United Kingdom
21st Hussars

Cartes-de-Visite studio Ritter, Molkenteller & Co. in Bombay & Poona, India

Lieutenant Joseph William Minchin Cotton

Joseph William Minchin Cotton was gazetted in the 21st Hussars on June 30th 1863:
"21st Hussars, (...) Ensign Joseph William Minchin Cotton, from Madras General List, to be Cornet. Dated 20th December, 1860."

The India Office precised on March 1st 1864 (published on the 4th inst.):
"The undermentioned Officers who belonged to Her Majesty's Indian Forces on the 18th of February, 1861, to have rank in Her Majesty's Army as follows, viz. :
Cornets or Ensigns.
Joseph William Minchin Cotton. Dated 20th December, 1860."

In 1868 he joined the Staff Corps ; the London Gazette published on October 13th 1868 :
"21st Hussars, Cornet Joseph William Minchin Cotton to be Lieutenant, without purchase, vice Charles Rose Chase, who retires. Dated 14th October, 1868.
Cornet Thomas Deane  to be Lieutenant, without purchase, vice Cotton, admitted a Probationer for the Staff Corps in India. Dated 14th October, 1868.

This was soon antedated, further to another retirement in the regiment ; the London Gazette published on December 1st 1868 :
"21st Hussars, Cornet Joseph William Minchin Cotton to be Lieutenant, vice Anthony William Twyford, who retires. Dated 24th August, 1868.
The promotion of Cornet Thomas Deane on the 14th October, 1868, has been cancelled.
Cornet Thomas Deane to be Lieutenant, vice Cotton, a Probationer for the Indian Staff Corps Dated 24th August, 1868.

By the time the 1870 Army List was devised (October), Cotton and Deane had exchanged places as probationer. The 21st Hussars was then in Bengal.

The 21st Hussars were relieved in 1873 by the 13th Hussars, and came back from Lucknow to England, for the first time as a Regiment. The Times published on December 20th, 1873 :
"Her Majesty's troop relief steamship Serapis, Capt. Rickford, arrived in Portsmouth harbour yesterday morning, via the Suez Canal, with the 21st Hussars and detachments of officiers and men from other corps on board as follow :-21st Hussras.-Col. Macleod and Mrs. Macleod ; Majors Lane and Clarke and Mrs. Clarke ; Capts. Biddle, Prinsep, and Mrs. Prinsep, Taylor, and Frederick ; Lieuts. Cotton, Mrs. Cotton and children, Lysaght, Benson, Martin, Unett, and Loyd ; Paymaster George, Mrs. George, and three children ; Surg.-Major Turnbull, Vet.-Surg. Bushman, Surgs. Corban and Candy, 32 sergeants, 5 trumpeters, 244 troopers, 28 soldiers' wives, and 31 children."

The regiment went to Colchester, where they had been preceeded the week before by their depôt, under the command of Capt. Spottiswoode. The regiment would soon move to Aldershott.

Cotton was promoted a few years later ; the London Gazette published on October 27th, 1876:
"21st Hussars, Lieutenant Joseph William Minchin Cotton to be Captain, vice F.B.Prinsep, made Supernumerary on being appointed Adjutant, 1st West York Yeomanry Cavalry. Dated 29th August, 1876."

Captain Cotton likely wanted to see some active service, as he exchanged into a Foot Regiment bound for Afghanistan on July 12th 1878 :
"9th Foot.-Capt. Joseph William Minchin Cotton, from the 21st Hussars, to be Capt., vice J.Lovell, who exchanges."

He had joined the 2d Battalion of the 9th Foot, and soon left back for India, boarding at Queenstown  the Troopship Euphrates, for Bombay, on September 22d. 1878. The other officers of the 9th Foot on board were Major Roberts, Lieuts. Beecher, Govan, Lugara, and Ommaney. The Euphrates was "timed to arrive at Bombay on the 22d of October".

The 2d Battalion of the 9th Foot was engaged at Charasiah (October 6th 1879) and Kabul (December 11th-23d 1879).
"Joseph W.M.Cotton" is listed as a Captain in the 2d Battalion in the 1880 Army List, when the Battalion's location is noted as "en route from Afghanistan".
In 1881 the 9th Foot was renamed the "Norfolk Regiment".
Captain Cotton left Bombay on April 16th, 1882, on board the Crocodile, Capt. Cardale, reaching Spithead on May 13th.

His military career would soon be over : the London Gazette published on January 24th, 1883 :
"The Norfolk Regiment.- (...) Capt. Joseph W.M.Cotton has been placed on retired pay, with the honorary rank of Major."

The press allows us glimpses of Major Cotton's later life - as a businessman ; he is mentioned :
- In 1889, as Director of the "Oceana Transvaal Land Company, Limited", and a Director of "The Californian Consolidated Quicksilver Company, Limited" and "The Gipsy Queen Gold Mining Company, Limited" ;
- In 1894, as Chairman of the "Italian and General Exploring Company Limited" ;
- In 1895, presiding a meeting of the Fellows of the Royal Botanic Society ;
- In 1897, as Liquidator of "The Ladies' Dress Association Limited" ;
- In 1900, in relation to the "Cataract Barberton Gold Mining Company (Limited)" ;

We also learn about his family :
- His widow, Clara Rose Cotton, of Regent's Park, would eventually pass out in 1931.
- His eldest son, William Bennsely Cotton, I.C.S., married Elizabeth Marchant on September 9th 1919, at Bahraien, Oudh, India. He would die on October 24th, 1944, aged 72 years.
- His second son, Arthur Stedman Cotton, born on August 18th, 1873, had a distinguished Military career : he would die in 1952, aged 79, a late Brigadier-General, "C.B., CM.G., C.B.E., D.S.O., A.M." (the Albert Medal won "by a singular act of courage and gallantry" on october 14th, 1919, at Novorossisk, in South Russia).

But it is his Obituary, published in "The Times" on October 11th 1904, that allows to retrace his life in a comprehensive way :
"A correspondent writes :- We have to record the death of Major J.W.M. Cotton, which took place on October 8, after a short illness, at his residence, 3, Chester-Terrace, Regent's Park. he came of a family that has been connected with India for several generations, his grandfather and great-grandfather having both been directors of the Company, and one of his brothers being Sir Henry Cotton, K.C.S.I. His father was in the Madras Civil Service, and he was born at Cumbum, in that Presidency, on December 30, 1842. After being educated at Magdalen School and the Forest School, he was nominated in 1860 to a cadetship in the old Indian Army that yet remained in the gift of a Director. He first served in the Madras Native Infantry, whence, on the final amalgamation of the armies, he elected to join one of the newly-raised cavalry regiments, the 21st Hussars (now Lancers). Some years later he exchanged into the 9th Foot (now the Norfolk regiment), with which he saw active service in the Afghan War of 1879-80, taking part in the operations round Jugdulluk and the subsequent relief of Sherpur. During a long service in India he was devoted to sport, especially the tiger-shooting. On leaving the Army in 1882 he settled in the neighbourood of Regent's Park, where he took an active interest in all local concerns. He gave much of his time to the council meetings of the Royal Botanic Society. Quite recently, on being appointed a J.P. for London, he became one of the most regular attendents of the bench at Clerkenwell Sessions. His presence will also be missed at the East India United Service Club."

On this photograph he is wearing on his collar the badge or rank of a Lieutenant.
He is sporting the pouch belt of the 21st Hussars, with chains and prickers, characterized by the regimental light blue central stripe.