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.

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) [2]. 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)

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)

Rowland Cotton (1674 – 1753)

William Cotton (1700 – 1776)

1726 William Cotton went abroad with his friend, the Duke of Kingston. 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. 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 [4].

Evelyn Rowland Cotton (1742 – 1795)

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) and Agnes Davenport (6th daughter of William Davenport Esq. of Maer, Staffordshire. Elizabeth first married Thomas Colville Esq. (1796 – 1851) of Annfield, Stirlingshire, in x, and secondly her paternal cousin, Edward Foster Coulson of Cors-y-Gedol House, Llanddwywe, Merionethshire in 1853. 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.

Edward Foster Coulson

Elizabeth Ker’s son, Hugh Ker Colville inherited Bellaport. He married Agnes Davenport of Maer and 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.

Hugh Ker Colville (1847 – 1930)

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.

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

In 1939 Bellaport Hall (new) was demolished


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