I have been in London on a research Sabbatical for seven months now. In my spare time, I have researched my Cotton ancestry using mainly the resources available at the British Library, the Library of the Institute of Historical Research of the University of London, and the Library of the Society of Genealogists. What I am about to write, unlike other information circulating on the internet, can be proven from documentary evidence contemporary with the people involved, unless otherwise mentioned. I am not including notes to keep this posting a managable length.
Generation-0 The DNA haplogroup for this Cotton family is I1b2a, members of which, according to Family Tree DNA, appear to have an origin in northern France, but are said to be mostly spread throughout northwestern Europe. Historically, in the case of this particular Cotton family, the most economical explanation would be that one of William the Conqueror's earl's soldiers was given a piece of land in Cheshire to settle and it is from him that future Cottons of this line can claim descent. In fact, in 1086 (20 years after the conquest) in the Doomsday Book, a common soldier with the Norman French name of Ranulph appears as a feudal sub-tenant of a Cheshire Baron called Robert Fitzhugh and held land in the Cheshire Parish of Christleton, land which was called Cotton and, to distinguish it from a neighboring manor also located in Cotton and belonging to the local abbey, Ranulph's land later became known as the manor of Cotton Edmund's. He is a possible ancestor, but it is exactly two hundred years until the first identifiable Cotton of this line of Cottons (the Cottons of Cotton Edmunds) makes an appearance in the records. Before that here and there throughout the 12th and early to mid-13th centuries, there are, indeed, other Cottons appearing in Cheshire and in neighboring areas of Cheshire, but their appearances are too scattered and information about either their origins or the lands they possessed is missing, thus not allowing us to build even a tentative family tree. Some of these individuals surely will have been ancestral to the Cotton Edmund's line and others just as surely not, but there is not enough data of the right type available to inspire confidence. As for Ranulph above, 200 years is indeed a long time and, in the mean time, many things could have happened, so he should never being included in anyone's family tree until further evidence appears which, unfortunately, is highly unlikely.
Simon Cotton, supposed to be the son of William Cotton, though the earliest mention I have found so far of this first of many William Cottons to come is in a family tree drawn roughly 300 years after Simon Cotton's appearance in a Cheshire court case, standing accused of cattle rustling. His property (still not yet called Cotton Edmund's in the future) appears to have been solely in the Cheshire parish of Christleton, indicating that his ancestors had not significantly advanced themselves up the social ladder since the beginning of the Norman occupation of England. There is other evidence from a court case which took place shortly after the cattle-rustling case which makes it possible but not certain that he was the priest of the local church and feuding with the local abbot, his generation being the last in which married priests appear in rural areas of the British Isles before being rooted out completely by the Catholic Church, a process which the Church had already been working at for several hundred years. Whether he was a priest or not, he seems to have married a bit above his station to an unnamed daughter of Richard Grosvenor who was a sister of Robert Grosvenor II and Margery Grosvenor, the wife of a member of a Cheshire baronial family Philip de Terven (Ternen in the published source I used, but this is surely a misreading of Terven, or Tarvin, in modern English, as in medieval English handwriting v and n could be easily mistaken for each other and often were) who died without children. The Grosvenors, upon marriage, had given Margery lands as a marriage portion. These lands were later transferred to William Cotton, the son of Margery's unnamed sister and Simon Cotton, together with the Grosvenor Coat of arms, though changed slightly from that of the main line. Simon Cotton's son, William Cotton, was recognized as the heir of the Grosvenor estates should Robert II's son Robert III not produce any surviving child. He did, though, becoming the ancestor of the Grosvenor Dukes of Westminster who became the owners of a couple of hundred acres of downtown London and, by means of this, the richest private citizens today in Great Britain.
William Cotton, as mentioned above, inherited Grosvenor lands in the parish of Tarvin (or Tarven, as it often appears in medieval texts). His first wife was a Joan through whom it seems he acquired further lands in the parish of Waverton. It should be noted that Tarvin and Waverton were both neighboring parishes of Christleton and all three within commuting distance of the Earldom of Chester's administrative center, the borough that was known by the same name. He was well respected and appeared as a witness in numerous charters of the Earl of Chester's more important feudal tenants. His second wife whom he married when he must have been well past 40 was a woman by the name of Isabella. It appears that she remarried after his death. Edmund was his only known child by Joan (and not Isabella as often appears in published genealogies, some produced as early as 1600).
