Henry Jenner - Cornish language revivalist

Henry Jenner was born at St Columb in1848. His father was one of the curates to the Rector of St Columb Major. In his early twenties Jenner became a clerk in the Probate Division of the High Court and later obtained a post in the Department of Ancient Manuscripts in the British Museum. By this time, his father had become the rector of a village near Canterbury.

Jenner soon became interested in Celtic languages and in 1875 read a paper on the Manx language to the Philological Society. The next year he produced a paper on the Cornish language.

In 1903 he was made Bard of the Breton Gorsedd and, that same year, he founded the first Cornish language society, Cowethas Kelto-Kemuak. The following year he facilitated Cornwall’s membership of the Celtic Congress. Shortly after this he published his “Handbook of the Cornish Language” and thus began the Cornish Revival. His version of Cornish was based on the form of language used in West Cornwall in the 18th century, although later the language revival favoured mediaeval Cornish.

In 1909 Jenner and his wife retired to Hayle. Three years later he became the librarian of the Morrab Library in Penzance, a post he held until 1927. He died on 1934, having made a great contribution to Cornish heritage.