Census increase in Cornish identity


Just under 100,000 people across England and Wales identified as ‘Cornish’ or ‘Cornish and British’ in Census 2021.

Within Cornwall, today’s (Nov 29) national identity data shows that 14.0% of the population (80,000 people) reported a Cornish only identity, up from 9.9% (53,000) in 2011. A further 1.6% (9,000) selected Cornish in combination with one or more UK identities, up from 1.0% (5,000) in 2011.

Census 2021 allowed people to identify as Cornish via a search-as-you-type functionality, making it easier for people to self-define on the online questionnaire. They could also write in Cornish on the paper form.

“Today’s data gives the first insights into how many people identify as Cornish,” ONS deputy director Jon Wroth-Smith said.

“We can see, in Cornwall, the number of people who chose to describe their national identity as ‘Cornish only’ increased by just under 30,000. There’s even more data to follow. Next year we will produce an analytical report on the population who identify as Cornish, and how their health, housing, work and education differs from those who do not identify as Cornish.”

In total, 99,754 people across England and Wales identified as Cornish only or Cornish with one or more other UK identities in Census 2021. Of the 9,146 people outside Cornwall identifying as Cornish only, 1,290 live in Devon, with a large concentration in Plymouth. There are also pockets of people identifying as Cornish in Bristol, while in London 799 people said they were Cornish.

Today the ONS has also released data on ethnic group, language and religion.

Nearly 87% of people living in Cornwall identified their ethnic group as White (English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or British). This is above the England and Wales average of 74.4%. However, 38,406 people (6.7) reported their ethnic group as White Cornish, while a further 4,372 people put Cornish in the Other ethnic group: Any other ethnic group category. These were the second and third highest ethnic group responses in Cornwall.

In Cornwall, 98.2% of people said their main language was English. This compares with 91.1% nationally. Some 471 people said their main language was Cornish.

Meanwhile, 46.2% of people reported No religion in Cornwall, while 45.4% said they were Christian. Interestingly, 1,769 people said they were Pagan, the third most commonly described religion in Cornwall.