Charles Cotton



Poems of Charles Cotton 1630-1687, ed. John Beresford (London, 1923).


Poems of Charles Cotton, ed. John Buxton (London, 1958).


Alfred John Chapple, A Critical Bibliography of the Works of Charles Cotton (unpub. M.A. thesis, University of London, 1955). [A copy is also preserved at Derby Central Library, 11034.]


Alvin I. Dust, ‘Charles Cotton: His Books and Autographs’, Notes & Queries, 217 (January 1972), 20-3.


Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton, The Complete Angler, ed. Sir Harris Nicolas, 2 vols (London, 1836).


Stephen Parks, ‘Charles Cotton and The Derby Manuscript’, in Literary Autographs: Papers read at a Clark Library Seminar 26 April 1980 by Stephen Parks [&] P. J. Croft (William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, Los Angeles, 1983), pp. 1-35.

Poems (1689)

Charles Cotton, Poems on Several Occasions (London, printed for Tho. Basset…Will Hensman and Tho. Fox, 1689).


E. M. Turner, The Life and Works of Charles Cotton (1630-1687) With a Bibliographical Account of Cotton's Writings (unpub. B. Litt. thesis, University of Oxford, 1954 [Bodleian, MS B. Litt. d. 271]).


It is likely that the poet Charles Cotton left behind a considerable number of personal manuscripts, as well as books. If relatively few of them are known to scholars today, it is for several reasons. One is probably the state of disorder in which Cotton's manuscripts may have been kept, a condition less than conducive to their careful preservation. In his humorous Epistle to Sir Clifford Clifton, then sitting in Parliament (Beresford, pp. 265-70), for instance, while describing a mock-search for his Muse, Cotton offers a glimpse into what may well have been the habitual state of his papers:

I tumbled my papers, and rifled each packet,

Threw my books all on-heaps, and kept such a racket…

Where canst thou imagine, dear Knight, I should find her?

Faith, in an old drawer, I late had not been in,

'Twixt a coarse pair of sheets of the housewife's own spinning,

A Sonnet instead of a coif her head wrapping….

This impression of literary activity coupled with relative carelessness about his manuscripts is not belied by the prefatory remarks to some of his published works: for instance, his translations of Guillaume Du Vair's Morall Philosophy of the Stoicks (1667); Guillaume Girard's History of the Life of the Duke of Espernon (1670); and Corneille's Horace (1671), in which he refers to having completed the work in question some years before and then having, in effect, done nothing with his manuscripts (which threatened to become ‘waste Paper’). Following Cotton's death, the papers of at least one of his works, ‘left in the Hands of one of his Children, lay neglected for some Years’ (publisher's preface to his translation of Memoirs of the Sieur de Pontis (London, 1694)). The ‘one of his Children’ in question was evidently his eldest son, Beresford Cotton (b.1660), who wrote the dedication to the posthumously published translation of de Pontis and was obviously responsible for supplying the printer's manuscript. However, this seems to have been the sole material contribution made by any member of Cotton's immediate family in the service of his literary reputation. Neither did the publisher's (i.e. Beresford's) complaint about the unauthorized and corrupt edition of Cotton's poems which appeared in 1689 lead him to remedy the situation by producing and publishing the author's own corrected manuscript which he possessed (see below for more on this).

Cotton's seat — Beresford Hall — although sold in 1681 during Cotton's later years of financial stringency, was retrieved for a time by his family, through its purchase by his cousin John Beresford, of Newton Grange, near Ashbourne, but again passed out of the family in 1722 until repurchased by Viscount Beresford in 1825. From the haphazard and widespread appearance of examples of Cotton's books and manuscripts during the last hundred and fifty years it is clear that those which managed to survive the family's neglect or destruction were at some time dispersed by gift or sale. Because of this, examples of Cotton's hand have generally been considered rare — to the great hindrance of clear and accurate identification of his handwriting. It may be said that virtually every modern scholar who has ever commented on any of Cotton's manuscripts or inscriptions has been guilty at some time of making misidentifications (in certain cases to the point of considerable confusion!). The most useful attempt made hitherto to tidy up the situation, and to identify Cotton's hand correctly by a systematic consideration of various alleged examples, is Parks's article of 1983. The judgments expressed in that paper have been accepted here for present purposes as the basis for the identifications and comments made with respect to Cotton manuscripts.

