Cobden Papers

Scope and Content

Family papers of the Cobden Family, particularly correspondence of Richard Cobden, politician, and Emma Jane Catherine Fisher Unwin (nee Cobden), suffragist and politician.

Administrative / Biographical History

Richard Cobden was a political reformer, perhaps best known for his role in establishing the Anti-Corn-Law league. He was an advocate of free trade, believing that this would act as a defence against war.

Emma Jane Catherine Cobden - Richard Cobden's daughter - was a Liberal politician and supporter of women's suffrage. In 1889, she was one of the first two women to be elected to London County Council. Her interests developed to include aboriginal rights after she married the publisher, Thomas Fisher Unwin, in 1892.


The collection is divided into two sections: The Cobden Papers, and the Cobden and Unwin Papers.

The Cobden Papers are arranged as follows: Original letters to or from Richard Cobden - various correspondents (1832-1865); Original letters to Richard Cobden from selected correspondence (CP Villiers, Joseph Parkes, George Moffatt, Charles Sumner, WT Haly and John Hamilton); Letters written by Richard Cobden and purchased by CJL Brock in 1937; Autographs to Richard Cobden; French autographs; Copy letter books; Catalogues and lists of Cobden letters and papers (with some copy letters): Original correspondence other than with Richard Cobden; Accounts; Miscellaneous papers concerning travel; Papers relating mainly to Cobden genealogy; Europen and American politics (with special reference to free trade, maritime law, Crimean and other wars, non-intervention and the French Treaty); Life and character of Richard Cobden; Articles, plays, books and speeches; Papers relating to Parliament and to local government (excluding corn laws and land tenure); Insurance; Mainly business interests in Manchester; Mourning cards and associated papers; United States of America and Canada; Corn Laws and the Anti-Corn-Law League; Societies and associations; Diaries and journals; Education; Far East; Land tenure; Dunford Estate (excluding title deeds); Addresses to Richard Cobden and CP Villiers; Freedoms and honours; Testamentary; Lancashire; Heyshott; Addresses, copies of resolutions and letters of condolence sent on the death of Richard Cobden; Property investments; Memorials etc to Richard Cobden; Cobden Clubs in London and Heyshott; Literary remains; Unclassified; Newspapers and newspaper cuttings; drawings and photographs; Medallions; Title deeds.

The Cobden and Unwin Papers are arranged as follows: Original correspondence with Richard Cobden (Catherine A Cobden, Kate Cobden (Mrs RC Fisher), Ellen MA Cobden (Mrs W Sickert), Emma JC Cobden (Mrs T Fisher Unwin), Lucy EM Cobden, T Fisher Unwin, Unwin family letters, Clare family letters, Miscellaneous); Richard Cobden (Articles, speeches and notes; European and American politics; Addresses, Freedoms and honours, Anti-Corn-Law league; Life and character; Condolences; Unclassified); Ellen Millicent Ashburner Cobden; Lucy Elizabeth Margaret Cobden; Emma Jane Catherine Cobden and her husband Thomas Fisher Unwin (Publishing; Ireland; Miscellaneous personal records - including Emma Jane Catherine Cobden's political scrapbooks); Unwin family papers; Cobden Clubs in London and Heyshott; Dunford House and Heyshott; Phortographs, paintings, drawings and engravings; Medallions; Addresses to John Bright; Unclassified.

Access Information

The collection is catalogued and accessible to researchers.

For information on visiting the archive please see Location and Opening Hours on our Website, which also gives information about reader tickets and using the search room.

Acquisition Information

The records in the Cobden Papers and Cobden-Unwin Papers were deposited by the governing body of Dunford House, Heyshott (Richard Cobden's family home) in 1961 and 1964.

The records which form the Cobden-Sanderson collection were donated by Mr R Cobden-Sanderson (Richard Cobden's grandson) of Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire, between July 1961 and January 1964 .

Other Finding Aids

The full collection catalogue can be consulted using West Sussex Record Office's Search Online facilty. An indexed hard copy catalogue is available in the searchroom (The Cobden and Unwin Papers form a separate volume).

Archivist's Note

The Cobden Papers and the Cobden Sanderson Collection were catalogued by Francis Steer, County Archivist; his catalogue was published in March 1964. The Coden and Unwin Papers were catalogued by Patricia Gill, Assistant Archivist; her catalogue was published in January 1967.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish items should be obtained from the Trustees of the Cobden Papers at Dunford House, Heyshott, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 0DG.

Related Material

A further collection of letters and other records known as the Cobden-Sanderson Collection has been catalogued in West Sussex Record Office's Additional Manuscripts class, with the following reference numbers: Add Mss 2760-2766, 2767-2768, 6009-6076, 6078-6079, 6472.

The Cobden-Sanderson Collection is arranged as follows: Original letters to or from Richard Cobden; Copy letters; Correspondence of William Cobden; Correspondence of Frederick Cobden; Cobden family letters; Correspondence of Catherine Ann Cobden; Richard Brookes Cobden (correspondence etc); Family correspondence of Richard Cobden's daughters (Kate Cobden, Ellen Millicent Ashburner Cobden, Emma Jane Catherine Cobden, Julia Sarah Anne Cobden, Lucy Elizabeth Margaret Cobden); Later correspondence of Emma JC Cobden (Mrs T Fisher Unwin); Miscellaneous family letters; Miscellaneous letters; Records relating to Richard Cobden; Cobden family; Accounts; Dunford Estate and Heyshott; Unclassified.

Seven further letters written by Richard Cobden from Manchester (1832-1837), have been catalogued with the reference Add Mss 17018.

Some Cobden material also exists at the British Museum (references 43647-44430).


John Morley's 'The Life of Richard Cobden' (1879) provides a comprehensive biography and assessment of Cobden's influence.

Geographical Names