Sir John Eliot (1592–1632), MP for his birthplace of St Germans from 1614, was an outspoken critic of King Charles I and his policies. He often spoke in the House of Commons against what he regarded as illegal taxation and insufficient enforcement of laws against Roman Catholics, was imprisoned on three separate occasions and died of consumption while in captivity in the Tower of London.
Leonard Courtney, later Baron Courtney of Penwith (1832–1918), Liberal MP for Liskeard from 1876, was for a time a member of Gladstone’s administration, but helped to defeat the Home Rule for Ireland Bill in 1885. He later became a Liberal Unionist, but distanced himself from his colleagues after regular disagreements with other members and the leadership on policies which led to the Boer War, and left parliament in 1900.
Tom Horabin (1896–1956), Liberal and then Labour MP for North Cornwall from 1939 to 1950, became Liberal Chief Whip in 1945. He resigned from the party a year later as he believed they were becoming almost indistinguishable in their policies from the Conservatives, and took the Labour whip, but stood down from parliament three years later before a General Election in which he would almost certainly have been heavily defeated.
David Mudd (1933–), Conservative MP for Falmouth and Camborne from 1970 to 1992, was a well-known newspaper and local TV journalist before being elected to parliament, and the author of several titles on the county’s history. A frequent rebel against party policies where he considered they did not benefit Cornish people or industry, he ended his career as an Independent Conservative about a year before standing down.
David Penhaligon (1944–86), Liberal MP for Truro from 1974 to 1986, served a term as Liberal Party President. Much-respected and admired by members and voters from all parties, he was regarded as a potential party leader and would probably have been chosen thus had it not been for his untimely death in a road accident.
Sebastian Coe (1956–), Conservative MP for Falmouth and Camborne from 1992 to 1997, had already enjoyed a successful career as an athlete before entering politics (see here).
PRIME MINISTERS AND CORNWALL
At least five prime ministers have had some association with the county. Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), remembered as the victorious commander at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, and who subsequently became Tory prime minister from 1828 to 1830 and again briefly in 1834, is buried in a tomb at St Paul’s Cathedral made from pink granite taken from the quarry at Luxulyan.
Sir Anthony Eden, later Lord Avon (1897–1977), Conservative prime minister from 1955 to 1957, spent some time convalescing in the county in December 1957 after a period of ill health which had led to his resignation from office. He and his wife rented Morval House near Looe for a short period, spending Christmas there prior to returning to London.
Harold Wilson, later Baron Wilson of Rievaulx (1916–95), Labour Prime Minister from 1964 to 1970 and again from 1974 to 1976, was Yorkshire born and bred, and sat for constituencies in Lancashire, but evidently had a soft spot for Cornwall. He joined the Labour Party at Liskeard during the Second World War, and his father Herbert lived for some time in his latter years at Biscovey. During his time in parliament Harold had holiday homes successively at Perranporth and the Isles of Scilly. Although he died in London, he was laid to rest in the grounds of St Mary’s Church, Isles of Scilly.
Margaret Thatcher, later Baroness Thatcher (1925–), Conservative prime minister from 1979 to 1990, also spent regular holidays in Cornwall, particularly in the Constantine Bay area, during her years of office. In May 1983 she made the first public appearance of her second General Election campaign as party leader, according to a correspondent from The Times, by ‘fondling a newly dead lobster in Cornwall’ on the north coast.
David Cameron (1966–), Conservative prime minister in 2010, was on holiday with his wife Samantha and their family in Cornwall during August 2010 while she was expecting their fourth child. The baby, a daughter, was born at Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, and named Florence Rose Endellion, the last after the village of St Endellion.