The Derby Manuscript

By far the most important of his manuscripts known to survive is the collection of Cotton's shorter poems known as the ‘Derby MS’. This manuscript contains entries in his hand but was written primarily by amanuenses and came into the possession of one of his close neighbours. See the entry description below for Derby Central Library, fmss 8470.

It has been suggested (notably by Buxton and Parks) that the main scribe in this manuscript, whom Cotton addresses as ‘Posthumus’, might well be Dudley Posthumus Lovelace, brother of the poet Richard Lovelace, with both of whom Cotton was certainly associated (see Buxton, p. xxx). Unfortunately this suggestion is not supported by palaeographical evidence. An example of Dudley Posthumus Lovelace's hand may be found in a printed exemplum of Lucasta. Posthume Poems of Richard Lovelace Esq (London, 1659-60) in the Bodleian Library (Malone 372). On a leaf either inserted or rebound in this volume appears the presentation inscription ‘For the Worthiest of Freindes [Mrs Elizabeth Hales, added in another hand] From the Vnworthiest of Seruantes Dudley Posthumus-Louelace’. There seems no reason to doubt that the main part of this inscription is in the hand of Dudley Posthumus Lovelace himself, who was responsible for this edition and is known to have presented other exempla besides (for instance, one inscribed to Sir Edmund Bowyer, which was in Quaritch's possession in 1924, and another inscribed to Henry Newton, which was once at Trinity College, Cambridge, but which has been ‘missing’ since 1968). The hand responsible for the inscription in the Bodleian volume cannot be recognized anywhere in the Derby MS. Thus the identity of Cotton's ‘Posthumus’ — a term which, incidentally, can denote a late-born child or one born after the father's death — remains unknown.

Other Manuscripts

While various other manuscripts of poems by Cotton have been described in the past as being autograph, only one other poem can positively be confirmed at present to survive in his hand. This is the independent fair copy of his Elegy upon the Lord Hastings of 1649, an early work, written in a dashing, cursive hand, and now also preserved at Yale (*CnC 18). Otherwise there is no reason to suppose that many extant manuscript copies of poems by him were circulated outside the relatively limited sphere of his family and personal friends and neighbours before their posthumous publication.

A further manuscript poem by Cotton which may, perhaps, be in his hand was last seen in 1950. This is a poem of about 65 lines, headed Old Age. Against old men taking physick, signed ‘Charles Cotton’, which came to light in a sale in New York (see *CnC 88). The sale catalogue includes a four-line quotation which, in fact, corresponds (with minor differences) to lines 31-4 of a 74-line poem which Buxton ventured to add to the canon in his edition of 1958 (pp. 247-9). Buxton's source was J.L. Anderdon's novel The River Dove (1845; 2nd edition 1847) where the poem is introduced by the Host of the Inn at Alstonefield, a village three miles away from Beresford, as ‘serious verses’ by Cotton ‘writ with his own hand, and …never…in print’. Buxton notes (p. 280): ‘I think they are genuine. For immediately afterwards Olive Cotton's letter, which is certainly genuine…is quoted; also I myself remember that there used to be some manuscript poems of Cotton in that same inn, though they have gone not many years ago, when the inn changed hands’. The manuscript sold in 1950 clearly supports Buxton's attribution, although whether it is actually in the author's hand or not remains to be determined at such time as it is again available for inspection.

