1598-1612 Cambridge University

When John Cotton entered Trinity College in 1598, he was but thirteen years old. At the time, the typical age for entry to the colleges of Cambridge was over sixteen, and entrants as young as thirteen comprised less than two percent of total Cambridge admissions.1 Richard Johnson’s status as a Fellow along with having mentored Cotton for the past four years helped mitigate any concerns John’s parents might have had. Being a fellow of Trinity College, Richard Johnson belonged to an academic elite privileged with student servants known as sizars. When John Cotton matriculated to Trinity College, it was as a sizar, and he likely served as Richard Johnson’s sizar or was placed with one of Johnson’s close associates.

Shortly after entering Trinity College, young Cotton and other newly matriculated students were called before Trinity’s upperclassmen for an initiation ritual known as salting in which each new entrant was summoned in turn to tell a joke, give a speech or sing a song.  If the upperclassmen were amused, the new student was offered a tankard of beer or sherry. If the new student failed to please, however, he was made to drink a tankard of salt and water. Once all entrants had been called on, the college cook administered an oath on an old shoe and initiated another batch of new undergraduates to Trinity College.2

Being away from home for the first time combined with the experience of salting and the demands of study while serving as a sizar must have jolted young Cotton out of whatever remained of his childhood.  His new reality was life in a university caste system of which he was at the bottom- a sizar. The term is thought to derive from sizes or the apportionment of food and drink at college tables which sizars were obliged to serve in return for the larger share of their college tuition. Sizars assigned to fellows or fellow-commoners as waiters and valets were termed private or propersizars.3 They dined on leftovers from the high table and often shared beds in crowded conditions that necessitated taking turns sleeping. Put simply, sizarswere the lowest level students at Cambridge University, and they paid the least to attend, which was five shillings tuition per term.4

The highest ranking students at Cambridge were nobles, peers of the realm, or knights, who paid ten pounds tuition per term, ate at the high table, were served by a sizar, and were awarded master’s degrees after two years of residence without having to achieve bachelor’s degrees.5 The next highest ranking students were fellow-commoners, who paid five pounds tuition per term,6 enjoyed the privileges of the high table, were served by a sizar and were often excused from attending college lectures or completing exercises for their bachelor’s degree.7 Fellow-commoners were most often referred to as empty-bottles after an incident in which a porter from a local wine shop mistakenly knocked on a lecture-room door and called out for empty bottles.  As only one of twenty fellow-commoners was in attendance, the tutor replied, “Call again another time, I have now but one!8 The majority of undergraduates at Trinity were pensioners, who ate at the common table, served themselves, and paid tuition of two pounds ten shillings per term.9

Cotton’s 1598 Trinity College cohort totaled forty and consisted of eighteen pensioners, seventeen sizars, and five fellow-commoners.10 Biographical data from Alumni Catabrigienses11 reveals that the seventeen sizars in John Cotton’s Trinity cohort far outperformed the cohort’s combined fellow-commoners and pensioners.12 Fourteen of seventeen sizars in the cohort earned bachelor degrees and half of them later earned master’s degrees or higher— though five of the fourteen transferred to other Cambridge colleges to do so. By contrast, only one in five of the cohort’s fellow-commoners and eight of eighteen pensioners earned bachelor degrees.13 As a result, 83 percent of the sizars in Cotton’s cohort earned bachelor degrees or higher, whereas only 40 percent of combined fellow-commoners and pensioners did so.14

The simplest explanation for the sizars’ superior performance is that university provided a means by which they might achieve a modicum of the financial security enjoyed by their more privileged classmates. By paying more in tuition, fellow-commoners were provided sizars as personal servants and were often excused from having to attend lectures or exams. By contrast, sizars formed a tight-knit group of high-achievers bound together by servitude, friendship, and competition at university for upwards of ten years.15

Success at Cambridge University was contingent on fulfilling requirements of the Elizabethan Statutes of 1570 authored by John Witgift, who at the time was Master of Trinity.16  Although Witgift’s primary intent was to rid Cambridge University of nonconformist puritan elements by giving heads of colleges control of all college business, his statutes also reorganized the succession of lectures and implemented guidelines for the maintenance of order and discipline at Cambridge.17 Thereafter, undergraduates were assigned to specific colleges. After a residence of three years and the completion of Greek, arithmetic, rhetoric, and logic, they then were made general sophisters of their college.  Next, they progressed to read two theses and defend and oppose positions for each. If successful, they next were presented as a questionist to be examined by those proctors or regents of their college who so desired. Finally, if they passed, they became ad respondendum questioni incepting bachelors.18

