Wellington Stapleton-Cotton, 2nd Viscount Combermere

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"Horses". Caricature by Spy published in Vanity Fair in 1888.

Colonel Wellington Henry Stapleton-Cotton, 2nd Viscount Combermere (24 November 1818 – 1 December 1891) was a British soldier and Conservative politician.


Combermere was born at Bedford, Bedfordshire, the son of Field Marshal Stapleton Stapleton-Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere, and Caroline, daughter of William Greville.[1] He was educated at Audlem Grammar School, Cheshire,[2] and Eton College, then attended Christ Church, Oxford in 1837 before entering the army.[3]

Military and political career[edit]

Stapleton-Cotton was commissioned into the 7th Hussars in 1837, and served in Canada, where the regiment took part in suppressing the Papineau Rebellion, before returning to England in 1841, when he exchanged his commission into the 1st Life Guards. He was promoted captain in 1846, and major in 1850,[2] holding a staff position as Secretary to the Master General of Ordnance from March to December 1852.[3] He was promoted to lieutenant-colonel in 1857,[2] and achieved the rank of full colonel in 1861, retiring from the army in 1866.[3]

In 1847 he was returned to Parliament for Carrickfergus, a seat he held until 1857.[1][4] In 1865 he succeeded his father in the viscountcy and entered the House of Lords.


In 1844 Lord Combermere married Susan Alice, daughter of Sir George Sitwell, 2nd Baronet (1797-1853). They had two sons and two daughters. She died in August 1869. Lord Combermere survived her by 22 years and died of coronary thrombosis at his London home in St James' Place in December 1891, aged 73, seven weeks after being run over by a horse-drawn carriage.[2] He was buried at Wrenbury, Cheshire.[3] He was succeeded in the viscountcy by his eldest son, Robert.[1]

Lord Combermere's ghost photo[edit]

The 2nd Viscount Combermere became a posthumous celebrity in connection with "Lord Combermere's Ghost Photo", taken in 1891 by Sybell Corbet. She was Lady Combermere's sister and staying at Combermere Abbey at that time. She set up her camera with its shutter open for one hour in the Abbey Library while the entire staff were out, attending Lord Combermere's funeral some four miles away. When the plate was developed, the transparent image of a man sitting in one of the library chairs was noticed. Many of the staff said that the image looked like the late 2nd Viscount, and the apparition happened to be sitting in Lord Combermere's favorite chair. It is thought by some that a servant might have come into the room and sat briefly in the chair, thus creating the image. This idea was refuted by members of Lord Combermere's household.[5][6] Lord Combermere's father, the 1st Viscount, had been involved in a mysterious incident himself several years earlier while serving as Governor of Barbados when he had the Chase Vault opened and carefully examined in search of an explanation for the "moving coffins" there.


  1. ^ a b c thepeerage.com
  2. ^ a b c d "The Late Lord Combermere". Shrewsbury Chronicle. 1 December 1891. p. 6. 
  3. ^ a b c d Gibbs, Vicary (editor) (1912). The Complete Peerage, Volume III. St Catherine's Press. p. 389. 
  4. ^ leighrayment.com
  5. ^ www.ghost-story.co.uk
  6. ^ Ghost Photos: Lord Combermere

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peter Kirk
Member of Parliament for Carrickfergus
Succeeded by
William Cary Dobbs
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Stapleton Stapleton-Cotton
Viscount Combermere
Succeeded by
Robert Wellington Stapleton-Cotton