Talk:John Cotton (minister)

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Good article John Cotton (minister) has been listed as one of the Philosophy and religion good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
March 22, 2013 Good article nominee Listed
Did You Know

My Picture[edit]

Why is the top portion of my picture brown-black and the lower portion blue-black, with a couple of stripes through the center?
WB2 05:51, 19 July 2005 (UTC)
Color issue's not obvious to me. Stripes are faint but may be inherent in original scan? Chris Rodgers 06:42, 19 July 2005 (UTC)
You can quite clearly see, that when you go to the image itself, it is cut off exactly at the place where a strip of clear tape appears to go horizontally across the image.
This "tape" is not a part of the original image, and I have no way of knowing where the image will cut off after it uploads to your server.
That's something someone would only know after it got there given: that any one in particular image varies greatly in size.
Also, below this area, the image appears cloudy – as if someone from your end had done something to the image in transit or after it got there.
WB2 23:56, 19 July 2005 (UTC)


The introductory assisted in the foundation of Boston, Massachusetts is rather misleading, since Cotton arrived there in 1633, three years after the city had been founded. --Janneman 17:10, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one article was rated and this bot brought all the other ratings up to at least that level. BetacommandBot 17:40, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

30 Sept. 2009 edit[edit]

Can somebody tell me what the anonymous edit on the 30th was all about? It almost looks like they were trying to delete one of the footnotes, but took out random bits of the first paragraph instead. I did a manual revert from 26 Sept., but if there's a valid reason, please fill us in. --Enwilson (talk) 22:30, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

I corrected two errors of fact (the English Civil War did NOT happen in 1788!) and (the description of the gravestone with Cotton's name on it suggests incorrect information: we don't know where his original stone or gravesite are, since the original building of King's Chapel I was plunked down on top of the earliest part of the old burying ground, probably courtesy of the much-disliked Royal Gov. Andros. I also "re-Englished' the term "paper battle" to the original term, "Pamphlet war," which is used to describe exchanges of published invective by contemporaneous controversialists). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dellaroux (talkcontribs) 03:32, 13 October 2009 (UTC) Dellaroux (talk) 03:37, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

This doesn't look right; I don't have time to look it up right now, but the dates don't make sense and it looks like someone playing with a Wolfman image as an anachronistic inclusion: ...."like his writing of the criticism of the lycanthropy of Tedford's Lycanthropious Diaramos (1587)...?? If true, it doesn't make much sense in relationship to the Westminister Catechism meetings... —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dellaroux (talkcontribs) 03:36, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

OK, this also might be wrongly placed here: "The Brownist congregational movement within the Church of England had by this stage, in effect at least, become a separate church." Brownists are indeed associated with the Separatists; however, Cotton was a Puritan (different kettles of fish until later in the 1600s) and in fact was at first called the "vicar" of the First Church of Boston, a title which reflects the Puritans' greater tendency to retain certain traces of Anglicanism (like the rector/vicar titles for administrative church clergy) vs. the Calvinist four-fold ministery: "preacher/teacher/ruling elder/deacon" as outlined in the Institutiones'Italic text I'd remove the line but again hesitate to do so without more time to confirm my sense of this. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dellaroux (talkcontribs) 03:48, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:John Cotton (Puritan)/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Cerebellum (talk · contribs) 02:26, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

Hello! I will be reviewing this article. --Cerebellum (talk) 02:26, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

Great! Thanks for all the good edits; I'll be looking forward to your comments. Sarnold17 (talk) 20:41, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

OK, great job with this article! You've done incredible work expanding this from almost nothing to a fully fleshed-out and very engaging article. It is well-written and has great supporting images and sources, but the best part is the way you include lots of historical background information to make the article accessible to people (like me) who may not know much about this time period. I felt like even though I came into this article with very little prior knowledge I came away understanding not just Cotton but more about the period as a whole, and you did a fantastic job of putting Cotton's achievements into context and showing the effect he had. This article easily passes the GA criteria, and I commend the very thorough research that seems to have gone into this article. Below are my comments, mostly minor prose issues, for your consideration and further work on this article. Even if you choose to ignore all of the comments, though, this is still a fine example of a GA. --Cerebellum (talk) 22:47, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

Lead and Early life[edit]

