and . . . "The Legend of the Cornish National Tartan" by E. E. Morton-Nance
"Nance of Cornwall", information about the genealogy of the Nances of Cornwall, was originally a newsletter sent out by Martin L. "Pete" Nance to all those who had bought copies of his book, "The Nance Register". It represented the fruits of his research into the Cornish roots of the American Nance family. The digital version which appears here was provided to me by Michael Nance, to whom I am greatly indebted, not only for this document, but also for other information by and about "Pete" Nance's research.
(I have come to believe that the theory described in this article may be mistaken. For more about this, see my article, "A Farewell To Illogan" - Are we actually descended from the St. Clement Nances?").
Following "Genealogy of the Nances in Cornwall" is a short piece, also provided by Michael Nance, entitled "The Legend Of The Cornish National Tartan". It is my understanding that this piece was authored by E. E. Morton-Nance of Cornwall.
"The Legend Of The Cornish National Tartan"
NANCE OF CORNWALL
MARTIN L. "PETE" NANCE
Foreign Nance descendants, friends of the Nance family, and professionals to whom I feel deeply indebted, for their help in translation of these ancient records of Cornwall, and their services rendered in this research:
The contents of this booklet would not have been possible without the financial assistance of the following Nance descendants of America:
This booklet is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Bruce Kindig, deceased and Mr. Houston Nance, deceased for their contributions during their lifetime to the advancement of a better knowledge of Nance history and genealogy in America as well as in Cornwall.
Martin L. "Pete" Nance
27 May 1970
My fellow kin:
This Nance Genealogy of Cornwall represent all official Nans and Nance records and documents found since our first effort of our Cornish research which began early in 1967. Some recent discoveries tend to discredit certain old family traditions as published in certain Cornish history books which is basis of some of my earlier conclusions that were expressed in past news letters. Therefore, I take this means to revise portions found to be in error in speculative correspondence with you during the years 1967, 1968, and 1969.
What I feel to be among our better discoveries pertains to the Nance family arms:
"I, Robert Cooke Esquire, Clarencieux, principle Herald of Arms for service to their prince or country in peace or warre, do grant a coat of arms applied unto John Nance of the County of Cornwall. I find in the records of my office, armes belonging to that name and family, that is to say____silver, a playne crosse humete sables, and for that I find no creast. I have given into him for his creast upon his healme an unicorn's head ermine ensuante out of a crowne horned mayned and bearded, gold mantle gule doubled silver as appeareth in the margin." Signed, February 5th. 1572 by Robert Cooke, Clarencieux, Roy Darmes.
Records show in several of the Burke's books of heraldry that this same arms without crest was awarded to Alexander Trengove, alias Nans. This listing does not tell of service rendered to the crown, but shows him to have been knighted in 1485 in the first year of his realm. Excerpts from Cornish history say that at the conclusion of the War of the Roses at the Battle of Bosworth where the forces of the House of Lancaster under Henry Tudor were victorious over the House of York, after which Henry Tudor became the new King of England and was proclaimed King HENRY VII of England. He immediately knighted a number of his Cornish followers on the field at Bosworth. Thus it would appear that this is the start of the history of the Nance arms. Official records found concerning Sir Alexander Nans states him to be Sir Alexander Nans of Trengove in Illogan, and not Alexander Trengove, alias Nans, as quoted in Burke's.
The above document was worded by Robert Cooke, Esquire, Principal Herald, and indicates that the original arms was given to one of the name of Nance with the name Trengove not mentioned at all. Therefore, I can only conclude that published accounts of the Trengove, alias Nans, do not agree with the official records concerning when and who actually used the alias Trengove. The above John Nance, 1572, is the grandson of Sir Alexander Nans of Trengove in Illogan, and the only son of Henry Trengove Nance in Illogan. The records do not show the use of the Trengove alias until 1525 during the generation of the children of Alexander Nans. He appears to have had at least four sons. Richard and Nicholas Nans continued to live in the tin mining districts of Menenge and hundred of Kirrier. The other two sons, Ralph and Henry Trengove, used the name Nans alias, held lands in the tin districts, but officially resided in Illogan Parish at the two Nans estates of Trengove and Nans. Sons of these two Trengoves. Alias Nans of Illogan, namely John Richard Trengove, son of Ralph, and John Nance, son of Henry, were the sole male survivors of the Alexander Nans branch, and it is at their generation level that the use of the alias was dropped. One assumed the single surname of Nance, and the other assumed the single surname of Trengove. This should explain that this alias was officially in use during one generation only, and not throughout the history of the Nance family of Cornwall as given by the various published books of England and Cornwall.
