Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cotton, John Hynde

COTTON, Sir JOHN HYNDE (d. 1752), Jacobite politician, was the only surviving son of Sir John Cotton of Lanwade and Madingley Hall, Cambridgeshire, whose grandfather (John) was created a baronet 14 July 1641. His mother, who married Sir John at Westminster Abbey, on 14 Jan. 1679, was Elizabeth, daughter and coheiress of Sir Joseph Sheldon, lord mayor of London in 1676, and nephew and heir of Archbishop Sheldon. He was entered as a fellow-commoner at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, on 29 Sept. 1701, was created M. A. in 1705, and became fourth baronet on his father's death in 1712. At every election from 1708 to 1734 he was returned for the borough of Cambridge; but during the parliament of 1722–7 he chose to serve for the county of Cambridge, which had also returned him as its representative. Cole says that Cotton was accused of stinginess by the corporation of Cambridge; and if, as is asserted, his election in 1727 cost him 8,000l., his subsequent expenditure may of necessity have subjected him to this charge. At all events, his parliamentary connection with his native county closed in 1741, when he was returned for the borough of Marlborough, and continued to sit for it until his death. Cotton was always a tory, and after the death of Queen Anne was one of the leaders of the Jacobite party. For a year (September 1713 to September 1714) he was a member of the board of trade; but his tenure of office ceased with the queen's death, and his principles forbade his accepting any position under the new government until the fall of Sir Robert Walpole. On that event the Duke of Argyll, one of the most influential in opposition to Walpole, received an assurance that Cotton should be included in the board of admiralty. But the appointment was absolutely vetoed by George II, with the declaration that he was determined to stand by those who had secured the throne of England for his family; and, to the indignation of the tories, Cotton's name did not appear in the list of the board's members. The king was at last forced to yield, and, although he disliked the Jacobite leader personally as well as politically, was compelled to accept him in 1744 in the post of treasurer of the chamber, an office which conferred upon its holder rooms adjoining the palace, and the supervision of the accounts of the king's tradesmen. Cotton was very tall and very stout, and the caricatures of the day represented the ministers thrusting him down the king's throat. The office of treasurer he held until 1746, during which period he never voted with the court. In 1746 he was dismissed, and shortly afterwards led the remnant of his Jacobite friends to the standard of the Prince of Wales, in opposition to the ministry of the day. He died, at Park Place, St. James's, London, on 4 Jan. 1752, and was buried at Lanwade, in a vault made by himself, between his two wives. The first of these was Lettice, second daughter of Sir Ambrose Crowley, who brought him 10,000l. She died in August 1718, leaving one son, Sir John Hynde, father of Sir Charles Cotton [q. v.], and one daughter. His second wife was Margaret, daughter of James Craggs the elder [q. v.], and widow of Samuel Trefusis of Trefusis in Cornwall, and through her Cotton obtained a third of the property of her father and brother. She died on 23 Aug. 1734, having had issue one daughter, who died very young. Cotton possessed great ‘wit, and the faithful attendant of wit, ill-nature,’ and was famed for his knowledge of the arts of the House of Commons; but his speeches were usually marked by brevity, as he was subject to ‘great hesitation and stammering in his speech,’ defects which, like many other stammerers, he knew how to turn to his advantage. Triennial parliaments and some other measures afterwards identified with radicalism were advocated by him; but his support of these views arose from the fact that they were disliked by the whigs rather than from a belief in their justice. He took pleasure in antiquarianism, numbering Gough and Zachary Grey among his correspondents; and when Carte went to Cambridge to collect materials for his history, he dwelt at Madingley, and made great use of the family collection of pamphlets published between 1640 and 1660. Good living was also among his pleasures. It was an age of hard drinking; but Cotton was credited with the power of consuming as much wine as any man in England.

[Lord Stanhope's History of England, 1713–1783, iii. 114, 187, 330; Walpole's Last Ten Years of George II, i. 28–9, 185; Coxe's Pelham Administration, ii. 50; Sir C. H. Williams's Works (1822), ii. 98, 115, 178; Betham's Baronetage, i. 404–5; Cooper's Annals of Camb. iv. 83–4, 109, 126, 168–9, 195; Gent. Mag. (1752), p. 92; Chester's Registers of Westminster Abbey, p. 16; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. iv. 717, v. 153, 159, 161; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ii. 479, 481, 534; Cole's MSS., Addit. MS., Brit. Mus. 5841, pp. 335–43; Le Neve's Knights (Harl. Soc. 1873), 208, 495.]

W. P. C.