Cotton, John


Cotton, John

biographical name

(born Dec. 4, 1585, Derby, Derbyshire, Eng.—died Dec. 23, 1652, Boston, Mass.) Anglo-American Puritan leader. He studied at the University of Cambridge, where he first encountered Puritanism. From 1612 to 1633 he served as a vicar in Lincolnshire. When English church authorities filed charges against him for his Nonconformism, he sailed for New England in 1633. As “teacher” of the First Church of Boston (1633–52), he became an influential leader of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He wrote a widely used children's catechism and defended Puritan orthodoxy in such books as The Way of the Churches of Christ in New England (1645). He opposed freedom of conscience, as preached by Roger Williams, favoring a national theocratic society.

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