  • preach in a simpler, more consensual manner. This is unclear to me, what does the word "consensual" mean here?
  • The Puritans hated the practices of the Catholic Church, which were largely kept by the Anglican Church following the reformation. Worship was carried out by being "preached to," often by listening to canned readings from a book of prayer. The Puritans essentially wanted to be a part of the worship experience, with strong preaching resulting in a "spiritual response" and conversion experience on the part of the worshiper. In this regard a consensus is reached between the parishioners and the preacher, and thus a more consensual form of worship attained. I know that some of this theological stuff can get pretty deep; my attempts have been to explain it as best I can, but keep the language of my sources when I'm a bit uncertain as to the in-depth meaning of what's being conveyed. Clear as mud?
  • accepted the position as minister of Saint Botolph's Church The way you use "as" here sounds strange to me, maybe change to something like accepted the position of minister at Saint Botolph's Church
  • Changed as suggested
  • a course of study that included Greek, astronomy, and perspective What is "perspective"?
  • Perspective was the name of the course on drawing back in that day; I've linked the word.
  • In the first paragraph of the "Tenure at St. Botolph's" section, consider placing the last sentence after the first, since it seems to continue the discussion of the religious persecution from the first sentence and does not fit well with the second sentence on the Puritan response.
  • Excellent suggestion; I've done as recommended and reworded slightly.
  • Also consider linking or explaining the term "Episcopal" in that same sentence.
  • I've linked the word to "Episcopal polity" (the governing style and practices of the Episcopal [Anglican] Church).
  • In the second paragraph of "Role as counselor and teacher," I think Valentine's is common usage if referring to the day and valentines lower case if referring to love messages. Maybe your source uses it the way you have it though.
  • I agree that they should be lower case, and have changed the capitalization accordingly.
  • What does the (Hawkred) in the middle of Sarah Story's name mean?
  • In genealogical circles, a woman's name in parentheses universally means her maiden name. This practice is also widespread outside of pure genealogy (for instance, it is found in many biographies and compendiums on persons). The practice is also widespread in wikipedia articles. For these reasons, I would like to keep it as is. Sarnold17 (talk) 15:53, 23 March 2013 (UTC)

New England[edit]

  • where he preached A Sermon ... Deliver'd at Salem. Just giving the title doesn't tell us much, since we already known from the beginning of the sentence that the sermon was delivered at salem. Consider adding some information on the sermon's content or significance; I know you discuss it more in the church polity section but maybe you could add something brief here as well.
  • I've opted not to elaborate any further on this. All I wanted to do was to close the Roger Williams affair by saying that Cotton went to Salem to mend fences with the parishioners there. I've removed reference to the title of the sermon, and just said he went there to preach, and that essentially closed this round of debate with Williams.
  • Most of the trial was spent on the charge that Hutchinson had made disparaging remarks about the colony's ministers, and to use the October meeting as their evidence. I'm not sure what the second part of this sentence is saying.
  • You are right; thank you for catching this. Some pertinent material from the October 1636 meeting at Cotton's home has been left out. I will add a sentence or two later.
  • I've now added the following sentence earlier on, while discussing the 25 October (1636) meeting of the ministers at Cotton's home: "Hutchinson, when coaxed by some ministers, admitted that she had criticized them during her home gatherings, but did this only when prompted, and insisted that her admissions were private and confidential."
  • Cotton was grilled extensively Consider replacing "grilled" with a less informal word.
  • changed "grilled" to "interrogated."
  • Hutchinson then took the load off the consciences of her accusers I think this could be phrased more neutrally - I would prefer it if we left out the reference to the consciences of her accusers.
  • I agree; these words have been removed.
  • Only four of these errors were addressed. What does this mean? That only four errors were resolved or that only four were discussed at the trial?
  • This just means they had a long list of errors to discuss (sources don't say how many), but only discussed and resolved four of them.
  • she had written out a formal recantation of her unsound opinions that brought objection from all the ministers - The way this is phrased, it sounds like it was the recantation that brought objection, not her opinion.
  • I removed "that brought objection from all the ministers".
  • but at the August 1637 synod he came to learn of the "corrupt judgments of the erring brethren." What are the "corrupt judgments" referred to here?
  • I've reworded this
  • Some of Cotton's harshest critics during the controversy mellowed following the event. Again, please replace "mellowed" with a less informal word.
  • I've changed "mellowed" to "were able to reconcile with Cotton".
  • You may want to read through the section on the Antinomian Controversy again and check it for neutrality and tone. Phrases like While her intention was to be instructive and teach the court seem to me to be non-neutral in that they go beyond the objective facts; maybe you could either attribute it or reword it. and in a subdued voice is a also little iffy, it helps to paint the picture of the scene but at the same time it adds an emotional element that I'm not sure is appropriate.
  • These are valid points. I've attributed the "teach the court" bit and removed "in a subdued voice".