To ensure success at Trinity College, John Cotton focused on academics to the exclusion of religion. Although members of Trinity College were required to attend morning chapel, Cotton managed to avoid any entanglement in religion until early in 1602 when he was required to attend a lecture by William Perkins, the head lecturer at the Church of St. Andrew the Great.19 Perkins was renowned as “the prince of puritan theologians and the most eagerly read.” At the time, his works outsold those of John Calvin and all other well-known puritan writers combined.20

In spite of Perkins’ renown, Cotton was so troubled by his lecture that, later in October, he rejoiced when, at the age of forty-four, William Perkins died of complications from kidney stones.21 Cotton Mather wrote of the incident, “when he heard the bell toll for the funeral of Mr. Perkins, his mind secretly rejoiced in his deliverance from that ministry, by which his conscience had been so oft beleaguered.22 John Norton’s memoir of Cotton also mentions Cotton’s reaction to Perkins’ death, “the motions and stirring of his heart which then were… suppressed… thinking that if he should trouble himself with matters of religion, according to the light he had received, it would be a hinderance to him in his studies, which then he had addicted himself unto… hearing the bell toll for Mr. Perkins who then lay dying, he was secretly glad in his heart, that he should now be rid of him who had (as he said) laid siege to and beleaguer’d his heart.23

Having completed his bachelor’s degree at the age of seventeen, the last thing John Cotton wanted was to wrestle with Perkins’ strict Calvinist double predestination claiming each of us is preordained to either eternal damnation or eternal salvation.24 Cotton viewed religion as a hinderance to the studies “which then he had addicted himself.” Once planted, however, the possibility of predestination to damnation so troubled Cotton that he sought reassurance beyond the confines of Trinity College.

On Tuesday, July 2nd, 1602, John Cotton was one of nine sizars out of his cohort’s seventeen sizars awarded bachelor’s degrees at Trinity College. Earlier, five sizars from his cohort had transferred to other Cambridge colleges to complete their degrees, while the remaining three seem to have dropped out, as no record of their graduation exists. Of the nine sizars from Cotton’s Trinity cohort that graduated together, six continued at Trinity to earn master’s degrees. John Cotton, however, was not one of them.

Norton and Mather contend that Cotton was unable to continue at Trinity College because he was not awarded a Fellowship.25 Norton wrote in his 1658 memoir of Cotton: “…profiting in the arts and languages above all his equals so far commended him unto the master and fellows, as that he had undoubtedly been chosen fellow of that colledge, had not the extraordinary expence about the building of their great hall at that time put by, or at least deferred, their election until some longer time. From Trinity he was removed to Emmanuel.” 26Echoing Norton, Mather wrote, “that his being elected fellow of Trinity College, as a reward of his quick proficiency, was diverted by nothing but this, that the extraordinary charges for their great hall, then in building, did put by their election.”27

Although granting Fellowships to students seeking master’s degrees  was common at Cambridge, when Cotton and others from his cohort entered Trinity’s master’s program, the college suspended its Fellowship program due to cost overruns from a building expansion initiated by Thomas Neville, Master of Trinity College.28 Nonetheless, Cotton remained at Trinity College for two additional years in the same master’s program as six other sizars from his cohort and would have completed his master’s degree at Trinity but for a dramatic change of circumstances.29 In 1604, two years into Trinity’s master’s program, Cotton’s father died and left him “the somme of Twenty marks”.30  As any expectation that he study law died with his father, Cotton used his small inheritance to transfer to Emmanuel College to complete the last two years of his master’s program.31  At the time, he was but nineteen years old.

