Father: Amos Cotton
Mother: Mary Cotton (nee Hoskins)
William (Billy) (b. 1778, went into Squire's service as a groom)
Rebecca (Becky) (b. 1779, went into service as a maid)
Gabriel (b. 1780) (became a labourer, then joined the army)
Daniel (b. 1781) (became a labourer)
Margaret (Peggy) (b. 1782, d. 1783)
Susan (Sukey) (b. 1783) (went into service )
Samuel (Sam) (b. 1784) (became a postboy at a local inn)
James (Jimmy) (b 1785, d. 1785)
Amos remarried in late 1785, to Margaret (Meg) Mallard, (b. 1767)
Elizabeth (Bess) (b. 1787, d. 1790)
Joshua (b. 1788) (went into service as a stable boy)
Emily (b. 1789) (went into service as a dairymaid)
Tabitha (Tabby) (b. 1791)
Mary (Molly) (b. 1792, 1794)
Ruth (b. 1793)
Malachi (b 1795)
Wife: Maggie Cotton (nee Evans)
Cotton was born the second son and third child of a farm labourer and his wife in Throwley, an East Kent village. He began his working life aged five, doing simple things such as bird-scaring and stone-picking in the fields, or opening gates. When he was four, his mother died in childbirth and his father remarried later that year.
When Cotton was aged 12, he was goaded into a fight with the Squire's son, Master Edward Burgess, which the Squire interrupted. Master Edward never forgot the humiliation of being caught fighting with a labourer's son and when the Squire died in 1804 and he inherited the estate, he threw the Cotton family out. Amos thought it was because he'd caught him apple scrumping on several occasion, and whipped him for it more than once. Cotton knew better, however; it was because of the fight.
Enlisting in the Army
After leaving the cottage where he grew up,
Cotton headed to Faversham, the nearest big town to Throwley - a place he had only visited once before in his life. Having no luck at the hiring fair, he fell in with a recruiting party for the 22nd Regiment. He was disinclined to enlist, the Army having a reputation for being full of drunkards, thieves and vagabonds, but the Sergeant succeeded in getting him drunk enough to accept the King's Shilling. He was unable to pay the guinea 'smart money' to secure his release and attested before a magistrate the next day.
His life in the 22nd was uneventful until the Light Company got a new Captain, who noticed Cotton's potential as a Light Bob and arranged for his transfer to the 60th Rifles in 1807.
In the 60th
Cotton has taken to the life of a Rifleman like a duck to water, and is one of the best shots in the Company, due to his keen countryman's eye.
At Christmas 1808 his company got a new Captain, the newly-promoted Captain Vickery. This was only the beginning, however, as Cotton shortly received a summons to see the Captain. Thinking that he had somehow been caught in a misdemeanour (although he didn't know what he might have done) he was taken aback to be offered the role of batman, apparently on the recommendation of Sergeant Muller, the Company's senior Sergeant.
Although a little daunted by being thrust into the role of batman (an officer's personal servant who is also a soldier), which requires him to act as valet and footman, he gets along well with Captain Vickery, finding the officer accepting of his shortcomings when he's not sure what to do.
More recently, he has taken on the role of teacher to Zachary Pye and Friedrich Rottländer, helping them to learn some of the skills necessary to be good Riflemen.  He has also found that Rottländer comes to him for help in serving an officer, something Cotton is willing to offer advice about even though he is unsure himself at times.
He has also offered advice to Captain Torrington, an Engineer who has recently been attached to the Company. While this is possibly a role that should be filled by an NCO, Cotton gets on with the Engineer because of Torrington's friendship with Vickery, which means they are often in close proximity to each other when off-duty.
Courtship and Marriage
In May 1809, the night before the Army was to leave Lisbon, Cotton was in a tavern with Maggie Cotton, the sweetheart of a friend who had been killed at the Battle of Vimeiro. Recognising his growing feelings for her and unable to countenance leaving her behind, he asked her if she would walk out with him. 
During the third day of the march, Cotton discovered another officer's watch in Captain Vickery's baggage and allowed himself to be persuaded to let Maggie take it while he told Captain Vickery. Unfortunately, he could not inform the Captain before Maggie was discovered with the watch.  Preferring to take the blame and any punishment himself, rather than allow Maggie to suffer, he was court-martialled and sentenced to receive two hundred lashes the following day. While Cotton was under guard, Maggie came to see him and gave him her locket to wear, the only reminder of her dead mother.
Sentence was carried out the next day, but remitted after fifty lashes . Cotton spent the march in the surgeon's wagon, being tended by Maggie  who gave him his first reading lesson in an attempt to distract him from the pain.
They entered Coimbra in the evening of the 15th May 1809, and left on the 18th. However, in the early hours of the 18th, Maggie left the billet she was sharing with Cotton and was attacked and raped by Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill of the 33rd Regiment . She woke her friend Jenny Ross who took her to the hospital attached to the Convent of Santa Clara, leaving Cotton none the wiser as to what had happened, although she sent a note to Cotton apologising for remaining behind when the Rifles marched away.
