Philip Payton

Philip John Payton is a British historian and Emeritus Professor of Cornish and Australian Studies[1] at the University of Exeter and formerly Director of the Institute of Cornish Studies based at Tremough, just outside Penryn, Cornwall.

Birth and education

He was born in 1953 in Sussex. His mother was Cornish, from the Helston area. His father was a merchant seaman, then businessman and academic.[2] Payton spent much of his childhood in Sussex[3] and attended Haywards Heath Grammar School.[4] Active in Mebyon Kernow (the Party for Cornwall) as a teenager, he began his writing career in articles on Cornish history and politics in journals such as New Cornwall and Cornish Nation. He obtained his first degree from the University of Bristol in 1975 and returned to Australia (where he had lived as a child) to read for a doctorate at the University of Adelaide, choosing as his theme the Cornish in Australia, completing this in 1978.[5]

In 1979 he joined the Royal Navy as an officer in the Instructor Branch, training at the Britannia Royal Naval College (Dartmouth) and at sea in HMS Intrepid before being appointed to HMS Fisgard at Torpoint in Cornwall. Subsequently, he served at HMS Cochrane, HMS Collingwood and at the Royal Naval Engineering College at Manadon.[2]

In 1989 was appointed Senior Lecturer in the Department of History and International Affairs at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

Until his retirement from the service, he held the rank of commander in the Royal Naval Reserve in the Royal Naval Reserve and has seen active service when attached to the Army in Bosnia and Croatia in 1993 and more recently aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal in 2003 during the Iraq War.[2][6]

Academic career

In 1990 he gained a second doctorate, from the University of Plymouth, for a study of modern Cornwall from a centre-periphery perspective.[7] He joined the University of Exeter as Director of the Institute of Cornish Studies, then situated at Pool, near Redruth, in 1991 but now at the Tremough Campus. He was promoted Reader in 1995 and Professor in 2000.[8] He is a Fellow of both the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Society of Arts. In 2013 he was elected an Hon Fellow of the prestigious Australian Academy of the Humanities, shortly before stepping down as Director of the Institute of Cornish Studies. He is now Emeritus Professor of Cornish & Australian Studies at the University of Exeter, as well as Professor of History at Flinders University in Australia.

Amongst his many book and articles are Making Moonta: The Invention of Australia's Little Cornwall (2007), A.L. Rowse and Cornwall: A Paradoxical Patriot (2005), and the acclaimed Cornwall – A History, first published in 1996 and updated in 2004, which remains a major modern authoritative history of Cornwall. Other titles include The Cornish Miner in Australia (1984), The Making of Modern Cornwall (1992), and Cornwall Since the War (1993). He also edited the annual book series, Cornish Studies, published by University of Exeter Press, for twenty years, and was editor-in-chief of the Millennium Book for Cornwall Kernow Bys Vyken! – Cornwall Forever!, published by Cornwall Heritage Trust and distributed free to every schoolchild in Cornwall in 2000.

His other research interests in Modern Cornish history include Cornish emigration; ethnicity and territorial politics; and centre-periphery relations.[9]

In 2010, he completed a book on John Betjeman and Cornwall: 'The Celebrated Cornish Nationalist' (University of Exeter Press), and is editing (with Helen Doe and Alston Kennerley) a Maritime History of Cornwall. His most recent book is Regional Australia and the Great War: "The Boys from Old Kio" (University of Exeter Press, 2012), and he is also completing a History of Sussex, to be published in 2012.[10]

Bard of the Cornish Gorseth

Payton was made a Bard of Gorseth Kernow in 1981, taking the Bardic name Car Dyvresow ('Friend of Exiles').

In 2006 Payton's book A.L. Rowse and Cornwall : a paradoxical patriot won the Gorseth's Holyer an Gof trophy for best publication.[11][12]

Personal life

He is married, and has two adult daughters, Brigid and Unity.[2]


