Rev. John Cotton

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John Cotton

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Derby, Derbyshire, England
Death: Died in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
Place of Burial: Kings Chapel Burying Ground, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Rowland Cotton, Sr. and Mary Cotton
Husband of Mary Cotton; Sarah Mather and Elizabeth Cotton
Father of Dorothy Smith; Rev. Seaborn Cotton; Elizabeth Cotton; Sarah Cotton; Rev. John Cotton, Jr. and 3 others
Brother of Mary Bamford; Roland Cotton, Attorney and Thomas Cotton

Occupation: Reverend, One of most famous ministers in the colony, Minister of First Church of Boston, Reverand, Minister
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Cotton

John Cotton was a highly regarded principal among the New England Puritan ministers, who also included Thomas Hooker, Increase Mather (who became his son-in-law), John Davenport, and Thomas Shepard and John Norton, who wrote his first biography. Cotton was the grandfather of Cotton Mather, who was named after him.

Born in England, he was educated at Derby School, in buildings which are now the Derby Heritage Centre, and attended Cambridge University, where he also taught, and became a long-serving minister in the English town of Boston, Lincolnshire before his Puritanism and criticism of hierarchy drew the hostile attention of Church of England authorities. In 1633, William Laud was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, and like numerous other Puritan nonconformist figures, Cotton soon came under his close "eye of scrutiny". In the same year Cotton, his family, and a few local followers sailed for the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The Brownist congregational movement within the Church of England had by this stage, in effect at least, become a separate church. Because of his early views on the primacy of congregational government, his was an important role in Puritan aspirations to become the "City upon a Hill" which might help reform the English church. He is best known among other things for his initial defense of Anne Hutchinson early in her trials during the Antinomian crisis, during which she mentioned him with respect, though he turned strongly against her with the further course of the trial. He is also remembered for his role in the banishment of Roger Williams regarding the role of democracy and the separation of church and state in the Puritan theonomic society, both of which Williams tended to advocate. Cotton grew still more conservative in his views with the years but always retained the estimation of his community.

He was invited to attend the Westminster Assembly of Divines. He was keen to attend, though Winthrop said that he couldn't see the point of "travelling 3,000 miles to agree with three men?" Cotton's desire to attend changed with the events leading up to the English Civil War with the split between the King and Parliament. Cotton believed that he could be more effective in influencing the Assembly through his writings.

Cotton is buried in the King's Chapel Burial Ground in central Boston, MA, in the same grave as John Davenport (d. 1670), John Oxenbridge (d. 1674) and Thomas Bridge (d. 1713).

Cotton's written legacy includes a body of correspondence, numerous sermons, a catechism, and in 1646 a shorter catechism for children titled Milk for Babes, which is considered the first children's book by an American and was incorporated into The New England Primer around 1701 and remained a component of that work for over 150 years. His most famous sermon is probably Gods Promise to His Plantation (1630), preached at the departure of John Winthrop's fleet for New England.

Additionally, he wrote a theonomic legal code titled An Abstract of the laws of New England as they are now established. This legal code provided a basis for John Davenport's legal system for the New Haven Colony, and was one of two competing drafts of that were compiled to make Massachusetts's The Body of Liberties. His most influential writings on church government were "The Keyes of the Kingdom of Heaven" and "The Way of Congregational Churches Cleared". He also had a paper battle with Roger Williams on liberty of conscience. Williams's "The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution" brought forth Cotton's "The Bloudy Tenent washed and made white in the bloud of the Lamb". Cotton's theonomy has had a profound effect on the 20th-century Dominionist movement.

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John Cotton (1585-1652) came to the colonies in the ship Griffin. He was known as the "Patriarch of New England," a highly regarded principal among the New England Puritan ministers, who also included Thomas Hooker, Increase Mather (who became his son-in-law), John Davenport, and Thomas Shepard and John Norton, who wrote his first biography.

See Wikipedia's article about Rev. John Cotton, his life and works, at <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cotton_(Puritan)>. -------------------- First Puritan ministers of Mass. Bay Colony. Grandfather of Cotton Mather.

