Elias Cotton served in the Revolutionary War in the Continental Navy on board the Frigate Deane under Captain Samuel Nicholson. The Continental Navy frigate Deane was one of the most successful ships in the Revolutionary War. She sailed from Boston January 14, 1779 with Alliance for a cruise in the West Indies and returned to Philadelphia April 17, 1779 with one prize, the armed ship Viper. She joined with Boston and two ships of the Virginia Navy guarding a convoy of merchantmen and continuing on for a five week cruise which netted eight prizes, including four privateers, the packet Sandwich, and the sloop-of-war HMS Thorn.
Elias Cotton applied for a pension for his service by testifying that he entered the naval services of the United States from sometime in 1779 and served as a “seman” and “topman” on the frigate Deane commanded by Captain Nicolson and left the services in fall of 1780. This statement was sworn before John Davis, Judge of the Massachusetts District Court. Also, Joseph Moncrieff testified that he was a boy on board the frigate Deane and that he well knew that Elias Cotton had served for "more than nine months uninterruptedly." Dr. Peter Saint Medard of Boston also testified that he had been a surgeon's mate on the Deane and that Elias Cotton served on the frigate Deane. Elias Cotton was granted a pension based on the Pension Act of March 18, 1818 and a pension was issued on May 24, 1819.
Elias Cotton worked as a rope maker in Boston in the 1700s and 1800s and is listed in the Boston Directory as a rope maker on Lynde Street and on Belknap Street (Now Joy Street). Elias Cotton (Tomb 133) and his wife Elizabeth Cotton (Tomb 9) are buried in the above ground tombs in the Central Burying Ground, Boston Common. This entombment is documented in the book: “Gravestone inscriptions and records of tomb burials in the Central burying ground, Boston Common, and inscriptions in the South burying ground” by Ogden Codman. The tombs are behind the fence along the footpath that extends into Boston Common from the corner of Boylston and Charles Streets.