COTTON, George (-d.1616), of Cathedral Close, Exeter, Devon

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

2nd s. of John Cotton of London and Pery, da. of one Cheyne.1 m. Elizabeth, 1da. admon. 12 Apr. 1616.2

Offices Held


Cotton’s ancestors took their name from Cotton in Cheshire, where they were living by the late thirteenth century. Around a 100 years later they acquired the manor of Hamstall Ridware in Staffordshire, which became their principal seat. Cotton’s father, John, the youngest son of a younger son, settled in London, probably during the mid-sixteenth century. Although he obtained citizenship, his occupation has not been established. His descendants omitted to preserve this information, preferring to dwell on the achievements of his eldest son, William, who secured steady promotion within the Church of England, and became bishop of Exeter in 1598. The family also boasted one other distinguished member, Sir Robert Cotton*, who was a distant cousin.3

No definite trace of Cotton has been found prior to 1608, when he purchased three properties near the Tower of London. By this time, however, he had already gone to live in Exeter, where his brother the bishop doubtless helped him to secure a house in the cathedral close. William probably also influenced Cotton’s election to Parliament in 1614, as his eldest son had become a landowner in the Camelford district through his marriage into the Hender family in 1607. Cotton, whose reasons for entering the Commons are unclear, left no mark on the Parliament’s records.4

Cotton’s will, drawn up on 21 Feb. 1616, consisted principally of £10 bequests to his two grandchildren and to six great-nephews and -nieces. Just one great-niece, whose father had apparently died, was to receive £100, while £200 was left to his eldest nephew, the same man who had probably helped him into Parliament. Presumably some earlier provision had been made for his wife, as she was allocated only the Exeter house and the residue of his estate. Cotton requested burial in Exeter cathedral, but does not appear in its registers. Administration of his estate was granted to his widow on 12 Apr. 1616.5

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. J. Maclean, Hist. of Trigg. Minor Deanery, i. 652-3.
  • 2. PROB 11/127, f. 312r-v.
  • 3. Maclean, i. 650-3, 656; S. Shaw, Hist. and Antiqs. of Staffs. i. 155; T. Fuller, Worthies of Eng. ii. 358.
  • 4. C54/1950; PROB 11/127, f. 312; C142/519/94.
  • 5. PROB 11/127, f. 312r-v; 11/138, f. 117.