Three other manuscript poems by Cotton that have been described within the past century or so as being in his hand are evidently not so, although it is quite likely that they were copied at his instigation. One is a sixteen-line dedicatory poem, headed To Maecenas, written on the fly-leaf of a printed exemplum of Cotton's Scarronides (1664), once owned by the dramatist John Drinkwater (CnC 131). Despite previous attributions — by Drinkwater, Beresford and Dust — the hand is not Cotton's, as is demonstrated by Parks, who describes it (p. 25) as having the appearance ‘of having been drawn rather than written’. At the same time there is no reason to question Beresford's decision to include the poem in the canon. The poem was clearly addressed to Cotton's friend Sir Clifford Clifton (d.1669), to whom he refers elsewhere as ‘Our Noble Maecenas’ and as ‘dear Knight’ (see his Epistle to Sir Clifford Clifton: Beresford, p. 266). The Harvard volume is likely to be that presented to Clifton by Cotton, with the dedicatory poem (claiming that ‘this great worke’ was done ‘at thy coman[d]ing’) perhaps written at his direction by some other member of his household (although it is not impossible that someone else later copied out the poem into his or her own exemplum — a process of literal duplication not unknown in this period). It may be added that an archive of the Clifton family still survives, preserved at the University of Nottingham, but — apart from a letter written in 1637 to Sir Gervase Clifton (d.1666) by Charles Cotton the Elder — it appears to contain nothing relating to the poet himself.

The second and third incorrectly identified poems have not been seen since 1882, although there exists a facsimile example by which to test the attribution. Two allegedly ‘holograph poems on Winter and Summer’ by Cotton were discussed, and quoted in part, in John Sleigh, ‘Charles Cotton, the Angler-Poet’, N&Q, 4th Ser. 6 (10 September 1870), 208 (and see related correspondence on 8 October 1870, p. 311). They are there described as being written ‘on long time-worn thumb-stained slips of thin paper, in the faultless calligraphy of the period’ and ending with ‘his usual contracted autograph “Ch. Cotton”’, with ‘scarcely a blot or correction throughout’. The manuscripts were allegedly ‘discovered among his family archives at one of the most characteristic of old halls to be found in our grand old Peak country’. From available information, it is clear that the poem Winter corresponds, albeit with variants, to that printed in Poems (1689) and represented in the Derby MS (see CnC 144-5). The poem Summer, which Sleigh described as likewise comprising fifty-three quatrains (of which he quotes stanzas 1 and 31), is not found in its entirety elsewhere — and thus remains substantially unpublished — but the first three stanzas alone are found also copied in the Derby MS (see CnC 121-2). In 1882, William Bemrose published a complete engraved facsimile of the alleged ‘holograph’ of Winter (see CnC 145). Although Parks comments (p. 25) that ‘this facsimile was poorly made and is not suitable for consideration as evidence’, it seems sufficiently clear for the conclusion to be drawn that the manuscript is not in Cotton's own hand. It is in a somewhat irregular hand, which alternates between two different styles; it has none of Cotton's idiosyncratic forms; it can hardly be supposed to be in an orthography characteristic of him (witness, for instance, the heading ‘Wintta Quadrains’); and the unusually contracted ‘signature’, which appears to have been added afterwards, is certainly not his. It seems likely that the companion poem on Summer was in the same hand which, however, might well have belonged to someone in Cotton's household or immediate circle.

If consideration be given to even earlier reports on Cotton manuscripts, it may be supposed that at least two manuscript collections of his shorter poems in addition to the Derby MS must once have existed, although both are now lost. One manuscript must have served as the copy-text for the unauthorized posthumous edition of his Poems (1689), about which Cotton's son Beresford (or the publisher on his behalf) made considerable complaint. In the publisher's preface to Cotton's translation of The Memoirs of the Sieur de Pontis (London, 1694), cited previously, ‘the Person, who disposed of those Poems to the Booksellers’ without consulting Cotton's relations is severely taken to task, both for ‘these ungenerous Proceedings’ and for obstructing the publication of a properly authorized text. Indeed, the edition of 1689 is, as past editors have noted, a slipshod production (with, for instance, some poems printed twice) and, for all its usefulness, would hardly be the last word in establishing the text except where no other witnesses exist. The publisher's copy-text was certainly not the Derby MS (which contains about half the poems printed in 1689 and with considerable textual differences), although, curiously enough, he included (p. 338) a version of the Latin epigram to Cotton's scribe which, in the Derby MS, is addressed to ‘Posthumus’.

