COTTON, Sir John, 2nd Bt. (c.1648-1713), of Madingley Hall, Cambs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1689 - 1695
8 Nov. 1696 - 1702
1705 - 1708

Family and Education

b. c.1648, 1st s. of Sir John Cotton, 1st Bt., of Landwade, Cambs. by Jane, da. and h. of Edward Hynde of Madingley Hall.  educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. matric. 1663.  m. 14 Jan. 1679, Elizabeth (d. 1714), da. and coh. of Sir Joseph Sheldon, Draper, of St. Paul’s Churchyard, London, alderman of London and ld. mayor 1695–6, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 8da. (2 d.v.p.).  suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 25 Mar. 1689.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Cambridge 1679, recorder 1702–d., conservator 1709.2

Gamekeeper, Newmarket 1689–d.3


The son of a sequestrated Royalist, Cotton had repaired his fortune by a shrewd marriage to a local heiress, so that he enjoyed a landed income of some £2,000 a year. He seems to have been a staunch Churchman. His appointment to the commission of the peace in 1680 suggests opposition to Exclusion, but he was evidently just as hostile to James II’s religious policy and was removed from local office in 1687. Returned in 1689 as a Member for Cambridge, only three miles distant from his seat at Madingley, he attended William III, soon after the Convention opened, with his county’s solemn engagement of loyalty, and was rewarded with the grant of a crown dignity in his own neighbourhood as gamekeeper on the royal estate at Newmarket. However, he was listed by Lord Ailesbury (Thomas Bruce†) as having voted against the transfer of the crown. Re-elected in 1690, he was classified as a Tory and a probable Court supporter in Lord Carmarthen’s (Sir Thomas Osborne†) analysis of the new Parliament. In the next session, he told on 12 Nov. 1690 in favour of Sir John Darell’s election in the Rye election case, and in December figured on another list by Carmarthen, which probably enumerated those Members whose loyalty could be relied upon in the event of an attack on him in the Commons. He was granted leave of absence on 14 Feb. 1693 for three weeks and on 19 Dec. 1693 for two weeks. In the meantime his name had been added to the Cambridgeshire lieutenancy in 1692. His poor record of parliamentary attendance continued, for he was ordered into custody after having been absent on 12 Feb. 1694 at a call of the House, and was then given leave of absence for three weeks on 23 Feb. He was granted another leave of absence on 6 Mar. 1695, for two weeks. He and the other outgoing Member for Cambridge, Granado Pigot, were replaced by two aldermen of the borough at the general election of 1695, but Cotton regained his own seat at a by-election the following year, and in December 1697 presented the corporation’s loyal address on the peace. On 20 Apr. 1698 he was given leave of absence yet again, for a fortnight. Marked as a supporter of the Country party in a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments in about September 1698, and forecast as likely to oppose a standing army, he was accorded leave of absence once more on 22 Mar. 1699. In the next Parliament he was listed in February 1701 as likely to support the Court in agreeing with the committee of supply’s resolution to continue the ‘Great Mortgage’. After the second general election of that year, Robert Harley* listed him with the Tories, and indeed he was named as supporting the motion of 26 Feb. 1701 to vindicate the Commons’ proceedings in the impeachments of the Whig lords. That he stayed in London after this division is evident from a letter he sent to Cambridge corporation in March describing the events leading up to the King’s death.4

Chosen recorder of Cambridge in 1702, Cotton seems not to have attempted to secure re-election that year. In 1705, when Queen Anne visited Cambridge prior to the general election, Cotton, as recorder, ‘made her Majesty a speech and presented her with a purse of gold’. At the election itself he reappeared as a candidate and was returned at the head of the poll, being described by Thomas Carte in his account of the return as ‘an honest gent.’, that is to say a High Church Tory. Indeed his election was listed by Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) as a loss for the Whigs and he was also classified as a ‘High Church courtier’ in an analysis of the new Parliament. In the House he voted against the Whig John Smith I* in the division on the Speaker on 25 Oct. 1705. Having received a further leave of absence on 11 Jan. 1707, he was classed as a Tory in two lists of 1708, and at the next general election stood down in favour of his son John Hynde Cotton*, who had recently come of age. Sir John died on 15 Jan. 1713, aged 65, and was buried at Landwade.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / D. W. Hayton


  • 1. MI Cambs. ed. Palmer, 115; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London (London and Mdx. Arch. Soc.), 146; Cambs. RO (Cambridge), Madingley par. reg. P114/2.
  • 2. C. H. Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, iii. 582; iv. 52, 110; Cambs. RO (Cambridge), Cambridge bor. recs. common day bk. 1681–1722, p. 449.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1689–90, p. 148.
  • 4. Cambs. RO (Cambridge), Cotton of Madingley mss 588/E40; Bull. IHR, lii. 42; Bodl. Tanner 25, f. 339; Add. 70018, f. 83; C. H. Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, iv. 38; Diary of Samuel Newton (Camb. Antiq. Soc. xxiii), 112–13.
  • 5. Cambridge bor. recs. common day bk. 1681–1722, p. 343; Bodl. Carte 244, f. 58; Stanhope, Anne, 173–4; E. Anglian, i. 344; MI Landwade par. ch.