Nearly 100,000 people identify as Cornish in latest census

Almost 100,000 people identify as Cornish, according to new census data.

In Cornwall around 80,000 people (14%) reported a Cornish only identity. This is a rise from 53,000 (9.9%) in 2011, the Census 2021 revealed.

A further 9,000 people (1.6%) selected Cornish in combination with one or more UK identities – up from 5,000 (1%) in 2011.

The 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,” Office for National Statistics (ONS) deputy director Jon Wroth-Smith said.

Cornish define their beliefs as 'pagan'
More than 1,700 Cornish people define their beliefs as ‘pagan’ (Alamy/PA)

“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 13,045 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.

The ONS also released data on ethnicity, language and religion. Nearly 87% of people living in Cornwall identified their ethnic group as white – above the England and Wales average of 74.4%.

In Cornwall, 98.2% of people said their main language was English – compared with 91.1% nationally. Some 471 people said their main language was Cornish.
Meanwhile, 46% of people in Cornwall did not identify with a religion, while 45% said they were Christian. And 1,769 people said they were Pagan – the third most commonly described religion in Cornwall.