Cornwall, a S. W. maritime county of England, bounded E. by Devonshire and on all other sides by the Atlantic; area, including the Scilly isles, 1,365 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 362,098. Its E. boundary, except for a short distance, is marked by the river Tamar, which flows S. into Plymouth sound, a considerable indentation of the coast between Cornwall and Devonshire. Other indentations on the S. coast are Falmouth bay and Mount's bay. On the N. W. coast are St. Ives, Perran, and Padstow bays. The coasts are generally rugged, and at their angle is Land's End, the westernmost point of England, a promontory of granitic rock 60 ft. high. The country is hilly in some parts, especially in the east, where the two elevations, Brown Gilly and Brown Willy, are respectively 1,100 and 1,364 ft. high.. There are many moors in Cornwall, and its appearance generally is bleak and dreary. Many of the valleys, however, are fertile and beautiful. There are several rivers, none large, having usually harborage at their mouths, and three navigable canals, which are used principally for the introduction of Welsh coal. The climate is moist, with a temperature of small variation. The winds are shifting and often violent. Corn and potatoes are the chief products of agriculture.
There are valuable mines of tin and copper, situated mostly in the southwest. These mines number more than 300, and give employment to about 30,000 persons. In 1866 they produced 9,900 tons of tin, of the value of £870,000, and 6,551 tons of copper, value £600,770. The tin mines have been worked from a very remote period. The Phoenicians are believed to have visited them, and they were subsequently worked by the Carthaginians, the merchants of Marseilles, and the Romans. Grain tin and gold are found in alluvial deposits. Silver occurs with lead, and ores of manganese, bismuth, cobalt, and antimony are met with. Soapstone is quarried to some extent, and 7,000 tons of porcelain clay are annually shipped. Carpets and a few coarse woollens are the only manufactures. The pilchard fishery is carried on extensively at St. Ives, Mount's bay, and Mevagissey. The principal towns are Bodmin, the capital, Truro, Helston, Penzance, St. Ives, and Falmouth. - The name Cornwall is derived by some from carn (Celtic, rock) and Gaul or Waal, the Saxon name of the Britons; by others from the Latin cornu, Celtic kern, a horn, from the shape of that part of it which juts into the sea.
It was early known to the Phoenicians and the Greeks. At the time of the Roman conquest it was occupied by tribes of the Cimbri and Damnonii. After the departure of the Romans the natives retained their independence till 680, when on the death of their last king, Cadwaladyr, the country was conquered by Ivar, son of Alain, king of Brittany, who was soon expelled by Kentwin, king of the West Saxons. The county has numerous remains of these early times. In 1337 Cornwall was made a dukedom, which is held by the eldest son of the British sovereign. In the civil Avar of the 17th century the people generally espoused the cause of Charles I., and Cornish troops distinguished themselves at Lansdowne and in the siege of Bristol. The Cornish language, a dialect of the Celtic, prevailed in the county up to the middle of the 17th century, and was partially spoken until the beginning of the present century.