Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere

Field Marshal Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere GCB GCH KSI PC (14 November 1773 – 21 February 1865), was a British Army officer, diplomat and politician. As a junior officer he took part in the Flanders Campaign, in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War and in the suppression of Robert Emmet's insurrection in 1803. He commanded a cavalry brigade in Sir Arthur Wellesley's Army before being given overall command of the cavalry in the latter stages of the Peninsular War. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Ireland and then Commander-in-Chief, India. In the latter role he stormed Bharatpur—a fort which previously had been deemed impregnable.

The Viscount Combermere

Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere by Mary Martha Pearson (née Dutton)
Governor of Barbados
In office
MonarchGeorge III
Preceded byJohn Foster Alleyne (acting)
Succeeded byJohn Brathwaite Skeete (acting)
Personal details
Born14 November 1773
Lleweni Hall, Denbighshire
Died21 February 1865 (aged 91)
Clifton, Bristol, Bristol
Alma materWestminster School
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order
Knight Companion of the Order of the Star of India
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/service British Army
Years of service1790–1830
RankField Marshal
Commands25th Light Dragoons
16th Light Dragoons
Commander-in-Chief, Ireland
Commander-in-Chief, India
Battles/warsFrench Revolutionary Wars
Fourth Anglo-Mysore War
Peninsular War



Cotton was born at Lleweni Hall in Denbighshire,[1] the second surviving son of Sir Robert Salusbury Cotton, 5th Baronet and Frances Cotton (née Stapleton). When he was eight, Cotton was sent to board at the grammar school in Audlem some 8 miles (13 km) from the family's estate at Combermere Abbey, where he was tutored by the headmaster, the Reverend William Salmon, who was also chaplain of the private Cotton chapel outside the estate gates.[2] A quick, lively boy, he was known by his family as ‘Young Rapid,’ and was continually in scrapes.[3] After three years in Audlem, he continued his education at Westminster School where he joined the fourth form under Dr. Dodd and his contemporaries included future soldiers Jack Byng, Robert Wilson and the poet Robert Southey.[2] He was then sent to Norwood House, a private military academy in Bayswater, which was run by a Shropshire militiaman, Major Reynolds, an acquaintance of his father's. On 26 February 1790, Cotton's father obtained for him a second-lieutenancy, without purchase, in the 23rd Regiment of Foot or Royal Welch Fusiliers, which he joined in Dublin in 1791.[4][5] He was promoted to lieutenant in the 77th Regiment of Foot on 9 April 1791[6] and, having transferred back to the 23rd Regiment of Foot on 13 April 1791,[7] he was promoted to captain in the 6th Dragoon Guards on 28 February 1793.[8] He served with his regiment at the Siege of Dunkirk in August 1793 and at the Battle of Beaumont in April 1794 under the Duke of York during the Flanders Campaign.[9] He became a major in the 59th Regiment of Foot on 28 April 1794 and commanding officer of the 25th Light Dragoons (subsequently 22nd) with the rank of lieutenant colonel on 27 September 1794.[10]

In 1796 Cotton went with his regiment to India. En route he took part in operations in Cape Colony (July to August 1796), and on arrival was present at the Siege of Seringapatam in May 1799 during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War,[9] where he first met Colonel Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington.[11] He became commanding officer of the 16th Light Dragoons, then based in Brighton, on 18 February 1800.[12] Promoted to colonel on 1 January 1800,[13] he was posted with his regiment to Ireland in 1802 and took part in the suppression of Robert Emmet's insurrection in 1803.[9] Promoted to major general on 2 November 1805,[14] he was given command of a cavalry brigade at Weymouth.[9]

Peninsular War

Cotton was elected Member of Parliament for Newark in 1806.[15] He was deployed to Portugal in April 1809 and commanded a cavalry brigade in Sir Arthur Wellesley's Army.[9] Cotton was both courageous and also splendidly dressed in battle throughout the Peninsular War and was nicknamed the "Lion d' Or" ("Lion of Gold").[5] He took part in the Second Battle of Porto in May 1809 and the Battle of Talavera in July 1809 and, having succeeded to his father's baronetcy in August 1809, returned home to view his estate.[9] He returned to Portugal in May 1810 and, having been promoted to the local rank of lieutenant general and given overall command of the cavalry, fought at the Battle of Bussaco in September 1810 and then covered the withdrawal to the Lines of Torres Vedras later that year.[9]

