CORNWALLIS, James (1778-1852).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



30 Oct. 1799 - 1806
12 Jan. 1807 - 1807

Family and Education

b. 20 Sept. 1778, o.s. of Rt. Rev. James Cornwallis, bp. of Lichfield and Coventry (afterwards 4th Earl Cornwallis), by Catherine, da. of Galfridus Mann of Egerton, Kent. educ. Eton 1789; St. John’s, Camb. 1798. m. (1) 18 Dec. 1804, Maria Isabella (d. 16 Jan. 1823), da. of Francis Dickins* of Woolaston House, Northants., 3s. d.v.p. 1da.; (2) 22 Jan. 1829, Laura (d. 3 Aug. 1840) da. of William Hayes, s.p.; (3) 4 Aug. 1842, Julia, da. of Thomas Bacon of Redlands, Berks., 1da. suc. mat. uncle Sir Horatio Mann*, 2nd Bt., to Linton, Kent 1814 and took name of Mann 9 Apr. 1814; fa. as 5th Earl Cornwallis 20 Jan. 1824.

Offices Held


As soon as he came of age Cornwallis was returned by his uncle the 1st Marquess Cornwallis for the family borough of Eye. His colleague was another uncle, Adm. William Cornwallis. The marquess was then lord lieutenant of Ireland and Cornwallis was expected to support Pitt’s administration. With reference to some minor Irish sinecure he had bestowed on his nephew, Cornwallis wrote to the bishop his father:

I rather think that it would be better that James should not keep the [Dublin Castle] tower place, as the name of it is not creditable. In that event I should make it an efficient office, confined to the salary, and put the public house to the account of government, either to be put down or regulated according to circumstances.

The marquess thought it particularly fitting that his nephew should be called upon to move the address at the first meeting of the Imperial Parliament, but he was mistaken in that Cornwallis was invited to second it, not move it. He did so, 2 Feb. 1801. The marquess received ‘a most favourable account of James’s performance’ and congratulated his father on ‘so promising a son’. George Rose had assured the viceroy that ‘his speech was an extraordinarily good one, framed with great judgment and a full knowledge of the whole subject, and uncommonly well delivered’. Pitt assured the King he spoke ‘with great ability’.1 On 3 Mar. 1802 he spoke again, at more length, in support of Addington’s ministry on their naval arrangements. This time, no doubt, his uncle the admiral informed him.

After this, nothing: except that Cornwallis was listed a supporter of Pitt’s second ministry in September 1804 and July 1805. His uncle the marquess, disappointing him on some request in September 1804, referred vaguely to ‘building castles’.2 His uncle the admiral was expected to retire at the dissolution of 1806, but it was he who did so in favour of the 2nd Marquess’s brother-in-law. Two months later, on the admiral’s retirement, he resumed his seat, but was an unobtrusive Member until the dissolution. When the Portland ministry required his kinsman Mark Singleton to be in Parliament or resign his office, Cornwallis then made way for him.3 He did not seek to re-enter the House, though after succeeding his father to the earldom of Cornwallis he became an active member of the Lords and one of liberal opinions. He died 21 May 1852.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: Winifred Stokes


  • 1. Kent AO, Cornwallis, mss C3, Mq. Cornwallis to bp. of Lichfield, 17 June 1799, 8 Feb., 22 Dec. 1800, 7 Feb. 1801; Rose to Cornwallis, 5 Feb. 1800 [recte 1801]; Geo. III Corresp. iii. 2339.
  • 2. Cornwallis mss C4, Cornwallis to bp. of Lichfield, 27 Sept. 1804.
  • 3. Ipswich Jnl. 1 Nov. 1806; HMC Var. vi. 429.