"A genealogist is someone who traces your family back as far as your money will go" - Anonymous


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Thanks to

Frank Perrycoste

photo of cover of book named Pedigrees Of PolperroFrank Perrycoste became known as the 'Polperro Fingerprint Man' due to the work he carried out in the study of eugenics and heredity. He was also an author of a number of books reflecting his agnostic views.

He was born in Tottenham on July18 1865, the son of Samuel Coste. He later added the name of Perry, reflecting his mother's maiden name. He obtained a degree from London University after studying Mental and Moral Science. In 1897 he completed his first book called Rhythm Of The Pulses. The following year he married an artist, Maud Hastings. Maud was attracted to Polperro, a Cornish fishing village, for her work and they decided to move there and build a house.

Frank continued to write and published a 3 volume work on the The Influence of Religion On Morals. Later he wrote the Influence of Religion Upon Truthfulness.

He was an acquaintance of Sir Francis Galton, the scientist who pioneered the study of finger prints. In 1903 he wrote to Galton offering to fingerprint the entire population of Polperro to provide evidence as to whether or not fingerprints are an inherited characteristic. This would in turn allow fingerprints to be used to determine family relationships, even of different generations.
Not surprisingly, Galton readily accepted the offer. In order to assist the research Perrycoste compiled pedigrees of the Polperro population, studying parish registers and tombstones as well as quizzing the local population. This work, a wonderful source of information for genealogists in that area, is now held in the library of the College Of Arms.

By the end of the summer of 1903, 865 sets of prints had been supplied to Galton who had decided this was sufficient for provisional results. The results proved the relationship link to be 'unproven' but it did throw up some interesting phenomena. For example, the people of Polperro had a much greater frequency of arches than the general population and that 2 of the inhabitants, although unrelated, both showed a similar but very rare complex pattern.

Perrycoste printed all his pedigree work in the publication 'Pedigrees Of Polperro'. He died in 1929 in Liskeard.