Nicholas Boson was a prominent figure in the 17th century known for his efforts in preserving and promoting the Cornish language through his writings.

Early Life and Background

Nicholas Boson was born into a landowning and merchant family based in Newlyn, Cornwall, which was engaged in the pilchard fisheries. Interestingly, his mother prevented neighbours and servants from speaking Cornish to him during his early years. However, he only became fluent in the language later in life when he required it for business interactions with fishermen.

Contribution to Cornish Language and Literature

Nicholas Boson’s contribution to the Cornish language is significant. He penned three substantial texts in Cornish during his lifetime:

  • Nebbaz gerriau dro tho Carnoack (translates to “A Few Words about Cornish”) written between 1675 and 1708.
  • Jowan Chy-an-Horth, py, An try foynt a skyans (translates to “John of Chyannor, or, The three points of wisdom”), published by Edward Lhuyd in 1707, although it was written approximately forty years earlier according to Lhuyd.
  • The Dutchess of Cornwall’s Progress, partially written in English and now known only in fragmentary quotations.

The first two texts are notably the only known surviving Cornish prose texts from the 17th century. These works provide a rare insight into the status of Cornish language during that period, and his writings were aimed at preserving the Cornish language and culture for future generations.

Assistance to Contemporary Scholars

Nicholas Boson also assisted contemporaneous scholars like William Scawen and Edward Lhuyd in their endeavours to record the Cornish language, thereby playing a crucial part in the broader movement of Cornish language revival during the 17th century.

Family and Final Resting Place

Nicholas Boson is buried in Paul churchyard, Cornwall, alongside his son John Boson and cousin Thomas Boson, who were also writers in Cornish, thus indicating a family legacy intertwined with the preservation of Cornish language and literature.