Incomplete list

  • Making Moonta: The Invention of Australia's Little Cornwall, Exeter, University of Exeter Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-85989-795-2, paperback, ISBN 978-0-85989-796-9
  • A.L. Rowse and Cornwall : a paradoxical patriot, Exeter : University of Exeter Press, 2005, ISBN 0-85989-744-3, paperback ISBN 978-0-85989-798-3.
  • Cornish carols from Australia / a new edition of "The Christmas Welcome, compiled – with an introduction – by Philip Payton, Trewirgie : Dyllansow Truran, 1984, ISBN 0-907566-92-8
  • The Cornish eclipse 1649–1751, (1999) Notes An illustrated lecture, commissioned by Artys war anow Kernow (Verbal Arts Cornwall) for the Daphne du Maurier Festival of Arts & Literature
  • The Cornish farmer in Australia or, Australian adventure : Cornish colonists and the expansion of Adelaide and the South Australian agricultural frontier , Redruth : Dyllansow Truran, c1987, ISBN 1-85022-029-8
  • The Cornish miner in Australia : (cousin Jack down under), Redruth) : Dyllansow Truran, 1984. ISBN 0-907566-51-0
  • The Cornish overseas, Fowey : Alexander Associates, 1999. ISBN 1-899526-95-1. Revised edition Rev. and updated edition, Fowey : Cornwall Editions, 2005, ISBN 1-904880-04-5
  • Cornwall; Fowey : Alexander Associates, 1996 ISBN 1-899526-60-9. Revised edition Cornwall : a history, Fowey : Cornwall Editions Ltd, 2004, ISBN 1-904880-00-2 (Available online on Google Books).
  • Cornwall for ever! = Kernow bys vyken!, edited by Philip Payton: Cornwall Heritage Trust, 2000.
  • Cornwall Since the War : The Contemporary History of a European Region Edited by Philip Payton, Redruth : Institute of Cornish Studies, Dyllansow Truran, 1993, ISBN 1-85022-073-5
  • Cornwall's history : an introduction, Redruth : Tor Mark Press, 2002, ISBN 0-85025-392-6.
  • Making Moonta: The Invention of 'Australia's Little Cornwall, Exeter, University of Exeter Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-85989-796-9, paperback ISBN 978-0-85989-795-2
  • The making of modern Cornwall : historical experience and the persistence of "difference", Redruth : Dyllansow Truran, c1992, ISBN 1-85022-064-6
  • "Maritime history and the emigration trade: the case of mid-nineteenth-century Cornwall" in History in Focus, 2005: The sea (Full text of article online (Accessed 19 March 2008)).
  • New directions in Celtic studies / edited by Amy Hale and Philip Payton, Exeter : University of Exeter Press, 2000, ISBN 0-85989-622-6
  • Pictorial history of Australia's Little Cornwall, Adelaide : Rigby, 1978, ISBN 0-7270-0604-5
  • "Re-Inventing Celtic Australia: Notions of Celtic Identity From the Colonial Period to the Era of Multi-Culturalism" in Australian Studies Journal, Volume 12, Number 2, Winter 1997.
  • The story of HMS Fisgard, Redruth : Dyllansow Truran, 1983, ISBN 0-907566-56-1
  • Tregantle and Scraesdon : their forts and railway, Redruth : Dyllansow Truran, 1987, ISBN 1-85022-038-7
  • A vision of Cornwall , (foreword by Sir John Trelawny), Alexander Associates, 2002, ISBN 1899526021, OCLC 52762045
  • eds with A. Kennerley and H. Doe, The Maritime History of Cornwall Exeter, University of Exeter Press, 2014, ISBN 978-0-85989-850-8
  • John Betjeman and Cornwall, Exeter, University of Exeter Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-85989-847-8, paperback ISBN 978-0-85989-848-5


  1. Payton is also Vice-President of the British Australian Studies Association
  2. Cornwall Today Vol. 3 No. 1 p. 68: "Interview with Dr. Philip Payton by Alan Murton" (?1991): "Philip Payton was born in Sussex in 1953. Cornish on his mother's side, his family has been rooted in the Constantine-Helston area for generations, although nineteenth-century emigrant relations roamed as far as Mexico, America and South Africa. He has spent most of his life in Cornwall, although as a child he lived for a time in both Australia and Sussex (where he attended Haywards Heath Grammar School). His mother was Hazel Williams (b. Constantine 1923, d. Falmouth 2004), and his father Thomas Payton was a merchant seaman before going on to a distinguished business and academic career. He lives in Falmouth. The Payton family originated in Co. Mayo and Co. Roscommon, moving to England in the 1850s to join the Liverpool-Irish community, though later converting to Protestantism and moving south'. (see F. B. Payton, "Notes on the Ó Peatáins of Donegal, Mayo and Roscommon", in: The Irish Genealogist; Vol.4, No.4, November 1971, pp. 303–07
  3. "A history of Sussex (due in 2012)". Carnegie Publishing. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
  4. Haywards Heath Grammar School is now part of Central Sussex College
  5. Poster for Lecture to the Australian National University June 2006.
  6. Cornwall editions website
  7. Modern Cornwall: The Changing Nature of Peripherality: A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements of the Council For National Academic Awards For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, (1989).
  8. "New Cornish studies professor appointed: 'This is a hugely significant appointment – for the institute, its staff, and for Cornwall'" Western Morning News Tuesday, 1 August 2000.
  9. University of Exeter-Postgraduate Research Degrees website.
  10. Carnegie Publishing website announcement. ISBN 978-1-85936-176-4
  11. "Gorsedd prizes reward publishing prowess". Western Morning News. 11 July 2006.
  12. "Gorseth Kernow Council Awards / Pewasow Consel an Orseth Kernow, 2006" (in English and Cornish). Gorseth Kernow. Archived from the original on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2008.
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