In contrast to Trinity College,32 Emmanuel was established as a puritan institution in 1584— the same year as Cotton’s birth.33 Its founder, Sir Walter Mildmay, served as Chancellor of the Exchequer to Queen Elizabeth I, who challenged Mildmay saying, “Sir Walter, I hear you have erected a Puritan foundation.” To which Sir Walter famously replied, “No, madam, far be it from me to countenance anything contrary to your established laws, but I have set an acorn, which when it becomes an oak, God alone knows what will be the fruit thereof.”34

Surprisingly when Cotton entered Emmanuel College in 1604, it was neither the nursery of preachers nor the famous seminary of later repute, as only 38 percent of Emmanuel graduates were ordained into the ministry compared with 43 percent at other Cambridge colleges. At the time, Emmanuel College was so poorly endowed that it actively sought sons of wealthy landed patrons capable of paying maximum rates of tuition. Thus Emmanuel had a disproportionately large number of gentry and fellow-commoners compared with other Cambridge colleges. However, only 28 percent of these students ever succeeded in earning degrees.35

The inheritance Cotton received from his father covered tuition at Emmanuel College for the two years it took him to complete his master’s degree. Subsequently, in 1606, he was elected a Fellow and freed any further expense while at Emmanuel. Witgift’s Elizabethan Statutes of 1570 provided Fellows annual stipends of ten pounds, though they were required to declare their religious faith to the Church and their political allegiance to the Crown. Additionally, Fellows were obligated to study divinity except a few fellowships reserved for law or medicine. Ultimately, all Fellows were required to take holy orders within seven years of receiving their master’s degree, though medical and legal fellows were granted a longer period of grace.36

John Cotton was twenty-one years old when elected a Fellow of Emmanuel College— three or four years younger than his peers. Though struggling with predestination, he swore the following Emmanuel College Oath of Fellowship:  “I, John Cotton, declare that I will embrace the true religion of Christ, contrary to Popery and all other heresies, and I promise and bind myself to observe truly and completely each and all statutes which Walter Mildmay, founder of this College, has set forth for its government, and I will endeavour as far as in me lies that my co-Fellows shall do the same. I will obey the Master or his deputy in all things soever that he shall lawfully command; I will divulge to no one the secret counsels of the same College (so far as shall be properly permitted); I will hinder nothing by which advantage or honor may accrue to the College, but rather will further it to the best of my ability. I will not consent to any of the Fellows removing to any other faculty than that of theology to take a degree therein; I will not at any time procure or cause to procured any dispensation against any of our founder’s statutes or against this my oath, nor anyway accept it if procured by another. All these things I take upon myself and by this oath I promise, in so far as they be not repugnant to the statutes of the realm already published or to be published, so help me God through Jesus Christ.37

Although the Emmanuel College Oath of Fellowship did not require Fellows to declare themselves puritan, Emmanuel was founded as a puritan institution by Sir Walter Mildmay. To quell the puritan movement and force conformity, the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift, mandated that all clergy swear to his Three Articles.38 Puritans who refused were silenced and deprived of their livings. Whitgift’s Three Articles stated:

“That none be permitted to preach, read, catechise, minister the sacraments, or to execute any other ecclesiastical function unless he consent and subscribe to the Articles following:

  1. That her Majesty, under God, hath, and ought to have, the sovereignty and rule over all manner of persons born within her realms… either ecclesiastical or temporal, soever they be.
  2. That the Book of Common Prayer, and of ordering bishops, priests and deacons, containeth in it nothing contrary to the word of God… and that he himself will use the form of the said book prescribed in public prayer and administration of the sacraments, and none other.
  3. That he alloweth the book of Articles, agreed upon by the archbishops and bishops of both provinces, and the whole clergy in Convocation holden at London in the year of our Lord God 1562… and that he believeth all the Articles therein contained to be agreeable to the word of God.”

As a result, John Cotton and other Emmanuel College Fellows walked a thin line— feigning conformity while being puritan. Early in the seventeenth century, the puritan movement contended for the civil liberties advocated by Sir Edward Coke in his 1628 Petition of Right that affirmed the rule of law and the rights of Englishmen in opposition to absolute rule by the divine right of the king. At the time, the Crown and its Church deemed Cambridge University radical to the point of sedition, as its students and Fellows openly debated religious liberties and promoted political change. In an attempt to stem intellectual unrest, a quasi-legal court known as the Star Chamber suspended any pretense of civil rights and due process by arresting, imprisoning, and torturing leading puritan thinkers, activists, and politicians. The resulting turmoil culminated in the English Civil Wars and the beheadings of Archbishop William Laud and Charles I.

