Cornwallis, James (DNB00)

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CORNWALLIS, JAMES, fourth Earl Cornwallis (1742–1824), bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, was the third son of Charles, first earl Cornwallis, by Elizabeth, daughter of Charles, viscount Townshend, and the younger brother of Charles, first marquis Cornwallis [q. v.] He was born in Dover Street, Piccadilly, London, on 25 Feb. 1742, and was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated B. A. in June 1763, afterwards being given a fellowship at Merton, from which college he took the M.A. degree in 1769. On ceasing residence at Oxford he entered as a member of the Temple, and intended practising at the bar, but on the advice of his uncle, Frederick Cornwallis, archbishop of Canterbury, he altered his mind and took holy orders. He commenced his career in the church by acting as chaplain to his cousin, Lord Townshend, lord-lieutenant of Ireland, till in 1769 he was presented by his uncle to the living of Ickham, Kent, to which that of the neighbouring parish of Adisham was added in the following year. In this same year (1770) he was made a prebend of Westminster, rector of Newington, Oxford, and then of Wrotham, Kent. On receiving this last appointment he resigned the livings of Ickham and Adisham, but six months later he was for the second time inducted as rector of Ickham, a dispensation having been granted allowing him to hold the rectory of Wrotham conjointly with that of Ickham and the chapel of Staple. In 1773, having in the meantime again resigned the living at Ickham, he became, still by his uncle's patronage, rector of Boughton Malherbe in the same county. From being a prebend of Westminster he was preferred in 1775 to the deanery of Salisbury, while he continued to hold his parochial cures, and at about the same time he received the honorary degree of D.C.L. from his university. In 1781 he was consecrated bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, and then at length retired from his Kentish livings. On the translation of Bishop Douglas of Carlisle to the see of Salisbury in 1791, Cornwallis succeeded him as dean of Windsor, a position which three years later he exchanged for that of dean of Durham.

In August 1823 the second Marquis Cornwallis died, and the marquisate becoming extinct, the earldom reverted to his uncle the bishop, who was now in his eighty-second year. On 20 Jan. 1824 he died at Richmond, Surrey. He had been bishop of Lichfield for nearly fifty-three years, and was buried in his cathedral.

In 1771 he married Catharine, daughter of Galfridus Mann of Newton and Boughton Malherbe, and sister of Sir Horace Mann, by whom he became the father of two daughters and a son James, who succeeded to the title.

He published at intervals five sermons (1777, 1780, 1782, 1788, 1811).

[Add. MS. 19167, fol. 142 (inaccurate in some respects); Gent. Mag. August 1823 and August 1824; Hasted's Kent, ii. 245, 432, and iii. 669, 672; Cat. of Oxford Graduates, p. 152.]

A. V.