COTES, John (1682-1756), of Woodcote, Salop.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1708 - 1715

Family and Education

bap. 29 June 1682, 1st s. of Charles Cotes of Woodcote by Lettice, da. of Kildare, 2nd Baron Digby of Geashill [I].  educ. Magdalen Coll. Oxf. matric. 1698.  m. ?1706, Lady Dorothy (d. 1721), da. of Robert Shirley, 1st Earl Ferrers, 6s. (at least 1 d.v.p.) 2da.  suc. fa. aft. June 1706.1

Offices Held


Although the family had been settled at Woodcote since the reign of Henry VIII and before then at Cotes in Staffordshire, Cotes spent his early years at Coleshill, Warwickshire, in a house belonging to his mother’s family. By 1704 his father had taken over the Woodcote estate to which he succeeded in due course.2

Cotes may have received some help in electioneering at Lichfield in 1708 from his father-in-law, a committed Tory with local connexions. His return was marked by the Earl of Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) as a gain for the Whigs, probably because he had replaced Sir Henry Gough*. However, evidence of parliamentary activity suggests that Sunderland was incorrect. On 1 Feb. 1709 Cotes acted as a teller in favour of adjournment during the debate on the report of the Newcastle-under-Lyme election. The failure of the motion led to William Burslem*, a Tory agent, being found guilty of bribery and ordered into custody. In the following session Cotes voted against Dr Sacheverell’s impeachment. Indeed, he was able to bolster his electoral fortunes by dining with the Tory champion during his triumphant pre-election tour through Staffordshire in the summer of 1710. Archdeacon George Newell described him in August 1710 as ‘nephew to my Lord Digby [William*], a gentleman of extraordinary character and very good estate, and one who I am sure is well inclined to put an end to the war abroad’. Not surprisingly, Cotes was then re-elected, in partnership with Richard Dyott.3

Classified as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’, Cotes was noted in the 1710–11 session as both a ‘Tory patriot’ who opposed the continuance of war, and a ‘worthy patriot’ who had helped to detect the mismanagements of the previous ministry. On 25 Jan. 1711 he acted as a teller on the Stafford election, in support of a resolution concerning the franchise which favoured Henry Vernon I*, a Tory candidate who was seated on petition. Five days later he was ordered to prepare a bill relating to the local estate of Theophilus Biddulph, 3rd Bt. (son of Sir Michael Biddulph, 2nd Bt.*), which he managed through the Commons. In the next session he acted as a teller twice: on 4 Apr. 1712 against a clause to save the rights of Quakers to vote during the period covered by the Act preventing the fraudulent multiplication of votes in elections; and on 11 Apr. in favour of taking into custody the printer Samuel Buckley in connexion with a libel on the peace in the Daily Courant. In the 1713 session he appears to have been inactive, and indeed may not have been in attendance as he failed to register a vote on the French commerce bill. Nevertheless he was returned unopposed at the general election of that year. In the 1714 session he was a teller on 29 June in favour of the Tory candidate in the Harwich election, and was classified as a Tory on the Worsley list. Cotes was defeated in the election of 1715, but he was not removed from the commission of the peace in 1715 even though he may have been preparing to join the Jacobite field army. In December 1721, Sir Theophilus Biddulph suggested that Cotes would be cheerfully received as a candidate at Lichfield by the ‘better sort’ of electors. Cotes outlived at least one of his sons, Charles†, but was survived by at least four others, two army officers and two Anglican clerics. He died on 12 May 1756 and was buried in Woodcote parish church.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Stuart Handley


  • 1. IGI, Warws.; J. C. Wedgwood, Staffs. Parl. Hist. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), ii. 202; List and Index Soc. sp. ser. xxii. 227.
  • 2. A. T. Lee, Town and Par. of Tetbury, 249; Hist. Pirewell Hundred (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. n.s. xvii), 52.
  • 3. Christ Church, Oxf. Wake mss 2, f. 62.
  • 4. HMC Townshend, 229; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 245; RA, Stuart mss 216/111, ‘Mr Carte’s paper given to the King in July 1739’; Staffs. RO, Sutherland mss D593/P/16/1/17b, Biddulph to [Ld. Gower], 25 Dec. 1721; PCC 161 Glazier.