CORNWALL, Sir John (c.1366-1414), of Kinlet, Salop.
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Family and Education
b.c.1366, s. and h. of Sir Brian Cornwall† of Kinlet by Maud, da. of Fulk, 1st Lord Strange of Blackmere. m. (1) bef. 1390, Joan, da. and h. of Sir William Wasteneys† of Eastham, Worcs. by Alice, da. of Walter Hewet, 2da.; ?(2) bef. 1397, Maud.1 Kntd. by Sept. 1399.
Commr. of inquiry, Salop Dec. 1391 (alienation of lands of Wenlock priory), Apr. 1408 (murder); arrest, Worcs. Nov. 1403, Salop Feb. 1409.
Sheriff, Salop 30 Sept. 1399-24 Nov. 1400, 5 Nov. 1403-18 Jan. 1404, 22 Nov. 1405-5 Nov. 1406.
Constable of Manorbier castle, Pemb. by Sept. 1403.
J.p. Worcs. 18 Jan. 1404-6.
Jt. controller of the musters of the King’s armies, Salop and North Wales Nov. 1404-Jan. 1406.
Keeper of the forests of Morfe and Shirlet, Salop 2 Apr. 1408-Feb. 1413.
Cornwall’s grandfather, Sir Edmund Cornwall (d.1354) of Thonock (Lincolnshire) and Kinlet, was the son of an illegitimate son of Richard, King of the Romans and earl of Cornwall, so he himself could claim descent from King John. His father’s eldest brother, Sir Edmund†, died without issue, and the bulk of the family estates (with the exception of Thonock which passed to another brother and his descendants) reverted to Sir Brian and then, at his death on 5 May 1391, to John himself. Cornwall thus inherited the manors of Asthall and Idbury in Oxfordshire, Ashton in Herefordshire, Kinlet, a moiety of the vill of Worthen and part of Caus Forest in Shropshire and other properties in the marches. He had already agreed, however, that his mother should keep two-thirds of Ashton for life, over and above her dower portion. Cornwall’s marriage to Joan Wasteneys brought him Eastham and other property in Worcestershire.2
Cornwall’s career, especially in its earlier stages, is difficult to disentangle from that of his more famous namesake the future Lord Fanhope. It was our Member, however, who was retained to serve John of Gaunt in peace and war, by an indenture dated at Bordeaux on 12 Mar. 1395. He was to receive an annuity of 20 marks until he was made a knight, and thereafter one of £20. At that time he was an esquire in the duke’s household. Which of the two Cornwalls served in Ireland in 1397 as a member of the entourage of Roger Mortimer, earl of March, the King’s lieutenant, is uncertain, but it could have been either, for Cornwall of Kinlet was a tenant of the earl’s at Kinlet and Ashton, and his namesake certainly went to Ireland on royal service in the following year and again, on Richard II’s last expedition, in 1399. Both men soon found favour with Henry IV. Our John Cornwall was knighted by September 1399 when, on the very first day of the reign, he was appointed sheriff of Shropshire, and it was as such that he made the electoral returns to the Parliament which confirmed Henry’s accession. In the following February the King endorsed his annuity charged on the duchy of Lancaster. Two years later Cornwall was alleged to have illegally seized cattle on the manor of ‘Withiford’ (Shropshire), and when the case was referred by the common pleas to the justices of assize the plaintiffs challenged the array of an earlier panel of jurors on the ground that the sheriff, Cornwall’s friend John Darras*, had chosen them on the defendant’s nomination. In October 1402, during his first Parliament, Cornwall made allegations that one Maud Knyton was a spy in the pay of Owen Glendower, but she was released from custody when his suspicions proved unfounded. Cornwall’s zeal against the rebellious Welsh was better directed into military action: in September 1403 he was ordered to garrison Manorbier castle and hold it against Glendower’s forces, and in November 1404 he and John Burley I* were given formal instructions in the Parliament at Coventry to keep counter-rolls of the armies mustered to go to North Wales on the King’s wages and to inform the King and Council regularly as to their strength and numbers. The two took special oaths of fealty to Henry IV before the abbot of Lilleshall, and in the course of the next 14 months they and Thomas Young I* were kept busy supervising the musters of the forces commanded by the prince of Wales and the earl of Arundel. In June 1406 Sir John Cornwall ‘of Shropshire’ was described as a ‘King’s knight’. As sheriff of Shropshire (for his third term) he had held the parliamentary elections earlier that year, and he himself was returned again for the shire in 1407. In the following year his services in the marches were rewarded with the grant for life of the keepership of Morfe and Shirlet, a post left vacant by the suicide of his friend John Darras. Cornwall was to relinquish the office before time, however, following complaints made in 1413 that as steward of Morfe he had prevented the dean of the free chapel of Bridgnorth from enjoying rights of common and other franchises. More serious allegations against him were still to come: that April he was required to keep the peace, under a pain of £500; and in the summer of 1414, when the King’s bench held sessions at Shrewsbury, he was indicted for harbouring Henry Cornwall, esquire (perhaps an illegitimate son) after he had killed one Ellis Sharpe during sessions of Sir John’s own court at Kinlet.3
Cornwall did not survive to stand trial. He died on 3 July 1414, leaving as his heir his only surviving daughter, Elizabeth, wife of (Sir) William Lichfield†. The Cornwall estates passed eventually to his great-grand daughter, Margaret (daughter of