Edmund was born around 1315. He was probably not a first son, but was his father's only surviving son. It was from him, that the manor he owned in Christleton came to be called Cotton Edmund's, an indication of the respect with which he was held. He did, however, continue his grandfather Simon's feud with the local Abbey and there survives an order coming directly from the Prince of Wales (also at the time, the Earl of Chester) ordering to leave the Abbot's lands and cattle alone. What the family name of Edmund's descendants would have been, if he had lived as the lord of a different manor having a different place name attached to it, is unknowable. What can be said is that there are many other places in England known as Cotton, and many other families did as Edmund's ancestors had done, meaning that, barring a "non-paternal event", no Cotton's first Cotton was ever more than just an ordinary bloke.
Edmund's wife was Katherine. Her family name may be Brett or Brett de Dana, but this is first evidenced in a family tree appearing more than 250 years after she lived. One should not place a high reliance on this and, though not dismissing it entirely, refrain from including a family name for her in a Cotton family tree or, at least, should make some designation that this family name is only to be considered on a provisional basis.
Edmund had two children, William and Robert, probably both by Katherine. Both married heiresses in Stafford.
The coat of arms Edmund used was different from the one received by his father William I from the Grosvenors. As Edmund's oldest son William II inherited the lands which had originally come from the Grosvenors, the Grosvenor-based coat of arms were the ones he used until the ones received from the Grosvenors were ruled by King Richard II, himself, as representing a theft of the arms used by the Scrope family and ordered the Grosvenors to abandon their coat of arms and chose one completely different from what they had been using. With this, William II of Cotton Edmund's felt desirable for him and his children to adopt his wife, Agnes Ridware's coat of arms inherited from her highly respected Staffordshire family. Edmund's other coat of arms was used by his son Robert and Robert's descendants who possessed the Staffordshire manor of Cotton-under-Needwood. Robert's coat of arms and not that received from the Grosvenors was most likely the original coat of arms, though no surviving Cotton family today uses this coat of arms, but there are supposed branches of the Cotton family who revived and still use the old modified Grosvenor coat of arms and others who continued to use the Ridware coat of arms until the 19th century. Some branches of the Cottons of Cotton Edmund's, by the way, also inherited the right to quarter yet a fourth Cotton coat of arms from a completely unrelated Cotton family which daughtered out and whose heiress married a Venables whose heiress, in turn, married a Cotton of the Cotton Edmund's line of Cottons.
William II was born in 1346 or thereabouts. This can be fixed fairly accurately as he appeared as a witness in the Scrope/Grosvenor trial in the mid-1380s. The statement he made is lost, but a record of his name and age remains. In the 1370s, he married a rich Staffordshire heiress, Agnes de Ridware, thus bring quite substantial properties (Hampstall-Ridware in Staffordshire, and Boyleston is Derbyshire) into Cotton hands, properties that allowed his and her descendants to play leading roles in Staffordshire for three generations. He probably died in the 1390s. Before he died, though, he made the necessary legal arrangements so that his own properties (as opposed to those he held by right of his wife) were safely disposed for the benefit of his heirs. His wife lived until 1435, dying a very old woman for her times, being over 75 and probably close to 80 when she passed away. Agnes and her husband had only one child, John, who may be identified from contemporary records. Genealogies appearing 200 years later, however, sometimes give them a daughter, too, which may or may not be right.
William's brother Robert married a less wealthy heiress who brought him the manor of Cotton-under-Needwood less than 10 miles from his brother's wife's estates. Robert's descendants daughtered out in the third generation so his line will not be dealt with further, but many quite interesting and well-known people number among his descendants, including the author of "The Anatomy of Melancholy", the first attempt by just about anyone in any language to seriously and thoroughly describe the insidious disease of depression which so many people silently and heroically suffer from.
John Cotton (born around 1375) married Isabella Fauconer (variant spellings include Falkner). All published genealogies have her ancestry wrong. In a contemporary document, she states that she was the daughter of John Fauconer, the wife of John Cotton, and the mother of John Cotton. The documents of the time were in Latin and, therefore, the English version of her name could have been Elizabeth rather than Isabella, as Elizabeth sometimes appears under the guise of Isabella in Latin texts of this era. Sometimes, though, it appears in the Anglo-Latin form of Elizabeta. Both forms of this name, however, were used in English at the time concerned, so we shall never know 100% for sure if Isabella really were her real name in English. It is convenient, though, to call her that.
