Our purpose-built archive holding Records of the Marriott Family of Cotesbach (GB3069CEA) was the principal driver behind the Heritage Lottery Fund award to restore estate buildings for the Cotesbach Educational Trust in 2012-13. A treasure trove of social history, it holds over 7,000 documents mainly from the mid-18th century when the family purchased the land and living at Cotesbach, a few from the time of the notorious Enclosures Riot of 1607 and a few still earlier including a lease from the recent sale which, dated March 1431, takes pride of place as the oldest document in the collection.
As archive volunteers applied themselves to the cataloguing, 18th-century fury and scandal emerged, first in letters surrounding the disputed purchase of the Estate and later in a letter from John Donellan produced at the murder trial resulting in his execution in 1781, a much documented event with far-reaching consequences.
Digging deeper, letters mentioning William Wilberforce reveal the extent of Marriott connections with the Clapham Sect and the Oxford Movement, and witness their involvement with the establishment of educational institutions from Bradfield College, Berkshire to Kenyon College, Ohio.
There are documents relating to property in Clapton, (acquired following the marriage of Robert Marriott to Anne Powell in 1809), as there are to property closer to home - plans for alterations to Cotesbach Manor House, by that time used as a farmhouse.
All these would have been scattered across the globe in philatelists’ collections. Lost, too, would be one of the last letters written by Digby Marriott from the front in Flanders in 1915 in which he gives his mother an account of the burial, by men from the Durham Light Infantry, of his brother Fred - another incalculably precious addition to our archive.
The vendor remains unknown, but these are likely to have been found in Jersey as some family papers, dispersed in 1947, found their way there. It is a great celebration to see them return to Cotesbach, for our archive team to reap rewards for all their hard work, and for our charity to have been enabled to make the big leap to becoming a collecting institution. Greatest of all is our relief that through this purchase documents have been saved and made accessible for future generations.
Trustees and volunteers at Cotesbach Educational Trust are most grateful to FNL for generously making this purchase possible.