Bellaport Hall


In early times Bellaport was not a part of Norton, but of Bearstone, which was a manor in its own right in 1086. Much of Bearstone to the north would have been woodland and it is probable that some of it was cleared and that Bellaport Hall was built in this clearing during the reign of Queen Mary.

Early records

Early records of Bellaport and Bellaport Hall are scarce, a Margaret Malpas 91390 – 14140 of Chetwood and Bellaport, Shropshire is an early mention. Margaret married Sir Richard Peshall (Peshale) and they had a daughter, Isabella who married Thomas Grosvenor. It was Isabella and Thomas Grosvenor’s son Randall Grosvenor (born c1480) who married Margaret Mainwaring. Soon you will see how these name reappear over the years in connection to Bellaport.

During Queen Elizabeth’s reign William Grosvenor purchased from Richard Sutton eight acres of pasture land in Norton for £41 [1]

In 1586 Rowland Barker of Wollerton and great nephew of Rowland Hill, sold his manorial rights to the lordship and parish of Norton-in-Hales to William Grosvenor of Bellaport.

Sir George Mainwaring of Ightfield (brother of Mary Cotton of Combermere) sold ‘The Brand’ to Richard Grosvenor and in 1603 he sold some land in Bearstone, Bellaport and Norton to William Cotton and William’s son Rowland Cotton. In 1606 George sold the manor of Norton and his remaining property there to William Cotton.

“Bellaport Old Hall occupies only about a quarter of the moated area. It is L-shaped in plan and is 2 stories throughout with attics above. The walls are very strongly built of fine ashlar, except the gable ends of the main wing which are of early brick; the windows have stone mullions, but no Tudor dripstones. The most notable external feature, however, is the fact that all four gables are crow-stepped. Internally the house exhibits a fine oak fireplace and paneling of Jacobean date. All details point to the data of building during the reign of James I, while the crow-steps imply some connection between the builder and Flanders.” [2]

Sir Rowland Cotton (1581 -1634)

In one of the large oak panelled room, over the fireplace was a finely moulded quartered coat of arms showing a cheveron between three hanks of cotton (Cotton) a fesse between six martlets (Walsh, after his second wife), a eagles leg, on a chief indented mullet between two plates (Smith alias Torbock, after Rowland’s Grandmother) a chevron between three laurel leaves (Shawbury, after Rowland’s mother) [3]. After Sir Rowland Cotton’s death in 1634, the Bellaport estate passed to his wife Dame Joyce Lady Cotton and following her death in 1637 the estate passed to Rowland’s brother William Cotton (1590 – 1639). In 1639 the estate was passed to William Cotton (1620 – 1663), Rowland’s nephew.

William Cotton (1620 – 1663)

To all Commanders and Officers and Soldiers whatsoever or anyways belonging to His Majesty’s armyWe do hereby strictly charge and command all and every one of you whom it may or shall concern that immediately upon your sight or knowledge hereof you do no manner of injury, hurt, violence or damage to William Cotton, of Bellaport, in the county of Salop, Esq., in his person, goods, family, hall, &co, or chattels whatsoever, here or elsewhere remaining. As you will answer for contrary at your utmost perils. Given at Salop, this eleventh of May 1644.

1644 Protection Order, signed by Prince Rupert

1660 Poll Tax Return – Bellaport Hall, William Cotton’s household consisted of 17 persons including 14 servants (8 male, 6 female) [3]. In 1673 William Cotton bought the manor of Colehurst, while the marriage of Rowland Cotton brought another estate into the family.

Ralph Cotton (1642 – 1683)

Ralph Cotton was born in 1642 at Bellaport and was the son of William Cotton and Joyce Bromley. He married Abigail Abney on the 14th September 1669. Abigail died in 1683.

Rowland Cotton (1674 – 1753)

Wadham Colledge, matriculated 22nd April 1691, aged 16. M.P Newcastle-under-Lyne, Mov 1699-1705, 1708 til unseated 1st Feb 1709, 1710 till unseated 2 June 1715.

