Cotterill, Thomas


b Cannock, Staffs 1779, d Sheffield, Yorks 1823. The Free School, Birmingham, and St John’s Coll Cambridge (BA 1801); elected a Fellow, then ordained (CofE) 1803. After serving a curacy at Tutbury, nr Burton-on-Trent, Staffs, he became incumbent of Lane End, Staffs in 1808, and of St Paul’s Sheffield from 1817 until his early death aged 43. He assisted Jonathan Stubbs in producing the 1805 Uttoxeter Selection of Psalms and Hymns, but the crucial impact on hymnody made by his brief career came a little later, heralded by A Selection of Psalms and Hymns for Public and Private Use which he edited in 1810. For the 8th edn of this most successful book, produced in 1819, Cotterill shared the work with James Montgomery, a fellow hymn-lover and author across the city. The book had now grown to comprise 150 Psalms and 367 hymns, of which he contributed 32 and Montgomery, 50. But it became a test case for the legality of hymn-singing in the CofE’s regular services (as distinct from midweek, open-air or private gatherings such as Newton and the Wesleys arranged). Since there was no explicit provision for this in the BCP, the case was heard at the Diocesan Court at York. Archbishop Harcourt proposed a classic Anglican solution; the book was withdrawn, to be replaced by a similar volume to be approved by and dedicated to him. This was duly done in the following year 1820; the choice of hymns was slimmed down to 146, but the flood-gates were open for the torrents of Victorian hymns which were to fill the churches in future years. Cotterill did not live to see it, but without him (or someone like him, and maybe a shrewd bishop of archbishop) there would have been no A&M or any of the evangelical books which followed. At Cotterill’s death, Montgomery wrote the hymn Friend after friend departs. Nos.308, 547*, 652, 962*.