Cornwallis, Charles (d.1629) (DNB00)

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CORNWALLIS, Sir CHARLES (d. 1629), courtier and diplomatist, second son of Sir Thomas Cornwallis [q. v.], controller of Queen Mary's household, who had been imprisoned by Elizabeth in 1570, was probably born at his father's house of Brome Hall, Suffolk. Nothing is known of him till 11 July 1603, when he was knighted. Early in 1605 he was sent as resident ambassador to Spain. He was from the first very active in attempting to protect English merchants from the persecution of the Inquisition, and endeavoured in vain to impress the home government with the necessity of serving English commercial interests. He was recalled in September 1609, and his secretary, Francis Cottington, took his place at Madrid. In 1610 he became treasurer of the household of Henry, prince of Wales, resisted the proposal to marry the prince to a daughter of the Duke of Savoy, and attended his master through his fatal illness of 1612. He was a candidate for the post of master of the wards in the same year; was one of four commissioners sent to Ireland on 11 Sept. 1613 to investigate Irish grievances, and reported that Ireland had no very substantial ground for complaint. In 1614 Cornwallis was suspected of fanning the parliamentary opposition to the king. One Hoskins, who had made himself conspicuous in the House of Commons by his denunciation of Scotchmen and Scotch institutions, declared when arrested that he was Cornwallis's agent. Cornwallis disclaimed all knowledge of Hoskins, but admitted that he had procured the election of another member of parliament, and had supplied him with notes for a speech against recusants and Scotchmen. The privy council placed Cornwallis under arrest in June 1614, and he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for a year. Cornwallis, who was at one time living at Beeston, Suffolk, retired late in life to Harborne, Staffordshire, where he died on 21 Dec. 1629. He was buried in London at St. Giles's-in-the-Fields.

Cornwallis married thrice: (1) Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Farnham of Fincham, Norfolk; (2) Anne or Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Barrow, widow of Ralph Skelton (d. 30 March 1617); (3) Dorothy (d. 29 April 1619), daughter of Richard Vaughan, bishop of London, and widow of John Jegon, bishop of Norwich. Sir William Cornwallis [q. v.] was Sir Charles's son by his first wife, and one of the portraits in the print preceding Sir William's `Essayes' is believed to represent the author's father.

Cornwallis wrote: 'A Discourse of the most illustrious Prince Henry, late Prince of Wales, written an. 1626,' London, 1641 and 1644, 1738 and 1751; republished in 'Somers Tracts' (ii.), and in the 'Harleian Miscellany' (iv.) In Gutch's 'Collectanea Curiosa' are two papers by Cornwallis detailing the negotiations for Prince Henry's marriage with the Spanish infanta and the Savoyard princess. Winwood's 'Memorials' (ii. and iii.) and Sawyer's 'Memorials of Affairs of State,' 1725, include a large number of Cornwallis's official letters from Spain; many of the originals are in the British Museum (Harl. MS. 7007).

[Davy's Athenæ Suffolc. i. 323, in Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 19165; Winwood's Memorials, ii. and iii.; Correspondence of Lady Jane Cornwallis; Lodge's Illustrations, iii. 344; Birch's History of Henry, prince of Wales (1760); Gardiner's Hist. of England, i. and ii.; Spedding's Life of Bacon.]

S. L. L.