COTTERELL, Sir Charles (1615-1701), of St. Martin's Lane, Westminster.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 16 Apr. 1615, o.s. of Sir Clement Cotterell, groom porter, of Southrepps, Norf. by Anne, da. and h. of Henry Alleyne of Wilsford, Lincs. educ. Queens’, Camb. 1629-32. m. 1642 (with £400) Frances, da. of Edward West of Marsworth, Bucks., 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. fa. 1631; kntd. 6 Mar. 1645.1

Offices Held

Asst. master of ceremonies, 1641-6, master June 1660-86; steward to Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia c.1652-5; secretary to the Duke of Gloucester 1655-Sept. 1660; master of requests 1667-86.2

Capt. of ft. (royalist) 1642, maj. 1643-6.3

Freeman, Portsmouth 1662; commr. for assessment, Westminster 1663-9, 1677-80, Mdx. 1664-9, Mdx. and Westminster 1689-90; dep. lt. Mdx. by 1680-Jan. 1688.4


Cotterell’s father, from an obscure Norfolk family, became groom-porter to James I, married a Lincolnshire heiress, and sat for Boston in 1624. But her small property, valued at only £160 p.a., had to be sold before the Civil War. Cotterell also became a courtier, and served in the Cavalier army. On the execution of Charles I he went to Antwerp, where he was able to accord hospitality to royalist fugitives, and took service successively with two members of the royal family in exile. Returning at the Restoration he became master of ceremonies. A man of some culture and learning, he translated works from French, Italian and Spanish, and joined the literary circle which gathered round ‘the matchless Orinda’. He helped to save her husband, James Philipps, from the worst consequences of his membership of two High Courts of Justice. When the election of Philipps for Cardigan Boroughs was declared void, he brought in Cotterell in his place, hoping, as his wife explained, that Cotterell would not

despise this little instance, since ’tis all his misfortunes have left him capable to give of his esteem and gratitude to you, for whom I am certain he has as profound a respect and veneration as for any man living. I know you are not fond of being a Parliament man; yet since you are elected so much without your seeking that I am sure it was not so much as thought of by you, and, since it was intended as a testimony of the eternal value and friendship that Antenor and Orinda must ever have for the noble Poliarchus, I hope he will not be angry to be sent into the House without his own consent or knowledge.

Cotterell survived a petition from his opponent and became an inactive Member of the Cavalier Parliament, sitting on only 44 committees. In his first session he was named to those to provide remedies against meetings of dissenters, to consider a bill for the prevention of profanity, to relieve persons who for various reasons had been unable to subscribe to the Act of Uniformity, and to consider a petition from the inhabitants of Westminister about the poor. Together with Edward Progers he was thanked by the House on 18 July for obtaining from the King a promise of preferment for their chaplain. In 1664 he served on a committee for establishing St. James Piccadilly as a separate parish. He was noted as a court dependant in that year and on both lists in 1669-71. His name appeared on the Paston list and the list of King’s servants in 1675. Marked ‘thrice vile’ on Shaftesbury’s list in 1677, he was named to the committee for educating children of the royal family as Protestants. In A Seasonable Argument he was said to have obtained £11,000 by virtue of his offices, and he was again noted as a court supporter on both lists in 1678. In the last two sessions, he was appointed to the committees to summarize foreign commitments and to translate Coleman’s letters. His was the first name on the committee to consider the access of ambassadors to the Court. On 28 Nov. 1678, in his only recorded speech, he conveyed to the House information about the Plot derived from Dutch intelligence in Frankfort, which he was ordered to communicate to the Lords.5

Cotterell did not stand again, but remained as master of ceremonies until allowed to resign in favour of his son in 1686. He died on 7 June 1701, and was buried in St. Martin in the Fields, the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Leonard Naylor / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. Wards 7/82/104; F. G. Lee, Church of Thame , 517-8; Cottrell-Dormer (Rousham) mss, ‘Advice to my son’.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1641-3, p. 66; Cottrell-Dormer mss, court offices.
  • 3. HMC Downshire, i. 284-5.
  • 4. R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 357.
  • 5. P. W. Souers, The Matchless Orinda, 111, 120; K. Philipps, Letters of Orinda to Poliarchus (1705), 133-4; Grey, vi. 285; CJ, ix. 544, 550.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1686-7, p. 328; A. Wood, Fasti, ii. 324-5; Cottrell-Dormer mss, family account.