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Charles Cobden

Cobden family grave

This gravestone that Alan Jennings discovered at St Mary's in Prestwich, marks the grave of Sarah Kate Cobden, the infant daughter of Richard Cobden, who was buried on the 30 Jan 1843, aged just 7 months.

Richard Cobden (b:1804) is famous (especially in Manchester & Salford) as a manufacturer, Radical and Liberal statesman, and for his success with the Anti-Corn Law League for free trade. He was MP for Stockport from 1841, against Sir Robert Peel's ministry and succeeded with the abolition of the Corn Laws in 1846, which led to the fall of the government. He was also noteable for being progressive with child education, setting up a school in the village of Sabden, and also for financing his employees so they could get a loan (of him) to buy their own house.

Also buried here is Charles Cobden (b:1808), a younger brother of Richard, and 3rd son of William and Millicent. Charles was born in 1808, attended Bowes Hall and then Christ's Hospial(1817-1823).

The Cobden boys had been born to William and Millicent (nee Amber) at a farmhouse called Dunford in Heyshott in Sussex, they had 11 children in total. William's father Richard, was a maltster, owning Bex Mill in Heyshott, as well as being a magistrate in the locality. William however turned away from malting and bought Dunford farm. After his education Richard had moved to London working for his uncle. He set up his own business in 1828, pertnering with his brother Charles, becoming London agents for the Fort Brothers, Calico printers of Manchester.

In 1831 the Cobden Brothers sought to lease a printing mill in Sabden, Lancashire, from the Fort brothers of Sedgley Hall in Prestwich, but lacking capital, the Fort brothers agreed to retain some of the equity after being impressed with the Cobdens. The business thrived and he brothers then moved to Manchester purchasing a property on Quay Street in Manchester.They were also partners in Cobden & Hedley wholesale hosiers on York Street, Manchester.

Cobden House, Manchester (St John's in the background)

Cobden House became Owen's College in 1851 (named after John Owen, merchant, who had left most of his fortune to education for youths). This college was merged with the Royal School of Medicine in 1872 and became the Univerity of Manchester. The house became courts and is now Legal Chambers. In the present day photo you can just make out a hint of the original doorway apex, with the steps now moved inside.

Cobden House, Quay Street, Manchester

St Johns Ward Roll of HonourOn the side of Cobden House is a cabinet containing the WWI Roll of Honour for St John's Ward.

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Charles was listed as a merchant, and lived in York Street(1841) and 91 Piccadilly, before moving to St John's Place, off Great Clewes Street Higher Broughton (1861-1871) listed as a "gentleman" and "annuitant" lodger. [Along with his brother Richard they owned houses 52 & 54 on New Zealand Road, Stockport] He was also partner with Richard, as Richard Cobden & Co, calico printers.

89-91 Piccadilly is now a local supermarket

At a later date the Fort Brothers Mill manager in Sabden, George Foster, became partner with Richard Cobden. Richard Cobden would stay at George's property in Sabden called Whins, now one of Lancashire's most expensive properties

The Mill in Sabden employed over 600 people, Richard re-focussed his efforts in Manchester about 1840 and the Sabden mill suffered a fire in 1887.

"The workers practised a singular independence towards their employers. They took it as matter of course that they were free, whenever it was their good pleasure, and without leave asked or given, to quit their work for a whole week at once, and to set out on a drinking expedi- tion to some neighbouring town, whence they would have been ashamed to return until their pockets were drained to the last penny. "

"Mr. Foster, a Liberal of the finest and most enlightened type, with a clear head and a strong intelligence, and the good old- fashioned faith in freedom, justice, and progress, led the Sabden contingent of zealous voters to Clitheroe for the first election after the Reform Act, and how Uke a careful patriarch, he led them quickly back again after their civil duty was done ; leaving the taverns of Clitheroe behind, and refreshing them- selves at the springs on the hillside. "

Charles did not have an active role in politics like his brother, but Richard Cobdens' letters to his father [GoogleBooks] describe how he sought a salary for his brother Charles.

Cobden family Tree (Charles and Richard had another 9 siblings (omitted)

Click here to browse the Cobden family tree on Ancestry.co.uk. (Ancestry account required - no subscription required)

One of Richard Cobden's colleagues in the Anti-corn League once shared a platform in Stevenson Square with him, and is another Prestwich St Mary's occupant... John Brooks.Whose notable marble & granite monument stands proud over the churchyard. [ FB Group Post] Richard also named one of his sons Charles Brooks Cobden.

Richard Cobden died 2nd April 1865, and as sole surviving male, his brother Charles received letters from Napolean III & Lord Cowely upon his death. The Emperor wrote to Charles:

Mr R. Cobden always manifested great sympathy for France, and his influence over his country men could not but contribute to increase the closeness of the ties that unite England and France.

Charles died on a Tuesday evening at his home, St John's Place, Broughton, 5th Jan 1875, and is buried adjacent to William Sturgeon in [St Mary's B2B]

Charles Cobden burial entry

Richard Cobden had been godfather to a son of John Slagg, merchant and J.P. John's tomb also stands in St Mary's churchyard, not far from that of John Brooks.

The tomb to the Fort brothers of Sedgley Hall, business partners of the Cobdens also stands in the same graveyard.The death of Lawrence Fort, left Prestwich with one of several ghost stories.