Though this political turmoil eventually impacted Cotton’s life, the only political concern he had in 1606 was his selection as a Fellow of Emmanuel College. At Emmanuel College, scholastic acumen trumped politics, and Cotton’s acumen impressed all when he easily passed his Fellowship Hebrew exam on Isaiah 3. Samuel Whiting relates the story as follows: “he was honored with a fellowship in that Society, after a diligent and strict examen, according to the statutes of that House. Wherein this is worth the taking notice of, that when the poser came to examine him in the Hebrew tongue, the place where he was to be examined was that in Isaiah iii., that speaks against the bravery of women, which hath more hard words together than any place in the Bible within so narrow a compass , and might have posed a very good Hebrician; but he was very ready at it, and all those difficult words were easy to him. Afterwards, he was head-lecturer, and dean, and catechist in the College, and was a diligent tutor to many pupils, and very much beloved of them. His exercises that he performed in the College, whether in the way of common-place or dispute, wanted not sinews and strength, were highly commended and applauded of those that knew him.39

Once a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cotton settled comfortably into an academic career that grounded him intellectually for life. Once secure at Emmanuel, Cotton shifted focus from scholastic achievement to mentoring others— resulting in his lifelong commitment to education. John Cotton’s day as a Fellow of Emmanuel College started early when he rousted his charges to attend chapel at 5:00 a.m. Following chapel, breakfast was served in the College Hall, after which Cotton was free while his students attended lectures. Following the noon meal, Cotton spent afternoons tutoring his students. At 8:00 p.m., students gathered in his rooms for prayer, and at 10:00 p.m. the gates of Emmanuel College were locked.

In his biography, Samuel Clarke says that as a Fellow, Cotton, “proved a diligent Tutor, and had many young Students committed to his care. He was a Didactical-man, both able, and apt to teach: and truly ability to instruct youth argues a Wise man: and to be willing to teach, argues a good man: For goodness is communicative: And such was his Academical dexterity, that he could impart the felicities of wit to his hearers, so accommodating and insinuating the matter in hand, as that his Pupils might both perceive their profiting, and taste the sweetness of that wherein they profited. Thus by his School-stratagems he won the hearts of his Pupils both to himself, and to a desire of Learning: they were each to other as the Prophets, and the sons of the Prophets: his Pupils were honourers, and lovers of him: and he was a Tutor, a Friend, and a Father unto them.” 40

Thus, Cotton served loco parentis, in place of the parent, to his students. He provided his charges’ fathers with reports on their progress and ensured that they wrote home regularly. He competed with other Fellows for his students’ accommodations at Emmanuel and was even responsible for maintaining his charges’ finances, as he held their funds and, if needed, lent them money.41

The academic year around which Cotton’s life revolved started with the Michaelmas term, which lasted from the 10th of October to the 16th of December. The Lent term followed from the 13th of January to the second Friday before Easter and was followed by the Midsummer term, which started on the 11th day after Easter and ended the Friday following commencement that traditionally occurred the first Tuesday in July.42  Though a break separated each academic term, Cotton rarely left Cambridge unless it was to attend to family matters such as his father’s funeral in April 1604 or his sister’s wedding to Robert Bamford of Derby in August 1609.43

During his six years as a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Mather writes that Cotton was entrusted with increasing responsibility.44 “He was afterwards the Head Lecturer, the Dean, the Catechist, in that famous College; he became a tutor to many scholars, who afterwards proved famous persons, and had cause to bless God for the faithful, and ingenious, and laborious communicativeness of this their tutor. Here, all his academical exercises, wether in disputation or in common places, or whatever else did so “smell of the lamp,” that the wit, the strength, the gravity, and the fulness, both of reason and of reading in them, cause him to be much admired by the sparkling wits of the university.”45

Although it was common practice at Cambridge to chain books in college libraries to keep them from disappearing, Emmanuel College was an exception. In lieu of chaining its library books, Emmanuel required its members to sign a library pledge.46 On October 4, 1609, John Cotton signed the library pledge shown above along with eight of eleven other Fellows.47 The first signature appearing is that of Laurence Chaderton, Emmanuel’s Master, who was selected by the Sir Walter Mildmay, the founder of the college, to be its first Master. Though Chaderton felt unworthy of accepting the position, Mildmay made it clear that unless Chaderton became its Master, he would not proceed with founding Emmanuel College. Under Chaderton’s leadership, Emmanuel housed twelve fellows and forty scholars.

