Is your Surname registered?

Our 2,745 members have registered
2,397 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

2,420 total views, 1 views today




About the study

I think my curiosity about my family name started because it was always thought to be a little different to the typical Tre, Pol or Pen Cornish names or the commonly used  Christian name as a surname type like Williams the most common name in Cornwall.  We knew the name was unusual and that there was some connection with St Just in the far west of Cornwall.  We also understood very well that there had been for many years a family tradition to use the name Nicholas Richard John and Henry in the family. I originally started my research in the 1980's long before computers and internet. In the 1990's I had a busy career but was able to return to looking in more detail in the last 10 years.

Variant names

The spelling of the Name in Cornwall has changed and varied over the years Boyen, Bowen, Bosswen, Boyens, Boyns however very quickly established itself as Boyns. A branch of this family who moved to London in early 1800's however retained the Boyens spelling as it was in Cornwall at the time and therefore I am looking at Boyns and Boyens on the Guild however I also have a lot of Boynes information having looked at those families who appear in English counties to trace back their origin and check for possible connections.  I found none and believe the Boynes are likely to be Irish and or Scottish descent.

Name origin

The origin of the name fascinates us all. There have been many theories over the years. Despite the fact there are many place names in the West of Cornwall around St Just where the family have been for 400 years beginning BO as in Botallack  -  Bojewyan - Boscaswell and Bosavern it seems that family members have thought it might have an Irish origin coming from the River Boyne or even Dutch or German as Boyens certainly is a name in this part of the world. There was even a Pope with the name Boeyns!  To support the Dutch theory it is known from A Survey of Cornwall by Richard Carew that Dutch Mineral men were brought over to Cornwall in the 1500's. It appears they were more advanced with explosives at the time so there expertise was very useful to the expanding mining industry in Cornwall.

I also have a curiosity of the very similar and common name in South Wales of Bowen. There was a lot of trade between Cornwall and Wales at this time.

However all this is forgetting the place name connection BO in the area.  BO in the Cornish language referring to the dwelling of so for instance the name Bosyweyn seen in 1302 which by 1732 had changed half a dozen times and was Bojuyan is the dwelling of Syweyn.(1302)  The name of Syweyn is not known but could be a form of Ewan or some similar name.

There are other examples - In the 13th century in an exert from a Feet of Fines there is a reference to Roger De Bowen 1 Masage and 1 acre at Boswens ( now Bosweddan) by Boshean (now Bosean) which again places the name deriving from the family home.

Historical occurrences of the name

There are a few famous and infamous Boyns.

Nicholas Bowens/Boyens 1720 bought and lived at Boswedden and laterly Hendra,   He owned property at Hendra, Tregevean, Bosavern, Mill Lane and the house north of the raebit. He is said to have commenced Cape Mine.   In  1883 there is documentation of his grandson claiming mineral rights for Cape Cornwall mine.  His Great grandson said he commenced the deep adit at Botallack and made his son Nicholas 1747 Captain and his son Henry did bookeeping and smithing. 

Nicholas 1747 son of Nicholas 1720 said to have been made Captain of Botallack by his father and then commenced Wheal Owles however the date is unknown. 

John 1792 was a son of Nicholas 1747  he was known as Purser Boyns of Boswedden and worked at Wheal Owles 1834 - 1861. He was at Wheal Owles from 1834 - 1861 and his name is seen on a lease for a sett at Kenidjack in 1834.

Richard Boyns 1822 was a grandson of Nicholas 1747 via his son Nicholas 1785  He married Mary Boyns a 1st cousin. Mary's brother Richard 1831 was the well later known as  Richard 'Banker' Boyns.  He became Purser of Wheal Owles in 1861 taking over from his Uncle John Boyns 1792.  From 1864 -1870 he was Purser and Manager of Boswedden and Wheal Castle.  The Royal Cornwall Gazette 27th May 1869 reports that this Richard Boyns was presented with a silver tea service weighing 162 ozs and valued at 100 guinea as a testimonial by Wheal Owles adventurers for the skill and energy with which he had worked the mine and as a momento of his gaining more than £4000 by his stocking tin. The article refers to the presentation being made to Captain Boyns who was the purser.   His title of Captain came from the fact he commanded the Duke of Cornwall Rifle Volunteers 1864-1883.       The Poldark Mine Museum at Wendron also have a large pewter tea pot presented to Richard Boyns Esq on 19th November 1869 by John Roscorla.    He later was remembered for being fined £15 plus costs for not having kept accurate maps of the mine to within six months of the disaster in 1893.  He never recovered from this and was none to be a recluse in later life.   He had ten issue.  Three died young and only one son married of the remaining seven children descendants of which live in USA 