Isabella was yet another heiress, though this came after her brother William and William's daughter Elizabeth passed away in what appears to have been the 1420s. Through her, the Cottons acquired the manors of Thurcaston and Cayham in Leicestershire. These properties and the network of human relations they generated kept the junior branches of the Cotton family among her descendants from falling into utter obscurity and helped them to maintain their gentry status probably sometime in the 1340s.
Isabella's ancestry appears in many published sources, but they are all wrong and have been so from the late 15th century. I have managed to correct the worst mistakes in her family tree, but have not had enough time to verify my work against enough of the original sources to justify publishing it here, so I will not include any summary.
John and Isabella's oldest son was yet another John. Their second son was William.
John Cotton II was married to Joan Venables whose name can be known only because she passed a right as a co-heiress of the vast Venables' feudal barony of Kinderton to her oldest son Richard Cotton on the death of her Venables nephew, she, herself, being already dead. A comparison of the inquisition post mortem's (the English medieval equivalent of death certificates for the wealthy or suspected wealthy) of Joan Venable's nephew and that of her son Richard's son prove that her husband's name was John, not Richard as usually appears in printed genealogies. Matters are complicated further because John Cotton II and Joan Venables had a second son by the name of John who married Joan (or Joanna) Fitzherbert, a couple who will be covered under generation-7.
John II married his wife Joan Venables before 1432 when they had their first child Richard. John II has a distinguished career in local government being appointed to many local government commissions and being made sheriff of Staffordshire on occasion. He was born probably in the last years of the 1390s and died in 1478 at about 80 years of age.
John II's brother William Cotton III inherited none of the family estates, but apparently through his mother's connections in Leicestershire he was able to marry Mary Folville, a co-heiress of the Folville family who brought him a manor in the parish of Rearsby that came to be unofficially known in Leicestershire in the 15th and 16th centuries as Cotton's Manor. William III's wife's family had been a prominent one for good and bad (some of what they did would make Jesse James look like an amateur), so he shared in the good that came from their former prominence, being involved in local government affairs and even being made once the sheriff of Leicestershire and Warwickshire. He would have been born at the very beginning of the 1400s and lived until the late 1450s when his family entered into relative obscurity on account of their Lancastrian connections. William Cotton III and Mary Folville had a son William IV, who inherited the family properties; a daughter Cecilia who married John Mallory, the lord of the manors of Walton and Tachbrook Mallory (both in Leicestershire) and was the ancestress of the Earl of Liverpool (a British prime minister during the 1820s); and a Thomas Cotton I, a rather younger second surviving son probably born around 1450 when his mother would have right at 40 years of age or thereabouts.
Richard Cotton did not live long. He was born around 1432, married Margaret Clerk in 1454, and his son Richard II was born in 1461. Like other members of his family, he was a Lancastrian who died fighting for a lost cause. As a result, neither his father nor his younger brother John III ever held a position in the county government again.
John III apparently did not survive his father who died in 1478, thus his life records have largely disappeared from view though those of his wife Joan Fitzherbert survive. Apparently, John II, not being confident the high childhood mortality rates of the 15th century would allow his grandson and infant heir, Richard II to survive, accepted his son John III (Richard II's uncle) getting married and starting a family which John did in an abundance which must have surprised him more than anyone else, as he and his wife had 16 children, of whom only two died in childhood. As he possessed the lordship of no lands, there was no inquisition post mortem for him or his wife which would have allowed earlier generations of Cotton genealogists to more easily straighten things out.
John III and Joan Fitzherbert were probably the ones who actually raised Richard II and excellent relations appear to have been maintained between these two branches of the family in the next generation and the generation after. For those interested in such things, Joan Fitzherbert brought a royal descent from King Henry II. Moreover, her Cotton children aggressively worked to improve their stations in life with two of her boys going to Eton, one of whom went on to get a doctor's degree from Oxford. Other sons became businessmen or got government related jobs. Her oldest son, John IV, married a very wealthy heiress and her eighth son apparently was the only one to stay at home with his mother. Her daughters all married into gentry families, surprisingly well, considering that they were not in a position to bring money or property into their marriages, unions which produced many people of note who literally changed the course of British history. A large part of the British aristocracy can, in fact, show a descent from this match of a highly obscure 15th century Cotton gentleman and his almost equally obscure Fitzherbert wife.
