Polperro Postscripts

A blog for anyone with an interest in Polperro, publishing and people... with occasional musings on history and humanity.



Polperro Cousins

Yet another gathering of the Cornish clans in Polperro

Posted on May 6, 2013

Having just returned from the annual gathering of the Polperro Family History Society in Polperro, I’ve been reflecting on the mysterious attachment that binds related individuals together no matter how tenuous or distant the relationship.

This year, the twelfth that have met up with my Cornish cousins (we are almost all related in some way), there were over 100 of us assembled for a weekend programme that included a talk by Lady Claudia Chilver on the joys of growing up in Polperro in the middle of the 20th century, a moving performance by the Polperro Fishermen’s Choir and a visit to the charming Sclerder Abbey run by a handful of Carmelite sisters.

For some, the gathering has become an annual fixture not to be missed. For others, it is a first encounter with distant members of their families or a pilgrimage to the village of their forefathers. This year, we welcomed seven ‘cousins’ who had travelled all the way from Australia.

When a handful of us met up for the first time in the harbourmaster’s office in 2001, we never imagined that it would lead to the foundation of what must surely be the smallest place on the planet to have its own flourishing Family History Society. Much of the genealogical research owes its origin to the work of an eccentric Polperro resident named Frank Perrycoste who fingerprinted every man, women and child there in 1903 in the course of assisting Sir Francis Galton with research into whether related individuals had similar fingerprints (they don’t). Perrycoste also compiled a number of ‘pedigrees’ to identify the prints he obtained (see blog entry for 8 March 2012).