THE COTTONS OF COMBERMERE
|Statue of Sir Stapleton Cotton, in Chester
||Spode Design incorporating image of the statue shown left.
Courtesy and copyright of the Spode Museum Trust
Combermere Abbey lies between Whitchurch and Nantwich in a beautiful
stretch of countryside. There was an abbey on this site founded about 1133 by
Hugh de Malbanc, Lord of Nantwich. It was initially a Savignac abbey but became
Cistercian. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the site, with 22,000 acres,
became the property of Sir George Cotton as a reward for his service to Henry
VIII. He pulled down most of the abbey buildings except the abbots' lodgings.
In Cheshire Country Houses, by De Figueiredo and Treuhertz, published
by Phillimore in 1988, there is a five page article on the abbey. It gives a
detailed description of the various phases of building and demolition, a plan
of the house as it was in 1900 and pictures of the exterior and interior. English
Heritage describes the north wing as being in a "parlous state"
in its Buildings at Risk Register. Combermere
Abbey now has its own website, which includes a map, to advertise holiday
accommodation. The current owners asked me to remove my pictures of the house for reasons of security.
Sir Stapleton Cotton, the sixth baronet, was born in 1772. He became a second
lieutenant in 1790, a first lieutenant in 1791 and at the age of 21 became lieutenant
colonel for the 25th Light Dragoons. He was with British forces at the Cape
in 1795, and in 1799 served in Madras against Tippo Sahib including actions
at Malavelly and Seringapatam. Later he was involved at Talavera. He was promoted
to Lieutenant General in 1812 and fought at Torres Vedras. Under Wellington's
command he distinguished himself at the Battle of Salamanca. On 17 May 1814,
he was made Baron Combermere on his return to England and given a reward of
£20,000. In 1817 he was Governor General of Barbados and in 1825 Commander
in Chief in India where he captured the fort of Bhurtapore. Sir Stapleton was
created Viscount Combermere on 2 December 1826 and became a field marshall in
1855. He was a colonel in the 1st Life Guards and Constable of the Tower of
London. Viscount Combermere lived to the age of 92; he was in military service
for 73 years and fought in 17 battles.
An equestrian statue of Sir Stapleton stands on a plinth near the gates to
Chester Castle. He was noted for being vain and was caricatured by Thackeray
in his work The Book of Snobs as Sir George Tufto, whose breast sparkled
with innumerable decorations. In the park at Combermere is an obelisk commemorating
Stapleton Cotton, and there is also a memorial at Wrenbury
Sir Stapleton Cotton's son by his second wife succeeded to the title in 1865.
He was Sir Wellington Henry Stapleton Cotton, Bart., and 2nd Viscount, appointed
a cornet in the 7th Hussars in 1837, served in Canada in 1840, became a colonel,
was in the 7th Dragoon Guards, appointed secretary to the master general of
Ordnance in 1852 and was at one time the MP for Carrickfergus. He was born in
1818 and died in 1891.
In 1919, Sir Kenneth Crossley, founder of Crossley Cars bought the estate, which then amounted to 5000 acres. In 1992, his great-granddaughter Sarah Callander Beckett inherited the estate from her mother, Penelope Lindsay.
COTTON OF COMBERMERE
The Cotton family traced its descent from Sir Hugh de Coton of Coton in Shropshire
in the time of Henry III (1216-1272). Sir George Cotton, an esquire of Henry
VIII, was knighted by him and granted Combermere in 1541. The estate then passed
through successive generations, Richard and George to Sir Thomas Cotton where
our tree begins below to show family connection in the 17th century preceding
our main interest in the 18th and 19th centuries. This family was very prolific
and produced in addition to Sir Stapleton Cotton a number of admirals, generals,
and clergymen in the 19th century. The heirs to the Combermere estate are shown
in bold type.
- 1. Thomas Cotton, died before his father Sir George, who died in
- + 1st wife, Frances, daughter of Robert (Needham) 1st Viscount Kilmorey.
- 2. George Cotton, who died 1647. He had one daughter who died before
- 2. Mary Cotton, who became wife of Captain Mainwaring of Nantwich.
- 2. Frances Cotton, who became wife of Colonel Richard Fletcher of Morley.
- + 2nd wife, Elizabeth, 3rd daughter of Sir George Calveley of Lea. She was
born 1 August 1609. She was the eldest sister and eventually co-heiress of
Sir Hugh Calveley. Sir Thomas and Elizabeth had four sons, Robert, Thomas,
Charles, and William and one daughter, Lettice. We follow only Robert.
- 2. Sir Robert Cotton, Knt. of Combermere, second son and heir,
created baronet 29 March 1677, MP for Cheshire for 36 years, died 17 December
1712 aged 77.
- + Hester, dau. of Sir Thomas Salusbury of Llewenny, Bart., and the sister
and heiress of Sir John Salubury, who died without issue in 1684. She
died about 1710. This couple had five sons and 11 daughters of whom we
follow the sons.
- 3. John Cotton, died without issue.
- 3. Hugh Calveley Cotton, married Mary, heiress of Sir William Russel
of Llanherne, Caermarthenshire. He had one daughter, Catherine who
married but had no issue.
- 3. Robert Cotton, died young.
- 3. Sir Thomas Cotton of Combermere, Bart., 4th son and heir,
died 12 June 1715, Sheriff of Cheshire in 1713.
- + Philadelphia, daughter and heiress of Thomas Lynch of Esher in
Surrey, Knt, governor of Jamaica and his wife Vere, the sister of
the Earl of Torrington. Sir Thomas and Philadelphia had 9 sons and
six daughter of whom we follow the sons.
- 4. Thomas Salusbury Cotton, died without issue.
- 4. Sir Robert Salusbury Cotton, Bart. MP for Cheshire in 1727,
died without issue 27 August 1748 aged 53 and buried at Wrenbury.
He was married to Elizabeth the eldest daughter of Lionel, Earl
- 4. Stephen Salusbury Cotton, died without issue on 7 December
1727 aged 27 and buried at Wrenbury.
- 4. John Salusbury Cotton, died without issue.
- 4. Sir Lynch Salusbury Cotton of Combermere, Bart., fifth
son and eventually heir, died 14 August 1775 aged 70 and buried
- + Elizabeth Abigail, daughter of Rowland Cotton of Bellaport
in Shropshire and Etwall in Derbyshire, who died 4 Janury 1777,
aged 64 and was buried at Wrenbury. Sir Lynch and Elizabeth Abigail
had nine sons and five daughters of whom we follow the sons below
in generation 5.
- 5. Sir Robert Salusbury Cotton of Combermere, Bart.
MP Cheshire, died in 1809
- + Frances, youngest daughter and coheiress of James Russell
Stapleton of Boddrydon, Denbighshire. the married 1767 and
she died in April 1825. This couple had fours sons and four
- 6. Sir Stapleton Cotton of Combermere, Bart.,
created Baron Combermere, 17 May 1814 and Viscount Combermere
of Bhurtpore 2 December 1826. Born 14 November 1773, died
21 April 1865 and buried at Wrenbury. He married three
- + 1st wife, Anna Maria Clinton, 1st daughter of Thomas,
3rd Duke of Newcastle, married 1 January 1801 and she
died 31 May 1807. They had three sons of whom two died
in infancy. Robert lived to the age of 19.
- 7. Robert Henry Stapleton Cotton, born 18 January
1802, died a bachelor in 1821.
- + 2nd wife, Caroline, 2nd daughter of W. Fulke Greville,
Esq., married 18 June 1814. She died 25 January 1837.
They had one son and two daughters.
- 7. Sir Wellington Henry Stapleton Cotton,
Bart., 2nd Viscount Combermere, born 24 November 1818
and died in 1891. There is a monument to him in Wrenbury
church. He married Susan Alice, eldest daughter of
Sir George Sitwell, Bart., on 29 July 1844.
- 7. Caroline, born 1815, married in 1837 to Arthur
Hill, Lord Hillsborough son and heir of the Marquis
- 7. Meliora Emily Anna Maria Cotton, married 18 June
1853 to John Charles Frederick Hunter of Straidarran
in County Londonderry.
- + 3rd wife, Mary Woolley, sole daughter and heir of
Robert Gibbings of Gibbings Grove in County Cork. Married
1838 and alive in 1880. No issue.
- 6. Robert Salusbury Cotton, born 1768 and died unmarried
- 6. William Cotton, clerk, Rector of Audlem, died 1853.
- 6. Lynch Cotton, Colonel in the 23rd Welsh Fusileers,
died Calcutta 1808.