When Cotton still hadn't seen Maggie by the end of the day's march, he sank into a depression
that was only lifted by Father O'Dwyer, a Catholic priest with the 5th Regiment, who said that he could send a letter to Coimbra for Cotton. Cotton dictated a letter asking Maggie to come back to him, saying that he loved her, but letting her know that he would respect her decision if she decided she would rather go home to England. He also sent her shawl and locket back to her in case she did not choose to rejoin the Army.
Captain Vickery got wind of this and sent Maggie her donkey with payment for some of her produce, in case she should decide to rejoin the Army, which she did, making the journey at a faster pace than the usual stop-start pace of an army on the move and catching them up late on the night of the 19th May 
Cotton was involved in the Battle of Oporto on the 22nd May and Maggie could not be with him, remaining with Jenny Ross. However, they managed to get passage across the Douro on the 23rd, and eventually found Cotton's billet. Almost upon finding Cotton, she suggested that they get married, something Cotton had suggested to her previously though without much hope that it might actually happen.
Cotton asked and received Vickery's permission for a brief wedding the following morning. Preparations were necessarily simple, and the ceremony was nothing more than a folk wedding of jumping the broomstick. 
Appearance and Personality
Cotton is a little on the tall side of average, being five feet six inches, and is quite sturdy as a result of his life as a farm worker. He has brown hair and eyes and wears the green jacket of the Rifles, although he has acquired a pair of trousers made from the same brown cloth as the Portuguese monks make their habits from, packing his Regimental issue blue trousers away to keep them for best. He is generally clean-shaven, though he wears his sideburns long, below his ears, though he keeps them trimmed. He has keen eyesight and is a good shot; he has recently beaten the best shot of the Chosen Men of the 95th in a straight competition . His back is scarred from the flogging he received in May 1809.
He is tanned from spending most of his time out of doors, though the tan stops at his wrists and goes no further down than his neck. He takes care of his equipment and is very proud of being batman (soldier-servant) to his company officer, picked out by his sergeant because of his care of his kit and his eye for detail.
In July 1809, he got into a fight with Jack Kirridge who had recently transferred from the 95th Rifles, and in the course of the fight, Kirridge pulled a knife on Cotton, who managed to deflect it, but still received a slash to his right arm, which will leave a scar of about 6 or 7 inches (when it has healed) .
Friends, Acquaintances and Enemies
Captain John Vickery (his company commander and whose servant Cotton is)
Captain Jonathan Padstowe, 50th Foot (Exploring Officer)
Captain Edward Torrington, Royal Engineers
Rifleman Tom Roper
Rifleman Zachary Pye
Rifleman Joe Newbury
Rifleman Friedrich Rottländer
Joe Cavender (the 16-year-old Company bugler)
Maggie Cotton (Cotton's wife).
Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill (33rd Foot) (the man ultimately responsible for Cotton's flogging)
Cotton had got to his feet as well, hiding his private amusement at the way the two younger lads had shot to their feet as though they'd each sat on a particularly prickly thistle. - Cotton, on Zachary Pye and Friedrich Rottländer
"Ain't no reason to be nervous of the Captain," he said, smiling. "Like I said, he don't bite. Leastways, I never seen him bite, anyway." - on Captain Vickery
Cotton burst out laughing. A bunch of Riflemen on the alert just because of a couple of frogs.
"When I heard we was goin' after some Frogs, that ain't the sort of thing I had in mind," he said once he'd managed to stop laughing. - Rifleman Cotton, on the discovery of two frogs rather than the Frenchmen they were tracking
"Well, it ain't quite so... dizzifyin' when you do it," Cotton allowed. - Rifleman Cotton about Pye's running, compared to Rottländer's.
"And anyone can be surprised... Never expected the French to be quite this close, anyways. D'you think they got lost, or had their map upside down?" - on the unexpected proximity of the French
- Story: 'Beginnings' http://sharpiepen.dreamwidth.org/14544.html
- "The Batman's Trade" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t1705-11-june-the-batman-s-trade#99082
- "Returning With Gifts" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t1628-11th-june-returning-with-gifts
- "Picquets and Patrols" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t1681-12-june-piquets-and-patrols
- "Last Night in Lisbon" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t148-last-night-in-lisbon
- "Third Day on the March" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t218-third-day-on-the-march
- "Third Night in Camp" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t234-third-night-in-camp
- "Cotton on Trial" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t240-cotton-on-trial#18186
- "Day of the Flogging" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t247-day-of-the-flogging
- "In the Surgeon's Wagon" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/old-military-threads-f15/in-the-surgeon-s-wagon-t266.htm
- "Early Morning Before the March" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/old-military-threads-f15/thursday-morning-before-the-march-t580.htm
- "In Bivouac With the 60th" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t617-in-bivouac-with-the-60th-18th-may
- To Miss Evans, Convento do Santa-Clara-a-Nova, Coimbra http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t631-miss-evans-convento-do-santa-clara-a-nova-Coimbra
- "In Coimbra" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t618-in-coimbra
- "Catching the Column" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t648-catching-the-column
- "In Oporto" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t719-in-oporto
- "Wedding Bells in Oporto" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t887-wedding-bells-in-oporto#79822
- "Rifle Competition" http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t441-training-day-rifle-competition
- Red and Green http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t1985-4th-july-early-evening-red-green
- http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/t2005-4th-july-under-arrest-again Under Arrest - Again