The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 2,555 black Americans with Cornish as their last name. That represented 32% of the total of 8,050 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Cornish.
We end with a review of early records of black military service in the United States.
After The Civil War
The 1870 census was the first survey after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1850 and 1860, only free African Americans were recorded in the census. The many enslaved were omitted.
From 1870 onwards, all black Americans were included.
744 people named Cornish were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 90 as mixed.
There was a total of 2,326 people with the name.
Cornish In The 1900 And 1940 Census
The mixed category was dropped from the census in 1900, so we just need to look at the black numbers this time.
The 1900 census recorded 1,262 people with the last name Cornish as black within a total of 3,649 that year.
By the way, the mixed category returned in the 1910 and 1920 censuses. It was dropped again in 1930, but replaced with extra categories for colored and non-white in a way that seems confusing now.
This changed again in 1940 and we can simply focus on one black category.
The 1940 census recorded 1,196 people named Cornish as black within a total of 4,621.
Historic Black Figures With The Cornish Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Cornish as their last name.
- Born: About 1830
- From: Cambridge, Maryland
- Died: Unknown
The Underground Railroad was a network of safe houses and travel routes organized by many church and community leaders, civil rights activists, and abolitionists.
Thousands of enslaved people were helped to escape from the South.
Aaron Cornish escaped from slavery in Cambridge, Maryland with his wife Daphne and six of their children. It was highly unusual for entire families to be able to escape together.
They joined a larger group of fugitives traveling with the help of the Underground Railroad.
You can read about their daring escape in our full article here.
- Born: 1795
- From: Sussex County, Delaware
- Died: 1858
Samuel Cornish was journalist, abolitionist, and Presbyterian minister who played a crucial role in the establishment of the Black press in the United States.
He was ordained as a minister in 18222 in New York.
Cornish co-founded Freedom’s Journal in 1827. This was one of the first black-owned and operated newspapers in the country.
As a co-editor with John Russwurm, he advocated for the abolition of slavery and promoted education amongst the African American community.
He left the newspaper after a disagreement with Russwurm, but continued to be an influential figure.
Samuel Cornish served as the editor of The Colored American and was an active member of various anti-slavery societies.
In honor of his towering contribution, the National Association Of Black Journalists made him a Legendary Inductee in their Hall Of Fame.
Here are just a few other notable black journalists in the Hall Of Fame:
Cornish In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Cornish surname from several different military services.
Five regiments for black soldiers were formed during the Civil War. They were known as the Buffalo Soldiers.
Their records are part of the national archive of military monthly returns. The information includes the year and place of birth, where they enlisted, their occupation, and their height.
One of the earliest military entries for Cornish was in August 1867. Isaac J Cornish was a Recruit in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1867 at Fort Riley, Kansas, and Indianapolis.
One of the later entries was in March 1905. Harry Cornish was a Private in the Ninth Cavalry.
If you are researching military ancestors, there is a free index of these records on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
You have to create an account on either website, but you do not need to pay for the Buffalo Soldiers archive.
Black Civil War Sailors
The National Parks Service has a free archive of African American sailors during the Civil War.
The information includes their age, height, rank, occupation, and where and when they enlisted. It also includes every ship that they served on.
You can search the database on the National Parks website.
John H. Cornish
One of the earliest entries for Cornish was for John H. Cornish from Philadephia. He enlisted in November 1861 at Philadelphia when he was aged 17.
The record shows that John H. was assigned on October 1863 to the ship Connecticut.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Waiter. His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.