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John Cotton, Jr b-1640, dau.-Elizabeth

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Rev. John Cotton Jr. of Plymouth, MA

Posted: 972182624000
Edited: 1023192201000

Attached is my best information on Rev. John Cotton Jr.

Please take note of the references cited at the end of the write up
as these will be a valuable resourse to you.


Barry A. Cotton

Name: Rev. John Cotton Jr.1, 6G Grandfather
Birth Date: 15 Mar 1639/401
Birth Place: Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Death Date: 18 Sep 16991 Age: 60
Death Place: Charleston, South Carolina
Occupation: Clergy2
Education: graduated from Harvard College in 16571
Religion: Christian/Congregational Church2
Degree: Theology ?
Cause of death: yellow fever1
Father: Rev. John Cotton (1585-1652)
Mother: Sarah Hawkridge (1601-1676)

1: Joanna Rossiter1, 6G Grandmother
Birth Date: Jul 1642
Birth Place: Guilford, New Haven County, Connecticut
Death Date: 12 Oct 17021 Age: 60
Death Place: Sandwich Township, Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts
Father: Dr. Bryan Rossiter (1612-1672)
Mother: Elizabeth Alsop (1615-1669)
Marriage Date: 7 Nov 16601
Marriage Place: Wethersfild, Hartford County, Connecticut
Children: Mariah (1660-1725)
John (1661-1705)
Elizabeth (1663-1743)
Sarah (1665-1669)
Rowland (1667-1721)
Sarah (1670-1732)
Mariah (1671-1725)
Josiah (1675-1721)
Samuel (1677-1683)
Josiah (1680-1756)
Theophilus (1682-1726)

Notes for Rev. John Cotton Jr.
1657 graduated from Harvard College
1660 married Joanna Rossiter
1664 to 1667 preached to a congregation of Indians and white people on Martha's Vineyard
1669 ordained at Plymouth where he remained until 1698
1680 son, Josiah born in Plymouth
1698 moved to Charleston, South Carolina where he founded a Congregational Church
1699 died Yellow Fever 1

Chapter 12: Morality and Sex3
An example of the conflicting views in the mind of one person can be seen in Rev. John Cotton, the son of the distinguished Rev. John Cotton who has been called "the patriarch of New England," and the uncle of the also justly famed Rev. Cotton Mather. The younger John Cotton graduated from Harvard in 1657, and in 1666 he was invited to become minister of the Plymouth Church, a position he held from 1669 to 1697. For his ordination "Elder Thomas Cushman gave the charge, and the aged Mr. John Howland was appointed by the church to join in imposition of hands." Cotton himself writes that when he arrived at Plymouth in 1667, there were forty-seven church members in full communion (not to be confused with the greater number of attendees) and that during the next thirty years 178 new members were admitted to the church. He was a highly respected minister, known for his sermons, and described by Nathaniel Morton as "a man of strong prtes and Good Abillities to preach the word of God... from whom wee have Received many very proffitable truthes." Yet it must have been known by the Plymouth fathers that in 1664 Cotton had been excommunicated from the Boston Church for "immoral conduct," being restored a month later after making penitential acknowledgment. As his son later wrote in a praiseful biography, "And yet what man is there [p.192] without his failings?" After twenty-eight years of service in Plymouth, Cotton resigned his ministry in 1697, ostensibly over a difference within the church about Isaac Cushman preaching in the area later called Plympton before being designated a ruling elder. However, Judge Sewall in his Diary gives as one of the reasons for Cotton's resignation "his notorious Breaches of the Seventh Comandmt." Thou shalt not commit adultery! Sewall also played a role in the resolution of the matter, for when he came to Plymouth on 10 March 1697/98, he had a long discourse with Cotton, and told him "a free confession was the best way." After tarrying more than a year at Plymouth, Cotton became minister at Charleston, South Carolina, where he died in 1699 of yellow fever.

