CORNEWALL, Velters (?1697-1768), of Moccas Court, Herefs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1722 - 3 Apr. 1768

Family and Education

b. ?1697, 3rd s. of Col. Henry Cornewall, M.P., of Moccas Court, Herefs. being 1st s. by his 2nd w. Susanna; bro. of James Cornewall and half-bro. of Henry Cornewall. educ. Ch. Ch. Oxf. 8 July 1714, aged 17, L. Inn 1713. m. (1) lic. 22 Apr. 1722, Judith da. of Sir James Herbert of Coldbrook, Mon., wid. of Sir Thomas Powell, 1st Bt., M.P., of Broadway, Carm., 1s. d.v.p.; (2) Oct. 1734, Jane (d. 10 Apr. 1735), da. of Edmund Bray of Barrington Court, Glos., s.p.; (3) 2 Apr. 1737, Catherine, da. and coh. of William Hanbury of Byfleet, Surr. and Little Marcle, Herefs., 1s. d.v.p. 1da. suc. fa. to Herefs. estates 1717; half-bro. Henry Cornewall 1756.

Offices Held


In 1721 Velters Cornewall approached his cousin, the 1st Earl of Oxford, on a vacancy at Leominister, writing:

I am told, my Lord, that the noble Lord, your son, declines it; if so, I must humbly offer myself as a unworthy candidate.

Oxford replied that he was already committed but ‘I have the greatest regard for your family, and should be glad of any opportunity to show the esteem for your person’. At the general election of 1722 Cornewall was chosen by the local Tories to stand for the county and again applied to Oxford:

I beg, my Lord, that I may be able to say that you wish me well, and will be so presumptuous as to add, that if my Lord Harley will yet design to be a candidate that (might I have so vast an honour granted me as to join with him) we would be both elected for this county.1

Harley did not stand, but Cornewall was returned at the head of the poll, representing the county for the rest of his life.

Cornewall’s first recorded speech was made on the case of the 1st Lord Barrington in 1723. He

took notice of Lord Barrington’s grave and demure looks, and some other odd expressions, and was going on and in the middle of his speech the Speaker took him down and said that he must give that young gentleman a caution not to take those liberties in that assembly as to except against faces for fear he draws that censure upon himself he would cast upon others.2

At the general election of 1727 he is said to have ‘behaved in so absurd a manner that if there had been any poll he would have been out’.3 He was a member of the gaols committee in 1729, and among those who urged its reappointment in 1730. He voted consistently against Walpole’s Administration; but except for two speeches in 1740 on cider - Herefordshire was a cider county - there is no record of his having spoken during these years.

After Walpole’s fall Cornewall sat up for 22 hours on end during the scrutiny of the lists of members of the secret committee on the late Administration, fainting ‘with the fatigue and heat’. When the committee produced their last report, he showed what Horace Walpole calls his ‘odd humour’ by remarking that ‘he believed the somethingness of this report would make amends for the nothingness of the last’.4 On 3 Dec. 1742 he introduced a place bill, observing: ‘I do assure the House I have had no share in the scramble for places. My political ambition ... has brought me nothing’.5 In February 1744 for the first time in his life he voted with the Administration on an amendment moved by the opposition Whigs to an address of thanks for the King’s message on the threatened French invasion.6 On 26 Feb. 1745 he seconded a motion for a committee of inquiry on the battle of Toulon, saying that ‘he was so deeply interested in the success of it, not only from a national but a personal account, having had the misfortune to lose a brother in the action, that he could not restrain himself from being the first to give it his assent’.7 Shortly after this he applied on 16 June 1745 to Henry Pelham for the appointment of a friend as receiver general of the county:

If you are so good, Sir, to allow him to succeed you will stop the breeding of much ill-blood in this part of the world, as well as my own appearing in the meanest light amongst the gentlemen of the county, the city, and Weobley where I am used to be well enough regarded.8

The application was successful, much to the annoyance of Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, who had also applied.9 In 1746 Cornewall returned to opposition, speaking and voting against the Hanoverians on 11 Apr. 1746. He was one of the prominent Tories who agreed to support the Prince of Wales’s programme in 1747, and in 1750 his wife was appointed as woman of the bedchamber to the Princess of Wales.10 The 2nd Lord Egmont wrote of him in his electoral survey about this time:

Affects to govern everywhere in Herefordshire and should be flattered with being desired to countenance the election [at Weobley] with his presence. But he can do no more in reality than one of my footmen.

He died 3 Apr. 1768.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: R. S. Lea


  • 1. 20 and 21 Mar. 1721, 3 Feb. 1722, Portland mss.
  • 2. Knatchbull Diary, 14 Feb. 1723.
  • 3. Auditor Harley to 2nd Earl of Oxford, 18 Sept. 1727, Portland mss.
  • 4. Walpole to Mann, 1 Apr. 1742, 30 June 1742.
  • 5. Parl. Hist. xii. 899.
  • 6. Owen, Pelhams, 213.
  • 7. Yorke's parl. jnl. Parl. Hist. xiii. 1203.
  • 8. Newcastle (Clumber) mss.
  • 9. Ilchester & Langford-Brooke, Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, 89.
  • 10. Add. 35870, ff. 129-30; Gent. Mag. 1750, p. 237.