Sunday, October 26, 2014

Captain Charles Hext Cotesworth, 21st Lancers


Charles Hext Cotesworth, born in Dover in 1879, was the only son of William Greaves Cotesworth (born  about 1843 at Highgate, Middlesex) and Charlotte Hext (born 15th September 1847 at Morval, Cornwall).  The couple had married on 17th July 1877 and the following year, Charlotte gave birth to Susan Margaret Cotesworth at Torquay. 

The 1881 census shows the family living at 28 Waterloo Crescent, Dover.  William Greaves was a very wealthy man.  His occupation is simply listed as “Dividends” on the census return.  Aside from the four family members there were eight servants including a butler and a nurse for the two children.  Charlotte also had her own lady’s maid. 

The 1891 census shows the family living at Roeheath House, Chailey with William recorded as “living on own means”.  The family had grown by one – Barbara Mary Cotesworth, born around 1887 – and so had William’s army of domestics.  At Roeheath the family could count on the assistance of 12 domestics.  Susan (aged 12) and Charles (aged 11) had their own governess and were presumably being educated at home.  Their mother still had her own lady’s maid and William, now owning a house with stables attached, counted a stable helper amongst his servants. 

By 1901, the family had suffered a double bereavement however.  Charlotte Cotesworth had died suddenly at home on 10th September 1897 at the age of 49.  Her daughter Barbara Cotesworth had died two years later at the age of 12.  By the time the 1901 census was taken, William was living at home with Charles and Susan.  The governess and the nurse had departed but there were still ten domestic servants to look after the running of the household.  By this stage, William was a magistrate and is recorded as such on the census return.  His two children have no occupations noted against their names. 

Charles first appears in Chailey’s parish magazine in March 1915 when it is noted that he is serving his King and Country.  In October of that year he is noted as a captain with he 21st Lancers but by April 1916, the word “invalided” appears next to his name.  In July 1916, “invalided” disappears and Charles then appears continuously in the published roll up to and including July 1919.  Nothing further is known of his army service. I have not found a medal index card for him which suggests that he never served overseas.

Charles was obviously married at the time he was serving because in February 1916 he and his wife are noted in The East Sussex News as having donated a gift to the Chailey Relief Hospital – Hickwells – the commandant of which was his sister, Margaret Cotesworth (later Margaret Slessor). 

William Greaves Cotesworth died on 28th May 1924.  That September, The Times, reporting details of his will, noted that he was chairman of the Chailey Conservative Association and senior member of the Lewes Bench.  He left “unsettled property of the gross value of £95,060”, the equivalent of over £4 million today.

It would seem that Charles – if he was not already living there – took over the estate at Roeheath and spent the next two decades there until his death on 29th June 1944 at the age of 64.  The Times reported the news on 1st July, noting:

COTESWORTH – On June 29th 1944 at Roeheath, Chailey, CAPTAIN CHARLES HEXT COTESWORTH, late 21st Lancers, son of the late William Greaves Cotesworth and dear brother of Margaret Slessor.  Funeral private. No flowers.

The photo on this post is the copyright of the National Trust and show Charles as an infant. It was taken on 29th May 1880 at Dover.


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