Richard 'Banker' Boyns 1831 was a grandson of Nicholas 1747.    Perhaps the most well known  Boyns he was a much respected Grocer, Farmer,€“ Bank Manager. In the mid 1870's he began supporting various local mines at at time when they were struggling.   He found investment to keep Wheal Owles going in the late 1870's and keep many St Just men working when things were getting tough.   He was presented in 1880 with the Botallack  Epergne which had been made by Messers Mapin and Webb in London at a cost of £250 paid for by Public subscription at a time when the mining industry was already suffering .  The extract from the Mining Journal says - A well merited honour has been conferred upon Mr R Boyns of The Bank, St Just by the presentation of a handsome and valuable epergne in recognition of his untiring and indeed Herculean efforts while depression was at its worst however in 1883 by which time the price of tin had slumped even further Richard had lost all his money and disappeared. His affairs where dealt with by bankruptcy. He was later heard to be in America where he had quite a following as a Minister for the Episcopalian Church and where his children were sent to join him. He married and was widowed twice In Cornwall whilst still having a young family.    His descendants now live in USA. 

The son of Richard Banker Boyns Richard Edward Boyns 1857 a solicitor who dealt with his father'€™s affairs was also a writer and used the Pseudonym Edward Bosanketh. He wrote a €˜novel€™ called Tin in 1888 which for many was clearly based on the €˜goings on€™ in the Tin Industry at the time his father disappeared. The main character was a Charles East who disappeared€™ as his father had done. The Bolitho family owners of Bolitho'€™s Bank which is now part of  Barclays Group where incensed by the allegations made in the book and bought up and burned as many copies of the book as they could find. In 1988 Justin Brooke reprinted the novel and also a €˜key to tin€™ which is fascinating. Richard Edward Boyns 1857 made many visit to USA to visit his siblings over the years and later published a sequel to Tin and other novels in the USA.  Richard Edward never married and had no issue. 

Henry Boyns 1820  was a Great grandson of Nicholas 1720 and  was very well respected for possessing an innate intelligence but little education.  He often spoke of the history of the mines in the local area.   He worked as Manger at Wheal Owles 1856,  Agent at Botallack 1857-1866 and was manager there 1866-1872.  Manager of Levant 1872-1875.  He also was manager for Brimley mine in Devon 1877-1880.  Purser and chief agent  of Molland in Devon 1876-1880.  His obituary says he worked in every mine except North Levant. He was a lay preacher and active Methodist.  He married three times with one son who died young and daughter to the first marriage.  

John Boyns 1817 the brother of Henry 1820 was also very well respected.   From 1840 he worked as Agent under John Boyns 1792.   In 1856 he was Purser at Wheal Bounds.  1857-1861 Agent of Bollowal and 1862- 1883 Jnr Manager. Bosorne Manager 1861-1863. At Botallack 1862-71 he as agent and conducted Price Arthur through Botallack in 1862.  Later in 1865 he conducted the Prince and Princess of Wales later King Edward and Princess Alexandra around Botallack.  In 1866-1870 he was Agent at Wheal Owles.  In 1883/4 Manager of Wheal Castle. He also inspected Mine in Italy and was manager of the Lanzi Mining Co.   He married once with no issue.


Distribution of the name

There are various groups around the UK. The Cornish group. Various different groups in Devon with no obvious connection - Bideford - Ashburton - Barnstaple - Crediton - Plymouth - Ilfracombe. A group in Suffolk. A group in Wales which may have originated from Suffolk, others in Wales came from Bideford in Devon. Similar name like Boynes also in North East are more likely to be from Ireland and Scotland. Descendants of the Cornish family who retained the Boyens spelling moved to London via Devon in the 1800's and some of their descendants are to be found in England, Australia and New Zealand. Some Boyns in Australia are linked to the Boyns from Wales however are descendants of a female Boyns marriage to Sullivan. Some Boyns in South Africa and Australia adopted the name having had some link to the family in the past. 


I have a record of all births death and marriage for Boyns - Boyens and Boynes that appear in the BMD records. I have also gathered a lot of census info and general records which at the moment are in my own word documents. Please contact me if you have any query and I would be delighted to share information.


I have a DNA project on the ftdna website see The aim is to see is to see if any of the quite distinct groups in Cornwall, Devon, Suffolk, London, Wales and the North East are connected and also to find the roots of each group. Please have a look at the Project page. I would be delighted to hear from anyone who is testing their DNA and would like to compare the results with those within the project.