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Wolfran Cornewall
Wolfran Cornewall, by an unknown artist
Born 1658
Died 21 January 1720(1720-01-21) (aged 61)
Buried at Bath Abbey
Allegiance  Kingdom of England
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 1679–1697
Rank Captain
Commands held HMS Dartmouth
HMS Constant Warwick
HMS Swallow
HMS Suffolk
HMS Royal Katherine
HMS Sandwich
HMS St Andrew
Battles/wars Nine Years' War

Captain Wolfran Cornewall (1658 – 21 January 1720) was an officer in the British Royal Navy.


He was born in 1658, the fifth son of Humphrey Cornewall MP and his wife Theophila Skynner (1622–1718).[1]


Cornewall began his career in the army, joining the Duke of Monmouth's Regiment as an Ensign on 12 June 1679, transferring to Colonel Kirke's Regiment in Tangier in 1681.[2] He seems also to have served in the navy around this time, being appointed Lieutenant aboard HMS Tyger on 30 January 1682.[3] Returning to the army, he was appointed Ensign in the Duke of York's Regiment on 2 May 1684 before transferring to the cavalry as a Cornet in the Royal Horse Guards later that year. In 1687 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in the same regiment.[2]

By 1688 he had switched back to the navy, and was given command of HMS Dartmouth on 23 August that year. On 26 November 1688 he was briefly appointed to HMS Constant Warwick, before being put in charge of HMS Swallow on 23 December 1688. The following year he sailed to Ireland, then in the grip of the Williamite War, and placed under the orders of Major-general Kirke relieving the Siege of Derry. In September he came ashore and took part as a volunteer assaulting the breach during the Siege of Cork under the orders of the then Earl of Marlborough.[3]

In 1690 he was given command of HMS Suffolk and took part in the Battle of Beachy Head on 30 June, at which action he "behaved with the greatest gallantry."[3] Despite this, he somehow inspired the disfavour of William III and was removed from his command, causing Admiral Edward Russell to write to the King on his behalf:

I have a request to make you on behalf of Capt. (Wolfran) Cornwall, one of the officers on whom you showed your displeasure, in giving command to dispossess him of his ship, which has been so great a punishment to him. He is not only a very good officer, but an extremely gallant gentleman. I hope you will allow me to put him into a noble ship for this summer's service. He was one of the first sea officers I trusted with your coming over, and he is a man of merit, and I will answer for the character I have given him.[1]

The request was granted, and Cornewall was given command of HMS Royal Katherine in 1691. The following year he commanded HMS Sandwich and was engaged at the Battle of Barfleur on 19 May 1692.[4] Still aboard this vessel the following year, he was one of the seconds to Vice admiral Matthew Aylmer.[3] In recognition of his services, he was given command of a troop of his old regiment, the Royal Horse Guards, in 1693.[2]

In 1694[4] he was given his final command, the 100 gun first-rate HMS St Andrew, and was second-in-command to Rear admiral Edward Whitaker in 1696. At the Peace of Ryswick in 1697 he retired, and lived out his life on a pension equivalent to a first-rate captain's pay.[3]

Marriage & progeny

Cornewall married twice. His first wife was Elizabeth Humfrey, with whom he had a daughter:[1]

  • Rose Cornewall, married Robert Forder and was the maternal grandmother of Charles Wolfran Cornwall.

His second wife was Elizabeth Devereux (d. 1741) with whom he had two more daughters:[1]

  • Amarantha Cornewall (1700–1785), married Colonel Charles Jenkinson (1693–1750) and was mother of Charles Jenkinson, 1st Earl of Liverpool
  • Bette Cornewall (b. 1705)

He died on 21 January 1720,[3] and is commemorated with a stone in the nave of Bath Abbey.[1]


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