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Cotton, George Edward Lynch

COTTON, GEORGE EDWARD LYNCH (1813-1866), English educationist and divine, was born at Chester on the 29th of October 1813. He received his education at Westminster school, and at Trinity College, Cambridge. Here he joined the Low Church party, and was also the intimate friend of several disciples of Thomas Arnold, among whom were C. J. Vaughan and W. J. Conybeare. The influence of Arnold determined the character and course of his life. He graduated B.A. in 1836, and became an assistant-master at Rugby. Here he worked devotedly for fifteen years, inspired with Arnold's spirit, and heartily entering into his plans and methods. He became master of the fifth form about 1840 and was singularly successful with the boys. In 1852 he accepted the appointment of headmaster at Marlborough College, then in a state of almost hopeless disorganization, and in his six years of rule raised it to a high position. In 1858 Cotton was offered the see of Calcutta, which, after much hesitation about quitting Marlborough, he accepted. For its peculiar duties and responsibilities he was remarkably fitted by the simplicity and strength of his character, by his large tolerance, and by the experience which he had gained as teacher and ruler at Rugby and Marlborough. The government of India had just been transferred from the East India Company to the crown, and questions of education were eagerly discussed. Cotton gave himself energetically to the work of establishing schools for British and Eurasian children, classes which had been hitherto much neglected. He did much also to improve the position of the chaplains, and was unwearied in missionary visitation. His sudden death was widely mourned. On the 6th of October 1866 he had consecrated a cemetery at Kushtea on the Ganges, and was crossing a plank leading from the bank to the steamer when he slipped and fell into the river. He was carried away by the current and never seen again.

A memoir of his life with selections from his journals and correspondence, edited by his widow, was published in 1871.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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