COTTERELL, John Geers (1757-1845), of Garnons, Herefs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1802 - 18 Mar. 1803
1806 - 1831

Family and Education

b. 21 Sept. 1757, 1st s. of Sir John Brookes Cotterell by Anne, da. and h. of John Geers of Garnons. m. 4 Jan. 1791, Frances Isabella, da. and h. of Henry Michael Evans of Spring Grove, Uxbridge, Mdx., 4s. 6da. suc. fa. 1790; cr. Bt. 2 Nov. 1805.

Offices Held

Maj. Herefs. militia 1784, lt.-col. 1796, col. 1796-1803; brevet col. 1796; col. Herefs. vols. (2 batt.) 1803, N. Herefs. militia 1808.


By 1796 electioneering was a ‘favourite passion’ of Cotterell’s. Preferred by the lord lieutenant, Lord Bateman, for the command of the county militia to Lord Malden, he also aspired to a seat for Hereford. His prospects were marred by the bungled candidature of another ministerialist John Keysall, who withdrew too late to enable him to stand a chance. The death of one of the newly elected Members revived his hopes and he canvassed with considerable success, but did not go to a poll. He was diverted to the county, for which he stood at the last minute in 1802. He had been active in the suppression of the rebellion of ’98 in Ireland, for which he was thanked by the Irish parliament and awarded the freedom of Hereford. On 25 Nov. 1801 Bateman had recommended him to the prime minister for a baronetage, through Lord Hobart, but nothing came of it then. At the poll, he ousted the Whig Robert Biddulph, whose friends proceeded to void his election for treating, which was indulged in by all the candidates. By a compromise, the chairman of Cotterell’s election committee, John Matthews, replaced him unopposed until the next election when, by now a baronet, he was returned unopposed.1

Cotterell, who had just inherited more land in the county, was described at that time as ‘a man of property, but of mean conditions and parts; well disposed, however, and constitutional’.2 No speech of his in the House is known before 1820. He made no mark in his first Parliament, but at his re-election in 1807 was praised by a cleric for his ‘protestant’ views.3 He supported the Portland and Perceval administrations, rallying to the latter on 23 and 26 Jan. 1810 and again on 5 and 30 Mar., on the Scheldt inquiry. He was listed ‘doubtful’ from the Whig standpoint. He opposed the imprisonment of Sir Francis Burdett, 5 Apr., but also the release of the radical Gale Jones, 16 Apr. 1810. He voted against sinecure reform, 17 May. On the Regency bill he sided with ministers, 1 Jan. 1811. On 19 Jan. 1812 he wrote to Charles Arbuthnot at the Treasury:

It was never so particularly inconvenient to me to leave home as at this time, but as your note is so pressing I cannot refuse obeying your summons for the 27th and have accordingly written to my pair Mr Symonds to give notice that I cannot continue my arrangement with him any longer, but I shall be under the necessity of retiring into the country in the course of next week.

On 23 Jan. he wrote again to say that he must be back in the country by 4 Feb. and, as ‘the Catholic question’ was not coming on on 2 Feb., hoped that he might be excused then too, promising to come back after 9 Feb.4 But his only known vote that session was against a more efficient administration, 21 May. On 13 June he took three weeks’ leave for his militia duties.

Cotterell was listed a Treasury supporter after his re-election in 1812. He opposed Catholic relief, 2 Mar. and 24 May 1813, as also on 21 May 1816. He rallied to ministers on the civil list questions of 8 and 31 May 1815 and 24 May 1816, on the army estimates, 6 and 8 Mar., and on the public revenue bill, 14 June 1816. On the other hand, he was in the majority against the property tax, 18 Mar. 1816, and opposed the duty on farm horses, 14 June. He opposed Admiralty retrenchment, 17 Feb. 1817, and voted for the suspension of habeas corpus on 23 June. He was a member of the Pitt Club, on the ministerial dinner list in 1818 and invited to hear the ministerial case for the ducal marriage grants, 13 Apr., but did not vote on 15 Apr.5

On 21 Feb. 1818 Robert Price* wrote: ‘Sir John Cotterell our Tory Member has lost a great deal of his popularity, and is I really think much more open to attack than he has been at any time since his first election’.6 Nevertheless Cotterell headed the poll in the contest of 1818. He played little part in the ensuing Parliament, taking leaves of absence on 19 Mar. and 26 Apr. His only known votes were with ministers against Tierney’s censure motion and for the foreign enlistment bill, 18 May, 10 June 1819. It was thought that he might dislike the expense of another contest, but none materialized.7 He retired in 1831 and died 26 Jan. 1845.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: M. J. Williams / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Portland mss, PwV110, Portland to Malden, 16 May; Malmesbury mss, Cornewall to Malmesbury, 30 July; True Briton, 4 Oct. 1796; Gent. Mag. (1845), i. 542; Bucks RO, Hobart mss C384; See HEREFORDSHIRE.
  • 2. Glocester Jnl. 27 Oct. 1806; Add. 38236, f. 359.
  • 3. Glocester Jnl. 20 May 1807.
  • 4. T.64/260.
  • 5. Add. 38366, ff. 133, 135.
  • 6. Fitzwilliam mss, box 92, Price to Fitzwilliam, 21 Feb. 1818.
  • 7. Add. 38280, f. 12.