I'm stuck, genealogically, at my great-great-great-great-grandfather George Cotton, so that's where this story begins.
There's not much that I know about George Cotton. I don't know when or where he was born or died or the identity of his wife or parents. There are some indications that he lived in Suffolk on the eastern coast of England and was born around 1760, though I have not found records to support these notions. Apparently other researchers have not discovered any records either, because no such records have been posted to online family trees. Some undocumented family trees indicate that he had a son, William Cotton (1783-1869), who was born in Brandeston, a village in Suffolk. If George is William's father, then I suspect George Cotton lived in Suffolk because people in 18th-century England tended to live where they were born. Similarly, 1760 is a reasonable year of birth (YOB) for George, making him 23 years old at the birth of his son. I'd be thrilled to receive any records on George or William Cotton from readers.
The surname Cotton in some parts of England probably originated from "cotum," meaning cottage or "coton" meaning cottage in a small village. However, the Cotton lineage in Suffolk is distinct from Cotton lineages in other parts of England, and the Suffolk Cottons date back to the 11th-century Norman Conquest. The surname of the Suffolk Cotton families may have been derived from John de Cotentin (1042-1105), an invading Norman from Cotentin, now known as the Cherbourg peninsula in France.
Various censuses list multiple Cotton families in Grundisburgh and nearby locations in the 19th century. Who were they? What were their lives like? Where did they move? Let's find out.