Cotten History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Cotten name has descended through the generations from the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. Their name comes from having lived in one of a number of similarly named settlements throughout England. Coton is found in Cambridgeshire, while Cotton was in Cheshire. There are places called Coatham in Durham and the North Riding of Yorkshire. Cotham is in Nottinghamshire. Settlements named Cottam exist in both Nottinghamshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire. All of these names stem from the Old English phrase æt cotum, which means at the cottages. Thus, the surname Cotten belongs to the class of topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees.

Early Origins of the Cotten family

The surname Cotten was first found in Huntingdonshire where the Cotton spelling is listed in the Domesday Book as resident of the Toseland hundred, in the land of the Bishop of Lincoln. [1] They were traditional Lords of the manor of Connington. The Coton spelling boasts no fewer than seven listing in the Domesday Book in various counties.

The first record of the name was found in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 where Robert de Cottone was listed in Cambridgeshire. The same rolls also listed Richard de Cottoune in the same shire, Ralph de Cotun in Northumberland and Richard de Cotton in Norfolk. [2]

John Cotton (12th cent.?), "is the author of a valuable treatise on music, first printed by Gerbert in 1784. Of this work there are two manuscripts at Vienna, and one each at Leipzig, Paris, Rome, and Antwerp. A sixth, from which Gerbert printed his edition, was destroyed in the fire at St. Blasien in 1768. " [3]

Bartholomew de Cotton (d. 1298?), was an English "historian, a monk of Norwich, and probably a native of Cotton in Suffolk, but nothing is known of his life. " [3]

The parish of Denton in Huntingdonshire was the family seat of the family in later years.

"The church [of Denton] was partly rebuilt about 1665, by Sir John Cotton. Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, whose manuscripts are now in the British Museum, was born here in 1570." [4]

Over in Steeple Gidding another record of the family was found. "Here was a large mansion, the residence of the Cotton family; the avenue to it still remains, and some of the existing cottages are built of the materials which formed the stables." [4]

Early History of the Cotten family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cotten research. Another 219 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1630, 1687, 1752, 1549, 1582, 1621, 1598, 1621, 1585, 1652, 1633, 1570, 1631, 1594, 1662, 1621, 1702, 1661, 1679, 1630, 1687, 1635, 1712, 1679, 1681, 1689, 1702, 1695, 1748, 1644, 1717, 1679, 1695, 1695 and 1701 are included under the topic Early Cotten History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cotten Spelling Variations

Only recently has spelling become standardized in the English language. As the English language evolved in the Middle Ages, the spelling of names changed also. The name Cotten has undergone many spelling variations, including Cotton, Coton, Cotten, Coten, Cottan, Kotton, Kotten, Koten, Kottan, Cottun, Cotun, Kotun, Kottun, Cottune, Cotune, Cottane, Cottain, Kottain, Kottaun, Cottaun, Kuttune, Cottone, Cottaune and many more.

Early Notables of the Cotten family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Blessed Thomas Cottam (1549-1582), English Catholic priest and martyr; William Cotton (d. 1621), Bishop of Exeter, 1598 to 1621; John Cotton (1585-1652), English clergyman, American settler in 1633 and became one of the most important New England Puritan ministers; Sir Robert Bruce Cotton of Connington, 1st Baronet (1570-1631), English politician, founder of the Cotton or Cottonian library, an antiquarian and bibliophile, and was the basis of the British Library; Sir Thomas Cotton, 2nd Baronet...
Another 79 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cotten Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Cotten family to Ireland

Some of the Cotten family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 36 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Cotten migration to the United States +

To escape the unstable social climate in England of this time, many families boarded ships for the New World with the hope of finding land, opportunity, and greater religious and political freedom. Although the voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, those families that arrived often found greater opportunities and freedoms than they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make significant contributions to the rapidly developing colonies in which they settled. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Cotten were among those contributors:

Cotten Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Era Cotten, who arrived in Virginia in 1663 [5]
  • Mary Cotten, who arrived in Maryland in 1671 [5]
  • John Cotten, who arrived in Maryland in 1671 [5]
  • Francis Cotten, who landed in Maryland in 1678 [5]
  • Thomas Cotten, who arrived in Maryland in 1678 [5]
Cotten Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Isaac Cotten, who arrived in Virginia in 1700 [5]
  • Margaret Cotten, who landed in Virginia in 1703 [5]
  • James Cotten, who landed in Virginia in 1712 [5]
Cotten Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Edward Cotten, aged 15, who landed in Baltimore, Maryland in 1834 [5]
  • Lud Joseph Cotten, who landed in Baltimore, Maryland in 1834 [5]

Australia Cotten migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Cotten Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Elizabeth Cotten, aged 16, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Elgin" in 1849 [6]

New Zealand Cotten migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Cotten Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Leonard Cotten, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Evening Star" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand in 1858 [7]
  • Mr. Robert Cotten, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Sevilla" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 2nd December 1859 [8]
  • Mr. R.M. Cotten, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Maori" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 15th May 1870 [7]
  • Mrs. Cotten, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Maori" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 15th May 1870 [7]

Contemporary Notables of the name Cotten (post 1700) +

  • Ann Cotten (b. 1982), American-born German writer
  • Mike Cotten (b. 1939), former American football player and lawyer, University of Texas Quarterback (1959-1961)
  • Lyman Atkinson Cotten (1874-1926), American officer of the United States Navy, eponym of the destroyer USS Cotten (DD-669)
  • Joanna Cotten, American country music singer
  • Joseph Cheshire Cotten Jr., (1905-1994), American actor, known for his roles in Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), and Journey into Fear (1943), The Third Man (1949), eponym of the Joseph Cotten Show (1956-1957)
  • James "Jay" Cotten (b. 1974), American actor, film director, producer and writer
  • Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten (1893-1987), born Elizabeth Nevills, an American musician and singer-songwriter
  • Joel Cotten, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Texas, 1988 [9]
  • Joe Cotten, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for Texas railroad commissioner, 2012 [9]
  • J. A. Cotten (b. 1867), American Republican politician, Member of Missouri State House of Representatives from Morgan County, 1921-22 [9]
  • ... (Another 4 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Cotten Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: In utraque fortuna paratus
Motto Translation: Prepared for either good or bad fortune.


  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  5. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) ELGIN 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Elgin.htm
  7. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  8. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  9. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 12) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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