or Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland when they both persons are present in Cornwall. If only the House of Commons, and the the Queen's present Ministers, understood that Cornwall's sovereignty has never been displaced by British sovereignty, we would all be much better off. Messrs Secretaries Prescott and Raynsford will just have to learn the hard way, when push comes to shove over any firm proposals for a devolution referendum here in Cornwall ... Cornwall's position is surprisingly similar to that of Bohemia and Hungary in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Austrian Emperor was never Emperor in Bohemia or Hungary. Before he could exercise his powers and rights in either of those countries he had to act as King of each. It really mattered which specific Crown - that of Bohemia or of Hungary - he wore in each country's capital on State occassions. Subsequently, as a result, the Nazis got into a real mess over the Crown of Saint Stephen, for example ... and Heydrich, the Butcher of Prague, paid the ultimate price for his many crimes when he was assasinated. By contrast, Edward 1st of England was surprisingly crafty in the way he combined the titles and sovereignties of Wales and Cornwall in the person of his own heir as would-be King of all the kingdoms, principalities and other sovereign territories of the British Isles. So far that has helped the Cornish avoid the fate of the Czech people ... but for how much longer, I wonder?
Adrian Watts, Flushing, Falmouth

Phil, I'm not sure what we should do with the Duchy lands outside Cornwall if we don't return them to the people from whom they were wrested by deceit, threats, or force in the first place. If we oppress other people, we won't be taken seriously when WE complain about oppression. As it's not up to us how other peoples conduct their affairs, the most sensible thing would be to leave the decision to the democratically-elected representatives of the people in the places concerned. You're quite right that the results from the recent survey of Cornwall Council were very encouraging. It's up to us as an electorate to make sure that they're even better next time. We can never have enough informed public debate. And yes, the environmental 'achievements' ARE depressing. With our history and the expertise present amongst us, they ought to be exceptionally good. What, in your opinion, would be the best steps to take?

P.S - By the way, the current Head of State in Cornwall is, legally, Charles Philip Arthur George Windsor, as opposed to his mother.
Tim, Caerdydd

I've just been reading the Governments figures concerning Council Performances for 2002 and was pleased to note that Cornwall County Council has been rated as excellent for this period.

The only area where there was concern was for the Environment. All other areas were rated 3 and 4, with 4 being the highest that can be achieved. What does this tell me? It tells me that our councillors are not the incompetents that some people seem to think. It also tells me that these people should be given the chance to look after our affairs, after all, do you think the British Government would be rated as excellent if they were assessed in the same manner? B

By the way Bob, Devon was also rated as good, slightly less efficient than Cornwall, but nearly as good, and Dorset was also excellent. It seems to me that our local councils are doing their jobs well and seem to have our interests at heart. More than you can say for Central Government. Tim, I disagree with the idea of taking lands away from The Duke and giving it to the people. It smells of communism or socialism to me. Where would we stop?

In my area there are three other major land owners apart from the Duchy. They are Lord Eliot, the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe and Richard Carew-Pole. Would we seize their lands too? I think not. All we need to do is take away the special privileges and powers that The Duke enjoys then he becomes just another land owner. I must admit though, I'm in a quandary because I'm actually a Royalist. I know it's a contradiction with the concept of an independent Cornwall, but I think the British Royal Family should remain Head of State for Cornwall.

The thought of a President Blair-type figure frightens me. Still, it'll be a long time before we have to confront that situation, if ever. The next step I think is for everyone interested in achieving a Cornish Assembly is to write to their MP's to let them know your feelings. Four out of the five Cornish MP's have already shown their support for a Senedh Kernow (I assume they were the Lib.Dems) and it would be nice if we all gave them our support too.
Phil T, Cornishman in Oman

I take Bob's point about having part of your territory under another jurisdiction. We're trying to escape from this, and certainly don't want to inflict it on somebody else. The answer, I believe, is simple. All Duchy property in Cornwall should be appropriated for its proper purpose, viz., the better givernance of Cornwall. All Duchy property outside our territory should be handed over to the peoples of the countries concerned, to do with them as they will.
Tim, Caerdydd

Many thanks to Adrian Watts, but I was aware of the existence of the Kingdom of Damnonia (sometimes spelt Dumnonia) in what is now Scotland. I have never fallen into the trap (as some people have) of believing that it was in any way connected with Dumnonia in the South West, any more than I have ever considered Cornwall to be named after the Cornovii tribe of the North West Midlands (as some have).

I agree with Adrian that everyone living in the South West should make their views known to their MPs concerning the proposed mega South West Region, and I do mean everyone, not just the Cornish. If only the Cornish register their opposition, the Government may think (incorrectly) that most of the rest (from Plymouth to Swindon) are in favour of the proposal. However, my instincts tell me that they will not listen, and in the end it will come down to voting against the proposal. That is the easy bit. What is going to be much more difficult to achieve, is to persuade the Government to hold referenda concerning Cornwall or Devon Regions (or anywhere else for that matter). This is the aim, which needs to be addressed and one, which no one has yet come up with a satisfactory solution for. How does one persuade a dogmatic Government (which always knows what's best for us) to hold such referenda? One cannot answer 'yes' to this question, unless it is asked in the first place.

Likewise, I don't think that Tim's proposal, for 'abolishing' the Duchy Estates, is likely to find much favour with either the Government or the Duke, seeing as how it provides a nice little income for the heir to the throne. They are not going to give it up without a fight. I don't think that Gary's proposal for moving Plymouth into Cornwall would work, but it does raise the important point that people do feel an affinity with nearby areas (regardless of boundaries) rather than with areas more remote, even if the 'remote' areas concerned are in the same county.

This is particularly true in both Cornwall and Devon, due to the large distances between the extremities of both. Certainly most of the people living in the Tamar Valley feel an affinity with each other, whichever side of the Tamar they live on. People living west of Truro may not realise this, but the intensity of mining activity in the Tamar Valley was almost as high in the 19th Century as it was in the Camborne-Redruth area, which gave the inhabitants of the valley a sense of unity. However, if this aspect determined what was considered to be a viable region, there would probably be as many different proposals as there were voters. The end result would be chaos. Any suggestions ! on a way forward anyone (no pie-in-the-sky ideas please)?
Bob Burns, Barton-upon-Humber

From Bob Burns' earlier posting I had assumed one of his geographical points impeding Cornish devolution (or independence) was the fact that there were, in ancient history, two Celtic kingdoms in Britain, one in the North as well as here in the South West, both called Dumnonia (sometimes spelt Damnonia).

If he was not aware of this perhaps I can help educate him. There were two British tribes known to the Romans each described by them as 'Dumnonii'. I will just cite one source: 'Roman Britain' by Peter Salway, Oxford University Press, 1981. For example Salway's Map V, of Second Century Britain, shows DUMNONII across the area we now know as Cornwall and West Devon. It also shows DUMNONII immediately south of the Antonine wall in what we now call Scotland. I doubt very much if these were the same people, but were just given the same name by the Romans.

But this concerns me much less than whether or not all readers of this Website have made their views known to their MPs concerning the Government's current proposals for a Seven County South West Regional Assembly. If not, why not? If not, it's not too late ... yet. Write to your MP, or better still tell him or her face to face, that you will vote NO to a Seven County Monster, but YES to a devolved elected Regional Assembly for Cornwall. Cornwall is a region in its own right, and does exist as a natural economic, political, cultural and administrative entity.

The Seven County South West Region is a fiction artificially being created by Whitehall civil servants and ministers. If proof were needed of this, just look at the failure of the South West Regional Development Agency to meet its own performance targets, especially in Cornwall, and in Devon, and in most of the other English counties. Not only did they set themselves unrealistic targets for economic development, but they are trying to make a region work that simply doesn't exist in functional or practical terms. It might be possible for a Regional Development Agency to get somewhere if it concentrated on a natural region. One covering Bristol and its natural hinterland (i.e. parts of South Wales, Gloucestershire, parts of Wiltshire, and the Northern half of Somerset) might do very well.

Another Regional Development Agency might stand a chance of succeeding if it just concentrated on Cornwall. One for Devon alone might also work. Maybe one for Plymouth and Cornwall might work (but I doubt it) and one for the rest of Devon, West Somerset, and West Dorset. Or maybe one for Devon, Dorset and Somerset.

Either way, Cornwall needs and deserves an economic development agency of its own with much more substantial powers and resources than those currently available to Cornwall County Council and the Cornish District Councils. Only such an agency under the aegis of a fully devolved Senedh Kernow (in place of the County Council, but perhaps with the same members, if they are good enough to win election) stands a chance of reversing more than a century of economic decline in Cornwall, and really starting to build on Cornwall's economic strengths.

