Charles Cotton, English writer, angler and friend of Izaak Walton, was born in 1630 in Beresford, on the Staffordshire, Derbyshire border. His mother was Olive, daughter of Sir John Stanhope of Elvaston, Derbyshire and his father a wealthy landowner with many literary connections.
He was well educated, with a good knowledge of french, italian as well as the classics, but it usure as to wether he went to Cambridge.
In 1656 Cotton married Isobella Hutchinson, daughter of Sir Thomas Hutchinson of Owthorpe, Notts. Two years later his father died, leaving him the considerable estates at Beresford and Bentley. The River Dove flows through Beresford Dale and it is here that he learnt to fly fish and possibly where he met up with Izaak Walton who befriended him for many years.
In 1664 he published a burlesque titled Scarronicles, which became a popular work which ran into 14 editions.
His wife died in 1670, leaving him 3 sons and 5 daughters. He remarried in 1675 to Mary Russell, daughter of Sir William Russell, and widow of the Earl of Ardglass.
He spent a great deal of time fishing with Izaak Walton and together they built a fishing temple on the banks of the River Dove in Beresford Dale near Hartington, bearing the inscription Piscatoribus Sacrum. The temple still stands, on private land.
Two years later he wrote the celebrated second part of Walton's 5th edition of 'The Compleat Angler'. The work was the first detailed treatice on fly-fishing.
He also wrote 'The Wonders of the Peake', a long topographical poem popular in the 18th century. This and his other poetry, published posthumous reflect Cotton's enjoyment of life.
Cotton's later years were marred by financial difficulties, his income from his estates and writings being insufficient to support his life style and he had to sell Beresford Hall in 1681.
He died in 1687 and is buried in St James's Church, Picadilly, London.
There is a family pew in the small church at Alstonefield, Derbyshire and a pub in Hartington bears his name.
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