John Cotten, Hannah Harris, & Thomas Abington

John Cotton est 1626 – ca 1693 | his parents
& Hannah [Anne] ?Harris or Harrison [Dunbar] est 1640 – bef 1690 | her parents
& bef 1693 widow of Thomas Abington | her parents
of Queens Ck. & Isle of Wight Co VA


This is my working hypothesis – the way I see it as of this moment!!
All Very speculative! but exciting!


John Cotton “was a Virginia planter and very likely a merchant
-but not one of the great landowners although associated with them. ”
Jay B Hubbell ” John Cotton: The Poet-Historian of Bacon’s Rebellion”
1657 John Cotton is listed a member of a jury in Dec.1657
alongside Christopher and Richard Harris.

The Wheeler plantation was in Hampton parish,
and there is a deed dated Feb 18, 1658/59,
by which Francis Wheeler sells all his land between King’s and Queen’s Creeks to Thomas Beale, who sold it to John Cotton, December 31, 1666,
who later conveyed it to Col. Nathaniel Bacon.
This Cotton as appears from a deed in 1666
had a wife Ann who was undoubtedly the famous “An Cotton of Queen’s Creek,”
who wrote the history of Bacon’s Rebellion.
John Cotton was a witness to Mrs. Wheeler’s will,
and received under its provisions, “a gold seal ring.” . .
. . .William and Mary College Quarterly 5 (1) 123-4)
1660, 21 Oct – daughter Mary baptized in Hungar parish.
1661, 8 Dec – son John baptized in Hungar parish.
1661 Will Drummond used John Cotton as a head right on 20 Sept 1661 for some land in Westmoreland.
Could this John Cotton/en have been a sailor in his youth or at least made several trips out of the colony?
1666 He appeared again as a head right on 26 Oct 1666 when John Paine was patenting on the Rappahannock.Isle of Wight rent rolls 1704–John Cotten–200 A.
1668
In a 1767 deed John Cotton noted that he had a proprietary grant dated 1 June 1668 of 640 acres north of the Roanoke river, land that was later in Northampton Co. NC
1676 John and Ann Cotton were living at Queen’s Creek.
An Cotton of Queen Creek wrote a narrative on Bacon’s Revolution
that has come down to us.
1677 John Cotton was living in York County
when he sued John Harris et al (York Deed and Will Book #6, p. 26)
Also see the deposition 1681 of an 1679 incident given below from the York County Records.

In the New England Historic and Geneological Magazine Vol. XLIV, p. 199, there is an examination of Mrs. Cotton’s narrative which is addressed to C.H. at Yardley, in Northamptonshire. Mention is made of a family of Harrisons at Gobions Manor, Northamptonshire, among whom the names Robert and Benjamin occur. Robert Harrison, mentioned in Mrs. Wheeler’s will had by his wife Elizabeth Comins: Nicholas, Robert, James, Amadea (Amy) married James Ming of Charles City, Frances who married Thomas Shanes of same county. (Records of York county, 1692.)

I think that it is also implied that Ann was writing a close relative so I and others believe she may well have been a Harrison as also the families continued in close contact. There is no formal proof just an educated guess.
It is also suggested that she was the Ann Dunbar who appears in several of the headright lists beside John Cotton.

1693 This John Cotten appears to have moved to Isle of Wight where he died by 1693 after marrying the widow of Thomas Abington.
John Penny was “looking after the estate of John Cotten, dec’d.

Children of John Cotton and wife Ann of Queen Creek:
1. Mary Cotton bapt 21 Oct 1660 Hungar Parish, VA –
2. John Cotton bapt 8 Dec 1661 Hungar Parish, VA – 1728 Bertie Co NC

Letter from John Cotten to his wife dated June 9, 1676

To his Wife A. C. at Q. Creek.
My deare,
Allthough those who have depicted that fickle Godes,
Fortune, have represented her under various shapes,
there by to denote her inconstancys;
yet do I thinke there is not any thing sublunary
subjected to the vicissetudes of her temper
so much as is the condition and estate of man-kinde:
All things ells partakes som thing of a stedfast and perminent decree
excepting Man in the state of his affaires.
The sun is constant in his Anuall progress through the Zodiack,
the Moone in her changes,
the other Planits in their Asspects:
The productions of the Earth have a fixed constant season
for there groath and increase,
when that man (in his creation litle inferiour to the Angles) cannot promise unto-himself a fix’d condition, on this side Heaven.

How many hath thou and I read off,
that the sun hath shined upon in the East, with honours and Dignityes,
which his western beames hath seene
clouded with poverty, reproaches and contumelles.
The same moment that saw Ceaser cheife Man in the senate,
beheld him in a worss condition then the meanest slave in Rome;
and in less then 6 howers
Phoebus ey’d the Marqus of Ancrey,
in the midst of his Rustling traine of servitures,
not onely streameing out his blood,
but spurn’d and drag’d up and down the dirtie streets of Paris,
by the worst of mecanicks.
It is but the tother day that I did see N. B. (Nathaniel Bacon)
in the condition of a Tratour, to be tryed for his life;
who but a few days before was judged
the most accomplish’d Gen:man in Virginia to serve his King and countrey,
at the councell Table,
or to put a stop to the insolencies of the Heathen,
and the next day rais’d to his dignities againe;
Thus doth fortune sport her self with poore mortells,
som times mount them up in to the aire ( as Byes do Tennis balls)
that they may com with the grater violence downe,
and then a gane strike them a gainst the earth
that they may with ye grater speed mount up in to the Aire &c. &c.
From Towne, June 9, ’76
PRINTED BY PETER FORCE-1835

