CORNWALLIS, Sir Frederick, 1st Bt. (1611-62), of Culford, Suff.

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



Apr. 1640
Nov. 1640 - 23 Sept. 1642
29 Oct. 1660

Family and Education

b. 14 Mar. 1611, 3rd but o. surv. s. of Sir William Cornwallis of Brome Hall, Suff. being o.s. by 2nd w. Jane, da. of Hercules Mewtas of West Ham, Essex. educ.privately. m. (1) c.1630, Elizabeth (d.1644), da. of Sir John Ashburnham of Ashburnham, Suss., 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 1da.; (2) 1646 (with £2,000), Elizabeth, da. of Sir Henry Crofts of Little Saxham, Suff., 1da. suc. fa. 1611; cr. Bt. 4 May 1627, kntd. 1 Dec. 1630; suc. half-bro. Nicholas Bacon at Culford 1660; cr. Baron Cornwallis of Eye 20 Apr. 1661.1

Offices Held

Gent. usher of the privy chamber 1633-45; treas. of the Household to Charles II (as Prince of Wales) 1645, (as King) 1649, May 1660-d.; PC 4 July 1660-d.2

Steward, honour of Eye 1639-49, May 1660-d.; freeman, Ipswich June 1660; j.p. Suff. July 1660-d., Mdx. Aug. 1660-d.; commr. for oyer and terminer, Norfolk circuit July 1660, assessment, Suff. Aug. 1660-1, sewers, Westminster Aug. 1660; dep. lt. Suff. c. Aug. 1660-d.3

Lt. of horse 1639-40.4


Cornwallis was descended from a London merchant whose son married a Suffolk heiress in the reign of Richard II. One of the family first represented the county in 1439. Cornwallis himself, a courtier like his father and grandfather before him, sat for Eye in both the Short and Long Parliaments. A Straffordian, he crossed over to Holland in 1642 and was disabled from sitting for recruiting mercenaries for the King. He held no commission himself, though he is said to have been in action at Cropredy Bridge. He accompanied the Prince of Wales into the west country, and was in Exeter when it surrendered. Most of the Cornwallis estate was out in jointure to his mother, and the remainder, valued at £800 p.a., had been mortgaged to her. His fine was set at one year’s income, but he was ‘obliged by the violence of his creditors to withdraw himself into parts beyond the seas’. He was with Charles II in Jersey in 1649, but had returned to England by 1655, when he was arrested for assisting in the escape of royalist agents. His financial position was transformed when his mother died in 1659, and in addition to her jointure he inherited the Culford estate a few months later.5

Under the Long Parliament ordinance against the candidature of Cavaliers, Cornwallis was ineligible at the general election of 1660, though the family borough had no scruples about electing his son. At the Restoration he was confirmed as treasurer of the Household, and recommended as court candidate for a by-election at Haverfordwest. He does not seem to have gone to the poll there, but he was given the freedom of Ipswich, and returned for the borough a few months later. A court supporter, he was appointed to no committees in the Convention; but on the day of its dissolution he urged the Commons to agree with the Lords that they should be assessed for the poll-tax by their peers. He did not stand again, being raised to the peerage in the coronation honours. But he did not enjoy his title long; he died of apoplexy on 7 Jan. 1662, and was buried at Brome. He was described as

a man of so cheerful a spirit, that no sorrow came near his heart, and of so resolved a mind, that no fear came into his thoughts; so perfect a master of courtly and becoming raillery, that he could do more with one word in jest than others could do with whole harangues in earnest; a well-spoken man, competently seen in modern languages, of a comely and goodly personage.

But Samuel Pepys, who was less well-disposed towards Cavaliers, dismissed him as ‘a bold, profane-talking man’.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Paula Watson


  • 1. Reg. St. Botolph Bishopsgate, i. 179; Private Corresp. of Jane, Lady Cornwallis, xxviii, xxxv, xliii; HMC Portland, iii. 150; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 656; Copinger, Suff. Manors, i. 285; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, i. 306.
  • 2. Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 134; LC3/1; Cal. Comm. Comp. 1389.
  • 3. Cornwallis Corresp. 293; East Anglian, vi. 316; C181/7/37.
  • 4. CSP Dom. Add. 1625-49, p. 607.
  • 5. Copinger, iii. 238; HMC 10th Rep. VI, 89-92; SP23/204/591-9; Cal. Cl. SP, i. 397, 403; iii. 79; HMC Ormonde, n.s. i. 240-1; S. E. Hoskins, Chas. II in the Channel Is. ii. 315; Thurloe, iii. 339; CSP Dom. 1655, pp. 204, 588; 1657-8, p. 6.
  • 6. NLW, Haverfordwest corp. mss 388; Old Parl. Hist. xxiii. 79; HMC 5th Rep. 159; D. Lloyd, Mems. (1668), 663; Pepys Diary, 16 Jan. 1662.