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2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

It all started with a young girl who wanted to prove, or disprove, the family stories of Cornish smugglers in the family tree. That was over 30 years ago and I proved the Smuggler story quite easily (John Carter of Prussia Cove) The problem was I couldn't find my Boase line. So out of sheer frustration a One Name Study was started, on the basis that if I collected ALL references to the surname, sooner or later I was bound to fall over the ones I could claim as' mine' - Well I'm still collecting, and still looking.

Variant names

In the early records the name was spelt with or without the final e -€“ Boase or Boas and this seemed almost to be interchangeable until the 1820'€™s. I have concentrated my research on these two variations of the name and do not include variants such as Boaz, Boaze, Bows, Bowes etc unless I can see that they are mearly spelling errors as I believe that these other variants have occurred independently in various areas of this country and elsewhere.

Name origin

The Boase name seems to originate in the very West of Cornwall in the Parishes of Paul and Madron. Although the earliest references I have are of births in Illogan near Redruth. Unfortunately from a family history standpoint the Church at Paul was attacked by the Spanish in 1589 and all the church records were destroyed so the prospect of getting further back within that parish are limited.

The origin of the name has been difficult to track down. I am not convinced by the notion that I am descended from Boaz of biblical note, nor do I support the idea that it is of Spanish origin supposedly coming to Cornwall with shipwrecked sailors from the Spanish Armada, as my own grandfather would have had me believe. I have at least gleaned evidence that the name existed in Cornwall before the 1595 raiding party. The most likely explanation, in my opinion, is that the name has its origins in the Cornish language and there appear to be 2 options for this: The word for abode or dwelling which is Bos or the word Vose which meant Wall, entrenchment, ditch or fortification.There are variants of the name - I have only taken note of 4 variants for my research: Boase, Boas, Boaz, and Boaze There are a few a deviant spellings such as Bawes which can often be explained if you try to pronounce the name with a Cornish accent -€“ try interpreting that when the person speaking is illiterate and living in the mining areas of Yorkshire or Co. Durham. Boase is by far the most common spelling with 165 of the total 324 individuals bearing the name living in Cornwall in 1881. One family resident in the Falmouth did stick to spelling the name BOAZE for some years but by 1881 that spelling is found almost exclusively in London and the spelling Boaz appears mostly on the welsh borders but again we are talking about very limited numbers -€“ only 86 individuals in 1881 and these could have an altogether different origin. I have proved at least to my own satisfaction that the Boase surname developed independently of the more common Bowes name which is found widely in the north of England.

Distribution of the name

I am happy to collect data on Boase families worldwide but most of the information I have can be linked back to families with their origins in Cornwall.

3 census years - 1841, 61 and 71 produce a total of only 1658 Boase individuals and the majority of those are either still in Cornwall or were born there. There was one branch of the family, one of the more affluent ones, which moved to the Dundee area in the early 1800's and there are still members of that family in Scotland. Other than that there are a few families sprinkled around the country, the expected few who moved to London, families caught on census night at ports, in Liverpool or Plymouth perhaps, and the occasional family who never did travel overseas but stayed and made a life for themselves in Liverpool and elsewhere. Small pockets in Wiltshire, Bristol, Cardiff but primarily it is a Cornish name with by far the majority of the Boase individuals are to be found within the county.

It is still true today that the vast majority of English Boases are in Cornwall - My father was the only Boase just over the Tamar in Plymouth for most of my childhood, until my Grandparents got a phone!. The current phone book shows 24 Boase families in Cornwall.


This is a rare surname. I have a database of roughly 3500 individuals worldwide. I have extracted all records from the British BMD’s up to 1914 and some beyond that date. I have details of all families from each census from 1841 -€“ 1901 in England.

Worldwide I have collated data from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the US. Most of the Boase families who emigrated, certainly to Australia seem to have been much better at rearing Girls than Boys and there are very few families there who still bear the name. In the US there are several families who do still bear the name and there is a good website with more information on the US connections.

There was a published Boase pedigree in 1876 which was reprinted with amendments in 1893 -€“ I have copies of both editions which gives detailed information about several Boase families and also the families that they were related to by marriage.