MANOR HOUSES AND FARMS OF THE CORNISH NANCES
The following estates are known Nance properties, in each case we find several generations of Nances as the occupants. In view of the fact that we have found no church records or Nance wills have been found prior to 1550, we must rely in some cases upon the ownership of common lands by later generations to establish the first two generations of our apparent pedigree.
NANS, TREWINCE, AND MARTHINA IN ST. MARTIN PARISH IN MENENGUE (MENENGE)
TRUTHALL IN SITHNEY PARISH IN KIRRIER
TRENGOVE IN ILLOGAN PARISH
NANS IN ILLOGAN PARISH(LATER SPELLED NANCE)
[Photos of this estate]
TREWYNNARD IN ST. ERTH PARISH
ROSECARNON IN ST. KERVERNE PARISH
TRENGOFF IN WARLEGGON PARISH
The earliest found use of the name thus far is Nicholas de Nans, wife Orengia. This name appeared in a 1241 deed but gave no location for this place called Nans. There was a Lucus de Nans of Lelant 1327, and a William de Nans of St. Clement Parish 1327. We find several later Nances of record in both Parishes, but several generations later.
NANCE OF ST. IVES
John Nans appointed Vicar of Mannecan Church, Maneccan Parish, 1385.
Robert Nans of Nans in St. Martin in Menenge, living 1451.
John Nans, rector 1501-1508, Provost of Glassney College 1497-1501, author of several books, Rector of Camborne, Redruth and Illogan churches. Said to be an uncle of Sir Alexander Nans of Illogan Parish.
Thomas Nans, living at Lelant Parish, 1527.
Symon Nans, living at Lelant Parish, 1546.
John Nance, gentleman. Records show he was born 1544, made will 1613, died 1614. Burgess of St. Ives 1573, Wife Johan, sons William, Henry and Richard Nance, the last one once thought by this writer to have been the emigrant to Virginia who was born ca 1604. Later records found on this Richard in Cornwall prove my theory to be in error! Later generations of this family will be covered more fully under the Genealogy of the Nances in Cornwall.
NANCE OF ST. KERVERNE
John Nans, vicar, Menenge Parishes, 1385.
Robert Nans, 1451 Menenge Parishes.
Lawerence Nans, 1462 Menenge Parishes.
Sir Alexander Nans of Trengove in Illogan Parish, living 1506.
Henry Trengove of Nans in Illogan, Esquire, 1536.
John Nance, Esquire of Nans in Illogan, 1557.
Richard Nance of Trewynnard, died 1582.
John Harry Nance, Illogan 1603 to Rosecarnon, St. Kerverne.
The known wives of this line are as follows: 1 and 2 Unknown. 3. Agnes, dau. of William Trudell of Truthall in Sithney. 4. Constance, daughter of Henry Gylette. 5. Chesten, daughter of Henry Nanspyan and his wife Joan Tregender. 6. Margaret, daughter of Sir John Arundell of Trerise (Royal Line), descended from the Plantagent Family of Kings. 7. Probably Alice, daughter of John Harry of Illogan. 8. Jane, parents unknown. Later generations of this family will be covered more fully under the Genealogy of the Nances of Cornwall. Sons of the above John Harry Nance, William and John, remained in Cornwall and are the ancestors of most of the Nance families of present day Cornwall. Tradition among some Of them is that the third son, and oldest, Richard Nance, went to America as a young man. Should this later prove to be correct, then we in America have a ready made family of eight generations.
NANCE OF ST. CLEMENT
John Nance, wife Agnes, parents of five daughters and three sons, John Jr., Clemence born 1551, and William.
John Nance, Jr. Married 1574 Parnell Tregonnan, died 1606 leaving will and sons:
Clemence Nance, born 1551, father of one daughter and three sons.
William, alias Park, one daughter.
I have shown a condensed pedigree of the three branches of the Cornish family in order that you will understand that there were not a large number of Nances in Cornwall, yet the common use of the Christian names of John, William, Richard and Henry prevails among all three groups.
