- At first, John Cotton served as a lecturer, then Dean and Catechist of Emanuel College. In 1612, at the age of 28, he was invited to become the minister in Boston, Lincolnshire, England. He resided there for a short time in the parish of St. Botolphs and then went back to Cambridge to earn his degree in Divinity. His views became more puritan in their nature and he was silenced in his preaching for a while.
Eventually, he was in danger of being arrested due to his nonconformity and he escaped with an intent to flee to Holland. Meeting a friend, he changed his course to London. By about the middle of July, 1633, he had convinced his friends to emigrate to New England. With Thomas Hooker, Samuel Stone and about 200 other passengers, they departed on the Griffin for New England.
One source states that he preached the farewell sermon to the Winthrop Fleet when they sailed for New England. On arrival he was named a teacher at the Boston church, but his reputation was tarnished when he seemed to countenance the teachings of Anne Marbury Hutchinson. Later, however, his writings and teachings set the model for New England orthodoxy.
Even as John Cotton urged the emigrants to bring "Swords, Rapiers, and all other piercing weapons" - he reassured his children that "they [would] dwell in a place of their owne, and move no more."
Savage says: COTTON, JOHN, Boston, the most disting. divine that came from Eng. in the first age, b. at Derby, 4 Dec. 1585, s. of Rowland, or rather Roland Cotton, Esq. was ent. at the Univ. of Cambridge, when 14 yrs. old, bred at Trinity Coll. where he took his A. M. 1606, bec. fellow of Emanuel, after spend. as he says, fourteen yrs. at Cambridge, preach. at Boston, Lincolnsh. twenty-one yrs. from 1612, being by the choice of the corpor. made vicar; came with sev. of his parish in the Griffin, arr. 4 Sept. 1633, with w. Sarah and their first ch. nam. at bapt. Seaborn (from the circumstance of his b.), rec. at the ch. on Sunday foll. 8 Sept., on 10 Oct. was ord. teacher of that ch. freem. 4 May 1634, d. 23 Dec. (yet the old copy of town rec. of wh. I presume no orig. has been kn. for 150 yrs. has it 15), 1652. His d. ensu. on tak. cold in cross. the ferry as he went to preach a few days bef. at Cambridge. His will of 30 Nov. of that yr. with codic. of 12 Dec. ment. the four ch. Seaborn, John, Elizabeth and Mary, w. Sarah, and "ho. and garden in the market-place of Boston, in Lincolnsh." as well as the "small part of my house, wh. Sir Henry Vane built, whilst he sojourn. with me," and at his departure, gave by deed, to s. Seaborn; and also ment. cous. Henry Smith, and cous. John Angier, with his w. and ch. all liv. at his ho. and kinswom. Martha Mellowes, wh. I judge to be wid. of Abraham. But the name of gr.ch. Betty Day, in the codic. can only be explain. by suppos. that his w. had by former h. a d. wh. had m. a Day and had this ch. We kn. she was not gr.ch. in nat. descent. He liv. 18 yrs. with w. Elizabeth Horrocks, and had no ch.; by sec. w. wid. Sarah Story, wh. outliv. him, and In. 26 Aug. 1656, Richard Mather, outliv. him, and d. 27 May 1676, had the s. bef. ment. b. on the ocean, 12 Aug. 1633, bapt. 4 days aft. reach. port; Sarah, b. 12, bapt. 20 Sept. 1635, betroth. to Jonathan Mitchell, but d. of smallpox, 20 Jan. 1650; Elizabeth 9, bapt. 10 Dec. 1637; John, 15, bapt. 22 Mar. 1640, H. C. 1657; Mary or Maria, 16, bapt. 20 Feb. 1642; and Rowland, a. 6 days old, bapt. 24 Dec. 1643, d. of smallpox, 29 Jan. 1650. Elizabeth m. 12 Oct. 1655, Jeremiah Eggington, d. 31 Aug. foll. hav. Elizabeth b. 15 Aug. wh. d. soon; Maria m. 6 Mar. 1663, Rev. Increase Mather, and d. 4 Apr. 1714. Twenty-one of his descend. in the male line (beside the many thro. male or fem. of the Mather blood, and many gr.ds. and other females), had been, in 1818, gr. at Harv. of wh. two thirds were clerg.
According to one source, a speculative Royal descent has been identified for Rev. John Cotton. [3, 4, 5, 6]