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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: English, French

Where did the English Cotton family come from? What is the English Cotton family crest and coat of arms? When did the Cotton family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Cotton family history?

The name Cotton is of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from when a family 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 Cotton 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.


Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Cotton family name include 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.

First found in Huntingdon 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]


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cotton research. Another 265 words(19 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 Cotton History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 305 words(22 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cotton Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Cotton family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 61 words(4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, the Canadas, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Early immigrants bearing the Cotton surname or a spelling variation of the name include :

Cotton Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Robert Cotton, who arrived in Virginia in 1607
  • Robert Cotton, who arrived in Jamestown, Va in 1607
  • Seaborn Cotton, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1633
  • John and Sara Cotton who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1633
  • John Cotton, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1633

Cotton Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Robt Cotton, who arrived in Virginia in 1721
  • Joseph Cotton, who landed in Virginia in 1735
  • Nathaniel Cotton, who arrived in Florida in 1768
  • Henry Cotton, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1777

Cotton Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Charles Cotton, aged 23, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Tomas Cotton, who landed in Puerto Rico in 1816
  • Timothy Cotton, who arrived in New York, NY in 1817
  • Claudius Cotton, aged 25, arrived in Missouri in 1842
  • J S Cotton, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850

Cotton Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century

  • Henry Cotton, who settled in Renewes, Newfoundland, in 1675

Cotton Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Leonard Cotton, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749-1752

Cotton Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Michael Cotton, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1842

Cotton Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Joseph Cotton arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Ramillies" in 1849
  • Benjamin Cotton, aged 21, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Ascendant"
  • Benjamin Cotton, aged 21, arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "The Ascendant" in 1851
  • Winifred Cotton, aged 25, arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "The Ascendant" in 1851
  • Mary Cotton, aged 1, arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "The Ascendant" in 1851

Cotton Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • George Cotton, aged 29, a servant, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Indus" in 1843
  • Jemima Cotton, aged 28, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Indus" in 1843
  • Edward Cotton, aged 35, a shoemaker, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Hurunui" in 1877


  • Joseph Cheshire Cotton (1905-1994), award-winning American actor of stage and film
  • Frank Albert Cotton (1930-2007), American chemist awarded the U.S. National Medal of Science in 1982, the Wolf Prize in 2000; and the Priestley Medal in 1998 along with twenty-nine honorary doctorates
  • George Edward Lynch Cotton (1813-1866), English teacher and bishop
  • Sir Thomas Henry Cotton (1907-1987), English golfer
  • Arthur Witty Cotton (1878-1969), Spanish-born, English footballer, club president and businessman
  • Mr. A. Cotton (d. 1912), aged 26, English Trimmer from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
  • Aimé Auguste Cotton (1869-1951), French scientist, discovered the Cotton effect (in 1895) and Cotton-Mouton effects
  • General Sir Arthur Cotton (1803-1899), British irrigation engineer knighted in 1861
  • William Edward "Billy" Cotton (1899-1969), British band leader
  • Sir Charles Andrew Cotton (1885-1970), New Zealand geologist



  • The Cottons of Catahoula and Related Families by William Davis Cotton.
  • The English Ancestry of Rev. John Cotton of Boston by H. G. Somerby.

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.


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  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)

Other References

  1. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  2. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  4. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  6. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  7. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  8. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  9. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  10. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  11. ...

The Cotton Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Cotton Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 9 April 2015 at 08:53.

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