Overdependence on downmarket tourism, and continued reliance on decisionmakers in London to treat Cornwall fairly, are a recipe for disaster for our children and their children. Unless we win fully devolved powers to a Senedh Kernow, within the UK, we are doomed to continue to suffer from the kind of exploitation and colonialism that Cornwall enjoyed under the Roman (and British) Empire! And at least neither the Ancient Romans nor the Victorian British ever planned to ABOLISH Cornwall, as New Labour are now proposing! Kernow bys Vikken! Save Cornwall NOW! Vote No in Labour's Seven County Referendum! Vote Yes in a Senedh Kernow Referendum!
Adrian Watts, Flushing, Falmouth

Cornish Nationalism will not be taken seriously by central government as Cornwall does not have a significant enough population. However, the answer is on our doorstep - quite literally. Plymouth should be moved into Cornwall. Not only would this benefit Plymouth's battle with Exeter with attracting businesses to the region (Plymouth would benefit from additional incentives for Cornwall), but it would also give Cornish people significant clout. Plymouth has always had more affinity with Cornwall than Exeter and east Devon. The idea is not as silly as it first sounds. In 1974 Bournemouth was moved from Hampshire into Dorset for economic reasons which has given them mutual benefit. Gary, Plymouth

I take Bob's point about having part of your territory under another jurisdiction. We're trying to escape from this, and certainly don't want to inflict it on somebody else. The answer, I believe, is simple. All Duchy property in Cornwall should be appropriated for its proper purpose, viz., the better givernance of Cornwall. All Duchy property outside our territory should be handed over to the peoples of the countries concerned, to do with them as they will.
Tim, Caerdydd

I am not sure why Adrian Watts gets the impression that I was talking about a Northern British Kingdom when I referred to Dumnonia (in references I have seen, that kingdom is called Damnonia). I was, of course, referring to Dumnonia in the South West, which included the present day counties of Cornwall, Devon and parts of Somerset and Dorset. Dumnonia was an independent kingdom with its own Brythonic Celtic language, and therefore fitted Fooboo's criteria for independence claims, which he would be willing to support.
Bob Burns, Barton-upon-Humber

I think that Phil T has missed the point that I was trying to make in response to Fooboo’s post. Firstly Fooboo stated that he would be prepared to support any claim for independence from any region, which had a historical claim to nationhood and its own language.

I think that he assumed that this condition only applied to Cornwall, so I was pointing out to him that it could equally apply to Northumbria (which would encroach on Scotland) and to Dumnonia (which would include Cornwall). Therefore his support may not be as forthcoming as he stated. Secondly, Fooboo seemed to think that Cornwall could make a clean break from the rest of England, without any consequences for the people of other counties. I was merely pointing out to him that this was not the case, because of the Duchy's ownership of estates in 21 other counties (primarily in Devon), and also its jurisdiction over the Devon foreshore and riverbeds.

Thus if Cornwall were to become a separate nation, a major part of Devon would, by definition, come under the jurisdiction of a foreign nation. What would the people of Cheshire think if a major chunk of land, in the middle of their county, was a part of Wales? Therefore one can imagine what the Devonians would think. If however, Cornwall (and Devon) became separate regions within the UK (a slightly more likely scenario), questions of national land ownership would not arise. But as an act of goodwill and neighbourly friendship, it would be a very nice gesture if a large estate on Bodmin Moor were gr! anted to the Earl of Devon (said with tongue in cheek).
Bob Burns

Bob's question about the future of the Duchy of Cornwall today has a simple answer. It should be nationalised! This has happened before. During the Commonwealth it was nationalised by Parliament, i.e. abolished and, as far as I know, incorporated into the English Republic. It was then re-established after the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

The best way forward now, assuming that Cornwall eventually secures an elected Regional Assembly with devolved powers from Parliament, a Senedh Kernow, would be for the title and honours of the Duke of Cornwall to remain (as with all other Royal Duchies) as it is now, but for the landed estate and all other property assets owned by the Duchy (which is a separate institution which operates when there is no Duke) to be transferred to democratically elected bodies.

Those very substantial lands and other assets which lie within the current boundaries of Cornwall should, in my view, be transferred to the ownership of the Senedh Kernow, where the revenues they generate could be used to offset local taxes in Cornwall (or even income tax, if the Senedh had tax varying powers as in Scotland). Scilly should become their own landlords, too! After all, how do the Isles of Scilly (Tresco excepted) benefit from being owned by an archaic feudal institution based in London, which has by ! no means always acted as a good landlord should?