In the early 1450s, William Cotton IV of Cotton's Manor in Leicestershire, while his father William Cotton III and his mother Mary Folville were still alive, married Mary Wesenham who possessed large estates in Huntingdonshire. He died quite young fighting for the Lancastrian cause. They had one son, Thomas II, who could have been posthumus. This Thomas II was the ancestor of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton and the information generally appearing on the internet regarding this line of Cottons beginning with this William IV's son is almost always correct up until Sir Robert Cotton, himself. Therefore, I will not discuss this line of Cottons further, except to mention that none of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton's male-line Cotton descendants ever visited Virginia or any American colony and that his male-line descendants died out in the 18th century. Through Sir Robert Bruce Cotton's female-line descendants many members of the British aristocracy can count him as an ancestor. Likewise, I have traced collateral Cotton lines branching off from this family and they can all be shown to have also remained in England. The longest lasting of these collateral lines seems to have made it no further than the mid-19th century, but to have resided in Cornwall and not the United States. Cottons in the United States and elsewhere hoping to find an old and distinguished English ancestry should look elsewhere than this line of Cottons. There are, in fact, quite a few Cotton gentry families with backgrounds just as interesting as the family I am covering now (too many, in fact, for me to even begin to consider researching them). Even though my research is not primarily about Cotton history, I still keep coming across medieval Cotton families at the most surprising times and places. There must be easily 10 or more medieval Cotton gentry families unrelated to each other, with most of them never having been properly researched. If more people would participate in the Cotton DNA study, there would eventually be more identifiable medieval Cotton lines popping up for people to do research on. Anyone reading this who knows a Cotton who hasn't had a y-chromosome DNA test done with the Cotton DNA project, please consider doing so. Every new participant helps make the Cotton DNA project more helpful to everyone.
After William IV died leaving her with a son we shall call Thomas Cotton II to distinguish him from William IV's brother by the same name, Mary Wesenham married Thomas Lacy by whom she unimaginatively had yet another son named Thomas. Her third husband, by whom she had no children, was a knight by the name of Thomas Billing who was also the Lord Chief Justice of England. Mary Wesenham's mother, by the way, was not Mary Folville. Mary Wesenham was a co-heiress, meaning she had to divide her inheritance with a sister. An inquisition post mortem was held and in the subsequent division of properties that was made there was no division of properties that ever belonged to the Folville's. Even the counties were different. Mary Folville, too, was a co-heiress and the properties she brought into her marriage with William Cotton III were completely different properties. Morever, the inquisition post mortems list the ages of their respective co-heiresses and their respective husband's names. There is a one-generation difference. Mary Folville and Mary Wesenham are mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and not mother and daughter and the two Williams they married are father and son. This can be proven due to the fact that the inquisition post mortem of Thomas II shows him as having possed both sets of property by feudal tenure, meaning that they were both inherited properties. Another point of confusion that historians have gotten wrong for the lasts four hundred years is that Mary Folville only had one husband, William Cotton III. Mary Wesenham, on the other hand, had two others after William Cotton IV passed away.
This confusion goes back to Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, himself. He was interested in his royal descent from the kings of Scotland which Mary Wesenham brought him and, in his private notebook produced a family tree in his own handwriting which shows with absolute correctness his descent from Mary Wesenham and through her from the kings of Scotland. As his preliminary research did not show any royal ancestry for Mary Wesenham's first husband William IV, he did not show an equal interest in William's ancestry, something which would have been much more difficult for him to do then than for us to do now, anyway. As a result, from William Cotton IV (the first of Mary Wesenham's three husbands) of Leicestershire backwards his Cotton genealogy is not only useless, but highly misleading. Unfortunately, it is work emanating from his unfinished research which was later accepted by the College of Arms and has been widely disseminated, especially these days, through the internet. I hope this is a small step toward rectifying that situation.
