CORNEWALL, Humphrey (1616-88), of Berrington, Herefs. Barneby House, Ludlow, Salop.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

bap. 14 July 1616, 1st s. of John Cornewall of Berrington by Mary, da. of William Barneby of Hull, Bockleton, Worcs. m. Theophila, da. of William Skinner of Thornton College, Lincs., 5s. 4da. suc. fa. 1645.1

Offices Held

Capt. of ft. (royalist) c.1645-6, Admiralty Regt. 1672-8.

J.p. Herefs. July 1660-d.; commr. for assessment, Herefs. Aug. 1660-80, Salop 1677-80; maj. of militia, Herefs. by 1662-d., commr. for loyal and indigent officers 1662, dep. lt. 1662-d.; member, council in the marches of Wales 1670-d.; commr. for recusants, Herefs. 1675; freeman, Ludlow 1676, alderman 1685-d., mayor 1686-7.2


Cornewall was head of a family descended from an illegitimate son of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, brother of Henry III. Their previous parliamentary experience for marcher constituencies goes back to 1369. Cornewall served under Sir Henry Lingen in the Civil War; he claimed that he originally took up arms to defend himself and his neighbours from plundering Cavaliers. Edward Harley and others of the county committee certified that he had acted under constraint in the attack on Stokesay Castle and in sitting on a royalist grand jury. His fine was set at £222, and he successfully pleaded debt to avoid paying more than £21 16s. to the committee for the advance of money. He was suspected of complicity in Booth’s rising, though his name does not appear in any royalist correspondence during the Interregnum. He was recommended for a knighthood of the Royal Oak at the Restoration, when his income was set down at £6,000 p.a. Indeed, he laid claim to a share in the fund for loyal and indigent officers.3

At the general election of 1661, Cornewall stood for Leominster, three miles from his principal residence, in partnership with Fitzwilliam Coningsby against the Duke of Buckingham’s candidate. Cornewall, assisted by the deputy lieutenants and the militia, was duly elected, but he was unable to carry Coningsby, to whom the returning officer refused the poll because he was a prisoner for debt. Nothing daunted, Cornewall and the other Herefordshire Members proposed that the sub-commissioners of excise for the county should be replaced by Coningsby and his own brother Edward, but even under the lax control of Southampton the Treasury jibbed at this proposal. An unrepentant Cavalier, Cornewall let it be known that he intended to secure Robert Harley I as a former parliamentarian officer if he visited Herefordshire, but Lord Herbert of Raglan (Henry Somerset) dissuaded him. He was appointed to only 31 committees throughout the Cavalier Parliament, none of major importance, and made no speeches. For this inactivity he had various excuses: in 1664 he and Sir Edward Hopton were the only deputy lieutenants on duty in the county, and in the following year he complained that he was ‘hindered from attending the services of this House’ by the suit of a Ludlow attorney, presumably in the court of the marches. His interventions in local affairs continued to be unfortunate; in 1666 his tactless handling of a dispute over hearth-tax in Hereford nearly caused a riot.4

Nevertheless, Cornewall remained in favour with the Court, becoming a member of the council in the marches in 1670, and receiving the first of several payments of royal bounty in 1671. ‘Old Cornewall of the House of Commons’ was given a commission in the Duke of York’s regiment at the age of 56, after the death of Roger Vaughan at Sole Bay, when the Cornewall brothers and Herbert Aubrey became liable for his debts to the crown. Danby granted him an excise pension of £200 p.a., but refused to discharge the debt so long as Cornewall remained in Parliament. Cornewall received the government whip in 1675, and his name appears in the list of officials. He was one of the Herefordshire Members not doubted by Sir Richard Wiseman, and he was noted as ‘doubly vile’ by Shaftesbury. But in 1678 his name does not occur in the list of court supporters drawn up by the Opposition, and he may have ceased to attend after the winter session.5

Cornewall is not known to have contested Leominster in any of the Exclusion Parliaments, and in 1685 he stood down in favour of his son Robert. He became mayor of Ludlow under the new charter of 1685, and gave affirmative answers on the repeal of the Test Act and Penal Laws. He died at Ludlow and was buried on 7 July 1688. News of his death cannot have reached Sunderland immediately for on 13 July he recommended Cornewall as court candidate for Ludlow.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Edward Rowlands


  • 1. C. J. Robinson, Manors and Mansions of Herefs. 118, Salop. Hearth-Tax ed. Pitchford, 164; Foljambe and Reade, House of Cornewall, 87-89, 279.
  • 2. Add. 16178, f. 81; CJ, viii. 376; BL Loan 29/49, accounts of Nicholas Philpott, 1662-8; 29/141, Sir Edward Harley to Robert Harley, 19 June 1691; CSP Dom. 1670, p. 190; 1672, p. 218; 1678, p. 151; 1685, p. 51; Ludlow Ledger Bk. 1648-80, f. 302.
  • 3. SP23/202/758-67; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 1057, List of Officers Claiming (1663), 34
  • 4. BL Loan 29/79, Thos. Harley to Sir Edward Harley, 18 Mar. 1661; CJ, viii. 392, 590-1; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 329-30, 333; HMC Portland, iii. 269; CSP Dom. 1663-4, p. 454; 1666-7, p. 321.
  • 5. Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 757, 1183; iv. 704; v. 1239-40; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxii), 92.
  • 6. T. Wright, Hist. Ludlow, 498; Ludlow Reg. (Salop. Par. Reg. Soc. xiii), 535; Bodl. Carte 130, f. 24.