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Arthur Cotton

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Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton (1803–1899), army officer and irrigation engineer.

1803 Born at Woodcote, Oxfordshire, son of Henry Calveley Cotton and his wife Matilda[1]

1808 His brother Frederick Cotton was born in Checkendon, Oxfordshire[2]

1819 he was commissioned in the Madras engineers.

Served with the Ordnance Survey at Bangor and the engineer depot at Chatham.

1821 Posted to Madras as assistant engineer.

1828 Cotton began work on the improvement and extension of irrigation in southern India, which proved to be his great achievement. The chief projects on which he worked, or which owe their existence to his initiative, were works on the Cauvery and Coleroon rivers, located in the modern state of Tamil Nadu, and later works on the Godavari and Kistna rivers, located in the modern state of Andhra Pradesh.

After a spell of ill health, Cotton married Elizabeth Learmonth in Tasmania in 1841.

1845 Proposed construction of an anicut on the Kistna River at Bezwada; this was then planned by Colonel Sir Henry Atwell Lake RE. Its construction was supervised by Major-General Charles Orr RE, who trained under Cotton on the Godavari project.

Cotton established a model of Indian hydraulic engineering which continued to be followed in developing the resources of other Indian rivers. On several minor rivers in south-eastern India, including the Penner, Cotteliar, Paler, Cheyyar, and Vellar, anicuts and subsidiary works were subsequently constructed, which contributed to increasing the agricultural productivity of the country.

The success of Cotton's hydraulic schemes inspired more ambitious and challenging projects, such as the construction of a high dam along the Periyar River in the mountains of the modern state of Kerala which was completed in 1895.

1861 Cotton was knighted.

1862 Retired from India

1866 a KCSI (second class) was conferred upon him.

1877 Cotton retired from the army with the rank of general and settled at Woodcot, Dorking. He put his efforts into devising new methods for improving English agriculture.

1899 Died at Woodcot. Shortly afterwards the secretary of state for India in council granted Lady Cotton a special pension of £250 a year in recognition of her husband's services.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. BMD
  2. 1891 census
  • Biography of Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton, ODNB