NOSWORTHY (NORSWORTHY), Edward II (1637-1701), of Ince Castle, Cornw.

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



Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

bap. 5 Dec. 1637, 3rd but 1st surv. s. of Edward Nosworthy I. educ. Exeter, Oxf. 1659; I. Temple 1661, called 1668. m. (1) lic. 29 July 1665, Honora, da. of John Maynard I of Gunnersbury, Mdx., s.p.; (2) settlement 5 May 1679, Anne, da. of William Jennens I of Plymouth, Devon, 2da. suc. fa. 1686.1

Offices Held

J.p. Cornw. 1675-80, June 1688-9; alderman, St. Ives by 1677-85, mayor 1677-8; commr. for assessment, Cornw. 1677-80, dep. lt. July-Oct. 1688.2

Gent. of the privy chamber to James II 1688-98.3


Nosworthy, a lawyer himself, married the daughter of one of the leaders of his profession, and together they drew his father into two ruinously expensive lawsuits. As a result it is probable that by 1679 all the family property had passed into Maynard’s hands. Nevertheless, Nosworthy’s interest at St. Ives, derived originally from his father’s tenure of the fish tithes, secured his return for all three Exclusion Parliaments. ‘The hottest of the Cornish Whigs’, and a member of the Green Ribbon Club, he was classed as ‘honest’ by Shaftesbury and voted for the first exclusion bill; but no committee appointments can be definitely ascribed to him. On 7 Dec. 1680 he was given leave, and he was absent at a call of the House on 7 Jan. 1681. Nevertheless he joined the Cornish syndicate for victualling Tangier. Though he was removed from the commission of the peace and his house searched for arms, his control of the St. Ives corporation was considered impregnable without a new charter. The municipal elections were strictly controlled, wrote the collector of customs, ‘lest, if a Parliament should be called, we should put Nosworthy by, and elect one of a more loyal family, or, as they term it, a courtier’. At the mayoral election of 1683 ‘our good patriot ... was welcomed with an extraordinary ringing of bells. ... His party sing his praises, and affirm that no Protestant or good Christian will ever be against him’.4

After the conviction of Fitzharris, whom Maynard had defended, Nosworthy rashly expressed the wish, somewhere on the western circuit, that the judges should be hanged. He was brought to trial for this offence in 1684, but acquitted on a technicality. Under the new charter Nosworthy and his friends were ejected from the St. Ives corporation, and he is unlikely to have stood in 1685. Final decisions were given in his favour in both his lawsuits by Lord Chancellor Jeffreys, but the legal expenses had ruined him, and he became one of James II’s leading Whig collaborators, one of the dissenters restored to the commission of the peace and the militia in 1688, and most active in packing west country corporations with Roman Catholics and dissenters. On 28 Sept. the Earl of Bath, the former government electoral manager in Cornwall, reported to Sunderland his fears of

the consequences of the late impudent management of affairs in these parts by Mr Nosworthy and other of the regulators here. ... Scarce a corporation knows its own magistrates; some of the old ones displaced by mistakes and misnomers, most of the new unduly chosen by reason of their ignorance of the constitutions of the several charters.

Nosworthy followed James into exile as a member of his Household, and was active as a Jacobite agent between England and St. Germains in 1695-6. John Macky, an English government spy, reported on 31 Aug 1700 that Nosworthy

went to France with King James, and hath ever since been a great man with him, and indeed esteemed one of the best heads about him; he was always a great man with Melfort [James’s principal secretary of state] and stuck close to his party to the last, but my Lord Middleton [Charles Middleton] and others having the better of that party at St. Germains they have thrown him out, and for that reason he hath left Paris with a design to come to England if he can.

He died at Dunkirk on 31 Aug. 1701, having reputedly become a Roman Catholic before his death.5


Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Truro Reg. (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc.), i. 287; Mar. Lic. (Index Lib. lxvi), 13; PCC 77 Dyke; C6/60/69.
  • 2. J. H. Matthews, Hist. St. Ives, 252; CSP Dom. 1683-4, pp. 78, 79; 1687-9, p. 241.
  • 3. Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 199; Stuart (Windsor) mss.
  • 4. Hist. Jnl. iii. 69; PCC 77 Dyke; Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 148-9; CSP Dom. 1683-4, p. 78; Gilbert, Paroch. Hist. Cornw. ii. 70-71; R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, pp. 190, 205, 435, 447.
  • 5. Luttrell, i. 308, 320; iii. 442; R. Inst. Cornw. Glubb mss; HMC 7th Rep. 449; North, Lives, i. 84; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 286; Hist. Jnl. iii. 69; HMC Buccleuch, ii. 412; HMC Downshire, i. 464; HMC Bath, iii. 398; Boase and Courtney, Bibl. Cornub. 400.