CORNWALL ONLINE PARISH CLERKS - helping bring the past alive
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Sketch Plan showing approximate location of nearby Parishes
Thomas-by-Launceston lies between Dartmoor
and Bodmin Moor, about two miles west of the border with Devon
and approximately equidistant between the north and south
coasts. The Parish Church of St Thomas the Apostle is located by
the river Kensey close to parish boundaries with St
Stephen-by-Launceston and St Mary Magdalene, Launceston. The
parish continues west from the parish church for about four
miles, the only village being Tregadillet. In the censuses of
1841 and 1851 the parish was divided between St Thomas Street
(Rural) and St Thomas the Apostle (Urban).
The Parish was in the St Mary Magdalene Registration District 1837 – 1922 since when it has been in the Launceston Registration District.
The Parish of St Thomas-by-Launceston is located in the Anglican Diocese of Truro and is attached to the Deanery of Trigg Major in the Archdeaconry of Bodmin. It is now part of the United Parish of Launceston, the other parts being St Stephen-by-Launceston and St Mary Magdalene, Launceston. There was a Methodist chapel in Tregadillet and a mission church dedicated to St Mary the Virgin was built there in 1875. The village is now served by the Church of Christ the Cornerstone, a United Anglican/Methodist Church and Community Centre.
The rural area of the parish is used mainly for agricultural purposes but there
|has been manganese mining
and limestone quarrying in the Kensey valley (for further
‘Mining and Quarrying in the Kensey Valley’ details in the
Suggested Reading Section at the bottom of this page).
In the urban area there were a number of tanneries by the river Kensey, none of which operate today, a serge factory at Town Mills and several wash-houses and other woollen and combing establishments both here and up the hill in Launceston. There was also employment in straw hat making and at Eyre’s Mineral Water factory in the early 19th century in Launceston.
The Augustinian Priory was moved from St Stephens to the Launceston side of the river in 1155 and dedicated to St Stephen the Proto-Martyr. It flourished to become one of the wealthiest in Cornwall but was dissolved in 1539 and the site became overgrown and forgotten. It was only with the coming of the railway to Launceston in 1886 when it cut through the ruins that it was rediscovered.
The site of the Parish Church, dedicated to St Thomas the Apostle, is very near the ruined Priory. It was first mentioned in 1288 as a chapel. At this time it was
The Church of St Thomas the Apostle
|dedicated to St Thomas A’Becket. The burial ground was consecrated in 1333 and some
time after the Dissolution of the Priory the dedication was
Philip Gidley King was baptized at St Thomas’s on 23rd May 1758. He became the Governor of New South Wales in 1800. Charles Causley, the well known poet, was buried here in 2003.
|The Online Parish Clerk (Genealogy) for St Thomas by Launceston is Philippa Stout, who can be contacted by Email.|
Information can be found at COCP (Cornwall Online Census Project) which is complete for 1841 to 1891 and has been verified, FreeCen at Rootsweb, which has a very good search engine and information from COCP, as well as GenUKI, which has more reference information and alternate resources.
For a Parish Locator map, please click here. St Thomas-by-Launceston can be located at coordinates J - 7.
For a zoomable and printable map of Cornwall please visit Cornwall Council’s mapping website.
A series of well researched and informative monographs written by
Launceston U.3.A., Local History Group and Friends of Lawrence House
Museum, Launceston, are available from ‘The Book Shop’, Church Street,
Launceston or Lawrence House and cover a range of interesting topics.
Because the parishes of St Mary Magdalene, Launceston, St Thomas-by-Launceston and St Stephen-by-Launceston are interrelated I include the entire list.
A Thousand Years of Launceston. Compiled by Patrick Hutton.
Mary, Mary Magdalene, A History of the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Launceston. Compiled by Patrick Hutton.
Education Launceston’s Children. Compiled by Margaret Jarvis.
No 1. Two Geniuses of Alternun, The Story of the Mathematician and Astronomer, John Couch Adams and the Sculptor, Neville Northey Burnard. Compiled by Basil Ward.
No 2. Lepers at St. Leonard’s. A history of the Leper Colony at Gilmartin from the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century. Compiled by Margaret Jarvis.
No 3. Of Lakes and Leats. The development of the water supplies for Launceston Town. Research by Jim Edwards.
No 4. Cornish Convicts. Information on the Cornish men and women who sailed to New South Wales, Australia with the First Fleet of convicts in 1787. Research by Basil Ward
No 5. Philip Gidley King 1758 – 1808. Third Governor of New South Wales 1800 – 1806. Research by Carol Bunbury.
No 6. Religious Persecution in Launceston. Agnes Prest, Cuthbert Mayne & George Fox. Research by Ann Raymont.
No 7. Prisoners of War in Launceston 1940 – 1945. Research by Jake Jackson & Basil Ward.
No 8. The Launceston Union Workhouse, 1838 – 1948. Research by Patrick Hutton.
No 9. Parliamentary Representation in Launceston, 1295 – 1832. Research by Jake Jackson.
No 10. Launceston Priory 1126 – 1539. Research and illustrations by Arthur Wills.
No 11. The Pearses of Lawrence House. Research by Margaret Jarvis.
No 12. The Public Houses of Launceston. Research by Miriam Mincher. Background material by Margaret Jarvis.
No 13. Mining and Quarrying in the Kensey Valley. Research by Diana Sutherland. Illustrations by Norman Preston.
No 14. Launceston Shops 1902 – 2003. Research by Launceston U3A Local History Group and compiled by Carol Bunbury.
No 15. Reminiscences of Launceston by John Ching. Researched and edited by Jake Jackson.
Launceston: Some Pages in History (A local interest book with a lot of Launceston history supported by black and white photographs) by Joan Rendell. Landfall Publications.
The archive photographs series - Around Launceston (A pictorial history of Launceston and the surrounding area, from South Petherwin to Yeolmbridge, with nearly 200 old photographs) compiled by Joan Rendell. Tempus Publishing.
Old Launceston (local interest book with 52 black and white photographs of old Launceston) by John Neale. Stenlake Publishing.
St Thomas is included in The Parochial History of Cornwall, Volume IV by Davies Gilbert, William Hals, Thomas Tonkin, Henry Samuel Boase, originally published in 1838. Also downloadable as a pdf.
Prior's Bridge spanning the River Kensy by St Thomas's Church
The Norman font, St Thomas's Church