Wanted for Mexico
When work couldn’t be found at Cornish mines in the 1800s, many miners travelled abroad to make money. Adverts in the local papers asked for miners, engineers and accountants to work in the Mexican silver mines at Real del Monte and its surrounding areas.
A new community
It took over a year to cross the swamps and mountains by foot and mule to get to Real del Monte. John Rule from Camborne led the first Cornish communities to create the new mining settlement there. He also helped the Cornish migrants to understand their new surroundings and get on with the Mexicans with whom they had to work. Mexico was still a very new country in the 1830s, and they had to live and work under the threat of civil war and diseases such as cholera.
Cousin Jack’s wisdom
The mines at Real del Monte struggled to make a profit and many Cornish miners (who were nicknamed Cousin Jacks) left Mexico for California during the 1849 Gold Rush. By the 1860s, the Cornish workers finally persuaded mine owners to mine new deposits of silver in neighbouring Pachuca rather than the old ones at Real del Monte. They were incredibly successful and produced enough silver for 20 million dollars of coins in 1874. A new Cornish-Mexican settlement grew around Pachuca as a result.
Paste and football
The Cornish introduced both pasties and football to Mexico in the late 1800s. Today paste (Spanish for pasty) are one of Mexico’s favourite foods, although they have different spicy fillings like black bean, shredded chicken, sausage and pineapple, all flavoured with chillies. In 2007, the Mexican Embassy in the UK named the silver mining settlements of Pachuca and Real del Monte “Little Cornwall”. Camborne was officially twinned with Pachuca and Redruth was twinned with Real del Monte.
How do you think the Cornish adapted to the new landscape, climate and food of Mexico? What would be your perfect filling for a Mexican paste or Cornish pasty?
Did you know?
Records from Real del Monte show the mixed heritage of Cornish descendants in Mexico with a mix of Spanish first names and Cornish surnames, such as Juan Boskean, Carlos Grose and Emillermo Tregoning.
The Cornish women who migrated abroad were known as Cousin Jennys. They were probably the ones who introduced the pasty to the local Mexican communities and showed them how to make it.