The Reverend John Cotton and Boston's American Legacy
In 1612, The Reverend John Cotton was appointed vicar at St Botolph's Church. He was a passionate man of character who challenged the church with his beliefs and teachings. He wished to change the church from within and was known as a 'Puritan'; seeking to remove (purify) practises from a recently reformed church.
The Rev Cotton was hugely popular and people travelled long distances to hear his sermons which sometimes lasted five hours. He was however unpopular with the church authorities and was often in trouble with them for sharing his beliefs.
Unable to change the church, he inspired members of his congregation to seek a new life in America. Between 1630 and 1634, about ten percent of Boston's population left for a new life abroad, between 200 and 300 people. This group included many educated and powerful residents; a mayor, a lawyer, a headmaster and many others who helped shape the colony in America that they founded in 1630.
Members of this newly established American congregation became Governors of the new city. The first American school, the Latin Free School, was based on Boston Grammar School; this school would eventually evolve into Harvard University.
And the name of this new city? Boston, in honour of the town they had known, loved and left behind.