Henry Cornish
executed 23-10-1685 in Cheapside, at the corner of King Street in sight of his own house under James II.

Henry was a well-to-do merchant and alderman of Vintry Ward 1680-1683. In the London Directory for 1677 his residence was given as in "Cateaton Street, near Blackwelhall Gate". He was a Presbyterian and a Whig.

24-06-1680 he and Slingsby Bethel were elected sheriffs of London but they had failed to take the oath according to the corporation act and the election was declared void. They were re-elected on 17-07-1680. The court was disgusted with the election and appointed 2 sheriffs of its own choosing: Box and Nicolson. Nicolson demanded a poll and Henry topped it with 2400 votes. On the 29th he and Bethel were declared elected.

Burnet describes Henry as "a plain, warm, honest man, and lived nobly all this year." (Burnet's Hist. Own Times, Oxford edit. ii.243,271,iii.61)

14-05-1681 Henry, with others, presented a petition to the king at Windsor to recall Parliament. Charles declined to receive the deputation.

09-06-1681 Henry was a witness for the defence of Fitzharris, a papist informer. This made him unpopular.

18-01-1681/2 Henry was one of 5 aldermen who protested against the "quo warranto brought against the charter of the city."

08-07-1682 proceedings taken against him for rioting when sheriffs were elected in June, when the Lord Mayor, a friend of the court had been roughly handled. He was convicted on 08-05-1683, and fined 1000 marks on 26-05-1683.(See Howell's "State Trials" ix 187-293)

October 1682 he stood with 2 others for Lord Mayor. He was defeated by the wholesale rejection of votes.

Henry did nothing to please James II and Goodenough with Rumsey provided false evidence to connect him with the Rye House Plot and with the Duke of Monmouth.

In October 1685 he was arrested and charged with high treason and committed to Newgate Prison. Tried and convicted at the Old Bailey 19-10-1685 and condemned to death.

His speech before his execution was incensed at his wrongful conviction. William Penn declared he only showed the honest resentment of an outraged man. Henry's quartered body was eventually buried in the church of St Lawrence by the Guildhall.

On 30-01-1688/9 an act of parliament was passed declaring Henry innocent. At least these days he would not have been executed!

Reginald Cornish of Kingston upon Thames (last contact with him was in 1991) is descended from Henry. He had a family tree showing his decent from Henry but the Society does not have a copy. We hope someone will be able to provide one some day!

See: "The Tryals of Henry Cornish, Esq; for Conspiring The Death of the King, and raising a Rebellion...." published in 1685.