Extensive article on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Cotton_(Puritan) -------------------- English and American Puritan divine, sometimes called "The Patriarch of New England", born in Derby, England, on the 4th of December 1585. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating B.A. in 1603 and M.A. in 1606, and became a fellow in Emmanuel College, Cambridge, then a stronghold of Puritanism, where, during the next six years, according to his friend and biographer, Rev. Samuel Whiting, he was "head lecturer and dean, and Catechist", and "a dilligent tutor to many pupils." In June 1612 he became vicar of the parish church of St. Botolph's in Boston, Lincolnshire, where he remained for twenty-one years and was extremely popular. Becoming more and more a Puritan in spirit, he ceased, about 1615, to observe certain ceremonies prescribed by the legally authorized ritual, and in 1632 action was begun against him in the High Commission Court.

He thereupon escaped, disguised, to London, lay in concealment there for several months, and, having been deeply interested from its beginning in the colonization of New England, he eluded the watch set for him at the various English ports, and in July 1633 emigrated to the colony of Massachusetts Bay, arriving at Boston early in September. On the 10th of October he was chosen "teacher" of the First Church of Boston, of which John Wilson (1588-1667) was pastor, and here he remained until his death on the 23rd of December 1652.

In the newer, as in the older Boston, his popularity was almost unbounded, and his influence, both in ecclesiastical and in civil affairs, was probably greater than that of any other minister in theocratic New England. According to the contemporary historian, William Hubbard, "Whatever he delivered in the pulpit was soon put into an order of court, if of a civil, or set up as a practice in the church, if of an ecclesiastical concernment." His influence, too, was generally beneficent, though it was never used to further the cause of religious freedom, or of democracy, his theory of government being given in an oft-quoted passage: "Democracy, I do not conceyve that ever God did ordeyne as a fitt government eyther for church or commonwealth... As for Monarchy and aristocracy they are both for them clearly approved, and directed in Scripture yet so as (God) referreth the sovereigntie to himselfe, and setteth up Theocracy in both, as the best form of government."

Cotton naturally took an active part in most, if not all, of the political and theological controversies of his time, the two principal of which were those concerning Antinomianism and the expulsion of Roger Williams. In the former his position was somewhat equivocal -- he first supported and then violently opposed Anne Hutchinson -- in the latter he approved Williams's expulsion as "righteous in the eyes of God", and subsequently in a pamphlet discussion with Williams, particularly in his Bloudy Tenent, Washed and made White in the Bloud of the Lamb (1647), vigorously opposed religious freedom. He was a man of great learning and was a prolific writer. His writings include: The Keyes to the Kingdom of Heaven and the Power thereof (1644), The Way of the Churches of Christ in New England (1645), and The Way of Congregational Churches Cleared (1648), these works constituting an invaluable exposition of New England Congregationalism; and Milk for Babes, Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments, Chiefly for the Spirituall Nourishment of Boston Babes in either England, but may be of like Use for any Children (1646), widely used for many years in New England for the religious instruction of children.

Father: Roland Cotton (b. 1550, d. 1604)

Mother: Mary Hurlbert (b. 1560)

Wife: Elisabeth Horrocks

Wife: Sarah Hawkridge (m. 25-Apr-1632)

Son: Rowland Cotton

Son: Seaborn Cotton

Daughter: Maria Cotton

Daughter: Sarah Cotton

Daughter: Elizabeth Cotton

Son: John Cotton (b. 1640, d. 1699)

   University: BA, Trinity College, Cambridge University (1603)
   University: MA, Trinity College, Cambridge University (1606)

-------------------- From findagrave.com:

Birth: Dec 4 1585, England

Death: Dec 23 1652

Religious Figure. Puritan minister at St Botolph's Church, Lincolnshire, Eng, bef leaving for Am 1633. Dtr Maria later wedded Increase Mather & borne son, Cotton Mather. John Cotton became minister at 1st Church of Boston, MA, forming basis for Congregationalism. He figured prominently in Antinomian Controversy & trial of Anne Hutchinson & Cambridge Synod, which led to adoption of Half-way Covenant.

