Cobbe family

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The Cobbe heraldic pelican, motto In Sanguine Vita, part of the family coat of arms.

The Cobbe family is an Irish landed family. The family has a notable history,[1] and has produced several prominent Irish politicians, clergymen, writers, activists and soldiers, such as writer and social reformer Frances Power Cobbe, and General Sir Alexander Cobbe VC.

Family history[edit]

The Cobbes were originally from Steventon, Swarraton,[2] Hampshire, with roots traceable back to the 13th century,[3] possibly including a Richard Cobbe, priest of St. Martin's Church, Winchester in 1323,[4] a Robert Cobbe at the Siege of Calais and Battle of Crécy in 1346, and the Richard Cobbe who was Vice-President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford and bequeathed a legacy to the college on his death in 1597.[5] The earliest individual from whom descent is clearly documented is William Cobbe of Steventon (c.1450).[6][7] A later Richard Cobbe was Knight of the Shire for Hampshire in Cromwell's short Parliament of 1656.[8] His son Thomas Cobbe, Receiver General for County Southampton, married the daughter of James Chaloner, grandson of the Elizabethan poet and statesman Sir Thomas Chaloner. James Chaloner was briefly Governor of the Isle of Man and author of A Short Treatise on the Isle of Man, and some sources indicate that Thomas Cobbe himself later also carried that title.

The founder[9] of the Cobbe family in Ireland was Charles Cobbe, son of Thomas, Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, who served as viceregal chaplain to his cousin Charles Paulet, 2nd Duke of Bolton the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, moved from Winchester and established the Newbridge Estate outside Dublin in 1736.[10] This remained the family home until 1985, after being acquired by Fingal County Council in a unique arrangement with the family, who continue to maintain it as a family home.

The son of Archbishop Charles Cobbe was Colonel Thomas Cobbe MP (1733–1815). He and his wife, Lady Eliza Beresford, daughter of the Earl of Tyrone, extended Newbridge House and to house their picture collection built the Red Drawing-room that remains one of the finest 18th century interiors in Ireland. He was predeceased by his son, Charles Cobbe MP (1756–1798). The great-grandson of Archbishop Cobbe was Charles Cobbe (1781–1857) who is notable mainly as having kept extensive diaries chronicling the life of a rural landlord and his tenants. He served briefly in India under Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington.[11] The diarist Charles Cobbe's younger brother, Thomas Alexander Cobbe, married the Nuzeer Begum, daughter of Aziz Khan of Kashmir, part of the Indian nobility, and traded indigo to Britain in addition to work in the East India Company.

Recently, the family has come to attention as being the possessors of the Cobbe portrait, claimed to be the sole remaining portrait of William Shakespeare painted from life, which has provoked considerable scholastic discussion.[12]

Family Tree[edit]

Other Cobbs and Cobbes in Ireland[edit]

Genealogical records indicate the existence of other Cobb and Cobbe families in Ireland, including French refugees during the Huguenot settlements in Ireland who settled in Portarlington, County Laois.[13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Holden, Anthony (22 April 2002). "Shakespeares true love". The Guardian. London: The Guardian. Retrieved 5 January 2011.
  2. ^ Clerics & connoisseurs: the Rev. Matthew Pilkington, the Cobbe ... Alastair Laing, Nicholas Turner, English Heritage – 2001 "Fig.41 Manuscript title-page of Thomas Cobbe, An Essay on the Achievement of Cobbe formerly of Steventon and the Grange, Hants, now of Newbridge in the Co. of Dublin, 1860 (Cobbe Papers: Alec Cobbe)
  3. ^ Alastair Laing, Nicholas Turner, Clerics & connoisseurs: the Rev. Matthew Pilkington, the Cobbe family.English Heritage – 2001 "Records of Hampshire and Winchester from the early 13th century do indeed show successive Robert and John Cobbes. ... Richard Cobbe (d.1597), became an early Fellow and subsequently Vice-President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford
  4. ^ Derek Keene, Alexander R. Rumble Survey of medieval Winchester Page 681 "There can be little doubt that 306 included the site of the parish church of St. Martin in Fleshmonger Street (Alwardstrete), which is first recorded c. 1270. 5 In 1322-3 its rector, Richard Cobbe, was ordained deacon ."
  5. ^ Alastair Laing, Nicholas Turner, 2001 "in 1860,2 chose to trace the origin of the arms of our Hampshire ancestry to a Robert Cobbe (f1.1346), who was a deponent in a dispute on a matter of chivalry at the siege of Calais, a few weeks after the Battle of Crécy (1346),"
  6. ^ Bernard Burke 1858 – "William Cobbe, of Steventon, Hants, b. circa 1460, was father of John Cobbe, of Swaraton (now The Grange), who m. Amy Barnes, aud had a son, Thomas Cobbe, of Swaraton, 6. circa 1510, still living at the time of the Visitation of Hampshire in 1575"
  7. ^ Laing & Turner, cf. Country Life Volume 178 1985 "Thomas Cobbe's father, Charles, was Archbishop of Dublin from 1742 until 1765, and his career is an interesting ... The Cobbes were originally a Hampshire family, with roots traceable back to the mid-15th century, but the first notable one was the archbishop's father, who was governor of the Isle of Man. Charles Cobbe was his fourth son."
  8. ^ Life of Frances Power Cobbe Volume 1 Frances Power Cobbe – 1895 "... one of the translators of the Bible) ; and of James Chaloner, Governor of the Isle of Man, one of the Judges ... Richard Cobbe was Knight of the Shire for Hants in Cromwell's short Parliament of 1656, with Richard Cromwell for a colleague. What he did therein History saith not! The grandson of this Richard Cobbe, a younger son named Charles, went to Ireland in 1717 as Chaplain to the Duke of Bolton with whom he was connected through the Nortons ; and a few years later he was appointed Archbishop of Dublin,
  9. ^ Peadar Bates The Life of Charles Cobbe 1781–1857 Dublin 2007 9780954910358
  10. ^ The pursuit of the heiress: aristocratic marriage in Ireland 1740–1840 A. P. W. Malcomson – 2006 "The family which most resembles the Stewarts is the very differently circumstanced Cobbe family of Newbridge, Donabate, Co. Dublin.178 Its founder in Ireland was the Rev. Charles Cobbe (1686–1765), who came over as a viceregal chaplain who came over as a viceregal chaplain in 1718, was archbishop of Dublin, 1743–65, and built Newbridge, c. 1747, as a family not an episcopal seat. His ambitions to found an Irish dynasty became focused on his one surviving son, "
  11. ^ Peadar Bates The Life of Charles Cobbe 1781–1857 Dublin 2007 9780954910358
  12. ^ Charlotte Higgins (11 March 2009). "To find the mind's construction in the face: The great Shakespeare debate". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  13. ^ An Irish Rudd family, 1760–1988: Rudd origins and other Irish ... Norman Newton Rudd, Mariam Alberts Rudd, Norman Newton Rudd – 1992 "On 22 October 1850, Robert Francis married Anne Cobbe, a French Huguenot, of Portarlington on the border between King and Queens Counties. Anne's name was usually spelled with an "e" however both spellings were in the records"
  14. ^ The Irish Law Times and solicitors' journal Volume 27 1893 Adjudications in bankruptcy – Cobbe, George, of Portarlington, Queen's County, publican and harness maker. 23 December 1892;