The eight fellows that signed the library pledge with Cotton were: William Eyres, James Walbankes, William Bradishe, Joseph Allinston, William Sancroft, Anthony Abridge, Samuel Hall, and Robert Clark. The two fellows with whom Cotton was best acquainted were Samuel Hall and William Sancroft. Samuel Hall joined Emmanuel College as a pensioner in April 1597, was elected a Fellow with John Cotton in 1606, became vicar of Donington in Lincolnshire in 1611, and died the following year in 1612.48  William Sancroft was admitted to Emmanuel as a pensioner in October 1596 and elected a Fellow in 1604- the same year John Cotton entered Emmanuel. Sancroft remained a Fellow until 1616 and later served as Master of Emmanuel College from 1628 to 1637.49 He is most often referred to as William Sancroft, the elder, as his nephew, William Sancroft, the younger, followed him at Emmanuel and also served as Master of Emmanuel from 1662 to 1665. Of the two, William Sancroft, the younger, is better known, as later, in 1678, he became Archbishop of Canterbury, attended Charles II on his deathbed, crowned James II in 1685, was imprisoned in the Tower of London for sedition, and later signed the declaration calling on William of Orange to procure peace and free parliament.50

Although his name does not appear above, the Emmanuel Fellow with whom Cotton is most commonly associated is Thomas Hooker.51 Like Cotton,52 Hooker transferred to Emmanuel College in 1604 and was named its Dixie Fellow in 1609.53 Similar to Cotton, Hooker served as Head Lecturer, Dean, and Catechist, and the two vied with each other sermonizing from the pulpit. Hooker remained at Emmanuel College until 1618. Over time, Hooker and Cotton became lifelong friends, and the two migrated to Massachusetts together on the same ship in 1633.

In the middle of January of 1608/9, a few months before Hooker was made Emmanuel’s Dixie Fellow,  Robert Some, the Master of Peterhouse and Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, died and Cotton was asked to deliver his funeral oration at Little Saint Mary’s Church adjacent to Peterhouse. Whiting wrote of the event, “The first time that he became famous throughout the whole University, was from a funeral oration which he made in Latin for Dr. Some, who was Master of Peter House; which, was so elegantly and oratoriously performed, that he was much admired for it by the greatest wits in the University.54

Although Cotton was admired for his delivery of Some’s funeral oration, he despaired any assurance of salvation, as he preached throughout Cambridge in the elaborate style for which he had then become famous. All the while, he wrestled internally with Calvin’s declaration, “God preordained… a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation.55 Not long after he delivered Robert Some’s funeral oration, Cotton became so disgusted by the hubris of his words that he burned the notes of his sermon. Cotton Mather wrote of the incident,  “..he used such florid strains, as extremely recommended him unto the most, who relished the wisdom of words above the words of wisdom: tho the pompous eloquence of that sermon afterwards gave such distaste unto his own renewed soul, that with a sacred indignation he threw his notes into the fire.”56 

On Sunday, July 13th, 1610, despite any assurance of salvation, John Cotton was ordained a deacon and priest of the Church of England at Lincoln. At the time, he was twenty-five years old.57 Not long after his ordination, Richard Sibbes took Cotton under his wing and eventually guided him to spiritual awakening. In 1601, Sibbes had been converted by his mentor, Paul Baynes,58 who taught him to “Beware of a strong head and a cold heart.”59After William Perkin’s death in 1602, Paul Baynes succeeded him as lecturer at the Church of St. Andrew the Great and was renowned as Cambridge University’s first “exemplary plain and spiritual preacher.60 In 1609, he became head lecturer of Cambridge’s Holy Trinity Church.61 His devotee, Richard Sibbes, said of him, “Mr. Baynes was a man of much communion with God, and acquaintance with his own heart, observing the daily footsteps of his life. He was much exercised with spiritual conflicts by which he became more able to comfort others. He had a deep insight into the mystery of God’s grace, and man’s corruption.62

In 1610, Richard Sibbes joined Paul Baynes as a lecturer at Holy Trinity Church, and under Baynes’ tutelage, Sibbes softened Calvin’s theology of predestination using simple, unadorned language.63 Sibbes counseled that despair over Calvin’s concept of predestination was counterproductive since “Grief, sorrow and humility are good; but discouragement is evil.64 Sibbes was known as ‘a physician of the soul’ and was valued throughout Cambridge as a spiritual counselor, who approached those he counseled as if they were among the elect.65 This approach provided others with hope and helped facilitate a realization of their salvation, even though such a realization was subtle and took time.66For John Cotton, the process seems to have taken about three years.

