Cotton, Henry (1789–1879), theologian and bibliographer, was born in Bucks., England, son of the Rev. William C. Cotton of Chichley, Berks., educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford (BA 1811; MA 1813), and became sub-librarian of the Bodleian library (1814–22), where he developed a profound interest in bibliographical matters. He married Mary Vaughan, daughter of Richard Laurence, regius professor of Hebrew at Oxford; they had two sons and two daughters. On his father-in-law's appointment as archbishop of Cashel (1822), Cotton accompanied him to Ireland as domestic chaplain, becoming archdeacon of Cashel (1824–72) and treasurer of Christ Church cathedral, Dublin (1832), and holding (1834–49) the honorary position of dean of Lismore, where he died (3 December 1879) and is buried. His wife predeceased him (18 March 1866).
At a time when the affairs of the established Church of Ireland were receiving close scrutiny by government, he published two notable addresses to the chief secretary: Cui bono (1833, to Stanley) and Fiat justitia (1835, to Harding), in which he questioned the assumptions of current reform of the church and its likely consequences. Between 1825 and 1831 he published bibliographical notes collected while at the Bodleian, and produced several editions of the Typographical Gazette, including (1866) original material on American newspapers. However, his lasting monunent is his Fasti Ecclesiae Hibernicae (6 vols, 1845–50) in which he sought to update James Ware's (qv) Bishops (as revised to 1739 by Walter Harris (qv)). He claimed that in the course of his research for this project he visited all diocesan registeries to inspect their records and the cathedral chapter books.