Charles Pepys, 1st Earl of Cottenham: Wikis


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The Earl of Cottenham 

Lord Cottenham wearing ceremonial robes when presiding in the House of Lords as Lord Chancellor. Detail of a painting by Charles Robert Leslie.

In office
16 January 1836 – 30 August 1841
Monarch William IV
Prime Minister The Viscount Melbourne
Preceded by In commission
Succeeded by The Lord Lyndhurst
In office
6 July 1846 – 19 June 1850
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister Lord John Russell
Preceded by The Lord Lyndhurst
Succeeded by The Lord Truro

Born 29 April 1781 (1781-04-29)
Wimpole Street, London
Died 29 April 1851 (1851-04-30)
Pietra Santa, Lucca
Nationality British
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) Caroline Wingfield-Baker (1801-1868)
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge

Charles Christopher Pepys, 1st Earl of Cottenham PC KC (29 April 1781 – 29 April 1851) was a British lawyer, judge and politician. He was twice Lord Chancellor of Great Britain.


Background and education

Cottenham was born in London, the second son of Sir William Pepys, 1st Baronet, a master in chancery, who was descended from John Pepys, of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, a great-uncle of Samuel Pepys the diarist. Educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge, Pepys was called to the bar, Lincoln's Inn in 1804.[1]

Legal and political career

Practicing at the chancery bar, Cottenham's progress was slow, and it was not till twenty-two years after his call that he was made a King's Counsel. He sat in Parliament, successively, for Higham Ferrers and Malton, was appointed Solicitor General in 1834, and in the same year became Master of the Rolls. On the formation of Lord Melbourne's second administration in April 1835, the great seal was for a time in commission, but eventually Cottenham, who had been one of the commissioners, was appointed Lord Chancellor (January 1836) and was at the same time elevated to the peerage as Baron Cottenham, of Cottenham in the County of Cambridge. He held office until the defeat of the ministry in 1841. In 1846 he again became Lord Chancellor in Lord John Russell's administration. His health, however, had been gradually failing, and he resigned in 1850. Shortly before his retirement, he was created Viscount Crowhurst, of Crowhurst in the County of Surrey, and Earl of Cottenham, of Cottenham in the County of Cambridge. He lived at Prospect Place, Wimbledon from 1831 to 1851. He had succeeded his elder brother as third Baronet in 1845. In 1849 he also succeeded a cousin as fourth Baronet of Juniper Hill.


Lord Cottenham married Caroline Elizabeth, daughter of William Wingfield-Baker, in 1821. They had five sons and three daughters. He died at Pietra Santa, in the duchy of Lucca, Italy, in April 1851, aged 70, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Charles. Lady Cottenham died in April 1868, aged 66.


  1. ^ Pepys, Charles Christopher in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Viscount Milton
Member of Parliament for Higham Ferrers
Succeeded by
John Ponsonby
Preceded by
Lord Cavendish of Keighley
Member of Parliament for Malton
1831 – 1836
Succeeded by
John Childers
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir John Campbell
Solicitor General
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Rolfe
Preceded by
Sir John Leach
Master of the Rolls
1834 – 1836
Succeeded by
The Lord Langdale
Political offices
In commission
Title last held by
The Lord Lyndhurst
Lord Chancellor
1836 – 1841
Succeeded by
The Lord Lyndhurst
Preceded by
The Lord Lyndhurst
Lord Chancellor
1846 – 1850
Succeeded by
The Lord Truro
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl of Cottenham
1850 – 1851
Succeeded by
Charles Edward Pepys
Baron Cottenham
1836 – 1851
Baronetage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Henry Leslie
(of Juniper Hill)
1833 – 1851
Succeeded by
Charles Edward Pepys
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Pepys
(of London)
1825 – 1851
Succeeded by
Charles Edward Pepys


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