Cornwall, duchy of

views updated May 29 2018

Cornwall, duchy of. From the Norman Conquest onwards, Cornwall has had close links with the crown. William the Conqueror gave large estates there to his half-brother Robert; Reynold, an illegitimate son of Henry I, was created earl of Cornwall in 1141; John's second son Richard was earl of Cornwall, but his line became extinct by 1300. In 1337 Edward III created his son, Edward the Black Prince, duke of Cornwall—the first English dukedom. Henceforward the duchy belonged to the prince of Wales, reverting to the crown when there was no prince—for example, during much of the Tudor period. It was administered from Lostwithiel. It is a private estate, provides the prince of Wales with most of his income, and has property outside Cornwall. The lord warden of the stannaries, appointed by the duke, presides over the Council of the Duchy, and the duke appoints the sheriff of Cornwall. The great influence of the duchy may explain why there have been few great aristocratic families in Cornwall. The duke had considerable electoral influence before 1832, when Cornwall was full of parliamentary boroughs, which was the basis for the opposition interest built up by Frederick, prince of Wales, against Sir Robert Walpole. The duchy owns 130,000 acres in some 23 counties, together with a number of shops, offices, and houses. The annual income from the duchy was estimated in 1996 as £4.5 million, but since 1993 the prince of Wales has paid standard income tax.

J. A. Cannon

Cornwall, Duchy of

views updated May 29 2018

Cornwall, Duchy of an estate vested in the Prince of Wales, consisting of properties in Cornwall and elsewhere in SW England.