CORNEWALL, Frederick Hamilton (1791-1845), of Delbury Hall, Diddlebury, Salop.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1830 - 1831

Family and Education

b. 15 Oct. 1791, 1st s. of Rev. Folliot Herbert Walker Cornewall, DD, of Delbury Hall and Anne, da. of Hon. George Hamilton, canon of Windsor. educ. Eton 1805-9; St. John’s, Camb. 1809. m. 10 July 1827, Fanny Harriet, da. of St. George Caulfield of Donamon Castle, co. Roscommon, 2da. suc. fa. 1831. d. 30 Dec. 1845.

Offices Held

Bailiff, Ludlow 1825-6.

Capt. S. Salop militia 1810.


Cornewall’s paternal grandfather, the naval captain Frederick Cornewall (1706-88), and uncle Frederick Cornewall (1752-83) had both been brought into Parliament by the Herbert family, earls of Powis, to whom they were related by marriage. They were also, through Amarantha, the sister of Charles Wolfran Cornwall, Speaker of the Commons, 1780-9, close connections of the Jenkinsons, earls of Liverpool.1 Cornewall’s father, a younger son, was the Speaker’s chaplain, 1780-9, and successively dean of Canterbury (1792), bishop of Bristol (1797), of Hereford (1803) and of Worcester (1808). His ecclesiastical career was barely interrupted by his unexpected succession to Delbury, near Bishop’s Castle, in 1783 and to Francis Walker’s Ludlow estate of Ferney Hall the same year. Cornewall, the eldest of his three children, was only four when his mother, a cousin of the 1st marquess of Abercorn, died in December 1795.2 In his memoir ‘Mr. Cornewall and the Provost Sergeant’, Gronow related how, after leaving Cambridge, Cornewall, who later became something of a ‘London flash’, went to the Peninsula to follow the fortunes of Wellington’s army, ‘was favoured with his especial patronage’ and exhibited ‘the greatest sang froid’ before enemy fire, finding more to fear from the rough justice administered by the provost sergeant.3 The bishop, who sought patronage for his sons through the prime minister Lord Liverpool, continued to exercise his electoral influence at Bishop’s Castle and Ludlow in favour of the Herberts and Clives, and turned down the see of Durham in March 1826 because of his advancing years.4 Cornewall, a freeman of Ludlow since 1818 and one of the returning officers when Powis’s interest prevailed there at the contested election of 1826, was criticized for partiality in the subsequent petition,5 and it was confidently put about soon after his marriage in 1827 that he was the ‘gentleman intended by the Clives ... to become one of the representatives of the borough when the present earl of Powis shall go the way of all flesh’.6 Powis, who recovered from a stroke early in 1830, did not intend Cornewall for Ludlow, but at the general election that summer he facilitated his return for Bishop’s Castle, where the retirement of the Wellington ministry’s whip Holmes created a vacancy.7

Wellington had recently supported Cornewall’s brother’s advancement in the colonial service, and he was naturally listed with Powis’s Members among the government’s ‘friends’; he divided with them when they were brought down on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830.8 He had witnessed the trades’ procession to St. James’s Palace, 8 Nov., and intervened in debate to assert that there was no truth in reports that the marchers bore a tricolour as they passed by Pall Mall, 10 Dec. Writing to Lady Harrowby, 5 Dec., Lord Gower described him as a ‘moderate reformer’ and one of the new intake displeased by Wellington’s anti-reform declaration,9 but he voted with Powis’s Members against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, by which Bishop’s Castle was to be disfranchised, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. When South Shields petitioned against the bill, 20 Apr. 1831, he spoke in defence of Powis’s son-in-law the 3rd duke of Northumberland, who had been criticized, and afterwards presented a similar petition from Bishop’s Castle, whose claim to retain at least one seat he pressed. He conceded that some extension of the householder franchise was necessary, but said that he regarded

the right of suffrage enjoyed by the resident burgesses by birthright as sacred ... So long as I shall have the honour to hold a seat in this House, I will, to the extent of my humble means, protect both my own constituents, and those similarly situated, against all measures which shall tend to destroy those rights; unjust and impolitic as I hold such measures to be.