In the edition of 1689 the epigram is addressed to one ‘Candidus’ (see Beresford, p. 285). Thus the copy-text was apparently derived from a collection somewhat along the lines of the Derby MS but primarily compiled by a different scribe, one ‘Candidus’. It may be worth noting that candidus is the Latin for ‘white’ and that one of Cotton's kinsmen (whom his daughter was wont to address as her ‘Revrd uncle’) was William Whyte. This connection is supported by an entry in one of William Boothby's letterbooks in British Library, Add. MS 71692, f. [30v] (see CnC 206), where an entry for 18 September 1688 (a year aftter Cotton's death), apparently addressed to a Mr Fox, refers to ‘Mr White’ as being ‘a great friend of his’ [Cotton] and says that ‘he promised to give him his works when he dyed’. The entry continues:

‘I also heare that my Lady Ardglasse had them in her hands at his death, and beleive she might make good her husbands desire and send them to him; if so certainly you have ye onely perfect copy of his workes; wch I have some times seene and is very exactly transcribed’.

The text represented in the edition of 1689 is, moreover, clearly distinguished by the publisher of the translation of de Pontis (1694) from ‘a Collection very different from that; and well chosen by the Author, with a Preface, prepared by himself, and all copied out for the Press’. It is unfortunate that Beresford Cotton did not see fit to publish a new edition based on this authorial manuscript. The possibility that it might be identified with the extant Derby MS has obviously been considered — by Turner, Buxton and others — but with negative results. The Derby MS does not, in its present state, have any author's preface and there is ample indication of contemporary ownership by the Fitzherbert family — even though the manuscript was begun under the auspices of Cotton himself. Thus this manuscript is not the one specifically prepared by Cotton for the press and (by implication) owned in 1694 by his son Beresford. What would evidently have been the definitive copy-text for Cotton's shorter poems is now lost without trace.

Yet other evidence of a manuscript collection of Cotton's works once in existence is supplied in 1750 by Wiliam Oldys, who afterwards wrote one of the earliest biographies of Cotton (published in Sir John Hawkins's edition of The Complete Angler in 1760). In the Biographia Britannica, 7 vols (London, 1747-66), Vol. III (1750), p. 2061, Oldys printed an anecdote concerning a conversation that took place between Izaak Walton and Thomas Fuller. He cited as his source ‘a MS Medley of diverting Sayings, Stories, Characters, &c. in Verse and Prose, written in Quarto, about the Year 1686, (as it is attested in another hand) by Charles Cotton, Esq; some time in the Library of the Earl of Hallifax’. By ‘the Earl of Hallifax’ Oldys presumably meant George Savile, Marquess of Halifax, to whom Cotton dedicated his translation of Montaigne's Essays (1685). For the vagaries of Halifax's library, see the Introduction to George Savile, Marquess of Halifax, below.


Other examples of Cotton's hand, of a non-literary kind, have been recorded on occasions, although in relatively few instances is their present whereabouts known. The few known extant personal letters by Cotton — assuming they have not been confused with letters by his father Charles Cotton (d.1658) are given entries below (CnC 147-150). These few letters may be supplemented by his printed verse epistles (see Beresford, pp. 251-89) and the dedications to his various published works (addressed to such figures as Ferrers, Halifax, Gilbert Sheldon, Mrs Stanhope Hutchinson, Lord Chesterfield and Elizabeth, Countess of Devonshire).

