The Patriot Resource - American Revolution

British General Charles Earl Cornwallis
Charles Cornwallis Born: December 31, 1738; Grosvenor Square, London, England
Died: October 5, 1805; Ghazipore, India

Battles: Fort Sullivan, Siege of Charleston, Camden, Guilford Courthouse, Yorktown

Early Life: 1738-1775
On December 31, 1738, Charles Cornwallis was born the second Earl Cornwallis, since his father, the fifth Baron Cornwallis, had been rewarded as a Viscount and the first Earl Cornwallis. In 1661, Sir Frederick Cornwallis was rewarded a barontry by Charles II for service to the Stuarts. His mother was the niece of Sir Robert Walpole. His uncle became the Archbishop of Canterbury. Cornwallis was educated at Eton and moved in elite social circles.

In 1756, about a month before his eighteenth birthday, Cornwallis purchased an ensign's commission in the Grenadier Guards and then took the extraordinary measure of attending a military school in Turin, Italy to actually study for the position. He actually only stayed a few months, because he learned that his regiment had been called up to serve in the Seven Years' War in the allied army under Prince Ferdinand in 1758. He never caught up with his own regiment, but he soon became aide-de-camp to the British second-in-command Marquis of Granby, who would eventually command all British forces on the European continent. He was present at the Battle of Minden on August 1, 1759.

After serving as a staff officer for about a year, in August 1759, Cornwallis was promoted to Captain in the 85th regiment and returned to England to join his new regiment.In January 1760, he was elected to Parliament. On May 1, 1761, he became Lieutenant Colonel of the 12th Foot and took command of the unit in June. On July 15, 1761, the unit was heavily engaged at Vellinghausen, Germany. It would see many other minor engagements before entering winter quarters. The unit continued to see action in 1762.

In July 1762, Cornwallis received word that his father had died the previous month, passing the estate and a seat in the House of Lords on to Charles, now 2nd Earl Cownallis. He assumed the seat in the House of Lords in November 1762. He managed to remain in favor with the court even though he voted against the Stamp Act in March 1765. In July 1765, he was appointed a lord of the bedchamber. He was named aide-de-camp to the King in August 1765. In March 1766, he voted against the Declaratory Act.

In March 1766, Cornwallis purchased a colonelcy of the 33rd foot. In 1768, he married Jemima Tullekin Jones, the daughter of the untitled Colonel James Jones of the 3rd Foot Guards. The marriage would produce first a daughter, Mary and then a son, Charles. He then declined further service in the government and in 1769, he gave up his appointment as lord of the bedchamber for the post of joint vice treasurer of Ireland.In 1770, he became a member of the King's Privy Council. In 1771, he became Constable of the Tower of London. In 1775, he was promoted to Major General, which continued to show that King George III trusted in his abilities even though Cornwallis opposed the King's policies against the American colonies.

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