NOSWORTHY (NORSWORTHY), Edward I (1610-86), of Truro Ince Castle, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



16 July 1660
16 May 1661 - 18 Dec. 1661
19 Jan. 1665
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

bap. 18 Nov. 1610, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Francis Norsworthy, merchant, of Truro by Jane Daniell of Truro. m. 10 Sept. 1632, Frances (d.1663), da. of Richard Hill of Truro, 9s. (4 d.v.p.) 7da. suc. fa. 1640.1

Offices Held

J.p. Cornw. 1650-3, 1656-July 1660, Aug. 1660-2, sheriff 1654-5, commr. for security 1655-6, assessment Jan. 1660, 1661-3, 1665-80, militia Mar. 1660, commr. for recusants 1675.2


Nosworthy came from a Devonshire family. His father, born in Chagford, was prominent in the mercantile and municipal life of Truro under the early Stuarts. Nosworthy himself is not known to have taken any part in the Civil War, but held local office during the Interregnum, acting as a decimator in 1655-6. He acquired properties as widely separated as Ince Castle, near Saltash, and the impropriate rectory of Lelant, which carried with it a preponderant interest in the borough of St. Ives. A ‘bosom friend’ of the recorder, John St. Aubyn, he was involved in a double return in 1660 with James Praed I and took his seat when the House decided in favour of the freeman franchise. Lord Wharton included Nosworthy in his list of friends, but apart from complaining of an assault in his own chamber he left no further trace on the records of the Convention.3

Nosworthy was again involved in a double return at the general election of 1661. Standing this time on the corporation interest, he was seated on the merits of the return; but he took no part in committee work before losing his seat when the wide franchise was reaffirmed. He took out a grant of arms during the summer; but he was defeated by the courtier Daniel O’Neill at a by-election in 1662, and the Exeter chapter were urged to cancel the reversion of two manors which he had bought during the Interregnum, on the grounds that ‘his actions have not been such as to merit favour’. He was also removed from the commission of the peace, probably as a dissenter; but he regained his seat three years later after a contest. An inactive Member of the Cavalier Parliament he was appointed to 17 committees, including the committee of elections and privileges in three sessions. Besides Tregear, Nosworthy had a claim on the Killigrew estate of Landrake, valued at £1,200 p.a. In an unlucky moment he allowed himself to be persuaded by his son, and his son’s father-in-law, John Maynard I, who was always eager to try new points of law, to open proceedings for the recovery of both properties. On 8 Feb. 1671 the House resolved that his agents had infringed the privilege of Henry Seymour I, the second husband of the Killigrew heiress, though Lord St. John (Charles Powlett I) declared Nosworthy ‘as honest a man as any in the Commons’. In the same session he was appointed to the committees for the employment of the poor and the intestacy bill. In 1673 he helped to consider the bills to abolish export duties and to prevent wool frauds. Sir William Bassett, Seymour’s stepson, appealed to the Lords against a Chancery decision in Nosworthy’s favour in 1675, but the Commons were too excited about the Four Lawyers to take action before the session was prorogued. Sir Richard Wiseman included Nosworthy among the Cornish Opposition, ‘most of them Presbyterians’, and Shaftesbury marked him ‘worthy’. In the summer of 1678 he was named to the committees to encourage the wearing of woollens and to consider the Fal navigation bill.4

Nosworthy and his son monopolized the representation of St. Ives in the first and second Exclusion Parliaments. He was again classed as ‘worthy’ by Shaftesbury, while Barillon, the French ambassador, thought him one of the most considerable of the parliamentary Opposition. It was presumably Nosworthy rather than his son who was moderately active in 1679, serving on the elections committee and those to inspect the laws against profanity, to consider the reform of the bankruptcy law, and to regulate the coinage of Cornish tin. On his son’s second marriage he was obliged to convey Ince to trustees, including Richard Hillersdon, Walter Vincent I and Charles Boscawen, reserving for himself only an annuity of £300. In the second Exclusion Parliament he was appointed only to the elections committee, and he is not recorded as ever speaking in the House. He transferred to Liskeard in 1681, but was unable to overturn the Grenville interest, and his petition was not read until the morning of the dissolution of the Oxford Parliament. His will, drawn up in 1684, expresses a Calvinist confidence in his resurrection, as well as a subdued bitterness over a debt of £2,400 incurred by his son which he owed to Sir John Carew, and his consequent inability to do anything for his youngest children. He was buried in accordance with his wishes in the chancel of St. Mary’s, Truro on 22 May 1686.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Truro Reg. (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc.), i. 4, 10, 162, 278, 299; PCC 116 Coventry, 77 Dyke.
  • 2. Thurloe, iv. 351.
  • 3. PCC 77 Dyke; Gilbert. Paroch. Hist. Cornw. iii. 97; iv. 178; CSP Dom. 1670, p. 663; CJ, viii. 184.
  • 4. Grantees of Arms (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 184; CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 260; D. R. Lacey, Dissent and Parl. Pols. 428-9; Northumberland (Alnwick) mss, Bowman to Seymour, 11 Feb. 1671; CJ, ix. 199, 350.
  • 5. PRO 31/3/, bdle. 146, f. 26v; PCC 77 Dyke; Truro Reg. i. 325.