It is quite obvious that the St. Ives family and the St. Kerverne family are of a common origin. Thus far we have found no connecting link whatsoever that would join the St. Clement family to the mainstream of the Nances of Cornwall. It is thought by most of us that have participated in this project that William de Nans of 1327 is more probably the progenitor of the St. Clement Nances. If so, then they would hardly connect before 1327. The presence of some Nans men in Lelant would make one think that they possibly descend from Lucus de Nans of 1327, Lelent, but here is much like St. Clement, That is, about three generations are missing in the records of each Parish.
This revue of the St. Clement family clears the way for us to eliminate all eligible males in this line as being the father of Richard Nance, emigrant to Virginia. The records are very good in this Parish after 1550, and shows the family fast adopting the alias of Park. I have no information that would indicate that any of this family lives today in Cornwall who uses the surname of Nance.
The revue of the St. Ives family gives us a clear cut picture that we can not claim descent from this family, which leaves us only two Nance males in all Cornwall who were living around 1575 who could possibly be the ancestor of Richard Nance, emigrant to Virginia. They be: John Nance, Esquire of Illogan, son of Henry Trengove, Esq., a son of Sir Alexander Nans; and John Richard Trengove of Trengove in Illogan, the son of Ralph Trengove alias Nans of Trengove, also a son of Sir Alexander Nans of Trengove in Illogan.
As mentioned above, there appears to be but two Nance males in Cornwall that are left after eliminating the St. Ives and the St. Clement families as potential ancestors of the american family. John Richard Trengove, of Trengove in Illogan, appears in the Church Registers of the Parish until 1588, after which we find no later mention of the name in Illogan whatsoever. He had a son James 1572, a son Richard born 1588, and also appears to have had sons Thomas and John Trengove, and two daughters. Had this family remained in Illogan for any length of time after 1588, we would find at least one or more marriages or deaths recorded among this family. Few church records can be found in St. Erth Parish before 1600. It is here we find several baptismal records of Trengove children beginning 1601 to 1607, and their fathers were John, Thomas, and James Trengove. There being no Richards shown prior to this period, I feel certain we can eliminate the Trengove branch as potential ancestors of the American family. Thus, our search at present is limited to the only remaining branch, that being John Nance, Esquire, of Nance in Illogan Parish.
John Nance, Esquire, registered births of seven children in Illogan Parish, three daughters and four sons. One William died in infancy as recorded in the Illogan records. The oldest son Henry Nance, Esquire, of Nance, remained in Illogan. His marriage is recorded, and the deaths of his children are recorded as well as that of his wife. Thus, we can find in the Illogan records all we need to know about the Henry Nance family, and we can be certain this Henry Nance, born 1556, died 1625, is not the ancestor of the American family, and can be eliminated in any future research. The second son, John Nance, baptised 1557, has been my prime suspect for the past three years as being the father of the Richard Nance, American emigrant, suspected as being the John Nance of Trewynnard in 1598 record, also believed by me to have later died in St. Ives in 1614, leaving a will and among others was a son Richard. Since finding later records we know that this is not an ancestor, nor was this the John Nance of Trewynnard, 1598, further having found there was also a Richard Nance of Trewynnard who died in St. Erth in 1582. The two Nances, John and Richard, both of Trewynnard, lived at what was described in 1550 as being not only a stately manor house but an extra large amount of land also. John Nance, Esquire, of Nance held the mortgage on Trewynnard, during which time the owner was Martin Trewynnarde, Esquire, who was murdered, after which John Nance, Esquire, foreclosed and became the owner of Trewynnard in St. Erth in the 1580's. Therefore, these late 16th century occupants came from somewhere and we can find no other Johns or Richards of this generation in Cornwall who can't be accounted for except those two sons of John Nance, Esquire of Nance in Illogan.
The St. Erth church records were recently checked by our cousin, Mrs. Bruce Kindig of Medicine Lodge, Kansas. She recently returned from her trip to Cornwall and reports that the original writing was hard to read but is certain that she has all Nance records 1600 to 1608. She found two John Nances, one of which was identified as John Nicholas Nance, and it would appear as though we possibly have a father and son pair of Johns. The other Fathers were James and Thomas Nance. No Richards were found born in St. Erth for the 1600-08 period. It now appears as though my suspicions for the last three years were unfounded, and we now have only Richard Nance, 1558-1582, left as potential grandfather of Richard Nance, emigrant to Virginia.
