My 5th great grandfather Richard Boyens (sometimes spelled Boyns) was a Cornish mining captain who lived from 1750 to 1838.

I am confident that he is my direct ancestor from this link which refers to him dying in the house of my 4th great grandfather:

“DEATHS … On Saturday, the 24th [Feb 1838], at the house of his son-in-law, Mr. Joseph Billin, mercer and draper, Helston, Capt. Richard Boyens, formerly of St. Just in Penwith, aged 88 years, for 40 of which he held the situation of toller to the Duke of Leeds. Throughout a long life, he bore a character pre-eminently distinguished for uprightness and integrity.”

I have been trying to find out more about him and finding various references to what appears to be another Captain Richard Boyens (who died in 1830), as well as Captains Henry and Nicholas Boyens too. The Richard Boyens in whom I am primarily interested had sons by the names of Richard, Nicholas, Henry and John so I am thinking that this nuclear family may have included four mining captains.

I was thinking that there might be a central index to Cornish Mining Captains somewhere, and was almost surprised when I did not turn one up in my searches today.

Although, I have still have many disparate leads to pursue on what appears to be the Boyens family of Cornish Mining Captains, I am wondering whether anyone is aware of an existing study or index that could provide me with something more direct?

Although Richard Boyens (senior) died at Helston he was, from what I can tell, a Mining Captain at St Just in Penwith:

  • On 30 Dec 1816 as a Mine Agent of 13 months at Huel Olds Mine, St Just in Penwith he signed a Royal Geological Society of Cornwall Volume 1 paper 9 :

IX.-On the Accidents which occur in the Mines of Cornwall, in consequence of the premature explosion of Gunpowder in blasting Rocks, and on the methods to be adopted for preventing it, by the introduction of a Safety Bar, and an instrument termed the Shifting Cartridge.

2 Answers 2


The National Archives' research guide on Mines and Mining says that the Archives does not hold personnel records, and directs the researcher to local record offices. The Cornwall Record Office has a searchable catalog plus listings at A2A (this link may be going away soon as they transition to the new catalog system). Other collections can be found at the Cornwall Council website. But most of these sites are more relevant to finding general works.

The searchable indexes I have found so far:

There is a passing reference to Helston in an article Mining in Cornwall at the State Library of South Australia where they say 'South Crofty' near Helston was one of the last mines to close. I wonder if it might be more productive to search for clues about what areas the Boyens may have mined in, and then search for local sources about those areas. If any of the brothers had engineering degrees, you might be able to find more information about them at the individual schools.

I suspect a search of these indexes may come up empty, but I'm posting this answer in case the links are helpful to others. There are many sites about Cornish miners outside of Cornwall, but for Cornwall itself, my quick search this morning turned up more sites with general information and photo references than searchable name indexes.

Other resources:

The Cornish Mining World Heritage Site has a sub-page Dig Further listing research facilities in Cornwall and Devon. One of the resources listed there is the Cornish Studies Library which has Research Guides and a section on Mining in their Designated Collections. There is a summary of the types of records found at the Cornwall Record Office on their page Business and Industries: Mining.

They recommend following these three links:

The page on Mining under Business and Industries says that the CRO does have some mine reports by Mine Captains and agents in their holdings. There is no captain named Boyens in the list given on that page, but all the sections with named people say that their holdings include reports by those named persons, so there may be others. It seems worthwhile to check the catalog from time to time in case new holdings become available.

  • Thanks @JanMurphy - you've given me a number of new leads. Incidentally it was your Roots chat suggestion that the British Newspaper Archive were offering a "month for a pound" that got me looking into which ancestors might feature in a few newspapers - and Richard Boyens seems to fit the bill. I'll try and plug a few more details into my question to try and bring it up to the quality of your answer.
    – PolyGeo
    Jul 19, 2014 at 0:10
  • You're very kind! Strictly speaking, my answer to your question of whether I was aware of an index of Cornish Mining Captains is still 'no'. It's just a verbose 'no'.
    – Jan Murphy
    Jul 19, 2014 at 1:18

You do have the right Richard 1750-1838 for your tree. The Captain Richard that died 1830 was born 1772 St Just. He died 20.1.1830 and it was reported in the paper that he was of Levant Mine. The Richard 1772-1830 started Levant Mine in 1820. There were several Captain Boyns all with the same names Richard/Nicholas/John/Henry

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to G&FH.SE! What are your sources for this information? Do you have an obituary for the Richard who died in 1830? What newspaper did you find it in?
    – Jan Murphy
    Jul 29, 2014 at 15:51

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