ARMS OF THE FAMILY OF CORNISH
from a letter to Philip Lax Cornish Mem. No. 78
from the College of Arms 16.01.1950
I have now made a search in our records for which you asked with regard to the Arms of the family of Cornish, with the following results:
1. In the Herald's Visitation of London made in 1633/4 (2.C.24,447), there is a pedigree of four generations beginning with "Walter Cornish of Tiverton in Com: Devon, descended of Cornish of Cornish Hall in Com: Cornwall," and coming down to his grandson George Cornish, haberdasher of London, living in 1634 with seven sons and five daughters. The Arms allowed to this family are shown as:- Sable a chevron embattles or, charged with a crescent, between three roses argent; Crest - a bird sable rising on a log of wood from which is issuing a twig with leaves vert, and berries or, small flowers gules. As there is no written blazon, one may presume this bird is a chough, though the red beaks and legs which constitute an heraldic chough are not tricked. Under the Arms is written "Quere in the Visitation of Devon". I do not find this Coat or Pedigree in any of the Visitations of Devon.
2. On 14th July 1847, a Grant of Arms was made to Robert Stribling Cornish of the City of Exeter, gentleman, because "on examination of the College of Arms the armorial ensigns used by him do not appear recorded to his family, and being unwilling to continue the use thereof without lawful authority", he applied for a fresh Grant. The following Arms were granted to him and his descendants and to the other descendants of his father Robert Cornish of the City of Exeter, gentleman, deceased:- Per pale azure and sable a chevron embattles between in chief two roses and in base a cross pattee or; Crest - between two branches of laurel in saltire a Cornish chough rising proper charged on the breast with a cross pattee or; Motto - Deus pascit corvos.
3. A pedigree entered in our Genealogical Records (16.D.14,36) shows that Mr R. S. Cornish had two brothers, both with families and that his only son changed his name to Mowbray, by Royal Licence, on marrying a Miss Mowbray, her father's heiress. This Pedigree being entered in 1847 does not come down much further, but the males in the last generation are:- Sidney Henry Cornish, Frank Fortescue Cornish, Charles Edward Cornish, Walter Cornish, Robert Cornish, Stephen Cornish and John Robert Mowbray formerly Cornish, who quartered the Arms of Cornish and Mowbray by Royal Licence.
4. On 21st November 1863, the following Arms were granted by Royal Licence to Charles Brown Cornish of Sandford, County Devon, gentleman upon his taking the surname of Brown in addition to and after that of Cornish, and quartering Arms for Cornish with those of Brown under the terms of the will of his maternal great-uncle John Brown of Sandford, gentleman:- Azure a chevron dovetail between in chief two roses and in base an escallop argent; Crest - upon a ragged staff or, a Cornish chough wings expanded proper each charged with a rose or; Motto - Deus pascit corvos. His name of course, became Charles Brown Cornish-Brown. It will be seen that these Arms are another slightly differenced version of the same Coat and indicate that Mr C.B.Cornish-Brown was of the same family, though unable to prove his exact descent.
5. A short pedigree of the above family entered in our records (17.D.14,358) shows that Mr Cornish-Brown had one brother John William Cornish who was not included in the terms of the Royal Licence and therefore neither he nor his descendants would be entitled to the Arms. They were the sons of John William Cornish, solicitor of Bristol, and grandsons of John Cornish, also solicitor of Bristol.
You yourself would only be entitled to bear Arms should you be descended in the male line from one of the persons mentioned at No. 3 above and upon proving and registering a pedigree in our records setting forth such descent.
It might, of course, be within the bounds of possibility to prove a descent back to the original Visitation Pedigree at No. 1 but as neither of the two Grantees attempted to do so, it would probably be difficult as there is so long a gap to be bridged, and a more expensive matter than applying for a new and slightly "differenced" version of the Arms. Should you not be a descendant of Robert Stribling Cornish, this last-named course is open to you, and I can send you particulars of the procedure if desired. The total cost of a new Grant to yourself and your descendants is £105.0.0.*
Yours faithfully, R.P.Graham-Vivian p.p. R.E.Windsor.
* Note: this was in 1950 - BUT a book on simple Heraldry republished in 1993 still states this price. Can it be correct?