COSWORTH, John (1599-at least 1650), of Colan, Cornw. and London.

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



21 May 1628

Family and Education

b. 2 Jan. 1599,1 3rd s. of Edward Cosworth† (d. c.1639)2 of Cosworth, Cornw. and Dorothy, da. of John Arundell† of Trerice, Cornw.3 m. 5 Feb. 1627,4 Bridget, da. of Sir Henry Champernowne of Modbury, Devon and wid. of Thomas Hele (d.1624) of Flete, Devon,5 ?2da.6

Offices Held


Cosworth’s forebears were probably resident at Cosworth in the parish of Colan by the mid-fourteenth century. His grandfather and uncle, John† and Thomas Cosworth†, enjoyed significant influence in Cornwall as successive receivers-general of the Duchy from 1553 to 1586, but their landed base was relatively small, barely extending beyond Colan’s immediate neighbourhood.7 John Cosworth senior inherited only the entailed core of the family estates from his nephew, who died in 1568 leaving the bulk of his property to his daughter Katherine, wife of John Arundell of Trerice. However, the marriage of Katherine’s daughter and co-heir Dorothy to John Cosworth’s son Edward presumably reunited some portions of the estate.8 Edward, who attached himself as a young man to secretary of state Thomas Wilson†, succeeded to his Cornish patrimony by 1602, and thereafter served as a magistrate and subsidy commissioner until his death.9 The Arundell connection was doubtless a significant factor behind the election of both Edward and Thomas Cosworth as Mitchell burgesses in the 1580s, the Arundells of Trerice being the dominant patrons of the borough. Nevertheless, Edward secured the election of his cousin Walter Hickman in 1614, and doubtless arranged his own son’s selection for the borough in 1628.10

Little is known of Cosworth prior to his marriage in 1627. Bridget Hele was mother-in-law to his eldest brother Samuel, so the union consolidated existing ties with the influential Hele family.11 It is unclear why Cosworth rather than one of his elder brothers was elected in February 1628, but by November 1627 he was resident in London, which would have reduced Mitchell’s parliamentary expenses.12 He may have been the Cosworth who worked in London as a clerk to his cousin, the lawyer John Bramston. This clerk is known to have been the younger brother of a Cornish j.p. active in 1640, and this fact points to Cosworth rather than his uncle Michael, who has also been identified as this servant.13 Either way, there was family business to attend to in London in late 1627, for in October Edward Cosworth commenced a suit in Chancery which was still in process the following June, while in November this Member launched his own suit to secure title to a property which he had recently purchased near Colan. Although the latter case was ultimately abandoned, Cosworth secured an initial judgment on 23 May 1628, by which date he was sitting in Parliament.14 The precise circumstances of the 1628 Mitchell election are obscure, but three indentures were returned. Initially Cosworth’s was set aside, but on 21 May the committee for privileges reported in his favour. Any further part played by Cosworth in Parliament went unrecorded.15

Cosworth’s subsequent career is uncertain. In his father’s will, proved on 16 Jan. 1640, he received £200, apparently to clear a bond given by his brother Samuel.16 On 3 Dec. 1650 he was granted administration of his mother’s estate.17 Events thereafter are complicated by the existence of two nephews of the same name.18 A John Cosworth of Colan died intestate in 1671, leaving an estate of £252. 7s. 0d. to be administered by two daughters, Joan and Bridget.19 This man may also be the John Cosworth who fought in the Civil War as a major of foot in John Digby’s† regiment, and claimed relief in 1663.20 However, Cosworth may have died much earlier, since his mother’s administration was regranted on 17 May 1652 to his nephew Robert rather than himself.21 Cosworth was certainly the last of his immediate family to enter Parliament, for although his brother Samuel was returned for Mitchell to the Short Parliament, his election was adjudged to be invalid.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Cornw. RO, P163/1/1, unpag.
  • 2. Cornw. RO, C969/1.
  • 3. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 104.
  • 4. Devon RO, MF 358/6/2.
  • 5. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 466.
  • 6. Cornw. RO, C1568/1.
  • 7. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 104; G. Haslam, ‘Elizabethan Duchy’, Estates of Eng. Crown 1556-1640 ed. R.W. Hoyle, 93; Cornw. RO, DD.CF. 2383.
  • 8. R. Carew, Survey of Cornw. ed. F.E. Halliday, 220; C142/150/187; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 12, 104.
  • 9. HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 661; Carew, 221; C66/1682; SP16/212, f. 10; E179/88/299.
  • 10. HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 132-3; SP14/16/27; The Gen. iv. 117.
  • 11. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 466.
  • 12. C2/Chas.I/C16/33.
  • 13. Autobiog. of Sir John Bramston ed. P. Braybrooke (Cam. Soc. xxxii), 7-8, 13; C66/2859; Oxford DNB sub Michael Cosworth.
  • 14. C33/154, ff. 672, 774, 945v; C2/Chas.I/C16/33; 2/Chas.I/W94/51.
  • 15. CJ, i. 876b, 902a.
  • 16. Cornw. RO, C969/1.
  • 17. PROB 6/25, f. 190.
  • 18. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 104; D. Gilbert, Parochial Hist. Cornw. i. 211.
  • 19. Cornw. RO, C1568/1,2,4 (admon. 27 Oct. 1671).
  • 20. P.R. Newman, Roy. Officers in Eng. and Wales, 87.
  • 21. PROB 6/27, f. 75v.