Charles Wolfran Cornwall

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The Right Honourable
Charles Wolfran Cornwall
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Speaker of the British House of Commons
In office
Monarch George III
Preceded by Fletcher Norton
Succeeded by William Grenville

Charles Wolfran Cornwall (15 June 1735 – 2 January 1789) was a British politician who became Speaker of the House of Commons.[1]

Origins and early life

Charles Wolfran Cornwall was born on 15 June 1735, the only son of Jacobs Cornwall and Elizabeth Forder, and baptised at St Thomas's church in Winchester ten days later.[2] His parents were third cousins, both being great-great-grandchildren of Humphrey Cornewall,[3] and he was given the names of two other family members: his paternal grandfather Admiral Charles Cornewall and his maternal great-grandfather Captain Wolfran Cornewall. Jacobs Cornwall died the following year, on 8 August 1736.

Despite the naval associations of his namesakes, young Charles Wolfran was raised for a career in the law. He began his education at Winchester in 1748,[4] going on to New College, Oxford.[1] He started his legal training at Lincoln's Inn in 1755 before being called to the bar at Gray's Inn two years later.[4]


In 1768, he was returned as MP for Grampound. He was created a Privy Councillor in 1780.[5]

As Speaker of the British House of Commons, Cornwall achieved notoriety for keeping a large (and replenished) stock of porter beneath the Speaker's Chair, with which he would, frequently and without shame, succour himself when (as happened very often) the debates grew too boring for him. His portrait by Gainsborough shown here is one of the artist's few political portraits and is now in the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. It originally hung in the family seat, Moccas Court, Herefordshire, a lovely and once secluded 18th-century house redesigned by Anthony Keck in the 1770s including work by Adam. It overlooks the River Wye. It is now a luxury hotel, reception venue and conference centre.

He is buried in Holy Cross Church, Winchester with a monument by John Francis Moore.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1  Hunt, William (1887). [ "Cornwall, Charles Wolfran" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 12. London: Smith, Elder & Co.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Foljambe, Cecil George; Reade, Compton (1908). The House of Cornewall. Hereford: Jakeman and Carver. pp. 95–98.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Determined from family trees in Foljambe & Reade
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Cornwall, Charles Wolfran". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6335.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. Brooke, John (1964). "Cornwall, Chalres Wolfran (1735-1789)". In Namier, Sir Lewis; Brooke, John (eds.). The House of Commons 1754-1790. The History of Parliament Trust.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Dictionary of British Sculptors, 1660-1851, by Rupert Gunnis

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Merrick Burrell
Simon Fanshaw
Member for Grampound
With: Grey Cooper
Succeeded by
Sir Joseph Yorke
Richard Neville
Preceded by
Arnold Nesbitt
William Nedham
Member for Winchelsea
With: Arnold Nesbitt 1774–75
William Nedham 1775–80
John Nesbitt 1780–84
Succeeded by
John Nesbitt
William Nedham
Preceded by
William Dickinson
Thomas Onslow
Member for Rye
With: William Dickinson
Succeeded by
William Dickinson
Charles Long
Political offices
Preceded by
Fletcher Norton
Speaker of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
William Grenville
Legal offices
Preceded by
Thomas, 2nd Lord Lyttelton
Justice in Eyre
north of the Trent

Succeeded by
The Viscount Falmouth