COTTON, John III (c.1647-1713), of Madingley Hall, Cambs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



6 Nov. 1696
Feb. 1701
Dec. 1701

Family and Education

b. c.1647, 1st s. of Sir John Cotton, 1st Bt., of Landwade by Jane, da. and h. of Edward Hinde of Madingley. educ. Trinity, Camb. 1663. m. 14 Jan. 1679, Elizabeth (d. 3 Dec. 1714), da. and coh. of Sir Joseph Sheldon, Draper, of St. Paul’s Churchyard, London, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) at least 7da. suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 25 Mar. 1689.1

Offices Held

Commr. for pontage, Cambridge 1673, assessment, Cambs. 1679-80, Cambs. and Cambridge 1689-90; freeman, Cambridge 1679; j.p. Cambs. 1680-7, ?1689-d., dep. lt. 1685-7, by 1701-?d.; gamekeeper, Newmarket 1689-d.; recorder, Cambridge 1702-d.2


Cotton was descended from a wealthy London mercer who acquired Landwade soon after 1420, and was not akin to Sir Robert Cotton. The family first represented the county in 1439. As sheriff of Cambridgeshire, Cotton’s father attempted to carry the university plate to Charles I in 1642, but took no further part in the Civil War. In view of ‘the smallness of his offence’, he was fined only £350, a year’s value of his estate. Although he married an heiress, he was compelled to mortgage his inheritance, and lived abroad during the Interregnum.3

Cotton doubtless opposed exclusion, for he was made a j.p. in 1680 in his father’s lifetime. Though his answers on the repeal of the Penal Laws and Test are not extant, he was apparently hostile to James II’s ecclesiastical policy, and was removed from local office. He was first returned for Cambridge, three miles from Madingley, in 1689, and two days after the Convention met was recorded as waiting on William III with the solemn engagement of the county gentry to stand by him. But according to one list he voted to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. A moderately active Member, he was appointed to 16 committees but he made no recorded speeches. Early in the first session he was named to committees to prevent disputes concerning the present Parliament, and to bring in a bill for better regulating the Exchequer. He was among those appointed to consider the bill for the speedier conviction and disarming of Papists, to inspect the Journals about the Popish Plot, to consider the Lords’ proviso to the bill of rights and settlement, and to draw up an address for permission to inspect the Privy Council registers and the books of the Irish committee. Among his committees in the second session were those for the second mutiny bill and for granting indemnity to persons helping to bring in William and Mary. He continued to sit for the borough as a Tory with but two short intervals until he retired in his son’s favour in 1708. He died on 16 Jan. 1713, aged 66, and was buried at Landwade. His son, described as the last active Jacobite in England, sat for Cambridge and Cambridgeshire from 1708 to 1741.4

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: E. R. Edwards / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. East Anglian, i. 343-4; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London, 147; J. P. Hore, Sporting Recs. of Cheveley, 21.
  • 2. C. H. Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, iii. 557, 582; iv. 52, 110.
  • 3. Camb. Antiq. Soc. Procs. xxxviii. 5, 7, 18, 46; VCH Cambs. ii. 411; A. Kingston, East Anglia and the Civil War, 301; Hore, 20; Cal. Comm. Comp. 891; Cal. Comm. Adv. Money, 558; CSP Dom. 1663-4, p. 245; Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 217.
  • 4. Camb. Antiq. Soc. Procs. xxxviii. 7; East Anglian, i. 344.