After fighting at the Battle of Sabugal in April 1811 and the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro in May 1811, Cotton was promoted to the substantive rank of lieutenant general on 1 January 1812.[16] He took part in the Battle of Salamanca in July 1812, where he was second-in command of the Army. During the engagement he successfully led a cavalry charge against Maucune's division, leading Wellington to exclaim, "By God, Cotton, I never saw anything so beautiful in my life; the day is yours."[17] According to Wellington's subsequent despatch, "Cotton made a most gallant and successful charge against a body of the enemy's infantry which they overthrew and cut to pieces."[18] At the end of the battle he was accidentally shot by a Portuguese sentry.[9] In recognition of his gallantry he was appointed a Knight of the Order of the Bath on 21 August 1812[19] and an honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Portuguese Military Order of the Tower and Sword on 11 March 1813.[20]

Cotton went on to fight at the Battle of the Pyrenees in July 1813, the Battle of Orthez in February 1814 and the Battle of Toulouse in April 1814.[9] For these services he was raised to the peerage as Baron Combermere in the county palatine of Chester on 3 May 1814[21] and advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 4 January 1815.[22]


Cotton was not present at the Battle of Waterloo as the command of the cavalry had been given, at the insistence of the Prince Regent, to Lord Uxbridge, a more senior general.[23] When Uxbridge was wounded Cotton took over his command and served with the Army of Occupation following the cessation of hostilities.[23]

Cotton became Governor of Barbados and commander of the West Indian forces in March 1817.[24] In the West Indies, Cotton's aide-de-camp was Thomas Moody, Kt..[25][26][27]

Cotton is mentioned in unverified stories of the Chase Vault as being a witness to its allegedly "moving coffins" while serving as Governor of Barbados.[28] Between 1814 and 1820, Cotton undertook an extensive remodelling of his home, Combermere Abbey, including Gothic ornamentation of the Abbot's House and the construction of Wellington's Wing (now demolished) to mark Wellington's visit to the house in 1820.[29] He was appointed the last Governor of Sheerness in January 1821[30] and became Commander-in-Chief, Ireland in 1822.[31]


Having been promoted to full general on 27 May 1825 Cotton became Commander-in-Chief, India.[23] In that role on 18 January 1826, after a three-week siege, he stormed the capital of the Princely state of Bharatpur with its fort, which had previously been deemed impregnable, and restored the rightful raja to the throne.[32] For his success in India he was raised in the peerage as Viscount Combermere on 8 February 1827.[33] On his return to England, he brought with him the 17.75-ton Bhurtpore gun,[32] which for many years stood outside the Royal Artillery Barracks at Woolwich.[34] He retired from active service in 1830.[23]

Post 1850

Memorial to Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere
Memorial in St Margaret's Church, Wrenbury

He succeeded Wellington as Constable of the Tower and Lord Lieutenant of the Tower Hamlets in October 1852[35] and was promoted to field marshal on 2 October 1855.[36] He was appointed a Knight of the Order of the Star of India on 19 August 1861.[37]

Cotton also served as honorary colonel of the 20th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons, as honorary colonel of the 3rd (The King's Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons[38] and then as honorary colonel of the 1st Regiment of Life Guards.[39] He died at Colchester House in Clifton on 21 February 1865 and was buried at St Margaret's Church in Wrenbury.[5] An equestrian statue in bronze, the work of Carlo, Baron Marochetti, was raised in his honour at Chester by the inhabitants of Cheshire in October 1865.[40] An obelisk was also erected in his memory on the edge of Combermere Park in 1890.[41] Combermere was succeeded by his only son, Wellington Henry Stapleton-Cotton.[23]


A memorial obelisk in Combermere Park, near Whitchurch, Shropshire.

Combermere was married three times:

  • Robert Henry Stapleton Cotton (18 January 1802 – 1821)
  • a son who died young
  • another son who died young.
  • On 22 June 1814,[42] Caroline Greville (d. 25 January 1837), daughter of Captain William Fulke Greville. They had three children:[41]
  • In 1838, Mary Woolley (née Gibbings), by whom he had no issue.[5]