On the other hand, two other letters previously attributed to Cotton are certainly spurious. One of these — accepted by W. C. Hazlitt, Turner, Dust (p. 22) and others, although not by Parks — is a note, arranging a meeting in Covent Garden, addressed to ‘Mr. Vaughan’ and signed ‘Co C-ton’. The Rev. H. S. Cotton testified, in a subscription to the letter, to its being ‘in the handwriting of Charles Cotton the Angler’. lt was sold in the sale of H. S. Cotton's library at Sotheby's, 20 December 1838, lot 83, to Bagster, and subsequently at Puttick & Simpson's, 3 March 1893, lot 844, and Sotheby's, 10 November 1899, lot 341. It was generally described as written on the flyleaf of an exemplum of René Rapin, Reflections on Artistotle's Treatise of Poesie, [trans. Thomas Rymer] (London, 1674). The detached leaf — without the volume — is now at Harvard (MS Eng 887) and a facsimile appears in Parks, p. 14. From that it is evident that neither the text nor the signature is in Cotton's hand.

Another spurious letter was printed and described by H.T. Wake, of Fritchley, Derby, in ‘Charles Cotton, Poet and Angler’, N&Q, 9th Ser. 8 (13 July 1901), 41 (recorded in Parks, p. 30). Wake describes the letter (then in his possession) as unsigned, ‘evidently in the handwriting of Chas. Cotton himself’ and ‘probably sent from Beresford Hall, Derbyshire, about 1667’. It was preserved inside an exemplum of Cotton's translation of Gerard's Life of the Duke of Espernon (London, 1670), formerly in the library of the Aston family of Tixall, Staffordshire. Quite apart from the unreliability of Wake's testimony as to the handwriting, the letter is written in a peculiar orthography (‘examyne’, ‘gratyouse’, ‘commytyon’, etc.) hardly to be supposed characteristic of Cotton and relates to a post (His Majesty's Lieutenant of Needwood Forest and High Steward of the Honour of Tulbury) which Cotton simply did not possess. This is made clear in the discussion of the matter in Turner (pp. 422-8), who suggests that it is more likely to have been written about 1670 by Walter, Lord Aston.

A few of the many letters that Cotton received from his correspondents have survived, at least in copies, and may here be listed briefly:

1. An undated letter, evidently to Cotton, by his cousin John Beresford is now among Beresford family papers in the Derbyshire Record Office (D 158M/E21; formerly No. D314). This was edited in William and Samuel B. Beresford, Beresford of Beresford, Part I: A History of the Manor of Beresford in the County of Stafford (1908) [an exemplum in Derby Central Library, A 929.2], p. 102. The text is edited from that source in Turner, pp. 138-9.

2. A letter by John Ferrers, dated 25 [February] 1656/7, and replying to letter 1 above, is preserved in the nineteenth-century transcript of the Derby MS in Derby Central Library (8469).

3. A letter by Cotton's cousin Philip Stanhope, second Earl of Chesterfield, [1670], is copied by a scribe in Chesterfield's letterbook in the British Library (Add. MS 19253, f. 65r) (see Turner, pp. 116-17).

4. A letter by George Savile, Marquess of Halifax, in response to Cotton's dedication to him of Montaigne's Essays in 1685, was published in Halifax's posthumous Miscellanies (London, 1700): see Nicholas, I, cxciv-cxcv.

5-6. Two letters to Cotton by the antiquary Philip Kynder, written in 1657 and 1659 — the latter concerning Cotton's translation of Du Vair's Morall Philosophie of the Stoicks (1667) and referring to his ‘late faire copie’ of it — are copied by Kynder himself in his ‘booke’ in the Bodleian (MS Ashmole 788, ff. 10r, 173v-4r) (and see Turner, pp. 75-98). It may be noted that Kynder also wrote verses and epitaphs on Cotton, on his father (Charles Cotton the Elder) and on his mother (Olive), which are also copied in that manuscript (ff. 144r-6r).

For other letters to Cotton, by Wiliam Boothby, see CnC 206.