Those even more extensive Duchy lands and assets east of the Tamar could be transferred to whichever body was appropriate, e.g. the equivalent Regional Assemblies or local authorities in those areas (so Dartmoor might go to Devon, and the Oval Cricket Ground might go to the Greater London Assembly) or continue as part of the rump Duchy if Parliament so decided. It would certainly need primary legislation which would alter various parts of the current British Constitution.

Phil: I'm not sure I would vote for Prince Charles von Saxe-Coburg-Gotha aka Windsor as anything official to do with a future Senedh Kernow. He may have been a good landlord, as Duke, but I think the people of Cornwall deserve the benefits of all that rental income more than the Heir Apparent of the British Monarchy, whatever his or her personal merits (or otherwise).

Also, Bob Burns' suggestion that the Dumnonia that existed in Northern Britain in ancient Roman times was part of the same kingdom as the South Western Dumnonia (which included Cornwall) seems highly improbable, in historical terms. It seems to me more likely that they were two entirely separate Celtic kingdoms which had similar names for themselves, which were misrecorded by the Romans as the same name simply because they, being foreigners, couldn't tell the difference. There is no 'v' sound in Latin, for example, so the 'f' in 'Defnas' or the 'v' in 'Devon' was recorded as 'mn'. Add to that the fact that most indigenous Devonians pronounce Devon today as 'Debn' or 'Demn' and it is at least possible that their ancestors had a similar sounding name for their territory in Roman times.

Celtic Kingdoms in the Iron Age didn't operate like Grand Duchies in medieval or even modern Europe, with bits here and there separated by hundreds of miles but managed as a single fief or estate. For a start, the whole concept of land ownership was different in the ancient Celtic world, and, for that matter, so too was the institution of kingship. The Dumonians (North and South) of Britain in AD 60 would not have recognised or found it easy to comprehend the modern concept or form of either land ownership or monarchy ... let alone the unique characteristics, assets and legal status of the Duchy of Cornwall!!!
Adrian Watts, Flushing, Falmouth


Bob, you are correct when you say that 50% of Duchy lands are in Devon. In fact about 25,000 hectares of the 51,000 hectares of the estate are on Dartmoor, the rest lies in another 21 counties, including Cornwall. However, I disagree that this would cause a problem. Why would it? The Prince (Duke) would be just another land owner (albeit with exceptional rights). I see no problem with that. The Prince already pays a voluntary tax contribution of 40% from his profits and he employs quite a large number of staff. Most of his income comes from farm and property tenancy rents (almost 13 million of the total 15 million income). I think Prince Charles would make an ideal candidate for a Head of State for an independent Cornwall, after all, we don't want a President do we?

Realistically though, we are more likely to achieve regionalism than nationalism and I think that we should concentrate on that first. Once we have a Cornish Regional Assembly then we can begin to fight for an independent Cornish state. One step at a time is what's needed.

Bindatek where do you get this idea that a regional Cornwall would be an economical disaster? There is no evidence that this would be so and is totally unfounded. What makes you think water and electricity rates would double or treble? Where's the proof? You are just guessing and your comments are not based on anything factual. As for upsetting muslims by putting a white cross on our roads signs I'm sorry but I don't think that that is an issue. How come you do not complain about the English red rose currently on the signs. They are both symbolic emblems. Remember, you are in Cornwall, not Pakistan or any other muslim country, so you are bound to see signs of English or Cornish nationalism somewhere. You'll be wanting us to ban Christmas decorations next, like they did in Birmingham, for fear of upsetting our ethnic minority neighbours.
Phil T, Cornishman in Oman


Hilary - are you then saying that we should (a) maintain the status quo, or (b) abolish Cornwall entirely, as the present British Government intend? Do you think that either of these options would improve our situtation, or merely prevent it getting worse? And why do you think that control over our own affairs would make things worse than by remote control from people and institutions that know little about us and care even less?

Tim, Caerdydd

Cornish Nationalism is becoming a problem. The business over the tourist signs - Should we have St. Pirans Cross - No . St. Pirans flag is not internationally recognized it is a regional 'fun' flag and always will be. By putting a whit cross on the signs we would be grossly offending Muslims - we don't want to do that do we? I have suffered racial attacks in Cornwall by nationalists - it is a disgusting state of affairs. Cornwall is a region of UK and Europe it is not a country - to be so would be a totally economic disaster. Rates/Water/Electric are already the highest in UK - The Country of Cornwall would just double and even treble those costs.
Bindatek, Port Isaac

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