Cornwallis, Charles, First Marquis

, the eldest son of Charles fifth lord and first earl Cornwailis, by Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Charles, second viscount Townsend, was born Dec. 31, 1738, and educated at Eton, and at St. John’s college, Cambridge. Preferring a military life, he was, in August 1765, appointed aid-de-camp to the king, with the rank of colonel of foot. In Sept. 1775 y he became major-general; in August, 1777, lieutenantgeneral; and in October, 1793, general. He represented, in, two parliaments, the borough of Eye, in Suffolk, until he succeeded his father in the peerage, June 23, 1762. In parliament, he was not a frequent or distinguished speaker. In the house of peers he appears to have been rather favourable to the claims of the American colonies, which, however, when they came to an open rupture with the mother country, did not prevent him from accepting a command in America, where he distinguished himself at the battle of Brandywine, in 1777, and afterwards at the siege of Charlestown, and was left in the command of South Carolina, where his administration was commended for its wisdom. He was soon obliged to take the field, and obtained the decisive victory of Camden, and was next victorious at Guildford, but not without a considerable loss of men. His plan of invading Virginia, in 1781, was of more doubtful prudence, and ended in his capture, with his whole army of four thousand men. Thus defeated, he laid the blame on the failure of expected succour from sir Henry Clinton, who in return equally blamed both the scheme and its conduct, and several pamphlets were published by both these commanders, into the merits of which we cannot pretend to enter. It is sufficient for our purpose to be able to add, that lord Cornwailis lost no reputation by this misfortune, either for skill or courage.

Soon after his return from America, on the change of administration which took place in 1782, he was removed from his place of governor of the Tower of London, which he had held since 1770, but was re-appointed in 1784j and retained it during his life. In 1786, his lordship was sent | out to India with the double appointment of governor-general and commander in chief; and arriving at Calcutta in September of that year, found the different presidencies in rising prosperity. Not long after, the government of Bengal found it necessary to declare war against the sultan of the Mysore, for his attack on the rajah of Travancore, the ally of the English. The campaign of 1790 was indecisive; but in March 1791, lord Cornwallis invaded the Mysore, and came in sight of Seringapatam, which he was prevented from investing by the floods of the Cavery. In 1792, however, he besieged that metropolis; and on the approach of the attack, the sultan Tippoo Saib sued for peace, and was obliged to accept such terms as the English commander dictated. He consented to cede a part of his dominions, paid a large sum of money, undertook to furnish a still more considerable portion of treasure, within a limited period, &c. and entrusted two of his sons to. the care of lord Cornwallis, with whom they were to remain as hostages for the due performance of the treaty. By this successful conclusion of the war, the most formidable enemy was so reduced, as to render our possessions in India both profitable and secure. Madras was protected from invasion by possession of the passes, and covered by a territory defended by strong forts; and the value of Bombay was greatly enhanced, by possessions gained on the Malabar coast. The details of this war belong to history; but it is necessary to add, that in the whole conduct of it, lord Cornwallis evinced qualities of the head and heart which greatly increased his reputation as a commander. On marching days, it was his constant custom to be in his tent from the time the army came to the ground of encampment; and on halting-days, after visiting the outposts in the morning, he was there constantly employed till the evening, attending to the affairs depending on his station. The business which pressed upon him from the several armies, and from every part of India, were so complicated and various, as to require every exertion of diligence and arrangement. He gave his instructions, in person, to all officers who went on detachments of importance, and saw them on their return. Officers at the heads of departments applied to himself on all material business, and there was no branch of the service with which he was not intimately acquainted. His lordship’s tents, and the line of headquarters, appeared more like the various departments of a | great office of state, than the splendid equipagethat might be supposed to attend the leader of the greatest armies that, under a British general, were ever assembled in the east. To this unremitting attention to business, is not only to be ascribed the general success of the administration of lord Cornwallis in India, and in particular that of the operations of this war, but also the unexampled economy with which it was conducted.

This important war being now ended, so highly to the honour of the British arms, lord Cornwallis returned to England, to receive the rewards justly due to his merit. He had before been invested with the insignia of the garter; and he was, in August 1792, advanced to the dignity of marquis Cornwailis, admitted a member of the privy-council, and, in addition to his other appointments, was nominated to the office of master-general of the ordnance. In 1798, the rebellion in Ireland appearing both to the viceroy, lord Camden, and to his majesty, to require a lordlieutenant who could act in a military as well as a civil capacity, the king appointed lord Cornwallis to that important service, which he executed with skill, promptitude, and humanity; and after quelling the open insurrection, he adopted a plan of mingled firmness and conciliation, which, executed with discriminating judgment, tended to quiet that distracted country, and prepare matters for a permanent plan, that should both prevent the recurrence of such an evil, and promote industry and prosperity. He retained this high appointment till May 1801, when he was succeeded by the earl of Hardwicke. The same year he was appointed plenipotentiary to France, and signed the peace of Amiens.

In 1804, his lordship had the honour of being appointed, a second time, governor-general in the East Indies, on the recall of marquis Wellesley; and in that station he died at Ghazepore, in the province of Benares, October 5, 1805, worn out with an active life spent in the service of his country, and covered with glory and honours. His amiable character and unassuming disposition made him as universally beloved as he was respected. His talents were not brilliant: but they proved what a good heart, inflamed by an honourable ambition, may, by the aid of perseverance, effect. His lordship married, July 14, 1768, Jemima, daughter of James Jones, | esq. by whom he had an only son, Charles, the present marquis. 1


Collins’s Peerage, by sir E. Brydges. Dirom’s Narrative of the Campaign in India, 4 to, 1793. Adolphus and Bisset’s Hist, of the Reign of George III.