CORNWALL, Sir Thomas (1472/74-1537), of Burford, Salop.
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Family and Education
b. 1472/74, s. of Sir Edmund Cornwall of Burford by Margaret, da. and coh. of Thomas Horde of Bridgnorth. m. by 1499, Anne, da. of Sir Richard Corbet of Moreton Corbet, 2s. inc. Richard 3da. suc. fa. 8 Dec. 1489. Kntd. 17 June 1497, banneret 1513.1
J.p. Salop 1502-d., Cheshire, Flints., S. Wales 1515, Glos., Herefs., Worcs. 1515-d.; sheriff, Herefs. 1502-3, 1514-15, Salop 1505-6, 1515-16, 1519-20, 1531; commr. subsidy, Salop 1512, 1514, 1515, Worcs. 1523, enclosures Cheshire, Derbys., Lancs., Notts., Salop, Staffs. 1517, amicable grant, Cheshire 1525, tenths of spiritualities, Salop 1535; steward of Elizabeth, Viscountess Lisle’s lands in Salop by 1513; member, council in the marches of Wales by 1521.2
The Cornwalls of Burford were the younger branch of an ancient family which traced its descent from an illegitimate son of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, brother of Henry III. It was possibly their sense of this distinguished ancestry which caused them to style themselves Barons of Burford, although none of their line had ever been summoned to Parliament. They owned extensive property in Devon, Herefordshire, Shropshire and the midlands. In 1505 this substantial patrimony was enlarged by the addition of lands in Herefordshire inherited by Sir Thomas Cornwall from Isabel, dowager Countess of Devon.3
The 4th Earl of Shrewsbury obtained Cornwall’s wardship and presumably arranged his marriage into the most powerful family in Shropshire, his kinsmen the Corbets. In 1597 Cornwall took part in the defeat of the insurgent Cornishmen at Blackheath and after the battle was knighted by Henry VII at London Bridge. He and Sir Richard Corbet were accused in the Star Chamber of assembling between 2,000 and 3,000 men to ambush and kill Sir Richard Croft as he returned home from the campaign. The outcome of the case is not recorded, but Cornwall’s local prestige does not seem to have been harmed. In 1502 he attended the funeral of Prince Arthur at Worcester cathedral and in the same year he gained his first footing in local administration.4
In 1512 Cornwall went with the 2nd Marquess of Dorset on the disastrous expedition to Fuentarrabia and in the following year he served under Shrewsbury in the more successful campaign in northern France. On these operations he seems to have been closely associated with the lord chamberlain, Charles, Lord Herbert, who on his return to England in 1514 was created Earl of Worcester. The sudden increase in Cornwall’s role in the marches, marked by his appointment in 1515 to the commissions of the peace for south Wales and the marches and for all the border counties, was probably due to Worcester; it was perhaps at this time that Cornwall also became a member of the council in the marches. In 1520 he attended the Field of Cloth of Gold which Worcester helped to devise.