A Biographical Research Profile
by David Haas
A Harvard Man
John Cotton was born on 15 March 1639/1640 in Boston to the minister John Cotton and his second wife. In 1657 he graduated from Harvard and went to Wethersfield where he became the pastor. There he met Joanna Rossiter, daughter of Bray Rossiter. They were married in 1660 and had a son, John, in 1661. In 1667, Cotton moved to Plymouth, where he became minister.
In 1670, he was listed on the freemen of Plymouth. In that same year he bought land on Main Street from Edward Gray. He sold this land ten years later to James Cole. In 1692, Plymouth granted all the land between the second and third brooks to Rev. John Cotton. In 1693, some of this land was sold to John Nelson. The only mention of neighbors was that Cotton's property was at the southerly end of John Wood's land.
There are only three references of Cotton in court. Once he served on a jury and the second time he testified about a conversation in which he had heard Edward Gray and Walter Hatch agree to swap lands. His third time in court was an interesting one. The court imposed an extra year of servitude upon his Indian servant, Timothy, who had run away.
Cotton retired as minister in 1697, and there was no will or account of his death.
Primary Source Reference
1640 15 March 1639/1640 Davis 1883 II:72
John Cotton born in Boston son of the minister John Cotton and his second wife.
22 March 1639/1640 Anderson 1995 56
John Cotton baptized.
1657 No specific date Davis 1883 I:98
John Cotton graduated from Harvard and then went to serve as pastor in Wethersfield.
1660 7 November 1660 Davis 1883 I:98
John Cotton married Joanna Rossiter of Wethersfield, daughter of Bray Rossiter.
1661 No specific date Davis 1883 II:72
John and Joanna have son, John
1667 No specific date Davis 1883 I:98
John Cotton settled in Plymouth as its minister.
1670 20 May 1670 PCR 5:274
John Cotton on list of freemen of Plymouth.
No specific date Davis 1883 I:166
Cotton bought land on Main Street from Lyden to Middle Street from Edward Gray.
1679 1 November 1679 PCR 6:27
Cotton was appointed to jury consisting if Governor Winslow, Mr. Hinkley, Major Bradford, Mr. Arnold, and Mr. Wiswell.
1680 No specific date Davis 1883 I:166
Cotton sold the land he had purchased on Main Street in 1670 to James Cole.
1681 22 October 1681 PCR 6:77
"Mr. John Cotton, aged 41 years, testifieth and saith" about a conversation he was part of in which Mr. Edward Gray (deceased) and Mr. Walter hatch agreed to swap lands.
1685 5 March 1684/1685 PCR 6:152
The court ruled that as punishment for running away, Cotton's Indian servant, Timothy, must serve and additional year of indenture
24 April 1685 PCR 6:161
Cotton's property at the "southerly end" or Mr. John Wood's
1692 No specific date Davis 1883 I:214
All the land between second and third brooks was granted by Plymouth to the Rev. John Cotton.
1693 No specific date Davis 1883 I:214 Cotton sold some of the land he was granted in 1692 to John Nelson.
1697 No specific date Davis 1883 I:98.
Cotton retired as minister at Plymouth.
John Cotton: Network of Connections
Cole, James bought land on Main Street from Cotton in 1680
Cotton, John father and minister in Boston
Gray, Edward Cotton testified to being part of a conversation with Gray and Walter Hatch on 28 October 1681
sold Cotton land on Main Street from Lyden to Middle Street in 1670
Hatch, Walter Cotton testified to being part of a conversation with Hatch and Edward Gray on 28 October 1681
Nelson, John in 1693 bought land granted to Cotton by Plymouth in 1692
Rossiter, Bray father of Cotton's wife, Joanna
Timothy Cotton's Indian servant
Wood, John Cotton owned property at the southerly end of Wood's