Sir Robert Salusbury Cotton, 5th Baronet (c. 1739 – 24 August 1809) was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1780 to 1796.
Cotton was the eldest son of Sir Lynch Cotton. He was educated at Westminster School, Shrewsbury School, and then entered Trinity Hall, Cambridge, in 1756. He was one of the founders of the Tarporley Hunt Club in 1762.
Cotton married Frances Stapleton, daughter and co-heiress of James Russel-Stapleton Esq in 1767. In 1774 they were visited at Llewenli Hall by Sir Robert's cousin, Hester Thrale, who was accompanied by the noted writer, Samuel Johnson; Frances "found Johnson, despite his rudeness, at times delightful, having a manner peculiar to himself in relating anecdotes that could not fail to attract old and young. Her impression was that Mrs. Thrale was very vexatious in wishing to engross all his attention, which annoyed him much". The Cottons later broke off relations with Hester following her 1784 marriage to an Italian music teacher. In 1774 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. On the death of his father on 14 August 1775 he succeeded to the baronetcy and inherited the old Salusbury family seat at Lleweni Hall. Soon after the birth of his second son he moved from Lleweni Hall to Combermere Abbey, the traditional seat of the heir apparent to the Baronetcy. He had to lease the family's former estate to the Hon Thomas FitzMaurice, a brother of Lord Shelburne's, because of the profligacy of his uncle, Sir Thomas. Nevertheless, Sir Robert kept a large hunting establishment and was known as a generous host.
Cotton was returned unopposed as Member of Parliament (MP) for Cheshire at a by election on 1 March 1780 and at the succeeding 1780 general election. In 1784 he was a member of the St. Alban's Tavern group who tried to bring Fox and Pitt together. He was returned again unopposed in 1784 and 1790. Towards the end of that parliament he applied three times to Pitt for the position of collectorship of salt duties at Nantwich and was ignored. It was unexpected when he decided not to stand at the 1796. His brother writing later said it was through ill-health and that he had declined a peerage, but contemporary accounts claimed it was in annoyance at not being given the post.
Later life and legacy
Cotton was a major in the Nantwich volunteers in 1797 and 1803. He had to sell his Welsh estates for about £390,000 as he was in debt through extravagance and bad management. He died aged 70 on 24 August 1809.
Cotton and his wife Frances had the following children:
- Robert-Salusbury (born 11 September 1768), died without issue
- Stapleton (1773–1865), 6th baronet, elevated to the peerage as a Viscount and Baron Combermere
- William (died 16 June 1853), took holy orders
- Lynch, colonel in the army; died in the East Indies in 1799
- Frances (1 December 1769 – 26 November 1818), married Robert Needham, 11th Viscount Kilmorey (1746–1818) on 10 January 1792
- Penelope (31 December 1770 – 1786)
- Hester-Maria (died 20 March 1845)
- Sophia (died 24 May 1838), married Sir H. M. Mainwaring, Bart, of Over Peover, Chester
- Burke, Bernard (1869). A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire. London: Harrison. p. 254.
- "COTTON, Sir Robert Salusbury, 5th Bt. (c.1739-1809), of Combermere, Cheshire". History of Parliament Online (1754-1790). Retrieved 22 November 2017.
- Egerton-Warburton RE. "A short account of the Tarporley Hunt Club, from its foundation in 1762 to the year 1869". In Hunting Songs (Henry Young & Sons; 1912) (Retrieved 11 May 2010)
- Stapleton Cotton, Stapleton Cotton & Knollys 1866, p. 22.
- "Library and archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
- Stapleton Cotton, Stapleton Cotton & Knollys 1866, p. 18.
- "COTTON, Sir Robert Salusbury, 5th Bt. (?1739-1809), of Combermere Abbey, Cheshire and Llewenny, Denb". History of Parliament Online (1790-1820). Retrieved 22 November 2017.
- Stapleton Cotton, Mary Woolley; Stapleton Cotton, Stapleton; Knollys, William Wallingford (1866). Memoirs and Correspondence of Field-marshal Viscount Combermere, from his family papers, by Mary Viscountess Combermere and W.W. Knollys.