CORNEWALL, Sir Gilbert (1598-1671), of Burford, Salop and Stapleton Castle, Herefs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

bap. 6 June 1598, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Cornewall of Burford, and Anne, da. of Sir Gilbert Lyttelton† of Frankley, Worcs.1 educ. Lincoln Coll. Oxf. 1615, BA 1617.2 m. 16 Jan. 1624 (with £4,000), Elizabeth (bur. 24 Dec. 1671), da. of Sir Thomas Reade of Duns Tew, Oxon. and Barton, Berks., 4s., 8da. (3 d.v.p.).3 kntd. 5 Dec. 1620.4 suc. fa. 1637.5 bur. 5 Oct. 1671.6 sig. Gilberte Cornewalle.

Offices Held

Dep. lt. and capt., militia horse, Salop 1637-42;7 member, Council in the Marches 1639-41, 1662-?d.;8 j.p. Salop and Worcs. 1640-3;9 commr. Poll Tax, Salop 1641, Worcs. 1660, subsidy, Salop 1641-2, array, Salop and Worcs. 1642;10 commr. county cttee. (parl.) Salop 1643,11 assessment, Worcs. 1661.12

Gent. of privy chamber (extraordinary) by 1641.13


The Cornewalls were descended from a bastard son of Henry III’s brother, Richard, earl of Cornwall, and acquired the lordship of Burford, Shropshire by marriage early in the fourteenth century. Sir Brian Cornewall was returned as knight for Shropshire in 1369, and the family, despite their claim to the courtesy title of ‘barons of Burford’, sat in the Commons occasionally thereafter. By 1600 their estates comprised Burford itself, two manors just across the county line in Worcestershire, and Stapleton Castle, Herefordshire. None of these properties lay anywhere near Bishop’s Castle, and Sir Gilbert’s return for the borough in 1621 was almost certainly arranged by the recorder, Sir Henry Townshend*, perhaps with the assistance of the Littletons of Henley, Cornewall’s cousins by marriage, who had provided one of the borough’s MPs in 1614.14

Cornewall was named to the committee for the Sabbath bill (15 Feb.), but made no further mark upon the session until 11 Dec. 1621, during the investigation into the charges John Lepton had been collecting against Sir Edward Coke* with the intention of bringing a suit in Star Chamber. Lepton publicly claimed that he had not sought to pursue Coke out of malice, but Cornewall revealed that Lepton had told him ‘he would and did prosecute this business against Sir Edward Coke because he took him to be a principal cause that his patent was here condemned for a grievance’.15

Cornewall was married in Oxfordshire on 16 Jan. 1624, and thus almost certainly did not stand for re-election at Bishop’s Castle during the same month. His bride brought him a dowry of £4,000, but her father, Sir Thomas Reade, apparently reneged on a promise to pay off Cornewall’s debts. When the couple returned to Burford that autumn, a secret marriage was arranged between one of Cornewall’s sisters and Reade’s heir, which - as it brought no dowry - reduced the latter’s father to impotent rage and provoked a flurry of unproductive litigation.16

Cornewall did not play any significant part in local administration until after his father’s death in 1637. Appointed a commissioner of array in June 1642, he was removed a month later, and in April 1643 was named to the Shropshire county committee by Parliament. However, during the interim he donated a consignment of arms (presumably from the local militia arsenal) to Prince Rupert, continued to serve as a magistrate in Worcestershire, and offered Stapleton Castle to the royalists as a base for operations against the enemy garrison at Brampton Bryan, Herefordshire. Despite the support he had offered the royalist cause in the early months of the war, he escaped sequestration, allegedly thanks to judicious bribery of county committees, until 1651, when he was captured following the battle of Worcester. He returned to public life after 1660, but is not known to have stood for Parliament again, although three of his relatives sat in the Commons during the Restoration period. He was buried at Burford on 5 Oct. 1671; no will or administration has been found.17

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxviii), 147-8; Burford (Salop par. reg. soc.), 15.
  • 2. Al. Ox.
  • 3. C142/559/145; C2/Chas.I/R32/31; Burford, 80.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 176.
  • 5. C142/559/145.
  • 6. Burford, 79.
  • 7. HEHL, EL7443.
  • 8. CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 370.
  • 9. C231/5, p. 375.
  • 10. SR, v. 88, 107, 220; Northants. RO, FH133.
  • 11. A. and O. i. 126.
  • 12. SR, v. 269.
  • 13. LC3/1.
  • 14. Vis. Salop, 146-8; C142/559/145; BISHOP’S CASTLE.
  • 15. CJ, i. 523b, 662b; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, ii. 310; CD 1621, ii. 511, 516-17; vi. 232; C. Russell, PEP, 127-9.
  • 16. C2/Chas.I/C82/45, 2/Chas.I/C91/4, 2/Chas.I/R32/31; Burford, 37.
  • 17. Northants. RO, FH133; A. and O., i. 232; Cal. Worcs. Q.S. Pprs. ed. J.W. Willis Bund, 705; Diary of Richard Symonds ed. C.E. Long (Cam. Soc. lxxiv), 203; CCAM, 1338-9; Burford, 79.