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Cotton (2nd son — Mary Wesenham
ware), slain at the
Thomas Cotton - - Eleanor Knightley.
(Lord of Coninsrton). I
Thomas Cotton = June Paris.
Joan Brttce = Sir Nicholas Greene. 2nd daughter I and co-heir.
a quo Culpeper
Thomas Cotton = Lucy Harney.
Thomas Cotton = Elizabeth Shirley.
Sir ROBERT (BRUCE) COTTON,
Knight and Bart., Lord of Conington, Ac, and Fodder Op The Cottonian Library (Born 1570; Died 6 May, 1631).
[For the continuation of the Cotton Pedigree, showing (1) the descent from Sir Rohert of the subsequent possessors of the Cottoman Library, up to the dute of the gift to the Nation made by Sir John Cotton, and f2) the relationship of the Coitoman Trustees of the British Museum, see the concluding pages of the present Chapter.]
Robert Cotton was educated at Trinity College in Cambridge, where he took the degree of B.A. towards the close of 1585.* Of his collegiate career very little is discoverable, save that it was an eminently studious one. Long before he left Trinity, he had given unmistakeable proofs of his love for archaeology. Some among the many conspicuous and lifelong friendships which he formed with men likeminded took their beginnings at Cambridge, but most of them were formed during his periodical and frequent sojourns in London. John Josceline, William Dethick, Lawrence Nowell, William Lambarde, and William Camden were amongst his earliest and closest friends. Most of them were much his seniors. Whilst still in the heyday of youth he married Elizabeth Brocas, daughter and eventually coheir of William Brocas of Thedingworth in Leicestershire. Soon after his marriage he took a leading part in the establishment of the first Society of Antiquaries.
* Here, if we accepted Cotton's authorship of the Twenty-four Argv.ments, whether it be more expedient to suppress Popish Practices, &c, published in the Cottoni Posthuma, by James Howell, we Bhould have to add that' he travelled on the Continent and passed many months in Italy.' But that tract is not Cotton's—though ascribed to him by so able and careful an historian as Mr. S. R. Gardiner (Archceologia, vol. xli. Comp. Prince Charles and the Spanish Marriage, &c, vol. i, p. 32). That its real author was in Italy is plain, from his own statement' I remember that in Italy it was often told me,' &c.; and, again: 'In Rome itself I have heard the English fugitive taxed,' &c, Posthuma, pp. 126, seqq. Dr. Thomas Smith put a question as to this implied visit of Sir Robert to Italy to his grandson, Sir John Cotton, who assured him that no such visit was known to any of the family; by all of whom it was believed that their eminent antiquary never set foot out of Britain. Smith's words are these:—
'D. Joannes Cottonus hac de re a me Uteris consultus, se de
iBthoc avi sui itinere Italico ne verbum quidem a Patre suo edoctum
fuisse respondit Cottonum usum et cognitionem linguse Italics;
a Joanne Florio .... anno 1610 addidicisse ex ejusdem Uteris ad Cottonum scriptis, mihi certo constat.' Vita, p. xvii.
Some of Cotton's fellow-workers in the Society are known Booii.
'that good Earl, once President
at a time when such praise could seldom be given
Before the close of the sixteenth century, his collections °r
of Manuscripts and of Antiquities had already become so Tonia» large and important as to win for him a wide reputation Aso""in foreign countries, as well as at home. His correspondence indicates, even at that early period, a generous recognition of the brotherhood of literature, the world over, and proves the ready courtesy with which he had learned to bear somewhat more than his fair share of the obligations thence arising. In later days he was wont to say to his intimates: 'I, myself, have the smallest share in myself/ From youth, onwards, there is abundant evidence that the saying expressed, unboastingly, the simple facts of his daily life.
Camden was amongst the earliest of those intimates, Friendship and to the dying day of the author of the Britannia the w"" close friendship which united him with Cotton was both unbroken and undiminished. The former was still in the
Boo«i. fall vigour of life when Corrox had given proof of his Lmor worthiness to be a fcI!:w-Lb>:urer in the field of English ^^*nT antiquities. In l-7»i»t> they went, in company, over the northern counties: exp'.;nrd together many an old abbey and many a famous ba::Ie-fce".d. When that tour was made, the evidences of the ruthless barbarism with which the mandates of Hexrt The Eighth had been carried out by his agents lay stili thick upon the ground, and may well have had their influence in modifying some of the religious views and feelings of such tourists. Not a few chapters of the Britannia embody the researches of Cottox as well as those of Camdkx; and the elder author was ever ready to acknowledge his deep sense of obligation to his younger colleague. For both of them, at this time, and in subsequent years, the storied past was more full of interest than the politics, howsoever momentous or exciting, of the day. But, occasionally, they corresponded on questions of policy as well as of history. There is evidence that on one stirring subject, about which men's views were much wont to run to extremes, they agreed in advocating moderate courses. In the closing years of the Queen, Cotton, as well as Camoex, recognised the necessity that the Government should hold a firm hand over the emissaries of the Church and Court of Rome, whilst refusing to admit that a due repression of hostile intrigues was inconsistent with the honourable treatment of conscientious and peaceful Romanists.
It was, in all probability, almost immediately after Cotton's return from the Archaeological tour to the North which he had made with his early friend, that he received a message from the Queen. Elizabeth had been told of his growing fame for possessing an acquaintance with the mustiest of records, aud an ability 'to vouch precedents' such as few students, even of much riper years, had Booii, attained to. He was now to be acquainted with a dispute u^'ol about national precedency which had arisen at Calais c'mo"" between Sir Henry Neville and the Ambassador of Spain. It was Her Majesty's wish that he should search THIt TmAC'
* J J TATE on
the records which bore upon the question, and send her E»ol»» such a report as might strengthen Neville S hands m his oviisnm. contest for the honour of England.
Such a task could not fail to be a welcome one j and Cotton found no lack of pertinent evidence. The bent and habit of his mind were always methodical. He begins his abstract of the records by tabulating his argument. Precedency, he says, must have respect either to the nation or to the ruler of the nation. A kingdom must rank either (1) according to its antiquity, or (2) according to 'the eminency of the throne royal,' by which phrase he means the complete unity of the dominion under one supreme ruler. On the first title to precedency he observes that it may be based either upon the date of national independence, or upon that of the national recognition of Christianity. He claims for England that it was a monarchy at least four hundred and sixty years before Castile became one; that Christianity had then been established in it, without break or interruption, for a thousand years; whereas in Spain cotton Christianity was 'defaced with Moorish Mahumetisme,' until the expulsion of the Moors by Ferdinand, little more than a century before the time at which he was writing.
His assertion of the greater 'eminency of the throne royal' in England than in Spain is mainly founded on the union in the English sovereignty alone of supreme ecclesiastical with supreme civil power; and on the lineal descent of the then sovereign 'from Christian princes for 800 years,' whereas the descent of the Kings of Spain 'is