Cotton, James William (1867-1943)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1911
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1911
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1919
Primitive Methodist Magazine 1919

Early years

James was born in 1867 at Hull, Yorkshire to parents William and Ann. William worked as a cooper (1871).

When James left school, he secured a post as clerk in a lawyer’s office.

James was converted at the age of sixteen. At seventeen, he was ‘on note,’ and fifteen months later on  ‘full plan.’ Before entering college, he spent ten months as a hired local preacher at Ripon, Yorkshire.


Anxious to exercise a teaching ministry, James devoted his mornings to strenuous mental activity studying the Word. Whilst studying theology and philosophy, James also found mental stimulation in the study of astronomy. He was particularly active in practical observation and experimental work in solar and lunar photography. James was elected a member of the British Astronomical Association in 1902 and also wrote many articles in connexional magazines on scientific matters.

His obituary records that he won the minds and hearts of the people with his cultured evangelism. There was always a sense of urgency in his preaching.

Life hurt him deeply when in the war he suffered the loss of both his sons, but his faith gave him firm anchorage. By his steadfastness in that testing hour, he exercised a healing and comforting ministry to many wounded souls.


James married Ruth Goodinson (1867-1965) in the summer of 1893 at Hull, Yorkshire.

  • Ralph (1895-1915) – an upholstery apprentice (1911); died of wounds in WW1
  • Cyril (1899-1918) – killed in action in WW1
  • Ruby (1907-1979) – married Cecil Brownlow, a clerk, in 1929

James died on 6 December 1943 at Leeds, Yorkshire.


  • Hartley
  • 1889 Pontypridd
  • 1891 Monmouth
  • 1893 Chinnor
  • 1895 Sleaford
  • 1898 Bedale
  • 1900 Shildon
  • 1904 Eston
  • 1907 Bristol IV
  • 1910 Swindon I
  • 1915 Pontefract
  • 1919 Wakefield I
  • 1924 Leeds II
  • 1927 Leeds II (Sup)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1911/189; 1919/338

Methodist Minutes 1944/127

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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