Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Rev. John Cotton

Male 1585 - 1652  (67 years)


Personal Information    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Rev. John Cotton 
    Born 4 Dec 1585  Derby, Derbyshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Died 23 Dec 1652  Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Person ID I14031  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of JTS
    Last Modified 4 Nov 2017 

    Father Roland Cotton,   b. of Derby, Derbyshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft 29 Jan 1604 
    Mother Mary Hurlbert 
    Married 16 Aug 1582  Derby, Derbyshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Family ID F8887  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Sarah,   d. 27 May 1676 
    Married Bef 3 Oct 1632  [1
    Children 
    +1. Rev. John Cotton,   b. 15 Mar 1640, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Sep 1699, Charleston, South Carolina Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 59 years)
    Last Modified 27 Oct 2017 
    Family ID F8859  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • From Wikipedia:

      John Cotton (4 December 1585 – 23 December 1652) was a clergyman in England and the American colonies and, by most accounts, the preeminent minister and theologian of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He studied for five years at Trinity College, Cambridge and another nine at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He had already built a reputation as a scholar and outstanding preacher when he accepted the position of minister at Saint Botolph's Church in Boston, Lincolnshire in 1612. As a Puritan, he wanted to do away with the ceremony and vestments associated with the established Anglican Church and preach in a simpler manner. He felt that the English church needed significant reforms, yet he was also adamant about not separating from it; his preference was to change it from within. Many ministers were removed from their pulpits for their Puritan practices, but Cotton thrived at St. Botolph's for nearly 20 years because of supportive aldermen and lenient bishops, as well as his very conciliatory and gentle demeanor. By 1632, however, the Anglican church had greatly increased its pressure on the non-conforming clergy, and Cotton was forced to go into hiding. The following year, he and his wife boarded a ship for New England.

      Cotton was highly sought as a minister in Massachusetts and was quickly installed as the second pastor of the Boston church, sharing the ministry with John Wilson. He generated more religious conversions in his first six months than had been made the previous year. Early in his Boston tenure, he became peripherally involved in the banishment of Roger Williams, who blamed much of his troubles on Cotton. Soon after, Cotton became embroiled in the colony's Antinomian Controversy, when several adherents of his "free grace" theology (most notably Anne Hutchinson) began criticizing other ministers in the colony. He tended to support his adherents through much of that controversy; near its conclusion, however, he realized that many of his followers held theological positions that were well outside the mainstream of Puritan orthodoxy, which he did not condone.

      Following the controversy, Cotton was able to mend fences with his fellow ministers, and he continued to preach in the Boston church until his death. A great part of his effort during his late career was devoted to the governance of the New England churches, and he was the one who gave the name Congregationalism to this form of church polity. A new form of polity was being decided for the Anglican Church in the early 1640s, as the Puritans in England gained power on the eve of the English Civil War, and Cotton wrote numerous letters and books in support of the "New England Way". Ultimately, Presbyterianism was chosen as the form of governance during the Westminster Assembly in 1643, though Cotton continued to engage in a polemic contest with several prominent Presbyterians on this issue.

      Cotton became more conservative with age. He battled the separatist attitude of Roger Williams, and endorsed severe punishment -- including death -- of those whom he deemed heretics, such as Samuel Gorton. He was a scholar, an avid letter writer, and the author of many books, and was considered the "prime mover" among New England's ministers. He died in December 1652 at age 67, following a month-long illness. His grandson Cotton Mather also became a prominent New England minister and historian.

  • Sources 
    1. [S101] The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Volumes 1-3 and The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England,1634-1635, Volumes 1-7, by Robert Charles Anderson. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1996-2011.

    2. [S1512] Pane-Joyce Genealogy by David Pane-Joyce.