If you are interested in the content of this blog then join us on Facebook and follow Radio Free Cornwall.

25.7.07

What is Cornwall?

The Power Inquiry
Southbank House
Black Prince Road
London SE1 7SJ

12 of June 2007

Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing to ask for your aid and advice on understanding one of the constitutional issues within the UK. I am a Cornish UK citizen currently working in Paris and my query relates to the relationship between the County of Cornwall and the Duchy of Cornwall. I believe it to be in the best interests of all residents in Cornwall to have a clear and complete description of the relationship between the Duchy and Cornwall, but obtaining this has so far proved impossible. I have, in the past, contacted the Duchy of Cornwall, Cornwall County Council, The Department of Constitutional Affairs and other government departments, none of whom have been able or willing to provide a comprehensive answer that addresses all the facts.

If we look at the Duchy of Cornwall website we see the following claim:

“The Duchy of Cornwall is a well-managed private estate which funds the public, charitable and private activities of The Prince of Wales and his family. The Duchy consists of around 54,764 hectares of land in 22 counties, mostly in the South West of England”. No mention of a relationship with the county and territory of Cornwall here or anywhere else on the site. Yet if we check the government website for Bona Vacantia we find the following:

“If the company's last registered office and the asset was in the Duchies of Cornwall or Lancashire its assets fall to be dealt with by Messrs Farrer & Co, Solicitors, of 66 Lincolns Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LH. The Duchy of Cornwall comprises the County of Cornwall. The Duchy of Lancaster comprises the Counties of Lancashire, Merseyside and parts of Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Cumbria. Further details as to the precise boundaries of the Duchy can be obtained from the Duchy Office, 1 Lancaster Place, Strand, London WC2E 7ED (tel: 020 7836 8277).”

It seems no coherent description of the Duchy is available. In the book "The Cornish Question" by Mark Sandford that was published by the Constitutional Unit, School of Public Policy, University College London in 2002 it states that - "The existence of the Duchy of Cornwall was once of constitutional significance, but is now essentially a commercial organisation" Considering that this commercial organisation is the largest landowner in Cornwall and claims to be nothing but a private estate and company, you would think it reasonable to expect there to be an official date of change-over from an official body of constitutional significance into a purely private commercial organisation.

In the Cornwall Submarine Mines Act 1858 it states that the Duchy of Cornwall is a 'territorial possession' of Britain. So, sometime between 1858 and the present day, a territory of Britain transformed into a private commercial organization, when, if at all, did this happen? A court case in 1828, A trial at Bar (Rowe v. Brenton) it was affirmed that everything connected with the Duchy is "of public interest", and "all the Kingdom should take notice". Quite rightly so considering the Duchy of Cornwall is a territory of Britain. Yet when Cornish MP Andrew George raised questions on the 16th June 1997 about the affairs of the Duchy he was told that there is an injunction in the House of Commons that prevents such questions being raised, how can this be? In The Annual Accounts of the Duchy of Cornwall 1998, it states that `- "Accounts are prepared in accordance with instructions issued by H.M. Treasury. The Duchy's primary function is to provide an income for present and future Dukes of Cornwall. The Duke is only entitled to the net income" This means the Treasury deals with the Duchy as if it were a government department. So how can the Duke of Cornwall be the owner of a private estate?

In the 19th century the legal arguments of Duchy officials, defeated the Crown's aspirations of sovereignty of the Cornish foreshore. The Duchy of Cornwall argued that the Duke has sovereignty of Cornwall and not the Crown.

On behalf of the Duchy in its successful action against the Crown, which resulted in the Cornwall Submarine Mines Act of 1858, Sir George Harrison (Attorney General for Cornwall) makes this submission.

That Cornwall, like Wales, was at the time of the Conquest, and was subsequently treated in many respects as distinct from England. That it was held by the Earls of Cornwall with the rights and prerogative of a County Palatine, as far as regarded the Seignory or territorial dominion. That the Dukes of Cornwall have from the creation of the Duchy enjoyed the rights and prerogatives of a County Palatine, as far as regarded seignory or territorial dominion, and that to a great extent by Earls. That when the Earldom was augmented into a Duchy, the circumstances attending to it's creation, as well as the language of the Duchy Charter, not only support and confirm natural presumption, that the new and higher title was to be accompanied with at least as great dignity, power, and prerogative as the Earls enjoyed, but also afforded evidence that the Duchy was to be invested with still more extensive rights and privileges. The Duchy Charters have always been construed and treated, not merely by the Courts of Judicature, but also by the Legislature of the Country, as having vested in the Dukes of Cornwall the whole territorial interest and dominion of the Crown in and over the entire County of Cornwall. This would suggest that Cornwall (the county) is a Duchy.

In my opinion these are questions that should be deemed important enough to be answered by someone in authority, whether that authority is a Government office, Cornwall County Council or Duchy of Cornwall office, after all, claiming a national territory and making it your own private business is no small affair - on a par with opening the newspaper this morning to find out that Richard Branson suddenly owns Gibraltar as a private business concern - and then reading that it was once a UK protectorate but now it belongs to Virgin - as the only official explanation for the change over. So it is to the Power Inquiry I turn to for aid and advice on this subject. The exact relationship of the Duchy to the territory of Cornwall and the influence the Duchy has within Cornwall are matters of clear public interest, please help in getting to the bottom of this constitutional puzzle.

Please do not hesitate to contact me by post, telephone or e-mail if you need any further information and I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

The above is a letter sent to the Power Inquiry/make it an issue to date un answered.

I would invite all those interested in getting an answer to the question to contact The Duchy of Cornwall and The Department of Constitutional AffairsJust try and see how open and cooperative our government and establishment is.

