CORKER, Robert (1668-1731), of Falmouth and Trevorder, nr. Bossiney, Cornw.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Receiver gen. of duchy of Cornwall 1708-12, 1720-d.
Corker’s father, an Irish ship’s doctor, coming into Falmouth harbour by chance, married a Falmouth girl and died a few years later, leaving her with several young children. Robert, the eldest, was placed by his uncle, John Newman, a local attorney, as ‘apprentice gratis’ to Bryan Rodgers, the leading Falmouth merchant. ‘A lad of insinuating worldly parts’ he succeeded in 1695 to the business and to ‘his master’s great house’,3 henceforth known as Corker’s house. In 1708 he became receiver of the duchy, acquiring much property in the county, most of it in and around Bossiney. Dismissed by Harley in 1712, he recovered the receivership in 1720, when he procured a patent for a whale-fishery off the coasts of Cornwall, extricating himself from the ensuing fiasco without serious financial loss.4 In 1720 he was returned for Bossiney, his only recorded vote being with the Administration on the civil list arrears in April 1729. In that year, in debt to the duchy on the receipts from the tin to the extent of £11,000,5 he attempted to sell his lands; but ‘the bond of the Crown was such a terror to everybody that I could neither sell nor borrow any money on my estate’;6 and in the end he had to make over all his property to John Hedges, the Prince of Wales’s treasurer. He died 1 Mar. 1731, owing Frederick, Prince of Wales, as Duke of Cornwall, £23,000 in respect of arrears since June 1727.7 His estates were sold after his death for the benefit of the Prince, most of his Bossiney property eventually passing into the possession of Edward Wortley.