Richard Cotton of Cumbermere was born 2 September 1545 in Combermere Abbey, Dodcott cum Wilkesley, Cheshire, England to George Cotton (c1505-1545) and Mary Onley (1517-1560) and died 14 June 1602 Stoke, Coventry, England of unspecified causes. He married Mary Mainwaring (c1541-1578) 1559 JL in Marbury, Cheshire, England.


Combermere Abbey

Combermere Abbey

Principle residence was the Combermere Abbey located in Dodcott cum Wilkesley, English County of Cheshire. A former Christian monastery founded in 1130 AD and at one time the third largest church in Cheshire. In August 1539, the abbey and its estates, were granted to Sir George Cotton, an esquire of the body to Henry VIII of England (1491-1547). The Cotton Family kept it as a country home which they held up till 1919.

After the dissolution it was acquired by Sir George Cotton, who demolished the church and most of the buildings, and converted part of the abbey into a country house. The house was remodelled in 1563 by Sir George's son, Richard Cotton, altered in 1795 by Sir Robert Cotton, and Gothicised in 1814–21 by Stapleton Cotton, Viscount Combermere.

Abbey Renovation

Combermere Abbey c1730.

Richard Cotton, redesigned the house in 1563. His remodelling is commemorated by a stone tablet, uncovered in 1795, which reads:

Master Richard Cotton and his sons three Both for their pleasure and commoditie This building did edifie In fifteen hundred and sixty three

The abbey under his ownership is the subject of what is believed to be the earliest country house poem, "To Richard Cotton, Esq.," composed by Geoffrey Whitney in 1586. It compares the abbey to a beehive:

A stately seat, whose like is hard to find, Where mighty Jove the horn of plenty lends: With fish, and fowl, and cattle sundry flocks; Where crystal springs do gush out of the rocks. There, fertile fields, there, meadows large extend; There, store of grain with water and with wood. And in this place, your golden time you spend, Unto your praise, and to your country's good This is the hive, your tenants are the bees – And in the same, have places by degrees.

Cotton/Mainwaring Coat of Arms - 1570. (Probable 10th anniversary year of marriage for Richard and Mary.) Historical display at Combermere Abbey.

Richard Cotton's alterations to the Great Hall (now the library) are thought to include concealing the hammerbeam roof (a remnante from old monastery, dated to 1502) with a plaster ceiling and putting in a fireplace. Timbers in one of the bedrooms have been dated to around this time. It is unclear whether he installed a grand staircase to access the Hall, which is on the first floor. The room's existing screen is believed to date from somewhat later; it is known to have been moved at some point from its original northern position to the south side of the Hall, where it now stands.

Marriage and Family

1st Marriage

MARRIED: Firstly, 6.1.1559 or 1560, Mary Mainwaring of Ightfield, Shropshire (1541 – 14.6.1578), daughter of Arthur Mainwaring of Ightfield (1525 – 1590) and Dorothea (nee Corbet) CHILDREN:

  1. George 1560 – 1647 heir to Combermere Abbey
  2. Arthur 1562 – 1649
  3. Mary 1563 – 1647
  4. Andrew 1564 – 1640
  5. Elizabeth 1566 – ?
  6. Winifred 1568 – ?
  7. Dorothy 1572 – 22.4.1647
  8. Frances c. 1573 – ? married George Abell, 1599; their son Robert Abell (1605-1663) migrated to America.

2nd Marriage: Jane Seyliard

MARRIED: Secondly, 14.6.1578. Jane or Joane Seyliard, c 1534 – c 1584. Daughter of William Seyliard of Chiddingstone, Kent.

3rd Marriage: Philippa Dormer

MARRIED: Thirdly, 1593, Philippa Dormer, born 1549 (widow of John Dormer)


Offspring of Richard Cotton of Cumbermere and Mary Mainwaring (c1541-1578)
Name Birth Death Joined with
George Cotton (1560-) 1564 Combermere Abbey, Dodcott cum Wilkesley, Cheshire, England 1647 England Mary Bromley (1566-1647)
Arthur Cotton (1562-1649)
Mary Cotton (1563-)
Andrew Cotton (1564-1640)
Elizabeth Cotton (1566-)
Winifred Cotton (1568-)
Dorothy Cotton (1572-1647)
Frances Cotton (1573-1646) 1573 Combermere Abbey, Dodcott cum Wilkesley, Cheshire, England 16 April 1646 Lockington, Leicestershire, England George Abell (1561-1630)

Offspring of Richard Cotton of Cumbermere and Jane Seyliard (c1534-1584)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Richard Cotton (c1582-)
Thomas Cotton (c1584-)
Robert Cotton (c1586-)
Jane Cotton (c1588-)

Offspring of Richard Cotton of Cumbermere and Philippa Dormer (c1549)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Philip Cotton (1598-)
Bridgett Cotton (1600-)


Cotton Family Ancestry

Cotton COA.jpg

The Cotton Family of Combermere Abbey has an extensive family ancestry that is directly descended from Henry II of England (1133-1189), Charlemagne (747-814) and the ancient Kings of Wessex. There are also many other notable family descendants.



Footnotes (including sources)