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Cornwallis, William (d.1631?) (DNB00)

CORNWALLIS, Sir WILLIAM (d. 1631?), knight and essayist, elder son of Sir Charles Cornwallis [q. v.] by his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Farnham of Fincham in Norfolk, married on 26 Aug. 1595 Catherine, daughter of Sir Philip Parker of Erwarton, Suffolk, by whom he had his eldest son, Charles, and other children. He was M.P. for Lostwithiel in 1597 and for Orford in 1604 and 1614. He appears to have been knighted in 1602. He was a friend of Ben Jonson, and employed him to write ‘Penates, or a Private Entertainment for the King and Queen,’ on their visit to his house at Highgate on May-day, 1604. His essays are in imitation of Montaigne, but lack the sprightliness of the French author. Cornwallis spent his life in studious retirement. His works are: 1. ‘Discourses upon Seneca the tragedian,’ 1601, 16mo, 1631. 2. ‘Essayes by Sir W. Cornewaleys’ (E. Mattes), 1st part 1600, 2nd part 1610, 16mo and 12mo, 1616 4to, two parts with a frontispiece 1617, and 1632 small 8vo, with the essays upon Seneca, 1631. 3. ‘The Miraculous and Happy Union between England and Scotland,’ 1604, 4to. 4. ‘Essays on certain Paradoxes,’ 2nd edit. enlarged twenty-four leaves, not paged, 1617, 4to; one of these essays, ‘The Praise of King Richard III,’ is reprinted in the ‘Somers Tracts,’ iii. 316, edit. 1810. 5. ‘Essays or Encomiums,’ 1616, 1626. 6. Verses in Sylvester's ‘Lacrymæ Lacrymarum’ on the death of the Prince of Wales, and lines on the monument of Lucy, lady Latimer, in Hackney Church; this lady was the wife of Sir William Cornwallis (died 1611), uncle of the essayist, who is therefore generally described as the younger. In the 1632 edition of the ‘Essays,’ published after the author's death, there is a print of two men sitting and writing, supposed to represent Sir Charles and Sir William Cornwallis, his son.

[Davy's MS. Athenæ Suffolc. i. 142; Collins's Peerage of England (Brydges), ii. 547; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 613; Page's Supplement to the Suffolk Traveller, p. 5; Grainger's Biog. Hist. (ed. 1775), ii. 333, 334.]

W. H.