©  by Barry A. Cotton


  • Calculated by the author for three successive years of entrants to Trinity College using data from Venn, John. 2015. “Alumni Cantabrigienses.” Cambridge University Library. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ball, Walter William Rouse. 1899. Notes on the History of Trinity College, Cambridge. London: Macmillan and Co. 62
  • Searby, Peter. 1997. A History of the University of Cambridge:. Cambridge University Press. 70
  • Sizar: Twenty shillings equaled one pound so sizars paid one-fourth a pound each term or about $63 in today’s dollars. Annually, sizars paid the equivalent of $190 for room, board and tuition.
  • Noble: Ten pounds per term is equivalent to $2,527 in today’s money. Annually, nobles paid the equivalent of $7,582.
  • Fellow-commoner: Five pounds per term is equivalent to $1,264 in today’s money or $3,791 annually.
  • Searby, Peter. 1997. A History of the University of Cambridge:. Cambridge University Press.  p 68 -70
  • Ibid. 69
  • Pensioner: Two and a half pounds per term is equivalent to $632 in today’s money or $1,895 annually.
  • 10 Venn, John. 2015. “Alumni Cantabrigienses.” Cambridge University Library. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 11 The Alumni Catabrigienses is a biographical list of all known students, graduates and office holders at the University of Cambridge from earliest times to 1900 developed and edited by John Venn, Fellow and later President of Caius College, Cambridge, and his son John Archibald Venn. The ten volume work was published between 1922 and 1953 and has since been digitized and published online as a searchable database.
  • 12 See Appendix 3 for a list of 1598 entrants to Trinity College.
  • 13 Twigg, John. 1990. The University of Cambridge and the English Revolution, 1625-1688. Boydell & Brewer Incorporated. Twigg states that only 25% of fellow-commoners at Cambridge took degrees compared with 75% of sizars. 104
  • 14 Analysis by the author is based on data from Alumni Catabrigienses compiled by John Venn. (See APPENDICES II: 1598 Trinity Cohort)
  • 15 Surprisingly, John Cotton did not form any lasting friendships among his classmates at Trinity College.  This might result from his being three or four years younger than his fellow sizars. It is interesting to note, however, that the daughter a fellow sizar named John Sadler married John Harvard in 1636.
  • 16 Morgan, Victor. 2004. A History of the University of Cambridge. Vol. II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 76-84
  • 17 Whitgift insisted on discipline and resented nonconformist elements disruptive presence at Cambridge University. He wrote to William Cecil, then Chancellor of the University and later  Lord Burghley, Lord High Treasurer under Elizabeth I. Cecil backed Whitgift’s proposal as it gave the crown more influence over Cambridge University.
  • 18 Ball, Walter William Rouse. 1899. Notes on the History of Trinity College, Cambridge. London: Macmillan and Co. 58 – 59
  • 19 Ziff, Larzer. The Career of John Cotton, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1962. 18-22
  • 20 Collinson, Patrick. 1967. The Elizabethan Puritan Movement. Routledge. 125
  • 21 Peterson, Randall J.; Beeke, Joel R. (2013-02-10). Meet the Puritans (Kindle Location 6539). Reformation Heritage Books. Kindle Edition.
  • 22 Mather, Cotton. 1855. Magnalia Christi Americana. Vol. I. Hartford: Silas Andrus and Son. 254
  • 23 Norton, John. 1658. Abel Being Dead Yet Speaketh: or the Life and Death of … John Cotton, Late Teacher of the Church of Christ, at Boston, in New England. London: Tho. Newcomb for Lodowick Lloyd. 29
  • 24 Calvin, John. 1816. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Vol. III. Philadelphia: Philip H. Nicklin and Hezakiah Howe. Chapter 21
