1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cotton (family)

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COTTON, the name of a well-known family of Anglo-Indian administrators, of whom the following are the most notable.

Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton (1803–1899), English engineer, tenth son of Henry Calveley Cotton, was born on the 15th of May 1803, and was educated at Addiscombe. He entered the Madras engineers in 1819, served in the first Burmese war (1824–26), and in 1828 began his life-work on the irrigation works of southern India. He constructed works on the Cauvery, Coleroon, Godavari and Kistna rivers, making anicuts (dams) on the Coleroon (1836–1838) for the irrigation of the Tanjore, Trichinopoly and South Arcot districts; and on the Godivari (1847–1852) for the irrigation of the Godavari district. He also projected the anicut on the Kistna (Krishna), which was carried out by other officers. Before the beginning of his work Tanjore and the adjoining districts were threatened with ruin from lack of water; on its completion they became the richest part of Madras, and Tanjore returned the largest revenue of any district in India. He was the founder of the school of Indian hydraulic engineering, and carried out much of his work in the face of opposition and discouragement from the Madras government; though, in the minute of the 15th of May 1858, that government paid an ample tribute to the genius of Cotton’s “master mind.” He was knighted in 1861. Sir Arthur Cotton believed in the possibility of constructing a complete system of irrigation and navigation canals throughout India, and devoted the whole of a long life to the partial realization of this project. He died on the 24th of July 1899.

See Lady Hope, General Sir Arthur Cotton (1900).

Sir Henry John Stedman Cotton (1845–  ), Anglo-Indian administrator, son of J. J. Cotton of the Madras Civil Service, was born on the 13th of September 1845, and was educated at Magdalen College school and King’s College, London. He entered the Bengal Civil Service in 1867, and held various appointments of increasing importance until he became chief secretary to the Bengal government (1891–1896), acting home secretary to the government of India (1896), and chief commissioner of Assam (1896–1902). He retired in 1902, and soon became known as the leading English champion of the Indian nationalists. In 1906 he entered parliament as Liberal member for East Nottingham. He was the author of New India (1885; revised 1904–1907).

His brother, James Sutherland Cotton (1847–), was born in India on the 17th of July 1847, and was educated at Magdalen College school and Trinity College, Oxford. For many years he was editor of the Academy; he published various works on Indian subjects, and was the English editor of the revised edition of the Imperial Gazetteer of India (1908).