COTTON, Sir Robert II, 1st Bt. (c.1635-1712), of Combermere, Cheshire.
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Family and Education
b. c.1635, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Thomas Cotton of Combermere, being 1st s. by 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of Sir George Calveley of Lea and coh. to her bro. Sir Hugh. educ. travelled abroad (France) 1651-5. m. c.1666, Hester, da. of Sir Thomas Salusbury, 2nd Bt., of Llewenni, Denb. and h. to her bro. Sir John Salusbury, 5s. (4 d.v.p.) 11da. suc. gdfa. 1649; kntd. 25 June 1660; cr. Bt. 29 Mar. 1677.1
J.p. Cheshire Mar. 1660-82, ?1689-d. Denb. 1689-d., Flints. by 1701-d.; commr. for militia, Cheshire Mar. 1660; dep. lt. Cheshire 1661-82, Nov. 1688-d., Denb. and Flints. by 1701-d.; commr. for corporations, Cheshire 1662-3, loyal and indigent officers 1662, assessment, Cheshire 1663-80, Cheshire and Denb. 1689-90, Flints. 1690; alderman, Chester by 1664-84; freeman, Denbigh 1665, 1700; steward, lordship of Denbigh 1689-1702; of custos rot. Denb. June-Oct. 1689, 1699-1702, col. of militia by 1699.2
Cotton’s ancestor, of a Shropshire family, received a grant of the former Cistercian monastery of Combermere from Henry VIII. A younger brother sat for Cheshire in the reign of Mary, but they were not a regular parliamentary family. Cotton’s octogenarian grandfather contributed arms and plate to the royalist cause, and compounded for £666 13s.4d. ‘Known to bear a royalist name’, Cotton himself was included in the list drawn up by Roger Whitley in 1658, and took part in the rising led by Sir George Booth. He was knighted at the Restoration, and granted the reversion of the office of chamberlain of Chester to take effect on the death of Heneage Finch. But this grant was invalidated by Finch’s resignation in 1677 in favour of the 9th Earl of Derby. Cotton’s baronetcy was no doubt intended as compensation, but he went into opposition nevertheless. He was returned for the county as a Whig in the second general election of 1679, and in the second Exclusion Parliament probably served on the committees for repealing the Irish Cattle Act and reforming the collection of hearth-tax. At Oxford he was appointed to the committee for the exclusion bill. During the Duke of Monmouth’s ‘progress’ in Cheshire in 1682, Cotton was described as ‘his almost constant attendant’. He was dismissed from local office, and presented by the grand jury in 1683 as dangerous to the peace and security.3
At the general election of 1685 Cotton stood with John Mainwaring against two Tories. They were defeated, but petitioned, very fortunately for Cotton, since his attendance at the committee of elections, although productive of no positive result, enabled him to prove an alibi, with the aid of such unexceptionably Tory witnesses as John Ashburnham II and Sir William Twysden, when he was accused of conspiring with Lord Delamer (Henry Booth) to send assistance to Monmouth. He was noted as a member of the opposition to James II, though considerable only for his interest, and undoubtedly welcomed the Revolution. He regained his seat in 1689, but was considerably less active in the Convention than his namesake Sir Robert Cotton. In the debate on the bailing of Robert Brent, the regulator, on 6 Feb. 1689, he rather irrelevantly reminded the House of excessive bail taken from Delamer, for whom he had stood surety. The only two committees which can definitely be assigned to him were for the naturalization of Marshall Schomberg and the repeal of the Corporations Act. Lord Brandon (Hon. Charles Gerard) complained of him to the Earl of Shrewsbury as a ‘busy’ person, whose information should be disregarded, and he was removed as custos rotulorum of Denbighshire, where he had inherited the important Llewenni estate. He supported the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations, and remained a country Whig under William III. He died on 17 Dec. 1712, aged 77. His grandson, the third baronet, was returned for Cheshire as a Whig in 1727.4
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Gillian Hampson
- 1. Ormerod, Cheshire, iii. 415; Verney Mems. i. 502; ii. 28.
- 2. Chester corp. mss, assembly bk. 2, ff. 137v, 150; J. Williams, Ancient and Modern Denbigh, 109; Recs. of Denbigh, 143; Ormerod, iii. 405; CSP Dom. 1689-90, p. 31; A. L. Cust., Chrons. of Erthig, 62.
- 3. Ormerod, i. pp. lxvii, 61; iii. 414-15; Cal. Comm. Comp. 898, 2576; CSP Dom. 1682, pp. 408, 441.
- 4. CJ, ix. 721; CSP Dom. 1685, pp. 326, 336; 1689-90, p. 151; Luttrell, i. 366, 369; Reresby Mems. 406-7; HMC 7th Rep. 499; State Trials, xi. 571-4; Grey, ix. 66.