Rowland Cotton married Mary Sleigh (daughter of Sir Samuel Sleigh) on 27th May 1695 at St Helen’s, Etwall. Mary was the heiress of Etwall Hall. They had five children; William Cotton 1700-1761, Mary Cotton 1707-1767, Rowland Cotton 1708-1739, Elizabeth Abigail Cotton 1711-1777 and Catherine Cotton 1719-1786.

William Cotton (1700 – 1776)

Balliol Collage matriculated 16th March 1718-9 aged 17.

1726 William Cotton went abroad with his friend, tEvelyn Pierrepont, 2nd Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull (1711-1773). Fearful of his son’s wild ways, the came to an understanding that William would require his father’s permission before he could marry, otherwise his father would disinherit him. He agreed to all of this so that his father would fund his trip abroad.

Evelyn Pierrepont, 2nd Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull was the only son of William Pierrepont, Earl of Kingston. He was styled Earl of Kingston 1713-15, and Marquess of Dorchester 1715-26, before succeeding his grandfather as 2nd Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull in 1726. He was sent to Eton in 1725, and the following year went on the Grand Tour aged 14, spending ten years on the Continent and becoming known for gambling and loose living. In 1736 he returned to England with his mistress, Marie-Thérèse de Fontaine de la Touche.

In 1737 when William Cotton returned from his travels he formed a liasion with a Rebecca Webster, a servant girl at Bellaport. He took her to live with him in Nottingham, near to the Duke of Kingston. In 1746, William and his father made up their quarrel and made a new settlement.

1755 Alterations to Bellaport Hall including a new chimney-piece for William Cotton Esq [5].

Friday morning at six o’clock, died after a long illness at his seat at Etwall, aged 75, William Cotton, Esq: a gentleman possessed of the greatest humanity and charity, and much esteemed by persons of all ranks and denominations. His corpse, we hear will be carried from Etwall in a private manner, in order to be interred in the family vault at Bellaport in Shropshire.

Derby Mercury 12th January 1776

William Cotton (1740 – 1819)

William was the second child of William & Rebecca Cotton. In his mid thirties he became ill and was certified as a lunatic in 1773. He was cared for at Etwall Hall by his brother Evelyn Rowland.

The remains of the late William Cotton of Etwall Esq, rested at Stone on Monday evening last, on their way to the family vault at Norton, in Shropshire. They were attended by R Adderley Esq. the Rev L Cockburne, Mr Forster and the numerous tenantary seemed to deplore the loss of a landlord under whom they had leaved for many years in mutual friendship.

Evelyn Rowland Cotton (1742 – 1795)

Born at Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottingham. Educated at Eton and Emmanuel College, matriculated Easter, 1762; B.A. 1766; M.A. 1769. Vicar of Sutton-on-the-Hill, Derbyshire, 1767-95. Rector. of Dalbury, 1770-95. Died June 14, 1795, at Bellaport, Salop

1827 To be sold by Auction by Mr Wright, at the Corbet Arms Inn, in Market Drayton on Wednesday the 24th of October inst. at 3 o’clock, in lots by order of the Co-heirs of the late William Cotton Esq, – extensive FREEHOLD ESTATES, eligibly situated at Norton in Hales and Bellaport, near Market Drayton, in the county of Salop, comprising of two adjacent Manors, well stocked with game, extensive woodlands and the Advowsow of the Rectory of Norton, sundry farms with superior buildings, comprising the site of the ancient Mansion of Bellaport and nearly 1800 acres of land, now in the occupation of yearly tenants under notice to quit at lady-day next.Also at the same time and place the Manor Farm of Colehurst in the parish of Market Drayton with an ancient Mansion thereon and capital farm buildings newly erected and nearly 450 acres of land in a ring-fence now in the occupation of Mr Harding which is also under notice to quit at Lady-day next.

Lawrence Dundas Henry Cokburne (1761 – 1830)

When the Bellaport estate was put up for sale in 1827 Mary Teresa Cotton’s husband, Rev. Lawrence Cokburne purchased a large part of it. Lawrence married Mary Teresa Cotton on the 14th September 1784 at St Marylebone Church, Westminster. He was the Rector of St Chad’s Church, Norton-in-Hales from 1786 -1830. He was also the Vicar of St Helen’s Church, Etwall, Derby. He was the domestic chaplain to the Duke of Sussex (Prince Augustus Frederick (1801 – 1843)). Mr Cokburne was a freemason and was initated into the Tynan Lodge, Derby, three months before the Battle of Waterloo and became Chaplain in 1817, held the office for 10 years. When he died on the 7th April 1830 at Etwall, aged 68. Bellaport was left to his relation Reverend Hugh Ker, who then took on the name Cokburne.