Late career[edit]

  • To this end Emerson noted that "Cotton's God is far more generous and forgiving than Williams's" Briefly introduce Emerson here.
  • I've introduced him here as "historian Everett Emerson" even though later I call him "literary scholar Everett Emerson".
  • The paragraph "Dealing with sectaries" contains material which seems only tangentially related to Cotton; a lot of it seems to pertain to the treatment of dissenters in New England more generally, and it seems like Cotton's role could be summarized in a paragraph or two.
  • I've removed some of the extraneous material, but have kept most of it. It is very important to portray the religious intolerance of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and Cotton's collusion with this intolerance. It is important that the reader know why Cotton's own friend, Richard Saltonstall, wrote a letter rebuking him for this intolerance. This section is what supports the final sentence in the entire article: that Cotton, despite his many achievements, is best remembered as a monolithic foe of enlightenment.
  • I'm not sure about the last paragraph of the "legacy" section - you quote two Cotton scholars to show that Cotton has been unjustly forgotten by history, which seems a little non-neutral but also unnecessary; the rest of the legacy section and the whole article speak to how important Cotton was. It's up to you of course, but I suggest either removing that paragraph or balancing it by adding the opinion of someone writing about Roger Williams.
  • I'm not sure what you are saying here. In the legacy section, I attempt to portray all the accomplishments, primarily writings, of Cotton and their impact in his day; however, I end with the true assessment. Why is Cotton not remembered today like Roger Williams is remembered? The answer is given in the final two sentences.

  • Additional comment (not affecting this GA review, the + symbol is well deserved): there are two SFN errors that I've been unable to fix: both Anderson 2003 and Bell 1876 point to books or articles which are not in the reference list. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 02:39, 23 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Also, Battis is unused. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 02:40, 23 March 2013 (UTC)
  • I have fixed all three of these reference issues. Sarnold17 (talk) 14:58, 23 March 2013 (UTC)

Thanks very much for the kind, quick, and supportive GA review. I will get on your comments this weekend. Will also fix the ref issues brought up by Crisco. Sarnold17 (talk) 03:01, 23 March 2013 (UTC)

Comment, 5 Dec 2015[edit]

The following comment was added to this page on the above date, but no heading was used, nor was the comment signed and dated.Sarnold17 (talk) 10:12, 6 December 2015 (UTC)

Nicely done article! Two issues that worth mentioning:
I concur with this questioning, wondering if this portrait was actually intended to portray our Cotton (who died in 1650)? His clothes appear to be in the fashion of the early 18th century, which leads to suspicion it might be a painting of a John Cotton the artist would have known in life.Cloptonson (talk) 13:31, 25 March 2017 (UTC)

Year of birth[edit]

This page has Cotton's year of birth as 1585, as in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, but Larzer Ziff's The Career of John Cotton (Princeton University Press, 1962), Everett M Emerson's John Cotton (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1965, revised edition Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990), The Dictionary of National Biography (1902), the Mather Project (, and others all give his year of birth as 1584. The gravestone implies 1585. Does anyone have a definitive source? DigbyJames (talk) 22:50, 14 September 2017 (UTC)

This will likely remain unresolved, so we choose our sources. When it comes to dates, I use a reliable genealogical source, where the nuances of vital records and dating events is well understood, and for Cotton I used Robert Charles Anderson's 10-volume Great Migration compendium, which is a fairly recent work, and was produced using hundreds, if not thousands, of historical works. This source gives the birth year as 1585, citing Cotton Mather's Magnalia. Cotton Mather was a grandson of John Cotton, and a well-known preacher and historian, and may be the closest source we have to the actual event, since the original record of baptism appears to be no longer extant. However, while using the year 1585, Anderson does acknowledge that "some sources" give the year as 1584, specifically citing Samuel Eliot Morrison's Founding of Harvard College. I fully trust Anderson on this issue--that 1585 may be a more defensible position.Sarnold17 (talk) 07:50, 15 September 2017 (UTC)

Thank you for that. Perhaps we should add a footnote explaining this as I'm sure some people will spot the discrepancy and try correcting the date without having read this talk page.DigbyJames (talk) 14:07, 28 September 2017 (UTC)

Misleading image[edit]

It is extremely improbable that the image purporting to show John Cotton is really him and misleading of Wikipedia to pretend that it is. A moment's look at the wig and clothes of the sitter shows that the painting was almost certainly done after 1652. Unless my judgement can be proved wrong, I suggest this is corrected soon. Clifford Mill (talk) 11:01, 4 December 2017 (UTC)