Lieut-General Hon. Edward Cornwallis

This 1750s painting, by Sir Joshua Reynolds shows Cornwallis in a regimental uniform that conforms to the colours of the 24th at that time, ie. green facings with silver lace. He had the rank of Lieutenant-General and would be expected to wear a general officer's uniform but he has chosen to sit for the artist in the uniform of the regiment to which he had been appointed Colonel. He was in the UK between 1752 and 1756 during which time the portrait was painted.

1713 Born 5th Mar
1731 Commissioned into the infantry
1745 Attended Battle of Fontenoy
1745 Present during Jacobite uprising
1749 Sent to Nova Scotia as governor
1752 Left Nova Scotia to return home
1752 Appointed Colonel of 24th Regiment
1756 Ordered to Minorca
1761 Appointed governor of Gibraltar
1776 Died on 14th Jan

Edward Cornwallis was the 6th son of Charles, 4th Baron Cornwallis of Culford, Suffolk, and the Channel Isles. Neither of these men is to be confused with the famous Lord Cornwallis who surrendered to the Americans at Yorktown and became Governor of India. That was Charles, 1st Marquess Cornwallis who was a nephew of Edward.

Edward did make a place for himself in history when he established the city of Halifax in Nova Scotia. He was sent there in 1749 with a fleet of ships containing 2,500 settlers and supplies, to govern Nova Scotia and found the town, to be named after Lord Halifax the President of the Board of Trade. He organised the voyage so well that there was only one fatality.

When they landed, Cornwallis had to find the best location for the city and port but he fell foul of the local native Americans. He tried to renew the treaty with the Wabanaki Confederacy but the chief of the Mi'kmaq tribe complained that Halifax was being built on his land. Fighting began and this led to the long struggle called Father Le Loutre's War. Edward built several forts but by 1752 he had had enough and returned to England.

He was sent to Minorca in 1756 and was involved in the departure of the fleet from there in the face of French aggression. This is the incident that caused the execution of Admiral Byng. In 1761 he was appointed Governor of Gibraltar, a post he held until his death in 1776.

Gibraltar | Gibraltar Administrators


Armed Forces | Art and Culture | Articles | Biographies | Colonies | Discussion | Glossary | Home | Library | Links | Map Room | Sources and Media | Science and Technology | Search | Student Zone | Timelines | TV & Film | Wargames |

by Stephen Luscombe