The Clives chose to replace him with the barrister James Lewis Knight, a proven anti-reformer, at the general election that month.10

Cornewall monitored ‘reaction’, ‘reform’ and the establishment of the Carlton Club, 1831-2, from the Travellers’ Club and Delbury, which he inherited under strict entail by the death of his father, 5 Sept. 1831.11 Writing to the Tory Sir John Walsh*, a close friend since their service on the 1830 Perth Burghs election committee, he observed, 12 Nov. 1831:

I am inclined to give more belief to the approximation of the Whigs, in wishes at least, to our friends than you do and I will tell you one reason for my doing so. There has been as you will have seen a county meeting for reform at Worcester, got up chiefly by the Catholics and I know much against the wishes of the ministerialists. Now a friend of mine, a staunch Tory, was shown by a worthy Whig baronet and MP a letter to him from Captain Spencer, the Member for the county, regretting much that the meeting was to be held, as likely to do more harm than good ... It is clear that the government are frightened. At the meeting it was agreed by the Whigs that the speeches should be as general in their bearings as possible, and deprecatory of all hostility to political opponents; and so they were, except those from some of the wilder radicals. This is all very well, but it is too late. The mob have their influence and will, I fear, be too strong at all events for the nerves of government, who can hardly, if they would, shake off their troublesome and dangerous allies. At any other moment the Bristol and other riots would shake a government to the centre, but those who manage them cannot spare them just yet. Their appointed mischief done, they will be turned off to make way for the out and outers, and all this is the work of men who have most of them witnessed the French revolution of 1789 and who have property and titles to lose! Meanwhile they are likely to be backed in their efforts to promote confusion by the cholera, which today’s papers tell us is rapidly spreading. In a country so crowded with large towns and dense masses and with such constant and rapid communications as England, I have always thought it would prove unusually fatal ... As for Ireland, I suppose we may consider the Union as repealed according to O’Connell’s speech. Pray tell me what you hear as to the meeting of Parliament and the new bill. I think it will be full as bad as the old one. Ministers do not dare to alter it in its bad parts. I shall be obliged to you not to quote me as the author of the story of Capt. Spencer’s letter. I was told it by one who would not wish it to be generally known.12

Cornewall did not stand for Parliament again. He died at Delbury in December 1845 and was buried in the family vault at Diddlebury.13 He bequeathed his effects and unentailed estates to his widow, with equal reversion to their daughters Henrietta and Mary Fanny, and directed that copies of Bishop Cornewall’s portrait should be made for the 2nd earl of Powis, the 3rd earl of Liverpool and Robert Henry Clive*. Delbury, to which he was succeeded by his brother Herbert Cornewall (1794-1863), was worth an estimated £50,000 in 1891. It passed out of the family in 1904 as a result of inept disentailing and mortgaging arrangements, which culminated in the case of Cornewall v. Prideau.14

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. HP Commons, 1754-90, ii. 253, 255-6; Oxford DNB sub Cornwall, Charles Wolfran.
  • 2. C.G.S. Foljambe, House of Cornewall, 124-39; Oxford DNB sub Cornewall, Folliot Herbert Walker.
  • 3. Gronow Reminiscences, ii. 215-7; Creevey Pprs. 474.
  • 4. Add. 38301, ff. 130-4, 218-20; VCH Salop, iii. 307.
  • 5. Salop Archives, Ludlow Borough LB3/2/493, 868; 7/1847; Salop Archives, Ludford Park mss 11/987. See LUDLOW.
  • 6. Hereford Independent, 20 Oct. 1827.
  • 7. Salop Archives, Clive-Powis mss 552/22/90-95; Salop Archives DA1/100/2, Bishop’s Castle corporation minutes, 1713-1861, p. 288; Salopian Jnl. 4 Aug. 1831.
  • 8. Wellington mss WP1/930/30; 1061/6, 7; 1065/9, 11, 12; Powis mss (History of Parliament transcripts), Planta to Lord Clive, 21 Oct. 1830.
  • 9. Harrowby mss.
  • 10. Clive-Powis mss 552, uncat. Clarke to F. Allen, 25 Apr.; Salopian Jnl. 4 May 1831.
  • 11. Gent. Mag. (1831), ii. 290, 370; PROB 11/1795/58; IR26/1307/14; NLW, Ormathwaite mss FG1/6, pp. 57, 66, 76, 79, 80, 81.
  • 12. Ormathwaite mss FG3/1.
  • 13. Gent. Mag. (1846), i. 221.
  • 14. PROB 8/239; 2034/259; Foljambe, 139-41; The Times, 24 June 1904.