The following biographical sketch is taken from the authority record prepared by the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York, UK, at https://borthcat.york.ac.uk/index.php/cotton-walter-aidan-c-1878-1960-clergyman-missionary.
Walter Aidan Cotton was born 13 March c. 1878 in Canada. He was educated at King's College in Windsor, Nova Scotia and was ordained deacon in 1902 and priest in 1903. Cotton began keeping a diary in 1893 while he was still at high school, and this practice continued, with some gaps, until 1960.
In 1907 Cotton moved to England to take up the curacy of St Michael's in Croydon. In 1908 he resigned his position to take up permanent residence at the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield, an Anglican religious order for men founded in 1892.
In 1911 he joined the Community's South African Mission and was based in Johannesburg, becoming Prior of the suburb of Rosettenville in 1915 and principal of St Peter's Theological College there in 1917. In 1924 Cotton became Prior of Penhalonga, in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.
Cotton remained at Penhalonga for five years but felt increasingly isolated and later returned to Johannesburg and resumed his position as Prior of Rosettenville. In 1942 he left Johannesburg to work at Jane Furse Hospital in Sekhuniland.
Whilst in South Africa, Cotton wrote several books and pamphlets addressing race. In 1926 he published 'The Race Problem in South Africa,' in 1931 he followed this with 'Racial Segregation in South Africa,' and in 1945 he published the 'Sepeli Prayer Book.' His works advocated complete territorial segregation for whites and black Africans whilst approving of 'occasional mixed marriages' as a bridge between the races.
He also produced a number of unpublished theological works, including 'Priesthood and the Reformation,' and 'The Sublimation of Life in God's Sacramental Universe.'
In 1946 he returned to Mirfield. Dissatisfied with the Community, Cotton disputed the practice of private masses and criticised the Community's work in South Africa. In 1952 his strong views led him to attempt to establish a new community in his native Canada called the Society of the Servants of the Church. The Society was unsuccessful and in 1954 Cotton returned to Mirfield.
Walter Aidan Cotton died at Mirfield in February 1960.