William IV not only had a son Thomas Cotton II from whom Sir Robert Bruce Cotton descended, he also had a brother Thomas Cotton I who pulled himself up by his own bootstraps to become a successful merchant, a land owner in the Borough of Leicester, and eventually the Lord Mayor of the said Borough, which was and is the administrative center of Leicestershire. Considering that he did all this without marrying an heiress is indication of real talent, something many Cottons through the ages seem to have found in them when the going got rough, but usually not until then. Thomas Cotton I seems to have had land dealings which involved his uncle John II of Hamstall-Ridware and may have provided a stimulus for two of John III's sons to go into business for themselves. It is from Thomas Cotton I that the Cottons of Leicestershire (Loughton, Boughton Astley, Dadlington, etc.) descend, as do probably many of the Cottons now living in Warwickshire. As they can be traced with fair accuracy through the visitations and other published works, I would like to stop my consideration of them here. Mention should, however, be made of the fact that, in America, the Cottons descending from the John Cotton of Massachussetts who was not the famous preacher but who lived at the same time also are most likely to have descended from this man. In England, the various Cotton gentry families in Leicestershire descending from this particular Thomas Cotton were all daughtered out as gentry by the beginning of the 19th century. I am sure, though, that if more research could be done on 18th century records (the awful century because records are so numerous and, consequently, often unindexed) we could verify the existence of many non-gentry branches of this family, as they shared the historically common Cotton characteristic of more prolifically producing sons than daughters. When the gentry branches did daughter out, though, they did so quite appropriately and, in the female line, here, too, we will find many in the British aristocrcy descending from the Leicestershire Cottons.
Richard II inherited the Cotton lands belonging to the main branch in Cheshire, Staffordshire, Leicestershire, and Derbershire. He married Joan Brereton, the daughter of an old and wealthy Cheshire family. It is possible that in his youth his cousin Thomas Cotton I of Leicestershire (the son of his grandfather's younger brother William III and Mary Folville) managed the family properties in Cheshire. Out of the many sons his wife bore him, only one who bore the name of Thomas (Thomas III) survived him. His daughters' survival rate was much better and when his son Thomas III died only a few years after Richard II leaving a one year old daughter Elizabeth who also soon died, it was like feeding time at the pig pen for his daughter's husbands who were all representatives of the gentry elite of Cheshire and whose descendants among the upper classes of England and America have made a considerable splash over the centuries.
John IV was the son of John III, being born around 1460. Around 1480, he married a very rich Essex heiress, Alice Langham, who was not much older than him but already a widow with four daughters. His motives may have been mercenary, but it seems to have turned into a love match. They had a huge family which survived as a gentry family in Essex, Suffolk, and then Norfolk until the 1720s (the awful 18th century) when they part with their family lands and then become indistinguishable from the masses of Cottons living during that century, although mention is made of their having remained in Norfolk at least until the 1800s. I have reason to believe that there is a prominent protestant Cotton family which made a name for itself in Ireland in the 19th and early 20th centuries for providing prominent clergymen to the protestant Church of Ireland and officers to the British army who descend from this family and are, thus, the senior branch of the Cottons of Cotton Edmund's family. I am missing records for one generation in the 1700s (the awful 18th century strikes again). It would be helpful in one of them would eventually turn up for DNA testing, so that contact could be made to work out the mid-18th century missing generation. One can only hope, though.
Concerning John IV's wife, Alice Langham, I have found no royal descent for her, but have found something more interesting. Her great grandfather was Sir John Hawkwood, an English mercenary who led a band of men which were much valued for their services by the Italian city states of the 14th century.
John Cotton III had a son Roger whose grandson became the Bishop of Exeter at the end of the 1500s, being made so by Queen Elizabeth I who was his godmother and who promoted him to that position over other men who were more talented but less loyal to her views on religion. Unless there are unrecorded branches of this family in London which produced male-line descendants, which is not at all an impossibility, this line daughtered out in the 18th century.
John Cotton III's youngest or second to the youngest son was Richard whom I will designate as Richard Cotton III. In the normal course of things, Richard Cotton III would not have had the money to marry, produce a family, and maintain his gentry status. However, the daughters of Alice Langham by her first husband, Thomas St. John, were the co-heiresses of their father. After John III and John II passed away, Richard III, being the baby, was still quite young and it is likely that he is the one who stayed with his mother. When his mother appears to have passed away several years afterwards, John IV and his wife Alice Langham must have felt a special responsibility for his upbringing, thus arranging a marriage for Richard III with Jane (or Joan) St. John, Alice Langham's daughter by her first husband and a minor co-heiress in her own right. Richard III also appears to be about the same age as his cousin Richard II's son Thomas III who, to help him out, gave him the use and profits for life of a manor belonging to him in Leicestershire for the life of Thomas III or that of that of Thomas III's wife, whichever lived the longest. Though Thomas III soon died, his young widow lived another generation, allowing Richard III and his wife to live the gentry life and to raise their children as such. It wasn't much but it allowed them to hang on to their status. Richard III's second wife was Alice Savage, apparently a granddaughter of the Sir John Savage who played an important role in the overthrow of King Richard III and the success of King Henry VII. Richard Cotton III had only one child by Alice Savage, a daughter, but this daughter's husband managed to acquire by purchase Richard Cotton III's lands shortly before his death. He had several sons by his Joan St. John, Humphrey, Nicholas and Francis.
