Digital Commonwealth

Cotton and Prince Papers

Boston Public Library

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This collection consists primarily of correspondence between various members of the Cotton and Prince families, including John Cotton the younger (1640-1699), Rowland Cotton (1667-1722), Nathaniel Cotton (1698-1729), Thomas Prince (1687-1758), and Nathan Prince (1698-1748). There are also letters from or to Nathaniel Saltonstall (ca. 1639-1707), Richard Saltonstall (1672-1714), Henry Flynt (1675-1760), Robert Pierson (dates unknown), John Callender (1706-1748), Richard Ward (1689-1763), John Eyre (dates unknown), Mary Thacher (dates unknown), and Peter Thacher (1688-1744), among a number of others.

The papers were gathered by Thomas Prince -- historian, bibliophile, and co-minister of the Old South Church from 1718 to 1758. Over the course of his lifetime, Prince assembled one of the most substantial and comprehensive libraries in colonial North America. Books from Prince’s collection, along with those of Old South co-minister Joseph Sewall, form the majority of the Thomas Prince Library and Collection of the Old South Church, which has been deposited in the Boston Public Library since 1869.

In addition to nearly 2,000 volumes of printed matter containing almost 3,500 individual editions, the Prince Library and Collection of the Old South Church also contains over 1,000 manuscripts gathered and preserved by Prince himself. These manuscripts include the papers of the Mather family, the papers of the Cotton family, the present group of papers relating to both the Cotton and Prince families, the papers of the Hinckley family, and papers related to the case of Torrey v. Gardner (1734).

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