At present, only two documents signed by Cotton have come to light, namely a deposition as witness to a quarrel and a title-deed for a sale of property, both dated 1666 (CnC 151-152). Another document signed by one Charles Cotton is a certificate (also signed by Thomas Nedham), now in the National Archives, Kew (SP 29/120/93.v), giving evidence on 23 April 1665 in favour of Major Robert Calcott, who had killed Henry Banastre in a duel following a quarrel at Sir Philip Egerton's house. The signature here (‘Cha: Cotton’) almost certainly belongs to Charles Cotton (son of Thomas Cotton (c.1609-49) of Combermere, Cheshire, who became a captain in the infantry regiment of the poet's cousin, the Earl of Chesterfield, before 13 June 1667 and was later a colonel in the Coldstream Guards (see Charles Dalton, English Army Lists and Commission Registers 1661-1714, I: 1661-1685 (London, 1892) and II: 1685-1689 (London, 1894), passim).

Printed Exempla of Works by Cotton with Presentation Inscriptions

By far the largest number of autograph signatures and inscriptions by Cotton are found in printed books from his library or which he presented to his friends. Certainly he gave away many exempla of his own works, as he himself wryly remarked (‘Which any will receive, but none will buy’: Epistle to John Bradshaw, Esq. (Beresford, p. 260)). Those volumes that can at present be recorded as containing his presentation inscriptions are given entries below (CnC 154-159.5).

One other volume which Dust recorded (p. 21) as bearing Cotton's inscription is an exemplum of Scarronides (London, 1664) in the Pierpont Morgan Library (6038). This volume does bear an inscription, ‘ffor the Library of St Johns Evangelst Cambridg’, but it is not in Cotton's hand.

Certain detached leaves containing Cotton's inscriptions have evidently been extracted from other presentation exempla of his works. These too are given entries below (CnC 160-163).

Books from Cotton's Library

Cotton's personal library must have been sizeable for, by his own testimony, he was a voracious reader. Among other things, it must have included editions of those works which he translated and also, according to his cousin Sir Aston Cokayne, a number of books in Italian, by Davila, Bentivoglio, Guicciardini, Machiavelli and others (see Cokayne's Small Poems of Divers Sorts (London, 1658), p. 231; quoted in Beresford, p. 18). Those books recorded in relatively recent times as having belonged to Cotton — whether because he inscribed them or because of other evidence — are given entries below (CnC 164-205). It is likely that more of Cotton's widely dispersed books will come to light in due course.

A ‘signature’ of Cotton from an unspecified book was offered at Sotheby's, 3 June 1893 (the autograph collection of W. and T. Bateman, of Lomberdale House, Youlgrave, Derbyshire), in lot 129.

It may be observed that certain of the recorded books from Cotton's library were also signed by his second daughter, Catherine (d.1740), who married Sir Berkeley Lucy, third Baronet (1672-1759), and whose daughter Mary Lucy married into the Compton family from whom the recent Dukes of Devonshire descend. Parks records (p. 34) two further volumes with her inscriptions recording gifts by her uncle William Whyte. One is another exemplum of The Compleat Angler, 3rd edition (London, 1661), at Yale (Ij.W175.661.Copy 2). The other is a Second Folio of Shakespeare (London, 1632), offered by H. P. Kraus, New York, sale catalogue No. 149 (1978), item 55b. Yet another volume owned by her is an exemplum of Owen Felltham's Resolves (London, 1636), which is also inscribed by members of the Fitzherbert family. Acquired from Blackwell's in 1954, this was in the library of Dr Bent Juel-Jensen (1922-2006), Oxford physician and book collector.

Three specified books which Cotton borrowed from the Rev. William Hardestree (d.1712), Master of the Ashbourne Free School, are recorded in a note now in the Folger (see CnC 153). Since presumably they were not signed by Cotton, the books themselves are unknown.

The Canon

The canon of Cotton's works accepted for present purposes is based on Poems (1869), Beresford, Turner, Chapple and Buxton, incorporating those poems discussed above.

