ABOUT ME

My name is Barry Arthur Cotton and I am the 7th great-grandson of John Cotton, the Puritan Patriarch of New-England. John Cotton was a Founding Father to America’s Founding Fathers and established America’s first public school, the Boston Latin School, and its first university, Harvard University. I served on the Board of the Winthrop Society for 9 years, was elected National Chairman & President, and became President Emeritus in 2010. Concurrently, I served as Trustee of the Partnership of the Historic Bostons for 14 years, authored articles for the Winthrop Journal and the Mayflower Quarterly and contributed several articles to BOSTON: The Small Town with a Big Story published September 2019.

Currently, I am working on a biography of John Cotton titled John Cotton: An Intimate Investigation of His Life and Times, which was awarded First Place in the 2017 WRITERS’ LEAGUE OF TEXAS MANUSCRIPT CONTEST for nonfiction.

I am also working on two books THE MASSACHUSETTS BAY COMPANY BOSTON MEN and LINCOLNSHIRE MIGRATION TO NEW ENGLAND 1620-1640. The first book will focus on how ten men from Boston, Lincolnshire played a pivotal role in founding the Massachusetts Bay Company. The second will detail 255 individuals from Lincolnshire that emigrated to New England from 1620 through 1640.

Having discovered a rich family heritage that stretches back for twelve generations to early 16th century England has been both a blessing and a burden. A burden because digging in the past unearths bones crying out for flesh.

While fleshing out the past is both exhausting and exhilarating work, it is very demanding. Dots are connected, patterns emerge and stories unfold.  These stories need to be told. This “blog” – this “website” – this offering results from the need to tell those stories and become intimate with ancestors long dead and forgotten. Not to aggrandize them but to shed light on their lives.

For me, digging up bones is more enjoyable than assembling skeletons and connecting dots and finding patterns is more enjoyable than crafting stories. Writing does not come easy. Taking Pains only begins to describe the process.  I have never written a book but will endeavor to do so.  I have never written a blog but will do so to log my progress.

Over time, my story as a storyteller will unfold. I relish a good story. We all do. Storytelling is as old as humanity. I aspire to be a great storyteller. The problem is that I must endeavor to tell “true stories”. I am not an academic historian. I am not a trained genealogist. I do not have an MFA in creative nonfiction. So aside from my innate curiosity and a desire to become intimate with the past, I have little to offer by way of qualifications. The learning is in the doing.

Writing a BLOG is a new experience and one that I do not do often enough. The truth be told,  I am not attempting to establish myself as a Blogger.

I have titled my BLOG, The Cotton Chronicles, and given it the tagline- the occasional musings of an itinerant seanchaí polishing his craft online.

Musings of an itinerant seanchaí because I have traveled from place to place throughout my life and have developed a strong sense of Mono no aware(物の哀れ), literally “the pathos of things” (also translated as “an empathy toward things”, or “a sensitivity to ephemera”) is a  Japanese term for the awareness of impermanence (無常 mujō), or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life. And, seanchaí in honor of my pure Celtic/Irish DNA and traditional Irish storytellers. Storytelling was one of the main forms of fireside entertainment among ordinary Irish folk and the storyteller was held in high esteem by the ordinary Irish who revered and cultivated story and song as their principal means of artistic expression.

I assume that those who follow me must have some interest in things I post even though most of my postings have dealt with my Cotton ancestors. The original goal of my blog was to share the trials and frustrations I encounter attempting to write and publish. However, by sharing these frustrations entails reliving them and why would anyone want to do that!

I have thought about setting a goal of writing at least one blog post a month. But somehow, this seems too artificial. So it looks like my blog will grow in a more spontaneous and organic way and I will post when inspired or feel that I have something I want to say. After all, I really have nothing to prove. My writing is what it is and progresses slowly and painfully. And, the only thing I know for certain is that I must stick with it if I am ever going to finish a book or two.  It is such a solitary activity that there is little to share and once I finish a book, it will stand on its own with no need for any commentary from me. For now, I must just keep plugging away in hopes of reaching that point.

Barry’s quotes

“In zazen, leave your front door and your back door open. Let thoughts come and go. Just don’t serve them tea.”— Shunryu SuzukiGoodreads Quotes