Cornelius Cayley was christened at Brompton-by-Sawdon, Yorkshire on 14 August 1644. He was a barrister who practised in Yorkshire and London. He matriculated at Gray's Inn, London on 27 November 1663 and was called to the Bar on 11 February 1669. In 1717-1718 he was closely involved in the exposure of an elaborate attempted fraud at Hackness (near Scarborough, Yorkshire) involving supposed appearances of a ghost.  He lived at York, Yorkshire, England. His Will, dated 15 April 1724, was proved at York on 15 March 1734.
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