- 6. Frances Cotton, married Robert Viscount Kilmorey
on 10 January 1791 and died November 1818
- 6. Penelope Cotton, died 1786
- 6. Hester Maria Cotton, born 1772 and died unmarried
- 6. Sophia Cotton, married Sir H. M. Mainwaring
of Peover, Bart. at Burleydam, 29 December 1803.
- 5. Rowland Cotton, Esq., became an admiral.
- + Elizabeth dau. of Sir Willoughby Ashton, Bart. They had
one son and two daughters, Sydney and Arabella.
- 6. Sir Willoughby Cotton, GCB only son, lieu-colonel
in 3rd Regiment of Guards, later a general and commander
in chief at Bombay. Born 1783 and died in London in 1860.
He married Augusta daughter of the Earl of Coventry in
1806 and she died in 1865.
- 7. Willoughby Cotton, died in 1841.
- 7. Corbet Cotton, Esq. of London, general in the
- 7. Augusta, wife of Henry Vaughan Brooke
- 5. Lynch Cotton, in service with the East India Company,
- 5. George Cotton LL.D, rector of Stoke in Staffordshire,
of Dodleston and Davenham in Cheshire, Dean of Chester, died
- + Catherine, dau. of James Tomkinson of Dorfold Hall, Esq.,
and had issue. He died in 1805.
- 5. Thomas Cotton, a clerk in the Treasury.
- 5. William Cotton, in the army, unmarried.
- 5. Richard Cotton, killed in action at Camden in America,
captain in the 33rd. Regiment
- 5. John Cotton, died young.
- 5. Henry Calveley Cotton, Captain in the 1st Life Guards.
- + Matilda, only dau. of John Lockwood, Esq., of Ashted in
Surrey. This couple had 11 sons and three daughters: Matilda
Hester, died in infancy; Matilda Hester (1791-1868); Maria
- 6. Henry Calveley Cotton, born 1789, died 1850.
- 6. Sir Sydney John Cotton, GCB, a major general in the
army, born 1792, died 1874.
- 6. Richard Lynch Cotton, DD, born 1794.
- 6. Rowland Edward Cotton, born 1795 and died 1823.
- 6 Charles Robert Cotton, MA, born 1796.
- 6. Hugh Calveley Cotton, born 1798.
- 6. Francis Vere Cotton, Esq., of Whitchurch, born 1799,
became an admiral.
- 6. Robert Salusbury Cotton, born 1800, died 1824.
- 6. Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton, KCSI of Madras Engineers,
became a general, born 1803.
- 6. George Herbert Cotton, 1806-1844.
- 6. Frederick Conyers Cotton Esq, CSI of London, Madras
Engineers, became a general.
- 4. William Salusbury Cotton
- 4. Henry Salusbury Cotton
- 4. George Calvely Cotton
- 4. Hugh Calveley Cotton, died in infancy, 24 June 1702 and buried
- 3. George Cotton, fifth son, died unmarried 8 January 1702 and buried
|Tomb of Sir Stapleton Cotton
||The top of the tomb
||Inscription on base of Sir Stapleton Cotton's tomb
The photographs above were taken at St. Margaret's church in Wrenbury on 14 August 2013. They show the three parts of the memorial to Sir Stapleton Cotton. In the central panel, above the kneeling angel is
a list of Sir Stapleton Cotton's battles over more than 30 years starting with
the Napoleonic Wars with many battles in the Peninsula War and including the
West Indies, India and South Africa: Flanders, 1793; Cape of Good Hope; Maclavelly; Seringapatam; Douro; Talavera; Busaco; Leira; Villa Garcia; Fuentes d'Honor; El Bodon; Castrejon; Salamanca; Orthez; Toulouse; West Indies; Bhurtpore, 1825
Cheshire Country Houses by de Figueiredo and Treuhertz.
Cheshire Heroes by W. I. Wild in Cheshire Notes and Queries, Vol
1, page 179, December 1896.
Ormerod's History of Cheshire, 2nd edition.
For the Spode design incorporating Sir Stapleton Cotton, I am grateful to Pam Woolliscroft, Curator of the
Spode Museum Trust, Church St., Stoke on Trent, ST4 1BX, England. It comes from a pattern book of 1871
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Introduction to Cheshire Gentry
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