12th Century map and the villages of Singleton & Cottam.
After substantial costly DNA testing, it is confirmed that John Cotton’s Y (male line) DNA is pure Celt and connects historically to the Irish Clan O’Byrne. The O’Byrne Clan is named after Braen mac Máelmórda, the King of Leinster, who was deposed in 1018. As a result of this detailed DNA testing, John Cotton’s surname dates back to Richard de Cottam, who was born about 1204 in Singleton, Lancashire. Richard was the son of Robert de Singleton, who owned land in the nearby village of Cotham. When Richard inherited this land, he conformed to the practice of making his surname the same as his village. So John Cotton’s surname results from the relocation of a Singleton family ancestor to the Lancashire village of Cotham.

The above diagram shows the unique haplogroup containing Singleton & Cotton surnames that separated from the Clan O’Byrne. COTTON, COTTAM and COTHAM surnames comprising Cotton DNA Project date back to Roland Cotton born London, England 1558. Internal to the Singleton/Cotton haplogroup, the Cottam surname has been proven genealogically to Thomas Cottam circa 1740 and William Cottam born 1779 at St. Michael on Wyre, Lancashire, England. 

The Cotton DNA Project bridges genealogical proof with DNA Test results. For Family 11 in the Cotton DNA Project, the Cotton family has been confirmed by a large number of prestigious lineage and hereditary societies while the Big Y DNA test bridges genealogical and scientific proofs. Shown above in yellow highlight, the Singleton/Cotton line has split into several subclades under Haplogroup R-ZZ7.

  • Subclade DYS435=12 groups the Cotton line solidly with the Irish Sea or Leinister Modality as the group is dominated by Z16430 and the Irish Clan O’Byrne. The Byrne family is named after the King of Leinster, Braen mac Máelmórda, who was deposed in 1018. About 1050, Cotton DNA traveled across the Irish Sea to the Wirral Peninsula.
  • About a hundred years later,  a unique mutation that now forms its own haplogroup containing, two Singletons and a Cotton (me) branched off from the Clan O’Byrne. The Singleton Family adopted their surname from the Lancashire township of Singleton. Later, in the early 12th Century, a Singleton inherited land in the nearby township of Cottam and took the surname “de Cottam”. As a result, a nexus of historical and DNA data exists showing that Cottam and Cotton surnames derive from the Singleton family of Lancashire early in the 13th century.’

The Lancashire Chartulary, Series XX. Charter No. II (A.D. 1153-1160 Stephen to Henry II) shows the confirmation of William Warren, Count of Mortain, to Ughtred, son of Huck de Singleton, of the village of Broughton in Amounderness. A note by the Chetham Society, XXX. Page 5, in their Latin comments about the Charter state, “Broctun, now Broughton, in the parish of Preston, was assessed to Danegeld in 1066 as on teamland, and was a member of Earl Tostig’s great manor of Preston in Amounderness. Hucca or Uck is the Anglo Saxon Hoc, a tribal name retained in the place name “Hucking”. The individual so named in the charter seems to have been the successor of the preconquest thane or drengh of Broughton, and Singleton. He was the ancestor of the Singleton family, which with its various offshoots at one time held estates in Amounderness. Ughtred, son of Huck, is frequently mentioned in charters and other records of the time of Henry II. At Michaelmas, 23 Henry II, 1177, he rendered account at the Treasury of 5 marks to have the King’s confirmation or warranty of land which he held by the gift of Geoffrey de Valoiness…

Based on this charter and the notes of the Chetham Society, the following lineage has been established:

  • Huck (Ecke) de Singleton (born circa 1125)
  • Ughtred (Uctred) de Singleton (born circa 1153)
  • Robert de Singleton (born circa 1180)
  • Richard de Cottam (born circa 1204) Richard, son of Robert, inherited land in the village of Cottam and thus changed his surname to conform to the common practice “of being from a place” i.e. Robert de Singleton and Richard de Cottam.  (Pipe Roll, No. 71, m.I.) From the Cockersand Chartulary it appears that Richard de Cottam was son of Robert, son of Ughtred, who was brother of Richard de Singleton (1180-1212)
  • Richard de Cotham (son of Richard, born circa 1230) “Writ dated at Westminster, June 10th, 21st year of Edward I (1293), directed to the sheriff of Lancaster and his coroners, reciting the same terms as the previous writ (No. LXXI) the petition of the venerable father R. Bishop of Coventre and Lichfield respecting the lands and chattels of Richard de Cotton, clerk, which had been taken into the King’s hands owing to a charge against the said Richard, of the death of William le pauper, and directing the sherif to make inquiry as to the said Richard’s conversation and reputation….. By the oath of 12 free and liege men of the neighborhood of Amundernesse, who say that Richard de Cotton is of good and honest conversation and of good report nor was he ever a public or notorious malefactor except for the death of William le Paumere of which he was accused (arectatus) before the Justices in the last eyre at Lancaster, of which he afterwards solely vindicated (expurgavit) his innocence.

©  by Barry A. Cotton


Singleton, Sam, Singleton Family Association. A History of John Singleton of American Fork, Utah, His Ancestors and Descendants, Spanish Fork, Utah: JMart Publishing Company, 1973.

Cheshire, Record Society of Lancashire and. Record Society for the Publication of Original Documents Relating to Lancashire and Cheshire, 1903.3

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