Through the process of elimination we have but one Nance now available in all the Cornish records found to date, and that is RICHARD NANCE, 1558-1582, son of John Nance, Esquire, and his wife Margery Arundell. Mr. E.E. Nance of Padstow Cornwall has recently written me a letter stating that he has 38 old Nance records that he is in the process of giving to the Cornish museum. Some are hard to decipher, read or translate, especially those for that period we are interested in. He feels that some of these may hold something that would be helpful towards a successful conclusion to our Cornish effort. It is my hope that these will soon become the property of the museum and their interpretations will be available to me. One of these documents pertains to an indenture made in 1589 by John Nance, Esquire, to John Chicose and his son Thomas Chicose and Thomas's wife Alice, the daughter of John Harry of Illogan Parish. This indenture was made in St. Erth. He was unable to decipher its entire contents, but he felt a minor child was involved (?). He also quoted from another document, 1603, whereby John Nance, Esquire, made a deed of gift to John Harry, alias Nance, yeoman, Illogan Parish, and His wife Jane, of the manor of Rosecarnon in St. Kerverne Parish. It is quite obvious that such a gift would be to a son or grandson. This leaves to only speculate that the Harry alias was used because that was the name of his mother, and that he was possibly raised by a stepfather, Thomas Chicose, a common practice when such cases occurred. When one pieces the two documents together, the minor child of 1589 was most likely John Harry Nance, son of Richard, deceased, his mother being Alice Harry Nance Chicose.
JOHN HARRY NANCE, apparent son of Richard Nance and Alice Harry of Trewynnard, had sons Richard, John born 1606, William born 1612, and daughters Dorithy born 1608, and Margery born 1616. There were no Nances on the tax rolls after 1629 in St. Kerverne Parish. The Church records show Richard to have been baptised in 1610, approximately six years after Richard was born, according to the London Co. records. Yet again, I must say this Richard is the only one about not accounted for who was near the age of our emigrant, and could possibly be the one we seek.
THE GENEALOGY OF THE NANCES OF CORNWALL
According to the records, we have two unconnected Nance families: the Menenge family in the 14th century, with one branch into Illogan, from which came the Nances to Trewynnard in St. Erth, and one of their descendants who went to St. Kerverne and became ancestor of most of the Nances living in Cornwall today, and possible ancestor of the Nances of America; and the other being the St. Clement family, of whom we know little before 1540. It is quite possible both families are of a common origin, but hardly before 1300. Therefore, I will not include the St. Clement family within the mainstream of this Cornish genealogy.
This Genealogy is based on extant Nance records found to date in Cornwall, and includes deeds, tax rolls, church records, wills, personal letters and documents held by the Cornish museum and by individuals. Some reliable data was also found in history books of Cornwall and england.
Among the maternal lines the Nances married into are many of the more famous families of Cornwall such as the Bassets of Tehidy, Arundells of Lanhearne and Trerise, the Courtneys, Grenvilles, Nanspyans, and others. The records concerning these gentry families are numerous, but I will cover those direct lines that appear to be a part of our apparent line. One must remember that many of the 13th, 14th and 15th century documents of Cornwall and England were written in French, Latin, Old English, or Cornish, and due to the age of some of these old papers, the language barrier becomes quite a challenge to the best among those in that field who pursue this profession. For this reason it has taken me over three years to reach a point, or should I say, "have the nerve" to construct this genealogy.
In most cases, the family connections are supported by official documents, however, when some specific document could not be found for a certain individual, the tax rolls were generally used to supplement and when this source became exhausted, all we had left were notations in history books or family traditions. I have found in the past that these last two sources are not always reliable. Therefore, the first generation of this genealogy, John Nans, 1385, should be regarded as tentative, as well as John Nans DD LLD of 1500 who was said to be an uncle of Sir Alexander Nans. Other than these two, the balance of this Genealogy appears to be reasonably correct.
[NOTE: I have modified the original appearance of this work by placing the names of the direct male ancestors of the immigrant RICHARD NANCE in upper case- DBN.]
