Campaigners have failed to convince the government to include a tick box on the next census allowing people to identify as Cornish.

In a parliamentary debate last week to discuss the planned 2021 census, Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay, and Cherilyn Mackrory, MP for Truro and Falmouth, put the case for the Cornish tick box.

Chloe Smith, minister of state for the constitution and devolution, however rejected the idea, pointing out the census would instead include a write-in box in which people could identify themselves as Cornish.

Mrs Mackrory said that six years ago the Cornish were recognised as a national minority by the government under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM), which stated that the Cornish would have the same status as the Welsh, Scottish and Irish. She added that all 123 members of Cornwall Council had voted in favour of Cornish being a tick box option on the census.

The Conservative MP commented: “It would be a huge regret that the Cornish would be the only national minority that would not have a tick box.”

Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams also spoke in favour of a tick box for the Cornish on the 2021 census. He said: “It will not only allow them to feel represented, but will give us a correct result for the Cornish identity in 2021.”

In 2001, when the census did not include a Welsh tick box option, 14 per cent of people in Wales identified as Welsh. In 2011, when there was a tick box, the percentage increased to 67 per cent.

Census records are an important resource for genealogists because they provide an individual’s approximate age, place of birth, occupation, address and information about with whom they were living. This knowledge can then be used to build up a family tree and track a family forwards or backwards.