Footnote: PCR 1:12, 15, 65. Concerning the lack of court charges against Mr. Cotton, Judge Sewall, 461, noted that one minister had told others "that they had dealt too favourably with Mr. Cotton." Concerning the charges brought against couples having children born less than nine months after marriage, many apologists for the colonists say that the Plymouth authorities had no concept of premature birth, but the records clearly show that people in the colony well knew the difference between a nine-month baby and a seven-month one, or a six-month one, or a five-month one, etc. Such apologists would prefer to think of their ancestors as stupid rather than immoral.

There was probably some hypocrisy in the handling of this affair, in that the Reverend Mr. Cotton was not tried by the court for his notorious breaches, but such hypocrisy would have been necessary, for it would not do to expose publicly the inconsistencies of the teacher of morals. Lesser people under suspicion, from the beginning of the colony to the end, faced a trial, and if found guilty, a financial penalty or physical punishment, or both. One of the earliest records we have of punishment involving a sexual offense was from a court of 1 April 1633 when John Hewes and his wife Joan were sentenced to sit in the stocks because Joan conceived a child by him before they were married. At the same court John Thorp and his wife Alice were sentenced to sit in the stocks and fined forty shillings because Alice conceived a child before marriage; however, because of their poverty, they were given twelve months to pay the fine. On 23 July 1633 the governor and council sentenced William Mendlove, the servant of William Palmer, to be whipped for "attempting uncleanes wth the maid servt of the said Palmer, for running away from his master." A similar case was tried by the Court of Assistants on 21 August 1637, when John Bundy, an apprentice bound to William Brewster, was found guilty of "lude behavior uncivil carriage" towards Elizabeth Haybell, in the house of her master, Mr. Brewster, and was sentenced to be severely whipped.3

1. La Verne C. Cooley, A Short Biography of the Rev. John Cotton and a COTTON GENEALOGY of His Descendants, Published Privately in Batavia, New York 1945, Vol. I, page 24.
2. Ibid.
3. Eugene Aubrey Stratton, F.A.S.G., Plymouth Colony: Its History People 1620-1691, Ancestry Publishing, Salt Lake City, UT, Vol. I, pages 191-192.

Last Modified: 25 Aug 2000
Created: 26 Aug 2000

Name: Rev. John Cotton1, 7G Grandfather
Birth Date: 4 Dec 15852
Birth Place: Derby, Derbyshire, England
Death Date: 23 Dec 16523 Age: 67
Death Place: Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Burial Date: 28 Dec 16523
Burial Place: King's Chapel Burying Ground, Boston, Massachusetts
Occupation: Vicar of Boston, Lincolnshire, England at St. Botolph Church later Teacher of First Church in Boston, Massachusetts
Religion: Christian/Puritan Founder of the Congregational Church
Education: Bachelor of Arts 1603; Master of Arts 1606; Bachelor of Divinity 1612 all at Trinity College, Cambridge University
Degree: Jan 1603- earned Bachelor of Arts, Trinity College, Cambridge University; 1606- earned Master of Arts, Trinity College, Cambridge; 1612- received Bachelor of Divinity, Emmanuel College, Cambridge University
Honors: 1607-1612- made a fellow and taught at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University
Father: Rowland Cotton (1558-1604)
Mother: Mary Hurlbert (1561-)

1: Elizabeth Horrocks
Birth Date: 1585
Birth Place: Unknown
Death Date: 1631 Age: 46
Death Place: Boston, Lincolnshire, England
Marriage Date: abt 16124
Marriage Place: unknown

2: Sarah (Hawkridge) Hawkred1, 7G Grandmother
Birth Date: 1601
Birth Place: Boston, Lincolnshire, England
Death Date: 27 May 1676 Age: 75
Death Place: Dorchester, Massachusetts
Father: Anthony Hawkridge (1575-)
Mother: Isabel Dowse (1560-1615)
Marriage Date: 25 Apr 16325
Marriage Place: Boston, Lincholnshire, England
Marriage Memo: married Sarah (Hawkridge) Story, widow of William Story
Children: Mary (~1623-)
Seaborn (1633-1686)
Sarah (1635-1649)
Elizabeth (1637-1656)
John (1639-1699)
Maria (1640-1714)
Rowland (1643-1650)

Notes for Rev. John Cotton
JOHN COTTON 1585-1652
Vicar of Boston UK and Boston USA

John Cotton played a major role in the history of Massachusetts and New Boston, as it was then known, was named in respect of him. He was born on 4th December 1585 and entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1598 at the age of thirteen. He spent fourteen years there, becoming a Master of arts and Fellow of Emmanuel College before joining Boston vicarage in 1612, marrying Elizabeth Horrocks shortly after.