  • 25 Both Norton and Mather relied on the Samuel Whiting’s memoir of Cotton.  Whiting’s account reads, “at thirteen years of age, and was admitted into the famous society of Trinity College ; where he fell so hard to his study, and so profited in the knowledge of the tongues and arts, that he had undoubtedly been Fellow there, but that at that time their great Hall was then in building, which caused such expenses to them that the election was put by, or at least deferred, till some longer time. And this providence I cannot pass by concerning him, that his father, whose calling was to be employed in the study and practice of the law, had not many clients that made use of his advice in law matters before. It pleased God, after he was gone to Cambridge, to put his father upon great practice, so that he was very able to keep him there and allow him liberal maintenance; insomuch that the blessed man said, “God kept me at the University.”  From Trinity College he removed to Emmanuel College, the happy seminary of learning and piety, where he was honored with a fellowship in that Society, after a diligent and strict examen, according to the statutes of that House.”
  • Whiting, Samuel. “Concerning the Life of the Famous Mr. Cotton, Teacher to the Church of Christ at Boston in New England.” In Chronicles of the First Planters of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, From 1623-1636, Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846.
  • 26 Norton, John. 1658. Abel Being Dead Yet Speaketh: or the Life and Death of … John Cotton, Late Teacher of the Church of Christ, at Boston, in New England. London: Tho. Newcomb for Lodowick Lloyd. 24-25
  • 27 Mather, Cotton. 1855. Magnalia Christi Americana. Vol. I. Hartford: Silas Andrus and Son. 254
  • 28 Ball, Walter William Rouse. 1899. Notes on the History of Trinity College, Cambridge. London: Macmillan and Co.
  • 29 Roland Cotton: Last Will and Testament. Litchfield: Diocese of Litchfield. 1604. St. Alkmund’s Church record for 1604 “Sepult best Rolland’s Cotton, legis peritus erat vir pius honestus. Aprilus 21”  (Buried is Roland Cotton, a legal expert who was pious and honest. April 21)
  • 30 In seventeenth-century England, the mark did not exist as coinage. Rather it was an equity amount used in transactions like wills, land sales, and dowries. Twenty marks was roughly two-thirds of its equivalent in pound sterling or 13 pounds 6 shillings and 10 pence. £13 6s 10d in 1604 is the equivalent of £2,677 today.
  • 31 Both John Norton and Cotton Mather base their account of Cotton’s move from Trinity to Emmanuel College on Samuel Whiting’s memoir of Cotton. Samuel Whiting grew up in Boston, Lincolnshire and entered Emmanuel College with help from John Cotton in 1613. At the time, Cotton had barely completed his first year in Boston and was twice Samuel Whiting’s age. Samuel Whiting must have visited his Boston home while at Emmanuel College and, over time, became better acquainted with Cotton. Given the fact that Anthony Tuckney and Samuel Whiting were half cousins and entered Emmanuel College together, it is likely that they both were interested in Cotton’s story and the circumstances of his transfer from Trinity College to Emmanuel. What is surprising, however, is that the death of Cotton’s father as the enabling factor in Cotton’s move to Emmanuel College seems not to have been disclosed to Whiting. All Whiting knew was that Cotton was not given a Fellowship due to the building expansion at Trinity. Both John Norton and Cotton Mather assume that because he was not awarded a Fellowship at Trinity College, Cotton transferred to Emmanuel College. Apparently, Cotton did not openly discuss his father’s death nor his motivation for leaving Trinity College.
  • 32 Cotton, John – Matric. sizar TRINITY 1598. S. of Roland, of Derby, lawyer. Bapt. at St Alkmunds, Dec. 15 1584. School, Derby, Scholar, 1602; B.A. (?1602-3); M.A. from Emmanuel, 1606; B.D. 1613. Fellow of Emmanuel 1606.⁠ Though this Alumni Catabrigienses entry shows John Cotton transferred to Emmanuel College from Trinity College, no transfer date is provided and the date he received his B.A. from Trinity College is vague. However, records at Emmanuel College document the fact that Cotton transferred to Emmanuel in 1604- the term following his father’s death.⁠
  • 33 Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Commemoration of the Three-hundredth Anniversary of the Foundation, Cambridge: C.J. Clay, M.A., & Son, at the University Press, 1884. 1
