CORNWALLIS, Charles I (c.1619-75), of High Holborn, Mdx. and Rock, Worcs.

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



20 Jan. 1662 - 28 Aug. 1675

Family and Education

b. c.1619, 3rd s. of Sir Charles Cornwallis (d.1629) of Beeston St. Andrew, Norf. and Harborne, Staffs., being o.s. by 3rd w. Dorothy, da. of Richard Vaughan, bp. of London, wid. of John Jegon, bp. of Norwich; half-bro. of Sir William Cornwallis. m. lic. 20 June 1640, aged 21, Edith, da. of John Newce of Rock, and coh. to her bro. John, 1s. 2da.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Worcs. 1648-52, 1657, 1665-73, Mdx. and Suff. 1663-73, Westminster 1665-73, militia, Worcs. 1648, Mar. 1660, j.p. 1648-53; collector of customs, London aft. 1661-9; commr. for oyer and terminer, Norfolk circuit 1665, recusants, Suff. 1675.2

Gent. of privy chamber June 1660-d.3


Cornwallis was the son of a Jacobean courtier and diplomat, and the first cousin of Sir Frederick Cornwallis. He acquired a small estate in Worcestershire by marriage, but lived chiefly in London. Although both sides of the family were royalist in the Civil War he was appointed to the county committee in 1648 and held local office under the Commonwealth. At the Restoration he was given a post at Court and petitioned jointly with Sir Henry Bennet for the office of postmaster-general. In this he was unsuccessful, but he was given a post in the customs and granted £2,000 from secret service.4

Cornwallis was returned on the family interest for Eye at a by-election in 1662. A moderately active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he was appointed to 55 committees, of which 25 were for estate bills. Although without formal legal qualifications, he seems to have been in demand as a trustee, and his chief motive for election was probably to forward the estate bill of John Coplestone, the Cromwellian sheriff of Devon. On 6 Feb. he was added to the committee with three other Suffolk Members, and the bill was reported by (Sir) Robert Brooke nine days later. But Coplestone’s part in the suppression of Penruddock’s rising must have left him with many enemies, and on third reading it was defeated by seven votes in a thin House. It was reintroduced with a slight variation of title in April, and passed without a division. Cornwallis was instructed to carry it to the Lords, where it was refused a third reading. In the next session it was first introduced in the Upper House and Cornwallis, together with Sir Francis Vincent and Thomas Waldegrave, was named as a trustee. It was sent down to the Commons on 2 May 1663, but finally rejected on third reading by 77 votes to 38. Two months later Cornwallis, together with (Sir) Thomas Fanshawe and (Sir) Ralph Bankes, successfully claimed privilege against subpoenas issued against them by the Papist Sir George Wakeman, later physician to the Queen. A more awkward responsibility was laid on him as security for an £8,000 mortgage obtained by Sir Kenelm Digby, another notable Roman Catholic, who died in Paris in 1665, and made him executor. In this capacity he conveyed the Leicestershire and Rutland estates to the creditors, much to the indignation of the heir. From October 1667 to his death Cornwallis was regularly named to the committee of elections and privileges, though when Digby’s efforts to recover the property reached their climax in 1670, he relied principally on evasion. However, on 25 Feb. 1671 his privilege was affirmed, and he does not seem to have suffered any material loss. In the same session he was added to the committee to consider a petition concerning the burden of the poor on his parish, St. Giles in the Fields, though he is not known to have served on the vestry. He was not listed among the court party at this time. In the 1674 session he was named to the committees to report on the dispute between Sir Thomas Byde, a fellow privy-chamberman, and the board of green cloth, and to inquire into the condition of Ireland. He died on 28 Aug. 1675 and was buried in his parish church nine days later. The next member of the family to sit was his great-grandson, a Jacobite sympathizer, who represented the Cardigan constituencies from 1722 to 1729.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. Add. 19124, f. 457; Malcolm, Londinium Redivivum, i. 305; Blomefield, Norf. vi. 285; Foster, London Mar. Lic. 18, 333, 1164.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1668-9, p. 353.
  • 3. Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 167.
  • 4. VCH Worcs. iv. 321, 324; R. W. Ketton-Cremer, Norf. in the Civil War, 52; CSP Dom. 1660-1, pp. 445, 559; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 451.
  • 5. CJ, viii. 408, 515; ix. 163, 209; HMC 7th Rep. 168; LJ, xi. 461, 501; HMC Lords, n.s. vi. 346-9; CSP Dom. 1670, p. 374; 1671-2, p. 35; Private Corresp. of Jane, Lady Cornwallis, p. xl.