Occasional anonymous works have been doubtfully attributed to Cotton (see Turner, pp. 243-7). Of those, perhaps the only one of relevance to the present survey is the poem The Confinement (‘Blest Liberty, that Patents dost disperse’), published anonymously in London in 1679 as ‘printed for C.C.’. An exemplum now in Derby Central Library (6962) bears an unreliable manuscript ascription to Cotton in the hand of the Rev. H. S. Cotton (whose testimony one has had reason to reject elsewhere), and yet another exemplum in the same collection (641) has (after p. 28) W. Keale Heseltine's scornful refutation of this attribution (see Parks, pp. 29-30). Indeed, there is no real evidence for Cotton's authorship of this insipid poem, as is made clear in Turner (pp. 246-7). Parks mentions (p. 30) an exemplum of the poem in the Huntington Library (RB102322) bearing unidentified ‘contemporary manuscript corrections on six pages’. The volume contains, in fact, manuscript alterations, markings and insertions on pp. 4, 11, 12, 13, 19, 27, 28, 29, 32, 46 and 79, including a passage (on p. 32) marked ‘to be omitted’, which suggests authorial, or at least editorial, attention. However, the annotations are certainly not in Cotton's hand.

One of Cotton's poems — his translation of an epigram by Cicero, ‘Commit a Ship unto the Wind’ (CnC 103-4) — can be easily confused with an independent earlier version which was widely circulated. The anonymous poem ‘Commit thy ship unto the winde’ was first published in Wits Recreations (London, 1640), No. 168, and is found in such contemporary miscellanies as Bodleian, MSS Eng. misc. f. 49, fol. 4r, and Eng. poet. c. 50, f. 38r; British Library, Add. MS 15227, f. 55v; Add. MS 47111, f. 12r; Sloane MS 1867, f. 26r; and Stowe MS 962, f. 206v; Edinburgh University library, MSS La III 436, p. 82, and La III 488, f. 43r; John Rylands University Library of Manchester, MS Eng 410, f. 20v; and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, ER 93/2, f. 191v.


Several other documents of biographical relevance to Cotton have been cited in Beresford and elsewhere.

One particularly interesting source of information, which came to light in recent years, is a series of a diary and three letterbooks by Cotton's Derbyshire neighbour Sir William Boothby (c.1638-1707). These are now in the British Library (see CnC 206). Besides revealing vividly Boothby's zealous interest in books, and his often exasperated relationship with booksellers, they include hasty copies of some sixteen letters by him to Cotton, as well as one to his daughter Catherine. The manuscripts also include numerous references to the Cottons and to their neighbours and ‘cousins’, the Fitzherbert family.

Various poems addressed to Cotton appear in the works of another of his county friends, Sir Aston Cokayne, Bt (1608-84), of Ashbourne. They may be found both in Cokayne's published Poems (London, 1662) and in his own independent manuscript poems, now Yale, Osborn MS b 275.

Elsewhere there survives (probably) a charming letter by Cotton's mother, Olive, sent to her steward (‘Honest Will’ [Upton]) on 10 [or ?19] May 1650, in which she refers to her recipe book (‘a large book in writing with a parchment cover blotched on one side with ink towards the nook of it’) which she wanted him to retrieve from her ‘trunk of books’. This letter — first printed in J. L. Anderdon, The River Dove (1845), pp. 196-8, and reprinted in Beresford, p. 419 — was also printed in 1908 in William and Samuel B. Beresford, Beresford of Beresford, Part I: A History of the Manor of Beresford in the County of Stafford (1908), p. 87, at which time it was ‘in the possession of Mr. R. Seddon, of Alstonfield, whose father found it in Beresford Hall when tenant there’.

Some other Cotton and Beresford family papers, of peripheral interest, are preserved in the Derbyshire Record Office (D 158M, D 286M, D 779M) and are also partly published in Beresford of Beresford (1908), p. 102 (and see Turner, pp. 138-9). In his article in The Reliquary, 1 (1860), 167-74, Thomas Bateman also mentions (p. 169) the preservation, at least until the nineteenth century, of Cotton's ‘drinking-jack, well authenticated…picked up in [his] original neighbourhood’.

A substantial research collection on Charles Cotton, including photographs of manuscripts, compiled between 1962 and 1987 by Stephen Parks, is preserved at Yale, OSB MSS 104.

Peter Beal