  • 34 Thompson, Alexander Hamilton. 1899. Cambridge and Its Colleges. London: Methuen & Co. p 248
  • 35 Bendall, Sarah, Christopher Brooke, and Patrick Collinson. 1999. A History of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press 47-48
  • 36 Ball, Walter William Rouse. 1899. Notes on the History of Trinity College, Cambridge. London: Macmillan and Co.
  • 37 Rosenmeier, Jesper. 2012. ‘Spirituall Concupiscence‘: John Cotton’s English Years, 1584-1633. Boston, Lincs.: Richard Kay Publications.
  • 38 Strype, John. 1822. The Life and Acts of John Whitgift, D.D. Oxford: Claredon Press. 228-230
  • 39 Whiting, Samuel. “Concerning the Life of the Famous Mr. Cotton, Teacher to the Church of Christ at Boston in New England.” In Chronicles of the First Planters of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, From 1623-1636, Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846. 421
  • 40 Clarke, Samuel. 1662. “The Life and Death of Mr. John Cotton, Who Died an. Christi 1652.” In A Collection of the Lives of Ten Eminent Divines, 55–84. London: William Miller at the Guilded Acorn. 57
  • 41 Dever, Mark. Richard Sibbes, Mercer University Press, 2000. 31
  • 42 Bremer, Francis J. 1994. Congregational Communion. Boston: Northeastern University Press. 25
  • 43 1651. St. Alkmund’s Church Register: 1550-1650Diocese of Lichfield.
  • 44 Although Cotton Mather’s account of John Cotton’s becoming Head Lecturer, Dean and Catechist at Emmanuel College has been widely accepted as fact, Jesper Rosenmeier footnotes in his ‘Spirituall Concupiscence‘: John Cotton’s English Years, 1584-1633 that he was unable to verify Mather’s claim in a search of Emmanuel College records.
  • 45 Mather, Cotton. 1855. Magnalia Christi Americana. Vol. I. Hartford: Silas Andrus and Son. 254-255
  • 46 Bush, Sargent, and Carl J Rasmussen. 2005. The Library of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 1584-1637. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 5
  • 47 Photograph taken by author at the Emmanuel College library with the kind help of Ms. Sarah Bendall.
  • 48 Venn, John. 2015. “Alumni Cantabrigienses.” Cambridge University Library. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 49 Ibid.
  • 50 Ibid.
  • 51 Ibid.
  • 52 Hooker transferred from Queens’ College, Cambridge a few months after he matriculated.
  • 53 The Dixie Fellow was funded through a portion of the annual rent from land owned by Sir Wolstan Dixie.
  • 54 Whiting, Samuel. “Concerning the Life of the Famous Mr. Cotton, Teacher to the Church of Christ at Boston in New England.” In Chronicles of the First Planters of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, From 1623-1636, Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1846. 421
  • 55 Calvin, John. 1816. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Vol. III. Philadelphia: Philip H. Nicklin and Hezakiah Howe.
  • 56 Mather, Cotton. 1855. Magnalia Christi Americana. Vol. I. Hartford: Silas Andrus and Son. 255
  • 57 Venn, John. 2015. “Alumni Cantabrigienses.” Cambridge University Library. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • 58 Dever, Mark. Richard Sibbes, Mercer University Press, 2000.
  • 59 Ryken, Leland. Worldly Saints, Harper Collins, 2010.
  • 60 Whichcote, Benjamin, and Anthony Tuckney. 1753. Moral and Religious Aphorisms. Edited by Dr. Jeffery and Samuel Salter. London: J. Payne at Pope’s Head. 37
  • 61 Cotton, John, Sr. 2001. Correspondence of John Cotton. Edited by Sargent  Bush Jr. UNC Press Books. 327
  • 62 Sibbes, Richard. 2015. Complete Works of Richard Sibbes. Titus Books.
  • 63 Dever, Mark. Richard Sibbes, Mercer University Press, 2000. 32
  • 64 Ziff, Larzer. 1962. The Career of John Cotton. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 31
  • 65 Beeke, Joel R, and Randall J Pederson. Meet the Puritans, Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006. 31
  • 66 Richard Bancroft, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury, complained that the doctrine of predestination was a desperate doctrine that produced too many libertines.