Richard Cobden

Richard Cobden, statesman and champion of free trade, has a memorial bust in the west aisle of the north transept of Westminster Abbey. Charles Dickens was one of those who signed the petition for erecting the memorial. The marble bust is by Thomas Woolner, 1866. The inscription reads:

Richard Cobden, Born June 3rd 1804. Died April 2nd 1865. Buried at West Lavington Church.

He was born in Sussex, a child of William Cobden and his wife Millicent (Amber). After schooling he helped in his uncle's warehouse business, acting as a commercial traveller. He then went into partnership in his own business in the calico trade. He travelled widely and wrote frequently for pamphlets and journals and joined the campaign for the reform of the Corn Laws. In 1840 he married Catherine Williams and had five surviving children including Julia Anne Cobden-Sanderson, a suffragette, and Emma Jane Cobden Unwin. He stood as Member of Parliament for Stockport and later for Rochdale and spoke out against the Crimean war. He declined a barony.

Further reading

"Richard Cobden. Independent Radical" by Nicholas Edsall, 1986

"The life of Richard Cobden" by John Morley, 1903

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004


3rd June 1804


2nd April 1865




North Transept

Memorial Type


Material Type


Richard Cobden
Richard Cobden

(Scan from the original work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Richard Cobden
RIchard Cobden bust

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster