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Cottington, Francis, 1st Baron Cottington

Cottington, Francis, 1st Baron Cottington (c.1579–1652). Cottington was a Somerset gentleman who became a leading minister before the Civil War. He was first employed by James I in Spanish matters, knew the country well, and spoke the language. In 1622 he became secretary to Charles, prince of Wales, was given a baronetcy in 1623, and brought into Parliament. A shadow fell over his progress when he quarrelled with Buckingham, but after the duke's murder Cottingham forged ahead. In 1629 he became chancellor of the Exchequer and held the post until 1642. He was rewarded in 1631 for negotiating peace with Spain with a barony. As master of the Court of Wards from 1635 he screwed up the income at the cost of much irritation. As soon as the royal government began to falter, Cottington was a marked man and began to divest himself of his offices. When war broke out he joined the king at Oxford, acted as lord high treasurer, and on the surrender in 1646 went into exile. He died a catholic in Spain in June 1652. Clarendon described him as a good-humoured and entertaining schemer—‘he left behind a greater esteem of his parts than love of his person’.

J. A. Cannon

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