  1. ^ Shand 1902, p. 394.
  2. ^ a b Stapleton Cotton, Stapleton Cotton & Knollys 1866, p. 25.
  3. ^ Chichester 1887, pp. 316–319.
  4. ^ Stapleton Cotton, Stapleton Cotton & Knollys 1866, p. 30.
  5. ^ a b c d "Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  6. ^ "No. 13297". The London Gazette. 5 April 1791. p. 213.
  7. ^ "No. 13347". The London Gazette. 27 September 1791. p. 542.
  8. ^ Heathcote, p. 94
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Heathcote, p. 95
  10. ^ "No. 13707". The London Gazette. 23 September 1794. p. 973.
  11. ^ Smithers, A.J. (1998). Honorable Conquests: An account of the enduring work of the Royal Engineers throughout the Empire. Pen and Sword. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-4738-1532-2.
  12. ^ "No. 15231". The London Gazette. 15 February 1800. p. 153.
  13. ^ "No. 15218". The London Gazette. 31 December 1799. p. 1.
  14. ^ "No. 15856". The London Gazette. 29 October 1805. p. 1341.
  15. ^ "No. 16029". The London Gazette. 16 May 1807. p. 657.
  16. ^ "No. 16556". The London Gazette. 28 December 1811. p. 2498.
  17. ^ Barthorp 1990, p. 14.
  18. ^ "No. 16633". The London Gazette. 16 August 1812. p. 1633.
  19. ^ "No. 16636". The London Gazette. 18 August 1812. p. 1677.
  20. ^ "No. 16711". The London Gazette. 13 March 1813. p. 531.
  21. ^ "No. 16894". The London Gazette. 3 May 1814. p. 936.
  22. ^ "No. 16972". The London Gazette. 4 January 1815. p. 18.
  23. ^ a b c d e Heathcote, p. 96
  24. ^ "No. 17235". The London Gazette. 29 March 1817. p. 786.
  25. ^ The Royal Military Calendar or Army Service and Commission Book, Third Edition, Vol. V, 1820. p. 333.
  26. ^ Slave Trade. Three Volumes. (Vol.2.) Papers Relating to Slaves in the Colonies; Slaves Manumitted; Slaves Imported, Exported; Manumissions, Marriages; Slave Trade at the Mauritius; Apprenticed Africans; Captured negroes at Tortola, St. Christopher's, and Demerara; etc. Session: 21 November 1826 – 2 July 1827: Vol XXII. House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, 1826–1827. p. Slave Trade: Papers Relating To, p.54.
  27. ^ Rupprecht, Anita (September 2012). "'When he gets among his countrymen,they tell him that he is free': Slave Trade Abolition, Indentured Africans and a Royal Commission". Slavery & Abolition. 33 (3): 435–455.
  28. ^ "Lord Combermere's Ghost". Combermere Abbey. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  29. ^ Callander Beckett S (2004) 'A Brief History of Combermere Abbey' (pamphlet)
  30. ^ "No. 17676". The London Gazette. 3 February 1821. p. 289.
  31. ^ "No. 18130". The London Gazette. 23 April 1825. p. 700.
  32. ^ a b "Viscount Combermere". The Daily Telegraph. 16 November 2000. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  33. ^ Burke 1869, p. 254.
  34. ^ Murray 1878, p. 486.
  35. ^ "No. 21366". The London Gazette. 12 October 1852. p. 2663.
  36. ^ "No. 21792". The London Gazette. 2 October 1855. p. 3652.
  37. ^ "No. 22542". The London Gazette. 27 August 1861. p. 3501.
  38. ^ "No. 17676". The London Gazette. 3 February 1821. p. 288.
  39. ^ "No. 18614". The London Gazette. 25 September 1829. p. 1765.
  40. ^ Historic England. "Equestrian statue of Stapleton Cotton Viscount Combermere (1376255)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  41. ^ a b c "The Cottons of Combermere Abbey". Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  42. ^ Marriage Register of St Mary Lambeth.



 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChichester, Henry Manners (1887). "Cotton, Stapleton". In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 12. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
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Henry Willoughby
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Military offices
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Colonel of the 20th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
Regiment disbanded
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Governor of Sheerness
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Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Life Guards
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Government offices
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Governor of Barbados
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Honorary titles
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Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Combermere
Succeeded by
Wellington Stapleton-Cotton
Baron Combermere
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
Robert Salusbury Cotton
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Wellington Stapleton-Cotton
1770s in Wales

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1773 in Wales

This article is about the particular significance of the year 1773 to Wales and its people.

1st Regiment of Life Guards

The 1st Regiment of Life Guards was a cavalry regiment in the British Army, part of the Household Cavalry. It was formed in 1788 by the union of the 1st Troop of Horse Guards and 1st Troop of Horse Grenadier Guards. In 1922, it was amalgamated with the 2nd Life Guards to form the Life Guards.

Arthur Hill, 4th Marquess of Downshire

Arthur Wills Blundell Sandys Trumbull Windsor Hill, 4th Marquess of Downshire KP (6 August 1812 – 6 August 1868) was an Irish peer, styled Earl of Hillsborough until 1845.

