English missionary priest and scholar; b. Oct. 5, 1720; d. Newcastle on Tyne, Jan. 26, 1791. Cordell, member of a prominent family of Scotney Castle and Calehill, Kent, received his early education at Dame Alice's school, Fernyhalgh, and began his studies for the priesthood at Douai in 1739. Following his ordination, he returned to England, June 10, 1748, where he first served as chaplain at Arundel, county seat of the Dukes of Norfolk. Between 1755 and 1791 Cordell labored as a missionary in Roundhay in Yorkshire, the Isle of Man, and Newcastle on Tyne. Cordell's superiors, regarding him as an effective preacher and sound scholar, offered him the post of president of the English College of Saint-Omer in 1778. He declined it. In addition to translating a number of devotional and controversial works, he wrote a refutation of an attack on Pope Clement XIV, A Letter to the Author of a Book Called "A Candid and Impartial Sketch of the Life and Goverment of Clement XIV." In this pamphlet he defended the pope's dealings with the Jesuits. In politics Cordell retained a sentimental attachment to the cause of the exiled Catholic Stuarts.
Bibliography: j. gillow, A Literary and Biographical History or Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics from 1534 to the Present Time, 5 v. (London-New York 1885–1902; repr. New York 1961) 1:565–568. t. cooper, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 1885–1900; repr. with corrections, 21 v., 1908–09, 1921–22, 1938; suppl. 1901–) 4:1138.
[h. f. gretsch]