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Field Marshal The Right Honourable

The Viscount Combermere

GCB, GCH, KSI, PC
Governor of Barbados

In office
1817–1820
Monarch George III
Preceded by Sir James Leith
Succeeded by Sir Henry Warde
Personal details
Born 14 November 1773
Denbighshire, Wales
Died 21 February 1865 (aged 91)
Nationality British
Alma mater Westminster School
Military service
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Rank Field Marshal
Commands 3rd The King's Own Hussars
Ireland
India
1st Regiment of Life Guards
Battles/wars French Revolutionary Wars
Fourth Anglo-Mysore War
Peninsular War
Awards Knight 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

Field Marshal Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere GCB, GCH, KSI, PC (14 November 1773 – 21 February 1865), was a British military leader, diplomat and politician. He was a colonel of the 1st Life Guards, Commander-in-Chief, Ireland and served with distinction under Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War.

Early career[edit | edit source]

He was the second son of Sir Robert Salusbury Cotton, 5th Baronet of Combermere Abbey, Shropshire, and was born on 14 November 1773, at Lleweni Hall in Denbighshire. He was educated at Westminster School, and when only sixteen obtained a second lieutenancy in the 23rd Regiment of Foot.[1] A few years afterwards (1793) he became by purchase a captain in the 6th Dragoon Guards, and he served in this regiment during the campaigns of the Duke of York in Flanders.[1] While yet in his twentieth year, he joined the 25th Light Dragoons (subsequently 22nd) as lieutenant colonel,[1] and, while in attendance with his regiment on George III at Weymouth, he was noticed by the king.[1] In 1796 he went with his regiment to India, taking part en route in the operations in Cape Colony (July–August 1796), and in 1799 served in the war with Tippoo Sahib, and at the storming of Seringapatam (Srirangapatna).[1] Soon after this, having become heir to the family baronetcy, he was, at his father's desire, exchanged into a regiment at home, the 16th Light Dragoons.[1] He was stationed in Ireland during Robert Emmet's insurrection, became colonel in 1800, and major general five years later.[1]

Peninsular War[edit | edit source]

From 1806 to 1814 he was M.P. for Newark.[1] In 1808 he was sent to the seat of war in Portugal, where he shortly rose to the position of commander of Wellington's cavalry,[1] and it was here that he most displayed that courage and judgment which won for him his fame as a cavalry officer. He was nicknamed the "Lion d' Or" during his Peninsular War years, because of his fearlessness and the ostentatious splendour of his uniforms and equipment. He succeeded to the baronetcy in 1807,[1] but continued his military career. His share in the Battle of Salamanca (22 July 1812) was especially marked,[1] causing Wellington to say to him, "By God, Cotton, I never saw anything so beautiful in my life; the day is yours." Afterwards he received the personal thanks of Wellington. The day after he was wounded in an accident. A painting depicting his acceptance of the French defeat is displayed in the library of Combermere Abbey. He displayed coolness under fire at the Battle of Venta del Pozo on 23 October 1812, where he led the army's rearguard. He was now a lieutenant general in the British army and a K.B., and on the conclusion of peace (1814) was raised to the peerage under the style of Baron Combermere.[1]

Later career[edit | edit source]

Statute of Lord Combermere outside Chester Castle, Cheshire.

Lord Combermere was not present at Waterloo, the command, which he expected, and bitterly regretted not receiving, having been given to Lord Uxbridge. When the latter was wounded Combermere was sent for to take over his command, and he remained in France until the reduction of the allied army of occupation. In 1817 he was appointed governor of Barbados[2] and commander of the West Indian forces.[1] Lord Combermere is mentioned in unverified stories of the Chase Vault as being a witness to its allegedly "moving coffins" while serving as Governor of Barbados. Between 1814 and 1820, Combermere 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.[3]

From 1822 to 1825 Combermere was Commander-in-Chief, Ireland.[1] His career of active service was concluded in India (1826), where he besieged and took Bharatpur—a fort which twenty-two years previously had defied the genius of Lake and was deemed impregnable. For this service he was created Viscount Combermere. A long period of peace and honour still remained to him at home. In 1834 he was sworn a privy councillor, and in 1852 he succeeded Wellington as Constable of the Tower and Lord Lieutenant of the Tower Hamlets. In 1855 he was made a field marshal[1] and G.C.B. He died at Clifton on 21 February 1865.[1] Despite Combermere's distinguished service, much of it under Wellington's command, the Duke is reported to have referred to Combermere as "a damned fool", but at the same time recommending him for command in the East.[1] An equestrian statue in bronze, the work of Carlo, Baron Marochetti, was raised in his honour at Chester by the inhabitants of Cheshire. An obelisk was also erected in his memory on the edge of Combermere Park in 1890, under the terms of his widow's will.[4] Combermere was succeeded by his only son, Wellington Henry (1818–1891), and the viscountcy is still held by his descendants.

Lord Combermere had such an influence on the Duke Of Wellington that a house has been named after him at Wellington College, a school created due to the wonderful work which the Duke did for his country

Family[edit | edit source]

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

On 1 January 1801, Combermere married Lady Anna Maria Clinton[1] (d. 31 May 1807), daughter of Thomas Pelham-Clinton, 3rd Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne. They had three children:[5]

  • Robert Henry Stapleton Cotton (18 January 1802 – 1821)
  • two sons, died young.

On 18 June 1814, he married Caroline Greville[1] (d. 25 January 1837), daughter of Captain William Fulke Greville. They had three children:[5]

In 1838, Combermere married Mary Woolley (née Gibbings),[1] by whom he had no issue.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911) Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.) Cambridge University Press 

External links[edit | edit source]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Charles Morice Pole, Bt
Henry Willoughby
Member of Parliament for Newark
1806–1814
With: Henry Willoughby
Succeeded by
Henry Willoughby
George Hay Dawkins-Pennant
Military offices
Preceded by
Lord William Bentinck
Colonel of the 20th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
1813–1818
Regiment disbanded
Preceded by
William Cartwright
Colonel of the 3rd (The King's Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
1821–1829
Succeeded by
Lord George Beresford
Preceded by
Francis Edward Gwyn
Governor of Sheerness
1821–1852
Office abolished
Preceded by
Sir Samuel Auchmuty
Commander-in-Chief, Ireland
1822–1825
Succeeded by
Sir George Murray
Preceded by
Edward Paget
Commander-in-Chief, India
1825–1830
Succeeded by
George Ramsay
Preceded by
The Earl of Harrington
Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Life Guards
1829–1865
Succeeded by
The Earl of Lucan
Government offices
Preceded by
John Foster Alleyne, acting
Governor of Barbados
1817–1820
Succeeded by
John Brathwaite Skeete, acting
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Duke of Wellington
Constable of the Tower
Lord Lieutenant of the Tower Hamlets

1852–1865
Succeeded by
Sir John Fox Burgoyne
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Combermere
1827–1865
Succeeded by
Wellington Stapleton-Cotton
Baron Combermere
1814–1865
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
Robert Salusbury Cotton
Baronet
(of Combermere)
1809–1865
Succeeded by
Wellington Stapleton-Cotton

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