Rev. Hugh Ker Cokburne (1794-1866)

On the 3rd May 1833 – The King granted to Hugh Ker by royal licence and authority that he and his issue may, in compliance with a condition expressed in the last will and testament of the Revenerend Lawrence-Dundas Henry Cokburne, to take and use the surname Cokburne in addition to and after that of Ker and also bear the arms of Cokburne.

Bellaport House from the 1851 Census Rev Hugh Ker Cokburne aged 56, Landed Proprietor Henry Fox aged 34 Bailiffe Sarah Moore aged 49, Housekeeper Hannah aged 27, Cook

Old Bellaport Hall Robert Tilsley aged 49, Farmer of 280 acres Ann Tilsley aged 43 Robert aged 5 Ann aged 4

Elizabeth Ker Coulson – previously Colville (1819 – 1876)

Elizabeth Ker was the eldest daughter of Captain Robert Ker (33rd Regiment). Elizabeth first married Thomas Colville Esq. (1796 – 1851) of Annfield, Stirlingshire, on 30th September 1837 at Sculcoates, Yorkshire, and secondly to her paternal cousin, Edward Foster Coulson of Cors-y-Gedol House, Llanddwywe, Merionethshire in 1853 at Widcombe, near Bath. Elizabeth published a number of books under the pseudonymn Roxburghe Lothian: Dante and Beatrice from 1282 – 1290 A Romance, was published only three weeks before her death. Her fictionalised autobiography Lizzie Lothian appeared posthumously.

Elizabeth died on 23rd January 1876 at Bellaport.

Edward Foster Coulson

Edward Foster Coulson was born in 1804 in Hull to George Coulson and Jane Ker. After marrying his paternal cousin Elizabeth in 1853, he came to reside at Bellaport Hall and it was during his occupation that it was briefly called Bella Towers, presumably because of the tall towers built as viewing areas for the local hunt. Edward died in 1889 allowing Hugh Ker Colville to inherit the estate.

Hugh Ker Colville (1847 – 1930)

Elizabeth Ker’s son, Hugh Ker Colville inherited Bellaport. He married Agnes Davenport of Maer and daughter William Davenport (1847 – 1898) at St James Westminster on 7th December 1876. Hugh added the Bearstone estate and the Northern part of the Brand to his holdings. He died in 1930 but the estate had been sold prior to that. Mr Hugh Ker Colville, of Bowden Hall, Gloucester, formerly of Bellaport Hall, Norton, Market Drayton, Salop, left unsettled estate valued at £6,111. The testator left: £100 to his gardener, Benjamin Thomas and £100 to his chauffeur, Percy Taylor, if respectively in his service at his death. £20 per annum to Mrs Scotter, housekeeper at Bellaport Hall for 30 years.

Agnes Colville nee Davenport died on the 22nd June 1898 at Foxley, Herefordshire and was buried at St Chad’s Norton in Hales on 25th December 1898.

At the time of the 1911 Bellaport Hall (new) only had a Housekeeper and a Maid living there.

For sale by Private Treaty (by Order of H. Ker Colville, Esq.) Bellaport Hall situated on the borders of Shropshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire, neat stations on G.W. and North Stafford Railways. Bellaport Hall is a small, well-known country Mansions of comparatively modern structure and equipment; good grounds; stabling; laundry; three cottages; and land extending to 22 acres. Price £10,000 with vacant possession.

Supplement to Country Life 26th June 1920

In 1939 Bellaport Hall (new) was demolished


[1] A history of Market Drayton By John Robinson Lee
[2] Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society
[3] Newcastle-under-Lyme in Tudor and Early Stuart Times, By Thomas Pape
[4] The World of the Country House in 17th Century England by John Trevor Cliffe.
[5] William Baker of Audlem, Payment Book