Notes:


1) This definition of county in the Complete Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd Ed 1989 p. 1044. Whence county was gradually adopted in English ( scarcely before the 15th century ) as an alternative name for the shire, and in due course applied to similar divisions made in Wales and in Ireland, as well as the shires of Scotland, and also extended to those separate parts of the realm which never were shires, as The Duchy of Cornwall, Orkney and Shetland. Part definition of the term County.

2) The Duchy charters which are still law turned all of Cornwall into a Duchy.


3) Taken from Cornwall County Councils website: In the 19th century the legal arguments of Sir George Harrison, Attorney General to the Duchy of Cornwall, defeat the Crown's aspirations of sovereignty of the Cornish foreshore. The Duchy that Cornwall argues the Duke has sovereignty of Cornwall and not the Crown. During the same case, Parliament defines the Cornish as "aborigines".

On behalf of the Duchy in its successful action against the Crown, which resulted in the Cornwall Submarine Mines Act of 1858, Sir George Harrison (Attorney General for Cornwall) makes this submission. That Cornwall, like Wales, was at the time of the Conquest, and was subsequently treated in many respects as distinct from England. That it was held by the Earls of Cornwall with the rights and prerogative of a County Palatine, as far as regarded the Seignory or territorial dominion. That the Dukes of Cornwall have from the creation of the Duchy enjoyed the rights and prerogatives of a County Palatine, as far as regarded seignory or territorial dominion, and that to a great extent by Earls. That when the Earldom was augmented into a Duchy, the circumstances attending to it's creation, as well as the language of the Duchy Charter, not only support and confirm natural presumption, that the new and higher title was to be accompanied with at least as great dignity, power, and prerogative as the Earls enjoyed, but also afforded evidence that the Duchy was to be invested with still more extensive rights and privileges. The Duchy Charters have always been construed and treated, not merely by the Courts of Judicature, but also by the Legislature of the Country, as having vested in the Dukes of Cornwall the whole territorial interest and dominion of the Crown in and over the entire County of Cornwall. This legal case again would suggest that Cornwall (the county) is a Duchy.


4) Taken from Cornwall County Councils website: In 1969-71 Kilbrandon Report into the British constitution recommends that, when referring to Cornwall - official sources should cite the Duchy not the County. This was suggested in recognition of its constitutional position.

5) Taken from Cornwall County Councils website: In 1863 the Duchy of Cornwall Management Act confirms that the Duke possesses seignory and territorial rights befitting a king.

6) Taken form Cornwall County Councils website: In 1889 (1st April) Cornwall county council is created by the Local Government Act of 1888. This act however does not do away with the Duchy or state if Cornwall is a county of England.

Historic quotes and maps below.

Many of these maps by cartographers such as Gerardus Mercator(1512), Sebastian Munster(1515), Abraham Ortelius and Girolamo Ruscelli, are contained on these BBC website Maps of Cornwall : http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A10686710

Treaty of Brétigny: "John, by the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Earl of Anjou, confirmed the aforesaid; and Richard, King of Germany and Earl of Cornwall, in like manner, confirmed the aforesaid".

The 15th century Croyland Chronicle states "In order zealously to carry out the same, he sent the venerable men of God, brothers Egelmer and Nigel, his fellow-monks, with relics of the saints, into the western parts, namely, Flanders and France. To the northern parts and into Scotland he sent the brothers Fulk and Oger, and into Denmark and Norway the brothers Swetman and Wulsin the younger; while to Wales, Cornwall and Ireland he sent the brothers Augustin and Osbert".

1485 : Polydore Vergil, an Italian cleric commissioned by King Henry VII to write a history of England, states that "The whole country of Britain is divided into four parts, whereof the one is inhabited by Englishmen, the other of Scots, the third of Welshmen, the fourth of Cornish people ... and which all differ among themselves either in tongue, either in manners, or else in laws and ordinances."


1509 : King Henry VIII's coronation procession includes "nine children of honour" representing "England and France, Gascony, Guienne, Normandy, Anjou, Cornwall, Wales and Ireland."

1531 : From the court of King Henry VIII, the Italian diplomat Lodovico Falier writes in a letter that "The language of the English, Welsh and Cornish men is so different that they do not understand each other". He also claims it is possible to distinguish the members of each group by alleged "national characteristics".

1538 : Writing to his government, the French ambassador in London, Gaspard de Coligny Chatillon, indicates ethnic differences thus: "The kingdom of England is by no means a united whole, for it also contains Wales and Cornwall, natural enemies of the rest of England, and speaking a [different] language".
1603 : Following Queen Elizabeth I's death, the Venetian ambassador writes that the "late queen had ruled over five different 'peoples': 'English, Welsh, Cornish, Scottish ... and Irish'".


1616 : Arthur Hopton [later ambassador to Madrid?] writes that "England is ... divided into three great Provinces, or Countries ... speaking a several and different language, as English, Welsh and Cornish".


Two forum threads on this topic: 1)Cornwall 24 and 2)This is NOT England.

1 comment:

davidb said...

FYI.Largest landowner in Cornwall.

Viscount Falmouth


The history of the Boscawens goes back to 1264 and reaches the present via a string of beheadings and rebellions. Now the family are the largest landowners in Cornwall with an estate almost twice the size of Prince Charles's Cornish holdings, with 40,000 acres worth £117m. If just one per cent of the estate is development land (fetching £175,000 in the region), the value shoots up by a further £70m - and the head of the family is well known for the number of planning applications he submits. There is also an estate in Kent. Grandfather, father and son are Etonians and live on, and manage, the estate. The Boscawens still appoint priests of the Church of England in five parishes around the family mansion near Truro.