I. JOHN NANS was Vicar of Maneccan church in 1385, Maneccan Parish, Menengue(Menenge). Robert Nans went to court to prevent the then Vicar of Mannecan from seizing Nans, Trewince and Martania in St. Martin Parish in Menenge. As one can see by the date, this would be considered a rather old document, of which I have been able to receive only a part translation which is rather vague, but it would appear that these were lands passed to Robert as heir by law and he had been living at Nans for many years, yet the church was claiming these three places as church property. Apparently, Robert at least won this suit in part, as in 1462 his son Lawerence held Trewince and was still its owner in 1503.
OUR CORNISH ALLIED FAMILIES
John Nansfan, high sheriff of Cornwall 1451, later governor of Guernsy and Jersey.
Sir Richard Nanspyan, 1457-1507, personal friend and advisor to Henry VII. Deputy of Calais, peace commissioner to Cornwall 1485, married Cheston, the only daughter of John Powlsulsack.
Henry Nanspyan, Esquire, of Powlsack, married Joan Tregender, daughter of William Tregender, and only child, held the manors of Gourlyn and Tregender as heir by law.
Chesten Nanspyan, married Henry Trengove, alias Nans, Esquire, of Illogan Parish.
William Tregender lived ca 1350, wife Joanne, daughter and heir of Thomas Gourlyn.
William Tregender II, wife unknown.
William Tregender III, wife joan, only child of William Godwrey.
Joan Tregender, heir by law to above three estates, married Henry Nanspyan. Males of Tregender, Gourlyn and Godwrey became extinct ca 1500.
William Trudell of Truthall in Sithney Parish, wife (?), had only one child.
Agnes Trudell, heir by law to Truthall, married Lawerence Nans of St. Martin and St. Anthony Parishes in Menenge.
Henry Gylette of Clowance, wife (?), father of only one child.
Constance Glyette of Clowance in St. Just, married Sir Alexander Nans.
ARUNDELL OF TRERISE
William d Aubingy I, Earl of Arundell, married Adeliza of Lovain (see addendum I, para 2), widow of King Henry of England 1138, died 1176.
William d Aubingy II, Earl of Arundell, married Maud, widow of Roger D'Clare. She was daughter of James D'Hillaire du Harcourt and his wife Avaline. He died in 1193.
William d' Aubingy III, Earl of Arundell, married Mabel of Chester. See line 46-(29) Nance register for her link to the royal families. He married 1215 and died 1220. Magna Charta security 1215.
John Arundell, earl of Arundell, lived during the realm of Henry III.
Ralph (Raynulfe) Arundell, 2nd son of Lord Albonminister and Stratton.
Margery Arundell, married a cousin, Sir Oliver Arundell of Carhayes in Cornwall.
John Arundell of Trerise married Jane, a daughter of Lupus of Tredannam.
John Arundell of Trerise married Jane, daughter and co- heir of Sir Richard Sergeaunt and his wife Phillipa the only child of Richard, Earl of Arundell.
Nicholas Arundell of Trerise married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir John Cheddore.
Sir John Arundell of Trerise married Jane, daughter of Lupus of Cranntock, heir to her mother, the daughter of Durant.
Nicholas Arundell of Trerise married the daughter and heir to Edward St. John of Sommerset shire.
Sir John Arundell of Trerise, high sheriff of Cornwall, killed by the Earl of Oxford's men 1481. He married Anne, daughter of Sir Walter Moyle of Estwell and Kent.
Sir John Arundell of Trerise married Jane (Joanna), daughter of Sir Thomas Grenville. Died, leaving a will 1512.
Sir John Arundell of Trerise married Mary, daughter and co-heir of John Bevill of Guarnack, Esquire, and his first wife Arisie, widow of Gourlyn. He died leaving a will 1561.
Margery Arundell married ca 1555 John Nance, Esquire, of Nance in Illogan.
The Arundells were the richest family in Cornwall. The males of this line became extinct ca 1700. Trerise was considered to be one of the better built manor houses of Cornwall. Today it is the state property and belongs to the national trust. One can see by this Genealogy the family has some royal connections, as well as some of those at Ronnemeade at the signing of the Magna Charta 1215.
This concludes my report on Cornwall, 27 May 1970.
