Truro is a city and civil parish in Cornwall, England. The city is the centre for administration, leisure and retail in Cornwall, with a population recorded in the 2001 census of 17,431. The Truro urban statistical area, which includes parts of surrounding parishes, had a 2001 census population of 20,920. By the 2011 census the city's population had increased to 20,332 and its surrounding urban area to 23,000 as based on the results of a population study of Cornwall carried out in 2010. It is the only city in the county, and the most southern city in Mainland Great Britain. People from Truro are known as Truronians.
Truro initially grew as an important centre of trade from its port and then as a stannary town for the mining industry. The city is well known for its cathedral (completed in 1910), cobbled streets, open spaces and Georgian architecture. Places of interest include the Royal Cornwall Museum, the Hall for Cornwall, Cornwall's Courts of Justice and Cornwall Council.
Truro Ancient Borough included the ecclesiastical parishes of Truro St. George, Truro St. John, Truro St. Paul, Truro St. Clement and Truro St. Mary which was replaced by the Cathedral of St. Mary in 1876. In 1866, the year when civil parishes were first formed, Truro Municipal Borough included the civil parishes of Truro St. Mary, Kenwyn (a close suburb of Truro), and Truro St. Clement. Both Kenwyn and Truro St. Clement stretched out sufficiently from the centre of town that they could be divided into "urban" and "rural" civil parishes. In both cases the urban parishes were absorbed into Truro and the rural sections came under the supervision of Truro Rural District. The two rural sections were absorbed into Truro Municipal Borough in 1934.
As of 1974 the term municipal borough was abandoned and Truro became the principal town first in the District of Carrick and then the administrative seat of the county in the unitary authority of Cornwall from 2009.
The map listed under "Research Tips" can be blown up to see how the parishes discussed above fit together.
A permanent settlement in the Truro area was first evident in Norman times. A castle was built in the 12th century by Richard de Luci, Chief Justice of England in the reign of Henry II, who was granted land in Cornwall for his services to the court, including the area surrounding the confluence of the two rivers. The town grew in the shadow of the castle and was awarded borough status to further economic activity. (The castle has long since gone.)
By the start of the 14th century Truro was an important port, due to its inland location away from invaders, prosperity from the fishing industry, and its new role as one of Cornwall's stannary towns for assaying and stamping tin and copper from Cornish mines. The Black Death arrived and with it, a trade recession, resulting in a mass exodus of the population which left the town in a very neglected state.
Trade gradually returned and the town became prosperous during the Tudor period. Self-governance was awarded in 1589 when a new charter was granted by Elizabeth I, which gave Truro an elected mayor and control over the port of Falmouth.
During the Civil War in the 17th century, Truro raised a sizeable force to fight for the king and a royalist mint was set up. Defeat by the Parliamentary troops came in 1646 and the mint was moved to Exeter. Later in the century Falmouth was awarded its own charter giving it rights to its harbour, starting a long rivalry between the two towns. The dispute was settled in 1709 with control of the River Fal divided between Truro and Falmouth.
Truro prospered greatly during the 18th and 19th centuries. Industry flourished thanks to improved mining methods and higher prices for tin, and the town soon became the place to be for wealthy mine owners. Elegant Georgian and Victorian townhouses were built—such as those seen today on Lemon Street, named after the mining magnate and local MP Sir William Lemon—and Truro became the centre for high society in the county, being mentioned as "the London of Cornwall".
Throughout these prosperous times Truro remained a social centre and many notable people hailed from it. One of the most noteworthy residents was Richard Lander, an explorer who discovered the source of the River Niger in Africa and was awarded the first gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society. Others include Humphry Davy, educated in Truro and inventor of the miner's safety lamp, and Samuel Foote, an actor and playwright from Boscawen Street.
Truro's importance increased later in the 19th century and it had its own iron smelting works, potteries, and tanneries. The Great Western Railway arrived in Truro in the 1860s with a direct line from Paddington Station in London, and the Bishopric of Truro bill was passed in 1876 which gave the town a bishop, then a cathedral. The next year Queen Victoria granted Truro city status.
The start of the 20th century saw the decline of the mining industry, however the city remained prosperous. Its previous role as a market town shifted and it became the administrative and commercial centre of Cornwall, and saw substantial development. Today, Truro continues its role as the retail centre of Cornwall but, like many other cities, faces concerns over the disappearance of many of its renowned speciality shops and their replacement by national chain stores, the eroding of its identity, and how to accommodate future expected growth in the 21st century.
One of the many maps available on A Vision of Britain through Time is one from the Ordnance Survey Series of 1900 illustrating the parish boundaries of Cornwall at the turn of the 20th century. This map blows up to show all the parishes and many of the small villages and hamlets.
The following websites have pages explaining their provisions in WeRelate's Repository Section. Some provide free online databases.