Humphrey Cotton was born between 1500 and 1510 as was his wife Anne Kynnardsley who was the child of Thomas Kynnardsley of Yoxley, co. Stafford, and his second wife Elizabeth. They had very little to start off with, but involved themselves with gusto in the land speculation going on from the 1530s onward unleashed by King Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries and take over of their lands. As a result of many shrewd investments and much buying and selling, they ended their lives successfully with almost as much land and certainly more money than Humphrey's great grandfather John II had at his death in 1478. Their daughters married well. Not only in England, but also among the upper classes of colonial Virginia, there were many individuals who could trace their descent to this couple (mostly through the marriage of one of their daughters with a Pudsey). They had only
one known son William Cotton V who will be covered under generation-10. For those who might be interested, Anne Kynnardsley has a descent from King William the Lion of Scotland.
Although DNA testing would be necessary to confirm things, I have reason to believe that the Cottons of Romford in Essex descend from Richard III and Joan St. John's son Nicholas. A contemporary (or, indeed, later) statement of being connected is missing, but the number of generations is complete as far the chronology goes and can be traced from the time of the Nicholas Cotton who was a son of Richard III to the end of the 17th century. It boils down to whether a representative of this line exists somewhere and, if existing, whether that individual would participate in the Cotton DNA project to make up for there being no document specifically stating who is who.
Richard Cotton III and Joan St. John had yet another son Francis who was involved in a land deal in Staffordshire with a cousin of his who was the son of John Cotton IV. Francis Cotton is very obscure, but I have reason to believe he was the ancestor of the Penkridge Cottons from whence I believe that the non-conformist Cottons of the 17th and 18th centuries who controlled the iron industry of northern England descend and who have numerous representatives in the United States. There is a will that is not part of the National Archives that is supposed to exist in Lichfield for a Richard Cotton of Penkridge who died in the 1550s which will have to be located and which might take us an important step further in the right direction.
William Cotton V married Elizabeth Mallory, one of the younger daughters of Sir Richard Mallory, the Lord Mayor of London, and of Anne Smith who circumstantial evidence points to as a sister of the treasury official Sir Clement Smith, a man who married the sister of King Edward VI's mother Jane Seymour. She was a great granddaughter of Thomas Mallory of Papworth St Agnes and through him of numerous ancestors who shaped English history in the middle ages. They had two sons, Walter the older one and Thomas Cotton IV the younger one.
Walter Cotton married Elizabeth Younge of Caynton a distant cousin of his mother coming from a Shropshire family of distinction. Elizabeth Younge's medieval ancestry overlaps in part with that of her mother-in-law and this marriage, as well as the marriage with her mother-in-law, represented the fact that the new Cotton family line Humphrey Cotton and his wife Agnes Kynnardsley had worked so hard to make rich had fully arrived and were now considered an old family. Their heir was William Cotton VI. They also had several daughters who married respectably, one to a member of parliament. This particular daughter, though, was something of a revolutionary and had rather active republican sympathies.
William Cotton V and Elizabeth Mallory's second son, Thomas Cotton IV was given the family estates in Burntwood, a parish of Staffordshire, a fact which enabled him and some of his descendants to maintain their gentry status for three generations. This division of estates was not a Cotton tradition, but did appear often in Mallory history. One can see the influence of Elizabeth Mallory at work. Thomas Cotton IV's wife was Frances. He had one son, Thomas Cotton V, who inherited Burnwood (co. Stafford) and possibly another son William Cotton VII of Wolverhampton.
Walter Cotton of generation-10's son and heir William Cotton VI married Anne Colt, the daughter and eventually sole heiress of a very rich ironmonger, Thomas Colt, of Rotherham in Yorkshire. Their oldest son was Rowland, named after Sir Rowland Cotton, a prominent Cotton who certainly wasn't related but whom they thought should be. They had a middle son by the name of Thomas Cotton VI. Their youngest son was Walter Cotton II (born 1639) who was a small child when his father passed away. With the influence of Elizabeth Mallory having disappeared with her death, the Cottons reverted to their normal pattern of putting everything into the first son and letting younger sons do what they wanted as long as they didn't use up a significant amount of family resources in doing so. Anne lived far longer than her husband and remarried, but remained a good manager of family resources.
