The Cotton name came into common use after the Norman invasion of 1066 and directly relates to the Norman penchant for building fortified castles. As Norman fortresses dotted the British landscape, towns sprang up to support these castles and became known as cottage towns or cot towns. The vernacular of the time more commonly used cot than cottage and cot town was soon contracted to cotton or coton. In Norman parlance, a person from the cottage town became known as de’cotton or de’coton. Thus, Jean de’coton was “John of the cottage town”.
As the use of surnames became widespread, a large number of English families took Coton, Cotton, Cotten or Coten for their family name and over 30 place names in Britain contain some form of coton, cotton, cotten or coten. A good example is the village of Coton west of Cambridge near the cemetery dedicated to America’s volunteer airmen who died serving the United Kingdom during the Battle of Britain in World War II.