/s/ Pete Nance
M.L. "Pete" Nance
NANCE OF CORNWALL - ADDENDUM
Upon examination of the Arundell pedigree, pgs. 14 & 15, I find that two generations were omitted, and the following should become a part of this pedigree, which has been estabilished in the English records down through the centuries:
Generation IV, Isabel D Aubingy, heiress to Arundell, md. John Fitz Alan, lord of Clun and Oswestry Salop.
Generation V, John Fitz Alan II, Earl of Arundell in 1243, died 1267, leaving a will, md. Maud, daughter of Theobald le Bottler, and Rhoese, daughter of Nicholas de Verdon Alta Co. Stafford.
Generation VI, Ralph (Raynulfe) 2nd, son of John Fitz Alan II Earl of Arundell upon becoming the Lord of Stafford (not Stratton), Albonminister assumed the surname of Arundell.
The balance of this Genealogy is correct according to the British records.
Further research into these ancient pedigrees concerning Adelize of Lovain, widow of King Henry I of England (second wife) who md. William d Aubingy i, Earl of Arundell is a descendant of Charlemagne.
Charles of Lorraine (see line 58-(19) Nance register for continuation of ancestors) md. Bonne D'ardennes.
Emengarde of Lorraine md. Albert I, Count of Namur, son of Robert I, Count of Lomme.
Albert II, Count of Namur, md. Regilinde of Lorraine, dau. Of gothelo I, Duke of Lorraine.
Albert III, Count of Namur, md. Ida of Saxony, daughter of Bernard II, Duke of Saxony, and Bertrade, daughter of Harold II, King of Norway (950-963).
Adelaide of Namur (b. 1068 - d. 1124) md. Otto II, Count of Chiny, son of Arnold II of Warcq. And Alix de Rameru.
Ida of Chiny md. (ca. 1105) Godfrey I duke of Lorraine, Count of Louvain (see line 61-(23) Nance register for additional lineage).
Adeliza of Louvaine, first md. Henry I of England, 2nd md. William d Aubingy i, Earl of Arundell.
According to the London Company records: in January 1624 we find the following concerning a company farm called "ye necke of lande" in the corporation of Charles City, Virginia:
William Sharp on the starr (year?) Research shows he came in 1610.
Elizabeth Sharp, age 25 on the Bonaventure, August, 1620, sons, Samuel 2 years & Issac 6 months.
Servant Richard Nanse (Nance) age 20 on the Jonathan, May 1620.
The boat Jonathan was in Plymouth, England, February 1620.
The boat Bonaventure was in Padstow, Cornwall May/June 1620.
Plymouth is separated from Cornwall by the river Tamar. It is always possible that Elizabeth (?) was related to Richard Nance or had some previous contact in Cornwall.
"THE LEGEND OF THE CORNISH NATIONAL TARTAN"
« The Cornish National tartan
The alps-cradle of the kymry "p" kelts, as proven by the Kymric test-names in that region, 'combe','tre','nant','pen','pont', conspicuously absent in Gael "q" kelt regions. Nantuates, valley-dweller kelt, whom Dr Kiepert of Berlin, in his Atlas Antiquus, locates ranging From Nantua in Burgundy, and fringing Lake Geneva, astride the upper Rhone, embracing Val de Nant and Pont de Nant in the Canton de Vaud, were a sub- tribe of the Helvetii of Switzerland. Their name being derived from the alp nant that abound in the Chamonix of Savoy - that "ravine" which has evolved into the alpine "torrent" pouring from the vast glaciers of the Mont Blanc massif- the Pennine Alps. Fantastic as it may seem, the very same folk who now inhabit the valleys of north Wales, where a mountain torrent is still a "nant", once upon a time dwelt in the Alps; now live in Cornwall too, where south of the river camel a "valley" has softened to "Nance". These our remote ancestors, conversed in their kymric tongue, and wove tartan in their alpine homes...(vide Isaac Taylor "Words and Places"; Halliday concurs: "In the 3rd century plundering warrior bands of La Tene Helvetii Celts descended on Cornwall.)"
