COTES, John (?1750-1821), of Woodcote, Salop.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



7 Sept. 1782 - 1802
1806 - 24 Aug. 1821

Family and Education

b. ?1750, 1st s. of Rev. Shirley Cotes of Woodcote, rector of Wigan, by Elizabeth, da. of Francis Chambré of Petton, Salop. educ. Eton 1759; Magdalen, Oxf. 26 Oct. 1767, aged 17; m. Temple 1770. m. (1) 24 Nov. 1777,1 Hon. Lucy Courtenay (d. Dec. 1786), da. of William Courtenay, 1st Visct. Courtenay, 2da.; (2) 20 May 1794, Lady Maria Grey, da. of George Harry Grey, 5th Earl of Stamford, 2s. 5da. suc. fa. 1775.

Offices Held


Cotes continued to sit for Wigan on the Bridgeman interest with the concurrence of the Duke of Portland. At first he remained in opposition with the latter, voting against Pitt’s foreign policy on 12 Apr. 1791 and 1 Mar. 1792, and being listed a supporter of repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791. In December 1792 his name was included in a list of Portland Whigs and in February 1793 he was considered a likely recruit to Windham’s ‘third party’. He certainly ceased voting with the minority and before the election of 1796 was listed ‘pro’ by the Treasury. No speech of his in the House survives, though there is evidence of the keen interest he took in promoting a controversial local road bill in 1796.2 In 1802 he lost his seat with the overthrow of the established interests at Wigan.

Cotes possessed considerable property in Shropshire and his substitution for his kinsman Sir Richard Hill3 on the latter’s retirement from the county representation in 1806 was a step that had previously occurred to his friends. He was too strong for other contenders and virtually safe for life.4 But he was not a regular attender. Illness kept him away in March and April 1807 and again in 1808, when he was supposed to support the ministry.5 The Whigs listed him ‘Government’ in 1810, but he voted with them on the Scheldt question, 30 Mar. 1810. They had hopes of his vote, but he was absent on the Regency question, 1 Jan. 1811, though he may have paired with them on 21 Jan. On 3 Mar. 1812 he was in the minority against the orders in council. He voted for sinecure reform, 4 May, and for a stronger administration, 21 May 1812.

Although he was not listed a Treasury supporter after the election of 1812, Lord Liverpool’s half-brother assured him, 29 Oct. 1812, that Cotes ‘very seldom’ voted against government.6 Two of his daughters were in Princess Charlotte’s household. He remained neutral on Catholic relief throughout. On 11 Mar. 1816 he joined the minority against the estimates for the Household troops and a week later was in the majority against the property tax. On 25 Apr. he took a month’s leave and no other opposition votes of his survive from that Parliament, except his neighbourly vote for Charles Williams Wynn as Speaker, 2 June 1817. In the Parliament of 1818 Cotes’s attendance was hindered until June 1819 by illness, for which he took three successive leaves of absence, the last on 28 Apr., for a month. But it appears that he voted against Tierney’s censure motion of 18 May,7 and was in the minorities of 7 and 10 June against budgeting proposals and the foreign enlistment bill.

Cotes was described in 1810 as

the best old man in the world, adored in Staffordshire and Shropshire for his hearty good humour and welcome to everything that comes within a yard of him. He has a mania for farming, even to asking the people, rich and poor, whom he meets on the high road to come and look at his wheat, potatoes, etc.8

He died 24 Aug. 1821.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: M. H. Port / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Putney Mar. Reg. Bradford mss, Cotes to Bridgeman, 3 Dec. 1796.
  • 2. Bradford mss, Cotes to Bridgeman, 3 Dec. 1796.
  • 3. Cote’s cousin Mary Chambré married Sir Richard’s brother John Hill*.
  • 4. Bradford mss, Cotes to Bradford, 24 Oct., Hill to same 27 Oct., Rev. Simpson to same, 5 Nov. 1806.
  • 5. J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1808), 524.
  • 6. Add. 38250, f. 38.
  • 7. Morning Chron. 20 May 1819.
  • 8. Letters of Countess Granville, i. 13.