Cotton was a non-conformist and as the established Church viewed the people of Boston, Lincolnshire as "inclined with the Puritan spirit", the Bishop of Lincoln did not approve his appointment at first. He won his appeal against the decision not to appoint and remained as vicar of Boston for twenty years, being highly regarded by his parishioners. Cotton was an influential figure and won much support for his non-conformist views, producing ".. a great reformation...the Mayor and most of the magistrates were now called Puritans".

In 1630, a large number of puritans sailed from Southampton in the "Arbella" and John Cotton journeyed to the port to see them on their way. The settlers reached New England on June 12th 1630, arriving at Salem and established themselves on Charlestown Hill as well as founding the First Church of Boston. Cotton left Boston, Lincolnshire in February 1631 suffering from ague and in April, his wife Elizabeth died. He married again in April 1632 but was advised to flee shortly afterwards for his own safety after a long period of casting doubts upon the ceremonies of the Church.

He was concealed in London before sailing to America in July 1633, with his wife who bore their first child in August 1633 while at sea, with the child being called Seaborn. Shortly after his arrival he was ordained as Vicar of Boston, Massachusetts on the 15th October 1633.

Many of the Puritans who sailed with Cotton were from Boston and they accomplished what the Pilgrim Fathers had begun by founding the Massachusetts Settlements. No other town made such a contribution to the religion and political development of the New World and by 1636, Cotton played an instrumental role in founding the civil and religious institutions of Massachusetts, the principles for which were printed in London in 1641.

John Cotton died on the 23rd December 1652 aged sixty eight, leaving six children and his wife, who later remarried. His youngest daughter, Maria, married Dr Increase Mather and was mother to the celebrated Cotton Mather.

ORIGIN: Boston, Lincolnshire

OCCUPATION: Minister. "It is now above twenty years ago, since, by the goodness of God, and for a good part of this time by your Lordship's lawful favor, I have enjoyed the happiness to minister to the Church of God at Boston" (from a letter to John, Lord Bishop of Lincoln, dated 7 May 1633, on stepping down from the Boston, Lincolnshire, ministry [Young's First Planters 434]). On 10 October 1633 a "fast was kept at Boston," at which time ruling elders were chosen, and "Mr. Cotton was then chosen teacher of the congregation of Boston" [WJ 1:135-36].
CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: On 8 September 1633 "John Cotton and Sarah his wife" were admitted to Boston church [BChR 16].

FREEMAN: 4 May 1634 [MBCR 1:369].

EDUCATION: Matriculated at Cambridge from Trinity College 1598, B.A. 1602-3, M.A. from Emmanuel 1606, B.D. 1613 [Venn 1:403; Morison 373]. His inventory included "The library of books as valued in the will by himself though cost much more," £150. Contributed toward the maintenance of a schoolmaster in Boston (although the amount was not entered), 12 August 1636 [BTR 1:160].

OFFICES: Committee to divide lands in Boston, 18 December 1634 [BTR 1:3].

ESTATE: Granted "at Muddy River a sufficient allotment for a farm for our teacher, Mr. John Cotton," 14 December 1635 [BTR 1:6], to which was added "all the ground lying between the two brooks next to William Coleborne's allotment there, and so to the other end unto the shortest overcut beyond the hill towards the northwest," 15 November 1636 [BTR 1:13], being two hundred and fifty acres [BTR 1:26].

In the Boston Book of Possessions "Mr. John Cotton" held "one house and garden, about half an acre, with an acre adjoining" [BBOP 3].

On 21 July 1645 "Mr. John Cotton teacher of Boston" sold to Thomas Whitamore "a parcel of meadow counted two cow grasses" [SLR 1:61].

In his will, dated 30 November 1652 (with codicil of 12 December 1652) and proved 27 January 1652/3, John Cotton of Boston bequeathed to "my son Seaborn" the south part of the house; "my books I estimate to the value of one hundred fifty pounds (though they cost me much more) because they are of use only to my two sons Seaborne John, therefore I give them unto them both to be divided by equal portions," with additional goods to make their portions up to £100 each; to "my daughters Elizabeth Mary" £100 apiece at marriage or at age of twenty-one; to "my well-beloved wife first all rents of her house garden in the marketplace of Boston in Lincolnshire," also money left in "my brother Coneye's hands are now in the use of my sister Mary Coneye his wife or my cousin John Coneye their son," also the "dwelling house wherein I now live" during her life, also the farm at Muddy River for life; but if she die "all my houses, goods lands both at Boston at my farm to be divided amongst my children my eldest son Seaborne to have a double portion"; but if wife and children die or go back to old England half estate to Harvard College and half to deacons of Boston church for maintaining a free school; to "my cousin Henery Smith" diet, lodging apparel so long as he serve my wife, and £20; to "my cousin John Angier with his wife and child" £10 above what has already been laid out; to "my kinswoman Martha Mellowes" five marks; to "Elizabeth Clark my maid" 20s.; residue to wife and she to be executrix; in codicil of 12 December 1652, to church a silver tunn and to "my grandchild Betty Day my second silver wine bowl" [SPR 1:72-73].

The inventory of the estate of "Mr. John Cotton deceased the 23th of December 1652" totalled £1088 4s., of which £470 was real estate: "dwelling house at Boston with the ground before backside other side of the hill besides the fourth part built by Sir Henry Vane," £220; and "the farm at Muddy River being 260 acres, houses, barns, outhouses," £250 [SPR 2:67-70].

On 28 July 1656, after John Cotton's widow had decided to marry Richard Mather, she relinquished control of Cotton's estate to "Elder William Colbron Elder James Penn during the nonage of her children John Maria" [SPR 1:279-80].

BIRTH: Derby, Derbyshire, 4 December 1585, son of Rowland Cotton [Magnalia 1:252; some sources give the year of birth as 1584, as Morison 373].

DEATH: Boston 23 December 1652 ("Mr. John Cotton B.D. Teacher to the church at Boston rested from his labors" [Eliot 197]). (Amos Richardson wrote on 2 December 1652 to John Winthrop Jr., "Mr. Cotton is very ill and it is much feared will not escape this sickness to live. He hath great swellings in his legs and body..." and 28 December 1652 "A sad accident lately befallen us here by the death of Mr. Cotton. A cause of much heaviness to us" [WP 6:235, 238]). (The Boston vital records give his death date as 15 December 1652, but no one else agrees with this [BVR 37].)

MARRIAGE: (1) By about 1612 Elizabeth Horrocks, to whom he was married for eighteen years; she bore him no children and was alive on 2 October 1630; she may have been daughter of "my mother Havered" mentioned by Cotton in a letter to his second wife [Young's First Planters 433; Magnalia 1:262].

(2) Shortly before 3 October 1632 Sarah (_____) Story, widow [Young's First Planters 432; Magnalia 1:262]; she m. (3) Boston 26 August 1656 Richard Mather [BVR 57].

