Cotton History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the Cotton family

The surname Cotton 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 Cotton family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cotton 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 Cotton History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cotton Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Cotton 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 Cotton Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cotton World Ranking

In the United States, the name Cotton is the 856th most popular surname with an estimated 34,818 people with that name. [5] However, in France, the name Cotton is ranked the 2,985th most popular surname with an estimated 2,000 - 2,500 people with that name. [6] And in New Zealand, the name Cotton is the 723rd popular surname with an estimated 989 people with that name. [7] The United Kingdom ranks Cotton as 710th with 9,452 people. [8]

Ireland Migration of the Cotton family to Ireland

Some of the Cotton 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 Cotton migration to the United States +

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 [9]
  • Seaborn Cotton, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1633 [9]
  • John and Sara Cotton who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1633
  • John Cotton, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1633 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Cotton Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Robert Cotton, who arrived in Virginia in 1721 [9]
  • Joseph Cotton, who landed in Virginia in 1735 [9]
  • Nathaniel Cotton, who arrived in Florida in 1768 [9]
  • Henry Cotton, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1777 [9]
Cotton Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Charles Cotton, aged 23, who arrived in New York in 1812 [9]
  • Tomas Cotton, who landed in Puerto Rico in 1816 [9]
  • Timothy Cotton, who arrived in New York, NY in 1817 [9]
  • Claudius Cotton, aged 25, who arrived in Missouri in 1842 [9]
  • J S Cotton, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Cotton Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mr. George Cotton, (b. 1885), aged 18, Cornish gardener travelling aboard the ship "Philadelphia" arriving at Ellis Island, New York in 1903 en route to Houghton, Michigan, Usa [10]
  • Mr. Thomas Cotton, (b. 1881), aged 23, Cornish roofer travelling aboard the ship "New York" arriving at Ellis Island, New York in 1904 en route to Braddock, Pennsylvania, USA [10]

Canada Cotton migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Cotton Settlers in Canada in the 17th Century
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
  • Mr. Thomas Cotton, aged 14 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "James Moran" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle in August 1847 [12]

Australia Cotton migration to Australia +

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

Cotton Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Michael Cotton, (b. 1779), aged 48, English cooper who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 14 years for larceny, transported aboard the "Champion" on 24th May 1827, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1862 [13]
  • Mrs. Hannah Cotton, (b. 1801), aged 29, English laundress who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life for larceny, transported aboard the "Earl of Liverpool" in December 1830, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, she had 2 children with her aboard, she died in 1867 [14]
  • Mr. William Cotton, (b. 1809), aged 27, English ploughman who was convicted in Suffolk, England for 14 years for larceny, transported aboard the "Eden" on 27th August 1836, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [15]
  • Joseph Cotton, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Ramillies" in 1849 [16]
  • Benjamin Cotton, aged 21, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Ascendant" [17]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Cotton 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:

Cotton Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Rev. W.Cotton, Australian settler travelling from Sydney, Australia aboard the ship "Bristolian" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand in 1842 [18]
  • George Cotton, aged 29, a servant, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Indus" in 1843
  • Jemima Cotton, aged 28, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Indus" in 1843
  • Mr. William Cotton, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Inchinnan" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 27th May 1852 [18]
  • Mrs. Margaret Cotton, (b. 1810), aged 43, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Egmont" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 23rd December 1853 [18]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Cotton migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [19]
Cotton Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • William Cotton, who settled in Jamaica in 1663

Contemporary Notables of the name Cotton (post 1700) +

  • Dorothy Cotton (1930-2018), American leader in the Civil Rights Movement from Goldsboro, North Carolina, member of Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • John J. Cotton (1924-2016), American professional NBA basketball small forward
  • 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
  • Joseph Cheshire Cotton (1905-1994), award-winning American actor of stage and film [20]
  • Delos J. Cotton (b. 1900), American politician, Representative from New York, 1900 (28th District), 1910 (31st District)
  • Charles Henry Cotton (1845-1938), American Republican politician, Served in the Union Army during the Civil War; Member of New York State Assembly from Kings County 4th District, 1899-1902, 1905; Defeated, 1902
  • Charles E. Cotton, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from District of Columbia, 2000
  • Charles Camp Cotton, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New Jersey, 1940; Chair of Gloucester County Democratic Party, 1945
  • Aylett Rains Cotton Jr. (1874-1965), American Republican politician, Superior court judge in California, 1947-50; Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from California, 1956, 1960
  • Aylett Rains Cotton (1826-1912), American Republican politician, Went to California for the 1849 Gold Rush; Clinton County Judge, 1851-53; Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney, 1854; Mayor of Lyons, Iowa, 1855-57; Delegate to Iowa State Constitutional Convention 23rd District, 1857;
  • ... (Another 50 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Hood
  • Mr. Lewis A Cotton (b. 1918), English Stoker 2nd Class serving for the Royal Navy from West Gorton, Manchester, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [21]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. A. Cotton (d. 1912), aged 26, English Trimmer from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [22]


The Cotton 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.


Suggested Readings for the name Cotton +

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

  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. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  6. ^ http://www.journaldesfemmes.com/nom-de-famille/nom/
  7. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  8. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  9. ^ 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)
  10. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_ellis_island_1892_on.pdf
  11. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  12. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 21)
  13. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retreived 18th January 2021, retreived from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/champion)
  14. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th August 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/earl-of-liverpool
  15. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th October 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/eden
  16. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) RAMILIES 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Ramillies.htm
  17. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The ASCENDANT 1851. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851Ascendant.htm
  18. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  19. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  20. ^ Joseph Cotton. (Retrieved 2011, January 21) Joseph Cotton. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Cotten
  21. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  22. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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