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William Scawen and the Cornish Revival

From the late 18th century there was both a language movement and a revival. William Scawen, a gentlemen of St Germains and circuit judge, was one of its leading figures. He was concerned about the preservation of the Cornish language. He had been a Royalist in the Civil War and had fought alongside Cornish speakers. This, along with his marriage into the Keigwin family, may have encouraged his interest in Cornish.

He made an English translation of a Cornish medieval passion poem  'Pascon agan Arluth' in 1679-80. He also wrote a tract called 'Antiquaries Cornu-Brittanic: .... [or] Memorials of ... the Primitive Speech in Cornwall'. In his work he came u with 16 reasons for the decline of the Cornish Language including: loss of contact with Brittany, end of the miracle play performances, loss of records in the Civil War, absence of a Cornish Bible, gentry antipathy to the language, and proximity of English-speaking Devon. Scawen encouraged the gentry, such as the Keigwins and Bosons to write letters to each other in Cornish.

Content generated during research for the paperback book 'Cornwall and the Coast: mousehole and Newlyn' (ISBN 13 : 978-1-86077-489-8) for the England's Past for Everyone series

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