With second wife:

i) SEABORN, b. at sea 12 August 1633 [BVR 2] (John Winthrop wrote on 26 September 1633 of "... those two reverend and faithful ministers Mr. Cotton and Mr. Hooker, who lately arrived here with their families in as good health (praised be God) as when they came forth, although Mrs. Cotton was delivered of a son at sea, who was since baptized on shore and named Seaborne" [WP 3:139]; Cotton's own remarks on the name were "to keep alive ... in me, and to teach him, if he live, a remembrance of sea-mercies from the hand of a gracious God" [Young's First Planters 438]); bp. Boston 8 September 1633 [BChR 278]; Harvard 1651 [Sibley 1:286-93]; m. Andover 14 June 1654 Dorothy Bradstreet, daughter of SIMON BRADSTREET.

ii) SARAHJAH/SARIAH, b. Boston 12 September 1635 [BVR 3]; bp. there 20 September 1635 [BChR 279]; d. there 20 January 1649/50 [Magnalia 1:285].

iii) ELIZABETH, b. Boston 9 December 1637 [BVR 5]; bp. there 10 December 1637 [BChR 282]; m. Boston 12 October 1655 Mr. Jeremiah Eggington [BVR 53]

iv) JOHN, b. Boston 15 March 1639/40 [BVR 7]; bp. there 22 March 1639/40 [BChR 285]; Harvard 1657 [Sibley 1:496-508]; m. Wethersfield 7 November 1660 Joanna Rossiter, daughter of Bray Rossiter [WetVR Barbour 73].

v) MARIA, b. Boston 16 February 1642 [BVR 11]; bp. there 20 February 1641/2 "being about 5 days old" [BChR 289]; m. 6 March 1661/2 Increase Mather, son of Richard Mather [Kenneth Ballard Murdock, Increase Mather: The Foremost American Puritan (Cambridge 1925), p. 72].

vi) ROWLAND, bp. Boston 24 December 1643 "being about 6 days old" [BChR 293-94]; d. there 29 January 1649/50 [Magnalia 1:285].
ASSOCIATIONS: Cotton names several relatives in his will, some of them still in Boston in Lincolnshire.

COMMENTS: John Cotton's reputation and influence were unequalled among New England ministers, with the possible exception of Thomas Hooker. At the outbreak of the Antinomian crisis he seemed to side with Hutchinson and Wheelwright, thus giving that side some hope of victory, but when he was brought around, however unwillingly, to the "orthodox" position, the triumph of Winthrop and his party was assured.

The list of Cotton's accomplishments is extensive, and should be sought out in the biographical literature. A few examples of his activities will give some of the flavor of his career. In a letter of 3 December 1634, Rev. Cotton gave his theological reasons for removing to New England [Young's First Planters 438-44]. The learned comments of Cotton on the preamble to the Mass. Bay laws are contained in a letter written to John Winthrop in 1648 [WP 5:192-94].

BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE: The biographical literature is enormous. Samuel Whiting, a contemporary of Cotton's, wrote a brief, simple biography which became the basis for later accounts [Young's First Planters 419-31]. Cotton Mather would have written at length about John Cotton in any case, but since Mather was Cotton's grandson the obligation was even greater ["Cottonus Redivivus; or, The Life of Mr. John Cotton" in Magnalia 1:252-86]. In 1965 Everett H. Emerson prepared a modern biography in the Twayne series [John Cotton (New York 1965)]. A few years later Larzer Ziff collected and republished a number of Cotton's more important writings [Larzer Ziff, ed., John Cotton on the Churches of New England (Cambridge 1968)]. Sargent Bush Jr. has reinterpreted the 1640 correspondence between John Cotton and John Wheelwright, in which the two eminent ministers review their actions during the Antinomian Crisis ["`Revising What We Have Done Amisse': John Cotton and John Wheelwright, 1640," William Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 45:733-50]; Professor Bush is preparing for publication a comprehensive edition of the correspondence of John Cotton.6

1. La Verne C. Cooley, A Short Biography of the Rev. John Cotton and a COTTON GENEALOGY of His Descendants, Published Privately in Batavia, New York 1945, Vol. I.
2. Ibid. page 11.
3. Ibid. page 19.
4. Ibid. page 13.
5. Ibid. page 14.
6. Robert Charles Anderson, F.A.S.G., The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), Vol. I-III (CD-ROM).

Last Modified: 25 Aug 2000
Created: 26 Aug 2000
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