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
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,
The promotion of Cornet Thomas Deane on the 14th October, 1868, has been
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
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
"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
- In 1897, as Liquidator of "The Ladies' Dress Association
- 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
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.