Cornish Women

Cornish Women

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked the good people of Facebook to suggest some notable Cornish women. The response was amazing! Here are some of the suggestions (definitely not exhaustive in any way). Please add yours below in the comments, and thanks to everyone who contributed.

Special thanks to The Hypatia Trust and the History 51 Project which researches and promotes the lives and achievements of women in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Find out more on their website

Mary KalynekMary Kelynack. In 1851, Newlyn fishwife Mary was so desperate to visit the Great Exhibition in London that she walked the 300 miles from Cornwall to London, despite being 84 years of age!   Read more here.  Mary was the inspiration for Anna Maria Murphy’s series of walks for the Rambles programme, and she has said she’d love to recreate the walk to London at some point!

Mary Bryant, a Cornish convict sent to Australia, and one of the first successful escapees from the fledgling Australian penal colony.

Kristin Scott Thomas, a multi-award winning actor born in Redruth.

Dolly Pentreath, the last native speaker of the Cornish Language (d.1777).

Maria Branwell

Maria Branwell of Penzance. She married the Rev Patrick Bronte and among her children were the famous authors Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte. Find our more here.

Rowena Cade

Roewna Cade (1893 – 1983). From 1931 until she died in 1983 this extraordinary woman planned, built and financed the Minack Theatre. Read more here.

Dame Fanny Moody-Manners, Opera Singer. The company she ran with her husband Charles performed in London, the British provinces, North America and South Africa from 1898 to 1916. 

Emily Hobhouse

Emily Hobhouse (1860 –1926), a British welfare campaigner, who worked to change the deprived conditions inside the British administered concentration camps in South Africa which were built to incarcerate women and children during the Second Boer War. She also reported at the time for the Manchester Guardian.

Caroline Fox (1816 – 1897), who among the many other programs she supported, helped found Falmouth Polytechnic Society.

Elizabeth Catherine Thomas Carne of Penzance: geologist, author, banker and social philosopher (1817-1873). Read more about her life, work, and travels here.

Rosamunde Pilcher, OBE (1924 - ), author of romance novels and other fiction.

Brenda WootonBrenda Wootton (1928–1994), a Cornish poet and folk singer, and an ambassador for the people, language, and culture of Cornwall all around the world. She told the story of her country in song wherever she went. Watch her sing a Cornish folk song here.

Alice d'Lisle, the woman who petitioned King Edward III and obtained the first market charter for the town of Penzance. The “Mary Portas of her day” according to the Hypatia Trust, without her work Penzance might not even exist! Read more of her story here.

Ann Glanville (1796–1880) from Saltash, champion female rower of the world (and mother of fourteen children!) Ann continued competitive rowing until she was in her sixties. In her old age, she was given to circling the warships anchored in the Hamoaze exchanging banter with their crews. Read more here.

Hat tips: The Hypatia Trust and the History 51 Project, Melissa Hardie, Anna Maria Murphy, Eleanor Tench, Jane Barnes, Ian Saltern, Susan Witterick, Annie Rawle, Jane Stanley, Linda Lang, Sue Ellery