William Cornelison

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William Cornelison
Person William Cornelison
First name William
Middle name(s)
Last name Cornelison
Spouse of
Widow of
Occupation Mariner
Secondary shorebased occupation
Mariner occupation Master
Associated with ship(s) Two Brothers (Master: William Cornelison)
Training Not apprentice
Is apprentice of
Was apprentice of
Had apprentice(s)
Citizen Unknown
Literacy Marke
Has opening text William Cornelison
Has signoff text WC
Signoff image (Invalid transcription image)
Language skills Dutch language
Has interpreter
Birth street Near Liverpool
Birth parish
Birth town
Birth county Lancashire
Birth province
Birth country England
Res street
Res parish
Res town Dunkirk
Res county
Res province Flanders
Res country Spanish Netherlands
Birth year 1611
Marriage year
Death year
Probate date
First deposition age 43
Primary sources
Act book start page(s)
Personal answer start page(s)
Allegation start page(s)
Interrogatories page(s)
Deposition start page(s) HCA 13/68 f.493v Annotate
Chancery start page(s)
Letter start page(s)
Miscellaneous start page(s)
Act book date(s)
Personal answer date(s)
Allegation date(s)
Interrogatories date(s)
Deposition date(s) Feb 7 1654
How complete is this biography?
Has infobox completed Yes
Has synthesis completed No
Has HCA evidence completed No
Has source comment completed No
Ship classification
Type of ship Merchant ship
Silver Ship litigation in 1650s
Role in Silver Ship litigation None

Biographical synthesis

William Cornelison (alt. England: William Keeles; Spain: William Cornelia; Flanders: Willemm Cornelison) (b. 1611; d. ?). Mariner.

Master of the ship the Two Brothers, allegedly formerly named the ffortune.

Resident in 1654 in Dunkirk.

William Cornelison was born near Liverpool in Lancashire. He had moved to Spain aaround the age of ten, and as a mariner went form port to port within the Mediterranean, before coming to Flanders, where he had lived in both Ostend and Dunkirk. In 1652 he had lived in Amsterdam with his wife, who had died in late 1653.

Evidence from High Court of Admiralty

Forty-three year old William Cornelison deposed on February 7th 1654 in the High Court of Admiralty. He was examined on interrogatories in the cause of "The Lord Protector against a shipp called now the Two Brothers, and formerly (as is said) the ffortune".[1]

The case involved the ship the Two Brothers, allegedly purchased at Rotterdam by Mr Boldero (alt. Baldero), an English merchant of the same city. William Cornelison had been put in master of the ship and had brought the ship first to Dunkirk, with a lading of queen stones and hops, and then with the same lading appears to have sailed to London.[2]

William Cornelison's story was remarkable in terms of geographical mobility. He stated that he was "an Englishman borne", at a location near Liverpool in Lancashire, where he lived until about the age of ten. He "thence went and lived 5 yeares in Spaine, thence hee went into the streights and setled up and downe there about six yeares and then in other places, and hath used that imployment as a sailor from port to port till hee came to settle in fflanders". In Flanders, Cornelison stated he had lived and kept house at Ostend and Dunkirk "for these 11 yeares last".[3]

William Cornelison's identity, as reflected in his travels and his name, was malleable. He had four different versions of his name - the name he was born with, his Spanish name, his Flemish name, and the name by which the Admiralty Court notary recorded his deposition. In his own words he stated that "His name in English is William Keeles, and that he was alwayes called by that name in England, but not abroad, the Spaniards calling him William Cornelia and the fflemings Willemm Cornelison as nearest to his owne name and to their pronunciation, and that this deponents fathers name was Robert Keeles, and that his said father was alwayes called by that name". The Admiralty Court notary rendered his name with the anglicised William, but used the Flemish Cornelison.[4]

He had taken a wife, who was possibly (though not necessarily) Flemish. According to Cornelison, "his wife lived alwayes with him at Ostend and Dunquirke for the time aforesaid of his dwelling there till about five monethes since that shee dyed, saving that for a yeeres speace or thereabouts ended about a twelvemoneth since, shee and this deponent dwellt at Amsterdam, and that his nowe dwelling is in Dunquirke, where (living single) hee hath only a chamber."[5]

Comment on sources

Profile of George Boldero (b. ca. 1603; d. ca. 1666). London merchant

Profile of Henry Boldero (b. ?; d. ?). Rotterdam merchant
  1. HCA 13/68 f.493v
  2. HCA 13/68 f.493v
  3. HCA 13/68 f.493v
  4. HCA 13/68 f.493v
  5. HCA 13/68 f.493v