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Why 'Cousin Jack'? The origins of the nickname of the Cornish overseas (caitlingreen.org)
40 points by flummox 4 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 10 comments

I'm not sure of any connection - but I grew up in Cornwall and we sometimes use 'Janner', which comes from "Cousin Jan", in the Southwest. The article briefly touches on Cousin Jan, but didn't link it to the word that's still in use today (means someone born near the sea, or someone from Plymouth).

I'm just thinking "Cousin Jack" is a very easy transformation from "Cousin Jan" if you're trying to 'decornishify' the word and pick a generic English sounding name. Could be why it became the common fib name people told their bosses when introducing other cornish people for employment? Maybe a stretch though, I'm just spitballing.


My grandfather was always referred to as Jan. He was in the Navy. Only found out about the Janner thing this summer.

The folk/roots band Show of Hands have a song about the Cousin Jacks, which was how I first heard about them. The performer who sang it at a local pub's folk night the first time I heard it, had a great grandfather who'd been one of the many.


Show of Hands were my introduction to the UK folk scene so I'll always have time for them. They typically have some great support acts too, with friends from the US and Canada often coming across to tour like Richard Shindell.

England and Wales in particular have a habit of losing the history of the countryside, and folk songs are one of the only ways it seems to persist. And I love how current artists are both falling back on their experiences but also doing their own research into old, forgotten tunes and songs to bring life back into them and make them relevant again.

Yes! The UK folk scene is really awesome. Some of my personal favs are Bellowhead + Mawkin + Monster Ceilidh Band.

Mawkin actually has a good song about cornish mine workers, "I Can Hew"

Good bands! Faustus and False Lights are another couple of bands that fit into a similar sound/style category which also have some good rurally-sourced songs. All those up-tempo bands are so much fun to see live.

Solo singer-wise there's some great material to be found with current singers like Chris Wood or Nick Hart. And if you go back a bit there's some really interesting songs from people like Tony Hall (lots of Norfolk oddities) and Dick Gaughan (Scotland. Kist O' Gold is a great album).

I tend to know more about tune history than songs but songs do give you a lot of scope for reviving old music. I know Faustus, for example, take old lyrics and write new tunes for them to change the sound. It's a really exciting way of keeping the stories alive and maintaining their relevance for new generations.

My favourite random Cornish fact is that when a sizeable number moved to Mexico to work the silver mines, they introduced the Cornish pasty, which is now considered a local delicacy. Also, apparently, Methodism and... wrestling.

And football!

"It was Cornish miners who introduced football to Mexico. The country’s first football club – Pachuca Athletic Club – originally comprised exclusively of Cornish mine workers. The Mexican League of Association Football was established in 1902. The first championship was played that same year and in the 1904-1905 tournament it was El Pachuca that won first place. To this day the city of Pachuca still prides itself as being the home of Mexican football."


I thought they already had it a couple of centuries before that, kind off.


Huge thanks to whoever posted this link first on HN. It's my favorite history blog by far.

Even if this may not be the most popular entry...

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