Frederick Cornwallis

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Frederick Cornwallis
Archbishop of Canterbury
ChurchChurch of England
In office1768-1783
PredecessorThomas Secker
SuccessorJohn Moore
Consecration19 February 1750
by Thomas Herring
Personal details
Born(1713-03-05)5 March 1713
London, England
Died19 March 1783(1783-03-19) (aged 70)
Lambeth, London, England
BuriedChurch of St Mary-at-Lambeth
Previous postBishop of Lichfield (1750–1768)
Alma materChrist's College, Cambridge

Frederick Cornwallis (5 March 1713 – 19 March 1783) was Archbishop of Canterbury, and the twin brother of Edward Cornwallis.

Early life and education[edit]

Cornwallis was born in London, England,[1] the seventh son of Charles Cornwallis, 4th Baron Cornwallis. He was educated at Eton College and graduated from Christ's College, Cambridge.[2] He was ordained a priest in 1742, and became a Doctor of Divinity in 1748.


Cornwallis was able to ascend quickly in the Church thanks to his aristocratic connections, and in 1746 was made chaplain to King George II and a canon of Windsor. In 1750 he became a canon at St Paul's Cathedral, and later that same year became Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry thanks to the patronage of the Duke of Newcastle, then Secretary of State. He was also Dean of Windsor (1765–1768) and Dean of St Paul's (1766–1768).

On the death of Thomas Secker in 1768, his friendship with the then-prime minister, the Duke of Grafton, resulted in his translation to Archbishop of Canterbury. As archbishop, his sociability and geniality made him popular. He was a consistent supporter of the administration of Lord North, and led efforts in support of dispossessed Anglican clergy in the American colonies during the American Revolution. He was buried at St. Mary's Church, Lambeth.[3]

On the whole, Cornwallis has generally been judged as a competent administrator, but an uninspiring leader of the eighteenth-century church – a typical product of eighteenth century latitudinarianism, whose lack of zeal paved the way for the differing responses of both the Evangelicals and the Oxford Movement in the early 19th century.

Personal life[edit]

His nephew was Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis, a British general during the American Revolution, and later Governor-General of India.

Suspected discovery of his coffin[edit]

In 2016, during the refurbishment of the Garden Museum,[4] which is housed at the medieval church of St Mary-at-Lambeth,[5] 30 lead coffins were found; one with an archbishop's red and gold mitre on top of it.[6] Two archbishops were identified from nameplates on their coffins; with church records revealing that three further archbishops, including Cornwallis, are likely to be buried in the vault.[7]


  1. ^ profile of Edward Cornwallis
  2. ^ "Cornwallis, Frederick (CNWS731F)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ Frederick Cornwallis
  4. ^ Museum web-site
  5. ^ British History on-line
  6. ^ Times on-line
  7. ^
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Richard Smalbroke
Bishop of Lichfield
Succeeded by
John Egerton
Preceded by
Thomas Secker
Archbishop of Canterbury
Succeeded by
John Moore