The eldest son of Arthur Hill, 3rd Marquess of Downshire, Hillsborough was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. He was commissioned an ensign in the Royal South Down Militia, of which his father was colonel, on 4 June, and was commissioned lieutenant-colonel in the same on 10 September.

He was appointed Sheriff of County Down for 1834. From 1836 until 1845, he represented Down in Parliament, and was a justice of the peace for the county as well.On 23 August 1837, he married Hon. Caroline Frances Stapleton Cotton, the eldest daughter of Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere. They had four children:

Arthur Hill, Viscount Kilwarlin (10 June 1841 – 28 June 1841)

Lady Alice Maria Hill (7 November 1842 – 25 February 1928), married Thomas Taylour, Earl of Bective and had issue

Arthur Hill, 5th Marquess of Downshire (1844–1874)

Col. Lord Arthur William Hill (1846–1931)He became Marquess of Downshire on 12 April 1845 on the death of his father, and was appointed to his father's Militia colonelcy on 30 July. His English residence was Easthampstead Park in Berkshire, and he was appointed a deputy lieutenant of that county in 1852, and a Knight of the Order of St Patrick on 24 May 1859. He had Easthampstead Church rebuilt in 1867.

Arthur Hill, 5th Marquess of Downshire

Arthur Wills Blundell Trumbull Sandys Roden Hill, 5th Marquess of Downshire (24 December 1844 – 31 March 1874), was an Irish peer, styled Earl of Hillsborough until 1868. He became Marquess of Downshire in 1868 on the death of his father. He lived at the family seat of Easthampstead Park, within 5,000 acres in Berkshire, and Hillsborough Castle, within 115,000 acres in Hillsborough, County Down.

Arthur Hill was son to Arthur Hill, 4th Marquess of Downshire (1812–1868), known as the 'Big Marquess', and the Hon. Caroline Frances Stapleton Cotton, the eldest daughter of Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere. Hill's siblings were Lady Alice Maria Hill (7 November 1842 – 25 February 1928), who married Thomas Taylour, Earl of Bective, and Colonel Lord Arthur William Hill (1846–1931).Hill married Georgiana Elizabeth Balfour (died 12 January 1919), on 25 July 1870, daughter of Colonel John Balfour of Balbirnie (1811–1895) and Lady Georgiana Isabel (Campbell) Balfour (died 3 December 1884). Their only child was Arthur Wills John Wellington Trumbull Blundell Hill who became the 6th Marquess of Downshire.

He was a captain in the Royal South Down Regiment of Militia from 1862, a cornet and lieutenant in the 1st Regiment of Life Guards from 1866, a cornet in the West Somerset Regiment of Yeomanry and Deputy Lieutenant of County Down in 1872, and the Hereditary Constable of Hillsborough Fort.Arthur Hill and his father were instrumental in major tree planting within the park of their Hillsborough Castle.


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Equestrian Statue of Viscount Combermere

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Stapleton Stapleton-Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere 20 October 1852 – 21 February 1865

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Sir George Pollock 20 November 1871 – 6 October 1872

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Viscount Combermere

Viscount Combermere, of Bhurtpore in the East Indies and of Combermere in the County Palatine of Chester, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1827 for the prominent military commander Stapleton Stapleton-Cotton, 1st Baron Combermere. He had already been created Baron Combermere, of Combermere in the County Palatine of Chester, in 1814, also in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. He had previously inherited the baronetcy, of Combermere in the County Palatine of Chester, that was created in the Baronetage of England on 29 March 1677 for his great-great-grandfather Robert Cotton.

The title of the baronetcy, barony and viscountcy, Combermere, is pronounced "Cumbermeer".

The first baronet represented Cheshire in the House of Commons. His grandson, the third Baronet, sat as a Member of Parliament for Cheshire as well as for Lostwithiel. He was succeeded by his younger brother, the fourth Baronet. He represented Denbighshire in the House of Commons. His son, the fifth Baronet, also represented Cheshire in Parliament. The latter was succeeded by his son, the sixth Baronet, who was later elevated to the peerage as Viscount Combermere. His son, the second Viscount, sat as a Conservative Member of Parliament for Carrickfergus. As of 2010 the titles are held by the latter's great-great-grandson, the sixth Viscount, who succeeded his father in 2000.

Until 1919, the family seat of the viscounts Combermere was Combermere Abbey in Combermere Park, between Nantwich and Whitchurch in Cheshire. The traditional burial place of the viscounts was at St Margaret's Church, Wrenbury.

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Colonel Wellington Henry Stapleton-Cotton, 2nd Viscount Combermere (24 November 1818 – 1 December 1891) was a British soldier and Conservative politician.


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