YORK COUNTY RECORDS–Gen of Va Families Vol 1 Tyler’s Q–
John Heyward, aged thirty-five years or thereabouts, sayeth
That yr Depont, in November last was two years, at the house of James Pardoe, and there did meet with Mr John Cotton who did come to demand tobacco
and yr said Depont & Mr Cotton did fall to drinking very hard by ye request of the sd James Pardoe
& did continue drinking all day till at night wee went to cards,
and at cards yr Depont & Mr Cotton had some words
& soe broke off from play
and did goe each of them to there rest,
but yr depont was ordered for to sleep along with the said Pardoe & his wife
in the same roome where all the Drink was,
soe yt yr Depont & ye said Pardoe did fall to drinking again,
and after some discourse the said Pardee did tell yr Depont yt Mr Cotton was come for to demand Tobo of him upon the accts of Thos. Bevins
but the said Pardoe did desire yr depont for to look over Tho. Bevins’ papers
& to see if his bill was not there among ye papers
& the said Pardoe did depart for some time out of the roome
& did bring some papers in his hand for your Deponent to looke over.
Yr Depont in looking over ye papers did find ye said Bevins’ his bill uncanselled and did give it to the said Pardoe
and yr depont will swear & further saith not.
John Heyward.

Sworn before me the 21 June, 1681–Wm Booth 28th of July 1681 And is recorded–Pr. E. Jennings, Cl. Cur. Ebor. (Clerk of York County).

From Shaman Ramsey
An. Cotton is an interesting figure in history.
If anyone has any insight on this matter and these players I would appreciate your input. The following account brings to mind several clues that may lead us to her identity and ancestry as well as that of her husband John:

  1. Ann Cotton was apparently well acquainted with all of the players in Bacon’s Rebellion.
  2. She was literate and well-connected enough for her account to be well received enough to be preserved and published.
  3. The abbreviation of An. Indicates Ann may not have been her name, but merely the shortened version of her name.
  4. She was well-acquainted (perhaps related?) to Mr. C.H. at Yardley in Northamptonshire with whom Col. John Washington frequently visited
    (apparently in Virginia).
  5. Nathaniel Bacon (leader of Bacon‚Äôs Rebellion) was nearly related to C.H.‚Äôs “late wife‚Äôs father-in-law”‚ĶC.H. was well acquainted with the members of the House of Burgesses with whom Nathaniel Bacon met‚Ķ”all persons with whom you have been formerly acquainted.” Apparently An. Cotton was also well-acquainted with them all to be aware of this relationship.
  6. The following quotation is truly curious. Was Drumond (also written Drommond) the relation, or was the Governour the relative of John Cotton’s?
    P. 9. “Brought the Governour a shore at Coll. Bacon‚Äôs, where he was presented
    with Mr. Drumond, taken the day before in Cheekahominy swomp, half famished, as himself related to my Husband.” [related in this sentence means told]
  7. The executions took place at West point, the property cited below as belonging
    to John West who was apparently ill-used by the rebels.
  8. Those rebels were well acquainted to C.H. and also to An. Cotton. One, James Wilson, was once the servant (meaning unclear) of C.H.. This would indicate a superior position for C.H. of some kind.
  9. Lieft-Collonell Page (one that my husband bought of Mr. Lee , when he kept store at your howse). What is the meaning of this statement? …. Lieft-Collonell Page could have been an indentured servant, I suppose.
  10. What kind of “store” did one keep at another‚Äôs house?
  11. John Cotton may have been allowed to visit Nathaniel Bacon as he wrote to his wife “to his wife A. C. at Q. Creek.” From Jamestown: Dated “from Towne, June 9, ‚Äô76.” He says “but the tother day that I did see N.B. [Nathaniel Bacon] in the condition of a Traitor, to be tried for his life.”
  12. The fact that John and An. Cotton were not tried as traitors in spite of their apparently well known leanings toward Bacon’s concerns indicates favor and rank.

The following is a direct quote from:
Genealogical Gleanings in England
, Henry Waters, Vol. 1, p. 444-446.
In The Nation for January 23, 1890, a letter was printed, signed “C.,” from which we make the following extracts:
“In connection with this matter, the Washington pedigree, Mr. Frederick D. Stone, the Librarian of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, has called my attention to the following footnote on p. 31, vol 1, of Lodge’s recently published Life of Washington; it is as follows:
“The well-known account of the Baconian troubles, written by Mrs. Ann Cotton in 1676 (Force’s Historical Tracts, i.), is addressed ‘to Mr. C. H., at Yardly, in Northamptonshire,,’ probably Yardly-Hastings, about eight miles from Northhampton, and consequently very near Sulgrave Manor. At the beginning (p. 1) the writer refers to the commander of the Virginians in the first campaign against the Indians as ‘one Col. Washington, him whom you have sometimes seen at your house.’ This suggests very strongly that John Washington, the first Virginian of the name, was of Northamptonshire, and that he came from or lived in the neighborhood of Sulgrave Manor, and that he belonged to that family.”

Here we have contemporaneous evidence connecting George Washington’s great-grandfather with Sulgrave, or at least its immediate vicinity, which of course, strengthens Mr. Water’s pedigree.
In this pedigree he states the mother of the said John Washington to have been a Roades. It may be worth while mentioning that the records in London of the families of this name throughout England were examined and collected by Col. Chester in the year 1867, as he then informed me by letter. This collection must be still among his papers’ if searched, it might throw some light upon the Washington ancestry, at least in its connection with the family of Roades. This suggestion proves to be probably unfounded. A farther examination of the entire letter of Mrs. An. Cotton, shows that Mr. C.H. had probably lived in Virginia, and we presume that he met Col. Washington there.
This tract, as printed in Force’s Collection, vol. 1, was published, “from the original manuscript , in the Richmond (VA.) Enquirer, of 12 Sept. 1804. The writer is Mrs. An. Coton of Q. Creek. The abbreviation is presumably not for Ann or Anne. It is addressed to Mr. C.H. at Yardley in Northamptonshire. Besides the reference to Col. Washington, “him whom you have sometimes seen at your house, I find the following points.
p. 4, line 222, the people “settled their affections and expectations on Esqr. Bacon, newly come into the Countrey, one of the Counsell and nearly related to your late wife’s father-in-law.”
P. 7, line 12, “The chiefe men that subscribed it at this meeting were Coll. Swan, Coll. Beale, Coll. Ballard, Esq. Bray (all foure of the Councell), Coll. Jordan, coll. Smith of Purton, Coll. Scarsbrooke, Coll. Miller, Coll. Lawrance, and Mr. Drommond, late Governor of Carolina, all persons with whom you have been formerly acquainted.”
P. 9. “Brought the Governour a shore at Coll. Bacon‚Äôs, where he was presented with Mr. Drumond, taken the day before in Cheekahominy swomp, half famished, as himself related to my Husband.”
P. 10. There was “an Assembly convein‚Äôd at the Greene Spring; where severall were condemned to be executed, prime actors in ye Rebellion; as Esqr. Bland, col. Cruse and some other hanged at Bacon‚Äôs Trench; Captain Yong at Cheekahominy‚Äô Mr. Hall, Clarke of New-Kent Court; James Wilson (once your servant), and one Lieft-Collonell Page (one that my husband bought of Mr. Lee , when he kep store at your howse), all four executed at Coll. Read‚Äôs over against Tindell‚Äôs point; and Anthony Arnell (the same that did live at your house), hanged in chains at West point, beside severall others executed on the other side James River.”
There is also (p. 11) a letter, unsigned, “to his wife A. C. at Q. Creek.” Dated “from Towne, June 9, ‚Äô76.” He says “but the tother day that I did see N.B. [Nathaniel Bacon] in the condition of a Traitor, to be tried for his life.”

In the next succeeding Tract in Force‚Äôs volume, –a Narrative of these wars in 1675 and 1676,–
p. 38, it is said that Bacon‚Äôs followers were scattered around, a third parcel (of about 30 or 40) was put into the house of Collonell Nath. Bacon‚Äôs (a gentleman related to him deceased, but not of his principles) under the command of one Major Whaly, a stout, ignorant fellow,”
In the tract preceding Mrs. Cotton‚Äôs in Force‚Äôs volume, entitled “Bacon‚Äôs Rebellion,”
we find a few items.
On p. 15 it says,” this young Nathaniel Bacon (not yet arrived to 30 years had a nigh relation, namely Col. Nathaniel Bacon, of long standing in the Councill, a very rich, politick man, and childless, designing this Kinsman for his heir.”
Also on page 25, it seems to say, that young Bacon lived at Jamestown, having married a wealthy widow who kept a large house of publick entertainment, unto which resorted those of the best quality.” I regret to say that Mrs. Cotton is not so easily placed. Mr. R. A. Brock writes from Richmond, Feb. 17th:
“I regret that I have no notes identifying Mrs. Ann Cotton. There are partial abstracts in our State Library of the records of Henrico and York Counties.
I find that in the fomer, at a Court held at Varian, Nov. 1, 1707, it was determined that the court meet for settling a private dispute at the house of Charles Cotton in Charles City County.
In the latter, Oct. 27, 1660, will of “Elliam” [Ellen?]Wheeler, widow, bequests to her cousins Francis Hall and Mary Hall; to Elizabeth Hooper; to her grandchild Amy Harrison, daughter of Robert Harrison; to her son Nicholas Comins (including a gold seal ring); to John Cotton a gold seal ring.
I find the following grant of land:–John Cotton, 350 acres in Northampton County
(formerly granted Oct. 8, 1656, to Nicholas Maddilow and assigned to John Cotton
Jan. 23, 1662.—Virginia Land Registry, Book No. 4, p. 570.)
So in regard to Yardley, we are not entirely sure. There are in Northamptonshire [in England]
Yardley-Hastings and Yardley-Gobions, and either may be the one intended. The latter is a hamlet in the parish of Pottersbury about 6 miles east from Sulgrave. In 1831 it had 123 houses and 594 inhabitants; but two centuries ago it was of less importance, and was probably undisting uished from the main parish.
Yardley-Hastings is a parish 12 miles north-east from Yardley Gobions, and 7 miles southeast of Northampton. In 1831 it had 193 houses and 1051 inhabitants. It is close to the border at the point whee Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire meet, but is separated from Luton, co. Beds., by the whole width of that county.
Our hope now must be that the Northamptonshire antiquaries will endeavor to find out this Mr. C. H. of Yardley, and see if any Washington was resident in that neighborhood.
I do not find in the Visitations of Northamptonshire, for 1564 or 1619 (London, 1887), any family at either Yardley. On p. 185 mention is made of Edward Dorne of Yardley-Hastings. On p. 98 is the pedigree of the Harrisons of Gobions Manor in the town of Northampton. The late generations in 1618 were
ROBERT HARRISON=ELIZABETH FITZ-GEOFFREY
JOHN THOMAS=ELIZABETH,
Of Francis Bernard of Abington Co North
1. Francis dsp
2. Thomas of Goblon’s Manor in the County of Northampton 1618
3. Jonathan
4. Joseph
5. William
6. Benjamin

From Bridge‚Äôs History of Northamptonshire I find that Gobion‚Äôs manor was about 300 acres “without the east-gate of the city.” It was long held by the Turpins, but 5 or 6 Queen mary, Robert Harrison had it and his son Robert (?) succeeded. In 1621 Thomas Harrison sold it to th corporation of Northampton. Another branch of this manor was annexed to the honor of Grafton, and has descended with that dukedom. It is possible that one of these Harrisons may have settled at either Yardley, after the sale of Gobion‚Äôs manor.
I believe that the origin of the Virginia Harrisons is unknown. Meade, i. 310, traces the family to Benjamin Harrison, born in 1645 in Southwark Parish, Va. Who died in 1712, and says that Mr. Grigsby thinks he may have been the son of Herman H. or of John Harrison, governor in 1623. May it not be that the father was one of this Northampton family?
At all events Mr. C. H. of 1676 had been evidently a prominent man in Virginia and some of the clues given by Mrs. Cotton may aid us in identifying him.

Whitfield Bryan Smith, by Emma Smith, large chart
Col. John West of West Point. Born in 1632, being the first child of English parents to be born on the York River. A large tract of land was granted his father in honor of his birth. He was taken prisoner during Bacon‚Äôs Rebellion. As to what Bacon‚Äôs men did to him is not stated but as he later sat on the court martial that tried the “Rebels” he more than evened with him. He was Colonel of Militia and Burgess for New Kent County, 1685-6. In 1659-60 session of the House of Burgesses an act was passed exempting him from taxes for life in consideration of “the many important favors and services to the countrey of Virginia by the noble family of the Wests predecessors to Mr. John West, their now only survivor.” Will dated Nov 15, 1689.
Married Unity Crowshaw (daughter of Maj. Croshaw, Burgess, 1659)

According to my genealogy John and Ann Cotton’s grandson, (son of John (Bertie) and Martha Godwin Cotton), Alexander Spottswood Cotton (named for Governor Spottswood, a family friend) married Elizabeth West, daughter of Peter West (great grandson of Sir Francis West, Governor of Virginia). Priscilla Williams, Peter’s wife, roots were also in Queens Creek, Eastern Shore, Accomac County where Ann Cotton lived when she wrote her account of Bacon’s rebellion.

Francis West, Governor of Virginia, m. Margaret Blayney
Son Francis West (b. Salisbury England, d. Duxbury, Mass.) m Margery Reeves
Son Dr. Thomas West m. Elizabeth
Son Peter m. Priscilla Williams
Daughter Elizabeth m. Alexander Spottswood Cotton both died in
Bertie County, North Carolina

From Shaman Ramsey

Dec 11, 2001 –I did some research recently in the Alabama Archives and found this information of Harrisons of Skimino.
Please notice Richard’s daughter named Anne. Also notice his “near kinsman” Dr. Jeremy
Harrison whose “wife was a Whitgreave of Moseley and came out of the very household which
sheltered Charles II after the battle of Worcester in 1651.”
This would bring together the political connections that would have saved Ann and John Cotton after their support of Bacon in Bacon’s Rebellion.
The Harrisons of Skimino (I have misplaced the sheet I ran off with the title and author of this book, but I think this is the correct title.) The Harrisons of Skimino came of a family widely spread through the eastern counties of England and got their name and an infusion of viking blood from the Danisn invaders of the ninth century. The essex branch of this family, which contributed Richard Harrison and his kinsman, Dr. jeremy Harrison, to Virginia early in the seventeenth century bore arms which are described in Burke’s “General Armoury” as “Azure, two bars ermine, between six estoiles or, three two and one.”
The records left by these immigrants are meager enough, byt they are more than sufficed for Cuvier to reconstruct his antediluvian mammals, and the material found in Mr. Bruce’s “Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century, ” collected from the remains of this and other contemporary planter families, enables one, with the aid of the philosophic fantasy to picture the planter Harrisons and their manner of life.
We know that Richard Harison (1600-1664), the immigrant was born in St. Nicholas Parish in the
town of Colchester, Essex, but when and under what circumstances he came to Virginia we do not
know. The earliest record of him in Virginia is of his paying tithes in 1634 in respect of a patent of
land on Queens Creek, in Middletown (afterward Bruton) Parish, York County. His plantation lay
within the limits of Skimino Hundred, and for nearly two hundred years the name Skimino spelled
Home to his family. That he was a man of substance is indicated not only from the estate which he
left to be divided after his death, but by the fact that, in addition to himself and his wife, Elizabeth
Besouth, he brought into the colony eight persons. On December 29, 1662, the York County records show that a certificate is granted to Richard Harrison for five hundred acres of land for the transportation of Tenne persons into this colony, vizt: Richard Harrison, Elizabeth Harrison, John Mecorpent, Peter Plumer, Thomas Shaw, James Boen, William Dickes, James Besouth, Nicholas Hull and Nanne Morgan, a negro woman.” James Besouth was Richard Harrison’s brother-in-law, and the other names, in addition to the negro slave, are doubtless those of indentured “servants” from England who were the laborers on his plantation. Richard Harrison’s close kinsman Dr. Jeremy Harrison, settled near him on Queen’s Creek. He was a picturesque character who had been in the East India service, and it is some evidence of the political opinions of the familythat his wife was a Whitgreave of Moseley and came out of the very household which
sheltered Charles II after the Battle of Worcester in 1651.
There has survived among the family records, a statement of the division of Richard Harrison’s
personal property among his widow and children, which is an interesting document as showing the equipment of a Virginia Plantation in the middle of the seventeenth century:
This is the devision of the estate of Richard harrison decd., of Middle Towne of the County of York, by Mr. Napier and Mr. Lyman, according to the order of the court held the 20th of December, 1664. Names “Widdow, John Harrison, William Harrison, Charles Harrison, Anne Harrison and Ellena Harrison.”
The son William married Mary Hubbard, daughter of Matthew Hubbard, one of the most successful planters of his generation, according to the author.

Comments by Michael Cotton:
In response to a couple of your points –
10. Henry Page was not black, he was a white indentured servant transported to Virginia by Richard Lee (ancestor of Robert E. Lee). Ann Cotton’s letter to Christopher Harris is condensed version of a manuscript known as “The Burwell Papers.” The author of the Burwell Papers took care to hide his identity, presumably for fear of reprisals from Gov. Berk eley because of the manuscripts sympathetic treatment of Nathaniel Bacon. However the writer made one slip-up. When naming some of the participants of the revolt, he referred to Henry Page as “once my
servant on his first arriving in this country.” This led some people to believe that the author of the paper must be Richard Lee. The problem is that Lee was one of Berkeley’s closest followers and even went to the Eastern Shore with the Governor where he fled after the burning of Jamestown.
It is unlikely that Lee was sympathetic to Bacon. Ann Cotton’s paper clarifies the situation, for at the exact point where the author of the Burwell Papers refers to Page as “my servant” she states that he was her husband’s servant. That is why the manuscript is now commonly accepted as the work of John Cotton.
7. Ann Cotton’s letter does not say that anyone was related to her husband. She is saying that William Drummond related (told) the story of his capture to her husband. Drummond was captured in the swamp by Col. Joseph Bridger and transported by boat to York County where he was turned over to a detachment of local militia who were to escort him to the home of Col. Bacon (Gen. Bacon’s cousin) for trial. Throughout the Burwell papers, as the various participants of the drama are named, the author gives a little bit of information about each person. However he is suspiciously silent as to the identity of the commander of the company who took Drummond to Col. Bacon’s. The author says that the captain offered to let Drummond ride his horse and allowed the former North Carolina governor to rest on the side of the road to smoke his pipe. During this time, the writer says that Drummond and the captain “talked at length” about Drummond’s capture. At this same point in her letter, Ann Cotton says that the governor related his story to her husband. For this reason, it is believed that John Cotton and the commander of the
militia company are one in the same. Cotton was a resident of York County and he was also familiar with Drummond. In Sept. 1661, Drummond had patented head rights for transportation of 95 people to the colony, among them John Cotton and Ann Dunbar.
The above ideas were not my own. For further information on John Cotton’s authorship of the Burwell Papers, see the chapter entitled “John Cotton, Poet Historian of Bacon’s Rebellion” in Prof. Jay Hubbell’s book “South by Southwest.”

e- mail from Sharman
I don’t have information that would prove that Ann Dunbar and Ann Cotton were one in the same, but I do see it as a possiblity. The names John Cotton and Ann Dunbar first appear together in Drummond’s 1661 headright application. Then in Nov. 1666, John Paine applied for a headright for 18 people and listed John Cotton and Ann Dunbar side by side. In 1667, John Weire and Robert Paine applied for headrights for 24 people. Many of the names are the same as in the two previously mentioned applications, but John Cotton’s and Ann Dunbar’s names are transposed as John Dunbar and Ann Cotton. None of the other names were switched around like this. That mistake might suggest that these two people were thought of as a pair.

I don’t know if Ann Cotton’s letter to Christopher Harris means anything or not. They were neighbors when Harris lived in Virginia and John Cotton is listed a member of a jury in Dec. 1657 alongside Christopher and Richard Harris. It is possible that they simply met in Virginia and maintained contact after Harris returned to England. On the other hand, people often moved together in large family groups so they may have been a connection. In 1677, John Cotton filed a lawsuit against two York Co. merchants named Philip Cooke and John Harris, but I don’t know if John Harris is related to Christopher and Richard. I have come across one Cotton connection in
Northamptonshire where Christopher Harris lived. There is a record that John and Henry Cotton, London merchants and half-brothers of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, purchased Broughton Hall in the county of Northampton. Their sister, Frances, was married to Baron Edward Montagu of Boughton, Northamptonshire. Henry Cotton died young, but it would be interesting to see if John left any family. He would be about the right age to be the father of John Cotton of York Co., VA.

There are a couple of other people that I would like to find out more about. One is William Evans. He is listed just after John Cotton and Ann Dunbar is the above mentioned headright applications, so it is likely that he came over on the same ship. John and Ann Cotton were both witnesses to his will dated Nov. 1657.
Another is Eleanor (Elison) (Comins) Wheeler, whose will John Cotton witnessed in 1660 and who left Cotton a gold seal ring in that will. I have no idea what the significance of this ring might be. Her second husband Francis Wheeler was either a London merchant or the son of a London merchant. None of this may lead anywhere, but you never know.

To which I responded:

According to the dates I have for John Cotton, he was born in 1626 in England and died in 1691 in America, presumably still on Queens Creek where he places himself in the letter to his wife Ann at Queens Creek. Ann was born in 1640. I do not have a date for her death. Their son John (Bertie) Cotton was born in 1658, three years before John Cotton and Ann Dunbar are listed as a patent for transportation for Drummond’s headright. Of course we all know dates are sometimes abt. and not definite. I wonder if anyone has documents which verify these dates for birth and death.

As to the question of whether John might have been previously married to an Elizabeth Smith and fathered Ralph, the fact that he was 14 years older than Ann would make it a possibility that he was previously married.

I always find the interconnections between players in events interesting. John (Bertie) Cotton married Martha Godwin, whose grandmother was Martha Bridger, daughter of Joseph Bridger. Alexander Spottswood Cotton married Priscilla West, daughter of Peter West, grandson of Francis West, ( Tyler’s Quartery Magazine, vol. 6, p. 119, and The West Family Register Important Lines Traced 1326-1928 by Letta Brock Stone, W.F.. Roberts Company, Inc.,
Washington, D.C. 1928) uncle of Col. John West, I believe.

Many genealogists believe John Cotton remained unpunished for his part in Bacon’s Rebellion because of some relationship to Charles II. It would surely help to know the ancestry of John and Ann. At one time it was thought that John was a descendant of Robert Bruce Cotton. It could be very close error if he is descended from a half brother of Robert Bruce Cotton.

John and Ann Cotton and Bacon’s Rebellion

Robert Bruce Cotton was once thought to be the ancestor of John Cotton of Queens Creek, York County, Virginia.
However, some now speculate that his father might be John or Henry Cotton, London merchants and half-brothers of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton who purchased Broughton Hall in the county of Northampton, England.

It is interesting that the letter Anne Cotton wrote to C.H., now believed to be Christopher Harris at Yardly, was also in Northhamptonshire. Another of our family mysteries is the maiden name of Anne Cotton. Was it Harrison as many think? Or was she the Anne Dunbar listed by Drummond as one of his headrights:

Michael Cotton posted this message:
I don’t have information that would prove that Ann Dunbar and Ann Cotton were one in the same, but I do see it as a possiblity. The names John Cotton and Ann Dunbar first appear together in Drummond’s 1661 headright application. Then in Nov. 1666, John Paine applied for a headright for 18 people and listed John Cotton and Ann Dunbar side by side. In 1667, John Weire and Robert Paine applied for headrights for 24 people. Many of the names are the same as in the two previously mentioned applications, but John Cotton’s and Ann Dunbar’s names are transposed as John Dunbar and Ann Cotton. None of the other names were switched around like this. That mistake might suggest that these two people were thought of as a pair.

I don’t know if Ann Cotton’s letter to Christopher Harris means anything or not. They were neighbors when Harris lived in Virginia and John Cotton is listed a member of a jury in Dec. 1657 alongside Christopher and Richard Harris. It is possible that they simply met in Virginia and maintained contact after Harris returned to England. On the other hand, people often moved together in large family groups so they may have been a connection. In 1677, John Cotton filed a lawsuit against two York Co. merchants named Philip Cooke and John Harris, but I don’t know if John Harris is related to Christopher and Richard. I have come across one Cotton connection in Northamptonshire where Christopher Harris lived.
There is a record that John and Henry Cotton, London merchants and half-brothers of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, purchased Broughton Hall in the county of Northampton. Their sister, Frances, was married to Baron Edward Montagu of Boughton, Northamptonshire. Henry Cotton died young, but it would be interesting to see if John left any family. He would be about the right age to be the father of John Cotton of York Co., VA.

There are a couple of other people that I would like to find out more about. One is William Evans. He is listed just after John Cotton and Ann Dunbar is the above mentioned headright applications, so it is likely that he came over on the same ship. John and Ann Cotton were both witnesses to his will dated Nov. 1657. Another is Eleanor (Elison) (Comins) Wheeler, whose will John Cotton witnessed in 1660 and who left Cotton a gold seal ring in that will. I have no idea what the significance of this ring might be. Her second husband Francis Wheeler was either a London merchant or the son of a London merchant. None of this may lead anywhere, but you
never know.

e-mail from Sharman 18 Jan 2002
To add to the confusion of whether Ann Cotton was originally a Dunbar or a Harrison we find in The Harrisons of Skimino by Jesse Burton Harrison and Burton Norvell Harrison:
p. 6 Richard Harrison’s close kinsman, Dr. Jeremy Harrison, settled near him on Queens Creek. He was a picturesque character who had been in the East India service, and it is some evidence of the political opinions of the family that his wife was a Whitgreave of Moseley and came out of the very household which sheltered Charles II after the battle of Worcester in 1651.
p. 8 A contemporary copy (as evidenced by the chirography) of the above document (Richard Harrison’s Will) was taken bacross the Ohio by William Harrison (fourth of the name in 1817. In 1910 it is still extant, in possession of William Jordan Harrison of Mount Pleasant, Ohio, the son of Jordan Harrison, who emigrated with his father, William Harrison, and it corresponds exactly with the above transcription from the York County records. To this copy are appended the receipts for their several portions given by the children of Richard Harrison to their mother Elizabeth, his executrix, who before 1670 had married again one David Dunbar, e.g.:
“I, William Harrison, son to Richard Harrison, deceased, doe by these presents acknowledge to have received of my mother, Elizabeth Dunbar, formerly Harrison, all my parte in the Devision made of my father’s estate according to his will, and do hereby aquit my mother Executrix to my father, deceased, from all debts, dues and demands due to me by virtue of my father’s will. Witness my hand this 10th of March, 1670. William Harrison
“Witness: the mark of John Harrison, James Besouth.

E Hyatt wrote:
…concerning the will of Eleanor Wheeler. Before she married Francis Wheeler, she had been widowed by Nicholas Comins. She made bequests to several people, including two Hall cousins. (I would look for your C.H. among the Halls.)
Elizabeth Hooper is her son, Nicholas’ wife. Robert Harrison had married Elizabeth Comins, Eleanor’s daughter and Amy was Amadea, their daughter. Why did she give a ring to John Cotton? He had been married to your A.C. (Anne Hutchison) for three years and had had a son, born there in Queen’s Creek in 1658, John Bertie Cotton, Jr. (Maybe further investigation of the Cotton line is warranted.)

“The Cotten Family,” Old Albemarle

The Cotten Family is another tribe that settled originally on Queen’s Creek in York County, Virginia, then shifted to Isle of Wight and Nansemond and finally poured its descendants in the third and fourth generations into the maw of Old Albemarle in North Carolina.
Rev. William Cotten, minister of Hungar’s Parish in Accomac County, if not the ancestor was a close collateral relative to the Cottens who settled in York County. But for the fact that Reverend Cotten’s chronicler’s wholly fail to refer to any children he had, save Verlinda Cotten, who married William Stone who became Governor of Maryland, we would say that John, Thomas, and William Cotten of York County, were his sons. Reverend Cotten married Ann Graves, daughter of the ancient planter, Thomas Graves, who was without doubt the grandfather of Ralph Graves who married the daughter of Joseph Croshaw, of Queen’s Creek in York. Martin Palmer married the widow of Captain Benjamin Croshaw, and in 1660 Edward Palmer whose name appears often in the Isle of Wight Records, was a member of the Coroner’s Jury in York County (D. and W. Book 8, p. 1) and in 1677 Martin Palmer served on the jury in York County in the case of John Cotton
v. John Harris, et al. (Book 6, p. 26). Joseph Croshaw was the adjoining neighbor of John, William, Phillip and Richard Thomas on Queen’s Creek, the Eastern Shore in the immediate neighborhood of the Hungar’s Parish Church, of which Rev. William Cotten was minister (Eugent p. 285). As late as 1661, William Drumond, afterwards appointed by Sir William Berkeley the first Governor of Old Albemarle, N.C. used the headright of John Thomas and many prominent and wealthy notables, who are known never to have lived in Westmoreland County in taking up a patent to 4750 acres of land (Nugent pp. 403-4). Then again on January 30, 1650, Captain Francis Wheeler had died, and his estate was appraised by Christopher Harris, Robert Harrison, John Stampe and John Cotten. Christopher Harris was a wealthy planter, who eventually returned to England, where he died; Robert Harrison married Elizabeth Comins, daughter of Nicholas Comins, and was the ancestor of the Harrisons of South of the James who married into the Thomas Family, and Captain Francis Wheeler had married the widow of Nicholas Comins, John Stampe lived in York County at that time, but his brother or son, Thomas Stampe was the head of a prominent neighbor of William Boddie, the Jordans, Lawrences, Exums, and others, along Currituck in Nansemond and Isle

This is my working hypothesis – the way I see it as of this moment!!

of Wight County. All of the appraisers and parties mentioned owned lands on Queens Creek with John Thomas, Nicholas Jernew, Joseph Croshaw, the Bennetts and Harrisons in York, and it follows that John Cotten was also of that neighborhood. This compiler has no shadow of doubt but that the John Cotten who married Martha Godwin and left a will in Bertie County, N.C. in 1728 was a son, nephew or other close
relative of this Queens Creek John Cotten.”

Richard Exum and Thomas Godwin, in 1650 patented 550 acres of land in what is now (it is said) Exxex County, Virginia using the headrights of eleven persons, among them being Morgan Thomas, Richard Exum and William Cotten. (Nutent 197). in 1664, Henry Corbin used the headright of Jacob Cotten. There was a Jacob Cotten in North Carolina at the turn of the next century, possibly the same one.(Nugent 432). John Prosser in 1665 used Joane Cotten (Nugent 528) and the mother of William Cotten was Joane. David Williamson in 1666 used nearly everyone in Virginia as a headright in obtaining 6000 acres in Accomac, including Thomas Cotten and Peter Cotten, (Nugent p. 554). Where these people listed by David Williamson settled nobody knows. They were perhaps all over the country. Many of the names are well known and familiar to research workers in Virginia history. As late as 1682 Arthur Jordan used t he headright of Thomas Cotten (Valentine 704). Anthony Matthews in taking up a patent next to the lands of Edward Palmer (See York notes above) in Isle of Wight County used the headright of a William Cotten (Looks like he just brought him across the James River, from York County.) This Anthony Matthews was probably the father of Anthony Matthews who married Elizabeth Boddie, the daughter of our old friend, William Boddie, of Isle of Wight County. (Nugent p. 444).


M.P. of Huntingdonshire in 1557

Thomas Cotton ca 1536 – 1615 | his parents
& Elizabeth Shirley | her parents
& Dorothy Tamworth | her parents
of Connington, Huntingdonshire, England


This is my working hypothesis – the way I see it as of this moment!!


This Thomas Cotton was M.P. of Huntingdonshire in 1557.
He was a rich country gentleman.

His first wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Francis Shirley of Staunton-Harold, Leicestershire & Dorothy Gifford.
they had two sons and three daughters.
Elizabeth died while the children were young.
Thomas’s second wife was Dorothy, daughter of John Tamworth, of Hawsed, Leicestershire.
they had three sons and three daughters.

Children of Thomas Cotton and Elizabeth Shirley:
1. Sir Robert Bruce Cotton 22 Jan 1570/1 Denton – 6 May 1631 Connington
[he was knighted 11 May 1603] 1st Baronet of Connington
B.A 1585 Trinity College, Cambridge

220px-RobertCotton1626
Portrait of Robert Cotton, commissioned 1626
and attributed toCornelis Janssens van Ceulen

ca 1593 married Elizabeth Brocas
a. #2 Sir Thomas Cotton 1594 – 13 May 1662 Connington
married Margaret Howard
i. #3 Sir John Cotton 1621 – 12 Sept 1702 aged 81
married Dorothy Anderson
1. John Cotton died 1681
a. #4 Sir John Cotton 1679 – 5 Feb 1730-1
married 1708 Elizabeth Herbert d. 11 Feb 1721-2
married 2nd Elizabeth Honywood d. 3 April 1702
2. #5 Sir Robert Cotton 1669 – 12 July 1749
a. #6 Sir John Cotton [died without issue and the title became extinct
married 2nd Alice Constable
i. son
ii. Robert Cotton M.P. for Cambridgeshire
iii. son
iv. son
2. Thomas Cotton ca 1572 –
3. Lucy Cotton
4. Dorothy Cotton
5. Johanna Cotton
Children of Thomas Cotton and Dorothy Tamworth:
1. Henry Cotton [died 1614]
2. Ferdinand Cotton
3. John Cotton
4. Catherine Cotton
5. Frances Cotton
married Baron Edward Montagu
of Boughton, Northamptonshire.

6. Rebecca Cotton

‘COTTON, Sir ROBERT BRUCE (1571‚Äì1631), antiquary, was eldest son of Thomas Cotton of Connington, Huntingdonshire (M.P. for Huntingdonshire in 1557), by his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Francis Shirley of Staunton-Harold, Leicestershire. Thomas Cotton was a rich country gentleman, descended from a family of well-ascertained antiquity, originally settled in Cheshire.
In the fourteenth century William, son of Edmund Cotton or de Cotun, acquired by marriage the extensive Ridware estates in Staffordshire, which descended to the eldest branch.
In the fifteenth century a younger son of this branch, William, was slain at the second battle of St. Albans in 1461, and lies buried in St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster.
He married a wealthy heiress, Mary, daughter of Robert de Wesenham, and from this marriage the antiquary was directly descended.
Mary de Wesenham was granddaughter and ultimate heiress of Sir John de Bruis or Bruce, who claimed descent from the Scottish kings and owned the manors of Connington, Huntingdonshire, and Exton, Rutlandshire.
Sir Robert always insisted with pride on his ancestral connection with the royal line of Scotland, and added his second name of Bruce to keep it in memory.
Mary de Wesenham married a second and a third husband, Sir Thomas Billing [q. v.] and Thomas Lacy, and died in 1499, but was buried at St. Margaret’s with her first husband, and bequeathed the estates of Connington, Huntingdonshire, and Exton, Rutlandshire, to Thomas Cotton, her eldest son by him.
In 1500, 1513, and in 1547, the antiquary’s immediate ancestors, all named Thomas Cotton, were high sheriffs of Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire.

Sir Robert was born at Denton, three miles from the family seat at Connington, on 22 Jan. 1570–1, and was baptised five days later.
Soon after their marriage his parents had removed to a small house at Denton, which was pulled down early in thottis century, in order ‘to be more at liberty from the incommodiousness of their own seat arising from a great accession of new domestics’ (Collins,Baronetage, 1720, p. 187; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. vi. 449–51). A younger son, Thomas, born a year later, was always on most affectionate terms with the antiquary.
His sisters were named Lucy, Dorothy, and Johanna.
The mother died while her children were young, and the father married as his second wife Dorothy, daughter of John Tamworth, of Hawsted, Leicestershire, by whom he had six other children‚Äîthree sons, Henry (d. 1614), Ferdinand, and John; and three daughters, Catherine, Frances, and Rebecca.’
Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 12 -Cotton, Robert Bruce –by Sidney Lee ?

Connington House was pulled down in 1753.

“There is a record that John and Henry Cotton, London merchants and half-brothers of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, purchased Broughton Hall in the county of Northampton.
Their sister, Frances, was married to Baron Edward Montagu of Boughton, Northamptonshire.
Henry Cotton died young, but it would be interesting to see if John left any family.
He would be about the right age to be the father of John Cotton of York Co., VA.” Michael Cotton

Perhaps our John Cotton/en of York Co VA was a grandson of one of the half-brothers??? hmm.

Thomas Cotton 1529 -1600
& Lucy Harvey

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