William Cosby ca.1690-1736

From Book Owners Online

William COSBY ca.1690-1736

Cosby's bookplate (British Museum Franks Collection 6949)

Biographical Note

Born at Stradbally Hall in Ireland, son of Alexander Cosby. He began a military career as a cornet in Earl Cadogan's regiment of horse, and by 1717 was a colonel in the Royal Irish Regiment of Foot. He served in Minorca, where his impounding of a cargo of snuff led to a court case which went against him, with heavy damages. Married to Grace, sister of the Earl of Halifax, he sought family influence to be made Governor of New York, where he sailed in 1731. His self-serving and mercenary approach to the job quickly led to disputes with the population there, and he lost a prominent libel case which he brought against a critical journal editor. His legacy is generally regarded as one of having contributed to growing resentment, in America, against colonial British rule.


Cosby used an anonymous engraved armorial bookplate (Franks 6949); the extent and disposition of his library is not known.