Cotter, Sir James (c.1630–1705), soldier and Jacobite, was second of two sons and three daughters of Edmond Cotter, gentleman, of Ballinsperry, Carrigtohill, Co. Cork, and his wife Ellish, daughter of John Connell of Barryscourt, Carrigtohill. James Cotter appears to have gone to the Continent after the Cromwellian conquest, possibly as a follower of Lord Muskerry (qv), and to have been a lieutenant in England shortly after the restoration. When Charles II issued a proclamation offering a reward to ‘whosoever would bring back, or otherwise suppress’ the regicide John Lisle (then a refugee in Switzerland), Cotter led a party of Irishmen who traced the fugitive to Lausanne and assassinated him there (11 August 1664). Commissioned as a captain, Cotter was posted to the West Indies and was captured in 1667 during an attack on the French-held island of St Christopher. He returned to England in 1668 and was subsequently appointed secretary and marshal of the Leeward Islands, but did not revisit the West Indies until 1680–81, when he was successively deputy-governor and governor of Montserrat. Cotter was granted a pension of £200 a year in 1682 and returned to Ireland around the same time, having previously purchased the interests of his mother and elder brother in the Ballinsperry estate. The foreword to ‘Párliament na mBan’ states that he was knighted by James II (qv) for his services at the battle of Sedgemoor (1685), and he is referred to as ‘Sir James’ in a document of the following year. Sheriff of Co. Cork in 1687, he was lieutenant-colonel of the regiment of Lord Clancarty (qv) in 1688 and was returned as an MP for Cork city in 1689. A member of the Jacobite party defeated at Newtownbutler in July of that year, he was appointed governor of Cork city in February 1690 and commander of Jacobite forces in west Munster in 1691, a position he retained until the end of the war, when his command was included within the articles of Limerick. The foreword to ‘Párliament na mBan’ informs us that the bishop of Cork, John Baptist Sleyne (1639?–1712), was sheltered for more than three years at Ballinsperry and that the catholic clergy frequently assembled there. Cotter married (c.1679) Mary, daughter of Sir William Stapleton, governor of the Leeward Islands. After her death, he married (1688) Eleanor, daughter of Matthew Plunkett, 7th Lord Louth. The couple were the subject of an encomium by Dáibhí Ó Bruadair (qv). Cotter died 18 June 1705 and was lamented in a poem by Liam Mac Cairteáin (qv). He was survived by two sons and one daughter from his second marriage, the eldest of whom was James Cotter (qv).
NLI, MS 711, pp. 43–124; Brian Ó Cuív, ‘James Cotter, a seventeenth-century agent of the crown’, RSAI Jn., lxxxix (1959), 135–59; J. C., ‘Notes on the Cotter family of Rockforest, Co. Cork’, Cork Hist. Soc. Jn., 2nd ser., xiv (1908), 1–12; Brian Ó Cuív (ed.), Párliament na mBan (1952), 1–6; J. C. MacErlean, Duanaire Dháibhidh Uí Bhruadair, iii (1917), 186–93