Richard Cobden

Richard Cobden started out in life in very modest circumstances.  He was born in 1804 near Midhurst in Sussex.  He was one 11 children fathered by Richard Cobden a local farmer.  So poor was the family that Richard was dispatched to live with an uncle in Yorkshire.   After an undistinguished education Cobden worked as a travelling salesman before going into the textile trade.  It was this venture that made his fortune and led to him living in a rather affluent part of Manchester.

In time Cobden turned his attention to politics and after pushing for an elected town council in Manchester he became one of the first elected aldermen.  In the years that followed he became the MP for Stockport and a prominent figure in the movement to repeal the Corn Laws and it was Cobden who recruited John Bright to speak at the rallies that were held around the country.  Along with Bright Cobden also went on to campaign against the Crimean War, something that brought derision on both of them and both lost their seats in Parliament in 1857.

By 1859 though he was once again an MP this time representing Rochdale and he went on to represent the British government in trade negotiations with France.  Richard Cobden died of bronchitis in 1865.

In addition to the statue of him that stands in St. Ann's Square the blue plaque shown below is located on his former home on the corner of Byrom Street and Quay Street.

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