Richard Cobbold

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Richard Cobbold
Richard Cobbold.jpg
Born 1797
Died January 5, 1877(1877-01-05)
Language English
Nationality British
Alma mater Caius College, Cambridge
Period 1827-1858
Genre Novels

Richard Cobbold (1797–1877) was a British writer.


Richard Cobbold was born in 1797 in the Suffolk town of Ipswich, to John (1746–1835) and the poet and writer Elizabeth (née Knipe) Cobbold (1764-1824). The Cobbolds were a large and affluent family who made their money from the brewing industry.[1] Their name lives on in Ipswich in the firm of Tolly Cobbold.

Educated at Caius College, Cambridge,[2] Cobbold entered the church, starting at St Mary Le Tower in Ipswich before moving to Wortham in 1825 with his wife and three sons. He remained there until his death on 5 January 1877.[3]

Cobbold is best known as the author of the 'History of Margaret Catchpole,' a novel based on the romantic adventures of a girl living in the neighbourhood of Ipswich, in whom Cobbold's father had taken a kindly interest. For the copyright of this book he is said to have received £1,000. but Cobbold did not make much money by his other literary ventures, which were mostly undertaken for charitable purposes. Thus his account of 'Mary Ann Wellington' brought in no less than £600, much of it in small gifts, for the subject of the book, who was afterwards placed in an almshouse by Cobbold's exertions.[3]


In 1822, he married the only daughter of Jeptha Waller, by whom he had three sons.[3] One of the sons, Edward Augustus (born 1825), became vicar of the neighbouring parish of Yaxley, and another Thomas Spencer, a leading parasitologist.[4]


During his time at Wortham, more significantly, he recorded the daily lives of his various parishioners, both in words and pictures. His four volumes eventually found a home at the Suffolk Record Office, and have become an invaluable source of information about everyday life in the countryside at that time. In 1977 a book entitled The Biography of a Victorian Village was published, in which Ronald Fletcher presents Richard Cobbold's account of 1860s Wortham.


Cobbold achieved considerable success with his popular historical novels which include:

  • The History Of Margaret Catchpole: A Suffolk Girl (1845)
  • Mary Anne Wellington: The Soldier's Daughter, Wife and Widow (1846)
  • Zenon The Martyr: A Record of the Piety, Patience and Persecution of the Early Christian Nobles (1847)
  • Freston Tower: A Tale of the Times of Cardinal Wolsey (1850)
  • The Young Man's Home (1848)
  • JH Stegall, a Real History of a Suffolk Man (1851)
  • The Biography Of A Victorian Village - Wortham (1860)



  1. ^ "Cobbold Family Tree". Cobbold Family History Trust. Retrieved 10 January 2009
  2. ^ "Cobbold, Richard (CBLT814R)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  3. ^ a b c Watkins 1887.
  4. ^ Parish, W.D. List of Carthusians, 1800-1879 p.51

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWatkins, Morgan George (1887). "Cobbold, Richard". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 11. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 146–147. 

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