In his "Scottish Gael", James Logan asserts: "the manufacture of woollen cloth must have existed among the Celtae from the most early period, and the Gaels and the Britons wore the same chequered cloth, which composed their upper garments, loosely wrapt around their limbs. The braccae or reddish checkered tunic was worn by Celts, and the brecan is still the national dress of their descendants, the term indicating its appearance; like the Welsh and Armoric 'brech' which signifies 'checkered', in fact 'Brittia' - britain - Whittaker affirms "is derived from the Welsh" (and Cornish) "'brythen' - in Gaelic 'breac' - meaning 'striped' or 'checkered'." Other nations thus recognized the kelt of both the continent and Britain by his distinctive tartan dress. The Romans, in particular, remarked on this unique characteristic; for instance, Queen Boadicea was glamorously attired in a tartan tunic.
The tartan custom seems to have persisted among the Keltic weavers to at least the time of the Norman conquest. Still token of Cornwall's checkered career are the several ancient bench-ends in her churches, engraves as they are with kilted figures - one playing the bagpipes!
In the 1873 Kelly's directory of Devon and Cornwall, you will find that "on the conquest of Cornwall by the Romans, they found two British (kymric) tribes, the Dumnonii and Cornubii". Horsley's Roman map "Britannia Antiqua" depicts the Carnabii Kelts ranged from lands end to the watersheds of the camel and fowey, beyond which the Damnonii Kelts hold sway. Now it appears, these Dumnonii Kelts wore plain heather-purple kilts, perhaps equating with the Irish of today; on the other hand, each Cornovii tribe wore its distinctive tartan kilt. Actual fragments of the tartan cloth have been recovered from tumuli in various parts of Kernow, preserved in the peaty soil...To quote one Roman's description of a west Briton's dress: "they are a sturdy people, fierce and warlike, with flowing hair and curly beards. Their dress consists of a loose tunic of checkered material, fastened at the shoulder by a metalic brooch, which is either circular or crescent- shaped, because these people are worshippers of the sun and moon. Their legs are protected by leather thongs, and their feet encased in a type of sandal. Their tunics are drawn into the waist by leather belts..."
Professor Charles Thomas and others equate the Cornovii Kelts with the Veneti from Morbihan and Vannes district of Brittany. Those Kelts who commanded the western seas, and had to be vanquished by Caesar, by burning their leather- sailed fleet, before he could conquer Britain. They were the folk who built the multi-rampart hill-forts, such as Maiden Castle in Dorset, and Castle-an-dinas in Kernow. They are the folk who erected the cliff-castles along the rugged north coast, including the one at the rumps of Padstow, that Prof. Thomas contends is the true 'Durocornavi' of the ancients: the 'fortress of the Cornavii'. They are, in fact, those controversial broch folk, the tower builders around the north coast of Scotland: Cornovii on the horn of Scotland - Caithness! They are indeed the dark dolichocephalic folk of Kernow (?Kelts crossed with Phoenician colonists = veniti ?), long reckoned to be the pre-kelt Iberians, or shipwrecked mariners left high and dry by the Spanish Armada!
In 1903 the Cornish delegate to the Celtic Congress, convening at Caernarvon, was L.C. Duncombe-Jewell, who paraded before the assembly in a wode-blue kilt, to impress upon it the Keltic character of Kernow. In 1963, just sixty years later, when the Celtic Congress met at St Ives, the Keltic audience witnessed the author of this treatise parading on the stage, displaying the prototype of the Cornish national tartan, in the traditional colours of Kernow, attached to the apron of his own Clan Douglas kilt!
Incidentally, each colour intricately woven in the Cornish National tartan has its own mystic significance, and is emblematic of long traditions in Cornwall's historic past:
The black banner with the white cross of the tinner's saint Piran, which led many a Cornish rebellion. The bold saffron (gold) and black are Cornwall's traditional colours, salient Coat-of-arms of her ancient kings in battle and pomp. Woven into the saffron is the motif depicting the red beak and legs of Kernow's national emblem, the sable Cornish chough, symbolic of the spirit of King Arthur: spirit of the Cornish nation, soaring o'er the azure Atlantic natural bulwark of Cornwall...
Hail! Kernow's heritage, tartan.
Hail! Garb of old Gaul, the kilt.
Our forebears gloried in tartan -
Baptized in blood Roman spilt.
*(March of the Cornish tartan)*
Bedheugh benytha kernewek!
E.E. Morton-Nance = Herald Bard Gwas Gweth.
E. E. Morton Nance
and his wife, Laweena,
wearing the Cornish tartan
(This photo taken in 1976)