Burial: Kings Chapel Burying Grd, Boston, Suffolk Co, MA, USA -------------------- From the book "The Great Migration Begins":

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.

-------------------- The Reverend John Cotton (December 4, 1585 – December 23, 1652) was a highly regarded principal among the New England Puritan ministers, who also included John Winthrop, Thomas Hooker, Increase Mather, who became his son-in-law, John Davenport, and Thomas Shepard. He was the grandfather of Cotton Mather, who was named after him. Born in England, he was educated at Derby School, in buildings which are now the Derby Heritage Centre, and attended Cambridge University, where he also taught, and became a long-serving minister in the English town of Boston, Lincolnshire before his Puritanism and criticism of hierarchy drew the hostile attention of Church of England authorities. In 1633, William Laud was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, and like numerous other Puritan nonconformist figures, Cotton soon came under his close "eye of scrutiny". In the same year Cotton, his family, and a few local followers sailed for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Brownist congregational movement within the Church of England had by this stage, in effect at least, become a separate church. Because of his early views on the primacy of congregational government, his was an important role in Puritan aspirations to become the "city on a hill" which might help reform the English church. He is best known among other things for his initial defense of Anne Hutchinson early in her trials during the Antinomian crisis, during which she mentioned him with respect, though he turned strongly against her with the further course of the trial. He is also remembered for his role in the banishment of Roger Williams regarding the role of democracy and the separation of church and state in the Puritan theonomic society, both of which Williams tended to advocate. Cotton grew still more conservative in his views with the years but always retained the estimation of his community. He was invited to attend the Westminster Assembly of Divines. He was keen to attend, though Winthrop said that he couldn't see the point of "travelling 3,000 miles to agree with three men?" Cotton's desire to attend changed with the events leading up to the English Civil War with the split between the King and Parliament. Cotton believed that he could be more effective in influencing the Assembly through his writings. Cotton's written legacy includes a body of correspondence, numerous sermons, a catechism, and in 1646 a shorter catechism for children titled Milk for Babes, which is considered the first children's book by an American and was incorporated into The New England Primer around 1701 and remained a component of that work for over 150 years. His most famous sermon is probably Gods Promise to His Plantation in 1630, preached at the departure of John Winthrop's fleet for New England. Additionally, he wrote a theonomic legal code titled An Abstract of the laws of New England as they are now established. This legal code provided a basis for John Davenport's legal system for the New Haven Colony, and was one of two competing drafts of that were compiled to make Massachusetts's The Body of Liberties. His most influential writings on church government were "The Keyes of the Kingdom of Heaven" and "The Way of Congregational Churches Cleared". He also had a paper battle with Roger Williams on liberty of conscience. Williams's "The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution" brought forth Cotton's "The Bloudy Tenent washed and made white in the bloud of the Lamb". Cotton's theonomy has had a profound effect on the 20th-century Dominionist movement. Cotton is buried in the King's Chapel Burial Ground in central Boston, MA, in the same grave as John Davenport (d. 1670), John Oxonbridge (d. 1674) and Thomas Bridge (d. 1713). Source: Photograph by WB2 This engraving, which was a copy from an original painting, was published in The History and Antiquities of Boston, by Samuel G. Drake [1630 – 1770] in 1856, opposite P. 157. It was originally done in 1856 by H.W. Smith, presumably of Boston, and copied from a painting that was in the possession of John R. Thayer, at the time. The definition of the engraving itself is lightly screened to prevent fraudulent copying, and one may detect a slight black horizontal line transversing the torso of the image when making prints

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Rev. John Cotton's Timeline

1584
December 15, 1584
Scotland, Devonshire, England, United Kingdom
1585
December 4, 1585
Derby, Derbyshire, England
December 15, 1585
Derby, Derbyshire, England
1605
1605
Age 19
England, United Kingdom
1613
July 3, 1613
Age 27
Balsham, England
1623
1623
Age 37
1632
April 25, 1632
Age 46
Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony
1633
August 12, 1633
Age 47
At sea, Coming to US, England
1635
July 12, 1635
Age 49
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts
1637
December 3, 1637
Age 51
Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts