COTTON, John (?1543-1620/1), of Landwade, Cambs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. ?1543, 1st s. of Sir John Cotton of Landwade by Isabel, da. of Sir William Spencer of Althorp, Northants. educ. ?L. Inn 1564. m. (1) Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Caryll of Warnham, Suss., ?s.p.; (2) Elizabeth, da. of Sir Humphrey Bradbourne of Derbys., s.p.; (3) Anne, da. of Sir Richard Houghton of Houghton Tower, Lancs., 1s. suc. fa. 1594. Kntd. bet. 1597 and 1 Oct. 1601.1

Offices Held

J.p. Cambs. 1582, custos rot. from 1600; j.p.q. and custos rot. Isle of Ely from 1601; sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. 1591-2; dep. lt. Cambs. 1596, commr. subsidy 1593, commr. musters 1601, capt. of trained band 1605.2


Cotton’s family had been established in Cambridgeshire for over a century, and assumed a leading position during the lifetime of Cotton’s father. Cotton himself consolidated his inheritance by marrying three heiresses and by land investment. By the end of the century he was one of three deputy lieutenants under Lord North (Sir John Cutts and John Peyton II being the other two) who resented the intrusion of the ambitious merchant Sir Horatio Palavicino, recently retired to a Cambridge estate. Their efforts as subsidy commissioners to lighten their own burdens at Palavicino’s expense led to controversy between 1595 and 1598. Cotton himself was assessed on £50 in lands.3

Cotton twice took a turn as knight of the shire. On 10 Mar. 1593 he was licensed to depart on account of his father’s sickness. He was named to committees on a private bill on 11 Dec. and on a privilege case on 17 Dec. 1601. As knight for Cambridgeshire he may have served on the subsidy committee on 26 Feb. and a legal committee on 9 Mar. 1593, as well as on committees in 1601 concerning the order of parliamentary business (3 Nov.), monopolies (23 Nov.) and draining the fens (28 Mar.). He died intestate early in March 1620 or 1621. The Stuart antiquary, Layer, described him as that ‘late noble gentleman ... for his worth and gravity well-beloved’. He was a ‘good housekeeper’ and the hospitality at Landwade was proverbial. Administration was granted to his widow in March 1621.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: H.G.O.


  • 1. Vis. Cambs. (Harl. Soc. xli), 22; PCC 53 Dixy; PRO Index 4208; OR, i. 437.
  • 2. Mort thesis, 60; Lansd, 74, f. 204; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 296; APC, xxxi. 403; Camb. Antiq. Soc. Proc. liii. 30.
  • 3. Camb. Antiq. Soc. Proc. xxvii. 154; xxxviii. 5, 6; PCC 53 Dixy; Cambs. Feet of Fines, ed. Palmer, 85, 93, 94, 97, 101, 109, 110, 115; L. Stone, Sir Horatio Palavicino, 283-8; Lansd. 74, f. 204.
  • 4. D’Ewes, 474, 496, 497, 624, 649, 657, 678, 688; Camb. Antiq. Soc. Proc. xxxviii. 6; PCC admon. act bk. 1621, f. 113d.