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Celebrating Hampshire's Historians

Cottrill, Eleanor (née Swift)

1903 – 22 June 1991

Eleanor Swift was a Founder’s Scholar at Royal Holloway College, University of London, going on to take an MA degree in 1929, with a thesis on medieval manorial administration based on the Winchester Pipe Rolls.  Awarded a Commonwealth Fund Fellowship, she worked at the Huntington Library, California from 1931 to 1933 and, on her return, as an archivist at the BBC.

In 1937, she was appointed Keeper of Archives at Leicester Museum where she was able to hone the principles to be followed by a modern record office and where, in 1940, she married Frank Cottrill, who was Keeper of Archaeology at the museum.

In 1947 Frank was appointed Curator of Winchester Museum and in the same year Eleanor Cottrill left Leicester for Winchester, to take up the post of Hampshire County Archivist (1947–1970) and establish a County Record Office.  Her success in attracting collections was such that, within a year, the Record Office was moved to more ample premises, beginning a process of expansion and consolidation which was to ultimately see the erection of a purpose-built record office in the city.

It was not only for her influence on the development of archive offices and on the archive profession that she is remembered in Leicester, Winchester and beyond.  She was admired as a remarkable person, with a delightful sense of humour and a strong sense of justice and integrity, who made many loyal friends.



Eleanor Cottrill

Contribution to county’s history

Described as the ‘founder of the county’s archives’ because of her organizational skills with an expanding County Record Office, she was also a keen supporter of the Hampshire Field Club and from 1969 to 1974, joint editor of the Proceedings.  She also helped revive the Hampshire Record Series, editing the first volume of the new series in 1976.  

Relevant published works

In an active administrative career, the time to produce scholarly publications of her own was limited. In 1976 she edited Sir Henry Whithed's Letter Book, 1601-14 in the Hampshire Record Series.  Sir Henry Whithed was Sheriff of the county in 1604.

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Dave Allen Oct 2021


Archives, Hampshire County Record Office

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