Select Pascoe Surname Genealogy

Cornish people are said to be of Celtic and Iberian stock.  They had their own language; and their own distinctive surnames as this ditty would suggest:

"By Ros-, Car-, Lan-, Tre-, Pol-, Pen-
Ye may know most Cornish men."

Pascoe is very much a Cornish name.  Pascoe ranks as No. 6 amongst the most common surnames in Cornwall.  The name came from the Latin Pascal and means Easter child.  Early spellings included Pascowe and Pascow.

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England.  The Cornish economy was closely intertwined with its mining industry, first of copper and then of tin.  The eighteenth and early nineteenth century marked its peak as a producer.  It was estimated that some 30 percent of the county's workforce was employed in mining.  The principal mining center, with a population of 9,000 in 1780, was Wendron in south Cornwall. 

While the Pascoe surname was to be found elsewhere in Cornwall, its main concentration appears to have been in this Wendron mining district.  One family line begins with John Pascoe, born there around 1533.  The will of Bennet Pascoe was recorded in Wendron in 1621. 

The numbers there grew in the next two centuries. Not all of these Pascoes were miners.  Some were yeomen farmers.  One Pascoe joined the Royal Navy and, as a lieutenant on the Victory, was said to have recommended to Nelson his famous "England expects" signal before the battle of Trafalgar.  There was also an established Pascoe family in Penzance who lived in Alceston House and were lawyers and local magistrates.

Charles Pascoe, a seaman from the village of Breage, was one of the lucky survivors of the wreck of the Titanic in 1912.

Pascoe is also a Cornish Christian name.  Three prominent Cornishmen with Pascoe as a forename were Pascoe Ellis, the mayor of Penzance in 1622, Pascoe Thomas, the author of A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas in 1745, and Pascoe Grenfell the Cornish copper baron of the early nineteenth century.   

Exodus.  With the collapse of the Cornish mining industry in the nineteenth century, the place was soon gripped by a culture of emigration, a belief that the only way to get ahead was to get out of Cornwall.  Between 1860 and 1900, it is estimated that 20 percent of the male working population left. Many took their trade, hard rock mining, with them overseas.  Others just sought a new chance.  The Pascoe exodus included a number to America; but more to Australia. 

Australia.  The Cornish and Pascoe influx into Australia began in the 1840's when the copper mines in South Australia began to be developed.  The first of these, Kapunda, now boasts a "Cornish miner" statue.  The Burra Burra mine attracted the largest number of Cornish immigrants, including Pascoes such as James Pascoe (on the Norfolk), John and Grace Pascoe (on the Aboukir), and Francis and Elizabeth Pascoe.  Eliza Pascoe married James Hawke in Kapunda and their grandson went on to be the Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke.

By the 1870's, some Cornish miners were heading north to the new mining prospects in northern Queensland.  There is a Pascoe river near Cape York (perhaps named after William Pascoe who prospected for gold in this area).  Later on, we find the Pascoe name, for an as yet unexplained reason, linked to Australia's Aboriginal population.  Bruce Pascoe, part Cornish and part Aborigine, has emerged in recent years as a recognized Australian writer.

New Zealand.  Sam and Jane Pascoe came on the Carisbrooke Castle to New Zealand via Belfast in 1875.  They settled in Waikato, North Island.  One line of descendants became boat-builders there.  James Pascoe meanwhile started a jewellery store in Auckland under his name in 1906.   Still family-owned, the stores now number thirty seven.

Select Pascoe Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Pascoe Names

Pascoe Grenfell was a Cornish copper baron of the early 19th century.
John Pascoe is a New Zealand photographer.  His most recent exhibition has been Songs of Innocence - Photographs of a New Zealand Childhood.
RW Pascoe, based in Brisbane, is one of the largest fruit and vegetable wholesalers in Australia.

Bruce Pascoe
, part Cornish and part Aborigine, is a recognized Australian writer.

Select Pascoes Today
  • 3,500 in the UK (most numerous in Cornwall)
  • 1,000 in America (most numerous in Michigan).
  • 5,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia) 

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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