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Cobden Archives (Richard Cobden)

CobdenWest Sussex Record Office is privileged to have custody of a substantial part of the archives of Richard Cobden, the 19th century politician and statesman, who is remembered for his contribution to the Repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 and the Anglo-French Commercial treaty of 1860.

Cobden was born at Dunford in the parish of Heyshott, near Midhurst, in 1804, and returned there later in life to build the present Dunford House, now the property of the National Council of the YMCA. He died in 1865 and was buried in the churchyard at neighbouring West Lavington.

The records held at Chichester were deposited by the Trustees of Dunford House and by Mr R Cobden-Sanderson, grandson of Richard Cobden. They are catalogued in two volumes, The Cobden Papers, edited by F W Steer (WSCC, 1964) and The Cobden and Unwin Papers, edited by Patricia Gill (WSCC, 1967). Other collections of Cobden Archives are held elsewhere, notably in the British Library.

The archives in the Record Office include accounts, diaries and journals, articles and speeches, scrapbooks, photographs and drawings. The strength of the collection lies in the extensive correspondence of Cobden with fellow free-trade campaigners such as John Bright and leading politicians, such as Gladstone and Peel.

Of particular importance amongst the other family papers are the records of Cobden's third daughter, Emma Jane Cobden, whose various causes included women's suffrage and the defence of free trade. The papers include correspondence and scrapbooks of ephemera relating to various political events during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

An online catalogue of The Cobden Papers is now available via our Search Online facility.


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