Thomas Cotton V married a Dorothy Russell in Penkridge, co. Staffordshire. He had four surviving sons, William Cotton VIII, Walter Cotton III, Thomas Cotton VII, and Humphrey Cotton II, all of whom disappear from the record by end of the 17th century. If any of them had any descendants, they disappeared into the awful 18th century.
William Cotton VII of Wolverhampton had a large family in the 1630s and 1640s. One of his sons was Thomas Cotton VIII and another Walter Cotton IV. From the mid-1650s, this family too completely disappears from the record in England.
Rowland Cotton played a prominent role in County politics. In the 1660s a government report describes him as harmless who had a liking for alcohol and whose wives didn't live very long. He didn't add to his lands, but he didn't lose anything, either. He was not as bad a husband as the government report might make one think and his children and grandchildren who survived childhood married decently. In the late 1700s his line daughters out completely, the name Cotton being maintained in the female line by combining it with Shepherd. Upon the Cotton line daughtering out, the Cotton-Shepherd line was raised to the rank of baronet.
Thomas VI, the son of William Cotton VI, and brother of Rowland lives to adulthood and is mentioned in his mother's will but disappears completely from the identifiable record as we approach the genealogically awful 18th century. I have reason to believe that he married and had a family in a neighboring parish to where his brother lived, but have no way of verifying this.
Walter Cotton II son of William Cotton VI, by means of an analysis of Virginia colonial militia records and a comparison of wills and parish records can be shown to have been the Walter Cotton of Surry County, Virginia. Nowhere is it stated that he is his father's son, but the combination of evidence interlocks well enough that this is the only logical conclusion. He married a woman by the name of Elizabeth. I thought she might be a Stuckley and wish she were because that might a tracable family, but I now think it is highly doubtful we will ever know what her family name was. They had two sons, William of Prince Edward County and Thomas II of Surry and Suffolk Counties, all of which are counties in Virginia. Both sons left too many male-line descendants in the United States to keep track of. If the Cotton DNA study can be considered indicative, perhaps as many as one fifth of all Cottons worldwide, black, white, or yellow, belong to this lineage or to the related Leicestershire Cotton lineage. Much about this particular family has appeared on the internet in recent years, so I shall not carry it any further.
What happened to Walter IV son of William Cotton VII of Wolverhampton is completely unknown, but his brother Thomas Cotton VIII is most likely to have been the Thomas Cotton who immigrated to Virginia and who made "his cousin" Thomas Cotton, the husband of his step-daughter Jane Hyde and the son of Walter Cotton II and Elizabeth, his heir. The only other Thomas available who fits available data is the Thomas Cotton VII who was the son of Thomas Cotton V of Burntwood but, but a careful analysis of available data made it appear less like to have been a match chronologically when considering the year-of-birth range suggested by the data milked from the Virginia militia lists, leaving Thomas Cotton VIII (of Wolverhampton) as the better choice.
On the internet, one will often come across the statement that Thomas and Walter Cotton of Virginia must have been brothers. This was my assumption and I am responsible for its propagation. I must therefore retract that.
Finally, I would also ask people who use my work to quote me as a source. No research is ever really final and is always subject to change and in genealogical research mistakes always creep in and, unfortunately, this is true even for the best genealogical research. Quoting sources will allow future researchers to go back and see where data came from and what a researchers position was or what kind of hidden bias might have affected his work. Also, as in this case, quoting me as a source when using my work will allow people to make contact where things are not as clear as they should be or where more evidence is desirable.
I need also to caution everyone. The original of this was written at one sitting from memory and it is now being edited at one sitting from memory. In my case, because my sources consist almost exclusively of original material or translations of original material and because they were so numerous, I did not include them. They would have made this introductory document unreadable. Also, including them would have taken at least another eight hours work in addition to the 11 hours I have already spent writing and, now, re-writing this posting, and that would have been beyond human endurance for me. However, sources are extremely important and I am willing to share in small doses as they are still not properly gathered together, sorted, or typed up; and I have other more pressing research to make progress on.
Wishing all Cotton genealogists the best,