William Scawenwilliam scawen blunt
William Scawen 1600–1689 was one of the pioneers in the revival of the Cornish language He was a politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1640 and fought for the Royalist cause in the English Civil War
Scawen was the son of Robert Scawen of St Germans and Isabella Nicholls, daughter of Humphrey Nicholls of St Tudy12 He was a Cornish gentleman and Vice-Warden of the Stannaries In April 1640 he was elected MP for St Germans and for East Looe in the Short Parliament3 The parliament did not last long enough for all such double elections to be resolved He supported the Royalist cause in the Civil War and fought alongside Cornish speaking soldiers4 On the Restoration he was one of those proposed for the honour of Knight of the Royal Oak
Scawen realised that the Cornish language was dying out and wrote detailed manuscripts which he started working on when he was 78 Between 1679 and 1680, he made an English translation of a Cornish medieval passion poem Pascon agan Arluth4 His main work included observations on the ancient manuscript, entitled, "Passio Christi", written in the Cornish language, and now preserved in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford published in London in 17775 It features an account of the language, manners, and customs of the Cornish people The only version that was ever published was a short first draft, but the manuscript, which evolved continually until his death, is hundreds of pages long – with small notes stuck in all through it in his increasingly illegible handwriting He identified sixteen reasons for the decline of the Cornish language which included gentry antipathy to the language, nearness of English-speaking Devon, loss of records in the Civil War, lack of a Bible in Cornish, end of native language miracle play performances and loss of contact with Brittany4
Scawen's sister Elizabeth married Martin Keigwin, and was the mother of John Keigwin The Keigwins were also active in promoting the revival of the Cornish language6
- Ellis, P B 1974 The Cornish Language London: Routledge; p 78–88, 115
- ^ Visitation of the County of Cornwall in 1620
- ^ St Tudy church, Cornwall; flickr
- ^ Willis, Browne 1750 Notitia Parliamentaria, Part II: A Series or Lists of the Representatives in the several Parliaments held from the Reformation 1541, to the Restoration 1660 London pp 229–239
- ^ a b c VCH Explore William Scawen and the Cornish Revival
- ^ "William Scawen – Oxford Biography Index"
- ^ DNB John Keigwin
- "West Britons" by Mark Stoyle
|Parliament of England|
Parliament suspended since 1629
|Member of Parliament for East Looe
Parliament suspended since 1629
|Member of Parliament for St Germans
With: John Eliot
william scawen blunt
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