CORNWALL, Sir Richard (by 1480-1533), of Berrington, Herefs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1480, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Cornwall of Berrington. 1509, Jane, da. and coh. of Simon Milborne of Tillington, Herefs. and Icomb, Glos., 1s. George 1da. suc. fa. 21 Mar. 1501. Kntd. 1 July 1522.3

Offices Held

Sheriff, Herefs. 1506-7, 1519-20, 1526-7; one of King’s spears by 1510; steward, lordships of Eardisland, Fencote, Mansell Lacy, Orleton and Pembridge, Herefs. June 1510-d., lordships of Clifford and Winforton, Herefs. and Glasbury, Rad. June 1513-d., Hereford in 1526; commr. subsidy, Herefs. 1512, 1514, 1515; esquire of the body by 1513; j.p. Herefs. 1525, 1531-d.4


The Cornwalls of Berrington were the senior branch of the family descended from Richard, Earl of Cornwall. Richard Cornwall had been active in the royal service before his first known Membership of Parliament in 1523. It is not clear in what circumstances he gave a recognizance in January 1512 (as did William Courtenay I) not to go more than two miles from London, an undertaking from which he was released in the following April, but the offence may have been one of those for which he received two pardons in 1513. The first of these was issued at Calais on 18 July, the second at Westminster eight days later, and both covered acts committed before the previous 29 Apr.: it thus appears that Cornwall went to Calais with the army led by the King but that he did not accompany it to Tournai. His continuance in, or restoration to, royal favour is shown by his receipt in 1512-13 of manors in Shropshire and another stewardship.5

Cornwall was present on three leading ceremonial occasions, the banquet held at Greenwich in honour of the French Queen, the Field of Cloth of Gold and the meeting of Henry VIII and Charles V at Gravelines at which he was listed among the knights present, although he was to be knighted only on 1 July 1522 after the capture of Morlaix. The historian Herbert tells how, in the early days of the fighting against France, Cornwall was sent with 400 men to take possession of the town of Rey when it had promised to yield; Fuller, although citing Herbert as his authority, goes much further than Herbert in his praise of Cornwall and claims that the taking of Rey was the ‘only service of remark performed in that expedition’. In Suffolk’s campaign of 1523 Cornwall was marshal of the Vanguard, being paid at a rate of 6s.8d. a day. His prowess was rewarded by advancement at court and grants of land including in April 1524 the manor of Woodmancote and the advowsons of the neighbouring churches of North Cerney and Rendcomb, Gloucestershire, formerly belonging to the 3rd Duke of Buckingham.6

This grant helps to establish the date of a letter which Cornwall wrote to Cromwell on 28 Sept. of an unspecified year. After thanking Cromwell for his kindness while Cornwall was in London ‘in my time of business in the Parliament’, he asked Cromwell to take out his patent as promised and to have his ‘proviso for the same lands’ recorded by Sir Brian Tuke. He also asked the minister to send a man to Sir Richard Monington at Harington, near Burford, to ‘purchase me out the writ for the knight’s expense for the time of the Parliament for if so be that the sheriff of the shire depart out of his office ere the writ be gotten out then shall I tarry for my money this next year’. This letter is valuable in several ways. Not only does it confirm Cornwall’s Membership of the Parliament of 1523 but it provides a late, although not the latest, example of a claim for parliamentary wages by a knight of the shire. Of scarcely less interest is the light which it throws on the adoption of the proviso to which it refers. Among the Acts passed by the Parliament of 1523 was one attainting the dead Duke of Buckingham (14 and 15 Hen. VIII, c.20) and another governing his forfeited lands (c.22). Although the first of these included a series of provisos safeguarding the titles of individual grantees of these lands, the one in favour of Cornwall is not among them; it is the second Act which contains a proviso for the lands in Gloucestershire which were to be granted to him by patent in April 1524. That six weeks after the Parliament had ended Cornwall could be asking to have his proviso recorded by Tuke, clerk of the Parliaments, implies that this was added after the Act had received the royal assent, an arrangement which, although not without precedent, was unusual.7

Cornwall may well have sat in Parliament for Herefordshire before 1523, as the names of the knights of the shire are lost for the first three Parliaments of Henry VIII. When he did so in 1529 he took the senior seat and his fellow-knight was his nephew-by-marriage John Rudhale: doubtless by then Cornwall’s standing at court and in the county not only made him an obvious choice but conferred an advantage on his relative. Neither of them was to remain a Member for long: Rudhale died after completing only one session, Cornwall had completed five by the time of his death on 2 Sept. 1533. He had made his will two weeks before, so that his last illness appears to have been short: he was buried at Eye, near Leominster. He left a son and heir George and one of the feoffees of his lands was (Sir) John Russell I, a Worcestershire neighbour and a fellow-knight in Parliament. His widow survived him unmarried, for over 20 years.8

As in the Parliament of 1523 so in that of 1529 Cornwall’s Membership led to a claim for wages, although on this occasion it was made by his executors, his widow Jane and his brother-in-law John Nanfan. In their petition to Chancellor Audley, which is undated but was made before July 1535, they declared that they had sued out of Chancery a writ to the sheriff of Herefordshire, Sir Edward Croft, for the levy of a sum of £30 16s. due to Cornwall ‘for parcel of his wages’ and that although Croft had made the levy he had not handed over the money. To this complaint Croft first gave the evasive answer that he had not been sheriff in Cornwall’s lifetime, and then, three-and-a-half years later, that the writ could not have been delivered to him. His replies were not the only suspicious part of the affair. The executors’ figure of £30 16s.represented, at a knight of the shire’s rate of 4s. a day, a total of 154 days, and even though, as they made clear, they were claiming only part of what was due to him, it would be difficult to explain how they had arrived at this sum (which cannot be made to correspond with any logical fraction of the 287 days of Cornwall’s Membership) but for an extraneous circumstance. This was that, at about the same time, John Scudamore, who had been Cornwall’s fellow-knight for Herefordshire since the death of John Rudhale, claimed identically the same amount for attending the fifth and sixth sessions and in travelling to and from them. It must have been this intrinsically reasonable demand—the two sessions had together lasted 138 days and Herefordshire could be reckoned as four days’ ride from London—which Cornwall’s executors borrowed for their own claim, despite its irrelevance to a Member who had died between the two sessions in question. Whether the anomaly was detected, and how the case ended, we do not know. It is also uncertain who replaced Cornwall in the House, although it may have been James Baskerville.9

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. J. Edwards


  • 1. SP1/55/67.
  • 2. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s.i.p.m., CIPM Hen. VII , ii. 486. Ld. Liverpool and C. Reade, House of Cornewall, 75, 265; Williams, Herefs. MPs, 36; Vis. Herefs. ed. Weaver, 91.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, i, iv-vi; Statutes, iii. 82, 115, 171.
  • 5. Liverpool and Reade, 75-76; LP Hen. VIII, i; C. G. Cruickshank, Army Royal, 28-29.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, ii-iv; Ld. Herbert, Hen. VIII (1672), 141; Fuller, Worthies, ii. 94; Liverpool and Reade, 76.
  • 7. SP1/55/67 incorrectly dated in LP Hen. VIII, iv; Neale, Commons, 326; Pollard, Hen. VII, ii. 16-17.
  • 8. C1/1293/60; 142/55/33; Pevsner, Herefs. 130.
  • 9. C1/725/65-74; Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 98-99.