CARNSEW, William II (d. ?c.1627), of Bokelly; later of St. Anthony, nr. Falmouth, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

3rd s. of William Carnsew I by Honor, da. of John Fitz. educ. Broadgates Hall, Oxf. 1576, BCL 1588, fellow, All Souls 1579. m. 1610, Anne, da. of John Arundell of Trerice, Cornw., s.p.

Offices Held

Quartermaster of the Cornish musters by 1600 to at least 1619.


Carnsew’s family had been established at Bokelly, some six miles from Camelford, since 1464. Like his elder brothers, he was educated at home by his father. He then went to Oxford, and became a fellow of All Souls, paying Reginald Scriven £30 to resign in his favour, and obtaining royal letters ‘by procurement of the Earl of Leicester’ in support of his appointment. He spent the succeeding decade at Oxford and in London. In letters home he taunted his brother for falling in love when there was ‘so much doing for a young man abroad in the world ... Keep your Candlemas with my Lord of Leicester in Antwerp, for he says he will dine there on Candlemas day and so you will do well to bear him company at his feast’. He used his contacts to further the various family lawsuits: ‘if the matter be not heard with indifference for us at court I shall curse all lousy lawing and lawyers too ... The judges’ sons do come to me often and are fair of me, who am no small fool in this house [All Souls] as I take myself’. On leaving Oxford he settled with his brother Richard at Bokelly, described by Carew as ‘a college of single living and kind entertaining’—for as yet none of the Carnsew brothers and sisters had married. Carew specially mentioned William, ‘whose well qualified and sweet pleasing sufficiency draweth him out from this cloister to converse with and assist his friends’. He was later to become Carew’s brother-in-law and overseer of his will.

The Carnsew family owned property at Kinsale, Ireland, which William first visited in 1581. Though his affairs there were usually handled by an agent, in moments of crisis he crossed over to Ireland himself to settle legal disputes, despite ‘the sickness and pain’ he endured at sea. After his marriage in 1610 he settled at St. Anthony, near Falmouth, and embarked on several business ventures, apparently with small success, for in 1617 he was in debt. He was also an agent for his brother, though he discouraged the latter’s land deals, advising him rather to ‘rejoice in that God hath sent you, as Solomon adviseth, than toil yourself in purchasing, which many times doth bring contention’. He died in or about 1627; administration of his goods being granted to his brother Sir Richard.

Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 76-7; G. C. Boase and W. P. Courtney, Bibliog. Cornub. 1115; Carew’s Surv. Cornw. ed. Halliday, 69, 154, 198; J. Maclean, Trigg Minor, ii. 169-71; SP46/71/64, 77, 117, 221; SP46/72/81, 94, 103, 127, 180, 200, 266.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: R.C.G.