History

Clement Cottrell

History

In the south aisle of the Nave of Westminster Abbey is a monument to two friends, Charles Harbord and Clement Cottrell (or Cotterell). They both died on 28 May 1672 in a naval engagement against the Dutch fleet in Southwold Bay, Suffolk, and are buried at sea. The monument was erected by Harbord's father. The part of the inscription concerning Clement reads (in standardised English):

"Clement Cottrell Esqr. eldest son of Sir Charles Cottrell, Knight, Master of the Ceremonies, and his assistant to have succeeded in that office, for which he was very fit, having a tall handsome person, a graceful winning behaviour, and great natural parts, much improved by study and by converse in most courts of Europe, where firm to the Church of England, he learned not their vices but customs and languages, understanding seven and speaking four of them as his own though but XXII years old; yet not content to serve his King and country at home only, his excess of courage, incited by a deep sense of honour, could not be kept from going Volunteer with the Earl of Sandwich with whom he had been in Spain when his Excellency was there [as] Ambassador Extraordinary, and with whom (after having returned unwounded into his ship, from being the first man that had boarded a Dutch one of LX guns and pulled down the ensign of it with his own hand) he also perished, universally lamented".

Their ship was the "Royal James" and a bas-relief on the monument depicts the last moments of the battle. The carved arms of Cottrell also appear (a bend between three escallops (or shells), a label of three points for difference). The family arms had been granted to Clement's grandfather, Sir Clement Cottrell of the county of Lincolnshire, who was a groom-porter to King James I. His father, Sir Charles (1615-1701), was Master of the Ceremonies to the Crown and a Member of Parliament who lived in Westminster. Clement was unmarried and his brother Sir Charles Lodowick Cottrell (d.1710) succeeded to his father's office.

A photograph of the memorial can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

 

Further reading for Sir Charles Cotterell and Sir Charles Lodowick Cotterell:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004