John Cotton

1584-1652. Puritan minister and author. Graduate of Cambridge University, he was ordained in 1610, and from 1612 to 1633 he was vicar of Boston, Lincolnshire, before migrating to the Massachusetts Bay Colony where he assumed the pastorate of a church in Boston. A gifted theologian, he quickly became a dominant figure in the colony, where theological prowess often brought political influence. One of his opponents noted that some people in Massachusetts “could hardly believe that God would suffer Mr. Cotton to err.” He engaged in stormy controversies with Roger Williams* and Anne Hutchinson,* both of whom were driven out of the colony. Moreover, although personally not democratic, he helped create the pattern of church government for New England by his book, The Way of the Churches of Christ in New England (1645).