Memorial: M4779

Monument at Westminster Abbey to Captain James Cornwall RN d. 1744



Westminster Abbey, Westminster, London, England


'INTER PRISTINAE VIRTUTIS MONVMENTA / HAC IN AEDE SACRA CONSERVETUR NOMEN / JACOBI CORNWALL / HENRICI CORNWALL DE CASTRO BRADWARDINO / IN AGRO HEREFORDIENSI ARMIGERI / E FILIIS NATV TERTII / QUI DE PERVETVSTA ET ILLUSTRI PLANTAGENISTARVM STIRPE / ANIMUM VERE PRISCUM DUCENS / RERUM NAVALIVM DUX EVASIT FACILE PERITISSIMVS / BRITONVM AEQUE LACHRYMIS ATQVE APPLAUSV MERITO DECORATVS / QVIPPE QVI PATRIAE CAUSAM / IN NAVALI ILLO...IUXTA CERTAMINE STRENUE PROPUGNANS / ...VGALIS ICTV VTROQVE PARITER TRVNCATVS CRURE / ARDOREM SVAM COMMILITONIBVS SUPREMVM MVNVS MORIENTIS LEGANS / OCCVBVIT INVICTIS / III ID FEB AD MDCCXLII AETAT SUAE XLV / CVIVS EXIMIA VIRTVM / AMPLIORE ELOGIO AD POSTERITATIS INCITATIONEM COMMENDARE NEOVIIT / QUAM HONORIS EXEMPLO PLANE SINGLARIA / QUAM UNANIMI SAFFRAGIO PUBLICIS EXPENSIS / HOC MONUMENTVM VIRI FORTISSIMI MEMORIAE / SENATUS BRITANNICVS CONSECRARI VOLVIT', 'Amongst the monuments of ancient merit, in this sacred cathedral, let the name of James Cornwall be preserved: the third son of Henry Cornwall of Bradwardine Castle in the County of Hereford, Esq who from the very old and illustrious stock of the Plantagenets desiring a truly ancient spirit became a naval commander of the first eminence equally and deservedly honoured by the tears and applause of Britons, as a man who bravely defending the cause of his country in a sea fight off Toulon and by a chain-shot being deprived of both his legs at a blow, fell unconquered on the 27th Feb 1743 in the 45th year of his age. Bequeathing his animated example to his fellow sailors as the legacy of a dying Englishman and whose extraordinary valour could not be recommended to the emulation of posterity in a more ample eulogy than by so singular an instance of honour, since the Parliament of Great Britain, by a unanimous sufferage, resolved that a monument at the public expense should be consecrated to the memory of this most heroical person'


Description: 'On the Rock stand two figures, the one represents Britannia under the character of Minerva accompanied with a Lion, the other figure is expressive of Fame who having presented to Minerva a medallion of the Hero, supports it, whilst exhibited to public View. The Medallion is accompanied with a Globe, and various honourary crowns due to Valour. Behind the figures is a lofty spreading Palm-Tree [removed] whereon is fixed the hero's shield or coat of arms together with a Laurel-Tree; both which issue from the naturally barren Rock, as attending to some heroic and uncommon event.' 'In the other cavity is a view of the Sea-fight before Toulon in Basso Relievo: on the foreground whereof the Marlborough of 90 guns is seen fiercely engaged with Admiral Navarro's ship the Real of 114 guns and her two seconds all raking the Marlborough fore and aft' An Historical Description of Westminster-Abbey etc
Type: Monument
Position: Cloisters (exit to Deanary courtyard)
Materials: Marble
Artists: Robert Taylor


Battle of Toulon 1744

Event Category

1739-1748 War of the Austrian Succession


Cornwall, James
Age: 44
Date of Death: 27/2/1744
Cause of Death: War casualty
Rank / Occupation: Captain RN
Organisation: Royal Navy


Notes: This incomplete part of the monument removed to the cloisters in 1932. Relief based on a painting by Samuel Scott. First monument to be erected by parliamentary subscription to a naval hero. Samuel Scott Bicentenary exhibition cat No 33. Damage to inscription in places. Photograph of memorial in its original location in the National Monuments Record.
Bibliography: K.A. Esdaile 'English Church Monuments' (London, 1946); 'An Historical Description of Westminster Abbey, its monuments and curiosities...designed as a guide to strangers' (London, 1754). Donald Garstang 'Sir Robert Taylor and Camillo Ruconi: the source of Britannia on the Cornwall monument in Westminster Abbey', 'Burlington Magazine' (145, no 1029, December 2003, pp. 869-71).

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